2011-07-11 Lights out in part of Harlem

(7/11/2011) Lights went out on part of the West 114th Street block in upper Manhattan, Monday night. Some residents said they smelled smoke. Other also claimed that their had been an underground electrical fire.

Power went out for part of W 114th street in the upper west part of Manhattan tonight. While people certainly go outside in New York City, it seems that most quite frequently people live most of their lives inside. Power outages change this quite quickly. I noticed the lights in the bathroom were flickering when I walked in it. I thought it must just be the light bulb, but hardly a minute later I start hearing people opening up their windows and coming out their doors. The lights in neighboring apartments were flickering as well. Not long after many people were out on the steps of their apartment buildings. Fire trucks showed up. One lady said there was apparently an electrical fire underground or that wires had overheated (or both). I actually got to meet some neighbors, which was nice. I should have a great opportunity to practice my spanish as well.

It’s interesting watching people, something which is much easier than photographing them. Especially since I have not photographed lately, it’s become much harder to get over that little (large) mental obstacle that says this is awkward or weird. What’s the worst that could happen? A kid telling me I’m weird? Phew, a young girl, maybe around 5, came up to me and whispered to me that I was weird. Glad I got that out of the way. There also is the fact that this is Harlem at night, and the plainclothes police officers were wearing bullet proof vests under their shirts. Minor details.

Otu Henshow records a woman dancing in the streets. The woman is called "Brooklyn" by residents since that is where she is from. Moments later she jumped onto the front of a fire truck.

There was also this woman that the people on the streets were calling Brooklyn. One of the guys recording her said that “every neighborhood has their crackhead. I guess this is her territory.” People were encouraging her antics as she was dancing in the middle of the streets, directing the fire trucks as they were leaving. She came around to people standing on sidewalks to make sure they were all right. She also had a very firm grip on my camera, then my arm, and for a moment I thought I was going to be out in the middle of a street dancing with a crackhead at night. But I quickly wrenched my arm free since I didn’t have my dancing shoes.



When I went back to the apartment, I decided to take up one lady’s advice and try sleeping on the fire escape. It only lasted about an hour and a half. Turns out steel slats aren’t the most comfortable, to sleep on, especially when there is a knob right where you are trying to lay. Generators do have a way of droning out street noise. One of my roommates actually came out of his room and decided to sleep in the living room, since that was one of the few rooms that had electricity.

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