Well, almost exactly five years and four months to the day from when it opened (yes, I am a little embarrassed about this), my husband and I finally decided to take a stroll on the High Line. It was a perfect early fall morning in NYC: wind blowing, sun shining, thickets of tourists wandering about, and the din of jackhammers and excavation trucks filling the air. The High Line is truly a marvel of architecture, vision and extraordinary landscaping. And yet, I am left feeling that it is a part of a city to which I no longer belong. I know there are a lot of voices on this matter of change, and loss of what was, and I don’t wish to delve into that conversation right now. However, let it be said that, while I don’t necessarily begrudge New York for what she has become, I don’t recognize her any more. In all of the ruminations, I did manage to catch this little snippet of ivy…undulating in the storm.
Better than any museum or guided tour of Montreal was our visit to a really big industrial glass factory. We’re talking production of 500,000 beer bottles in any 24 hour period. This doesn’t include the liquor bottles, mayonnaise jars or other glass vessels that get produced at the same time. I’ve been to a number of factories (glass in particular), but this place was outright SCARY and DANGEROUS and LOUD and GREASY and BEYOND FASCINATING!! I think the word I am looking for here is gobsmacked!
Friends of friends of ours live in Montreal, and the husband works on the line in the factory. He very generously showed us around to every station of the plant. Truly, this was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I do wish the videos were longer and that I could have taken more footage, but I think that would have broken the rules. What really stuck with me was the level of extreme hazard. I’m talking weaponized molten glass! We have come to think of factories as largely automated or adhering to strict safety measures, but this was anything but. One false move and WHAMMO…there goes your finger or your hand or, for that matter, your whole freakin’ arm. And this doesn’t even begin to address the slippery floor. All those machines need lubrication, and it’s inevitable that in the process of doing so, all the other surfaces get covered in many layers of black oil. It immediately brought to mind the book Fast Food Nation, in which the writer Eric Schlosser describes conditions in our nation’s meat packing industry. I have an entirely new level of respect, and concern, for anyone who manufactures the things we use. Especially at an industrial scale. As a contrast to my experience, look at this sanitized, but highly educational video of the glass making process.
Did I mention how hot it was?
Correction: My mistake. You Don’t Own Me was in fact written by John Madara and David White, but recorded by Lesley Gore when she was only 17. Thanks Matt!!
I don’t typically mind separating a few eggs the old fashioned way, but this new and improved method might come in handy if one were talking volume. I am very intrigued by the fact that the demonstration is taking place on the couch and not in the kitchen. Also note that the video has been viewed over 10 million times. Thanks to Danièle for sending my way.
A word to the wise: Don’t watch these videos if you are in the least bit hungry. The mastery of these food preparations earns my great admiration and respect. I am also fascinated by how ingrained and fluid the actions are. I remember not that long ago watching a bricklayer build a wall and was completely hypnotized by the motion. Equally so for the women across the street from us, when we lived in Chinatown, who used make dumplings.
Tomorrow is the first official day of summer, but today it’s going to feel like summer. So why not have a campfire to really heat things up.