Adventures in firefighting
I missed you last week, but back at home base, we had a triplet birthday that required all hands on deck. So that, plus work equals a time crunch. But now we’re back.
Someone said the last dispatches were too long? Were they? As an experiment, this one is shorter - just one report from a single day of shooting. Let me know if it’s too short or just right.
Project: The Leary Firefighters Foundation
Location: Randall’s Island, NYC
Cast of Characters:
Brian Williams - Himself
Bobby Burke - Himself
Mark Bezos - Himself
Roger Goodell - Himself
Joe Maggio - Sound Mixer, B-Unit
Anthony Savini - Camera Operator, Rachel Ray Unit
Ian Dudley - Director of Photography, C-Unit
May 6, 2022
Top Of The Rock
I arose in darkness and crept through the house so as not to wake the rest of the family, still dreaming of Spring flowers and dragons and horses and pancakes. Light rain was already falling and chilled my skin enough to make it feel alive. Once in the car, I made my way through the tunnel, up the FDR, and towards the signs for Randall's Island and the stadium that the great activist investor Carl Icahn built.
After we set up we ventured to the cafeteria where we found the first of three buffet meals, this one being breakfast. The usual all-American spread was laid out: scrambled eggs, bacon, French Toast, bagels, granola, yogurt, fruit, and mini muffins. And, surprisingly, avocado toast. Is this the new face of firefighting? Meanwhile on the far wall, Fire Department Coffee was pulling espressos with their house-roasted beans. As I considered what I might eat, Brian Williams did two passes over the table before settling on eggs, bacon, french toast, syrup, and pepper. I went simpler with just some fruit, yogurt, and granola and remembered the last time I was in Brian's presence - the 2008 Nantucket Film Festival, where he regaled the audience with his collection of tactical flashlights. Never knowing his history of firefighting, I now know why he has so many.
After getting fueled up we reported to our station - the car fire. One after another, the teams took turns putting out the fire, the smell of propane and wood smoke filling our nostrils. It was very similar to the scent of fireworks on the Fourth of July, almost an odor with a crunchy element - like a man who's been on the road too long. Ocean Beach's Bravest told us they have put out many golf cart fires. Bobby Burke was inspiring. And then rides were given on the tower ladder.
Lunch was buffet number two and the main course was "hoagie." There were sausage hoagies. There were portobello mushroom hoagies. Joe Maggio, the vegetarian, combined the contents of two portobello hoagies into one supersized meatless hoagie. I followed suit but ate my two one after the other, like a civilized human. He didn’t like the bread but reported that the coffee was "good and legit." There was also a slaw of some sort that passed my lips unannounced. As for the hoagie, I found it merely decent, with the melted and congealed cheese making a wrapper around the vaguely bland and wet interior. Would the sausage have been better? Okay, so two was probably one too many, and by the end... I don't know. I started to feel bloaty. Like if a semi had flattened a whale but someone had reanimated it by sliding two breadsticks in its eye sockets, that would be this hoagie.
Upon further discussion, it was discovered that Anthony Savini, camera operator on the Rachel Ray crew, and also gluten-free, was also dismayed by the selections but made do by dissecting the sandwiches from their rolls. Maggio bolstered this by saying that the roll tasted like it was gluten-free anyway. Further down the rabbit hole, Ian Dudley, Unit C Camera Operator, and vegan, reported that the meal was "disgusting" and he subsisted on the waffle fries, which Maggio had suggested we skip altogether in the first place. Well, then.
The dessert was a brownie square that had a topography of richness and cream. If one were to walk across it they would feel as though they were traversing a vast and misty lake, but only after a cataclysmic storm. I suppose it served as some kind of button on the meal.
Back in the restroom after lunch, Brian Williams gave a mini-lecture on how the urine color chart posted above each urinal can be seen in every army base around the world.
And then we were back at the car fire station. More hoses, more water, more fires. I asked if they ever used it as a grill for meals? And then I opined that this could be a great FDNY fundraiser - the "carbecue" - and imagined that they could tow this contraption out once or twice a year, say to the Mermaid Parade, and grill burgers and sausages right on the grill-like seats. Just imagine, a hot day, people drinking, and there, safely roped off at a distance, a car on fire with firefighters grilling meat, the smell of a backyard grill, a nearby truck spraying the crowd, music pumping, stilt-walkers, snake-handlers, hula-hoopers, mermaids and king Neptunes all loving together under the blazing New York City sun.
My reverie was interrupted when I looked behind us, in the Tactical hut, and saw a large pot of something simmering. These guys - they've got this down. Tactical Chili? And then there was Brian Williams again, but this time just killing it with the hose, like a fire boss. He put that fire out on the quick and delivered a pro-style stand-up interview, as expected.
Closing out the evolution was Scarsdale's Mark Bezos, whom I helped send to space with his brother last July, and Roger Goodell who insisted on a fiery background for this OTF. Mark nailed it, of course. Roger... Oh, Roger.
Back in the cafeteria, dinner was being laid out and I took note of all the fantastic New York accents in which we were immersed, sonorant consonants, vowels that grate, declamatory style, sui generis... Buffet number three was rigatoni-forward and my dairy-laden heart ached for Ian and Anthony. And then I saw the "Italian-American Salad" as well as the antipasti offerings. Once again, I followed Italian-American Joe Maggio and took a modicum of antipasti but unlike him also went for the charcuterie. Joe said he "could live on this stuff" but I think we both agreed that the artichoke hearts were really just meh, kind of mushy and bland. This is a shame because then we discussed how much a pain in the ass it is actually to make artichokes but how good it is to eat them prepared by other people, especially Joe's father. I gave Ian a macrobar from my stash to tide him over.
And then we were done, but not before the Chief's maple syrup was handed out, Brian Williams shed tears and Denis Leary dropped a few F-bombs.
Let's do it all over again next year!
Also Of Interest
Madonna + Robot Centipedes. What the actual NFT fuck.
Deepmind released GATO, which can play Atari, control a robot, caption images, and chat.
Seth Godin’s secret recipes.
What you find swimming through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Trump thought China had a “Hurricane Gun.”
Now Listening To
Mop Mop - Spaceship: Earth featuring Anthony Joseph
I’m currently on assignment in Van Horn, Texas, second home to a well-known Billionaire and his space program that rhymes with Blue Origin. There’s much more to read about that in upcoming reports (I’ve been working with them for several years), but for now, here’s something to get in the outer-spaceways mood…
Seriously, where else can you combine the word “Panspermia” with great lyricism and beats?