Con Ed Terrifies East Village Bargoers

20070116coned.gif
For once, it wasn't a bar that caused an Alphabet City noise disruption; last night the culprit was Con Ed's East River Generation Station at 14th Street and the FDR Drive. Around 11 p.m., the plant began issuing dozens of deafeningly loud blasts of steam every fifteen seconds or so, and imbibers around the neighborhood decided it was a good time to step out for a ciggie and make sure the world wasn't coming to an end. A disheveled man who was awoken by the blasts held his cell up in the air so a friend could hear the ruckus. "You don't know what it is, but you like it," a woman chirped at her excited dog, while someone else likened the steam puffs to those of a volcano. "This hasn't happened once in 25 years," said a woman bedecked in eccentric chinoiserie as she retreated into an Avenue B apartment. "If that thing blows up, we're all fucked." (A transformer at the station did explode, causing a fire and a blackout, in 2002.)

Near Avenue C and 14th Street, a cop warned bystanders that "if it blows up, you're too close," although his loudspeaker couldn't really be heard over the booms. (A boiler had shut down and was releasing steam, he went on to explain.) Finally, just before 11:30 p.m., the last of four Fire Department trucks on the scene dispersed — they were there just for the noise, not because there was an actual fire, a fireman said — and a woman who was strolling with her boyfriend sighed, "That creeped the crap out of me." AM New York reporter Justin Rocket Silverman was one of a few newshounds who left their East Village pads trolling for a scoop: "It's one of those things where you don't know whether to be excited or run for your life," he said. —Daniel Maurer