If you've always wondered what it might look like if the mild-mannered street in front of you were suddenly to explode, and if you weren't lucky enough to be near Grand Central the other day, we've got some good news. The Fire Department located a security camera on Lexington Avenue that caught the steam-pipe explosion. The main problem with security cameras, of course, is bad composition — so just be warned to keep your eye on the top of the frame. Also, the Fire Department has confirmed that the time stamp on the tape is wrong. So don't get hung up on that.
Moments Before the Steam Pipe Explosion [YouTube]
Video Shows Steam Pipe Explosion [City Room/NYT]
“There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure,” Mayor Mike insisted last night, attempting to calm any what-have- the-terrorists-done-now fears. Thing is: It's hard to feel comfortable when cops are swarming the explosion site dressed like something out of Star Trek. With this afternoon's announcement that no asbestos was found in the air, perhaps the police are losing the gas masks?
So it was a steam pipe that exploded last night near Grand Central, and the fallout from it includes one death (from a heart attack), more than 30 injuries (two critical), and, in the words of the Times, an "unnerved" Manhattan. "There is no reason to believe this is anything other than a failure of our infrastructure," said Mayor Bloomberg. This is a surprisingly wan consolation: With infrastructure that allows for the occasional midtown geyser strong enough to rip pavement, flip a truck, and half-swallow a car, who needs terrorists? Witnesses described the epicenter, on 41st Street and Lexington Avenue, as looking strangely primordial, with flames flickering inside the rupture and boiling brown muck bubbling around its edges. There's a YouTube video already, of course, and the inevitable idiotic comments. Bush did it! LOL!
Yes, there was indeed an explosion near Grand Central Terminal. No, it was not at Grand Central. Yes, there's a lot of smoke. A transformer exploded on East 41st Street between Third and Lexington Avenues; it caused a four-alarm fire and injured one person. Police have closed that block and evacuated some buildings. The subways are running, including the Lex lines, though they're currently skipping Grand Central, which must be a real pain for those who were trying to catch the 6:45 to Larchmont. We're about to call it a day, but we have no doubt Sewell Chan will keep you abreast of the latest news all night long.
Buildings Evacuated After Midtown Explosion [City Room/NYT]
Update: The source of the explosion was a steam pipe, and as of 8:15 p.m. there is no service on the 4, 5, and 6 subway lines between 125th Street and Bowling Green, service on the 42nd Street shuttle has been suspended, and 7 trains bypass Grand Central.MTA Service Alert [MTA.info]
Yes, the blackout yesterday sucked. But it could have been worse: You could have been trying to get home to Westchester.
*Yes, yes. This used to be headlined "Rabbit Stranded." It was early and we were tired and we mixed up our Updike and our Cheever. Sorry.
We’re just back from Grand Central Terminal, where top-ranked American gurgitator Joey “Jaws” Chestnut has retained his title of chicken-wing-eating champion. Proving that he’s only getting stronger in his quest to return the coveted “mustard belt” to America when he faces champion Takeru Kobayashi in the Nathan’s hot-dog-eating contest this year. Jaws set a new record by decimating 7.105 pounds of medium-hot wings in twelve minutes, a good pound more than the visibly shaken onetime champ Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas. We don't have photos yet, but trust us, the “wingtastic expression of chicken wings,” as emcee Keenan Thompson described it, wasn't pretty — third-place finalist Tim “Eater X” Janus, wearing a beard of hot sauce in addition to his usual face paint, was reduced to picking chicken scraps out of his teeth with a MetroCard.
What could be better than fashion and food? Yesterday we rushed to Vanderbilt Hall to catch Tim Gunn hosting the Wish-Bone Salad Show. Designers Richie Rich and Traver Rain compared the experience to summer camp, and the models looked bewildered. "There's some lettuce going on there. Or maybe some other vegetables," the Asian Salad said vaguely. Backstage, one model sported onion shorts while another counted the string beans on her dress. Gunn said he preferred to accessorize with food, but our favorite model embraced the whole aesthetic: "I am the carpaccio salad."
Wish-Bone Salad Fashion Show by Heatherette [NYM]
We at Daily Intel never tire of the notion of the world's biggest cheese, so we bring you another depiction. The cheese will be at Grand Central until 6 p.m., so you still have time to marvel at it. And when you do, consider these facts: The cheese is six feet wide and weighs 1,323 pounds. This is the dairy product's final appearance in New York before continuing its world tour back in Europe. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Whatever your plans are for today, they should include a stop at Grand Central to see "The World's Largest Cheese." Murray's Cheese and the Dutch cheesemaker Beemster have somehow rolled a Guinness-record-holding Gouda into the train station. Besides a tasting, the cheese gets its own press conference (gleefully imagined, above). We're not sure what you do with a cheese that big, but Grub Street has some excellent suggestions.
World's Biggest Cheese in Town Today [Grub Street]
To say that we felt only excited at the prospect of seeing the world’s biggest cheese today would be an understatement. It was more like awe. Six-feet wide and weighing over 1,300 pounds, the Gouda-style cheese is the star of a special exhibit co-sponsored by Murray’s Cheese and the Beemster company of Holland. A bothersome case of gout will be keeping us from the cheese’s press conference, which we are told is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. But we’ve thought of some ways the milk monument might be put to use.
It's audition day for Music Under New York, the MTA offshoot that sanctions musical performers throughout the subway system. Here, Fred Gillen Jr., a washboard player, and Matt Turk, a guitarist, wait their turn at Grand Central. They've got to be better than that guy who only ever plays "Redemption Song."
Cesare Casella of Maremma is known for his way with livestock (we’ve written of his specialty breed of pigs and his much-prized Chianina cattle herd). However the Tuscan-cooking guru made his first big product splash with his Republic of Beans import company, and he’s now looking to get back into the beans business. Casella is in negotiations to open Bean Bar, a carryout shop in Grand Central Station that will sell some of his signature Tuscan bean dishes as well as uncooked beans and possibly other Italian products. “The main idea is to have cooked beans,” Casella tells us. “They’re great and so healthy, but for many people, they are a pain in the ass to cook. I want them to be able to take home beans when they go home on the train.” Families around the tri-state area will definitely be thanking Casella for that.
Mary Harrington, known to regulars as May, was a server at legendary chain restaurant Schraft’s when she received an invitation to work at the Oyster Bar in 1978. “I was kind of terrified,” Harrington says. “Those days it was crazy busy.” Harrington didn’t emigrate from Ireland to be a server; she planned to become a nurse. “Now here I am,” she says, “nursing oysters.” We asked her what has kept her on the job all these years, and she shucked open a small trove of salty stories.