Monday, April 26, 2010

Low Light

Originally uploaded by reallyct

I don't remember where I read about this (though my gut feeling is that it was a link off some piece of Clay's in the Examiner), but a couple of weeks ago I discovered that every Sunday you can go into the bowels of Brooklyn. Hmmm, couple nerd archeology with New York history with demi-spelunking and you've got an activity primed and ready for devoted partner and me. Throw in the knowledge that a Montreal-style delicatessen is four blocks away and you have a full day.

You can find out more about this at the website, but I'll start by telling you what they leave off: there's a bit of a wait to get into the tunnel. We lined up at 11:00am and by quarter of noon we had descended. We were told to bring flashlights and, being the strange household we are, what we came up with was one supersized maglite - the one that weighs about 10 pounds - and a head lamp. It was a diverse group of people agewise if not in other ways and people were really really excited to see underground. Having done no research myself save getting directions from our house to the meeting point, I didn't really know what to expect, though I assumed rats would be involved (actually, they weren't).

You do descend through a manhole cover and down a ladder (I might have chosen a different ladder, this was a pretty standard, fairly rickety Home Depot $9.99 ladder) into, well, underground. I'm not going to say it wasn't awesome in a "I am 8 and I should definitely not be doing this" kind of way. After ducking under some pipes and walking down some wood plank stairs you're in the tunnel. And they're not lying. It's dark and it's tunnelicious.

I took this opportunity to see just how well my new fancypants camera worked in low (no) light. And I was impressed. Yes, every little movement became a wild blur, and there is a fair bit of noise, but when I tell you that the only illumination came from bare 60 watt bulbs spaced approximately 50-100 feet apart and the ambient light from people intermittently turning on their flashlights, you should be impressed with the power of the camera.

As for the tour itself, I'll be honest: the man who rediscovered the tunnel in the 80s and who leads the tour is a trifle long winded. It's true he's incredibly knowledgeable and there isn't more than 300 yards or so of tunnel to see, but there was a lot of stuff I could have skipped (or heard a more Reader's Digest version of). Still we were in a defunct subway tunnel and that was unspeakably cool. It had a "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" vibe to it that may or may not appeal to people who didn't grow up in New York, but for this nerdy city kid, it was a broken taboo of fantasticness.

And Mile End, the deli, was pretty good too. If you like brisket. Especially brisket as part of poutine.

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