Last Friday I did a TV shoot for RTL, which is a very big broadcasting company in Germany. Their shows go out to most of Western Europe via cable and are seen on regular (non-cable) TV in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
It seems that Germans are fascinated by one aspect of New York City parking: alternate side of the street parking regulations. It is an odd quirk of NYC parking that on the days when the streets with these parking
regulations are cleaned, savvy drivers know to wait in their cars for the street cleaning machine to go by so they can reclaim their precious parking spots. In Manhattan, where parking spaces are especially hard to find, this happens on a near daily basis. Drivers move their cars from the side of the street being cleaned - usually double-parking on the other side - and wait for the street cleaner to pass. Of course, they have to keep an eye out for the cops because double parking is illegal. As the street cleaner goes by, these drivers fall in line behind the cleaner and grab a parking space. The Germans call this a "Parking Ballet". The drivers aren’t done yet, however, they still must wait until the allotted time is up because the signs indicate that they can’t park legally again until a specific time - sometimes an hour after the street cleaner has done his job. So they sit, read a paper, get some work done - always with an eye peeled for a cop ready to write a ticket - until the magic time when they are again legal for the next couple of days. They come back after those couple of days and relive the ballet, week after week, for as long as they have their cars in NYC.
Because the "ballet" starts early (8am), I woke at 5am and was on the train to Manhattan at 6am (hey, sometimes being the Parking Expert is knowing when NOT to drive into the City!). I was in a little after 7am, met the German production team (a reporter, cameraman and soundman) and went to the first location that I had picked that had alternate side of the street parking regulations. There we waited for the street cleaner to come by. And Waited, Then waited some more. Finally they came by, but by this time, there weren’t that many cars lined up for the "ballet". I wonder if the camera scared them off. Since they were double-parking, they may have thought that we were there to film them and later send them a ticket. The production team shot what they could and did manage to get some good interviews, both with me and with drivers in cars participating in the dance. By the way, by coincidence, my wife is German and my German is pretty good so I did the interviews in German. They spoke English with the drivers they interviewed and I guess that they’ll dub in German later.
The next street we took them to was much better - a beautiful parking ballet! On the third street, the cameraman shot (with his camera) a cop car driving by - the car stopped quickly and a cop jumped out, wanting to know why the cameraman had filmed him. The cop was worried that we might be terrorists! After seeing the German passports, the cop got friendlier and started acting like a tour guide, saying "Enjoy your stay, there’s lots of great restaurants around here". I was biting my tongue to keep from laughing.
While they were shooting "beauty shots" of me working at a computer sitting on the steps of a brownstone apartment (totally fake - I’ve never worked that way in my life!), the street cleaner went by and they got their third take of the ballet. After that, we went to their offices on 57th street and did some more interviews - on the roof of the building.
All in all, it was a fun day - I’ll post here at the blog when it airs and I’ll put it up at http://WhereToFindParking.com once I get a copy. By the time I got home, it was after 5pm and what should I find in my email inbox but a request from CBS-TV for an interview! I did that one on Monday and will post about it soon.
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