This got me into a little trouble yesterday, as it made me very late for a breakfast meeting, but it was pretty cool nonetheless. On my way up the Pulaski Bridge (which connects Brooklyn and Queens) I heard a loud horn blowing, saw the gates going down, and realized I was going to see the bridge open for the first time.
It took a long time. The bridge took about five minutes to open fully, then the ship going underneath -- some sort of square barge thing with four enormous vertical pipes sticking up from it -- moved through very slowly, and then the bridge slowly closed, and (not visible in the video) jiggled back and forth in slow motion, one side raising, the facing side lowering, until the two sides were properly meshed together and the bridge closed.
So I spent a good 20 minutes watching this, along with a few dozen other morning commuters, pedestrians and bicyclists, and learned a little bit about (one small sample of) the Williamsburg/Greenpoint community. Most of the people waiting were what I'd describe as "hipsters" -- white, younger than me, dressed in fashionable clothes -- or people whose first language was not English. I made a humorous remark at one point, and felt like a fool because no one even responded. Then I realized that everyone standing within earshot either had earbuds in their ears, or likely didn't speak English well enough to understand what I'd said and why it was funny. For the entire period, everyone pretty much stood there in silence.
I didn't feel old, but I did feel bad for all these people who were so militantly resistant to a pretty wonderful opportunity for a NYC community moment.