The story I reported for the program today from Coney Island was eye-opening. I got to meet the owners of archetypal pizzeria Totonno’s in Brooklyn, and will be delighted to return when they re-open so I can taste their product. I was introduced to the owners of Gargiulo’s, a classic Italian-American special events restaurant. And I witnessed the sad wake of Hurricane Sandy after it had morphed into a superstorm by the time it hit New York and New Jersey. Across Coney Island, there are reminders that the neighborhood is not the same post-Sandy: trash lies uncollected, building materials litter the sidewalks, many homes and stores are vacant. But there are reminders that this is a recovering disaster zone…in America.
No matter how long I do this job, there are times when I still slip in the craft of it. In the old days of radio, the number one rule was to pack more batteries and cassettes into your kit bag than you could possibly need. “You never know,” is the overarching guide. With flash-memory recorders, you still need the batteries, but not the cassettes. You just need the appropriate memory card. And typically, one will do fine. But I had previously removed the memory card before heading down to Coney Island. So there I was, an hour plus from midtown Manhattan and my CF (compact flash) card for my Marantz 660 recorder, in an emergency zone, and not many shops open. Antoinette Balzano had already met me in front of her family’s pizzeria, Totonno’s. And the second I turned on my deck, there it was in the digital display: “NO CARD LOADED.” Thus began about 20 minutes of contrition and stress.
I was Antoinette’s the late model white Jaguar, a camera on my lap, and the recorder’s display virtually screaming at me, “You idiot: where is your spare memory card? Why did you leave the other behind?”
“I am so sorry,” I say to Antoinette, who was busy on her car phone trying to line up a replacement for Totonno’s ruined Hobart pizza dough mixer. “What?! Are you telling me Hobart is a monopoly? No other company makes this machine!!?” Her temper with a restaurant supply company attendant was red-lining. I waited. When she got done with the call, I tried again.
“I am really sorry to ask you this, but do you know if there’s a Radio Shack or a Best Buy anywhere near here?” She didn’t seem worried.
We went to the Radio Shack. Nothing. They only seem to sell cases for mobile phones these days. Then, CVS. I’ve had decent luck in the past finding memory there, but not this time. Then a Russian shop at the back of a shopping plaza whose sign claimed they specialized in computers and flowers. “No CF,” said the man behind a counter of old electronics equipment and, yes, plastic flowers. “It’s old format.” Yes, I know, thanks for reminding me.
Finally, at a Walgreen’s that claimed it was a photo specialist, in the back of the store, I found CF cards. Phew.