Thursday, May 22

125 Years Old

2:45am  On a whim, we decide to see what it's like to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in the middle of the night.

All is dark and expected.

Then we ran into this guy, who we assumed was fixing a faulty bolt on the bridge.
He works for the Department of Transportation, and he kept asking Anita what was in her Victoria's Secret shopping bag. (Her shoes.)

Then the bridge lit up in this amazing light display.

The DOT guy told us that the bridge is turning 125 years old.
To celebrate, they are putting on a light show for the next 5 days.

We had arrived just as the lights were being installed.

We felt like we'd stumbled upon something magical that nobody else knew about.

But just as we got to the top of the bridge...we discovered we were not alone.

These are the dudes who make it all happen.
We're told that the guy on the far right is the Commissioner of the DOT for Bridges and Tunnels.
The other guys let us know that his position is a very big deal.
Anita became starstruck and started to list her favorite bridges to him.
He laughed and said, "Yeah, bridges," as he walked away.
He must hear that all the time.

Anna asked a professional photographer, who was there taking his own light show photos, to snap a picture of us. (You can see his tripod at the far left.)

The guy with his arm around Anna told her that he loves working at night, but only because he's outdoors.
Frank, who is standing to the right of Anita,  decided he had a lot in common with her because they both like all kinds of food and all kinds of music.
He felt the connection so strongly that he ended up getting down on one knee and proposing marriage.
Caught up in the moment and the beauty of the bridge, it almost sounded like a good idea.

But instead we walked away into the sea of lights.

Wednesday, May 21

It's a Man's World

Livery drivers, garbage men, busboys and bartenders, construction workers and night watchmen--the faces we pass on our nightly walks are almost exclusively male.

One night, we walked past this woman operating a forklift at a construction site. When she smiled for this picture, she seemed happy to see us.
We smiled back.

Wednesday, May 14

Cab Fare

Getting out of work in the middle of the night, we've taken a lot of cabs. We often ask drivers why they choose the night shift, and they invariably say, because they hit less traffic and make more money.

After Anita gets out on the Lower East Side, there's still plenty of time for conversation before Anna arrives in Brooklyn.

This driver opened with: "Do you like pork?"
Anna said, "Not really," but he pressed on and pointed out the many places in Chinatown where a good, cheap pork meal can be had.
Then he asked: "Do you like crab?" An affirmative answer led to a long and very detailed account of where, when and how to procure discount crabs, and what to do with them.
1. Go online to Crabs-R-Us and reserve a bag of crabs.
2. Meet the crab truck in Chinatown at 6:30am, and also pick up a large bag of clams from another truck while you're there.
3. Then buy lots of garlic, parsley, a bucket of ice, and a large tub of butter.
4. Tell all of your friends to come over with beer, and you have yourself a big party for less than $100.

Anna took notes.
She thought that sounded like a good, good time.

Nighttime Companions

When we first started this job, we would get creeped out leaving the building.
We would jump into the first cab available.
But after weeks of walking home, the nighttime streets now feel friendly to us.

Our usual route down 9th Avenue.
Each night we pass this lonely stretch by the post office warehouse.

Just outside the frame on the right there are homeless people sleeping.
On several nights we've seen one man tuck in his companion.

This is the night watchman at the warehouse.
He told us his shift is from midnight to 8:30am.
He asked us if we were religious.
Anita shrugged her shoulders; Anna said no.
He paused and looked at us. The moment felt tense.
Then he said with a big smile, "That's okay, Jesus loves you anyway."
It was oddly reassuring.

This man is the warehouse custodian.
We were struck by his proud pose.
He said, "It takes a certain temperament to work at night."
We all nodded in agreement.
Before we walked away, he added, "It's nice to see pretty faces walking down the street this late at night, and not King Kong."

People get lonely at night. They are more apt to talk. And so are we.

Tuesday, May 13

The Strange Ones

3am It's a Friday night.
We've noticed a trend.
Anna always wants to eat after work.
Anita always wants a drink.

We stop at the 7-Eleven in Times Square.
This nice couple keep the place spotless. For real.
And they tell us numerous times how much they love working there overnight every night.
Maybe they thought we were from corporate.

Anna buys some sort of beef jerky thing.

But she is very very tempted to buy these delicious-looking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with pressed sides.
It's obvious a lot of care was put into making these packaged sandwiches.
Like everything in this 7-Eleven, we decide.

Next stop is Les Enfants Terribles, a sultry bar on the Lower East Side that's full of sweaty ex-pats.
It's the perfect place for us night shift people to hang out. They stay open late and the atmosphere encourages off-kilter behavior.

This is our co-worker Daniel dancing with a woman from Sweden who works for the W hotel.
We goaded her to dance by repeatedly yelling "Go Sweden".
She seemed to like the attention.

This guy kept making us clap our hands in some bizarre rhythm and when we missed a beat, he would throw his arms up in disgust and demand that we start over.
It was making us competitive and nervous.
He said he was European but Sweden spilled the beans when she told us he was actually from Philly.

Almost 5 am.
Anna is sober.

Anita is not.

Wednesday, May 7

Night Workers

We start walking down 9th Avenue.
These are some of the people we meet.

We asked this guy if he only works his cart at night.
He said, "Yes."
We asked how good business was.
He nodded and said something unintelligible.

This driver also said he only works at night.
3 things we loved about him:
1. his thick Eastern European accent
2. his dapper attire
3. the fact that he offered us a free ride home (we declined)

How many men can pull off a pink turban?

In the first photo, he told Anita a secret.
In the second photo, he copped a feel.

ps only one of these statements is true...which one?

The happiest night worker we've met.

This couple kissed passionately for a full 5 minutes.
It was a sweet sight to see at 5am.


Reality television is decidedly non-reality.
It is a constant struggle to make something dramatic out of everyday moments.

This is the building we work in.
The interior looks like an apartment you would live in when you first move to the city.
We are convinced there is a mold problem because every person on the job has gotten sick.

The street outside isn't much better.

These are our co-workers.
The guy on the right looks very midwestern and conservative, but he says some of the dirtiest things we've ever heard.

5 tips for cutting a reality show:
1. when someone is angry add the sound of thunder under a close-up shot of them
2. when someone has a bright idea use the "small bell" sound effect
3. all scenes should have wall to wall music with gaps for crucial sound bites
4. end each piece of music with a stinger*
5. for a transition between scenes cut a shot to the beat of the music, speed up the first half and slow down the second half

bonus: for those really in the know, fit to fill is your best friend

*a stinger is a decisive musical conclusion, such as a big drum roll

Thursday, May 1

Cab Food

4am We decide to start walking home instead of taking cabs.
It's about a two mile walk: midtown to lower east side.

Anna is hungry.
We stop on 9th Avenue at a Pakistani restaurant that caters to cab drivers.

They also sell music and DVDs in a bullet-proof glass booth.

Checking out the steam table.

The food was pretty good...

But this place is more about the ambiance.
Every time a man enters they go to the corner in the back, take off their shoes, and pray.

Tuesday, April 29

In the beginning...

We work in Hell's Kitchen. We go in at 7pm and we leave between 3 and 4am.
At first, we were catatonic at the end of our shift. Anna used to sing inspirational songs quietly to herself on the cab ride home, while Anita argued with the driver about the best route.

We were adjusting.

After a few weeks, we started taking advantage of it.

3:20am The Irish Rogue: a dark, beer-stained bar in Hell's Kitchen whose main selling point is that it's still open. And they have plush leather seats in the front.

Seth, the assistant editor. He's from Ohio. This was the night his car was towed.
He told us there were three wigs in the trunk.

This is the Irish bartender, Dunkan. He has a ridiculous brogue.

Actually his name is Shane. We were drunk and forgot but he told us on a subsequent night at the Irish Rogue. He also sang along to two Journey songs with a lot of gusto.

Rubi, the bar back, cleaning up after last call. He was camera-shy. Why the gloves?

And this is the middle-aged couple that fucked in the bathroom just before closing. Click on the photo to see it better.

Monday, April 28

This Is Us... Day One

We're two film editors working on a reality TV show, and this is our first night shift job.

Day one... Anita is nervous

Day one... Anna drinks the Kool-Aid