The New Deli Express

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Welcome to Brooklyn!

Imagine: a big cargo ship runs aground trying to get through a narrow channel between Staten Island and New Jersey on its way to Port Elizabeth. It tears its hull and cannot make it to the shipyard for repairs because it is sitting low in the water and there is no other route to New Jersey.

Such is the condition of New York Harbor–narrow channels, shallow waters, what were they thinking when they made this place a maritime center?–that such an event really happened, last Saturday morning. For a few hours, it blocked traffic. Then last night, the vessel made its way over to Red Hook’s Pier 10, to the only container port in the New York area that did not require use of that channel. Where else could it have gone?

Baltimore.

American Stevedoring, the Red Hook port operator, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the port’s chief cheerleader, staged a press conference today in front of the ship as it was unloading. It was a brilliant p.r. move meant to dramatize the possible consequences of Bloomberg’s push to replace cargo ships with cruise ships in Brooklyn: What if a terrorist sunk a ship in Kill Van Kull and it refused to budge? Where would we get our food, our clothing, our bottled water? Brilliant, except for the fact that the media advisory sent out this morning had misspelled the ship’s name–spell check’s fault, apparently–as New Deli Express instead of New Delhi Express.

-Matthew Schuerman