November 7, 2011
If you listen to conventional wisdom, and shame on you, the sewers of New York are in habited by alligators. And not just regular alligators, but a race of blind mutant albino alligators. Why not?
So being a lover of all things dark and mysterious, I put on my Carl Kolchak hat and set out to discover the truth. My first stop was the sewer. Sorry, I mean the internet. Same thing.
Stories of sewer gators go back to at least 1927 and no less a source than the venerable (meaning way past its prime) New York Times published stories of killer reptiles roaming the sewer tunnels all throughout the years.
The story goes that “years ago”- and you can’t see it but I was using air quotes- note to self- video blog- “years ago” a family returned from a vacation in Florida with a little more than they left with, a baby alligator. Really, you can’t get a better pet for your young child than an alligator, right? They only grow to like 12 feet. So time passed, as time often does in this dimension, and the alligator grew and grew and at some point the family must have realized that a small New York apartment is no place for a large apex predator. Obviously this story doesn’t take place in the Bronx.
Anyway, the poor little guy, meaning the alligator, not the child, ended up flushed down the toilet, no better than a dead goldfish or your car keys at the hands of a two-year old. Now before you start yelling “animal cruelty,” put yourself in the alligator’s shoes. So to speak. Lots of water to lurk in, dark, plenty of food- like rats, CHUDs, the occasional sewer worker- and did I say rats? Lots and lots of rats. I have to figure that if there was really a race of mutant alligators in the sewers there would be a lot less rats.
And that’s the point. According to snopes.com, it is totally false. No alligators live in the New York sewers. But hasn’t stopped several city-funded expeditions over the years. From time to time city officials have sent teams of men into the sewers to capture or kill the non-existent reptiles. Think about it. Loads of underpaid city workers wandering the sewers with high-powered rifles blundering around in the dark hunting invisible prey. If that isn’t a metaphor for New York City politics I don’t know what is.
And speaking of sewers, wikipedia (their motto: We Am Accurate) says that the New York sewer system stretches over 6,600 miles. It also says that New York has anywhere from 8 to 32 million rats. Those alligators don’t stand a chance.
This has been your New York Minute, and that’s one to grow on.
An audio version of this legend first appeared just last week in the amazing FlashPulp website. Check them out for awesomeness and goodies!