What happens to the trash in New York City

Originally published at: What happens to the trash in New York City | Boing Boing


It spends 4 years as president!


A story about what happened to the trash in NYC decades ago, when it was a big business in a different way…

I 'm helping open a bricks-and-mortar business in the early 1990s. As we’re getting things ready, moving things in through the front door, a large gentleman with a big smile enters.

Him: Hi, is the manager here?

Me: He isn’t, but I can get a message to him.

Him [offering a card]: Yeah, just tell him that someone from this store’s cartage company stopped by.

Me [who’s: a. been following the business operations and b. relatively new to NYC]: Sure, I’ll give this to him. He’ll be choosing vendors next week.

Him [still smiling but firmly as if to a child]: No, you don’t understand. We’re. this store’s. carting company.

Me [after a beat, realising who I’m dealing with]: Oh…ok.

Him [confident the idiot now gets it]: Have a great day!

A year or so later, those kinds of encounters were gone, along with similar ones at the fish market and convention center and elsewhere in the city.

I much prefer showing respect for professional “garbage men” like the ones in this video. From the people at the points of collection to the logistics and transport experts to the waste processors, those workers are heroes of modern society.


So, as the legend goes, it was largely Giuliani who led the way to cleaning this up. True?

In a previous town where I lived, it was Bosnians who largely ran this sort of thing. They pushed out the older organized crime groups [in a fairly non-violent way] and took over.


He was definitely a major driver. This was long before he went around the bend to Crazyville (when an “ungrateful” city wouldn’t allow him a third term after 9/11) and long before crooked associates like Kerik got power. At this point was still continuing the work he’d done in the U.S. Attorney’s office as mayor.

He was a glory hog, no doubt. However, unlike some aspects of the cleanup of NYC that actually started under Dinkins, clearing the Mob out of various NYC civic institutions was mainly him.




I had assumed the CHUDS ate it?


Strong suspicion that, like Cuomo, while the buck stopped at the governor’s desk, a lot of the credit for both Cuomo and Giuliani’s victories were the result of the industrious work of their administrations’ numerous public servants whom it takes to run a trillion dollar state government, with them ever on scene to take the credit.


Semi related links
Roy DeMeo, the guy who used New York City dumps as great places to hide body parts of mob hits

The 80’s crime drama Wiseguy had a storyline concerning garbage carting and a reference to the “wayward garbage barge incident”


No doubt, but to be fair the Mob ran certain aspects of the city for decades with those same public servants in place and hobbled by leaders who for various reasons (complacency, defeatism, fear, budget shortfalls, etc.) wouldn’t let them kick out the gangsters.

Once they were allowed to by Giuliani they did the real work that he now takes all the credit for. The result was swift action. As I recall it all happened within the space of a year.


Fair. And credit where credit’s due. All the sadder Giuliani wound up an idiot version of Goebbels.


And that he became henchman to a scummy real estate developer who, through the efforts of Roy Cohn, literally built his reputation thanks to his connections with the Mobbed-up concrete industry in the 1980s.

[sorry, getting Off-Topic here. Back to the discussion of today’s awesome sanitation workers]


There also reaches a point where mob involvement becomes too damaging to a given industry and there becomes an impetus by those with money and corporations to get rid of them.

It turns out that its much easier to remove organized crime from an industry when there are large corporate interests looking to fill the control vacuum.


If the waste-to-energy incinerators are that clean, couldn’t they save a fortune on shipping costs and build a complex on Hart Island or lower Staten Island or something?


True. The inefficient, over-priced Mob cartage outfits were immediately replaced by big corporate entities that were more in line with the MBA sensibilities of the rest of corporate America. The result in terms of operations is what you see in this video.


It floats around on barges and makes Andie MacDowell very, very anxious.

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That’s true in any large organization, though, right?


Absolutely. While I was typing that I thought how striking the similarity to large corporations it was.

And honestly, that’s less a condemnation of leadership than of the cult of personality that so pervades our modern world.


Agreed. In my own organization one of the VPs likes to give speeches touting all the positive change that has occurred in the past few years (of which there has been much) and then says “And this absolutely could not have happened without the hard work of myself and the President (of this organization).” While true, despite all the positive change that has benefited pretty much everyone, he’s not all that popular for some reason. lol