Eugene Salomon is no Robin Askwith, so let’s be thankful for large mercies. He has, however, driven a cab around the big apple we call New York City for about 30 years and, like every cabbie the world over, Has Some Stories.
Thing is, Eugene has seen it all in the teeming Petri dish of NYC. Not in a ‘having to drive surly warlords across landmine-strewn urban battlegrounds’ way that you might get in this book's Serbian equivalent, but he did start up in the pre-Giuliani murkiness of a Manhattan untroubled by its less convivial activities, so his tales are actually of some worth, and are not just another, “Oh, I had Courtney Love dry heaving all the way to Brooklyn” kind of thing.
Salomon is a somewhat coy story-teller, but his interactions with people of note and fame don’t suffer from any star-struck over-praise. Even though one chapter is called ‘Paul Simon’s Warmth’, he doesn’t gush about the guy, just tells us how he tries to persuade him to buy the Yankees (“I don’t have that kind of money,” Simon says. “You should talk to McCartney.”)
He nicely breaks down the type of customer he gets into the following categories, which seem to apply to all-comers, including celebrities, hookers, fugitives, lawyers, gangsters and business people alike:
People who look strange but act normal, people who look strange and act strange and people who look normal but act strange. Apparently Manhattan is bereft of normal looking, normal acting people. At least, these people don’t get cabs.
Of course, the most sensational parts of the book are about how far people will take their physical expressions of lust. There are a few tales of bawdy backseat behaviour, and also an unusually touching reminiscence of when Salomon himself was thrust into a potentially erotic situation. It’s here, with Salomon expressing his own humanity rather than just the faceless driver up front, that he’s at his best.
The stories are all no longer than a New York, as they say, minute, so even just dipping into the book has the sensory effect of jumping into a cab for a few blocks.
In any case, fans of the NYC-living mythology will find it fascinating and yes, it includes a story about Woody Allen, don’t worry. To misquote the Manhattan-loving director, the book is so interesting you’ll barely be able to keep your eyes on the meter.
Buy the book from Amazon HERE.