Do Not Mess With Eugene Mirman
July 13, 2015 7:50 PM   Subscribe

On the off chance you're a parking enforcement officer and you see Eugene Mirman breaking the law, take a breath before you whip our your ticket book and mutter, "Screw you, Gene Belcher...". Because Eugene Mirman will make your life a living hell for daring to give him a $15 ticket for parking in the wrong direction. Well, maybe not hell. But he'll totally take out a full-page ad in your local paper to rant about it. So... consider yourself warned.
posted by Etrigan (93 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
He once wrote a letter to Delta Airlines.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:06 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I didn't find that hugely funny, but Eugene is also Eugene the landlord from Flight of the Conchords so seeing his face made me happy...
posted by mmoncur at 8:07 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Isn't this illegal in most places? It's illegal everywhere in California (and will cost you something like $60 or more in SF) except Long Beach is apparently allowed a weird pilot program where they can try it out in limited areas.

It does seem like they could just have a standard no fine warning notice though.
posted by zachlipton at 8:08 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's actually a pretty common parking ordinance tbh
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:08 PM on July 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I went to his website, and was unable to find the link entitled "Eugene's Ordinances", which makes his letter seem quite deceptive. I call shenanigans on his letter.
posted by el io at 8:12 PM on July 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Why did he back up to the curb? Is that the way Massholes usually park or something? Wild stuff down south of the border.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:13 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


It appears to me that Mirman backed into one of those deeper, diagonal spots that's NOT parallel to the curb, which the california ordinance doesn't appear cover, for one.

Here in Pittsburgh, any place with diagonal parking that doesn't allow backing in is signed that way.
posted by muddgirl at 8:14 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I meant perpendicular, not diagonal!
posted by muddgirl at 8:16 PM on July 13, 2015


Did he parallel park backwards, because that's commonly illegal. But from the letter it sounds like he backed into a perpendicular space, which is a pretty common thing to do. I'd be very surprised if that was illegal (except in Portsmouth I guess).
posted by ryanrs at 8:18 PM on July 13, 2015


Yeah, Muddgirl's right. The only way the parking procedure makes sense as described is if it was a diagonal parking spot where one places there bumper towards the curve, not a parallel parking spot.

In which case, I agree, that's a load of horse#$t.
posted by midmarch snowman at 8:18 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by jferg at 8:21 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I agree. If it was a diagonal parking space, that's nuts. Back-in angle parking (where you must back in) is all the rage among urban traffic planners, despite evidence that roughly 0.02% of drivers are physically capable of performing such a feat.
posted by zachlipton at 8:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Hmm, where I come from there is a hefty penalty for incorrectly using the term "hilarious".

And $15 bucks? Clearly Portsmouth City Council needs to get out more and see what other cities charge.
posted by mattoxic at 8:28 PM on July 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


from the letter it sounds like he backed into a perpendicular space

Just as another data point, I was required to do this as part of a Minnesota driving exam several years ago. Instructed to do so by a state trooper, Smokey-the-Bear hat, "Fargo" accent, the whole works.

Come to Minnesota, Eugene, you qualify to teach driver's ed here!
posted by gimonca at 8:52 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


And now we stand silent to honor another Yahoo News moment.
posted by benzenedream at 8:53 PM on July 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


Photo of the car in the parking spot.

"F%#king bull$&*it" is about right.

(Non-Facebook link)
posted by Shmuel510 at 8:57 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


It was a parking garage? What the hell Portsmouth?
posted by zachlipton at 9:02 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe the ordinance dates from the goodolddays when cars were all rear-wheel drive and couldn't be towed from the front without disengaging the transmission.
posted by Flashman at 9:05 PM on July 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


Having looked at the photo, assuming that he did not move his car after the fact, that ticket is indeed some grade A bullshit.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:18 PM on July 13, 2015


Once my dad parked on the wrong side of the street after an all-day roadtrip. He was dead tired, but more likely he probably never thought a police car would ticket him on our quiet residential street. He was wrong. The next morning he indeed had a ticket for parking the wrong direction.
posted by zardoz at 9:21 PM on July 13, 2015


Honestly, I don't get the urge to back into parking spaces. The difficulty of backing into a limited space (vs. backing out into a more open lane) easily outweighs any "visibility" concerns. Unless your car has like zero visibility out the back, in which case what the hell were you thinking buying a badly-designed car like that in the first place (and why the hell are such vehicles even available)?

(On preview, Flashman makes an interesting point)
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole parking-in-the-wrong-direction-on-the-street thing does actually annoy me, largely because it's vexingly common on my street, and makes gauging the space for parallel parking painfully difficult. But I guess that's not a huge deal.

Backing into a delineated space seems pretty different to me, though.
posted by koeselitz at 9:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


In driving school in Ontario, we're taught to back into all spots. Reading the comments in this thread is very unsettling. What's wrong with you people.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:25 PM on July 13, 2015 [17 favorites]


ryanrs: “But from the letter it sounds like he backed into a perpendicular space, which is a pretty common thing to do.”

Aha, but hold on now! From the photograph – look carefully – the spot actually does not look perpendicular. It looks like the space is at an angle that is less than perpendicular; note that while the photographer views the car head-on, the wall behind it recedes to the left (that is, the left side of the wall is further away than the right side.)

Given this fact, I have to say: I believe Eugene Mirman was at fault here. Backing into perpendicular spaces makes a good deal of sense. Backing into angled spaces does not, because the flow of traffic past angled spaces is supposed to go into the spaces so that people can easily park. If you're able to back into the space, you're going against the flow of traffic; and when you pull back in, you'll have to drive against the flow of traffic again. This vexes me constantly in parking lots – people backing into (or even pulling straight through from the other side into) angled spaces, and then coming back out of them to confront me head-on, forcing us all to recalibrate and try to figure out how to unravel the situation.

$15 is a small ticket, and he really did park badly and (in my view) wrongly. I agree with the parking enforcement division of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Eugene Mirman did it wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 9:34 PM on July 13, 2015 [15 favorites]


– Oh, is that what people mean here when they say that it's a "diagonal" space – that it looks like this? It really does seem like backing into this sort of space is a bad idea that screws up traffic entirely and makes life difficult for everyone. If the diagonal spaces were on the other side of the street, backing in would make the most sense; but as it is, it's a terrible thing to do.
posted by koeselitz at 9:40 PM on July 13, 2015


(Not terrible, really. Just seems like a bad idea? I dunno. I live in Albuquerque, where thankfully parking isn't usually a problem and those things are rare. But if I'd seen people backing in like that when I lived in Boston, it would've annoyed me mightily.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:41 PM on July 13, 2015


Honestly, I don't get the urge to back into parking spaces. The difficulty of backing into a limited space (vs. backing out into a more open lane) easily outweighs any "visibility" concerns

The advantage to backing in while parking is that you can see what is there before you back in, and have more control over situation. Also, then when you leave, you have forward visibility. I back my truck into perpendicular spots all the time for this reason (or more often, just pull through).

However, he backed into a diagonal spot. He was backwards to traffic to get in there, and will be backwards to traffic to leave the spot. Despite his sanctimony, he is the wrongest wrong that ever wronged here.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:46 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I live in the Portsmouth area. That is indeed an angled spot, and it is located just outside of the back of a parking garage, off of a one way alley-like street. It's a small area of about 20 spaces, and I'd say backing in must not have been super easy given the available area. But it's not heavily trafficked, so it's unlikely he was holding anyone up or causing any danger. Still, backing in to an angle spot is, generally speaking, completely stupid and deserving of a ticket.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:50 PM on July 13, 2015 [14 favorites]


It looks like the space is at an angle that is less than perpendicular; note that while the photographer views the car head-on, the wall behind it recedes to the left (that is, the left side of the wall is further away than the right side.)

Hmm. I wish there were more context on the photo, but on review, I think you're right. That does change matters.
posted by Shmuel510 at 9:51 PM on July 13, 2015


A) I've always kinda hated "fancy parking". (previously)

B) Complaining about parking tickets is kinda old.
posted by All Out of Lulz at 9:53 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Any friend of Neli DeGrasse Tyson is a friend of mine and can park upside down in the Queen's loo if he wants to. Plus Flight of The Concords.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:56 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


My favourite part is when he yells at the clouds.
posted by clvrmnky at 10:15 PM on July 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Despite his sanctimony, he is the wrongest wrong that ever wronged here."

I'm not so sure about that, Pogo.

I can imagine several circumstances where makes sense in the many parking lots with compromised designs that I frequent. Specifically, a diagonal at the very beginning of a row, where the feeder lane is close to an exit. If you reverse into the spot, when you exit you can re-enter the feeder lane and make it to the exit without driving the wrong way, and possibly avoiding having to circle around (possibly multiple times in a garage) to arrive at the same spot.

I posit that this slightly less evil than Stalin drunkenly calling an ex-girlfriend during the finale of Breaking Bad (the actual ultimate wrong that has ever wronged).

I posit it may even be awesome-sauce.
posted by midmarch snowman at 10:28 PM on July 13, 2015


take a breath before you whip our your ticket book and mutter, "Screw you, Gene Belcher..."

The reaction was pretty tame compared to what Louise would have done.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:39 PM on July 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


The people I will never understand are those who don't pull through when two head-to-head spots allow it, ie. in shopping mall lots. Drive straight in, drive straight out, no backing up, could not be easier.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on July 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was amazed to discover that this was in NH. I'm from elsewhere in NH and went most of my life until a few years ago never having even heard of anyone objecting to this.

In a very small remote town in South Dakota a police officer didn't ticket me but demanded that I turn my truck around in the parking space. Which seems as though it would produce more hazard or disruption of traffic or whatever enforcing a particular direction for parking would be intended to prevent. I'm given to suspect that there's some sort of OCD at work here rather than whatever the stated rationale is.
posted by XMLicious at 10:59 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't suspect OCD, but I do suspect the parking authority has to write an awful lot of tickets to meet revenue targets when they're only getting $15 per unit, less labor and upkeep on the three-wheeler.
posted by notyou at 11:12 PM on July 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The people I will never understand are those who don't pull through when two head-to-head spots allow it, ie. in shopping mall lots.

Makes it a lot harder to load the trunk if someone pulls in behind you.
posted by Etrigan at 11:34 PM on July 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


Makes it a lot harder to load the trunk if someone pulls in behind you.

Totally this, especially in my car which has a side opening tailgate.
posted by jamaro at 11:44 PM on July 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish: “The people I will never understand are those who don't pull through when two head-to-head spots allow it, ie. in shopping mall lots. Drive straight in, drive straight out, no backing up, could not be easier.”

In diagonal parking lots, people don't pull through because it's a terrible idea to do so. As the linked diagram shows, you're supposed to be going through the aisle in a specific direction – the direction which makes it immediately easy to pull into a parking space. If you're going in the direction that makes it immediately easy to pull out of a space, you have to either (a) do a difficult 254-point u-turn to flip around so that you're going the right way, or (b) you have to jet out of the aisle really quickly and hope other people just wait for you to let you out.

And people almost always choose option (b). Which is really tedious.

Again: in a diagonal single-directional parking lot – like every mall parking lot I've ever met – pulling through one spot to the adjacent spot is a terrible idea, and no one should do it.
posted by koeselitz at 11:46 PM on July 13, 2015


(Probably a very good idea to pull through in perpendicular parking lots, though.)
posted by koeselitz at 11:51 PM on July 13, 2015


Did you look at the image you linked to? In parking lots like that you don't even have to do a three point turn, even with a fairly large vehicle, unless it's completely crowded with other large vehicles.

I can see it being important if maybe there are diagonal parking lots with much sharper angles, and I've been in parking garages that are really cramped where it wouldn't be as easy. Or if it were packed with constantly circulating traffic. It's just that most of the times I've parked in places in North America none of those circumstances have been present (in fact I can only recall a handful of mall parking lots that have been diagonal instead of perpendicular) but I'm sure it depends on where you live and what times of day you usually find yourself parking and leaving.
posted by XMLicious at 12:26 AM on July 14, 2015


$15 ticket for parking in the wrong direction.

Is this common in the USA ? If they tried this in the Netherlands there would be howls of outrage.
posted by Pendragon at 12:59 AM on July 14, 2015


Goes without saying a fine for this would be utterly laughable out here in the lawless Balkans.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:27 AM on July 14, 2015


OK, but nobody's objecting to the joke about General John Stark dying attempting to give himself a BJ? Too soon, guys. Too soon.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:25 AM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Looking at the picture of his car in the space, I think I know the rationale. There are some head-in only lots around Pittsburgh for the same reason. His car has no front license plate, which is typical here and presumably there as well, so backing in makes it harder for officers to scan for cars that haven't fed the meter recently enough. Parking enforcement ticketed him for making parking enforcement's job difficult.
posted by jon1270 at 3:12 AM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


This story has 2 elements of American culture that I find interesting, and that I didn't really realize were even a part of the culture until I moved abroad. And I'm finding those elements here in the thread too.

The nitpicky obsession with law and order. Witness that even in this thread, we are having disagreement as to whether or not this is "parking badly" or not. In which a car, wholly contained in a marked parking space and which can be parked and extracted entirely safely, can somehow be parked incorrectly. It's as if the law and not common sense defines how to park a car, and adults cannot be trusted to do this simple thing reasonably without regulation.

To me, it's deeply ironic that a land so obsessed with personal freedom regulates like this on so many day-to-day details that don't actually matter.

The righteous outrage over small fines. If you break some random ordinance and receive some random token fine, it is outrageous if the ordinance is stupid or you didn't know about it. It's like if you've been fined, one of two things has to be true: either you are "guilty" and in the wrong, or the fine is bullshit and the government is stealing from you. Either way, it turns from a civil fine into a moral issue.

The reality is that it's not a punishment. If you can afford the $15 one time, it's not a big deal. Next time, the car gets parked "correctly" and that's what the ordinance intends.

FWIW -- I understand that Mr. Mirman's letter is humor. It's likely that he made a guess it was worth the price of his advert here, and he's turning out to be correct. However, I find the letter to be in the vein of "ha, ha, only serious" or "kidding on the square". The indignation is part of the humor, but it's indignation all the same.
posted by cotterpin at 3:14 AM on July 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


He's comes across as an entitled, arrogant asshole... just pay the ticket you idiot..
posted by HuronBob at 3:27 AM on July 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had been planning to surprise my wife with an overnight trip to Portsmouth next week. But after reading about dystopian nightmarescape parking in that city has become, I may just drive on to Portland where the moose park free as the wind.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:33 AM on July 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Again: in a diagonal single-directional parking lot – like every mall parking lot I've ever met

A regional thing? I can only remember one out of several hundred lots around here that's diagonal. It's such a PITA. Especially for big trucks. Or anyone with a trailer. Or motorhome.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:17 AM on July 14, 2015


cotterpin: Witness that even in this thread, we are having disagreement as to whether or not this is "parking badly" or not....To me, it's deeply ironic that a land so obsessed with personal freedom regulates like this on so many day-to-day details that don't actually matter.

Amen.

Anyway, I occasionally back into angled spots because backing OUT of any spot in urban New England is hazardous to your health and sanity. Inevitably you will be surrounded by monstrous SUVs that block your vision entirely.

I LOLed at Mirman's letter - thanks for posting.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:27 AM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


One wholly boggled European here, wondering why the heck reversing into a parking space could cause even the mildest of consternation.
posted by metaxa at 4:50 AM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Many states do not require a front tag, like Florida. There are signs in garages here that tell you not to back into spots. If a police officer is looking for a particular tag, he needs to actually see it. Thus parking front-in is required.
posted by Splunge at 4:52 AM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are a couple of blocks of back-in-only diagonal parking (signed as such) near the Marine Barracks here in DC. My coffee hasn't kicked in yet but it's hard to imagine how trying to park front to curb in these spots would be anything but an ugly mistake.
posted by exogenous at 4:54 AM on July 14, 2015


One wholly boggled European here, wondering why the heck reversing into a parking space could cause even the mildest of consternation.

Imagine a situation like this. A lot of it has to do with the degree of the angle of the parking spots, and the space available to drive through. The sharper the angle, and the narrower the driving lane, the dumber and dumber (and dangerouser and dangerouser) it becomes to back-in to a parking spot (especially in a confined space like a parking garage).

In sum: Eugene Mirman should not be allowed to drive.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:48 AM on July 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Agreed. Eugene Mirman should be carried everywhere on a palanquin like a Roman emperor.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:00 AM on July 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


If that's the price we have to pay, as a society, to keep this menace off the roads, then so be it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:03 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm, where I come from there is a hefty penalty for incorrectly using the term "hilarious".

Search engine optimization is the scourge of our times.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:07 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


so backing in makes it harder for officers to scan for cars that haven't fed the meter recently enough. Parking enforcement ticketed him for making parking enforcement's job difficult.

No. Pretty sure they chalk the tires in Portsmouth and I don't think the plate is the only way of knowing if the car has been there a while. The spaces are just outside the parking garage in a covered area that (I think) is one way. According to some local's Facebook post on the whole matter, to do what he did required going through in the wrong direction and stopping traffic flow for anyone else trying to get into a spot. I like Gene Belcher but I think he could do himself a favor by not trying to turn anything he doesn't like into World War III.
posted by yerfatma at 6:20 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Portsmouth parking is about the worst experience I've ever had, and I found myself having to park there quite often when I lived nearby. They desperately need to work on infrastructure so that visiting their lovely downtown isn't a nightmare where you will either definitely strike a pedestrian, or need to do alchemy to find a parking spot. The garage isn't too bad, though if you don't have cash (and the price just went up!) you're just boned there.
posted by phlyingpenguin at 6:29 AM on July 14, 2015


I did parking enforcement once for a few months, I think the techniques vary a lot by company, but there were a number of "two hour parking" lots on my rounds that required I enter all of the license plates into my ticket-printing machine, it would automatically detect matches. I would agree with the idea that he got a ticket for making parking enforcement's job harder.

Literally the only joy that job brought me was ticketing those dipshits who can't park their ginormous trucks and decide to take up 2+ spots. The rest of the job was arguing with people. So hey, if you like to argue with people who are shitty at parking, there may be a career for you!
posted by Feyala at 7:23 AM on July 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


The nitpicky obsession with law and order. Witness that even in this thread, we are having disagreement as to whether or not this is "parking badly" or not. In which a car, wholly contained in a marked parking space and which can be parked and extracted entirely safely, can somehow be parked incorrectly. It's as if the law and not common sense defines how to park a car, and adults cannot be trusted to do this simple thing reasonably without regulation.

Well, now I feel like an apologist for the unchecked advance of state power, but a car parked in certain ways is evidence of the car having been driven in a certain way ( "to do what he did required going through in the wrong direction"). Which, when you are sitting behind them being held up with a half-dozen others, is really annoying and it becomes obvious that no, not all adults can or care to drive to do a simple thing simply. You break a traffic law, don't get caught in the act or hurt anyone, but also don't hide the evidence--$15 seems fair.
posted by mark k at 7:30 AM on July 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm having a weird sense of deja vu here, because while the Facebook links and newspaper ad are from this summer, I saw Mirman live in October 2013 (along with John Hodgman and Kristen Schall), and I could swear he performed much of the content of this letter at the time during his stand up bit.

Which leaves me to wonder: did he put off paying the ticket for two years, did he go back to get another ticket for source material, or am I, as always, deluding myself?
posted by deludingmyself at 8:02 AM on July 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


You Americans are just weird. I can't even begin to imagine why parking the correct way could cause such a problem.
posted by salmacis at 8:12 AM on July 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


In my memory, there is not nearly so much dedicated parking space in europe as in the US. We have these massive carparks outside anything of interest, and since they exist for no other reason than car storage (besides teen loitering), they have rules about using them most efficiently. American car culture is a factor here. Driving and parking make up a big part of a lot of people's lives here, and when other people do something that makes driving or parking harder or less safe we probably do get a little more worked up than other folks.

On the ticket though, I'd file backing into a diagonal spot under dickish rather than illegal. I did not know that it is in some places, but it makes sense especially in states that don't require front license plates (something I discovered this weekend in the UP of Michigan. They don't require front plates and I'd never seen that before. Why is that done in some places? I really don't get it.) or have a lot more traffic than where I live.
posted by neonrev at 8:34 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


They don't require front plates and I'd never seen that before. Why is that done in some places?

Halves the state budget for license plates, and no one will particularly care if the fees aren't much different, so it's free money. The vast majority of the time that a plate is needed to identify a vehicle, it will either be stationary or the entity that needs to identify it will be behind the vehicle anyway.
posted by Etrigan at 8:53 AM on July 14, 2015


Ah, that makes sense. Coming from SD I never imagined that we could have missed a single opportunity to cut state costs and rip off the tax payer at the same time. Also I saw a lot of people with purely decorative front plates so there's that too.
posted by neonrev at 9:03 AM on July 14, 2015


salmacis: “You Americans are just weird. I can't even begin to imagine why parking the correct way could cause such a problem.”

There aren't one-way streets in other countries? Because that's what we're talking about: people going the wrong way on a one-way street. The parking is just an ancillary thing; the only reason backing in is a problem is because it required you to go the wrong way on a one-way street.
posted by koeselitz at 9:10 AM on July 14, 2015


Camera-based toll-taking and ticket-issuing systems need those front plates.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:11 AM on July 14, 2015


They don't require front plates and I'd never seen that before. Why is that done in some places?

This is New Hampshire, Holmes. That would be two separate arguments about freedom and even one is exhausting.
posted by yerfatma at 9:11 AM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Requiring front plates doubles the cost of manufacture of license plates. Sometimes state governments decide that's not really worth it. I live in New Mexico, where they don't require front plates, and I kind of agree; I'd rather they spend that money on education or something. Then again, I'm not a cop.
posted by koeselitz at 9:15 AM on July 14, 2015


Back-in angle parking (where you must back in) is all the rage among urban traffic planners.

As part of a downtown plan for a western U.S. Community, my team proposed back-in angle parking for the reasons noted in the article linked by zachlipton. The planning director lamented that it wouldn't work in Big Square State because there are so many pick-ups with extended beds, which impinge on sidewalk users when parked with their rear wheels up against the curb or bumper block.
posted by carmicha at 9:29 AM on July 14, 2015


To me, it's deeply ironic that a land so obsessed with personal freedom regulates like this on so many day-to-day details that don't actually matter.

You do realize that those laws are not meant to be enforced on everyone.
posted by srboisvert at 9:52 AM on July 14, 2015


The parking is just an ancillary thing; the only reason backing in is a problem is because it required you to go the wrong way on a one-way street.

But so does backing out of a diagonal parking space the "correct" way, in fact it requires going the wrong way down a "one way street" in reverse...

This is New Hampshire, Holmes. That would be two separate arguments about freedom and even one is exhausting.

NH itself requires two license plates on vehicles, so even if this involves Mirman having a one-plate out-of-state car it doesn't have anything to do with freedom.
posted by XMLicious at 11:21 AM on July 14, 2015


But so does backing out of a diagonal parking space the "correct" way, in fact it requires going the wrong way down a "one way street" in reverse...

Just need to clarify here. Are you arguing that in a parking garage, one should drive against the flow of traffic in order to secure a backed-in parking spot? That in fact that approach is better than driving in accordance with the flow of traffic? And the reasoning here is that if one did drive with the flow of traffic and park head-in, then one would need to back up ten feet when exiting. And that that ten-feet of reverse driving while exiting the spot is somehow more dangerous than driving the wrong way? In a parking garage?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:43 AM on July 14, 2015


NH itself requires two license plates on vehicles

I think that's a custom more honor'd in the breach than the observance. Put it this way: a couple of weeks ago I saw a young guy driving with 0 plates and I wasn't all that shocked. (We were on the road with him for a while and there wasn't a plate in any of the obvious alternate places and it looked very much like his daily driver)
posted by yerfatma at 12:34 PM on July 14, 2015


Considering how many times I've been pulled over for a state inspection being a few days overdue, if there's somewhere in NH where you can regularly get away with not even having license plates I should probably find it and move there...

Just need to clarify here. Are you arguing that in a parking garage, one should drive against the flow of traffic in order to secure a backed-in parking spot?

I can only recall maybe a handful of parking garages I've parked in with only one-way one-lane traffic, and even many of the ones I'm remembering contained only short stretches of one-way traffic due to parts of the building being oddly laid out or oddly shaped.

These scenarios that necessitate outlawing parking a particular way as an instrumental means to prevent a separate supposed parking-related crime just seem completely bizarre and contrived to me. Maybe there are parts of North America where every mall has acute diagonal parking lots and every parking garage is designed with a single one-way-traffic loop throughout, and is packed full 24 hours a day and has constantly circulating traffic like a garage in Manhattan so that any case of reversed-in parking is a Euclidean proof of some other traffic malfeasance that can't just be penalized in its own right lest too many dastardly parking-fiends be allowed to go free, but Portsmouth NH is not one of those places.

Lots of fiends of other sorts and it kind of smells weird, but I don't think these particular hypothetical parking conundrums are any substantial problem there.
posted by XMLicious at 2:47 PM on July 14, 2015


Pretty sure they chalk the tires in Portsmouth and I don't think the plate is the only way of knowing if the car has been there a while.

They’ve installed “pay and display” systems all over the city, including in the spot Mirman used. So it’s dead simple to see who’s been there and for how long.

The garage isn't too bad, though if you don't have cash (and the price just went up!) you're just boned there.

To be fair, it’s only up to $1.75 per hour. So we’re not talking Boston pricing - and there's an ATM right at the exit if you're stuck without the cash. There is at least one new garage in the works as part of a big (and controversial) project that will bring a Whole Foods downtown.
posted by schoolgirl report at 3:05 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


maybe a handful of parking garages I've parked in with only one-way one-lane traffic

For the pedantic, this isn't actually in the garage, it's a weird set of spaces tucked in under an overhang attached to the garage. It's not a ridiculously tight fit, but I would definitely grumble about anyone with foreign plates who decided to make a day of it doing at 12 point turn.
posted by yerfatma at 3:16 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


The people I will never understand are those who don't pull through when two head-to-head spots allow it, ie. in shopping mall lots. Drive straight in, drive straight out, no backing up, could not be easier.

I was taught not to do this because someone could be pulling into the other end of the space at the same time and you could hit them.
posted by bendy at 3:58 PM on July 14, 2015


surely THIS will save local newspapers
posted by NoraReed at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


>Camera-based toll-taking and ticket-issuing systems need those front plates.<

Not everywhere. We manage here with rear only plates in the toll plazas
posted by twidget at 5:07 PM on July 14, 2015


And $15 bucks? Clearly Portsmouth City Council needs to get out more and see what other cities charge.


Well, the city survives on tourism, and is reluctant to seriously alienate or deter its frequent visitors. But yeah, even York, ME, to the north, charges $25 for first violation.

The garage isn't too bad, though if you don't have cash (and the price just went up!)

It was .75 an hour before - insanely cheap. Even now, it's cheaper than in my less-congested, less-appealing New England city.

I just took a hard look at that picture, and yeah, I know where it is, too - it's in sort of a parking garage annex that has a very few spaces off of a right-angle intersection of two narrow one-way streets. It's not a place for back-and-forth manouvers or for nonstandard moves. Pedestrians cut across this zone regularly, because the stairs and elevator well is right behind it and commercial streets are right in front of it. It's a place to keep it simple.

I agree that context matters here. For one, Portsmouth is a city of narrow streets, limited parking, and tons of visitors. Parking is one the city's major revenue sources, given that this is one of the few states with no income tax. They pay several parking enforcement officers to roam the city all day every day. Never bank on getting away with "just 10 minutes" - you won't. They're very good. And yes, they do still use chalk, even though they also have pay-and-display in most major parking areas.

But second, when you live there, you recognize the likes of Eugene Mirman for every other entitled whiner who wants to bring their own rulebook for spending the day or weekend there. Just lump him in with every other Boston- or New York-area tourist who thinks that their home rules travel with them and that everyone can pause and wait while they manouvre their vehicle in whatever custom-optimized way they have mastered as a claim to superiority. His rant in the newspaper - which he published at a cost of many times the ticket - doesn't make him look cool. It's somewhat pathetic, and somewhat generic. Tell it to the judge, and take a number to get in line behind all the other aggrieved tourists. We hear people ranting all summer and, now, both shoulder seasons as well. No one cares. Pay up. You're not a hipster darling here, just another possible douche bringing your own set of standards to bear in a place they were never invited.

The rules exist for a reason, even if the only reason is "we need to recoup our investment in tourism."
posted by Miko at 7:17 PM on July 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also...there is a parking appeals process, and it doesn't involve taking out full page ads in local papers. Definitely more of a celebrity wanna-go-viral move. Though the good folks at The Sound are probably quite grateful for the windfall.
posted by Miko at 7:26 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


given that this is one of the few states with no income tax

"Live Free or Die"
posted by gimonca at 8:29 PM on July 14, 2015


Also...there is a parking appeals process, and it doesn't involve taking out full page ads in local papers.

No point in an appeal, he violated the rule. It was more a public appeal for them to maybe put up signs.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:41 PM on July 14, 2015


Still, I think that is an ineffective way to go about it, as most readers of the Summer Guide don't have the power to fund or mount city signage. It's a move designed more to garner attention to his person than to be effective.
posted by Miko at 5:44 AM on July 15, 2015


It was more a public appeal for them to maybe put up signs.

Where, facing the wrong way in the lot? "If you can read this, you're about to be fined."

Just lump him in with every other Boston- or New York-area tourist who thinks that their home rules travel with them

That perfectly sums up why I struggled to find this funny. He was actually in town because an art space some friends help run invited him and this comes off as he was doing the town a favor to grace us rubes with his presence.
posted by yerfatma at 6:41 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Definitely more of a celebrity wanna-go-viral move."

I'm actually surprised that there was ever any doubt from anyone that this (bizarre quip filled ad written by a comedian who's included a similarly hyperbole filled letter to a commercial airline in his stand-up act) is anything other than a joke. This is a joke.

Laugh. Or don't. That's really the only emotional reaction Eugene Mirman expected from this.
posted by midmarch snowman at 9:38 PM on July 26, 2015


This is a joke.

Who's the audience?
posted by Miko at 9:49 PM on July 26, 2015


People who read about what happened and his audience at his shows.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:01 PM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


That makes people who live there basically the butt of his attempted joke. In other words, he may or may not have expected our reaction; he just didn't care, because his eyes were on a more self-serving target. The ostensible "audience" isn't even the audience.

Fuck that attitude.
posted by Miko at 7:18 AM on July 27, 2015


The joke is he spent $1500 to complain about a silly $15 ticket because it would make people laugh at his shows. Seriously, I've watched the routine, it's on Netflix. He displays no serious ill will towards the people of the town. I can't think of many other comics as good natured and non-threatening as he is.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:41 AM on July 27, 2015


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