Monday, December 8, 2014

Train Preliminary #4

9/20/14
5:49 p.m.

7 train.
Last stop - Flushing -

- There's a baby next to me, and I wonder at the constant, impulsive, automatic crying of the infant. What do you have to cry over? I mean really cry? You have your whole life. So much time to fix the things you don't like. Such a wide open pasture for your vision-grazing. All the materials and momenta of the world ogling intently at your future. "Life," I hear it saying. "I cry over life." I hear that in its cry, and I feel its chthonic pain. But I remain silent.

(a viable topic for future discussion: the behavior of parents on the subway)

- Just now passing over Willet's Point. One of the perfect hidden true-gem corners of NYC. In the shadow of the bastardized MetLife and justborn CitiGroup stadiums - a ramshackle, ill-paved, circuitous avenue of autoshops outside regulation - only one establishment that doesn't fit the theme: a cafe with chickens strutting about indoors. Take a drive one of these days down the avenue and before you know it, you can drive no longer for the impediment of car-hustlers and parts-hawkers coerces you off the road. They'll win you over to buy a collapsed, inflated muffler to replace the one you just lost to the potholes of Willet's point. NY's little Mexican slum drive.

- I remark to myself how civil and quiet Queens trains are, particularly on the way back to Manhattan on a late Sat. afternoon. The J-train is always chaotic, too many whirling devils, too much discourtesy, too much rubbish and negligent mayhem. Queens passengers are more subdued, less of an urge to vaunt themselves or resist others - less self-important. Perhaps this is where I see my next NY manifestation, forever riding this train back to the city of a late Saturday afternoon.

----

- I immediately take it back. I've had to transfer to the Manhattan-bound E (part of the 7 is being repaired - wknd repairs). There are many more people on this train, typical NY straphangers, frantic, strained, stretched beyond civility - dismissive of their environment, lacking perspective or concern for anyone but themselves. The patina and musk of NY filth. All walks of life, though mostly minorities, all ages. A general net of disparate disconcerting sounds. Particularly the sound of the train scraping along the track and the speed of this large subterranean silverfish colloquializing with the walls of its borough. The heavy misshapen wheels raking out on a mangled misshapen track. I wonder what the trains sounded like when the system was first built. Did the trains move so ponderously, momentously? With such overwhelming effort? Probably more so: the materials and techniques for both the cars and stations being what they were, rudimentary. Though perhaps more artisanal than now, and more freshly constructed. (so what accounts for the idyll I just experienced on the 7? Its being above ground? The E's extending further into Manhattan? The neighborhood (Jackson Heights, Woodside, Hunter's Point) serviced by either train?)

- Across the aisle there is a young coffee-colored boy, wearing a superman shirt, grasping one red balloon. He has sad eyes. His loving father has his arm around the tyke. Where did this one red balloon originate? It is the opposite of ostentatious, one of the balloons you find in a bag of 100 for a buck, no longer maximally swollen and taut, but elevated to a higher status because of its one-ness and the sadness of the eyes which peer out over it. They leave.

- On my way out to Flushing, I saw an ad that was hard to stomach. It was an MTA-sponsored ad detailing new remodeling work being done on the tracks. It said 'Because after 80 years, who doesn't need a facelift?" It hurt to see how culturally saturated and sanctioned plastic surgery has become. But then again, the writers of these signs are always so out of touch. It's fascinating to me just how out of touch ads have become. A lot of them are meant to be personable, humorous, topical, but they almost always end up seeming stuffy, musty, wooden. In terms of most transparent and crudest, the seasonal ads are only surpassed by the ones which exploit the discomfort of the commuting experience.

- I have some respect for Manhattan Mini Storage, because they've abandoned all spindoctoring in their advertising campaigns. Most of their plugs are just shameless, blatant political messages or inside jokes without any real concern for public appeal. A rare one of their ads that actually lands: "'In my Father's house there are many rooms.' John 14:2 | Clearly Jesus was not a New Yorker." That has some zing to it.

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