N -Train Brooklyn-Bound, 10:25 a.m. / B-38 Ridgewood
- The train is stalled in the station. The doors have re-opened twice. No announcement. No 'Ladies and Gentlemen, we apologize for the delay.' No 'We will be moving shortly.' No 'Thank you for your patience.' No sign of motion or progress or acceleration or change in wind, humidity, or barometric pressure. Most likely, a last-minute straggler has swooped in, prised the closing doors open (not difficult), and held them ajar for his family circus barreling down the platform. Potentially dangerous, inconvenient for others. But hell, doesn't everybody do it?
- Have you often wondered at the vomit-splatter paint on the floor? Calling forth an antique book with marble end-pages, or a large speckled gumball stolen from your youth. I believe the pattern is meant to disguise actual vomit and filth. To lend to the dirty floors a certain artificial neatness of plan. But it only works with minute filth: small dustbunnies, a solitary piece of gravel, perhaps a sewing needle. Everything else is set in great relief by the ugly pattern. What's worse, we straphangers feel no pride in our bosom, gazing at the floor. Quite the opposite, we feel reckless and prone to ceaseless litter.
- Around 30 people on the train. Mostly Mexican and Asian (nondescript), no doubt headed all the way to Sunset Park or the Brooklyn Chinatown. Far past my destination, the DeKalb stop, where I'll walk to the Fulton Mall and board the B-38.
- On these outerborough trains, there are more advertisements for technical schools and insurance programs, beautification services, or city-sponsored ads combating vice issues: excessive drinking of sodas and alcohols and the like, anti-homeless ads, teen pregnancy ads. Most are expressed with the same garish colors and outmoded typeface of sex catalogues, sometimes with visual testimonies from whatever token minority - always the same caged-up, farcical expression on their face.
In Manhattan, you have whole cars beseiged by Swatch, whole depots sacked by Svedka or Swarovski, UNIQLO-conquered corridors. Apple-sized craters, villages bombed by Vitamin Water.
In Brooklyn, we're blessed by acne removal technicians and immigration lawyers.
- B38 toward Ridgewood. I get off @ Malcolm X Blvd. one block before Broadway, going E on Lafayette.
- Every everlasting loudspeaker on every NY bus produces muffled static and bestial syllables. They might as well be transmissions from Mars. I can't rely on them to tell me where I am. Nor on the off-chance that there will be others getting off with me. Instead, I must be vigilant, twist my neck, crane my neck, break my neck, play musical seats, plaster my face against the window, everything's speeding in the wrong direction, lookout for busstop signs, subway signs, bodega signs, park signs, any signs that might tell me where in God's bigapple universe I happen to be. Riding the bus is not like riding the train.
- The majority of passengers are like the route: intraborough. That is to say predominately Black and Latino. The NYC bus is for the poor, defeated, deflated, husked, and weary. Those who by necessity work and play and live and convene and sleep and drink and eat and sit and shit and fuck and die all in the same neighborhood. Who are kept there by our city's precious subway monopoly, by avaricious landlords and the beautiful people with pockets, by racial profiling, commercial blight, and all the oppressive elements that just can't seem to stay on their side of the fence.
[ "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these the homeless, tempest tost to me, and I will lose them on the city buses." ]
- More kids just released from school. More elders, more fatties, more handicapable, more grotesques. Some of them must be returning to work after their lunch hour, which they took in the comfort and privacy of their own proximal homes, lucky dogs.
- I've always thought born NYers are some of the most practical people I know. And the most sociopathic. Watching the unsupervised children roll in and out like thrown dice, makes me curious if that's not the way they get there.