Last week I donned my favorite jacket which loving wife gave to me for my birthday, the Barbour Sapper, and I left the house for work. The morning routine. I strolled to the Carroll Street stop, as I always do, and proceeded to the exact spot on the underground platform that will deposit me nearest the exit at my destination. Repetition breeds efficiency. I turned my Kindle on, and proceed to dig into the Lincoln autobiography I’ve been slogging through for the past 2 months, and in so doing, I leaned against the platform girder pole. The same girder pole I always lean against. I’m a leaner. Always leaning. When I got to the city and took my jacket off, my hands touched something wet and sticky. This is unequivocally a bad tactile sensation to have after a subway ride. It can never bode well.And sure enough, horror of horrors, I had a massive stripe of girder-colored oil-based paint along my shoulder. Seems that my leaning pole had been freshly painted, though no one labeled it as such. Or perhaps someone thought it amusing to remove the sign? Ha ha. Staring at my ruined jacket, I had the kind of unique fury that is utterly impotent, for there is no proper recipient and nowhere to direct it. I walked it over to the Barbour store on Wooster, and the dude was like, “Well, we can send it off to the factory and maybe they’ll be able to improve it.” That’s not the verb I was hoping to hear. Anyway, now it’s in Barbour’s hands. A ruthless and vengeful New York City decided that it was going to take my jacket and kill it. You cannot fight this town when it spontaneously decides a sacrifice is necessary; that there will be blood. I guess that sense of surprise and fear helps keep our relationship fresh.
Oh, I’m sorry, is this your personal subway? No one gets a seat for themselves AND their bags. I call bullshit on that. And just because you deliberately don’t make eye contact with me doesn’t mean you’re released from this obligation.
Hit me in the nose for a third time with the edge of your newspaper while turning the page on this packed rush hour train. I double-dog dare you.No singing. No matter how compelling the music blaring in your ear buds might be.
You’re all packed near the door like Pringles. Move to the center of the train. It’s an oasis in there. Come on, guys. I’d do it for you! (Maybe.)
This ain’t a cafeteria. No fried food or fish on this train. Hell no.
You honestly don’t need to jockey for the exit door in front of me when I’m leaving, too.Ma’am? There’s NO room. No one else can fit in this packed car. By squeezing in like this against me, you can’t just make the “whaddya gonna do?” expression and expect everything to be cool between us. We should at least have a cocktail together before this level of intimacy.
And please, oh please, don’t fart. Not even a little, because ‘Ma’am’ just made your skinny ass invade my ever shrinking sphere. Can’t I just enjoy my book?
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and have a blessed day.
I love reading on the subway, and one of the more enjoyable aspects of my subway commute is checking out what my fellow New Yorkers happen to be reading. Admittedly, this was easier in the days before e-readers but I find with some good old fashioned nosiness you can still usually make out what folks are consuming. By employing this well-honed peripheral vision technique, last week I noticed two separate people reading Dennis Lehane’s recently published “Live By Night” and sensing a trend, I picked up a sample. By page 7, I ordered it.It is by turns a period noir, a mob thriller and an epic, though what I ultimately found it to be was compelling. I enjoy literature that is not easily digested and although by no means a shallow read, Live By Night is not deep. Where it succeeds, however, is in the rare art of being a terrific page-turner and it’s completely entertaining. The plot is tight, with well-rendered characters and sharp, believable dialogue. This novel cries out “I’m a movie!” like nothing I’ve read in recent memory (save for The Sisters Brothers, and I think that has been optioned already.) So, pick it up. Lehane is a good writer. Be entertained!
If you take the Downtown 6 train to the last stop at Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall and then stay on the train while it winds around underground to become the Uptown 6, you’ll get a nice little surprise out the window to your right.
Mayor Robert Van Wyke presided over the ground breaking of the City Hall Station for the IRT Lexington Avenue line in March of 1900. Originally designed to look like the other stations in the line with simple white utilitarian tile with inlaid mosaic labeling each stop, this curvy station got an upgrade when the new mayor, George McClellon, declared that his stop under City Hall had to be “more beautiful than the rest.” He got what he wanted and on October 27th, 1904 he turned the silver key official opening this amazing underground hub for business. It was never the busiest station, but certainly the most beautiful with its Romanesque Revival architecture, intricate tile work, arched blue leaded glass skylights and massive brass chandeliers.
Even the oak ticket booth with cast iron bars on its windows was more ornate than ones at the rest of the stops. Unfortunately, with the expanding size or the trains, the tight curve in the stations design created a tremendously unsafe gap for passengers to navigate and the station closed on December 31, 1945. Sealed with concrete slabs, it became a virtual tomb until 1995 when it was intended to be reopened as a part of the New York Transit Museum. Plans were halted for that project when the Giuliani administration deemed it’s location a “highly secure” area due to terrorist threats. So today, this incredible piece of transit history remains unused except for the occasional tour given to members of the Transit Museum.