Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Sub-title

Amidst the chaotic Sub-world, some orderly Sub-stance

Two globes green stand on either side of the staircase – sentinels guarding a shrine. They barely blink as we pass through their uncrossed swords. Muted do the blaring horns wax and eclipsed does the glaring moon wane. Smells of spring foliage meeting summer night give way to the dusk muskiness of non-perfumed foundations.

Talk to a human with a robotic voice through perPlexiglas. Swipe two dollars for a plastic card and then swipe plastic card for a chance to turn (in) style. Cross (or, uncross) the steel elbows and find yourself on the other side of the border.

On the bench with uncomfortable hand-rests, wood polished by a million derrières, sits an older woman dangling her cane near a child dangling her legs. Looking at the map partially painted in spray, a fanny-packed couple in matching khaki shorts points their fingers to the tune of tourism. Leaning nonchalantly with a beaming smile on a smiling beam, a young man in flat-billed baseball cap nods to the hip-hop beat I-Tuned from his I-Pod. People stream in clogs (clog in streams?), heels, sneakers, loafers, boots, sandals, moccasins, flip-flops, and even platforms – yes, this platform is a platform of diversity.

Earth rumbling a quake no Richter can scale – an express expressing her desire to pass us locals by.

Light piercing the end of the tunnel, moves not at the speed of light. It crawls ever so slowly, seemingly at a snail’s pace. Finally it is illuminated that this is not the long overdo “light at the end of the tunnel”, but only a tumbling subway train – a tumbling train of thought perhaps.

Riders snap to attention as the doors snap open. Some get off; most get on. “Stand clear of the closing doors please.”

A seat is harder to come by than one in the Israeli Knesset (or, to be sure, one to the Beatle Comeback Tour). Standing room only, and, therefore, no room for error. With the subway’s jerk, the jerk behind me bangs into my hip. “I’m sorry”, he does not say. “No problem”, I do not reply. Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to New York.

“Next stop, Bowling Green,” the computer-generated voice alertly says. The real-life conductor, not to be outdone, crackles inarticulately: “This is the ‘baseball special’, so Bowling Green is the last stop. To go to Brooklyn wait for the next number 4 train. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience, but don’t think it is necessary.”

Prior to the infamous announcement – must have been somewhere between Union Square and Brooklyn Bridge – seats were vacated and we moved right in. A man walks into our car and, with oratory skills known only to the desperate, tells us about the fire in his house and his starving three-month old and nine-year old. Do we have clothing, food, even a penny to help him? Anything, he begs. The faces around the car, no two the same, have all gone unnatural – some have gone unnaturally indifferent, some have gone unnaturally sympathetic, but no face remained as it was. Two people give something; most think him an addict. (Does an addict not need help?) Moral decisions abound.

Alas, Bowling Green has arrived. Doors snap open and that inarticulate voice of crackle ushers us out into a tunnel of darkness. Amidst the throng of “baseball special” derelicts awaiting their ticket to Brooklyn, I see two older Chassidim, one in a navy-blue baseball cap with an interlocking NY on the front, the other clutching an ultra-religious-family-size bag of peanuts, their Tzitzus and white flowing beards swinging in the underground breeze. And as I watch these two 50-something-year-olds, probably using “America’s pastime” to better understand a deep mystical concept, I know that the circus in New York’s underground is well worth another act.

6 Comments:

Blogger jakeyology said...

art by shaya lieberman and esther werdiger (in that order)

6/15/2006 5:19 PM  
Anonymous unblogged said...

i see her! i see her!

6/16/2006 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have an obsession with the whole play on word thing. what is it you love so much about words?

6/16/2006 7:57 PM  
Blogger jakeyology said...

what's there not to love?

to manipulate a few little minutiae, creating a whole new something out of – literally and illiterately – nothing, is, i think, absolutely amazing.

– the story of our lives: taking a minute detail, seemingly irrelevant, and twisting or cultivating or embellishing or playing it until it changes the entire literal and figurative story.

(and i do apologize: if I do seem a bit obsessive it’s only because I am.)

6/19/2006 2:07 AM  
Blogger MoeJoe770 said...

I found a cool jewish site for you guys.
Cool Jewish Tshirts

6/19/2006 4:04 PM  
Anonymous bored poet said...

the subway in new york
a very great success
from brooklyn to manhattan
local or express
swaying, bumping, running
all part of the fun
even at 3 in the morning
you can't sit on your bum
i miss the general announcements
the swiping of the card
taxi's can be dangerous
and very costly to
so ride the new york subway
it will entertain you

(stress on 'tain' of entertain)

ps well done shaya on the comics (from a secret admirer)

6/20/2006 5:52 PM  

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