19.4.11

That Time I Heard "Shut the F%*& Up!" Shouted on the New York City Subway

That Time I Rode the E Train Running on the F Line in Queens
     On weekends the E train runs local (which is New York City slang for saying "The train stops at every dinky stop). Usually, it's the R that's a local train. But on weekends it's the E., Of course, I know this tiny fact about the New York City Subway system. It's the only subway system in the world (that I know of) that has an express-local system. 
The reason for my travel:
Tom Baker's Doctor would definitely have interfered.
    I had to take a test for a job on a Saturday morning. The E train sidled into the station. A man with a bongo drum positioned himself at the car's farthest corner. Bom da bom da bom bom bom. The announcer came on: "Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah." No one could hear. The man with the bongo drum kept bonging: bam da bam da bom bom bom. I could make out "service change" "F line" "No stops at blah blah blah blah" "Transfer" No one could hear and everyone wanted the bongo guy to stop banging his bongo drum. The announcer came on again and everyone strained to listen to the garbled, chopped up the transmission. Bong da bong da bong bong. Finally, a robust woman in front of me exploded. "Shut the f%*& up," she said. To no one in particular. Her high decibel shrill did not deter the bongo player. "Shut the f%*& up." The bongo dude continued to bongo. The woman folded her arms and steamed. "Queens Plaza. This E train is running on the F line! I repeat this Manhattan-bound E train is running on the F line!"
That Time Robin Williams Liked My Story of Riding the E Train Running on the F Line Story at a Recent Upright Citizen Brigade Improv Show
    At the Upright Citizen Brigade, a local theater troupe in New York City that promotes live improvisational comedy for free, I had the opportunity of relating my bizarre E train weekend service change subway story to the masses -- and to Robin Williams.
photo: john shearer © wireimage.com
Robin Williams Heard My Story and Gave it His Own Spin
I told my tale of the robust woman who told the bong drum guy to "shut the f%*& up!" Robin Williams was on stage. At three different points in the show, he would indiscriminately yell out, "shut the f%*& up!" It was a moment of celeb synchronicity that made our night.

13.4.11

Travels on the IRT: 207th Street Station Postcard

207 Street Station Postcard, New York City, 2010
The IRT 207th Street Station of the New York City Subway is on what is today the 1 line, located near the University Heights Bridge. Not to be confused with the IND 207th Street Station on the A line, parallel to where I stand now. At surface level, 207th Street on the east side runs directly below the Manhattan train yard to the north. The street is unassuming. Dull, really. I wish I could be on the A line now, so I can wander through the elevations of Fort Tryon Park.

Planning to Write about the New York City Subway
     Here on the 1 line, I am convinced the neighborhood has nothing distinctive to offer that the other northern Manhattan and Bronx elevated stations of the IRT division have already offered me. I already feel like a worn-out straphanger who has grown accustomed to the repetitive re-iteration of station after station. Does technology point to an anthropology? Are we just cookie-cutter human-shaped-molds without unique attributes? One damn cut-out after another? Observing the majority of commuters on this train, it is easy to judge that not much makes us different from the other.
     I grow easily tired. I think of my friend Ecce, a freshly minted Ph.D. student, who had laughed when I had told her I was drawing inspiration from subway stations for a possible book. "What are you going to call it?" she had asked me at a bar in Greenpoint. "I don't know," I said, suddenly feeling self-conscious. She smiled. "You're definitely new here," she said. "You better write that book while you at least have some modicum of enchantment left in you." "Why is that?" I asked. "Eventually you'll get bitter and just want the damn train to arrive in the station so you can get to wherever you're going."
     I think about what she said to me as I walk to the end of the platform to get a better view of the train yards. I still find pleasure in the MTA system. I wonder if I will ever lose a fascination with iron and electricity. I hope to see a surplus train veer off from the track spur into the yard below, but I am antsy and decide not to wait. The backpack I wear is heavy. I am not in shape. The joints in my knees send a sharp pain to the pain receptors in my brain. I am sadly a normally sedentary beast. I tend to find solace in the undisturbed moments of casual book reading in a library. I write at a pinewood desk.

6.4.11

Gloss on Graduate School: Graduate Student Essential Recipe


1 bag of black-eyed bean* + water + 1 onion
(peeled) +i jalapeno. Cook till tender


add a bag of frozen collard greens

and a ham bone for seasoning


all can be had under $10, will last 
3 days of food


at least

Hot tip: substitute with a "sixteen beans" variety pack.

5.4.11

GIF: A Kid Rides his BMX Bike down a Flight of Stairs

A kid riding his BMX bike down a spiral concrete staircase.
A GIF of a teen boy BMXer riding a bike down a spiral set of stairs.
photo credit: gifbin.com
Just a random GIF of a kid riding his BMX bike down a flight of stairs.
Maybe in a former life, I was a BMXer? Why not.

4.4.11

Photograph: All Saints Catholic Church in Brooklyn

All Saints Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York, Throop Ave.
All Saints Catholic Church in Brooklyn, New York, Throop Ave.
I walk past this church every day on my way to teach. It's a nice example of classic Romanesque style architecture. It is difficult to notice in this picture, but the rectory is a handsome building, as well. It sits to the left of the church in this photograph.

3.4.11

Photograph: Bubbles

Boy makes bubbles in Central Park