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Don’t Cry for Me

by 02/07/2011
Neighborhood: Prospect Heights

I was standing at the platform waiting for the Q Train in the deep underbelly of the Atlantic Avenue station. I shouldn’t have been there. It was a Sunday afternoon and if everything had gone according to plan, I should have already reached Prospect Heights off the 3 train, if only the trains were running […]

Sympathies of the Mad and Lonely

by 01/30/2011
Neighborhood: All Over, West Village

An overweight middle-aged woman got on the F train somewhere in Midtown, and took the seat facing mine. She was wearing dirty clothes and was carrying two battered plastic bags, a combination that—two weeks in New York had already taught me—was not a good one. She immediately took a pack of Twinkies out of one […]

Beat It!

by 01/30/2011
Neighborhood: Queens

On the middle level of the ever moving station stop at Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, where the subway and the elevated meet in a shaky embrace and humanity flows on a non-stop escalator between heaven and earth, the melting pot boils over with new arrivals as trains disgorge their loads. Here reed-flute players from the […]

Winter Wonderland

by 01/08/2011
Neighborhood: Midtown, Multiple, Uncategorized

The snow is beautiful and magical as it begins to come down in light flakes in the early morning hours of late February. The roads and sidewalks are still manageable, the seagulls playfully carving the air a few blocks away from the Hudson, children throwing snowballs, people out walking their dogs. As the hours pass […]

It is Easy To Speak Chinese

by 01/08/2011
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

At the 96th Street subway station, a Hispanic man with a graying beard hopped on the train. He immediately launched into a barrage of loud, incoherent ranting, which made me wonder if he was freshly sprung from the Bellevue psych ward. After several minutes of rambling in English and Spanish, he finally hit upon a […]

Celebrating the American Revolution

by 07/04/2010
Neighborhood: Featured, Upper West Side

Young white man with large backpack, heavy French accent, and reasonably capable English: Excuse me, is there a local Number 2 train? It comes on this track? Middle-aged white New York woman with long, dangling earrings: No. This is the Number 1 track. Number 2 trains, they're all express. Over on that track. A Number […]

Get Off the Train Now!

by 06/08/2008
Neighborhood: Union Square

As the glass doors to Trader Joe’s swing away from me I struggle to enter the real word again: the one without cheap organic produce, and shelves of exotic cookie combinations like cashew caramel chip. Water spits down from the darkened sky, frizzing up my hair. All at once I’m balancing three overstuffed shopping bags, […]

At the Prospect Park Zoo, 1965

by 05/25/2008
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

Billy Hederman and Eddie Babicke started the migration. So I applied and with their tepid references, “He’s OK, Bob,” I was hired. I was now an official busboy in the Prospect Park zoo cafeteria. Others from my working class Catholic parish adjacent to the park signed up as well. Mo Maloney was assigned to the […]

You Look Nice Tonight, That’s All

by 05/25/2008
Neighborhood: Brooklyn, Park Slope

A friend told me recently, at a small dinner party at her and her husband’s brownstone, that she’d once been throttled on the subway. The train car, she said, was packed. For balance, she raised both arms into the air and held onto the metal bar above. A man stood behind her, she said, and […]

Daydreaming on the Q

by 04/11/2008
Neighborhood: Lower East Side

On the train on the way home, I scan the occupants of the car, playing Wildly Inappropriate Matchmaker, my favorite daydream. For the purposes of this exercise, I settle on a tall woman with black hair tied back tight, librarian glasses slipping down her nose as she reads a copy of Finnegans Wake. I want […]

Local Stops

by 03/15/2008
Neighborhood: Upper East Side

It’s brick outside, thermal-brick, coffee cup lids have coughing fits and a blind man with two good legs gets into my pocket by saying that I could be him one day. At the 116th stop Jane runs into Dick, all surprised and shit, she says, Wow, when did you move up here? Dick gives her […]

A Subway Hope

by 01/13/2008
Neighborhood: West Village

I am standing on the F train platform, my toes just over the yellow line. I lean toward the darkness of the train tunnel. In the distance I can see the faint, low-lit squares of train windows passing through the darkness. Then there is the hollow rumble of the F train approaching from in between […]