underground heaven

A time lapse that worked pretty well

I went to NYC again. Did I mention I love NYC?

I went on lots of subways. Did I mention I love subways?

The project that's been broiling in my head has to do with mass transportation in general, and the New York City subways in particular. Maybe it comes from growing up in an area with almost no mass transit, but I am fascinated with every aspect of it. I got to Philadelphia and went absolutely apeshit over the Regional Rail and the two measly subways. but NYC was like the creme de la creme of mass transportation. I've ridden them so many times, but it never ceases to amaze me that you can get practically anywhere in the five boroughs using the subways. And that you can ride from the very top of the Bronx to the very bottom of Brooklyn for a mere $1.50. That, to me, is amazing, and a neverending source of wonder and enjoyment to me. So, I spent a great deal of time photographing the subways of NYC while I was there. Where exactly these ideas are going, I don't know yet. But I want the sense of movement that is in the photo above. The feeling of traveling without moving.

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I drove up to NYC on Friday night. It takes just a little over 3 hours by car from Lebanon, and I was expecting traffic to be really bad because of the Fourth of July holiday. Surprisingly, I was able to get on Route 78, on the NJ Turnpike and across Manhattan as smooth as silk and on time.

The Atlantic Ave subway station in Brooklyn John, with a subway sign in the backgound

John said he had a surprise for me on Saturday. We ended up going to New York City Transit Museum. Well, not the museum, it was closed because of the holiday, but we went to the gift shop at Grand Central, which also included a small exhibit of photos. I went absolutely slack jawed. Not only were some of the photographs breathtakingly beautiful, but they had subway merchandise. T-shirts. Metal plaques. Glasses. Posters. Books. I was in seventh heaven. I ended up getting a 7 train shirt and a Grand Central Station plaque that I decided will go in my bathroom of my new apartment.

John and I spent most of the day on Saturday down near Battery Park. It was a gorgeous day, very sunny and not too hot, and the wind from the Hudson cooled everything off. We went right under the World Trade Center, and John showed me where he worked. J&R Computer Store was right near there as well. We perused the digital camera section, and I was considerably intimidated by all the salespeople prowling behind the counter. That, and there was just so much to select from I didn't know where to begin. I was also not exactly sure what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend. I drooled over a really nice Nikon, but ultimately walked out emptyhanded. So no digital camera yet, but hopefully sometime this summer or fall.

Another lonely platform

We took the Staten Island Ferry just for fun, which was probably the best part of the weekend. Battery Park was clogged with tourists clamoring to get to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, but the Ferry was mostly filled with people who needed to get to Staten Island. The breeze was incredible, plus we were able to get a good view of the Statue of Liberty, even from afar. We didn't linger on Staten Island for long, we immediately got on the next ferry back to Manhattan. Still, it was enough to make it a quad-borough weekend (the only one I didn't set foot on was the Bronx).

I spent Saturday evening in the company of my friend Dave, a freshly graduated law student now in the midst of studying for the bar exam at the end of the month. He showed me his enormous pile of notes, his nifty new Palm Pilot and his new double necked guitar which (to my delight) he named Joni. He seemed a little out of it and shell shocked, which was understandable. Just walking down Lexington prompted him reciting all sorts of legal rules and such about cars and accidents, none of which I could make heads or tails of.

We ate at a nice little Mexican restaurant right near 34th street. The food was bland for Mexican, but good, though I wasn't able to finish my nachos, which were so overloaded with beef that I wept for the cows of the world. After that, we went back to his apartment and listened to a variety of music, including Nine Inch Nails, En Vogue and A Perfect Circle. Dave is my main source for good music of all genres. He's responsible for about 10% of my CD collection.

The 1 train coming at us Times Square platform

I took the subway uptown to Olive, John's Mother's, apartment. Olive is probably one of the most interesting people I know, of any age. She's an art historian who worked for the Rockefellers in the 1960s. Her apartment is filled with all sorts of art, both hers and others', which I didn't get a really good look at because of time constraints. She's always working on something interesting or has something to interesting to say on a variety of subjects. She, John and I had one of best conversations I've had in years. Before I knew it, 3 hours had passed and it was time to go home.

The next morning John and I had breakfast (well, actually, John had breakfast, I had lunch, a bacon cheeseburger), and then we rode the 7 train from end to end. The cool thing about the 7 train is it becomes elevated as soon as it gets out of Manhattan, and stays elevated all the way to the end in Flushing, Queens. It was a really nice time, I was more excited than I should have been, and I took a lot of pictures. I got to see Shea Stadium for the first time, which was really cool. I thought I might be doing the tourist thing a little too much, but then I realized...how many tourists come to NYC and ride the 7 train? Unless you're John Rocker, of course.

We spent the evening going to see "Chicken Run" at the huge, opulent Sony Theatres near Lincoln Center. The screens are beautiful and the seats are like armchairs and there are about 87356156243 theatres enclosed in the building, not to mention an Imax theatre. Coming from someone who's endured a lifetime of crappy movie theatres with sticky floors and missing ceiling tiles, it was a nice change.

We went to Ruby Foo's for dinner that night, a overly trendy Dim Sum restaurant on Broadway at 79th. The place is huge, loud and everyone there is rich and beautiful. I always feel out of place going there, but John and I wanted to go back there because it's where we met. The food was insanely delicious as always, and the dessert was out of this world, as always. If you are ever going to NYC, go there for dessert if nothing else. Wow. The only problem with Ruby Foo's is the place is huge and the tables are often only 6 inches apart, and the noise makes conversation nearly impossible. John and I decided to go somewhere else, someplace quieter and not so big, next time.

An underground tunnel leading to the Q train

On Monday, we rode some more subways, this time down to Brooklyn, to see one of John's favorite films, "Nashville". It was playing at the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) Rose Cinema. Since it's a pretty obscure film (at least that's the impression I got), it was a special showing.

I don't know quite what to make of the film. It's directed by Robert Altman, who I know almost nothing about. The style of dialogue was very interesting, almost improvised, with voices overlapping and interrupting, which was true to life. It had a plot, though not one like I've ever seen before. The jist of it is that it basically follows around a motley crew of characters, everyone from a BBC reporter who waxes rhapsodic about a car junkyard to a famous country singer who is having a breakdown, controlled by her husband. There are so many characters to follow around, but there are so many good performances.

An angel out of the BAM Rose Cinema An angel out of the BAM Rose Cinema

We took the subway back to Queens. We waited out a rain storm while there, and by then it was almost 7:00 and I had to get going home. So I said goodbye to John, and armed with Pepsi to keep me awake, began my journey. It rained most the way, and on 78 I was deathly afraid of being run over by tractor trailers in the dark, but I made it in one piece, and arrived home, very tired and very happy.

The entrance to the Flatbush Terminal of the Long Island Rail Road