Friday, September 18, 2009
I rode in the front of the C train the other night from West 4th Street to Clinton/Washington, looking out the window. Through Lower Manhattan, under the East River, deep under the Heights, making a big right turn towards Borough Hall and then left to Hoyt/Schemerhorn…. It was hypnotic. I’ve never spent so much time looking down the oncoming subway tunnels. It’s gray down there, an orange tinted gray, with random pieces of trash and little else. The tunnel under the river was lit, but past Borough Hall, the lights were few and far between. A piece of newspaper lifted up in front of the train like a bird trying to escape the onrushing steel. Everything but the rails seemed to be covered in dust. An ancient tomb. The tunnels and tracks swerve and merge like a long-practiced ballet. What’s it like to see this all day long as you drive a train? Underneath the weight of rock and city and all those people? Through the dark and then the suddenly expansive, bright stations, full of people lined up along the abyss?