Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Why I Moved

My grandfather once referred to riding the subway as a "crisis in human dignity."
-expat New Yorker, living in London

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Keith Turbo Helps Commuters

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Y'all going to get shot in the face by Yolanda Hernandez. I'm gunna start hunting people down soon enough. what goes around comes around.

- Yolanda (F Train)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010

I don't know why we continue to stare at the empty dark tunnel when waiting for the train. It's like staring at an ass trying to determine how the digestion's going.

Four G trains have passed. No F.
No announcements.

A once desolate, deserted Church Avenue platform is now littered with the entrails of four G train cargoes.

Incoherent message by a clearly speech-impaired/intoxicated/demented MTA worker:
mumble-Jay Street-mumble-G-mumble-Stillwell.

Thanks, assholes.
I was wondering how to spend my evening, but you took care of that right quick.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010


“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:07pm
[no movement. you are maybe reading, not paying attention to what is by now a commonplace announcement that means nothing.]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:14pm
[no movement. you look up, notice that seven minutes have passed. mild concern furrows your brow.]
“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:20pm
[no movement. you are confused. how could a train still be crossing in front of us for 13 minutes? or have we let several cut in front of us?]

“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a train crossing ahead of us, we should be moving shortly.” 6:28pm.
[no movement. anger is now rising very quickly.]

“Ladies and Gentlemen, there is an emergency at Roosevelt Avenue, we will be moving shortly.” [A slight stutter forward. Stop.]

“There is train traffic ahead of us, we will be moving shortly.” 6:34pm.

Clearly, all of the above announcements are blatant lies. It has now taken you 20 minutes to go from 21st Street/Court Sq to...a dark tunnel (supposedly somewhere between Court Sq and Queens Plaza).

While you are waiting, an E train slides up right next to you on the adjacent track, sitting, waiting. You are monitoring it closely. Technically, you think to yourself, the F and E trains should be on the same track. Who will go first? Will your passive-aggressive F train finally stand up for itself and stop letting those seven other trains cross in front?
Your F starts moving first. Slow, tentative steps forward, as though it doesn’t want to tempt the MTA Fates.
Now the E and F are sitting across from each other at Queens Plaza. Neither is moving. Both doors are open. Minutes pass. Passengers are growing anxious, standing about, looking across the platform suspiciously. Everyone knows: one of these trains will be local, one express--unless one will just wait behind? Is it the E or the F? The E or the F?! No announcements. From either train. The station is tense with uncertainty. 6:58pm.
A woman suddenly darts across the platform to the E, abandoning the F. She provokes a handful of followers, somehow. As though she is the defining, completely irrational signal of which train will leave first.
Somehow she is right. The E train doors close. Train departs.
Now (NOW!?) the conductor decides is the right time to tell you that the F train you are on--the only one remaining in the station, by the way--will be running local from Queens Plaza to Roosevelt Avenue. HaHA! Good one, fuckers. GOOD ONE. The timing is SPECTACULAR--a feat of enormous ingenuity and precision. This is no slip-up. It is the perfect execution of a predetermined intention.*
Your train doors eventually close, and the train begins to move. You are now glaring angrily into the windows of the E train that is, for now, running alongside your F local. Then the E dips underground deeper to where the express track lies and you, on your ill-fated F, slow down, pulling into Thirty-Fucking-Sixth Street. Banality of Banalities. A stop you have never seen anyone enter or exit from.

Somehow, there must be train traffic ahead of you still, because the train is meandering through the tunnels, like a small child picking dandelions. This train ride is actually a scenic field trip you signed up for, don’t you remember? There’s that track rabbit--oh look! Another incoherent scrawl of spray paint right next to that pile of human shit/piss stain! Take your time, enjoy the views.

You mentally (or maybe even literally) smack yourself for thinking you could give yourself enough time. Time? What is that, even? A human concept. MTA is run by pirate robots. They have no concept of time--life is an infinite continuum of shit they’re delivering right into your lap. Enjoy! Enjoy this delay between every single station, this late arrival to work for the fifth time this week, which will cause you to lose your job; enjoy this fare hike/service cut; enjoy this SAME MUTTERING/MOANING/ROBOT STATIC OVER LOUDSPEAKERS despite fancy new trains with digitized subway info.

An hour and 15 minutes to get from Greenpoint, Brooklyn (literally a 10 minute walk to LIC, Queens) to Forest Hills. You could have roller-bladed your way faster--and safer, probably--on the BQE.

Old men are by now grumbling to themselves, women have terrified looks on their faces. Others have given up hope--or achieved Zen-like calm--by simply falling asleep or gazing out glossily: zombies. You think to yourself: The MTA is training us to be zombies...has this been their plan all along? To better control and subdue us? Shove our expectations of public transportation so far down and up our asses that we could shit for days and still never complain about poor service and ridiculous fares?

Somehow, your snail’s pace has been too much. F train is apparently creeping up on those trains ahead. Gotta wait for that “train traffic**” to pass, one more time.

Your train of thought grows more coherent: How can it be that they are reducing service--i.e. cutting the number of trains on the tracks--and yet trains are running...slower? Shouldn’t this lesser amount of trains equal less train traffic? And therefore, if nothing else, faster trains between the stations? Minimal delays?
Oh, right. MTA is run by evil robot pirates. Nothing makes sense here except the absolute loss of any dignity you had as a human being. Who are you, asshole, to have a place to go? A destination? In a timely manner, no less? What do you think this is? Crazy son of a bitch.

The question now becomes: once you arrive at Roosevelt, do you transfer? Will there be a train to transfer to? No. Probably not... Should you wait for one? You sigh. Always a gamble. And the dice is always weighted against you. But you grow indignant: Must we resign ourselves to this fate? Is there nothing to be done? Has the MTA so successfully wrested control of the public trans--
Hoho! Look at this! Another F train, chugging along beside you! You examine the passengers on board: They don’t look too trampled upon. You decide to transfer at the next stop.

At Roosevelt Avenue, it’s the same E that you’d been playing tag with earlier, not the F you spotted. Strange. That E was supposed to have been way ahead of the F, seeing as it was the express that left first. Oh well. You get on it. Your doors close first. And you are...sitting in the station. And then just as the panic begins to manifest, you're off.

You begin to feel mildly faint. You realize you have hunger pangs. Oh, that’s right. You left early so you could have time to grab some dinner before you taught class for an hour and a half.
Mistake #1: Relying on MTA to not rob you of dinner and general clear-headed/pain-free consciousness.
Pounding headache ensues. You look around. No seats.
Just a few minutes is all it should take, you tell yourself. You’re on the express, after all. Shit. You’re going to be late for class. 7:14pm.
Motherfucker. MOTHERFUCKER. A renewed sense of violation angers you and gives you the remaining strength necessary to survive the train ride and your class (should you ever even arrive there) on just the one cookie you ate several hours prior.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are delayed because of train traffic ahead of us. Please be patient.” 7:18pm. The train is not moving.
Fuck. You.
There are actually kinkajous at the signal control panels.

* fuck your commute up beyond recognition
**train traffic=train operator (aka robot) watching robot porn (aka iPad tutorials)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

34th street station smells like cat food.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Surprise Tour Guide

Heading home on the F train. Surprise! I'm riding over the Manhattan bridge. Thanks F train, for taking me to parts of Brooklyn I haven't seen lately. After a long day of work. Without my consent. Kidnap.

- Creative thought = pot + coffee.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Man on Subway Says:

11:31 AM on the G Train:

"Everyone, I used to have a beard I was Santa Claus. Made good money. I was Santa Claus of the MTA. God bless everyone. I'm a good daddy good uncle..."

He continued.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Park slope hates me back

The F train wasn’t running today

Walked to 4th ave in the blissssterrring cooolddd

My hair was wet from the shower and parts were hard as a rock

Park slope hates me back.

- A poem by Ayary

Friday, August 14, 2009

July?/Help me, Howard

There have been several comments made, both over the web and in the far-less-common mode of communication of face to face conversation, regarding the lack of posts during the month of July. Some have questioned whether this meant the MTA was actually useful/efficient/enjoyable during this time period.
Ha. Haaa.
It simply meant the Muad'Dib was prevented from his/her usual prophecies and explanations. Prevented.
How, you ask? Well. Was it not mentioned in several previous entries that we were dealing with Pirates*? And dumpsters full of corruption? And alien babies? This is no small Web of Evil...
But we digress. The point is, your ever-faithful and heroic Muad'Dib was in the throes of something so perilous and mysterious that we can make no further mention of it...that is, until it is published. And then we will blow you away with the MTA's new levels of gross misconduct, illegal shenanigans, and generally asshole-ish shit that we uncover.

*Please see post from March 30th, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Winter Expectations (Don't Have Any)

Take note of the snow caking the outside of the train window. Take note of the people on the inside, who, though protected from the conditions of Mother Nature, are at the mercy of the conditions of the subway car. Take note of the expressions on every visible face. If the photo seems insignificant to you, it's because you have been thoroughly conditioned into a state of perpetual, unquestioned misery already, and no longer remember what it was like before you became ensnared in the evil web of the MTA.

Observations, 8.5.09

Today, at approximately 12:17pm, on the 6 line heading downtown:

Two strangers sitting side by side on the cold blue subway seats are swapping MTA horror stories. These stories mostly revolve around crazy train passengers or absurd situations never before encountered in life.
Apparently, MTA misery brings people together.

This is much like traumatized war veterans, shipwrecked passengers, victims of abuse, etc.
All of the above will remain scarred for life, alone in their struggle for sanity, normalcy, a sense of peace--things which may never actually return for them.
In fact, two such persons might just bring each other down, like recovering addicts alternately consoling and then enabling each other.

Thanks, MTA.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Never doubt the MTA's impeccable consistency in its attempts to fuck you over.
Example # 342: The 4th Ave and 9th Street stop in Brooklyn. Nine out of ten (9/10) times, the transfer from the F train to the R train will add an additional fifteen (15) minutes to what could be a six (6) minute commute, due to skilled coordination of trains.
If you've ever had to make this transfer, you are aware that the station is built like an old, decrepit castle with dark, winding, putrid staircases, exits and entrances at the farthest ends of convenience. In short, a true MTA masterpiece of construction. Walking from the F platform down to the R is a good 5 minutes, and that's if you're a young sprite-ish thing. This makes it particularly tantalizing when you get off the F train to hear the R train arriving, and, as you descend deeper into the dank corridors of the MTA, you begin to see people who have just exited the R train. By the time you arrive on the actual R platform, all that remains are the empty benches and red signals, signifying a good ten (10) minute wait is incumbent.
On a one out of ten (1/10) day, a remarkably not shitty day, the entire ride can be a pleasant ten (10) minutes, if that.
But it's dangerous to get on the train those days, for several reasons:

1. Your expectations rest at a higher standard, making you susceptible to severe depression and uncontrollable rage.
2. It means the Pirates have infected the train with rabies.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Read this book if you like junkies and trains and not good writing

"The Mole People," by Jennifer Toth

Though not very well-written--in fact, well-written is not a phrase I would ever use in describing Jennifer Toth's book--it is a book worth reading if you're a subway connoisseur and/or an urban myth junkie. Frankly, I am both, which allowed for a quick and pleasant, if somewhat grammatically irksome read. 
Ms Toth plays the role of the anthropologist documenting a rugged, undiscovered, literally underground scene, where she meets many characters who are clearly interesting and attempts to emphasize their fascinating lives, but the overall lack of structure for the book impedes her ability to effectively develop them throughout the work. Characters are generally considered more important in works of fiction, but in this non-fiction piece, it is they who help her tell the untold story of the mole people, and therefore they must be all the more vivid and tangible to the reader.
When reading this book, it becomes difficult to wonder how a young, upper-class white woman (who is not a native New Yorker) was able to delve into the dirty tunnels of New York City and uncover information about a group so insular they remained a legend until Toth's work. Though she details some of the grittiness involved in her investigation, and even narrates a few perilous situations she manages to survive, she is mostly unconvincing in her description of why she, of all people, was able to penetrate the dark recesses of New York City's underground community. Though perhaps it is not a very serious defect in her book, it certainly bothers my native New Yorker sensibilities. 
The greatest flaw of the book--ah, now we come to it. I've put down all my middling complaints, here is the real one--is her inability to coherently organize the book and her experiences to create a comprehensive or compelling story for the people she documents. 
But I'll end on a positive note, because I am not trashing the book, I'm even tentatively recommending it. Ultimately, the greatest attribute of the book is one that she did not design: the subject matter. Who doesn't like reading the sordid details of a junkie's habit? Or learning about the mysterious community that is so hermetic the author only hears about it from other communities? As humans we have a fascination for that which eludes us, and that which is deep, dark and clandestine. A mythical underground community comprised of society's untouchables both literally and figuratively fits that description. Excellent choice on subject matter, Ms Toth. But a recommendation for the future, from a veteran reader: You may be an excellent anthropologist, in terms of accessing an enclosed community and documenting untold stories, and a compassionate reporter for a neglected and rejected group (both self-imposed and otherwise), but you are not a good writer and your next work would be best aided by a collaboration with someone more adept in the organization and writing departments.

FUmta Commuter of the Week:

Monday, June 8, 2009

A snippet of the commuter experience + kittens

1 am on Saturday night. The F train stops at 23rd street - a useless stop like Delancey Street. Then. The train doesn't do anything. This means that everyone with a tendency to become crazy and start ranting or scratching/ singing publicly does this. After 15 minutes of mysterious loitering... nothing happens. Then the conductor kicks everyone off and sends them crying into the streets. 

A few sensible commuters decide to ask for a refund, which would buy a cheap beer in a paper bag on 5/9/2009. The same refund in July would buy a kitten.