Monday, February 08, 2010
World of Gray
If you want to experience the gritty side of New York City, ride the subway - the ultimate tesl of will, fortitude and tolerance. Better yet, try it on a hot summer day, where the non-air-conditioned subway platforms are suffocatingly hot and virtually intolerable.
And it is gray.
You can spend your time waiting on the platforms by reading or, perhaps, observing your surroundings in various shades of gray - the concrete, chewing gum, or perhaps the charcoal gray of the subway tracks themselves and the occasional rat in camouflage gray.
In this world of gray, we have brightly lit subway cars, each with its own captive audience trapped for periods of time in steel boxes, subject to all and any who want to sell goods, rant, beg, preach, or perform in any number of ways.
The appearance of singers is met with a variety of responses. Some riders, bored with the everyday grind, welcome music as a pleasant break from the monotony. Others, perhaps engaged in reading, listening to music of their own, or just enjoying some "quiet" time, resent the intrusion, analogous to cigarette smoke in public/common spaces.
And, of course, there is the issue of quality and selection. There is no standard of quality for subway entertainment, and unlike any other media delivery system, it can't be turned off or the music selection changed.
I found the a cappella group in the photo to have been much better than average. However, I had the feeling that I was in the minority who enjoyed this band of wandering minstrels, who timed their routine, moving from car to car after each number and collecting money. Perhaps I was just in the right mood at the right time, because for a moment, I found a little relief in a world of gray...
Note: For a hysterical bit by comedian Lewis Black on gray days, go here.