Robin-Lee

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Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

Standclearoftheclosingdoorsplease

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Riding the subway can be pure Hell. Yet, every day I put my life in the hands of the MTA demons controlling these tin cans on wheels, praying that one of them doesn’t crack under the strain and pull a Pelham 123 on my way to work. Over a year ago, I found the whole idea of a dirty underground metro used by millions every week an absurdity. I held on for dear life as the A train jaunted side to side as it sawed against the rusty tracks at breakneck speed. Touching grimy poles then was unavoidable, as I had not yet developed my metro legs. “Express” and “Local” meant nothing to me, and the garbled commands from overhead put me at further unease. “MTA has a right to search any backpacks, boxes, or packagaes…”Remember: if you see something, say something…” I saw suspicious shit everywhere: shifty-eyed Unabomber-like creatures staring from the opposite end of the car, greasy, unidentified bags with “Have A Nice Day” sliding underneath the seats, and shady hoodlums whose penises were apparently so big that they would take up two seats with their spread legs.

As I mastered the ways of the tube — balancing myself with planted feet, reading or fake sleeping to avoid looking at others, and so on — I began to observe new nuances, and eventually realized that the MTA was created by Lucifer himself.

Among my top favorite instances of metro madness was the ole’ HOLY-SHIT-WE-HAVE-TO-GET-IN-RIGHT-NOW scenario. It begins with a shitload of crazed maniacs, who have been waiting for the train to come for an eternity (Two, maybe five, minutes), and who crowd around on the platform like a pride of hungry lions. This collective crowd of crazies is strong, and if you’re one of the hopeless gazelles trying to get OUT of the subway, your struggle for freedom is futile.

The next and arguably most universally deplored subway experience begins when you think you’re safe and sound inside the car. First, it’s a baby crying. It starts low, then gives way to terrible sobs. You feel bad for the thing, but then you begin to wonder What baby cries like that? And why’s the mother just letting it cry? As you contemplate the responsibilities of motherhood and scheduling a vasectomy later in the week, a homeless man bungles his way in, clearly drunk, and mumbling something about losing his job and not being covered by disability insurance. The crying gets louder and more cats-fighting-in-the-alley-way-like. For some reason, the asshole announcer continues to yell over the speaker “standclearoftheclosingdoorsplease.” What the hell is that? Elvish? An up-and-coming rapper then graces you with his lyrical genius. Your own headphones are broken, and so is your soul. 

By the end of the week, you may feel that you can’t carry on this way much longer. But thankfully, your spirits can always be lifted by someone else’s misfortune. You spot an elderly woman bravely fording her way to the car seconds before the train doors begin to close. You also know that the conductor sees her. However, the conductor is the Devil. In her desperate attempt to board, she locks eyes with you, a last hope in that handsome youth who will come to her rescue. The doors come crushing in on her Scoliosis-ridden back, and you stand stock-still, terrified, and so unwilling to help. She was weak. You are a survivor. 

So is the way of the MTA. After enough time down in the depths and paying out the ass for the smelliest rollercoaster ride of your daily life, somewhere along those dank, dark tracks, you lose your soul, and get a little paler with each passing day. Still, it sure beats the hell out of taking the bus.

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Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

March 13, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Daytime in the Garden of Good and Evil

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St. John the Divine Cathedral with the Peace Fountain in the forefront

Far up the island on Manhattan, adjacent to the ornate and ominous St. John the Divine Cathedral, stone creatures worthy of a Grimm fairytale loom impressively atop a giant pedestal. Dwarfed by the impressive church, the Peace Fountain of the People’s Garden may not look like much, but on closer inspection, there’s more to it than meets the eye, mind and soul.

Chiseled to life in 1985 by sculptor Greg Wyatt, the statue symbolizes the struggle between good and evil, the latter being vanquished by the Archangel Michael. Circling the work of divine art, a random passerby may dismiss the secondary characters below and surrounding the winged Saint, but they are just as, if not more, important.

As the plaque nearby reads, the animals present in the scene signify a peaceful end of the battle between Heaven and Hell: Nine giraffes, animals of peace and innocence, are lovingly carved, while a lion and lamb coexist happily, harkening to the bible’s depiction of God’s Kingdom. Close by, the sun and the moon mirror one another facing east and west respectively, continuing the theme of life’s opposing forces. The crab crushed beneath the pedestal shows life’s origins from the sea, as well as its struggle to thrive.

Peace Fountain in the People's Garden

 A particularly prominent and grotesque sight hangs just below the freedom pedestal, a head frozen in agony and defeat. The decapitated body of Satan, conquered by the almighty sword of St. Michael, slithers down toward the statue’s base, where an observer can imagine water swirling in a primordial vortex that is the chaos and beginnings of Earth.

The small courtyard circling the fountain displays several tinier plaques, inscribed upon are the quotes by the world’s greatest and notable philosophers such as Gandhi, Socrates and Einstein. There is even a sole plaque devoted to John Lennon and has imprinted in its stone face verses from his song, “Imagine.” Hiding among the bushes on the opposite side of the plaza are smaller statues of knights, horses and other lore-like characters. Each was designed by an elementary school student and featured in the People’s Garden, otherwise now known as the Children’s Garden.

On my search for the elusive Peace Fountain due to its many monikers, I came across Kathika Travel Blog’s Beautiful Fountains from Across the World. Simply stunning.

Child's Statue Beside The Peace Fountain

Written by Robin Lee Dunlap

February 24, 2010 at 6:24 am