Boston, Paris, London of course. Who would have though Bucharest too. I believe I rode the ring in Moscow. St Petersburg/Leningrad/Petrograd. Prague yes, long before it was cool and Budapest before they cleaned the bullet holes and sand patched the holes from the uprising in ’57. Madrid and Vienna maybe, perhaps I am making this up in my mind. Washington D.C. I know I have wandered the vaults and transferred more than a few times on business trips and handshake tours. Perhaps a humble brag but it is to say that I have ridden the rails on quite a few subterranean systems of various ages and states of repair, design, philosophy, and economic structure.
None of these systems so festering I propose as that system the oozes and goos in the underground pits and pathways of night beneath the asphalt and tarmac of Gothem.
A familiar whipping boy for many a massed set of New Yorkers, the rail system is something we have all learned to understand and accept in our own ways and can agree we all hate. While the news reports this or that official they have arrested for collared crimes of all hue, a number of criminals in the world of sport so rounded up make headlines, they have yet to haul the guillotine out of the Whitney Museum or MoMa or wherever a working copy or original is stored and come for the heads of those powers so in charge of this Eldridge and frothed system of pee, gum, and electrified rails as the MTA.
Due to an acute case of Toxoplasmosis my memory is faltering and my internet connection non extant underground as I write this so I may not review my opus magnum such as his blog may be, so, Dear Reader, I may have covered this but…
For those of you not acquainted with the transport system we have dug ourselves in this fare city, it is indeed extensive. It runs about here and there except for Queens where all service runs on a single set of tracks. While today supposedly held in the sacred commonweal, it is an amalgamation of various Free Market endeavors all running helter-skelter and in competition that finally had to be scrapped when moving a multitude of sweating and viscous masses became more important to the overall economy of The City. The human wind needed to be pumped to and fro from places of employ to those of recreation, procreation, and hibernation that a massive transportation authority had to be established and all manner of detail coordinated. That, and I believe the IRT went bankrupt and needed a bailout. How times have/n’t changed.
The system has had it’s ups and downs but one thing is constant. The corruption. Graft, mismanagement, a rank and file of upper management that are headquartered at the most suburban ends of the city and whom commute by SUV from further burbs. The hatred of any system that appears to be in the public trust by those officials housed at the state capital, and the Unions and there high paid bossed and OxyContin culture of sand hogs and brakemen who lumber at the speed of regulated benefits (would that we should have these too).
Our system of millions of riders a day paying such-and-such per fare and so-and-so in taxes should by this hour have a system of clean and effective trains and the fastest rail system in the world linking the scant, in the long view of the universe, mere 462 miles squared of Gothem from end to end and all islands accounted for. However, we know better as dwellers of a Great American City. We know to expect nothing better. No marble walls and chandlers of Moscow, no rushing efficiency of Tokyo, no grand and storied lines of Paris. The only thing we have to keep us warm is the safe and loving glow that we know we are many things wrong… but we are not Boston and its decrepit system more a left over of a World’s Fair and troglodyte trolley system…
This constant fight for reform is better covered in greater detail as while this blogger is as aware of others, that grind of each day maintains my status as a lowly straphanger paying whatever fare is foisted upon the Sheeple.
In the winter these tunnels are cold and icy. In summer they compost the effluvia of mankind and smells of all kinds of methodically placed strange bits of unknown substances.
There is a pulsing madness and every year more people are packed in and the trains seem to run slower and slower and once short distances take longer and longer.
Rush hour in the morning is a horrific dance of bodies and forced touching – appropriate or not wanted or no. On and off is blocked by door dogs. Large people one to the side of each door. Pole dancers, the people who lean on the poles so others must touch them to hold on to the train. The seats are divided up based on proportions of a generation ago so in between contemporary riders there exists a no mans land, a small gap called Thighland where it seems one may sit but there’s just not enough room between the legs of others. The list goes on. Stair stoppers, sick passengers, Showtime, the Police, the bands, the beggars, That Girl, That Guy… The complains are known all too well. However, those of us who work or live in this city must get used to this condition since, in the many years I have known the city, it will neither improve not vanish under some alternative.
In a matter of hours I will again descend, like Orpheus, into The Gloom. I will push gently. Pull slowly. And try not to rub parts and regions we are not supposed to rub, even by accident. And make it, either on time or not, to work.