Drooling on the Pillow

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I-I-I-I-I-I-I Hate New Yooooork 

When I quit acting, going on ten years ago, I suddenly discovered that I hated New York. I also suddenly put on fifty pounds. Both of those events I've come to believe were just manifestations of a deep sense of failure. I wanted nothing to do with the scene of the crime and I wanted to disappear.

As far as leaving New York goes, I hooked up with the Goddess around the same time. She wanted to live in the City and I wanted to move to Montana. We compromised and moved a quarter mile out of New York to Jersey City. She's making noises about moving back in now. I encourage her to buy lottery tickets. When it comes to disappearing, though, I know I've succeeded at something. A woman came into the office today, a pro bono client, board member of a dance company. We were in class together for a good while no more than 10 years ago and hung out together a good deal. She smiled and was as sweet as she always was, but had no idea who I was. It's a talent.

But I'm mainly on about the hating New York thing, now. My iPod is my cloaking shield and I strap that baby on as soon as I leave the house, punch it up to 11 and it doesn't come off til after I walk in the office door. Which is why (this really tells you how un-NYC I am) I hate street and subway musicians. I choose my music carefully and am usually deeply into it. Then I go onto the platform and have to stand next to the drummers or the doo-wop boys or the crippled jazz singer or the Chinese instrumentalists or the Korean opera singer and I have no choice but to turn off my iPod, listen to what they want me to listen to and be in New York.

Hate it. And I never give them any money.

Tonight I was ambushed by the worst of all subway performers. On-train entertainment.

I left the office later than usual, a little after seven so the train was only half full. They were two young men around 15 or so and one who looked like a very small 10 years old. They seemed designed to piss me off. Not only were they performing on my subway car and subjecting the entire car to their boom box, but they were hyping away in the faux-thug lingua franca of everybody in the world under twenty-five. Yo, yo, yo, yo. And they were break-dancing.

Here's the thing, though. They were unbelievable. If you saw Polar Express there's that scene where the waiters on the train are flying all over the car like a Russian dance troup's version of Hello Dolly! That was these kids. Flipping by the poles, flying from side to side with the straps, dancing up one wall and down the other, they were astonishing. And what I like most about them is that it was a show. It was designed for a half full subway car and timed to fit between stops. They filled every available cubic inch of that place and never touched one of the passengers. The big finish was when one of the older boys goes into a back flip and when he gets to verticle up-side down he thrusts out his legs, catches the ceiling and pops back the way he came. That one didn't quite come off and he would have broken his neck if his partner hadn't been spotting for him. But I imagine when he pulls it off it's pretty spectacular.

They were making a fortune. Even I threw them a buck. And then cranked up my iPod again.
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