Friday, December 9, 2011


One of the iconic features of New York City, a place well provisioned with icons, is its complex system of subways.  Great equalizers and phallic symbols--and would it not be interesting to see someone try to liken the two?--the subways are the means by which a great many New Yorkers and others get around the city.

They also serve as performance spaces.  The platforms and train cars often host musicians, comedians, poets, and acrobats (and the last are entertaining, dancing around the cars while they are in their jerky, erratic motions).  As could be expected, the performances are of varying quality.  Some are well worth watching, while others are more annoying than the tedium of the train rides themselves.

There is the possibility of another type entirely.  Several times, some of which I may have mentioned in earlier blog posts, I have had the distinct...pleasure...of sharing a train car with people who have appeared to be, well, off their rockers.  They mutter to themselves, scream at themselves and at those around them, have conversations with the automated announcements, and, in one case I saw, actually get into a fistfight with an opponent no one else can see.

The idea that the city is pervaded with those who perceive reality alternatively is one that is solidly rooted, and it is certainly true that there are a great many such people in the city.  But it is equally true that New York City attracts a lot of performers, and it attracts a great many people who believe that their artistry is best turned toward making people uncomfortable.  I cannot help but wonder, therefore, if some of those people I have seen acting as though they are insane are really only acting, if their conduct is some kind of "performance art."  Alternatively, perhaps they are trolls, not trying to be "artistic" but simply messing with people.

Only in New York...

No comments:

Post a Comment