Friday, April 29, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

City Heart from An Urban Anatomy by David Molander

City Heart from An Urban Anatomy

remarkable art: follow this link.

walk around the world in this surreal cross section of the nether-regions and layers of a city, underground.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Metrocard Yourself!

So...this is probably the most amazing Metrocard art website out there.

Metrocard Yourself!

Upload an image to receive the picture translated into a Metrocard Mosaic.

Here's an example, with Mayor Bloomberg.

This website wass created by amazing artist Nina Boesch, who currently ranks as my favorite metrocard artist, ever.

I heartily recommend her websites, you can purchase copies of your Metrocard Mosaic images as well. Truly an incredible idea.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Have your Train Face On....

Melissa Febos, excerpted with the author's permission from a piece on crying in public in New York in the New York Times.
Read more about this amazing writer on her website.

One afternoon, I was riding a Brooklyn-bound Q train with my mother, who was visiting from Cape Cod, when our conversation lulled. We each glanced around the subway car at the other passengers, their heads bobbing in unison, the eyes of the man across from us doing a creepy back-and-forth twitch as he watched a train whizzing by in the opposite direction behind us. Some people read, or pushed buttons on their smart phones, but most just stared without expression at the floor or the garish overhead posters for Dr. Zizmor’s cosmetic dermatology. My mother (who is, notably, a psychotherapist) leaned into my shoulder and whispered, “Everyone on this train looks depressed.”

I snorted, whispering back: “No, Mom, they just have their train-faces on.” In a place where we are so rarely alone, we find privacy in public. We all have our masks, behind which we are free to be, yes, depressed, or any other emotional state we may not want to share with 30 fellow passengers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

True Love in Brooklyn from amazing sculptor in miniature Alan Wolfson

This artist astounds me. I will be featuring more of his work and more details on how you can see more in the upcoming days and weeks.

Here is Alan Wolfson's website

Here are some details

and my obvious favorite

Friday, April 22, 2011

In case you were wondering how to do it.....

Actual sign, at station at 14th and 6th Avenues.

This is for Jowy at subwayartblog, which is really a spectacular dang blog, in reference to a recently posted service advisory with a similar punchline. This one, I think, gets strait to the point.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Train Arrival Information Signs...Coming to your station

This is publicity video from the MTA, currently doing some very pretty time lapse videos seen here.

As self-advertisement goes, this one makes me pretty happy. I like the diversity of stations and neighborhoods represented.

Thanks nyctheblog for your awesome footage of the timelapse over the Triborough (robert f. kennedy?) Bridge here

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eyewitness Accounts: A Woman is Stabbed in the Face by a Blunt Smoking Homeless Man

New in disturbing news about the subways:
Woman stabbed in face with a pen after telling homeless man to stop smoking a marijuana blunt on the 3 train.

Here are two eyewitness accounts:

I was on this train and was one of the samaritans who held this guy down until the cops arrived. Here's some more background, which the article didn't report.
- The guy started rolling a blunt (it wasn't a cigarette, not that it truly matters), and the argument started when he tried to light it. The argument went on and was pretty aggressive (verbally) for about a minute before he swung at her and hit her with the pencil on the forehead.
- Pretty quickly after this a few witnesses pounced on the guy and pinned him in the corner of the car. He was fighting back pretty strongly, and at one point he got his hand into his pocket and grabbed a (folding) knife.
- Even though his hand was free at this time, his arm was restrained and a witness very quickly was able to take the knife away.
- It took a while between when the fight started (between 14th and Chambers, on the express) and when the cops arrived on the platform at Chambers. While we were holding him, it was pretty clear that the guy had a lot of problems. (If that was unclear previously.)
The homeless guy was definitely crazy and the aggressor here, but the lady also was - in my opinion, and with hindsight - acting out of hand. It was pretty clear watching this develop that neither of them was going to step down, and that this guy was going to go after her. I can't stand people smoking or being rude on the train, but she definitely needlessly put herself (and others) at risk.
It all happened quickly and I jumped in when the fight broke out, but afterwards I thought that if the guy got to his knife (or worse) more quickly, it could have been a real bad situation. There are worse things than people smoking on the train, and I walked away a bit later very upset at the lady.
Two more things... after giving a statement at the precinct the detective told me that the homeless guy had 56 priors. (FIFTY SIX!) And, because some other commenters alluded to race... both the man and the woman were white - it definitely wasn't a racial thing.


I rode the train earlier than usual today in an attempt to get to work earlier than usual. This train ride was definitely not the usual. Here's what happened:

I'm riding the train, reading my April Elle and still smirking from the cutie who kept making eyes before just getting off the train. (Super random interjection, but why didn't he just say something? I definitely caught him staring 3+times. This isn't the L missed connections here buddy. OK. This is rude. This story is bigger than this. /digression)

We continue riding and I hear a commotion. A woman is yelling at a guy, but I'm not sure what it's about. I chalk it up to stressed out New Yorkers and continue reading about Gwen Stefani & No Doubt's reunion assuming they would soon realize they were being silly and stop. They don't. The woman gets louder and says "Don't light that thing on the train!" I look over and see that the guy she's yelling at has a lighter and the flames seem larger than normal. It wasn't one of those $.99 cents Bic lighters, it was pretty hardcore. Congratulations kids, I'm now alarmed. The woman continues to tell the guy to stop and tries to knock the lighter from his hand and things get physical. The entire train is looking at this go down and people are starting to get a little frantic. The man tells the woman "I will f*cking kill you". The woman yells at the man "I will f*cking kill YOU!!" They are pushing one another. Another woman steps in to help.


This is where I get mad. Like, livid. I don't care if this is a feminist society and we're in the middle of a freaking bra-burning campfire. If a man is getting physical with a woman, why in the hell are men just standing around looking?!? My brain couldn't process this. I finally literally yell out "Why aren't any of you men helping?!?" At that point, 2 men run over to try to help restrain the guy. For context, this guy is probably 5'7 150lbs...I could probably take him. I'm in the middle of the car trying to calm people down and I look over and see blood gushing from the woman's face. While she was restraining the guy in the corner, he took out his knife (edit: according to reports it was a pen) and SLASHED her face - from her temple to her nose. Yes. I'm riding the train to work...and someone has just gotten stabbed in the face. Twilight-freaking-zone. The craziest part is that the woman continues to try to get the knife (pen) from the guy and beats his hand until he drops it. She's obviously running on adrenaline. We are still between 14th & Chambers.

People are freaking out. 2 of us step up. 1 guy stops the people from pulling the emergency lever. That will only make the situation worst. I send someone to the conductor so he can call the police. The train starts to slow down though we are 2 stations away in an attempt to give the cops time to get to the station. The guy is now being held up by 5 guys in the corner. The woman is sitting on the train bench with blood gushing from her face and I'm standing there trying to calm people down. People are looking at me for instructions on what to do next, but what could we do?!

I started praying. Out loud. I prayed for that woman's health, her face and her family. I prayed that we were all safe. Amen.

We finally get to the train cops. I run to every single car on the train and ask for a doctor or nurse. There wasn't a single medical professional on the entire train! (Note to self - donate to a cause getting more kids interested in healthcare) The guys are still restraining the man. 2 trains of people are out, trying to see what is going down. There were plenty of witnesses. A girl even took pics on her iphone. The MTA guy was attending to the woman. I could do no more. I am shaking...and I start to walk to work. I was 2 stops away, but I needed that time to pseudo-decompress from the craziest train ride I've ever had.

This woman was doing what she thought was right. She was standing up to this man for her safety...for our safety. This story will probably not make the news because this is New York - it's not news unless someone brutally dies...or someone involved is famous. My colleague was on a train behind me and was simply told "We are being held because of an 'incident' on an earlier train". I will never think of "incident" the same again.

--Ronetha from her fantastic blog


Pink Boa on Wall Street

Of all the places in the city, draped over a phone at the Wall Street 2-3 station. A pink boa where the only Pink you expect is Thomas Pink shirts, and you secretly expect someone to shine your shoes just emerging from the station.

Thank you, leaver of pink boa at Wall Street Station.

You have put a smile on the face of many, today.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Responses from Stuck in an Elevator....

I am at the 168th and/or 181st St. subway stations five days a week (I work in the neighborhood). There are no stairs at either station. Every single day I ride the elevators, I think about what would happen in case of a fire or serious problem in those stations. And I also wonder how the city is allowed to get away with it. And by the way, the 168th St station has GOT to be the dirtiest one in NYC.

There are no stairs at 181. You feel like you're buried alive when you're waiting for the train at that station.

To the MTA: can you send someone to clean bloods splatter on the north bound platform. Thanks.


I was on the elevator. We were going to Casa de Mofongo for my birthday dinner. 28 people in there, it was interesting.

Responses from Stuck in an Elevator....

I am at the 168th and/or 181st St. subway stations five days a week (I work in the neighborhood). There are no stairs at either station. Every single day I ride the elevators, I think about what would happen in case of a fire or serious problem in those stations. And I also wonder how the city is allowed to get away with it. And by the way, the 168th St station has GOT to be the dirtiest one in NYC.

There are no stairs at 181. You feel like you're buried alive when you're waiting for the train at that station.

To the MTA: can you send someone to clean bloods splatter on the north bound platform. Thanks.


I was on the elevator. We were going to Casa de Mofongo for my birthday dinner. 28 people in there, it was interesting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Subway Elevator Roundup

So it seems like it's been a big week in interesting subway news. The magisterial NYCtheBlog posted a video of people stuck in an elevator at 181rst and St. Nicks on the 1 train.

I personally like the image of the firefighter's feet coming from the top of the elevator, dangling like a hanged corpse.

181rst and St. Nicks is one of the deepest stations in the system, and from my experiences, also one of the hottest. THe platforms themselves are ancient, I think there was a problem with the vaulted ceiling crumbling down on to the tracks a few months ago.

There is always an elevator out, always a line to go up the stairs to reach the elevators, and sometimes, a crush on the platform as a second train lets out before the elevators can accommodate people exiting.

Most profoundly, this is not a fun subway station to have an elevator malfuncion like this.

It is, however, pretty awesome when you get out. 181rst and St. Nicks (St. Nicholas) is a mad mess of vendors selling mangoes and mofongo, perfume and pasteles. Restaurant La Casa del Mofongo, on St. Nicks north of 182nd is worth a trip from anywhere.

So I encourage all of you to head up and scope out the scene, the decaying terracotta platforms, the scene of this terrifying elevator advenutre, and fill your bellies above.

As always, share your stories! The MTA elevators are places of long waits, pungent smells, and unpredictable neighbors from every social class and region of the planet.

To me, the strangest crew I've ever seen in an elevator is not the latin Caribbean mix of 181rst street, nor the blend of orthodox and chinese women descending to the NR platforms at Atlantic/Pacific. It's the crew at Clark Street, a tony Brooklyn Heights station, elevator exit only, consisting of such entitlement you'd think you were in Chappaqua, not Brooklyn, on a street filled with luxury student housing, federal courts and a disproportionate quantity of lawyers. That mix is softened and blended with the most wholesome, cleanly scrubbed, all-American out of towners headed to worship at the Jehovah's Witness headquarters, also on the street.

Tell me...what is your strangest experience on a MTA subway elevator?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Prettiest Nurse Saves a Life

I had just graduated college and was a summer nurse intern at a hospital in
Manhattan commuting home from work.

I was transferring from the 6 to the E train, taking the long steep escalator down to the train. I looked at the stationary, nonworking escalator next to me and noticed a man in his 30's who had obviously fallen and was lying in a very awkward position on the stairs. His friend was calling for help.

I was in my scrubs, a new nurse thinking I was out to save the world, and ran up the escalator stairs to where him and his friend was. The first thing I see is a puddle of blood,but the man was awake. I made sure he didn't hurt his back, and lifted this guy (with his friends help) to a sitting position. I knew he had to go to the hospital, so I called for a bystander to call an ambulance. He looked up at me and said, "Amy, you saved my life." Little did I know, I stupidly left my name tag on that also had the name of the hospital I worked at.

I helped until the police and medics took over, and at work the next day, much to my surprise a bouquet of flowers was sent to me that said "I got some stitches and I'm okay! Thank you so much to the prettiest nurse I've ever seen", with only a first name. It was the coolest subway experience I've had yet.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Twins on the train....

Makes you wonder if they've been dressing the same their whole lives.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Singing that Lifted a Spirit on the Train

It had been one of those awful days. I can’t remember the specifics now, but I remember the rotten feeling in my gut. Life, job, the city, everything had been getting me down. I was late to some kind of appointment I think – one more thing that had gone wrong. The subway was crowded,it was a long ride and I knew I wouldn’t get a seat. I leaned against the door and tried to block out the world.

But the world jabbed its way in. I heard a voice – someone singing a song I didn’t know. I couldn’t make out the words, but I didn’t really want to. I was annoyed, and just not in the mood to try and ignore another subway performer and hope they didn’t bump into me while walking down the aisle asking for donations. Why was I here in this city? Why wasn’t I living somewhere where a car and a decent apartment weren’t reserved for people with incomes well into the six figures? Why was I here on a noisy, dirty, two-dollar ride trying to ignore another crazy person invading the personal bubble I had so painstakingly crafted for myself just for times like these? Then a dozen more voices joined the first and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.

They were some kind of Church, or maybe high school choir practicing. And they were really, really good. The song turned out to be “He Knows My Name” – a gospel song whose lyrics seem to feature a really creepy stalker Jesus (the first two lines of the chorus are “he knows my name, he knows my every move).” I’ve downloaded different version of the song, but none have meant anything to me – by itself the song is kind of saccharine. It was the people, and the moment.

Even though I was late, I left the train one stop after I should have, just so I could listen to the last verse. I knew in my head that the problems had not gone away, but somehow everything was OK now. I thought it appropriate that the song was a gospel. I’ve never been religious, but I’ve always had faith in the city. And just like how a priest looks for signs of faith when he has doubts, the city has always had a way of restoring my faith when I felt like it was being tested. Nowhere else could I have had that moment – especially not driving along the highway in some town with cheap parking and people who don’t sing in public.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Best G Train Photo I've Ever Seen

Thank you, Bill T.

Somehow, this picture sums up an entire period of my twenties.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Samuel L. Jackson vs. the A Train

Say what you want about rats on this m%thaf#ckin' train, Sam Jackson has his own issues with the subway.

This Daily Show clip is probably the thing that gave me the whole idea for this blog, years and years ago.

Jon Stewart himself said this was the wildest subway story he'd ever heard.

Here's a quote....

"I myself was dragged by a subway train. Years ago, in 1990. I was getting off the train, a lady dropped her bag, and I stopped to pick up her stuff. Had one foot on the platform, one foot on the train, and the door shut and the train took off. I got dragged the length of the platform! Luckily I was in the last car, I was a car and a half away from the tunnel before someone pulled the emergency cord. It ripped my ACL to shreds. And I sued the shit out of the MTA!"

Samuel L. Jackson, from Time Out New York

(Who would have guessed that Samuel L. Jackson would find the subways more stressful than flying?)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

the Man behind the METROCARD BENCH -- Interview with Steve Shaheen

1. What was your inspiration for the project?

A large part of my creative work over the past few years has been in the area of seating design. Although I make a great deal of fine art, I truly enjoy “livable” art, and exploring the porous borders between sculpture and architecture, sculpture and design. When I heard about an exhibit happening in the city last month (“Single Fare 2”, at Sloan Fine Art Gallery, 128 Rivington St) with the theme of all artworks being created with used Metrocards, I saw it as an opportunity to challenge myself to do something which at the outset seemed absurd: to make a sculptural seat out of these thin pieces of plastic that a person could actually rest on. Most of the exhibiting artists chose to treat the card as a miniature canvas, making smaller versions of their trademark styles. While this itself poses difficulties and opportunities for creativity, I felt like the confines of the card's rectangle were keeping me thinking, quite literally, "inside the box." It was important to me to use the Metrocard in a way that honored the material, treating it as a “medium”, and acknowledging what it represents.

2. Take us through your design process. Did you know exactly how it
would look and how you'd put it together at the outset, or did you go
through multiple iterations? If the latter, can you describe them some
and how you arrived at the final solution?

My current design employs a 1/8” steel understructure, but my original intent was to use Metrocards exclusively to create a self-supporting structure that would also hold a person. I experimented with bending individual cards into tear-drop shapes, then attaching them inversely in rows, almost like the cell structure of cardboard. At that early stage I was daunted by the sheer number of Metrocards this approach would have required (though ironically I still needed thousands to create just the laminate). If I had gone the first route I would have united several horizontal bands, hoping to achieve a spongy but supportive chair. It was more daring and risky, and perhaps ultimately a more appropriate solution to the prompt, however the very short timeframe persuaded me to start planning with an armature.

The benefits of this latter approach went beyond expediency: the use of steel allowed for much greater strength and durability, and offered the option to play with the Metrocard’s physical identity on a macrocosmic level (extending the bendy quality of the unit to its aggregate). Once in this mindset, I toyed with several variations.

When sketching and brainstorming, I try to stay loose: aesthetics are foremost on my mind; however I quickly move to consider engineering. All of my ribboning designs for Metrobench had careful points of attachment that would allow such thin steel to support actual people. In the end I chose a design that was more essential than other, more baroque iterations, capitalizing on the strength of cylinders and keeping an open and balanced form. In retrospect, the two circles and diagonal element recall train wheels, though admittedly I wasn’t conscious of this when designing.

3. How exactly is it held together?

I have become an expert in the esoteric knowledge of plastic glues because of this project. Single cards are held together by Gorilla Glue. I chose this not so much because it’s the best binder, but to make assembly more fluid. The rows of Metrocards are glued using aquarium-grade silicone. Again, this was a choice based on my reluctance to be encumbered by epoxy’s mixing time, mess and noxious fumes. Ultimately, however two-part plastic epoxy was the most reliable binding agent in areas of high tension (the loops inside the “wheels”, for example). The Metrocard sheets were laminated on the steel, in sections, using contact cement.

4. How much weight can it hold?

It can hold three adults sitting across it; the cylindrical supports are very strong.

5. I understand you got the cards through Craig's List. Cool!
a. What did your ad say, and what did you post it under?

As I detail on my website’s blog, I posted under Craigslist Jobs, the category called “Etc.” The ad read:

$$ for old Metrocards! Fast cash…

I am working on an art installation made out of New York MTA metrocards. I’ve been picking up the discarded ones in stations, but could use some help as I need a lot. Here are the specifics:

1. I will pay 10 cents per card.

2. Only yellow, plastic metrocards accepted (not the white ones)

3. This project has a deadline, so cards need to be gathered within the next week.

4. Please have the cards rubber-banded in groups of 50. I will do a quick count and pay cash.

5. Do not submit more than 500 at a time, and please contact me before gathering so I can let you know how many I still need.



From that point on I treated all volunteers as a team, setting up an email list and sending daily updates. The response was terrific. I had more than thirty people write to me within the first 24 hours.

b. Did people mail you their cards or did you have to pick them up?

I actually went out to meet people in public places, like Union Square. I think there was a mutual curiosity to see who would dream up—and who would participate in—such a nutty project. This was the most enjoyable part of the process for me, interacting with people from all different backgrounds who chose to be involved in a very random act, perhaps for a little extra change, but I think mainly to be part of a creative endeavor. One NYC resident, Sarah Perez, involved her family and ended up collecting over 2,000 cards within days, to my shock. I later asked her motivation for helping out, and she wrote:

"Participating in a project like this is kind of like being part of the final product. Sure, the incentive is a little pocket money or laundry cash, but collecting a waste product that somebody intends to turn into an artwork that utilizes the beautiful elements of the garbage's design feels a bit like being part of the process and end result. "

c. How long did it take to get all the cards you needed?

Just under one week.

d. Any idea if they have money on them? If so, can you guess how much, total?

I’m sure there’s some value on the magnetic strips, though if most people are like me they won’t trash a Metrocard with anything more than pennies on it. My guess is that several are expired unlimited rides.

e. Why couldn't you get cards from the MTA?

Actually, although the final solution of tapping into the people of New York to get the cards was conceptually (and practically) the best choice, it was not my first. In the beginning I wanted to try to gather the cards myself, asking station managers if I could place boxes at the booths or collect the daily throwaways. However during the three weeks I had to actually execute the seat, I was in the middle of moving my studio and had two other large projects underway; there was literally no time. I then attempted to contact the MTA through various channels—the Transit Museum, the Arts for Transit Program, and eventually the division of MTA headquarters that handles production and distribution of Metrocards. As you might imagine, responsiveness was fairly slow (given my deadline), and ultimately I was told that it is MTA policy not to give away or even sell uncredited cards.

6. Is it for sale? If so, how much does it cost?

My original intention was to donate it to the Transit Museum, however after offering this I was told that neither their mission nor storage capacity extends beyond the housing of historical artifacts of the public transit system—not contemporary art. In lieu of this, I would work out the details with anyone interested in acquiring it. Frankly, it is of greater interest to me to get it out there into a design or functional object fair (such as SOFA) for people to experience firsthand.

7. They should put these in subway stations! Think they would hold up?

If this were for quotidian use, I would use another design I created (completely different) that has a back support. It would have to be coated in resin so that it could hold up to thousands of persons using it weekly.

8. Where is the bench right now?

I just removed it from the exhibition at Sloan a few days ago. It’s in my Brooklyn studio.

9. Any plans to make more subway-themed furniture?

I am toying with the idea of realizing some additional design iterations on this theme. I actually gathered more than 5,000 cards and would like to put the surplus to good use. On the other hand, the conceptual statement has been made, so any further extrapolation would need another layer to its purpose to justify the creation (for me). Making a beautiful form has its own merit, as does a form that follows function. However that which engages me most fully is design wherein form and function are closely tied to both the symbolic and practical meaningfulness of the material in which it’s realized. If it’s a found object, I want to consider what that thing did in its “previous life,” before it was upcycled or repurposed. In its new incarnation, as fragment or aggregate, ideally there should resonate something of its former character and raison d’etre. Although far from contemporary, the Inuit anorak is a fine example of very “complete design” in this sense. The waterproof parka is comprised of seal intestinal walls (in itself a kind of societal discard, or by-product of the principal industry of food procurement). These “upcycled” objects, originally functioning to imperviously retain liquids, are attached in horizontal bands (that still recall the intestines’ profile) to form a sort of collective vessel, this time with the function of keeping fluids out. I don't know that designers and artists can always hope to juggle all of these balls at once, but that is my objective.

Monday, April 4, 2011

W Train: Let's get it on.....

I see people having sex on the train and platforms all the time. I'm an overnight stock person at Duane Reade. Usually when I see them they see me, get surprised and stop. It’s happened so much that I just attribute it to the risk of having a night position.

In 2009, these two teenagers (or adults) were having full-blown sex on a W train. I was looking at them through the glass at the end of the car. She had on a dress, with her panties around her right ankle, and he was naked from the waist down to his shoes. They kept going at it from Broadway where I got on, to 49th Street where others started getting on the train. I was certain they were going to get caught at 59th Streeet, but surprisingly no one got on there (though someone from the platform did take a photo of the two lovebirds).


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Jar Jar April Fool's Day Prank

Sure enough, the latest Improv Everywhere subway stunt turned out to be a prank.

What I find interesting though, is how they turned the prank around. Most Improv Everywhere subway stunts are pranks on the people on the train--this was turned around so that a person on the train played the trick on the Improv Everywhere actors. Well done, taking it to the next level.

Also interesting: If this was real, did Jar Jar deserve it?
How far can we push performance art in public space?
What's the furthest you've been pushed by a crazy stranger on the train?

Most importantly,
What do you think about this stunt?