Subway Conversations



The time is 12:46 PM. I sit here staring at my Macbook – cutting tracks and writing all at the same time. As I wondered what would be the best to write about, I came to look at the world around me. You can hear the eerie nature of the quiet set over New York- this city only last year had tourists bustling in the streets; Broadway both on and off was popping with showstoppers like BeetleJuice, Lion King, and Little Shop of Horrors.  The walls of music were not confined to the four corners of the room I sit in now, but it was the symphony of speeding cars and dozens crowding into the subway.  Concerts on every platform of the underground brimmed with light only seen in Hallmark Christmas films- This was my home.

My home is not the music in the city, rather it is the individual that sings, the one that strums a guitar on the M train, and the ones in the studio that are recording ad-libs for the twentieth time. These artists are at home, replaced by MTA workers fumigating the station like clockwork. I never thought I would come to despise this quiet.

Recently I had to break quarantine to go over to the city from my bubble in queens. I expected the trains to be mostly empty with scattered commuters in each train car, and believe me it was. We went through each stop with people dripping in and out. Yet when I got to 34th st. and went up the escalator I heard something familiar. A man sat on a bucket playing his saxophone -his mask laying on his chin. I was early to where I needed to be so I listened for a while.

I asked the man after his set if I could bother him with some questions, he said he would be willing to as long as I kept his identity anonymous. He claimed that he played down in Greenwich Village,  and when Covid-19 hit he lost most of his gigs since bars shut down. “I got Blasio don’t want people to get sick. I got that, but if I can go to an Applebee’s now and have a beer with my fries – hell will it make a difference if I go in with my sax.” he vented.

The mayor and governor Cuomo have recently reopened restaurants to indoor dining – but only to 35% as of yet.

“ Y’all know that zoom isn’t the best concert hall, even with the Carnegie Hall filters.”

When asked how he felt inspired to come out here today he came back with “ All these funny people have that cash to tell everyone else to do what they say. I say if I wanna play without pay – I’m gonna do it in the only city that will appreciate it.”

When asked about his plans for post-quarantine? “You’ll catch me back at the Village”

With that, he went back to singing with his saxophone. With each note as I listened, I felt nothing but inspiration. With more patience ( and believe me I know that’s easier said than done ), and a lot of creative solutions we might be able to get back to pre-quarantine life. Tourists will come to the city from all over to see a Broadway show, eat at a showy or simple restaurant, and maybe even see a concert down in Greenwich for a show like no other. The eerie quiet over this city is slowly starting to fade- replaced only by the symphony of speeding cars and dozens crowding into the subway, concerts on every platform of the underground brimming with light, and the knowledge that this last year of only being confined to the four corners of our rooms was temporary – even when it felt like it wasn’t.

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