New York Is A Mechanical Bull

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A "sidewalk" in Brooklyn

Yesterday, while waiting for the unceasingly delinquent J train, I noticed a large man on the opposite platform shouting profanities at the top of his lungs. Even weirder, I looked around and discovered he was yelling them at me.

This was not the unfocused raving of your garden-variety lunatic. This was a highly focused tirade. I was the only person on my side of the platform.

But when I tried to listen, it was impossible to tell what he was saying. Something about cocks and whores and goddamn fucking motherfuckers and all those other words that feel good to shout at the top of your lungs on a subway platform. I listened for a good minute and a half, but the more I listened, the more animated he became.

So I did what anyone does in that situation. I pulled out my earbuds and turned up my iPod. As far as I could tell, the guy kept right on yelling at me.

I was on my way to meet a real estate agent, which ended up taking two hours. Afterward we grabbed a quick dinner before seeing The Great Recession, a Bats production of short plays at the Flea Theatre. It was fairly entertaining; perhaps as entertaining as a series of short plays on the subject of the recession could reasonably be expected to be.

And then we returned home, exhausted. After doing just three things! And I thought to myself, “Sometimes you ride New York like a stallion: you lean back in the saddle and you catch every subway, every streetlight and every great table. Other times you ride New York like a mechanical bull: just when you think you’ve got a good grip on it, you fly head-first into the crowd.”

Then other times, New York just yells at you. For no reason at all.

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