The Art of Procrastination – The Underground Scene

[Note: If you missed Part 1 of The Art of Procrastination and would like to know more about what the heck is going on, feel free to click here.]

I knew from the start that this part of my journey might get a bit maddening. According to my assignment sheet, I was to “Visit each of the following [subway stations] and note the public art that is included. Write an analysis of what you think is a suggestion as to the role of the works and the purpose of the location.”

This would not have been problematic had I done my assignments like a real student, but my procrastination forced me into a corner and I was now looking at something close to four hours underground, depending on my luck with the trains.

And I never have good luck with the trains.

14th St Station

8:26pm – 14th St and 7th Ave, Location #9?: The severe lack of art at this station leads me to believe that this is not the 14th St station that Dr. Gratson intended me to investigate. But an uptown 2 train is about to leave the platform, and according to notebook plan that was the train I needed. I’m counting it.

Times Square

8:36pm – Times Square Station, Location #10: Lots of tile art, plus some cool window pieces that have interesting depth. I a, searching desperately for a bathroom and the myth that Dr. Gratson says is artistically expressed here. It is hot as hell. I find no myths, and even less bathrooms. [I would later find through googling that I had in fact found the myth, I had just failed to recognize Persephone staring me in the face. I wish I knew myths better. They are so freaking cool.]

72nd St Station

8:42pm – 72nd St Station, Location #11: Again, I worry about the absence of art here. Walking up the stairs from the station platform there are only exits. No murals or anything close to the works that were at Times Square. The only tile art I see are these fairly simple patterns on the tunnel walls. I hope I am not doing this wrong. I take my pictures and catch a downtown 1 train.

Columbus Circle

8:59pm – 59th St Columbus Circle, Location #12: This is my “choose your own station” because it serves as a good hub and also has some amazing art. Well, sort of. I have to exit the gates in order to take the pictures I want to take, but they are worth the $2.50. I try to convince an MTA worker to let me take my photos and reenter the station for free. She says she will at first, but changes her mind upon my return two minutes later. It’s fine. Pacific Rim is advertising on a massive scale, and I consider it worth reporting on. Three big screens play the film’s trailer on repeat while embedded within approximately 100 yards of poster advertising on either side of the wall. I can’t imagine what kind of money this cost.

Pacific Rim

I catch an uptown B train to the Museum of Natural History.

Museum of Natural History

9:22pm – 81st St Museum of Natural History, Location #13: Fossils and fish. Live animals, such as caterpillars blooming into butterflies can be found on the uptown platform. Below, on the downtown platform, are depictions of various fossils. It’s well thought out. I snap my pictures and catch a downtown C back to 59th.

59th

9:27pm – 59th St Columbus Circle: A downtown D train rolls into the station just as my C train arrives. This never happens to me. I am always the guy to just miss a train. Go me.

Marilyn Monroe

9:36pm – 42nd St Bryant Park, Location #14: The only art that I can find in this station are some photos of Marilyn Monroe. She is as beautiful as ever. Part of me is concerned that Dr. Gratson intended us to explore the surrounding area of these station in addition to their interiors, but I don’t have that type of cash on my MetroCard. Scott, if you need more information on these please just let me know. I can burn out another 2,000 words on MTA no problem. I’m sure of it.

Also, I still really have to pee.

9:39pm – Leaving Bryant Park: The downtown D arrives just as my first pen runs out of ink. Now the wait for Coney Island begins. I have never made this trek before, and have only heard the legend of its length. I am prepared to spend two hours on this train before I worry about my mental and emotional fortitude.

9:46pm – D train #1 to Coney Island: The ominous voice of the conductor informs me that if I want to get to Brooklyn I will have to switch from this D train to another one. I am tire, and this makes little sense to me, but I oblige my new underground overlord. Another D train pulls in on the other side of whatever minor station we are at.

10:00pm – D train #2 to Coney Island: Checking the subway map on my phone I decide that this ride is long enough to justify reading. Further, my usually fear of being so caught up in a book that I miss my stop is not really an issue as I am riding until the end of the line. My new conductor takes to the loudspeaker: “Due to a down tree, this train will be running express to Coney Island.”

WORD.

Also, my left foot hurts like hell. I am excited to figure out just how far I have walked today. The station stops go from underground to above ground and I realize that I have never seen this side of New York before. It’s a completely different place from what I can observe. THERE ARE TREES.

10:28pm – Still D Train #2 to Coney Island: There is an 18th Avenue? There is a 20th Avenue? THERE IS A 25th AVENUE WHERE AM I?

Coney island Cops

10:36pm – Coney Island, Location #15: My once full car is down to eight survivors as we pull into Coney Island. I don’t know what to expect upon my exit. A sign saying the next N train won’t be arriving for 92 minutes forces me to momentarily panic. I know I’ll be taking a Q back uptown, and I ask an MTA employee how often they run- about every 20 minutes. Perfect. I decide to go to the beach.

Golden Arches

10:38pm – Coney Island: But before the beach, I see the Golden Arches, meaning sweet relief for my bladder.

The Boardwalk

11:03pm – The Beach: I touch the ocean. Is this the ocean? The Sound? The Hudson? Whatever the answer is, I’m touching it.

Coney Island Station

11:14pm – Coney Island Station: I do my duty and observe the art of the station before catching my train. Once it arrives, I realize my phone is down to 10% battery life. I am hoping it can hold out for pictures at a few more locations or else the imagery of my writing is going to have to get way better. As the train runs backwards through an alphabet of Avenues I continue to read in an attempt to stay awake. The man sitting across from me gulps from a 40oz and I am envious.

The group next to me begins to speculate to the amount of money Jerry Seinfeld is making in residuals because his show is “On at least one network 24 hours a fucking day.” I think they have a point.

11:42pm – Barclays: I get out and quickly realize that I don’t need pictures at this station, and jump on a train to the Brooklyn Art Museum.

Brooklyn Art Museum

11:51pm – Brooklyn Art Museum, Location #16: The art that I must observe is through the exit gates of the station, but I squeeze my iPhone through a gap in the gate to snag my necessary pictures, as my train is coming in two minutes. I promise myself I will figure out the importance of their imagery later because my train is arriving. A Manhattan bound 3. I make the executive decision that since I added the Shakespeare Book Company to my list, I can skip my trip to Astor station tonight. My car is empty but for two people, one reading and one pacing. I join the former.

12:21pm – 14th St Station: Back where it all began. I start walking home.

Halal Food

12:36pm – Union Square Food Truck, Location #17: To end my night on a high note, I get a falafel. Extra white sauce, lite red sauce, just the way I like it. Plus, eating from a food truck was on the list. I’m just being a good student. It is delicious.

12:47pm – Home: I made it. Approximately eight hours of constant travel, begging for coffee, and subway riding. Let this be a lesson to you kids out there: procrastination is not the best course of action. But it is possible.

…..

“But Tyler,” you may be thinking, “you are still three locations short of hitting your mark of 20.”

Thankfully, I actually did do some of my homework before the night before it was due.

AWOLNATION

June 25th, 2013 – Free AWOLNATION Concert, Location #18: One of my favorite bands, even if they are something of a guilty pleasure. Their first album Megalithic Symphony was the soundtrack to a good part of my sophomore year of college. I found out about this show about an hour before it happened thanks to Twitter, and immediately began walking to Pier 25. It was an event sponsored by Zumiez and most of the crowd were teenagers trying to hard to look like skateboarders. I didn’t mind. AWOL was great. The sound was questionable, but I know every word to every one of their songs and when you see a band that you have that type of relationship with, the experience of being there is really the most important aspect of quantifying its “goodness”.

There are many times that I think the best part of living in New York is all of the things that are always happening.

July 3rd, 2013 – Strand Bookstore, Location #19: I went here on the recommendation of Dr. Gratson after asking him where I should take a pretty girl who’s into books. She had been there before, but it didn’t stop us from having a good time. Her boyfriend is what stopped us from having a good time. Regardless, Strand is amazing. I bought three books there and am through one and a half of them. There is an unfathomable amount of books there, and they go up so high.

STOMP

July 9th, 2013 – See a Broadway Production, Location #20: Walking home from work one day, I chanced upon a performance of STOMP for free at Bryant Park. They are astounding. Beyond their ability to drum on anything and turn it into high art, the best aspect of the show is how they bring the audience in to be a part of it. Everyone knows about rhythm. Some people aren’t good at it, but keeping time is a human function that is ingrained in our subconscious. STOMP aims to prove that to its audience. Through a series of calls and responses, the group allows for their crowd to set the backbeat for them as they go off on what are essentially extended drum solos. After the show, I got to shake the lead members hand. He was all smiles and sweating bullets. It was one of the many experiences that I have had this summer that I will remember as being uniquely New York. That doesn’t happen in my home town.

And with that, my homework is finished.

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