If you’re wondering what it’s like to live as an actor and writer in New York City, specifically Bushwick (area of Brooklyn), New York, and what I do on a Thursday night, keep reading.
Events in New York City
Living in New York City over the past 4.5 years, I’ve found that the best events to attend are usually cheap (under $15) or, more often, free. Why? Generally speaking, those that attend these events are a microcosm of creative types who are pursuing their dreams with such abandon that they have little money, or interest, in attending expensive gala type events. Also, and this is probably more likely a reason, once you live in NYC, you find out about these inexpensive events through friends and acquaintances on Facebook, groups and communities that you follow on Facebook, or through such sites as EventBrite, one of the best sites to schedule your fun activities. You can download it on your phone, too, with Google Play store for Android phones, and iTunes for Apple phones.
Because I’m on a list for the Czech Center in Manhattan, I was invited to one of their events, a film screening for Too Loud A Solitude. I visited their site, watched the trailer for the movie, was intrigued, and decided to go.
Subway to Manhattan
I took the L into Manhattan, transferred at 14th Street/Union Square to the uptown #6 train. The train operator makes an announcement to “wait for the next train, there will be room on the next train”. The doors close. The train hurtles off down the tubes, northbound for uptown. Then, the train speakers crackle to life once more … “hey man, what time is lunch?” the train operator asks. An answer comes from another operator or conductor “1900”. The train operator replies “that’s too late”. We, the passengers on the train, are not supposed to be hearing this. People are starting to laugh. Then … “those people back there on the platform were crazy, arguing, about to get in a fight”. Now, we are laughing. Then, silence. A minute later … “someone just told me they can hear our conversation, gotta turn this off … “ LOL. I rode the #6 train to 77th Street, then exited the train.
Walking to the Czech Center
It was a chilly, brisk night and the cold air seemed to amplify the images before me. I felt alive as I traversed the stairs from the mouth of the subway. And, after crossing the street, I looked back toward the subway entrance, the mouth of the subway, stairs like an accordian-shaped tongue, it’s glowing light spitting out and swallowing up the pedestrian overflow. Everything in The City of stone and steel seems sharpened by the clarity of Winter.
From the mouth of subway, I walked to 73rd Street, then headed East toward the Czech Center. On the way there, I noticed piles of garbage and found a perfectly good electric toaster. I carried it into the Czech Center and the polite clerk offered to keep it at the front desk. I thanked her, handed her the toaster, and entered the event.
Lounge Art Gallery
Although it was a film screening, there was a small, high-ceiling gallery with items from the movie—puppets, miniature books, old photos. I took some pictures.
There was a small crowd of about twenty people standing in tight, immovable groups. A few middle-aged men were discussing their careers as university teachers and their wives and their recent vacations to upstate New York. They seemed to be in a polite bragging match. Wandering among them to take pictures, I felt like I was in a Woody Allen movie. And the false bravado of these tweed-wearing academics, as they tossed around pretentious adjectives like life preservers in this politically-correct kiddie pool, I realized that in New York City, academics of this kind rubber-corner their lives with hobbies such as perusing the New York Times until they become tired and restless, then, masturbation. But who am I to judge? Like them, I ride the subway (I prefer standing) and watch everyone quietly from behind the privacy of my $77 Penguin sunglasses.
No one was talking to me or introducing themselves to me, but I didn’t care. I was taking pictures and I did not want to participate in their conversation. I had no interest in it.
After 15 minutes, Simone, an employee of the Czech Center, announced that the film was about to begin, so we could make our way into the theatre. The door to the theatre was right beside the art gallery. I entered and took a seat.
The film, Too Loud A Solitude, was a 17-minute film, done with puppets, that tells the story of a book-crusher (he crushes books for living) who reminisces about a girl who he met years earlier. It was a moving story, well done, and at the end, I had tears in my eyes.
The director, Genovieve Anderson, is in the process of turning this 17-minute masterpiece into a full-length feature. I hope she does. This 17-minute film was far superior to most big budget feature length films I’ve seen.
After the film screening, there was a Q & A with Genovieve, hosted by Marie Dvorakova, the Czech Center Program Director. That lasted a 1/2 hour and then we were invited to the 2nd floor art gallery for refreshments. I took the spiral stairs and wandered the gallery, taking photos, drinking some Malbec red wine, some mineral water, eating prosciutto and cheese with french bread toast, and chatting with Marie and Genovieve.
An hour later, people were leaving, I said my goodbyes, wobbled downstairs, said hello to the front desk lady, she hands me the toaster and suggests I get a bag for it at CVS. I thank her, walk to CVS, get a few bags, slip the toaster into them, thank the store clerk, leave. I walk to the downtown #6 train.
Riding the #6 Train in Manhattan
I enter the train. It smells like cigarette smoke. There’s a black guy in the corner smoking a cigarette. A lot of people are just sitting there on the train. Why aren’t they leaving. The train doors shut. The train starts to move. I walk to one end of the train, slide open the doors and walk into the other train. A few people follow me, shaking their heads in disgust.
The train stops at the next stop, the doors open, then close, the train starts off again. The doors connecting the train cars slide open but I don’t see anyone. Then, I look down and see a guy with no legs, lifting and pushing and walking with his arms, through the sliding doors. He stops momentarily to hold out a big can with dollar bills. I drop two dollars into his can. Others drop dollars. Poor guy with no legs. I hope he makes thousands and thousands of dollars.
After he walks through the train, a big guy, about 6’4” tall, enters from the same door the legless man just exited. This tall, refrigerator of a guy is singing opera style “can anyone help me with a few dollars”. He’s wearing bagging jeans, shirt, coat, and has a moving blanket (I used to work at a moving company, they are padded blankets) wrapped around him, holding it, he walks the train aisle, the blanket touching passengers as they try to make themselves small as possible, horrified, so they won’t get bedbugs or whatever other vermin are inhabiting this blanket from BedBugs & Beyond.
Another night in New York City. Zoo York City. Animals inside these steel metal tubes, hamster tubes, hurtling through the subterranean world, the world beneath the world above, a turbulent and rugged geometry, known as the New York City subway system.
Stand clear of the closing doors, please.