Do you remember that time a few weeks ago when going outside and walking somewhere didn’t feel like trudging your way through a horrible air-swamp? Back when the air was crisp, somewhere below 80% humidity, and not yet permeated with the smell of warm garbage and dog food? Those were the days. Let me take you back to that glorious bygone era with a painting of a dude I saw on the subway.
When there isn’t anything terrifying happening, the subway at night can be a calm, meditative place if you’re in the right frame of mind. The cacophony of clanks, garbled announcements, and metal-on-metal grinding don’t fade, but they do become less annoying once you accept them as necessary parts of your late-night journey. A while ago I saw a video about James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem wanting to redesign the sound of the subway turnstiles to play gentle harmonic tones instead of the clunk-beeeep we’re used to. It’s a nice idea in theory, but in practice I think it would feel very out-of-place. The subway is an underground howling mess of grimy steel, and that turnstile noise reminds you of what you’re getting into. Where do melodic bleep bloops fit into that? You’re not boarding the train to Candyland, you’re going to Queens.
Anyway, in a state of clanking subway zen I saw this guy across the train car. The neutrals of his outfit’s color palette let him blend in for a moment, but then I noticed the white flecks decorating his shirt, and the pretty but confusing design on his scarf. And then the Union Jack phone cover became visible between his fingers. There were so many patterns! They just took a minute to surface from the otherwise calm waters of light green and beige. And that metaphor makes his outfit sound like a swamp, which returns us to this week’s boglike dampness and heat.