My Own “M Train”

Posted: November 13th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

M TrainLike most people I have a morning routine. Mine takes me walking along 35th Street, having ascended into Manhattan from the “B” Train, usually 10 minutes before 7AM. At that hour the city is relatively quiet and, at this time of the year, just welcoming the morning sun. So, the ether is cast in a salmon color haze while I and a handful of familiar, although unknown, faces greet me with typically downcast or sometimes glazed eyes, such as the young man dressed in a hoody hosing the sidewalk in front of the Hotel Metro, who will courteously stop spraying while I pass, attempting to avoid the streams of water. Also familiar is a lighted sign across the street declaring simply HOTEL, its letters defined by round amber bulbs, like the studs on a Texas shirt, shining somewhat eerily in the gloom. I’m not sure why, but it reminds me of Paris. And, with several burned out bulbs on the “E” it is as if the Lanford Wilson play, Hot l Baltimore, is an actual place.
Approaching Fifth Avenue and peering downtown I see a great puff of black smoke crossing the sky in the distance, surprisingly not so much conjuring reminiscences of 9/11 but instead of the thousands of starlings seen in Rome during late Fall and Winter as they perform a synchronized dance, like schools of fish in a wine dark sky.
I was shaken, however, from my thoughts by the sound of a helicopter hovering overhead, its blades cutting through the air, making cicada-like, rhythmic thumps in my ear. These sounds shake my brain cells into remembering how we, as kids, would tape pliant but sturdy squares of cardboard onto the spokes of our bike tires so they would catch and release the edges as we road, making similar thwack-thwack-thwacks to the dismay of the neighborhood. Why these memories should come to mind was likely because I had been just before immersed in Patti Smith’s new book, M Train. No, not THAT M Train, but rather her personal M(emory) Train (of thoughts). A book I highly recommend, along with her earlier one, Just Kids.

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