The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

worried faces

with one comment

Would it kill you to smile?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While riding the Subway in New York City, observation of the interesting social behaviors exhibited by the citizenry entertains. There are those who present the “pfft, ain’t no thing” and those who present the “what the hell are you looking at” and also present are the “please, for gods sake, do not notice me” lean. Others pretend to sleep, or stare blankly at the floor (that’s the one which I favor), while a small group of extroverts feel the need to shout and otherwise draw attention unto themselves. Then there’s the buskers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are Mariachi’s, young couples who perpetrate the “gypsy baby” scam, those three kids who dance and perform acrobatics. Worst of all are the religious zealots, whose clumsy attempts at evangelism are enough to drive one into the arms of Satan itself. Skillfully ignoring these buskers and con artists, or not, is what separates the true New Yorker from the tourist. The tourists are the worst, of course, breaking all of the unspoken rules of subway etiquette which “regular” riders subconsciously obey and enforce. Nobody smiles, the MTA has a rule against that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My camera is always at the ready whenever entering these concrete bunkers with their pungent atmospheres, and one of the odd things I’ve noticed in recent years is the reaction some have upon seeing the device. Lens cap on and power switch off, they will stare at the camera in the manner one would watch the countdown clock on a bomb. I don’t understand this. Humans, they’re weird, and need to smile more often.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 2, 2014 at 10:54 am

One Response

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  1. Mitch,

    Though I thoroughly detest the flying limbs and noise of the acrobatic dancing teams and the wretches who drag their kids along as they beg and am fairly indifferent to many other species of panhandling, I am fascinated by the Mexican musicians on the trains. I carry a digital audio recorder to catch them when possible (though I have a real aversion to the wife of the guitar player who shatters my nerves scraping the guiro that she collects cash in). Anyhow, I have learned that this is not mariachi, but Norteno (tilde over the “n”), at least for the most part. I am no ethnomusicologist, but I believe that mariachi usually have brass horn men in their combo and the songs are much different from what I hear on the A train.

    Mundro Budgeons

    April 2, 2014 at 1:05 pm


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