The New York City
subway system is always under construction
, and the daytime riders of the #5 train have suffered the necessity of needing three different trains (the 2, the 5, and a shuttle) to go between its North Bronx
stops. My only consolation, while waiting for the shuttle train, has been a look at the shiny new trains running up and down the test tracks at the Bronx end.
Even more ubiquitous than the under-constructionness, are the WET PAINT signs -- they're everywhere. Partly because the subway can always use a fresh coat of paint, and partly, I think, to cover over some graffiti, since the painting is only done in spots, never an entire wall. The paint is rarely still-wet when I notice the signs, but at one stop -- the Gun Hill Road one, I think it was -- I managed to catch the moist sheen of a large stretch of wall covered in a new coat of a drab-beige paint job. But right on top of it was a giant, equally new, graffiti tag, sitting there as if that WET PAINT sign existed just for the tag.
I saw a guy in his 70s walking, carrying a couple of bags of items bought from the store, probably headed home. He had on a pair of shorts, for it was a hot day, and one of those baseball caps that have nothing to do with baseball (I hate non-baseball caps) covering his curly gray locks, and... a "Got Pot?" t-shirt.
Steve "The Schmoozer" Somers was always one of my favorite local radio personalities. Once upon a time, he was "Captain Midnight" at WFAN, doing the overnight shift for many years, with his wiseacre rasp (a smoker of Camels, he is) and his quirky, deftly-delivered shtik. He got promoted, a few years back, to co-hosting the mid-morning show, the one that follows Imus, so I could only listen to him when I was within daytime earshot of FAN, maybe a handful of times in a given year. One of the nice things about moving here was that I might be able to hear Steve on a regular basis again, but soon after getting here, he and his co-host, Russ Salzberg (a TV sportscaster at Channel 9, and perhaps famous for the time Mike Tyson had one of his expletive-filled meltdowns during a via-satellite interview), were fired. So much for hearing Steve. But last night, I stumbled upon That Voice, in the late-evening time slot, so he's apparently back. Good. But he sounds a bit muted so far, perhaps trying to feel out the vibe of the new hours.
I had another godfather die this week (see June 7, 2000) -- "Uncle" Freeman, actually a cousin. I remember him as sort of an outer-boroughs bon vivant, having come up here from the coastal Carolinas to make a life for himself in post-WWII NYC; I first discovered, when I learned how to read, that there was such a thing as Johnny Walker Black (it doesn't just come in Red!) while studying the liquor cache at his Brooklyn apartment. He always brought goodies when he came to visit -- some candy, perhaps, or The Sporting News, a much more substantive read than liquor labels. When he retired, he returned Down South, living near the North Carolina/South Carolina border, a couple of miles from the beach. But his diabetes had caused him ill health in recent years, leading to hospitalizations, double amputations, and loss of eyesight. He had become understandably crotchety, and when there was a family reunion last year, held about a mile away from his house, someone conveniently "lost" his invitation. But some of us brought him a big doggie bag from the fête, and I was reminded more of Thurgood Marshall's retirement press conference...
Q: Justice Marshall, why are you leaving the bench?
A: 'Cause I'm old!
...delivered with a mix of jocularity and endearing, well-earned crotchetiness. (And Freeman's voice, no longer the basso profundo of years past, sounded a little like Marshall's.) But those who had to look after Freeman on a regular basis (I lived in a different part of the state, and so was exempt) might not have found him so endearing.
It's almost time to start thinking about thinking about writing some music. Two guitars, bass, drums, a four-piece horn section, and a string section of about eleven people. How will they all fit into a one-bedroom apartment?