Ten facts about the New York City subway system

Opened in 1904 and the second-oldest system in the country, the New York subway is the biggest and busiest in North America.

Here are ten facts for perspective:

  1. Riders: 5.58 million on a weekday. (OK, even if most of them are probably using it at least twice, coming and going, that’s still over two million people. The busiest time is between 7 and 8 a.m.)
  2. Top speed: 55 mph.
  3. Average speed: 17 mph.
  4. Average voltage in the third rail: 625 DC.
  5. Route length: 245 miles.
  6. Total track length: 850 miles. (Remember, a route requires two tracks, one in each direction. And where local and express routes overlap, you can double that. Stretched out, the track would run well past Chicago.)
  7. Daylight: 40 percent of the track runs above ground, mostly in three boroughs outside Manhattan. (It doesn’t run on Staten Island.)
  8. Two sizes of cars in operation: The IRT tunnels, curves, and stations are too small for the cars running on the IND and BMT lines.
  9. Directions: The current official map by Michael Hertz Associates dates from 1979. It is not geographically accurate but makes Manhattan larger to accommodate for the borough’s having the most services. The earlier 1979 subway map by Massimo Vignelli is considered a modern classic but is flawed by its placement of geographical elements.
  10. Men working: Because the system does not shut down overnight, all track maintenance occurs while trains are running. It can account for delays and rerouting, as needed. (Well, some of them did inspire my novel now running as Subway Visions.)

 

Take a ride on this new ‘Subway’

Today marks the publication of my newest novel, Subway Visions. It’s an ebook at Smashwords.com.

It’s a thorough reworking of my earlier Subway Hitchhikers, a work I first drafted back when the hippie movement seemed torn between heading in two directions.

One was out into the countryside, where you could hitchhike with ease in most places.

The other was back into the cosmopolitan center city, where you could get around on an underground subway network. (I loved the double meaning of underground, by the way – the idea of counterculture going back to, what, Dostoevsky?)

I wanted to bridge that gap.

Nearly a half-century has passed since that early manuscript took shape. It was eventually published in 1990. A lot has transpired since then.

There’s not a lot about hippies in the new book, for one thing. And there’s no longer a need to sketch out other facets of the broader narrative, now that Daffodil Uprising and Pit-a-Pat High Jinks are available.

The revised story now focuses on Kenzie’s monthly three-day forays into the Big Apple from his perch in the hinterlands to the north. These trips soon center on his jaunts to study with his Tibetan Buddhist guru in a derelict tenement in Manhattan’s SoHo district.

Getting there, of course, means taking the subway, and each venture takes him further and further into surreal realms – many of them rarely seen by the average commuter.

The revised story also builds on Kenzie’s new friends, especially Holly as a fellow Buddhist and, later, T-Rex as a legendary tagger.

The book – like the others in my Freakin’ Free Spirits cycle – is meant to stand alone, though the novels altogether form a larger, overarching narrative.

Let’s just say it’s a wild, comic ride.

Be among the first to read my newest novel.

THAT VICTORIAN APARTMENT WAS REAL

The once grand dame of an apartment house turned shabby that I describe in my novel Daffodil Uprising was real, though situated in Upstate New York rather than southern Indiana. A little bit more poetic license, if you will, in my relocating the blocky building.

I use the past tense, because satellite searches inform me the structure has been demolished, no doubt because of some of the health and safety issues the story relates. Bringing everything up to code would have cost a fortune.

Well, maybe a fire did it in. That, too, feels quite plausible.

When Kenzie and his two buddies flee their dorm, they have such high expectations. So did I, in what was supposed to be a haven after college. Look, this was what a professional journalist could afford – slum housing.

Still, the moldy manse was memorable and possibly haunted. I certainly heard rumors to that effect.

RUNNING IN A NAME

How can you not appreciate the way the word flows on the teeth and tongue and along the lips?

Given its name, Oyster River, in the Lenape tongue for the profusion at its mouth in Chesapeake Bay, the word ripples and sings.

Upstream, where I lived, a different name would have been fitting but, I’ll presume, no more beautiful.

Susquehanna 1~*~

For your own copy, click here.

MEETING IN THE MIDDLE

The prose-poem presents a subtle challenge. In theory, it should be a natural fit for the English language. In practice, however, what I see all too often is simply wordy prose. Somewhere, the poetry gets trapped or tangled or loses its spin.

Coming across a guideline to keep a prose-poem under a hundred words spurred my thinking. As I considered revising a clutch of drafted poems, a sensed an opportunity. Recast without line breaks, they flew – especially when I removed the punctuation that pushed them toward prose.

I’m satisfied with the results, which I feel are more powerful and vibrant and authentic than either a straight-prose or straight-verse version would present.

Take a look for yourself. Just click here.

harbor cover.jpg.opt370x493o0,0s370x493~*~

 

POOL BUM

“Hey! You! Come here!” Black man, about thirty, in Pitt sweatshirt and Pirates cap, stands at the fence and motions one of the tough talking grade-schoolers over. “I said, Come here! Yes, YOU! I’m warning you, leave my daughter alone. Don’t call her, don’t talk to her, don’t approach her.” He fiddles with his car keys. The kid smirks. “Listen to me,” I suspect he wants to add “you little asshole,” but he restrains. “If I ever hear that you’ve said anything like that again, you’re in deep trouble. Understand me? Real deep trouble. And that goes for my wife, too. You’re to leave them both alone, got that. You can tell your mother what I’ve said to you, I don’t care. You can tell your pa, too. I don’t care. But I’m warning you, hear?”

(The blond brat, walking back to the pool from the fence, smirks to his buddies.)

I’m itching like crazy. This has been going on the past two weeks, ever since the first flea bites. Those are gone now but the itching gets worse. Hellfire. Mites? Fungi? Anemia? Allergies? (WATER! Hot showers or swimming?) Negative effects from the sun? First sunbathing in three weeks: my tan’s faded to half.

Hot shower and soap up thoroughly. No relief.

Much lotion, which I’ve been using for a week and a half anyway.

Iron pills.

Spray, for relief: Solarcaine. Tinactin. Bactine.

Avoid water now. Salute the dad.

Riverside 1~*~

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IN ITS URBAN DECAY

It’s life in the inner city, usually not far from downtown and often in an enclave near the river. High density population, at least compared to the suburbs, and filled with children. Usually blue-collar or poor or a mix of students added in, it’s noisy and lively, even colorful in its urban decay. You can walk to the store or corner bar.

We lived on the second floor and later, a street over, on the third.

That’s where these poems originate and resonate still.

Riverside 1~*~

For your own copy, click here.

MOODY RIVER WINDING AWAY

What may appear to be a lazy river meandering amid its wooded isles deserves consideration and room to run wild.

Passions arise and freeze over. The flow dwindles to rock. Rats run along the shoreline of factory brick at the dam. A few miles on, either direction, the dairy herds gather.

All of it reflecting my soul when I lived there.

Susquehanna 1~*~

For your own copy, click here.