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Riding the Subway, 1972.


Photo by Chester Higgins for New York Times Magazine.



Saul Bellow in New York in 1975 (P: Neal Boenzi/The New York Times).


“The people in the subway, their flesh juxtaposed against the graffiti, the penetrating effect of the strobe light itself, and even the hollow darkness of the tunnels, inspired an aesthetic that goes unnoticed by passengers who are trapped underground, hiding behind masks and closed off from each other.”

The 25th anniversary edition of Subway was published last year.

(via:Casual Optimist)

Sophie Blackall’s Missed Connections graces the New York MTA Arts for Transit program.

I find on the train: subtle interactions, eccentricity, beauty, sorrow, secrets, kindness, generosity, excellent hairdos. Every sort of person imaginable and unimaginable. For this poster, I measured my allotted space very carefully and figured out I had enough space to draw 34 people. I had to whittle and whittle my list of favorite characters. The surfer standing with his board in a puddle of water didn’t make it. Neither did the gorgeous elderly drag queen, the man with the enormous orange velour armchair or the disheveled mermaids. I’m sorry. I still love you.

A bittersweet piece in New York Times about the amazing work of homeless artist Anthony Horton (who died in a subway fire) done from charcoal and fax machine ink he found in the trash. Excerpt below:

Mr. Horton found solace in the blackness of the tunnels. He made the subway the subject of his canvases, the muse for a graphic novel that he co-wrote, and the place he called home for the better part of his adult life, even when he had other places to stay.

(more excerpts from Pitch Black here)

A fascinating obituary in the New York Times on Sunday about  Noorda  here. His Pirelli tire ads were genius too.

“Don’t bore the public with mysterious designs,” Mr. Noorda once said, and he put that dictum into practice. He was a master of spare, elegant and logical designs that caught the eye, from minimalist corporate logos for the Italian publishing house Feltrinelli and the ENI Group of Milan to impressionistic posters for Pirelli, the Italian tire maker.

This has strong ties, of course, to Helvetica; which if you haven’t seen as a documentary is a must rent. A MUST.

(image: Noorda Design Studio)


i miss subway tokens.  they were easier to carry, like change.

Wednesday’s mark many things, a work week hump and my Friday…it might be my new favorite day.

Today, it marks the beginning of my book reviews on New York subjects and titles. Today, I’m telling you to read John Wray‘s LOWBOY (check out the great author’s site…really cool design). Not to mention, Adrian Tomine is responsible for the cover art…another dream.


Lowboy logline:  Schizophrenic teen runaway travels around New York City on the subway system looking for someone to sleep with in order to save the world.

KBD thoughts: outstanding read which includes teenage angst + uncertainty,  straight sharp dialogue and fast tounges, dark subway tunnels, subterranean vibe, downtown 6 train, strangers, Bellevue, motives, mangolia bakery cupcakes, hope, alienation, global warming, hope fades, death is certain. End of the world type stuff.  Hope all over again.

I wish I could write like Lowboy. Or any boy.

Read this book. Quickly.

INVASION! Off Daryl’s post and the Times Square of old, recalls the 42nd Street subway system (N,R) and the various creepy crawlers.  Those nasty damn rats.  Yes, the dirty, subterranean creatures who run the tracks and infest the city.  I recall riding shot gun at the front of the train and watching the little gray rodents scurry with their long tails circling behind.

Rats by Robert Sullivan

This in turn makes me want to read Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants (hey, it was in Anna Wintour’s Hermes beach gag a few summers back).  It’s been on my list for a long while.  Time to read.

Great interview from Powells with Robert Sullivan.

Dave: But what the book keeps pointing to is sanitation. Essentially this comes down to what we’re doing with our garbage.

Sullivan: Yes. Which comes down to our presence. What does our presence do? In Medieval Italy, there was a plan at one point… They thought it was amazing how much garbage rats ate, and they thought, What if we just give all our garbage to the rats? Then the rats would eat it and make it into these easily managed little… scat. Then they could just sweep it away and that would take care of all their garbage. We think rats are disgusting, but they’re not. They’re just another creature. It’s not their fault they live in our garbage. In fact, our garbage is our fault, if there’s any fault. The reason people are so disgusted by rats is that rats point to what is disgusting about us. We always have to have something bad in our sights to highlight our goodness. You need evil so that good can exist. Really, in nature, it can seem evil, but it’s not.

What You Missed.

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