Saw this notice in the Times today. To quote: “Train of Thought, the program that placed literary quotations from the likes of Kafka and Schopenhauer in the unlikely locale of a packed New York City subway car, is being removed, two years after it assumed the mantle of subterranean high culture from Poetry in Motion.”
Like most New Yorkers, I spend the majority of my time on the subway with my headphones on and my face buried in a book or newspaper in a vain attempt to block out the rest of my fellow citizens. But whenever I come up for air, it’s always a small pleasure to see a quote from Shakespeare or Mark Twain sandwiched between ads for Dr. Zizmor’s skin treatments. Not that these literary snippets offer a ton of insight, but just the fact that the MTA would provide booksish distractions always makes me smile.
But I suppose all good things must come to end, and the kicker is that the MTA will be using the Train of Thought space for updates on maintenance and other customer service ads. Considering the glacial rate of improvement on the subway, I’d think some heady words from Proust would do more to keep people in a good mood than chipper service updates that don’t square with reality.
Hence, to all you writerly riders, a modest holiday plea: let the MTA know we want our poetry back! For, to mangle a quote (boy, I really DO need Train of Thought), what profit the subway to gain more ad space and forfeit its soul?