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Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

I don't know who had the notion of emblazoning that phrase from Lamentations (1:12) on the front of their building on the outskirts of the Bronx, in full view of a busy street and along the railway, but I saw it as I passed by on Amtrak yesterday... and it struck me like a thunderbolt.

366478-515124-thumbnail.jpgTrain travel on the Northeast corridor is a sight to behold. It takes you on a majestic approach to Manhattan that cuts through the most exclusive Greenwich yacht clubs on one side, and through the most squalid "No-mans Lands" literally on the "other side of the tracks."  

I'm sure in the city and town halls, there are propety maps that show who owns these fringes along the railbed. Years ago in the age of steam, I imagine they were scattered with the ashes from the locomotives.  Now these areas.. not quite neighborhoods, not quite yards... not quite woods... are scattered with the ashes of people's lives.

Shopping carts.  Windblown grocery bags snagged in trees.  Empty cases of beer.  And on the last time through, a ragged man taking his morning shit in the cover of low undergrowth--down and away from the street above him, but ass-frontward to the passing train.  I thought it as splendid a "How-do-you-do" as was ever given.

Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?

In raw form, I typed out everything I saw from Stamford to Penn Station.  Here, unedited and unburnished, is what I marveled and wondered at as I passed by.

Mamaroneck Station at 30 mph

A stop at New Rochelle:

A gorgeous woman facing the sunshine, eyes closed, savoring a draw on her cigarette as if it were the source of all goodness.  And at the same time…

A middle age man in glasses and a blue Member's Only jacket facing her from the side, eyes open, staring full on at her, uh, sweater.  If she only turned slightly, he’d be so nailed. I mean LOOK at him!  He’s consumed with those things.  From where I’m sitting, behind tinted windows at about navel level to her, he’s got reason to be.

Ditmars Boulevard Subway Station

Robert Moses’ red-bricked monstrosities. 

TMG Trucking dumptruck at a job site.  Empty.  Waiting. 

FEDEX Ground trucks.  Two of 'em.

Cars.  Trucks.  Panel vans.  Minivans.

Where are you going?

  • To work?
  • To the airport?
  • To school?
  • To meet your lover?
  • To the vet?
  • To the grocery store?
  • To bring your Mom her sweaters and cold weather clothing and switch out her summer clothes?


Go in peace. 

Vaya con Dios.


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