Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Aggressively Pedestrian

What's with the double meaning of "pedestrian"? How did the word come to be associated not only with traveling by foot, but also with being boring?
In this part of the country there is a totally different pedestrian culture than on the west coast. The walkers are at war with the drivers, they push into the streets regardless of the color of the traffic signal. I keep noticing how cowed I am as a pedestrian, acquiescing should a car come my way. Not so in New York or New Jersey! On Sunday in Coney Island I saw a guy crossing against the light who paused, looking unconcerned, while a firetruck screeched past him. He stood between lanes of traffic and then proceeded when the truck passed. Granted, he might have been a wee bit intoxicated, but it exemplified the attitude people here have regarding crossing the street. I love the aggression from pedestrians, but my orderly mind abhors all the lawbreaking. The drivers are pushing forward, speeding along, and the walkers are just as bad. I keep marking myself as an outsider because I hesitate at crosswalks, looking both ways. Heck, I even step back onto the curb if the light changes. Every time I do that some other person walks briskly past me and into traffic, defying the drivers.
So Coney Island is filled with garbage, big surprise! It's just like Long Beach! Lots of casual littering here, you know, a guy'll be walking along, and a wad of paper will just drop from his fingers as he ambles along. I mean, I'm not going swimming at a beach where the ground is two parts sand and one part trash. And neither should your children, folks!
As often happens when I am parted from my instruments, my fingers are itching to sew and to strum a guitar. Here I am with this silly bicycle and no creative implements. I seem to be doomed to forever desire instruments when they are away from me, and to be bored by them when I have them.
No camera cord yet, but I have lots of pictures from the New York Transit Museum, which is a Valhalla for train enthusiasts like me. It's in an old subway station in Brooklyn, and down on the platform you can go in and out of trains from every era of the IRT. Suhweet! MTA portrays itself as having a longstanding commitment to the environment and public transportation above single occupancy vehicles. I wonder if that's true.