Home to the Jay Levine Dreamscape Project

"Muy Divertido" -Eds.

Explore it!
The following is not actually part of The Subway Diaries (or any other Dreamscape) but it seemed to embrace the ethos (not to mention the setting) of the category so well, that we include it, here, for your enjoyment.


I sit, as it were (crouched, really, my back braced to a wall), in the twilight dawn of subway station X, the twilight dawn that stretches, dim, through all these lonely and darkened corridors during any period of the night, every night.

Can you feel the breeze? It comes noticeably from my left, from the north, ruffles my hair... would ruffle these pages were I to relax my hold. That’s the air pushed ahead through the tunnel by the next approaching train. And look! Up the track, still in the tunnel: two yellowish eyes come a’rattling and a’screeching its approach: a #9 train, heading south? Well, thankie much; don’t mind if I do.

Now I sit in another expanse, internal and metallic and mobile this time, descending the colon of the beast, a long smooth chromium turd sliding down down, to dump me downtown, as it were.

And Look! Stuttering through the girders and briefly glimpsed as they rattle past: every station a book-in-waiting, if only I would take the time and...

Ah. The ride smooths as we coast from 116 → 110 on steady rails and no propulsion, superconductive it feels, steady as the night. Now we slow, pause, ka-ching, doors open, souls descend and disembark, or vice versa, as the case may be... ding ding... "Stand clear of the closing door!" to lurch us on our way.


The yellow/orange plastic pre-formed curves designed to palm the average NY bum. (Or “transient,” as I believe correct terminology these days, or "unsavory," by others [Cam!...]). And my bum too! It could be Mickey Ds, in here, with the form-fitting molded orange and beige plastic of it. But listen!

A rush of air. A higher whine. The low-slung murmured gossip that animals make to pass the time, distract the mind, from the terminable darkness.

Oh, hark. Why have we stopped now? No tiled aquarium glow to be glimpsed, just blank blackness outside the scratched and plastic windows, maybe a hint of grimy tunnel wall pressed close up to the glass. But still... feel that? A hum. The deeper, burning, glowing surge of electricity held in check. Do any of us really know: the thrumming power that feeds the grid?

Oop, on the move again. And someone laughs as we lurch and leave the station (103rd). Out of 22 passengers in this car (yes, I counted) I am not the only caucasian. Another sits opposite and ½ way down, his chin propped on knee-propped fist… no socks, white t-shirt, shorts (it’s damned hot, remember). And me, now, as we arrive at 86th (“Stand clear of the closing doors…” ding...ding. Swoooooosh. Hummmm.) Yes me. I'm glad you asked: red socks, red t-shirt, khaki shorts… I write. For no apparent reason, I write. I am a “writer”, pen to paper, thus. But when I pause (which I don’t often) what then? For example, as we hit 79th and I glance up to take assessment… When I pause to lick the quill and look around. Still a writer? Definition unclear.

"Burden of Proof" (by Scott Turow) is the novel the man held; the man who (bearded, bespectacled, marching resolutely from one car to the next, bracing himself occasionally from swaying) passed, just now, in front of my knees and, for a moment, through the world of my perception and description…

Hark! 66th street… south, south and south some more we go (59th next). Ding ding.

… but am I still a writer then?

I am surrounded now it should be glumly noted. And it ain’t no fun. To my right, to my left, and above, hanging one arm on the crossbar. If one of these scurrilous fellows so much as side-eyes they can read every word and meta-word (and meta-meta-word) I scribe. Well, fuck ‘em all! To hell with them! I scribble on, undeterred, and determined, it might appear, to set a new, and, as yet unconceived record, to be the first, foremost and probably ONLY person to scribble virtually unceasingly from 125th Street (ah, respite from the prying eyes: 42nd Grand Central brings an equally grand exodus, a general emptying of the train, the good from the chaff, as it were [chaff, including me, left on board, as only those heading TRULY downtown stay] and I can breathe again with some space and lucidity and privacy around.) Yes UNCEASINGLY, is what I was saying, I shall pull meaning from the void and press it in ever tightening spirals and hieroglyphs to this page, to be exhumed someday and marveled at by future sociologists and historians alike. They will ogle and gasp, unable to believe, equally unable to deny: the only person, I propose, ever to write perpetually from 125th Street to Christopher Street, unstopping! AND, as 14th St is now behind us, it appears I might just make it since Christopher is next and no more power outages in sight. Still, man plans and god laughs and when's the last time a power outage was predicted never mind spotted, so I won't count it yet, not yet, but now! The train slows! The aquarium glow. Most importantly, I can’t miss my stop (that would be a disastrous and dastardly turn of events). CHRISTOPHER STREET. Ding ding. Jayson, out!

The Subway Diaries i (34/85)

April 2, 1996

Choose a different dreamscape

→ Later

Speaking of getting bitter? Fucking Josh, if I may, became a walking talking obstruction to my favored act of train-writing. “Guess I’ll take the train and walk across,” he said, while still street level outside Arnold’s (I had made abundantly clear that I no longer favor the shared cab ride anymore since price-hike and etc [and since he departs at 59th on east side leaving me to continue to 7th street alone and usually to pay the full fare]) and I should have known right then I was doomed. He followed me reluctantly (we were both reluctant; it’s not like we’re ‘good friends’ by any stretch, and he would have much preferred the cab) down the steps and through the turnstile. “I don’t mean to be rude,” I turned to him with resolve, “But I usually use this time to write in my journal and…” I showed him the book as further proof. Long pause while we both fidgeted. “I guess it’s maybe a little rude?” I couldn’t help it.

“Oh no, not at all!” he replied, with that small supercilious grin that could just have easily turned sour. “I’ll just stand here and—?”

“No. I’ll forego all that,” I capitulated completely. And he of course made no motion to argue or encourage my artistry – happily chatting me up about the new bike he may or may not get from some cheap mail order mag or else, for more $$, from his local bike merchant, while all the while I fumed inwardly and studied his lopsided face — a face, I saw, that could just as easily mask a psychotic killer as a nice, doofy guy, depending on circumstances — a face that could belong to your local literary academic, OR your local literary academic cum Nazi youth organizer, waving a banner or twisted in rage while stomping some poor helpless “other” into mush. As I mentioned, I was bitter. But what right does he have to infringe? Altho I, of course, allowed him to infringe, not putting my foot down in defense of my routine or simply turning my back, striding to the nearest bench and brandishing my pen like a talisman against his approach.

Can we discuss, for a moment, the merits (or lacking thereof) of this journal? A) I enjoy it which B) gives me hope for C) writing more and merrier later in life. Sooner rather than later, too. I mean, it’s practice, of sorts, gets the gears turning keeps the rust from accreting. But what about objective merit, while we’re on the subject? Well, dammit, here’s the thing: lately I’ve been under the impression that passion, excitement, youthful vigor and general kickass go-get-em SPUNK is the basic recipe for engaging prose. Am I wrong? And this has that, I feel, if nothing else, maybe even in spades. If I could write a more formed and formal ‘story’ with this level of eyes-blazing, headlong passion, it might actually hold some attention. Or maybe not.


Write comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Once Per:

Comments (1)