Penn Station

October 16, 2011.

My car was rear ended by a nice woman from North Carolina. She had a rental and I had my daughter’s car. We met in Pennsylvania just south of Philadelphia. I was surprisingly calm. Bottom line, my daughter’s car is a total loss. This means the cost of repair exceeds the book value of the car. It’s a crumby situation because I am out of a car. I got money and my neck hurts, literally and figuratively. So off to Long Island to pick up the vehicle I have left there for the summer. My nephew is out a car I promised but that’s another story also.

Penn Station is a crossroads for New York. The Amtrack trains, NYC subway, and the Long Island Railroad all converge and operate from this station. Outside is the US James Farley Post Office with the logo, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  Inside it’s a madhouse. It is inefficient and thoroughly confusing to a newcomer. I’ve been here and I was confused.

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It is completely familiar to the daily commuter. They all rush about with a determined eye and purpose in their step. Then, I saw a group of foreigners looking for the train to JFK airport. What confusion reigned, even I couldn’t tell or help. Of course if you can read a map it’s all so easy.

And, if there was some sort of schedule that makes sense you might feel like you knew where to go. There’s no seating or really easy waiting room, so everyone stands in front of the neon board to see which train is leaving on which track. They only announce the track about 10 minutes before departure. Great! So there I stand, too early, nowhere to sit, not even in the right spot, and with no idea if I am going to catch this train from whatever track that is yet to be announced. Cops are all about, security I presume. No one pays attention to anyone.

And, there in the dimly lit cavernous space are all the neon signs that beckon for underground services, which all commuters crave or think that they do. Mostly it’s food, which is displayed in garish light. If you’re hungry you can find about any manner of unhealthy eating. There’s seems always to be a Starbucks and Subway sandwich wherever I go these days. But beer, sure they’ll sell you one with a ‘slice’ [of pizza].

Meanwhile, largely ignored, correction, completely ignored except for an occasional commuter who walked around me so they wouldn’t be photographed, I was completely on my own to meander and shoot even under the noses of the police. Note that if you have a point and shoot camera, albeit a Canon G11, no one and I really mean no one, seems to pay you any mind whatsoever. What happened to homeland security and terrorism? You would think that the bad guys might want to ‘case a joint’ first before they do whatever.

I set the camera on ‘P’ program, ISO to run on auto, and shot mostly from the hip. I think that I would have been noticed with my big Nikon body and zoom lens. Yeah, I got sharp images, edgy, and with blurred commuters. Perfect.

Gallery follows

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