So, it took 4 of us approximately 40 minutes to decorate an entire car on the F train, including welcome mats, runners, curtains, covering all (32) of the ads, affixing the peel-off pillows to the seats and the vines to the overhead bars, and distributing magazines. We all got up at 5 am, and I went a couple of stops to meet Carol, the New York reporter, and a huge cup of coffee. It was actually snowing, fine little flakes before the sun came up.
The night before's frenzied preparation.
Coney Island at sunrise was a beautiful sight. It took us (the crack assembly team of me, Carol, Nx and Elisa, along with two reporters, a photographer, and Don, who was filming) a little while to meet up at Stillwell Avenue, and then all of us went to pee, anticipating the long ride, and already having taken one. On a side note, the only bathroom available was the men's room, which was frightening, but not as bad, Carol pointed out, as the ones that were at CBGB. There was an intricate, bizarre drawing in the stall I was in:
My favorite part is the text in the bottom of the star: (I am crazy don't tell anyone).
As we began the makeover, there were only a few people on the train, but it slowly began to fill up. Most people seemed either bewildered, amused, or a blend of the two, or else completely blase. That is, aside from one exceptionally cranky woman who got on around Avenue X and was pretty interested in the goings-on until she was told it wasn't Ok'd by the MTA. All of a sudden, she got really crabby, informing us it was illegal to cover subway ads, and that we could be arrested. When the reporter for New York asked her for a quote, she told him she would 'sue him and his publication' if he were to use her name or image.
Carol and Marilyn, photo by Michael Park
Me planting flowers, photo by Michael Park
Nx and me covering up Channel 9's ad campaign, photo by Michael Park
When the train was paused a few stops later, I thought we were finished. The photographer from the Post snapped a photograph of a woman cop as the doors opened on the elevated platform.
"What the hell are you doing?" she asked.
"It's perfectly legal to take photos on the subway." He told her (which it is).
That was when the crabby woman informed the lady cop standing on the platform of what we were up to.
"They're covering up the ads!" she called self-righteously from her seat.
All of us, including the reporters, sat there, uncertain, as the cop peered at the woman. We hadn't done much yet, mostly just put up a few 'family potraits'.
"What?" the cop asked.
"I think it's an art project." Don said.
The cop pursed her lips and waved the train on.
"You tattled." Don said to the woman on the train, who turned away.
Carol surveying our work
Elisa, Nx, and friendly lady
Pretty soon we finished up, as the train reached the Carroll Gardens area, and more and more people got on the car. Lots of cameras were whipped out. A couple of people thanked us. It was nice.
Blurry, confused man
Many puzzled riders
Around 9:30, at 57th Street, we jumped off to get breakfast and let the train go on without us.
There could have been so many outcomes that wouldn't have been so great, but we got everything up and weren't arrested or chased off. The Post reporter called me later that day, around 1 pm, and said the features editor had been on her way in to the office and gotten on that car, and everything was still up.
Apparently, later the train was taken out of service because the ads need to be behind plastic, otherwise they're a fire hazard. Not to mention the curtains. The MTA was cool about it, but they did issue a statement saying they do not recommend others take redecorating into their own hands. Fine with me. At least now we know they won't be coming after us.