Friday, 7PM, Times Square Subway Station

[Before reading, open this link in a new window/tab so the track will play. Link thanks to Best of... Both Worlds]

Friday, 7PM, Time Square Subway station- As I reach into my back pocket to retrieve my wallet with one hand, I use the other to skip my mp3 player to the next track. I slide my Metro card out of its slot and push it through the turnstile, as the gods of shuffle cue the drum line. I am curious as to what track it is as I press through the rotating chrome, but as I am about to reach the rush-hour floor I patiently decide to let it play and focus on the motion ahead.

Then, the familiar manic motion of John Coltrane rings through my ears, and as his saxophone chaos reaches full speed, I step into the moving human tides of commuters.

Each note is a footfall in the mass of humans, each taking its own melody in its direction, driving the song towards its home. Every note possible is played, except for the ones that shall not be played, and they join every New Yorker in the fast-paced struggle to be heard.

It is the alternate take of the song, and Coltrane's sax is passed through my stereo headphones to my right ear while Art Taylor's statically rampant cymbal line switches to my left. My linear-reasoning left hemisphere reacts with joy at the perversity of the shrieking saxophone, while my right admires the shapely curves of the drum's steady oscillations. They harmonize the rhythm of a mob, and provide the station with its own cacophonic marching-music.

I weave with the flock of persons, each of us altering course but not speed as we step around each other in the tribal-metropolitan dance. Ten-thousand straight lines weave to form a infinite plateau, John's sax the wind filling our sails as his mad jazz genius guides us into destinationless motion. The collective consciousness smiles, turns up the volume, and let's its ears suffer a bit of irreversible damage for the sake of a lyrical moment.

Ira Gitler stands on the platform, directing the performance and clearing the closing doors, while I try to ignore the words that will eventually come with the fading of memory for just one more moment; dodging the firm simulacra of recording like the supporting vertical girders of this metaphorical recounting. Walk in the gaps, see them before they form, otherwise you will stand still and the human race is gridlocked in its progress.

Noise and light approaching, uptown express. We've all taken this Train before, but never on this day, never at this moment. You have to get on to get to your stop. Standing, sitting, or walking from car to car, the train goes to the same place. As the simple melody kicks it and the track fades out, Times Square fades away to the repeating lights of the artery under the city.

To commute is the exchange, a regulation of a motion among humanity. On Friday John Coltrane's record reached through sound and moved the mass, a fulcrum for a lever big enough. A regulation was exchanged for a liberation, and for those 4 minutes 37 seconds, I heard each of us find that common motive, though I wore headphones, and the commonality was mine alone.

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