This is an excerpt from a project I have stalled on…
This is an exercise in writing observations while riding from Chicago to Howard. The trip is longer than this narrative suggests, but the real killer is trying to write a complete thought down while the train is stopped, because nothing written while it is moving is legible.
Chicago is my favorite stop on the El. I never get off the train there because I don’t know anything on that street I want to see. The stop has very nice tiles with the Chicago skyline in blue and white. I like to look at it as we go by. Clark & Division doesn’t have any tile; it is an ugly stop. I don’t get off the train there either. When people get on the train from Clark and Division, I say “You’re lucky you made it onto the train before something bad happened to you.” North & Clyborne is boring; nothing funny ever happens there. The walls are white and that makes people’s brains get all empty. After North and Clyborne the train goes outside. At Fullerton the platform is always full; that must be how it got its name. The people there are loud and like to stare at the parking lot while they smoke. I don’t like smoke so I stay away from Fullerton. Belmont is the gateway to Chicago. Besides the loop, it is the place to change trains. The buildings there are falling apart and full of advertising. People come from all over the world to talk in foreign languages and stand on the platform. They like to stare at your shoes and guess how much money you make. I don’t get off at Belmont because it is out of the way. Addison reminds me of baseball; I don’t know why. Maybe it is because people at Addison like to wear baseball shirts and hats, except on Thursdays. The sunsets at Sheridan are the best on the entire El. Soliciting on CTA trains is prohibited. Violators will be living in a long row of brick buildings. Wilson is always dark. The train moves slow at Wilson, because the driver cannot see well in the dark. The train waits at Wilson, but nobody ever gets on. Priority seating is intended for the elderly, who mainly stay away from Lawrence. This is because the doors close really fast at Lawrence as the train hurries off to Argyle. Argyle was named after a sock which was invented on this very spot. The driver always forgets to mention this, so I am sure to tell everyone who sits near me about this important fact. Berwyn is a very interesting stop, mostly because it is right after Argyle. The doors open on the left at Bryn Mawr. Other than that, and the millions of killer pigeons under the platform, there is nothing special about Bryn Mawr. At Thorndale, you can lean against the doors all you want and no one will care. The guy sitting next to me gets off at Thorndale. The doors close and we drive away. Granville is really jealous of Thorndale and tries to imitate it in every way. Everything about it is exactly the same except the name . Loyola is where we all do the wave. If we do it really well,the driver gives us all peanut butter cookies. He says we do the best wave of all his passengers, but I bet he says that to everyone. Morse is where Samuel Morse lives. He invented the telegraph and the internet. People used to ‘surf’ for porn over the telegraph wires at his house. It was slow, but we loved it. Once he downloaded a telegram of Pamela Anderson naked. Jarvis is next! I like Jarvis, because it reminds me of the Olympics. I don’t know why; perhaps it is because it sounds like Janus, and he was a Roman god. Howard is the end of the line. All passengers must get off the train at Howard and wait on the platform. This is because the trains have to turn around, which is very tricky. The driver has to walk all the way to the other end. If he forgets to turn off the end he is in before he leaves, he will end up tearing the train apart. I saw this happen last week to run 517. The purple line then stops at South Boulevard, and I go home.