When I lived in Odessa, Ukraine, I once encountered a most strange cat. Odessa used to have a huge open air book market, right in the middle of the city. Kind of like a much larger and organized version of the street booksellers in front of NYU. Me and my dad spent a lot of our time and money there. On one of our trips, my dad pointed out a cat sitting in a tree near the book market. On a number of our visits there that stretched over weeks and months, the cat was still there. Water and food dishes appeared there. Somebody told us that the cat apparently went a bit crazy and refused to leave the tree (even though it wasn’t a very high one). Kind hearted booksellers started to feed the cat. I am not sure exactly how long the cat stayed in the tree, or if he or she ever left it.
New York has strange cats of its own. Subway cats. The most famous one of those, Schatzie the cat that lives in the Fulton Street station, according to Randy Kennedy’s book “Subwayland : Adventures in the World Beneath New York.” The mice and rat population must make living near the deadly third rail and moving trains possible for cats. Sadly, eating those rodents must be pretty dangerous too, because they are frequently poisoned.
Well, I found a subway cat of my own under the platforms of the Kings Highway station.
Actually I spotted two, a tabby and a tuxedo, but was able to take a picture only of the tabby. She sat there calmly, not bothered by my flash. I hope she’ll stay safe there.
Here is the thing from Kings Highway station that I mentioned before
I searched on the Net a bit, and now I know what it’s called: “Kings Highway Hieroglyphics” by Rhoda Yohai Andors, installed in 1987.
I was reading “The Non-Designers Design Book” today. It had a relevant passage in the introduction:
Many years ago I received a tree identification book for Christmas. I was at my parents’ home, and after all the gifts had been opened I decided to go out and identify the trees in the neighborhood. Before I went out, I read through part of the book. The first tree in the book was the Joshua tree because it only took two clues to identify it. Now the Joshua tree is a really weird-looking tree and I looked at that picture and said to my- self “Oh, we don’t have that kind of tree in Northern California. That is a weird-looking tree. I would know if I saw that tree, and I’ve never seen one before.” So I took my book and went outside. My parents lived in a cul-de-sac of six homes. Four of those homes had Joshua trees in the front yard. I had lived in that house for thirteen years, and I had never seen a Joshua tree. I took a walk around the block, and there must have been a sale at the nursery when everyone was landscaping their new homes -at least 80 percent of the homes had Joshua trees in the front yards. And I had never seen one before! Once I was conscious of the tree, once I could name it, I saw it everywhere. Which is exactly my point. Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You own it. You’re in control.
Don’t you hate people who rip off Escher? This is from a mosaic on Sheepshead Bay subway station. Made by a no talent, unoriginal hack.
There used to be a nice mosaic on Kings Highway station, in Egyptian drawing style, but depicting people with tokens in hand going through subway turnstiles.
Mosaics are probably the only decorative elements in NYC subway. Look at them. How Spartan are the walls. The tiles on the walls are in shape worse than in many public restrooms.
Oooh, found a great site.
Anyways, what was I rambling about? Oh, right, subway mosaics. Looks like new ones are being added. They look so ugly surrounded by that white tile :(
Nevins street has a cool mosaic medallion – a letter “N” which looks just like Netscape “N”. Can’t find a picture, gotta take one.
Need to visit NYC Transit Museum.