In Which We Discuss The Pressing Problem of the Masses
Monday, July 21, 2008 at 11:46AM

55,000's a Crowd

by Alex Carnevale

Sometimes in a crowd there is an eye of the storm, where you are coexisting equitably with the rest of the world.


But for the most part we seem intent on being closer together to one another than common decency dictates.

My friend Bernard is planning on dumping his new roommates, an unsightly couple. Apparently they correct his behavior.


For the past year I've commuted two hours each day to my job. For three more weeks anyway, I'll ride a bus, an N train, an E train, a LIRR train, and a small shuttle to work. It's a maddening ritual which I have broken down into a caffeine fueled descent into the farthest depths of empathy one can imagine.

At times I have drifted deep into the plight of a woman and her recurring retarded son. A man gets on at Forest Hills and off at Woodside, a short journey, but why? I have seen Long Island trash sparkle in its infinite human and garbagey variety. I've seen a man's balls, a woman asleep on the ground, and more Ranger fans that one can reasonably stomach.


I find myself violating the treaty of peace from time to time. And I'm also useful as a target for directions, and also outright sympathy. "I understand." Someone is always apologizing to me, and I am never sure quite why.


Since I am always test engaging with everything, it chooses to engage me back.

Coming back from Yankee Stadium on Friday night, we stood in line to pack it in. I've never stayed to the bare end of a baseball game before, and I couldn't imagine why the ample crowd would want to. We stood in line to stand in line. An older man handed a younger man $10 for his seat. I told the younger man he was unethical and he and the older man exchanged eskimo kisses.


Ahead of me was my friend Jeff who is getting married to a lovely young woman.

I poked my head throught the cars to tell him, "I won't be going home with you."

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


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On one occasion, Schoenberg asked a girl in his class to go to the piano and play the first movement of a Beethoven sonata, which was afterwards to be analyzed. She said, “It is too difficult. I can’t play it.” Schoenberg said, “You’re a pianist, aren’t you?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “Then go to the piano.” She did. She had no sooner begun playing than he stopped her to say that she was not playing at the proper tempo. She said that if she played at the proper tempo, she would make mistakes. He said, “Play at the proper tempo and do not make mistakes.” She began again, and he stopped her immediately to say that she was making mistakes. She then burst into tears and between sobs explained that she had gone to the dentist earlier that day and that she’d had a tooth pulled out. He said, “Do you have to have a tooth pulled out in order to make mistakes?”

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