The 24 Hour Movie

After a conversation with my Russian-Jewish barber, whose son is getting married in July in a wedding palace in Queens (“how many guests are you having?” “300 hundred. Small wedding,” he quips, clipping my ear hair. “I cut beard today? Very bushy. Ah, no? I understand. Beard private.”), I walk to the F train, through rubberneckers on 8th street who are watching a movie set. There really isn’t much to see, apart from a lot of black cabling and wiring. Though, between massive trailers and tech trucks and techies with wrap around shades and beards like Hells Angels, there are some potential anonymous star glimpses: two actors wearing FBI windbreakers in 90 degree heat. (On the 31st of May!)

Entering the platform at West Fourth Street, the atmosphere starts telling me: something’s different up ahead. People are gawking at a particular space, while giving it space, a wide berth. An obese-y, wrinkled homeless woman, eyes 3/4 closed through scowling, and her hoarding shopping trolley essentially its own wrinkle in time on the platform – she lives down here, essentially – this woman is fronting off with a tall, slim man in a vest (wife beater) and shorts of clashing colours and stripes. He has a beard and wears a baseball cap. Possibly a tourist? In any case, he’s broken a cardinal rule: don’t engage with a New York “crazy”.

She is shouting in his face: “I don’t fucking like you, ’cause you’ve got no fucking drive!” (Is she his mother? I wonder.) “Yeah! I don’t fucking like you ’cause you got no pride, either.” She has found her rhyme, and is warming to its pivot: “you’ve got no pride, no drive,” she repeats again and again. The man is silent, stunned. The New Yorkers keep well away, wisely, while watching the latest installment in the 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year film. Better than Imax.