Saturday, September 9, 2017

St. Jude on the "A" Train (Tattoosday Plays the Alphabet Game)

As discussed in the introductory post here, I decided to play the alphabet game with the MTA one day last month.

So, let's begin...

8:16 AM, R train leaving 95th Street, Brooklyn: So, after years talking about it, I'm finally going to try the alphabet [game].

The concept: start with the A train. Find and photograph ink on a tattooed passenger. Switch to a B train. Rinse, repeat. Do it in a day.

That's, if you're not familiar with the NYC subways, A,B,C,D,E,F,G,J,L,M,N,Q,R,S,W, and Z. 16 trains in all. If super successful, and motivated, 1,2,3,4,5,6,7  - the Magnificent Seven to follow.

I honestly don't know how successful I'll be. But I'm going to try. Train inkspotting is more challenging than open air inkspotting. People are more guarded, more locked into their ear buds, more suspicious. I have a good 20 minutes to psych myself up - at Jay Street in Brooklyn, I will switch from the R to the A. And the game will be afoot.

First conundrum: do I try to talk to the woman next to me on the R? She has some interesting linework tattoos, but she is earbudded and the train is crowded.

I'm also superstitious. If I try to go out of sequence, will that jinx the project? If she rejects me, will it start me off on the wrong foot, dinging my confidence?

I've decided to let her be. If the ink was better, I might try, but it won't haunt me if I pass.

There's a point there, however. The quality of the work. This is a quantity not quality challenge. I also get to explore the subways a little.

8:50 AM, Switch to the A at Jay Street/Metrotech

At 8:58  A.M., I sit down next to Lucas who shares this tattoo:

Lucas explains that this is a representation of his St. Jude medal, which he used to wear on a chain. Now, he carries it with him wherever he goes, tattooed on his wrist.

Under normal circumstances, this isn't a tattoo that would have necessarily drawn me into a conversation on the train, but, remember, I'm playing the alphabet game, and this was the first step in the journey.

Thanks to Lucas for sharing his tattoo with me on the A train. Come back tomorrow to see if I met any success on the B train!

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