Monday, August 30, 2010
Man in the Mirror
I love NYC subway performers. Yesterday in the Sunday hustle in the tunnels beneath Union Square I came across a man dancing to Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror". I stopped, sat down on a bench, and forgot about the subway trains rushing past. The man was dressed all in black with silver sequined ankle bands, white sequined gloves (on both hands, he had improvised on Michael's signature style), and a white straw hat. Over a black hood which covered his entire head he wore a full length white carnival mask whose expressionless gaze imparted anonymity. Amidst the hurried crowds he moonwalked as if pulled by a string. His joints swiveled like a robot. His arms floated as if weightless. And for the grande finale, he somehow ended up inverted, his body propped against a wall (I can't explain how he did it, it was as if he was controlled by magic) and melted to the floor like wax. As he did so, his carnival mask slowly flipped to the crown of his head like a disembodied face. He took a minute to recover, switched the music to "Billy Jean", and took off his mask to reveal a showman's face. Out of the crowd he grabbed a little boy, at the most six years old. The boy's getup was the polar opposite of the man's: a white tuxedo with tails, a black straw hat from which curly hair verging on dreds sprouted and hung to his shoulders. The boy went into action, moondancing, spinning, grabbing his crotch, and for all the world looking like a miniature Michael. He and the man danced together, all the while protecting the money pot when the passing foot traffic grew too thick. As I stayed, others gathered, forgetting to be in a hurry while the crowd grew to more than fifty. And I wished to have a meter that could measure the amount of talent in New York City's subway system.