Take The A Train: Entertainment Express

The New York City subway is a vast, sprawling stage, full of entertainment in its stations, on its platforms and inside its trains. For $2.25, one could literally spend their entire life within the subway system watching the show. Any train will have its share of schizos, scammers and scandal. Every train has its panhandlers, performers and peddlers. (side note: Why do the kids who sell candy always only have M&M Peanut or Welch’s fruit snacks? Do these kids know how many different kinds of candy there are? The kid who starts selling Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will get my dollar everytime.)


I’m not saying this definitively, but the train that has thus far provided me (in my first year here) with the most entertaining subway rides is the A train. The A train has everything all the other trains do, but with a little more oomph. It could be the old R44 cars making it seem grittier and more classic somehow, but I think Duke Ellington may have been onto something when he chose which train to immortalize as a jazz standard. In my experience, the A train has 80% more on-train breakdancing performances than any other train I’ve taken. Also, I’ve been offered bootleg DVD’s on lots of different trains, but only on the A train was the purveyor of films also selling nutcrackers. (The nutcracker is a homemade alcoholic beverage popular uptown available from mobile vendors and some bodegas.)

But that is just one person’s opinion, what is your favorite train to ride? What kind of crazy shit have you seen or been sold in your subway travels? Comment below.

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About the author

Joe Petersen - Classist Columnist

Joe grew up in South San Francisco, spent a decade in Santa Cruz, and relocated to Brooklyn in late 2008. He has been a waiter, a maintenance man, a record store clerk, a professional radio DJ, an amateur newcaster and a movie theater popcorn-slinger. Being broke is his birthright, as he is from broke stock and has limited prospects. He likes comic books and is obsessed with soul music.

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