Periscope Depth

no words; no talk; we'll go dreaming

Taking the T home on Wednesday, a small posse of youths crowded onto an already packed train at Porter. “May I have your attention, everybody!” one of them declared. “Just keep your eyes on the black guy dancing!” One of his friends set a boom box down near the benches; the others cleared the aisle of pedestrians. I don’t know how you get ten feet of running room on a Red Line train at rush hour, but they managed.

Then, these kids unleashed some acrobatic breaking in a frighteningly confined space. They cartwheeled and somersaulted, their Adidas whipping within inches of passengers’ faces. They flipped in mid-air, using the standing rails as handlebars. They dropped to the floor, spinning and hand-standing like … I dunno, like tops with strong forearms.

“Thank you!” they said at Davis, as I got off. “If you’d like to show your appreciation, you can leave your money with us.”

I hadn’t seen anyone panhandle on the T since a sketchy incident on the way to Logan two and a quarter years ago, and never with such coordinated effort. I thought that sort of thing only flew in Manhattan. New Yorkers – how do displays like that usually fare? Do you ignore them coolly? Do tourists and a few sympathetic rubes chip in? I’m curious.

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If you want a good cardio workout, forget running. Forget swimming. Grapple a man who has one hundred pounds on you and uses them better. Transitioning from mount to half mount to half guard to guard and back again will wring you out in five minutes or less. The only edge I had on the guy I
practiced with last night was that I knew two things he hadn’t seen. Possibly three.

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Last night, I found the nightlife experience I’ve spent eight years searching for: Make It New at Middlesex on Mass Ave. Seriously, it’s everything I want in a club scene: house music; low or no cover; people I like a lot but don’t see every day; cheap beer; no yah-dudes or girls in shimmery towels and platform heels; and plenty of unexpected spectacle to fragment my attention.

Like the circle of dudes breakin’ in the corner. Just out of nowhere! A circle of people bobbed and weaved around a gap of floor, moving a little but not going crazy. Then one of them would step into the gap and walk the perimeter of the circle from the inside – getting everyone’s attention? defining the space? catching up with the rhythm? Probably some combination of the three. This guy or girl (breaking is an equal opportunity art form) would then pop, contort, shake and twist in some amazing, unpredictable and entertaining fashion.

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Boston’s a city that will get on the floor and roll when the time is right, is the theme of this entry.