12/22/16 9:26am
Illustration: Laura Davies

Illustration: Laura Davies

The Lobster Shift is a monthly column by Kenneth R. Rosen that explores the city at night.

There are roughly three different modes for subway cars, in my experience. There is, first and most familiar, the crowded commuter car in morning and early evening, where mere inches of personal space segregate straphangers into parcels of remorse or happiness or anger, based primarily on the day ahead, and its promise, or the day behind, and how those promises were either met or denied.

Second, there is the alarmingly vacant car, found in summer when the air conditioning succumbs to underground heat, or in winter when a homeless person claims a third of a car, cordoned off by garbage bags.


“It’s Saturday night,” he shouts, “get your head right.”


Third, there are subway cars that are sparsely populated, something dangerously close to pleasant in the early afternoon before school lets out, and downright sleepy at night, when passengers find themselves traveling underground, for any number of reasons, past the hour of midnight.

No matter which variety of car I find myself in, I am nearly always self-conscious.

My time underground is delegated to baseless fear and anxiety. It’s existential dread about being too close to someone, or unknowingly breaking one of the many unspoken subway laws–manspreading, pole hogging, staring. Sometimes I’m simply flustered about my appearance–the blemish on my face, the tear in my pants, the stain on my shirt, and I believe everyone is looking at me. This rarely happens above ground, outside of confined spaces. These fears surface most acutely in autumn for me. Call it subterranean affective disorder.

I once missed an express A train, the last one departs at about 11pm from Times Square, and found myself inside a later, local-bound car not quite like any of the ones I’ve described, or like any car I’d ridden in before. This was something different. It was not the first type of subway car, nor was it the second or third. It was not a distinct fourth type either—it was a car in transition. (more…)

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01/22/15 11:15am
Facade of the Kings Theatre (photo courtesy of Kings Theatre's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KingsTheatreBklyn/photos/pb.308936483947.-2207520000.1421524233./10152763915118948/?type=3&theater)

The newly restored facade of the Kings Theatre. Photo: Kings Theatre

Yes, there’s been a sad trend lately in which beloved live venues shut down because of lease problems and rent hikes–the latest casualty being Glasslands in Williamsburg. There is however, a flip side to all that. As The New York Times recently reported, the historic Kings Theatre, a once-grand movie palace located in Flatbush that has been closed for nearly 40 years, is making a comeback. On Feb. 3, the Kings Theatre will reopen with an already sold-out inaugural concert by Diana Ross. and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held this Friday, Jan. 23, followed by a free performance on Jan. 27 featuring the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Brooklyn Ballet. (Scroll down for a full list of scheduled performances.)

The Kings Theatre (Matt Lambros)

The Kings Theatre was restored with its original interior color scheme. Photo: Matt Lambros

There’s been a good deal of ink devoted to the city’s nearly $95 million restoration of the theatre–but what kind of venue will this be? With 3,000 seats it’s nearly a third bigger than BAM’s 2,090-seat Howard Gilman Opera House. (For further reference, there are about 18,000 seats at Barclays Center, though not all are in use during musical performances due to the dead zone behind the stage.) The theatre has been restored to its original color palette and the carpeting and light fixtures that once lined its aisles and walls have been recreated. The venue has also been upgraded for the 21st century with the expansion of the theatre’s footprint from 86,000 square feet to 93,000 square feet–along with improved sight lines, lighting and acoustics. While the architectural elements are all vintage or painstaking recreations, the sound and lighting systems and backstage facilities for staging productions are all state-of-the-art, and designed to attract world-class performers.

(more…)

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