Crazy homeless guys have been doing this way before it was cool...
There are a lot of unsettling things that you have to mentally prepare yourself to potentially encounter as you're descending into one of our fair city's many subway entrances. Unstable lunatics, masturbating vagrants, rats grown bold after decades of being left to run wild in the tunnels, people who really like Jesus... The experience hardens us New Yorkers into the urban equivalent of Mel Gibson in the Mad Max movies, and makes seeing mundane occurrences that might bewilder and shock visiting tourists more or less passé. Occurrences like, say, subway acrobats or car-loads of people wearing no pants.
I'm speaking (writing) in the latter, of course, about the annual tradition known as the No Pants Subway Ride (hereafter referred to by the totally sweet acronym NPSR). If you don't know what I'm talking (writing) about, the NPSR is an event organized by the very awesome group Improv Everywhere wherein people in New York (and in cities across the globe) board subways sans pants and freak out all the norms and squares. It's all innocent fun, and good times are usually had by all. But of course when I do it, I get arrested for "indecent exposure."
Now, I don't mean to knock the people participating in Improv Everywhere's mass prank. I just happen to agree, for the most part, with this Gothamist article from yesterday, which posits that, in its 11th year, the NPSR has grown stale. (Also that it's really not a great idea to tempt the many grope-y people already on the subway who get a semi from looking at people dressed in extra-thick winter layers, let alone in their skivvies.) It has strayed a bit from Improv Everywhere's original purpose and turned into a thing; just something that people do on that agreed-upon date, like a dentist's appointment or a prostate exam. It's no longer shocking or avant-garde to drop trou and take the N to Herald Square. (If it's even running; fuck you, MTA.)
In that spirit—because as a past attendee of Improv Everywhere events I want them to stay fresh— here are a few suggestions for what Improv Everywhere could organize for the future:
- Stage a complete reenactment of the Civil War's Battle of Vicksburg, replete with old-timey costumes, buglers, racists, and battlefield amputations for the injured, but do it on the Staten Island Ferry.
- 1) Gather in one of our many parks or go-to tourist destinations, 2) look at all the trash lying around on the ground, 3) pick that shit up. (Not particularly shocking, I know, but Union Square is nasty.)
- Choreograph a shot-by-shot remake of the zombie dance sequence in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.
- Position everyone on the ground to create giant curse words aimed at people in the office buildings above. Crass, to be sure, but imagine being a Goldman Sachs employee and looking out your window to see 200 prostrate people calling you a TWAT. It'd freak you out a little bit.
- Set a bunch people up as the maze's boundaries, designate four ghosts, about 100 pellets, and one yellow, globular hero, and stage the world's largest human Pac-Man game.
- 1) Go to the biggest
Circuit CityBest Buy you can find, 2) turn all the TVs on to a showing of the Adam Sandler movie Grown Ups, 3) pretend to actually enjoy it. That'd freak me out.
- Five words: West Side Highway Red Rover