One of the great pleasures of getting into a taxicab in New York was sinking into the dark backseat and watching the city go by outside the windows. Maybe to the soundtrack of some Spanish radio or the cabbie chatting in Arabic into a headset or the static and crackle of the dispatcher. But you had this little dark thinking space to yourself, a particular moving view of the city that you just don't get from the high jostling position on the bus or (obviously) the subway.
Since the last time I was here, though, they have installed television screens in the back seats of the cabs. Which blast NBC. With a column of logos up the left side and a running ticker tape along the bottom, leaking digital light all over the back seat and speaking loudly and insistently. Who wants this? Cabs are not for aerobics infomercials and the 100 Most Outrageous TV Moments. They are for gazing pensively out the window, for hopping into all adrenalized and in a hurry, and for making out.
Last night after a rousing L Word party at Sara's Williamsburg apartment, I took a car service home. I was relieved to slip into the wide black backseat of a Lincoln and ride home in quiet, experiencing in silence the little recognition pangs of street names I haven't seen in years. It took a few days + escaping Midtown, but now I do remember why and how I lived here, and the parts that did feel like home. I love the density of brain power and ideas, how everyone is a cog of activity and ambition, interlocking and turning constantly.