trains anthonyÂ peregrine
There was a time before I had ridden a train. “Do you want to try the game?” She giggles and takes the phone from him. He takes it back, pilots the way to the app, pressing buttons in Korean. I do not know if he can actually read them which is weird because there are a lot of buttons but for some reason the way he is pressing them is making me think “Wow, I don’t think he knows Korean actually.” He hands it back to her and a car starts and he runs his hands through his thick hair, pulling out a few curls which snap back in and I think he reminds me of a friend. He reminds me of my friend. She isn’t very good at the game. I get off the train and I don’t know what happens next. I hope she wins the game.
I want to take a picture of every person I see on the train. I want to start a list of their favorite colors and if they have pets and whether or not they vote and if they like broccoli.
“How long has it been since you rode the train?” His head bobs as he thinks then says “15 years. 15 years this month. 15 years last month.” Pause, then I say “That’s crazy.” He kind of stops and thinks for a second. “15 years. Thanks for making me feel old.”
I want to take a picture of them all. I want to say “Hi ma’am I think you’re beautiful why do you ride the Green Line what is your stop do you feel like you are safe in your neighborhood what is your opinion on the ocean just in general i guess do you like the ocean nevermind i guess, can I take your picture do you have a pet?”
I often think that trains might be the most important place in the world. And then I think about how you only ever see trains from New York City in pictures and that’s bullshit. Chicago has really nice trains and they’re different from line to line. There are old trains and new trains that they are phasing in. The Brown Line has more single seats because bourgie classist fucks ride that line. It also has the cutest boys, and I work off two stops on that line (Montrose and Sedgwick). Anyway I hate that line even though I spend like 3 to 6 hours of my week on it. The Red Line is where it is at though. You can ride it from the tippy top of the city (my neighborhood, Morse stop) to almost the bottom of the city, 14 or some miles of track and honesty and racial segregation and class tension, through the Loop (businesslandia and tourists) to the north (whites, gays, asians, then everyone in the world all mixed together, in that order) to the south (mostly just black people it’s a pretty racist system). There are some other lines, namely the Pink, Orange, Yellow, Purple and Blue. Here are some pictures of the train that I found on the internet:
in wintertime it is often very festive on the train
sometimes people read also the weather here is confusing so wardrobes can be interesting!
the more u know
public artistic statements and also grafitti can often be seen here irl
even peanuts ride the train here in chicago yes indeed!
this one is from instagram
On my resume I list several often applicable skills related to how good I am at riding trains. 1) With trains I am always on time 2) I can sleep on trains and not miss my stop 3) I can dance on trains 4) I can sleep on trains and listen to music and not miss my stop 5) I am always on time too! Wow!
When men who are blonde get tan their skin gets darker and their hair gets yellower and wow do I think that is handsome! Today I was on the train and this man was just like that. He had incredible shoes on they were brown. His white t shirt made his blonde hair even more wow and I thought WOW he is handsome. I fell asleep for a bit because I was very tired and I opened my eyes to get off at my stop and forgot to check if he was still there and ask what his favorite color is. This is really just a way to demonstrate that I fall to love 47 times a week on the train (I ride the train a lot I guess).
In the Jackson transfer tunnel: K: “I hate this tunnel” A: “I literally love it” K: “I hate it. I think it’s long and stupid.” ~~~later~~~ J: “What if we got everyone to bring a potted plant here on one day, what if everyone brought one plant and told everyone they knew to bring one plant. Then there would be so many plants that they couldn’t take them out.” :)
I am riding the train with my friends and that’s kind of nice. I ride the train to work all the time alone so when I’m riding it with friendss I”m thinking wow I am riding the train with my friends this is great. A lot of times when I’m riding the train w/ friends I like to talk about revolutionary shit because I like to think that people are eavesdropping hell I almost always eavesdrop on the train!!! And for when we are talking its like wow we are not talking about Starbucks wow. For instance, I like to talk about how trains and highways were built in this my city to keep certain people in certain people in certain places. You see, ‘redlining’ was done based on where poor people lived because poor people ruin neighborhoods, & when you put ‘redlining’ in contect you see that its in the 60s a lot and what else was in the 60s?racism and deindustrialization. So all of a sudden you have a lot of poor black people with no jobs really and they can get around kinda easy until the car, which is really becoming a vital component of post world war ii american culture, is like a thing and the first highway barons are flinging pavement curses from town to town. Now, in each town (BYC, Chicity, LA esp.) they have to put the highways somewhere & of course the places that make the most sense are black Harlem and the Southside because what are a bunch of poor black people who can’t even really vote going to do about the fact that you’re destroying neighborhoods with asphalt monoliths, uncrossable, insurmountable, as permanent as we can make them, and strung through with trains every few miles to provide another part of that simple myth of agency, mobility, the classic lie given down by the white men of america. So that’s what I like to talk about the train ha I’m literally reading this out loud to my friends on the ‘Red Line’ sometimes poetry to writes itself.
When I’m on the train I like to play music. No wait, the best cup of soup I ever had was in Germany. In Berlin, at David Bowie’s favorite cafe. No wait, was it called the Black Cat? No wait, I want the train cars to each be specialized to a kind of music or maybe just one band or composer or whatever but like, there would be a color coded system where you would know okay, where this purple light is shining the car that arrives will play only early LCD Soundsystem, green is Polka, yellow is the collected works of Claude Debussy and pink is only music entirely composed, performed and marketed by children. So then you’re in the right train car every time. Every time you will make a friend. Wow every time you get on the train you will make a friend!
One day I’m going to break into the train corral, wherever it is. You see, I’ve been collecting rolls of receipt paper. Whenever the receipt paper is about to run out, I take the roll with the little bit left of it and I put a rubber band around it so that it doesn’t unravel and I put it in a box with the other ones. I currently have 325,803 rolls like this. I put poems and drawings and secrets on all of them, and when I break into the train corral I’m going to put them all over like streamers. I’m going to tie them to cabooses so they fly like streamers on the cars of newlyweds but I won’t attach them too tightly because I want the words to pollinate the city. I want Käthe Kollwitz and Guernica and everything profound and Jean Sibelius and T.S. Eliot and Mrs. Dalloway and everything by Marx and Milton and all the poems Emily Dickinson ever wrote even the bad ones and Howard Zinn and my own poems I wrote about the bells to go everywhere, to seed a revolution, to make peace and sprout mint and offer a helping hand and a cup of coffee to everyone, to you, to my neighbors, to everyone.
Keep your eyes open when you’re on the train because literally everyone is beautiful.
anthony is an activist and barista and intern in chicago. his passions are not being oppressive and gardening. he falls in love every time he rides a train.