|Journal: to the airport|
-------------------------------------------Mood: Thinking... The airport had changed a great deal since I was a teenager working a concession service for TWA. It is a wondrous maze of names, trains roads and planes.
First off, TWA went the way of the dinosaurs, with facets of its former self seen in other species; Jet Blue now occupies its old haunt in JFK. The international flights building is closed but the domestic building now serves both functions. I have always loved the architecture of the international building and would sneak a peak, when I worked there, to take in its cold confident lines. Now it is a hallow ghost of a lost ideal.
Then there is the Airtrain. Some consider it a failure because it is undercut by buses and taxi's and its five dollar fare makes people jittery, but I couldn't resist, having seen it rise up from scratch (It was a choice between a 15 minute cab ride or an 45 minute J train to the airtrain excursion). The five dollar fare didn't scare me (though I am not much more then poor). When construction started years ago I heard the sound of the earth pounders in the distance from my apartment not too far from the Van Wyck. I saw it progress from pillars to beams and then rails (Friends of mine help make it work and made good livings off of the ghost overtime they handed out with favoritism.). I read the papers when the first train car tests resulted in an accident that took a workers life (they thought for sure that would end the project). They debated its merits in public hearings. They protested its coming with signs and picketers. They complained about the noise of construction, cracked walls, and shifting foundations. None the less, as if Robert Mosses himself were doing the building, it was built. What they neglected to do is rebuild the J trains stop in the caverns below the airtrain’s Jamaica station, so that the shock of the two worlds wouldn't be so great. That J train’s station has to be one of the worst in the city. The walls are barely standing, with many of the tiles falling off and a sense of decay overwhleming. The comparison is disquieting. The other is glass and steel. Escalators and shimmering floors. Open and free space with fresh bright clean air. The caves below seem like a permanent cloudy day and the other, a state of constant sunshine. Oh, it’s sad that the utopia that the fifties dreamt of has to be built in pieces over the skeletons of the past. It feels like the supposition of one layer on top of another like the layers of Rome or Troy.
The ride to the airport was trippy. The train in airtrain is missleading. It barely sounds like a train. Its movements are not chronicled by the sound of steel wheels over tracks but rather a wispy thrush of air being parted by forward movement. The J train on the other hand, is a clunker of staccato rapping humbled by the elegance of the airtrain. It took some getting use to before I stopped expecting the airtrain tracks to sound like subway tracks.
I went from the mundane depressed economic vista of the neighborhoods that saddle the Van Wyck to the intricately wondrous concrete infrastructure rebuilt around the airport to accommodate the airtrain's 10 stations that stand like Sentinels at every terminal and dominate the scenery even beyond the air planes and terminals themselves (another disquieting comparison). I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of how artificial this introduction to New York must be. From the look of JFK, a new comer might think the beast was misrepresented in media everywhere. Believe me, it’s not. It is like the human mind itself, brilliant and flawed in every respect.
The airtrain docked at terminal five. The double doors opened. I took an elevator to the enclosed bridge linking the station with the terminal assisted by the futuristic looking motorized walk way and then down an elevator again into the open glass building once called TWA domestic flights terminal five and onto a plane across the country to Seattle.
...Created 2005-10-25 10:21:49