This past weekend, we decided to venture into Manhattan, which was mistake number 1. Thanks to Bloomberg, subway service on Saturdays has become twisted Kafka-esque nightmare, with a smell to match. Trying to make our way to the upper west side, we changed routes several times, wasting an insane amount of time just trying to find a train that moved. It felt a lot longer than it really was, because we had The Baby in tow, and we began to acquire a child’s sense of the interminable passage of time by osmosis.
After a few geological epochs had passed, we finally got in a functional C train. Someone on that train asked us how they could hook back up with the 3 train, which was not running between 96th Street and Forever. Thanks to an investigation, this woman had heard. She was right, but “investigation” was an extreme understatement.
The investigation in question was to catch Maksim Gelman, a maniac who’d spent the previous 28 hours stabbing people across Brooklyn, killing four and wounding several others in a drug-and-rage-fueled rampage. I didn’t learn any of this until Sunday. I didn’t even know about Gelman’s one-man terrorist campaign before we left; if I had, I probably would’ve stayed home. We had even contemplated taking the 1-2-3 to our destination, the train where Gelman stabbed one last victim before being apprehended.
Aside from being one of those horrifying incidents that reminds you there are monsters in the world, Gelman’s exploits were reminiscent of those I saw on the news every night as a kid, back when senseless murders were as common in NYC as hot dog carts.
It seemed that each evening would bring some new horror on the city streets, be it a copycat Zodiac Killer or a model who was slashed in the face when she rejected her landlord’s advances. This why a subway vigilante like Bernard Goetz was elevated to the level of folk hero by some people, even though he was just a weird little creep. And if it wasn’t some unearthly horror, it was some everyday item turned deadly, like when Tylenol was suddenly filled with cyanide.
This was the landscape of my mind as a kid. This is why, whenever someone says “the 80s were awesome,” I want to karate chop them in the throat.