Took another trek to the Times Square subway stop to see if I could find the barefooted acoustic guitar reveler, Joachim, whose handout on praying in your bathroom I have been trying to reacquire for some time now, but once again came up short.
As usual, I started my search around the Q/N/R platform, asking a few vendors if they had seen him, which, as to be expected, yielded me a number of “I just started here,” or “I don’t look at anyone” protective tactics. This is understandable. The vendors don’t know if I’m a plain-clothed cop, and probably don’t want me to bust anyone. Or, maybe they actually didn’t know what I was talking about. I like to think there’s an unwritten code among subway dwellers who keep their mouths shut when asked about other subway dwellers, but who knows if that’s actually true. Either way, I walked all over the terminal and checked the red line, the yellow line, and the orange line and came up with nothing. I peeked over the railing leading to the 7 train. Nothing. I walked all over the place and couldn’t find Joachim or anyone who admitted to knowing him. I didn’t even see the Chick Tract people, who, last I heard, are supposed to be out in full force 24-7, and yet not a self-proclaimed saved soul could be seen.
After coming up short I stopped to talk to a man handing out some pamphlets stating that the world was going to end on May 21, 2011, but he didn’t seem to know what happened to the Chick Tract people either. “Sometimes they come out at different times,” he said. I wanted to say that, no, they don’t come out at different times. They come out all the time, but simply said “thanks” and took his pamphlet telling me I’m going to die this year. He seemed happy enough that I talked to him and said, “God bless you.”
I must say that the absurdity of this day is not lost on me. Here I was, someone who has a severe issue with intolerance, seeking out people who by every account are very intolerant, just to say “hi” and collect their literature. I guess there’s something about getting up close and personal with people who actually believe I am going to die and burn in hell that makes me excited. Sometimes I think I’m drawn to these people because they’re honest and up front about their beliefs. Maybe I feel I’ve been burned too many times by posturing “artists” and “punks” who affect depth to hide their vapidness that I just crave sincerity, even if it comes in a package of hate wrapped in a totalitarian bow.
Truth be told, however, I’m not sure Joachim is such a bad guy. I haven’t spoken to him about whether or not he feels homosexuality is a disease, or whether he feels the Rapture is coming this Spring like my apocalyptic friend believes. Maybe I just like his beard. Maybe I like his intense chord-less guitar playing. Maybe I just like that he gets out there, takes off his shoes, spurns the cops, and does it regardless of what “it” is. Maybe I need to learn a new song on my guitar—one that goes “la di di di da di doo/Oh how I love thee you”—and sing it with my shoes off to all the subway vendors.