Straphanger Joe Stuck on Auto-Pilot


Blade Runner


I’ve been driving a lot this week – three days into Manhattan instead of the subway. My son goes to school on Long Island and this week my wife was working in Manhattan so… I got to take my son to school, then drive in to work.


The world is very different on the LIE heading in to the Midtown Tunnel. I’ve driven in to Manhattan before and even during rush hour, but it’s been a while.


The entrance to the Tunnel is still ominous, dark and dirty. This morning it reminded me of the Los Angeles in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Perhaps it was the overcast sky and lightly falling rain, or maybe the bumper to bumper traffic. Looking forward there was the dingy skyline of Manhattan. Looking to the left and right should be Queens, but all I saw were cement highways, off ramps, and solitary green faded signs announcing the last chance to leave before the tunnel.


There was a sea of oversize billboards to the left and right of the Expressway above the cement, floating in the sky, surreal.  There was an Abercrombie and Fitch ad with two ripped, bare-chested men on it and there were two billboards just before the tunnel that flanked the two men, one for Rick’s Cabaret and Steakhouse (code for strip club) and Scores New York – The All New Legendary Gentlemen’s Club. 

Leaving the interesting juxtaposition of the words all new and legendary aside, Scores’ billboard was the real headliner. It had a silhouette of a pole-dancer front and center and dark silhouettes of hands rising up from the bottom of the billboard, like the undead, fingers splayed, reaching for her.


Behind and to the left of the Scores billboard was a giant screen that ran advertisements — television commercials without the sound.


I was listening to NPR.


And the rain came down.


Tomorrow I’m back on the F.


I can’t wait to be underground again.


–Joe Lunievicz



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3 Responses to Straphanger Joe Stuck on Auto-Pilot

  1. TJ says:

    I always felt the Midtown Tunnel suffered from its lackluster name. Why can’t it be like the Holland and the Lincoln? How about naming it after someone from Queens? The Paul Simon Tunnel? The Joey Ramone Tunnel?

  2. jerseyjim says:

    good post. Every time I’m approaching the midtown tunnel, and I pass the ancient gas station on the north side of the L.I.E, I think of THE GREAT GATSBY, and I keep looking for the billboard with the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg on it.(yes, i had to google it)

    Sadly, i’m not sure if it’s the book or the Redford/Farrow movie that sparks my memory, but no matter – it seems nowadays everybody has their eyes on their ScoresDollars…

  3. Straphanger Joe says:

    How about the Louis Armstrong Tunnel, or the Tony Bennet Tunnel, or the Charlie Chaplin Tunnel, or the Archie Bunker “Hey EEEDith” Tunnel. Just thinking out loud.

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