Best Of

Best Retro Subway Light Show


John Cage is most famous for 4’33” (the length of time the musicians performing the piece do not play their instruments, thereby allowing ambient noise to become the composition). But ultimately his greatest gift is what we now think of as John Cage moments, when disparate interstices of the world bloom into serendipitous beauty. A great Cagean experience can be had at the southern end of the downtown 4/5/6 Brooklyn Bridge subway platform, where a window on the far side of the tracks frames an old-school analog light board — blinking like a forgotten Christmas tree — that charts train movements on the Lexington Avenue line. Stand there as the yellow, green, and red bulbs pulse with elusive rhythms, trains rumble, doors chime, tourists chatter, and a disembodied voice encourages you to “Remain alert and have a safe day” — before you know it, five or ten minutes have passed and you have become one with the MTA, attaining what Cage described as a “multiplicity of simultaneous visual and audible events all going together in one’s experience and producing enjoyment.” R.C. Baker

Brooklyn Bridge station downtown platform