Preachers on Parade


42nd Street Subway station preacher posters (a bit out of focus because I was afraid the screaming preacher was going to rip my iPhone out of my hand. He and another one were screaming “Abortion is murder!”)

Every day on the ramp from the #7 subway to Port Authority Bus Terminal at 42nd Street is a kind of mini-carnival of preachers, but last night was a full-fledged parade! They were coming out of the woodwork, I mean, tiles. Everywhere, all ethnicities and ages and temperaments. They almost outnumbered the commuters. Was it annual Preachers Day, and nobody told us?

Among the preachers were:

(1)    An unintelligible Korean woman holding a placard and shrieking Bible quotes or condemnations at the passersby.

(2)    A Latino man who approached a girl no older than 5 walking hand-in-hand with her mother. He got in her face and said in an admonishing tone, “It’s never too late.” Are you kidding? What sins has she committed? It reminded me of going to confession as a young girl and running out of things to confess. One of my “sins” was interrupting my dad when he was on the phone in his study. If I were that mother, I would have told the guy to leave my kid alone, or perhaps used stronger language.

(3)     A white stringy-haired guy standing against the wall, mumbling sotto voce. Too shy to be a preacher, I think.

(4)     A young African-American man wearing a brown hoodie with block yellow lettering on the back, “TRUST AND BELIEVE IN JESUS.” He hovered near the pamphlet / chachka table and said nothing. I wonder what his sales are like.

Tons of plaques and posters painted with scripture verses in primary colors, and one of Jesus, head bloodied by thorns, with an ocher backdrop, lined the walls. A painting depicted what looked like a man being lured by a prostitute (oversized woman, smaller man – you get the point) sitting in a come-hither pose.  I wasn’t able to make out what it said, will have to check back again tonight.

In the morning, there’s the African-American preacher in Frye boots and cowboy hat and bolo tie, who says, “Do not reject Jesus. Jesus will not reject you.” Listen here: 

The energy of these preachers on parade is palpable. If only it could be harnessed and used for the greater good, to solve world problems, or help the poor, homeless and mentally ill and other disenfranchised people. If only they were DOING and HELPING, instead of preaching and accosting the innocent. I guess I could say the same about myself; only difference is, I’m not a preacher, but still, no excuse.

(audio – E. Herd)

Boobs & Brains: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

I don’t understand why the Breast Cancer Walk and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s fall on the same day in NYC—October 19. It seems a shame that they can’t be assigned different dates so people who want to do both, can. Hmm. I did the Alz Walk because my mom has it, but my aunt had breast cancer and I have friends who have survived it too.

The Alzheimer’s Walk is definitely less sexy than the Breast Cancer Walk and attracts fewer walkers. They wear pink; we wear purple. They start at the Bandshell in Central Park; we meet at Riverside Park. People of all ages do the Breast Cancer Walk; same for us. They are raising money for boobs, and we, for brains. Ah, there’s the rub. Boobs trump brains. Most people think it only affects old people, but people in their 30s, 40s and 50s can contract what’s known as early onset Alzheimer’s. Perhaps the belief it only affects the old makes it less sexy too. Hmm.

Anyway, it was a beautiful, brisk autumn day and we had a excellent turnout. My friend “C” and I saw some of the Pink Brigade after our walk. We had brunch on the Upper West Side and boarded the #1 train to 42nd Street. As we tried to board, a barricade of tall people with giant, hard-shell wheelie suitcases impeded our path. Why do people with giant suitcases always stand in or near the doors? Just asking.

A woman in a pink hoodie, stroller in hand, barreled in without even saying excuse me. I jumped out of the way and said, “You could say excuse me,” and she said snarkily, “I did.” She did not.

C wasn’t quick enough and her tiny feet were rolled over by the high octane SUV-like stroller.

She said, “Bitch!” under her breath.

The woman turned around as much as she was able and said, “You don’t have to use that language with me.”

C and I rolled eyes at one another.

An older woman began oohing and aahing at the baby in the stroller and giddily talking to the mother. I’m sure the baby was adorable, but I never got to see her. Then a young couple chimed in, oohing and aahing and making funny faces at the baby. It felt like the entire subway car was FOR the pink-clad lady and baby and AGAINST the purple people–us. Okay, I’m probably being a tad paranoid. It was a New York moment–you had to be there. Nobody rallied around us, even though C had her toes crushed by Rude Pink Lady, and we were wearing adorable purple T-shirts. My God, a purple and silver “Grand Champions” medal hung around my neck and a Walk to End Alz purple and black tote bag draped on my shoulder. Couldn’t they see that we were VIPs? It only goes to prove my point: Boobs Trump Brains. Why can’t we be friends?

Port Authority Ramp Preacher #1

For those of you who commute via Port Authority / 42nd Street, Times Square, you are sure to have seen and heard a variety of preachers. They are situated from the top to the bottom of the ramp that leads from Port Authority to the No. 7 and other subway lines.  

Preacher #1 is a middle-aged Latina in colorful clothes. She speaks rather quickly, kind of reminds me of Cal Worthington in the old TV commercial, “Go See Cal.”

If you need money, go to God.

If you need a job, go to God.

If you need a boyfriend, go to God.

If you need a new car, go to God.

If you need a doctor, go to God.

If you are sick, go to God.

If you are lonely, go to God.