Friday, November 16, 2007

Puppeteering for Peace

If you take the subway with any regularity, sooner or later, you will witness a fight. When human beings are corralled into a dingy steel box that screeches like a banshee in giving birth to overweight triplets, Murphy's Law is at its finest. Fortunately, the altercations are mind-numbingly formulaic. So it’s easy to see them coming. They almost always involve coffee and a crabby guy wearing plaid shirt, with a duffel bag at his feet. I don’t know what’s in the duffle bag. But there’s always a duffle bag. More often than not the spat dissolves peacefully, but the guy in plaid invariably yells something like, "Yeah, that’s what I thought. Keep walking, bitch!" as the other gets off the train.

This morning was no different. All the pieces of the puzzle were in place: the coffee, the plaid, and the duffel bag. Out of nowhere, but unsurprisingly to a seasoned observer, an argument erupted, as if an invisible chemical reaction between the plaid and the caffeine were at play. But as the heated shouting match spilled out onto the platform, the most unlikely chain of events in subway fight history transpired before my very eyes...

A puppet, perched atop a cardboard castle, swayed soulfully as it lip-synced "Easy" by Lionel Richie. The men stopped in their tracks and just stood there, side-by-side, rapt. The fight was over. The masterful puppeteer, David Marin, had saved the day. It was the most curiously beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.

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