Sunday morning and the paper arrives. I don’t see them as much as I hear them — Alley Oop, Andy Capp, Blondie. The funnies. They’re read to me as I sit on my father’s lap. It was that part, the reading-together part that I waited for. (That and, I admit, Sunday-morning doughnuts.) How he emphasized the “oop”-part of “oop” that I waited for, not what happened to the less-than-civil civilization. In fact, the content didn’t matter. It was the shared repetition.
This sort of shared consumption continues, only today, I do it on the F Train headed to the city. Strangers in every other way, as subway riders, we share publications among us.
Monday mornings, it’s New York Times Magazines, saved from the Sunday paper. Tuesdays, it’s The New Yorkers, as that’s when they hit mailboxes. Wednesdays, there’s a spillover — The New Yorker again and mixed media day (more earbuds and reading on screens).
Newspaper-readers are more active on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, and expectedly, in the mornings. Evening-paper-readers, comparatively, tend to be paper-folders. (The evening news is less precious perhaps. A has-been. Foldable.) Hardback and paperback book readers come out later in the week when the inertia is gone from the news, and the fiction and nonfiction can resume again in peace. And mostly, by week’s end: people are talking, sketching, and writing more.
I’ve watched the consumer/creator trajectory unfold as a week on the F Train, commencing quieter than it ends, each day a microcosm of the week at large. No doubt, this is partially a result of the weight of responsibilities, the lack of coffee, or the outright foresight of what’s to come, but I suspect it’s also a tension between our need to both consume and create.
Consumption then — whatever version of consumption one prefers — begets creation. Subway consumption, at least, turns ideas loose: talking, sketching, writing, ideas wildly expressing themselves in only the way ideas know how. Sometimes it happens underground on the F Train. For us on Sundays, it happened post-funnies over doughnuts.