Street Car

Alexander Gilbert

Downtown Portland streets!—a territory for the public to act out on. A grove of life outside of rooftops, between rooftops, and amongst rooftops, where things are let’s say—‘less tame.’ Performers can show up, food carts arrect, and art materialize among the homelessness, substance abuse, and many illicit behaviors that spring up on arable concrete in a city.

Vehicle traffic imposes most of all, and that’s just annoying, and I guess unnecessary when you ride the street car for the first time, and your whole notion of transportation combusts into other methods.

The dressed down professional with leather shoes that still glint from the fluorescent office building has street car supremacy. No motion, jerk or stop in the street car phases this individual. They are masters of their environment with trolley legs. I strive to look as composed as they do while riding along.

A variety of fates condense onto the same track for a brief time. A pinch of downtown that shuffle around, sit, stand, and even share words. A man recognized an acquaintance, and shared about a Kung-fu movie he had just watched. In the flash of a Bruce Lee karate chop several bystanders chimed in, and had a group discussion about Kung-Fu, which ultimately turned into a debate on the origin of Chinese martial arts. Spectacular, and of far better quality than a talk radio program playing in a car.

When riding along it can feel that we are all hanging out with each other for a bit without anyone acknowledging that we are. At that moment we are literally sharing the same journey; being propelled by electricity from one block to the next, and into the hereafter. In an accommodating train car with ventilation, and large viewing windows—how could we arrive at our destinations more leisurely?

Conditioned in vehicle confinement, the street car over a bus, interposes my upbringing. I wish the street car went to all my stops. For something that was invented two centuries ago the trolley struts through the twenty first century quite well.

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