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Chatting with Howard Permut, President of Metro-North Railroad Trains Observations

On Friday I had the pleasure of speaking with Howard Permut, President of Metro-North Railroad. Though there are many things one could ask the president of the railroad, admittedly I was interested in his unique perspective regarding the history of Metro-North. Mr. Permut has been with Metro-North since its inception in 1983, and prior to his position as president, served as as the Senior Vice President of Planning. Though most commuters today are likely unaware of it, Metro-North has improved in leaps and bounds over the years, starting out from the shambles left by Penn Central that were grudgingly operated...

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Sketching life along the rails, Part 2 Observations

As promised last week, here is another set of train-themed sketches. We’re again featuring more of the late 1940’s, early 1950’s New York Central sketches by artists Joseph Hirsch and Carol Johnson, as well as some current images by James Napoleon. First are the older sketches. As we saw last week, the artists have captured a day in the life of a railroader. Although a few engineers and conductors can be seen, they mostly feature the hardest workers: those that lay the ties, that place the rails, and those that secure the two together. This is one of the most...

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Sketching life along the rails, Part 1 Trains Observations

As it is obvious to anyone that has been to this site, I love to capture the world around me in photographs. Throughout my time commuting, I have come in contact with a few people that capture the world in other ways, like drawing. I did go through art school, had to take quite a few drawing classes, and at some points in my life have carried around a sketchbook. But I’ve never thought I was really spectacular at drawing, and certainly not good enough to represent the world I see on a page. My bag does contain a small...

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12

Thoughts on winter, and a commuter bill of rights Observations

Shortly after the article in the New York Times featuring this site and my panorama project, I was offered a spot on the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council. Due to time issues, and the fact that me making it to any of their meetings would be extremely difficult, I never took the position. Somehow I think that is a good idea. I have a feeling the Commuter Council wouldn’t like me all that much. Most likely my thoughts regarding the current dilemma of winter service, and the idea of a commuter “Bill of Rights” are a bit different than theirs. The...

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Chatting with the “Conductor to the Stars” Trains Observations

Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out with one of Metro-North’s coolest conductors – Bobby McDonough, author of the blog Derailed. On the way to South Norwalk, and then back to Grand Central, we chatted about life, family, and of course trains. As he collected tickets, he almost thought he saw someone famous, but was mistaken. Bobby’s alter ego is the Conductor to the Stars, due to his many encounters with famous folks in his duty to the rails. In another era perhaps he would be a conductor on the 20th Century Limited, standing atop the red carpet...

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The first week… Observations

If you haven’t realized by now, I tend to shy away from discussing the various political issues surrounding the MTA. I like to stick around in the history zone, and talk more about art and photography-related things. If you want politics and opinions, and can stomach about ten advertisement banners per page (my personal faves are the animated fat loss banners of the sketch-woman clenching a fatty gut in her hands), Second Avenue Sagas is probably the place for you. However, we’ve almost completed the first week with our new MTA big boss Joe Lhota (albeit unofficially, until confirmed by...

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