"I copy that" is walkie-talkie talk for - I understand, will do, gotcha, ok, alright, yup, uh-huh, and much more depending on the inflection of the voice.

Monday, January 23, 2006

No Pants Subway Ride with Improv everywhere

Think that title will get me to the top of the google list? Yeah, the event has garnered a lot of press, (Gothamist - Part One [with my photos], Gothamist - Part Two [also with my photos], Gawker [who used my photo],This French Web-zine [photos], Village Voice [who may have credited another's photo to me], NewsDay, All Headlines, NYT, News Tribune, NYPost, Daily News) which is good on the whole, I believe. It wasn't "a publicity stunt" as some have suggested... but it doesn't hurt -I think it brings a few more smiles to a few more faces. Here are my words. Pictures are here.

My Story - I was recruited as a photographer. I like the behind the scenes action, big fan. I watched as around 160+ gather (I like that number, I counted nearly that on my panoramic of the crowd listening to the directions, and there were more not pictured). A good looking mix of people - young and old, male and female, dressed conservative and silly. After listening to the instructions we all head down to the 6 train at the Brooklyn Bridge to go uptown. It was a good choice of trains; it has many stops and goes through very diverse areas all the way to 125th street. We let one train leave the station and all get on the next train.

I was in a "target" train. The IE agents were in the "staging train" and would trickle into my train throughout the ride. The photographers were instructed to "be very discreet" until 23rd street. They were in my car... meaning - I was. I had brought two cameras, my pocket camera and my big honkin' D70 and multiple lenses. I sat in the middle of the train with my iPod on and quietly used my pocket camera like I would do even if I weren't involved with IE. I had an older woman that chose to stand over me rather than sit down, which may have been annoying, but it hid me. I was able to hear the remarks by a group of very excited ladies to my left, "Oh, look!" "look at that one too!" "What? Where are they all coming from?!" "None of them are wearing any pants!"

We hit 23rd Street and I pulled out the big guns, but still stayed subtle. As part of the group and not part of the "press" I felt obliged to keep my status reserved so that everyone could observe without a camera running around. I made my way to one end of the car and shot the first "purchases" of the pants. "Oh, yeah, pants. I could use a pair of pants today." I then made my way to the other end of the train and camped out.

This is when the train stopped. The civilians to my left, mother and son, were very upset the train had stopped. She didn't say anything about the underwear - but she made sure everyone could know how mad she was at the MTA. The civilians to my right, I couldn't tell the relationship, were just laughing. They couldn't stop pointing people out. Then one figured it out, "The train is stopped so that they can sell all of the pants here". Obviously.

I heard Agent Todd wondering with another clothed rider why the train had stopped for so long. Everyone was still in character. We then heard that the train was out of service, we all excited, assuming that we would get on the next train... I even had another agent tell me to get on the next train. I looked for the photo op's. I walked towards the front of the train. I stopped and stood on a railing and got a photo of the crowd. One bystander told me to be careful because it was illegal to take photos in the subway. I thanked her for her advice but told her that I did the research and found out that it is not illegal (read - legal) to take photos in subway. She didn't believe me.

I went further up the train and found a sea of photographers surrounding cops surrounding a handful of IE Agents. We snapped, the crowd got a little rowdy, the cops got defensive. The train rolled away. The next train came and the cops informed us that we were missing our train, and that there was, "nothing to see here". Yes. Yes, they really said it. In fact they said we should, "Move along, now". Maybe it is in the cliche book of cop sayings - and they like saying it and find it funny...

The next train pulled away and the cops realized that they weren't going to have an easy time here... so they moved the prisoners and called for more back up. When we got upstairs there were 8 Agents being detained, about 30 Agents watching, 20 some cops - uniformed and plain-clothed, and about 15 cameras. There became a press section. The officers were pushing back the press. The press were saying "this is my job, I'm just doing my job" to which the officer would reply, "I'm just doing MY job, now back up". Many people were asking the police officers, "what are they being charged with?" and "what's going on?". No one knew... in fact even when two were released they did not know what the ticket in their hands were for. After about 5 minutes the cops became organized enough to clear out the area, I was shuffled around and eventually found a place from which I could hang and watch it all happen.

Then I saw the cuffs. They were actually taking them away. This shocked me. 1, because it was ridiculous and 2, because it was ridiculous. Last time I saw the cops on a IE scene, they did nothing. The time before that they did put people in cuffs but let them go. I believe because of all of the commotion and confusion and press that the cops just wanted to get out of there.

So they ran.

I went back to the Brooklyn Bridge. Snapped a few more photos. Jumped on my Vespa, PurpleRain, and came home. Now it's all over the news and I have gotten photo requests from the village Voice, a French Web-zine, and MSNBC - who will be airing the photos live, with Agent Todd on their 8:00 show (probably around 8:50) tonight.

Mission Accomplished.


Chris Kula said...

Fantastic photos, Chad - they tell the story in vivid deets.

Amity said...

Wow. Your rendition of the story is brilliant! I've loved the photos on flicrk too, so congrats on all their success!