MetroCard Turns 20; Metro Token Inspired “Beatitude” Cover

7 Jan


I’m eating my words from yesterday — today is bitter cold. The buzz word of the day is “polar vortex.” I actually caught myself subconsciously holding my breath as I walked to the subway this morning. I felt bad for the guy who had to stand outside the station handing out the free little daily newspapers, and I took one and told him to say warm! Sometimes I feel so spoiled having a desk job…. In the free AM New York I read an interesting factoid: this week MetroCard is turning 20 years old.

That made me feel kind of old. For my entire adult life, I’ve used MetroCards, but I remember actually using the old subway tokens during my teen years. Now I wonder how anyone commuting got anywhere. The idea of lugging around a bunch of coins to get to and from work seems like it would get heavy. And were there no unlimited passes at the time? I really don’t remember…. But I do remember when the transition from coins to cards was happening I thought it seemed so high-tech. It was like a mini credit card just for the Metro! Haha, oh how times have changed.

As I was thinking about the old subway tokens, Larry Closs’ Beatitude popped into my mind. The cover of the Beat-inspired novel features a cat with a subway token for an eye. I’m drawn to the graphic imagery and bold colors of the cover. It really pops.

It’s no wonder why — the cover was designed by award-winning illustrator Anthony Freda. Larry told the cover story on his blog a while back, and you can find out more about Anthony Freda and his art — I love his collages and political humor — on his website.

Now I wish I’d saved one of those tokens. The Transit Museum actually sells merch made of subway coins, but it’s not the same.


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