NY: Bronx Student Revamps Subway Poem

Dec. 2, 2011

A New York man operating in the dark of night swapped out an old poem with a pessimistic theme in the Times Square subway station for one with a positive tone.

The gloomy poem loomed over transit users for 20 years, the New York Daily News reported.

The original eight-line poem, called "The Commuter's Lament," reads: "Overslept, so tired, if late, get fired. Why bother? Why the pain? Just go home, do it again."

"Every time I passed it, I thought, 'Wow, that's a really depressing poem to have in the heart of New York City," said Josh Botwinick, 20, of Riverdale, who papered over the sign Saturday night with his girlfriend Margot Reinstein, 20, of Teaneck, N.J.

"I took the same poem and just made it more optimistic," he said.

Botwinick changed "Overslept" into "Overexcited," and "So Tired" into "Energized."

"I was nervous someone would stop us," Botwinick said, "but it was worth it to make New York City a little bit of a happier place."

Marsha Stern-Colp, the widow of the original artist, Norman Colp, complained of the revamping.

"Why be optimistic in these times?" asked Stern-Colp, 66. "Be realistic -- life sucks. You get through it the best you can.

"His empathy for the overtired, overworked populace trudging to get to work was what it was all about," she said of her husband, who died in 2007.

"He had seen me go through all kinds of hell," she added. "I was late. I had a difficult supervisor. I couldn't get my wonderful bed out of my mind. It clicked with him."

Some passersby said they like the revision.

"Obviously somebody has a good outlook on life," said Bashid McLean, 22, of Brooklyn. "They're trying to lift people's spirits."

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