New York subway buffs are male and female, young and old, and come from many backgrounds. What unites them is their quest to prove they know more about the transit system than you do. And now there's a gladiatorial forum for that: The New York Transit Museum's Subway Trivia Night.
About 170 contestants formed into teams and jammed around tables in a low-ceilinged room to grapple with 60 questions posed by quizmasters Stuart Post and Chris Kelley. The museum is housed underground in the former Court Street subway stop in Downtown Brooklyn. The space has no internet connection so the trivia buffs were forced to rely on an antique information device: the human brain.
Post gave the first question: "What shape was cut out of the very last version of the New York City subway token?"
Contestant Jen Petey polled her teammates. Two suggested the "Y" in NYC. She overruled them and wrote "pentagon" on the team's answer sheet.
Post said, "The shape cut out of the last token is ... [dramatic pause] ... a pentagon."
Petey banged her hand on the table. "I was right!"
Trains and train systems have long drawn devotees. The most rabid are called "foamers" because they figuratively foam at the mouth while displaying their mastery of the arcane. This crowd was gentler, less foamer than nerd.
The answer that got the loudest response was to the question, "Whose office do you reach when you call 212-594-SKIN?
Answer: Dr. Jonathan Zizmor, famous for decades of graphic ads that promise to cure all manner of disgusting dermatological disturbance.
In the end, first prize went to a team named, The Takers of Pelham 1-2-3, a play on the title of the movie. They got 54 1/2 out of 60 questions right, beating out teams with like Whole Lhota Love, My Fare Lady, and No se apoye contra la puerta (Don't lean against the door.)
The Transit Museum declared the event a success and promised a rematch in 2014. Nerds, you have twelve months to get ready. (Click here to see more photos of the event.)