Maybe Trump is Right: Penn Station Edition

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Yesterday in this space I argued that Donald Trump should shut up. Amtrak’s recent decision to stock Victory Brewing Company’s Hop Devil IPA on some trains showed that America is already great again.

Today the evidence from the nation’s northeastern rail corridor is mixed. On the one hand,we have the livestock-pen-indignity of the Penn Station waiting area, in which people mill around waiting for the last-second announcement of which gate to rush toward. (Yes! I know about the secret lower-level workaround. I’m thinking of my fellow citizens.) This is better than most commercial airports, but just barely. Penn Station veterans will know that the miracle of the shot below is that you can see a little area of unoccupied linoleum. But after all, this was 3 pm.

Photo: Matthew Brady

If Trump would boil his platform down to, Making Penn Station Great Again, I might sign on.

On the other hand, I give you now the Zaro Family Bakery, a Penn Station vendor doing its part to make things great all around. In its cooler we find … cans of wonder! Sierra Nevada Torpedo, in the darker-green cans, plus its mainstay Pale Ale; Sam Adams Rebel IPA and (lower down) its mainstay Boston Lager; plus Brooklyn Lager and Magic Hat Not Quite Pale Ale, all at $5 per 16-ounce can. More than in a liquor store, less than on the train.

Part of the cooler today at Zaro’s Family Bakery in Penn Station. (R. Capa)

As always our world is complex. But I have a can of Torpedo with me, and the wifi is working on the train as it rolls along through the clear and icy landscape, so for now I’ll return to the can-is-half-full perspective on our land.