I Am Not A Criminal

I don’t own a car out here. It really seems you don’t need a car until you have to move or haul musical gear around. Taking the subway is fairly convenient until it’s 2 am and its the weekend and the L train is moving half speed because of construction and you’re stuck waiting underground with the rats and drunks. My first job was located indirectly from where I lived and took 45 minutes and 2 trains to get there, but after midnight it was taking me an hour and a half or longer to get home which was not fun. I ended up buying a bike so I could make my commute time shorter. It worked out okay after the initial apprehension of riding in New York, okay Brooklyn traffic. There are a few bike lanes, but honestly, they mean nothing to these people, who are probably the worst drivers on the planet. And I’ve been to Korea and China.

First off, when New Yorkers want to stop by the side of the road, that’s exactly what they do. Just stop slightly to the side. Even if there’s a little bit of space to actually park, they just hog the bike lane forcing bicyclists back into traffic, while usually they are hanging out talking with their friends. Then there’s the car services, essentially taxis, but instead of yellow cabs, they are usually black town cars. I’m pretty sure the code of the car service driver is A) Even when you know where you’re going, pretend you don’t B) Honk your horn at least once every block C) Discourage alternative means of transportation by swerving at all bicyclists. I swear these guys act like the bike lane doesn’t exist. One day a car service left turned in front of me so blatantly in my space with no one else around that I yelled at him as he passed by. He stopped and started yelling back at me in Dominican Spanish, because this is New York, and everyone has to act tough and put up that tough guy front. So he’s yelling “La linnea, la linnea”, and I say yeah you stupid fool, you were three feet over la linnea. Anyways, there’s no making headway with these people. Like I said, New Yorkers aren’t going to reason, you’re going to puff out your chest and stick to your guns because there’s no way you’re wrong, and finally I’ve had enough and I turn to leave and this dude calls me a maricon and I’m thinking, really, you want to start this up again and I’m calling him every English version of maricon that I can think of to show him I’m not ignorant of his insult. He practically had a krypto lock in the back of his windshield at that point but I would save a run in with the cops for another day.

So a week or two later I’m riding down Broadway, the one near where I live. It’s late at night and I’m riding down an empty sidewalk and I hear a woman say, “Hey, pull over.” I don’t because I’m on my way home and I don’t care what she wants. If my previous post didn’t elaborate, Broadway isn’t always the most high class area. On previous excursions I have encountered what some people refer to as “ladies of the night”. Others might call them “crack hos”. Personally I wasn’t interested in finding out much more about this woman so I kept on riding. The next thing I know, a car is racing up behind me and a guy in a Rams jersey is running me down, saying he’s a cop. So I stop, and I ask, “What seems to be the problem officer?”,  which is the best way to patronize a cop without giving him the opportunity to immediately smash your face into the ground. He says, “Why didn’t you stop back there?”, I resisted the urge to say, “Because I thought she want fifty dolla make me holla”, and told the absolute truth – That I had no idea they were cops. Let me state the facts your honor. They were in a black, unmarked car. The woman who communicated with me never declared any affiliation with being an officer of the law. It was 3 am on a dark, lonely street in a seedy neighborhood. What would you do?

Officer Sanchez, a dirty cop name if I’ve ever heard one, says to me “We were just going to give you a warning to not ride on the sidewalk, but you ran off.” Yeah I was making a really fast getaway on my beach cruiser. So then this grown man in a football jersey takes my ID and asks if I have any warrants with such suspicion that I momentarily thought that I did. I just felt a complete lack of good community relations and more that I was living in a police state. Of course nothing showed up on my record because I’m a good law abiding citizen, but I still had to go to court thanks to officer dirty. Now you may ask why I think his name was Sanchez? Well his jersey was St Louis Rams and the name on the back was Sanchez. Now if it was New York Jets, which would make sense, I would think Sanchez on the back makes it a Mark Sanchez jersey. Instead, as I already mentioned, it was St Louis Rams, which does not have any players with that name as far as I know, so my suspicions lead me to believe he’s the type of guy that puts his own last name on a jersey to wear around.

A few weeks go by and I almost have another encounter with cops, this time on a subway train. I’m on my way to play an open mic, and I’m carrying my electric guitar and a case full of guitar pedals. One of the results of September 11th is that we don’t live in a safer world, just a more paranoid world, especially New York City. There are constant reminders on the subway that you can have your backpack searched at any time and that you should report suspicious behavior. Anyway, I recently found this cool Airway briefcase at a thrift store for $10 and turned it into a case for my guitar effects pedals. People who know me well have witnessed my obsession with collecting funky cases inspired by Pulp Fiction and Hunter S. Thompson.

I once showed up to a 4th of July celebration with two cases loaded with Indian reservation fireworks. I later turned one into a guitar accessory case that would randomly drop firecrackers out every time I opened it for another two years. It made band practice fun. The Airway had nothing with any firepower, purely guitar pedals and cables in a streamlined hard shell plastic case that makes you feel like a ’70s spy from a John Le Carre novel. So maybe that was why I felt like the two cops at the subway platform followed me onto the train. They were literally standing right across from me and I was wondering if I should ask them if they wanted to know what was in the case. But I think they preferred watching me suspiciously out of the corner of their eyes like I couldn’t tell they were sizing me up. Once again, these NYC cops love to make you feel guilty.

Dis Shit’s Da Bomb!

To top it all off, the cops got out at my stop too, and there were twenty more cops waiting there. “This is it”, I thought, “the jig is up, I’m busted, these guitar pedals are actually rigged with C4 and at the moment of my mega wanking guitar solo, I’m gonna step on the overdrive pedal and blow the whole club sky high and leave a crater bigger than 4 football fields.” But no, they were just meeting up to go to Dunkin’ Donuts.

It took me a few weeks to get around to it, but I finally figured out where to pay my biking ticket. 347 Broadway, in Manhattan, the criminal court. Once again, Broadway is involved. This time, it’s the section that runs through lower Manhattan, near city hall and the federal building. That means lots of old buildings with columns and cops and security protecting them. They even had a giant version of the mirror the dentist uses to see cavities at the back of your teeth. Of course this one is six feet long and helps spot bombs under cars. I made my way into criminal court past the metal detectors and stood in line with all of the other criminals, which appeared to be a lot of drivers with fist fulls of parking tickets. I thought of my excuses and ended up at the payment window, showed my ID, and the lady handed me a print out saying no charges were ever filed and I was free to go. It was my lucky day. I was going to honor the boys in blue with some NWA or The Strokes, but I will stay silent instead. Bonus points if you know what two songs I’m referring to.

– The Unread Blogger


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