When I Reminisce…

jgw

The last time I got pinched by the po-po was for some ridonkulous shit. I was on my way home from work and right on the corner next to the subway entrance was a homeless man(prah’lee one of BILLY SUNDAY’s peeps) with his blanket laid out on the street. He had a bunch of records on the blanket and one of them was an old soul album by this dude, JOHNNY ‘Guitar’ WATSON. I wanted that album badly too because I called myself trying to become a crap music producer at the time. The streetbum only wanted a dollar for the LP, but my dumb azz only had a single token on me at the time. For whatever the reason I had left my scrilla home. If I offered the streetbum my token then I wouldn’t have any money to enter the subway, but if I let this rare vintage album go I would be mad at myself for days.

I made my decision to not let the album slip away and I gave the streetbum my subway token which he begrudgingly accepted. I was like, “Dude, that token is worth a buck and a quarter”. The streetbum was like whatever, but he knew I was right so he gave me the album. I was wide open for some soul samples at the time. Back in 1993 WU-TANG had this dirty gritty sound that used a deep base and haunting strings. DRE was busy stealing all of Funkadelics hidden tracks. Nobody really had any classic soul as their background until Pete Rock and Jay Dee came through. I was ahead of my time and like most visionaries I was broke as smoke. I actually had some scrilla back at the crib, but I didn’t bring it out with me so that I didn’t fall prey to the temptation to copp a crispy new pair of Air Maxs. Without my token I was going to have to hop the subway turnstile.

A few years prior to this time I would say that was like nothing, but this was a brand new day in New York City and the newest mayor made young Black males like myself public enemy number one. The truth is that we prah’lee co-conspired with him to some degree as we accepted the false machismo and thuggish behavior as something that was inevitably a Black males rite of passage. Ice Cube and N.W.A. formed the pop-culture populist soundtrack to boot. As I proceeded to the turnstiles I saw that a tandem of officers were stationed near the token booth. No big deal I thought and I continued to walk north along Sixth Avenue. At 23rd Street I noticed two undercover officers who were positioned inside of the gates. I will never understand why these police were called ‘undercover’ because there weren’t any fat white guys wearing dirty sneakers, Levis and sporting Marine Corps issued buzz cuts that rode the subways. Real cops are so unsocial that they might as well wear a uniform all of the time. Their casual clothing becomes a uniform too. No happs at this station. I continue to walk north. At this rate I might as well walk back to Queens.

show off

34th Street is an altogether different animal as far as commuter hubs are concerned. You have people taking the PATH trains to New Jersey as well as a latticework of subway lines that serve all the midtown office workers and MACY’s shoppers. I figured I could make myself blend in with the commuter crush that rapidly moves through this station. Back then there were still these wooden exit gates that were next to the large clunky wooden turnstiles. As people exited I decided to deftly enter the subway system. I was completely the smooth criminal as I held the gate open for a young lady to exit and then I swiftly ducked inside and proceeded to the ‘F’ train’s platform. As I descended the stairwell I recognized that the burly white guy at the foot of the stair could only be one thing and I quickly did an about face to run back up the stairwell. Unfortunately, I was being followed by the burly cop’s partner and another back up officer. Oh well, the jig was up I guessed. I would just give these cops my name and address and they would issue me a summons.

I was sorely mistaken, because in the new GUILIANI NYC you would not get off with a simple fine for ‘theft of services’. The police escorted me into a holding room with at least a dozen other handcuffed farebeaters. The cops frisked me and cuffed me. All the while I still had my JOHNNY ‘Guitar’ WATSON album in my hands. As I waited in the room with the others I noticed that there was a stench in the room as foul as anything I had ever smelled. Worse than the smell of a dead rotting carcass, it was the smell of a live rotting carcass. The police had apprehended a homeless guy with the rest of us. Dude had the most supernatural smell that you will ever experience. He may not have bathed since the spring and we were in the dead heat of summer. We remained in the room for another half hour as the police brought in a few more scofflaws. Now it was time for the chaingang to be brought outside to the paddywagon. As usual I see somebody that I know. My ex-girlfriend NICKY and two of her homegirls were shopping on 34th Street. I know she wants to laugh her head off since I was the total shitbag when we dated. Her girlfriends laugh for her.

We are herded into a big boxy police truck with benchs and no windows. We all barely fit into the back of the truck and when the metal doors are shut behind us there is only the glimmer of light that comes from the perforated grating along the side panels. The inside of the truck is steamy and hot like an oven. At that moment I start to become annoyed because I can smell the bum in the air. The ride to the precinct house was the most excruciating experience I have ever known. My senses were being assaulted by the summer heat, the lack of light and the most godawful smell in the universe. When the van doors finally opened we lept out completely defeated and devastated. I’m no snitch nigga, but that episode in the van had me ready to tell the F.B.I. where JIMMY HOFFA was buried, and I don’t even know that nigga.

Inside the station house we were grouped into holding cells and thankfully I was nowhere near that bum dude. I was ready to throw up all over myself if I had been in that police truck for one more minute. At least the holding cells have a more palatable urine smell. The police booked and fingerprinted me. Because I had identification on me and no outstanding warrants I was issued a D.A.T.(desk appearance ticket) with the instructions that if I missed the court date a warrant would be issued for my arrest. I decided then and there that jail was no longer sexy. The adventure was over for me when a short stay in central booking was how I kept it real. Jail is some underclass shit. Period. Point blank. It wasn’t just about losing my freedom that had me all fucked up, but that fucking stink azz bum that smelled like hot ass-pee-shit.

Take it from me, if any of you parents want to scare your kids straight bring them to a homeless shelter, find the nastiest bum in there and show your kid who his jailhouse roommate will be.

sixth avenue


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6 Responses to “When I Reminisce…”

  1. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson is trouble! And ** awesome **. Watson was a brilliant, pre-Hendrix avant- blues guitarist while still in his teens and he had a great sense of humor too, as here with Frank Zappa (Watson being one of his heroes)–

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7XiT_mvhK8

    Also… Johnny’s own “Strike On Computers”–

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqIymkpCkHI&feature=related

    pre-internets anti-internets!

  2. 40 says:

    If you ever get knocked again, you can pass the time regaling your fellow bullpenners with stories of a New York past… I can’t front when I first found your site (and was able to call you friend) I spent a full day at work reading the archives from drop one and continue on thru to my daily (sometimes mulitple times a day) reading presently. Stay gold Ponyboy. Catch you tonight at the BK Museum.

  3. khal says:

    kids in 2010 won’t have to worry about getting knocked for this, b/c they’d just google for the album. wise tale, though.

  4. Smear says:

    Really on your shit dallas. Your reminiscing makes for some great reading champ.

  5. Smear says:

    Shit Dallas you got me thinkin on a couple of my boys from back in the day….. lost too young to bullshit.
    R.I.P HASSLE
    R.I.P SLEKT —> H.R.C
    R.I.P Reece (3 weeks gone and its just sinkin in: your heart was as big as that frame of yours bro)

    and R.I.P to your man THUNDERCRACKER dP . Dude clearly has a piece of your heart forever and had plenty of his own while he was here.

  6. e'eytingremainzraw says:

    Typical petty criminal/knucklehead bullshit: “You shoulda walked south! You wouldn’ta got caught!” Hahaha. The quality of the content on this site has never deteriorated. You obviously take pride in it. As a reader, I appreciate that. May your homie Rest in Power.

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