The day after Michael Jackson died I was in Downtown Brooklyn for an appointment. Afterwards, I emerged to hear Man In The Mirror wafting through the air from almost all directions, a somber soundtrack to the strange and sudden death of an international pop star.
After procuring a cold coffee beverage, I stood on the corner attempting to light a cigarette. A police officer leaned against the subway entrance railing while a group of men loitered nearby on the corner chatting.
All of a sudden screams burst from the pedestrians standing on the opposite side of Joralemon Street. A hooded man in tattered rags with a dirt-encrusted face had emerged from the Borough Hall subway station with the intention of spooking the civilians.
“He lives in the tunnels,” said a middle-aged man on the corner.
I turned to the police officer who remained in a leaning position.
“Isn’t that your job?” I asked him, nodding my head in the direction of the apparent, and somewhat mystical, Mole Man.
“No,” he responded, turning to a man in need of directions.
“Which way to Atlantic Avenue?” he asked.
The Mole Man crossed over Court Street with an animal-like instinct, startling everyone in his path. At the entrance to Borough Hall he approached a young woman sitting on the steps and seemed to be asking for change. She attempted to keep her horror under wraps for fear of setting him off, but gave him money and he moved on.
I See The Kids In The Street, With Not Enough To Eat, Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See Their Needs, A Summer’s Disregard, A Broken Bottle Top And One Man’s Soul
I attempted to get around this spectacle along with three teenage boys when the Mole Man turned away from the woman and toward us.
With a weak and almost primitive voice, the Mole Man was barely able to use his words.
“Got change?” he whimpered, beady eyes fixed on mine.
The boys scattered after viewing the Mole Man’s visage, which was quite a horrific sight up close. An inch-thick layer of a sand-colored dirt had attached itself to his face where a beard might be, as if a beige fungus had taken over his countenance.
I kept moving down the Fulton Mall en route to the C train at Jay Street. I descended to the platform and pulled out the day’s Michael Jackson edition of the New York Post. “DEAD,” read the front page headline.
The F train pulled in across the platform and I looked up to find a young woman in a skintight neon green costume, which barely covered her ass and at first glance proved there was no underwear beneath it.
Two men nearby struck up a whispered conversation behind her back, nodding in her direction and not laughing, exactly, but shaking their heads in bemusement. They presumed she had recently emerged from a nearby detention center. She was a pretty young thing.
A Willow Deeply Scarred, Somebody’s Broken Heart And A Washed-Out Dream, They Follow The Pattern Of The Wind, Ya’ See, Cause They Got No Place To Be, That’s Why I’m Starting With Me
It had been years since I’d see a hooker in New York City. I grew up in Hell’s Kitchen in the 1980s, so the sight of such an unseemly thing tends to bring on a wave of twisted childhood nostalgia – incomprehensible, I’m sure, to the city’s newer residents – and then sadness.
I boarded the arriving Queens-bound C train and squeezed into a seat between a rotund woman and a child with sharp elbows.
Emerging onto Fulton Street in Fort Greene a few stops later, a vehicle that had clearly reached its quarter-century mark lay immobile in the middle of the road, front axial snapped, with a reddish liquid puddle beneath it.
The clouds had finally parted and I took a detour around it and headed for Habana Outpost, where patrons were enjoying some Michael Jackson in the open garden on a sunny Friday afternoon.
And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer, If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place, Take A Look At Yourself And Then Make A Change