broadway junction and its underbelly.

even being a seasoned New Yorker, one station that
is always bound to set you on edge is Broadway
Junction. i don’t care who you are. it’s as if you’re
in the African veldt, keeping your eyes out for a
sudden movement, a certain odor that differs from
the scent of stale Newports, fresh urine and a little
too much Blue Nile oil on someone’s neck. why here?
mainly ’cause this is the junction where the A, the C,
the L and J/Z trains connect. this is as much a looking
glass into the soul of New York City as much as the
7 train is, just with less fan fare and more somber

i’ll never forget two instances that happened right in
this station, situations that make for good B-movie fare.
the kind that would star Dolph Lundgren with a mangled
American accent and Ja Rule, if he wasn’t in the bin.
the first was a classic Giuliani-era episode. if you
take the J or Z from Jamaica Center in Queens, in order
to transfer to the A or C you need to head up the stairs
and hit the escalators to the lower level. before you
get to them, there’s a clearing which can take on the
aura of a sacristy because of the colored glass windows.
one Saturday afternoon, i’m on my way to Bed-Stuy. as
i walk over to the escalators, my eye catches something
on the ground. i slow my pace and realize that it’s a
Ziploc bag of cheeba. marijuana for the un-hip. as i
stare at it, wondering why its here in the middle of
the train station, i feel as if i’m being watched. i
let my eyes trail up from the bag and meet the gaze of
this swarthy white guy in a hoodie and jeans with a
black baseball cap.

it’s a set-up. or in other terms, a ‘n***a trap’. Rudy
Giuliani as mayor vowed to clean up crime in the city.
he felt that one of the best wats to do so and have the
city earn some extra cash was to target weed smokers.
heavily. so throughout the city, the NYPD would leave
a bag of weed out and the person who’d pick it up would
summarily get arrested. and get a ticket for about $250.
i give the undercover cop a ‘not today muthaf***a’ grin
and get on the escalator. it wasn’t until i reached the
street level that i saw the paddy wagon outside with
about two unlucky dudes inside.

the second situation? i’m coming back from Franklin Ave.
and making the trip back to the ‘hood. all in all it
would take an hour. as the C train pulled into the
station, i hear a woman yell over the music in my ears.
off the car and look towards the stairs heading up to
the ticket booths and the street. this brother was
basically butt naked, dancing with a blow-up doll in one
hand and a 40 of Olde English in the other to some far-off
imaginary tune in his head. his clothes lay near the edge
of the platform. the woman who yelled took it upon herself
to perform her Christian duty and pray as she stood five
feet away from him. what did i do? i kept it moving. i
had a train to catch.