|The 5 train station just outside of Co-op City.|
No subway came into Co-op, so we had two choices: ride the BX 26, 28 or 30 across the Bronx to the D train at 205th or Bedford Park or try your luck with the Baychester Ave foot-bridge and catch the 5 train at Baychester Ave station. It really was a matter of trying your luck as this bridge, which crossed I-95, was notorious for muggings. As I mentioned before, this was the 1980's when muggings and robberies were a rather common occurrence, and deciding to be one who would not be handicapped by fear, I often tempted
|The infamous Baychester Ave foot-bridge|
In those days, as I may have mentioned before, I carried a viola on my shoulder. I wore glasses and used to alternate between wearing a black beret and a Kangol grouser contorted into the shape of a pork-pie hat. Neither was the fashion of the time, so I was a bit of a target for the less enlightened. One such afternoon, I opted to take the 5 train home instead of the D, since I was coming home late from a rehearsal and was by myself anyway, I figured it should be cool. I got to the bridge, and a guy appeared from behind the pillar. He had a knife and told me,"run yo' shit..." I started to take the viola off of my shoulder, and in a single motion smashed the would-be mugger in the forehead with it rapidly and repeatedly until he dropped the knife. When he was down, bleeding I un-sportingly kicked him in the kidney, the back of his head and ran around to the other side to kick him in his chest and mouth, then I ran like my tail was on fire. I never saw him again, and doubted that there'd ever be retribution. I mean, who is going to tell their boys they got beaten down with a viola case by some geek?
|Beautiful sound... deadly case.|
Even more unfortunate, the average person buys into the media image of the geek and like any true beta or cool kid, they tend to deal with their assumptions over realities. For example, the guy who tried to rob me was about four inches shorter then I was and weighed in at about 20 or 30 lbs less then me and had even let a couple of folks ahead of me pass; but his assumption was that I would be an easy mark. I also doubt that most viola players think of their case as a weapon, but there were a couple of occasions where it served as a wonderful defensive tool, especially when trying to get on the subway.
The urban geek has a street smarts that sometimes can go beyond street smarts, into straight diabolical and sadistic. Not merely for the pleasure of undoing and humiliating your attacker (although let's face it: a cruel laugh is a plus), but in the pure Machiavellian sense of setting an example. of what can happen to a person if they mess with the wrong person. I think of early 90's subway gunman, Bernard Goetz who while being mugged, shot his four attackers.
Another factor in geekdom, especially American geekdom, is the issue of ethnicity. While geeks come in all ethno-cultural groups, the socio-political dynamics of race often play into how geeks develop. As I mentioned before, America is a society and culture that has embraced mediocrity and locked it into the consciousness of many as the aspiration of the average American. Add the marginalizing effects of American racism to the equation and you end up with ethno- cultural groups that internalize oppression and with it, embrace mediocrity as the pinnacle. In the consciousness of the internally oppressed the cookie cutter images of achievement create a limited and rather unimaginative set of aspirations for the urban middle or lower middle-class Black or Latino geek that their white counter-parts don't deal with. These factors lead to one of several outcomes, which will be addressed in Part 3B "Geeks In The Hood"