On the Green Line
The ride proves to capture a microcosm of society and living in LatinoLA
As a conscientious Angeleno I try to take mass transit to work and not be an additional car on the road. Fortunately, I am one of the few vehicle commuters that has the option of taking advantage of mass transit. The MTA Green Line is less than a mile away from my house and two blocks away from work. I know, nothing too spectacular about that. The magic comes from the different sounds, sights and smells that a ride on the Green Line might produce. For the most part I can ride the train without anything really exciting or interesting occurring. But one out of ten times, the ride proves to capture a microcosm of society and living in LatinoLA.
Published on LatinoLA: June 15, 2003
Case in point: A random day on the train, I notice a couple get on. The male is about 6?1? with a muscular build. He is wearing a blue flight jacket, black army boots that lace up to mid shin. He is white and shaved bald. I think, ooh, a punk rocker. His companion is petite and about a half foot shorter, with chopped, short, frizzy, black hair and really heavy eyeliner. I think punk rocker chick. Kewl. The one thing I do notice is that punk rocker kid is looking around the train with an expression of utter disgust, like sitting in the middle of two homeless people that reeked of filth, feces and aged beer.
I take a whiff of the air, and nope, no pungent smell, well no different than normal. I again lose myself in my Spanish Rock music. All of a sudden, a few stops later, really loud music with a deep bass starts to fill the train. I look around, and not to willingly continue the propagation of stereotypes, but a young brother, with a pretty good sized Afro, strolls by with a Sony boom box on his shoulder right next to his ear. I start laughing, of course inside of me; momma did not raise no fool. At first the music is a bit annoying. Hello, I am trying to listen to ?mi roc en espa?ol, buey?! Again, I keep the comment to myself. But after a while, who can say no to Snoop Dog and Ice Cube. I am also down 4 whatever.
Now, my Afro wearing, boom box carrying friend, is young, no older than nineteen. He?s wearing baggy everything and I can tell that he is an angry boy. His friend, who seems to be a little more docile and peace loving, accompanies him. I don?t worry too much about them. At the next stop another black youth gets on the Green Line, and like a hawk, angry boy is all over him. Doing the proverbial ?Where you from, I am from big bad, disenfranchised from society and I only have dead end options, prison or death to look forward to!" OK, I am adlibbing here, but basically, from what I can gather, they?re from the same Crip association, just different chapters. Angry boy punks, bicycle boy, and peace is re-established on the eastbound train.
I go back to nodding off and listening to the rap/hip-hop/whatever they call it these days. I was actually going to ask who was singing. This one song had a really good beat and you could dance to it. But before I could ask such a lame-O question, angry boy starts screaming at punk rock kid. ?I heard what you told your girlfriend, that this fucken' monkey is blasting his jungle music in your ear.?
Yes, that woke up the entire train of commuters who were all dead tired from a long day at work. By this time, the punk rock kid had taken off his jacket and was wearing -- not to continue stereotypes -- the stereotypical wife beater shirt, the white cotton tank top. Angry boy asks him what his tattoos say. Punk rock kid could have been a billboard for advertisers with the number of tattoos that adorned his body. There was one that caught angry boy?s attention. In BIG gothic letters on the top of punk rock?s back it read WHITE POWER. Enough said; all hell broke loose.
Punches started flying.
Skinhead kid got clocked with a fist square on his jaw and like a cat, skinhead?s girl jumps in front of her man and starts defending him by becoming a human shield. For some odd reason, angry boy would not hit her. He actually had a code of honor of not hitting a female. Skinhead?s girlfriend kept saying that they did not want any trouble with anyone and that her man never said anything about anyone. At the same time, angry boy had more than one friend on the train. When the rukus started, five other friends rushed to his side and here I am in the middle of all of this. The passengers that were sitting around me, were GONE!
So I thought, if skinhead has a gun, I am screwed. You know shooters: They always kill the innocent bystander. If angry boy?s posse started shooting, well I might have been OK Then surprisingly, the black commuters came to the rescue of the skinhead and they settled the situation by telling angry boy to cut it out.
The train came to a stop at the next stop, all of the angry boy?s posse got off and a final stand off between skinhead and Afro took place. They made eye-to-eye contact and with his final step out of the train, angry boy hurls the biggest wad of phlegm-laced spit at skinhead kid. It lands on the same spot where the first punch had landed and it slowly glides down his cheek.
Thankfully for me, it was also my stop and my mass transit commute was over, I thought, it was just another day in LatinoLA.
Jose Flores at firstname.lastname@example.org