Marquel, TPVs Times Right Way correspondent is a busy man. Each morning he reads the New York Times the right way, sipping a double-espresso. This morning he got burnt reading Alec Baldwin Arrested After Biking the Wrong Way in Manhattan. They cuffed and jailed him for talking back.
Marquel knows the NYPD and he knows the right way and the wrong way. Talking back to an officer is talking to an officer the wrong way and he’s lucky he didn’t go to jail longer for that. Talking the wrong way to a cop is a serious offense and every New Yorker knows how to talk to them the right way. You have to make believe they’re human, deserve respect, and that the criminals are someone else. That’s it.
But riding a bike the right way has never been part of the New Yorker’s repertoire. Nor the wrong way. Alex Baldwin is thus a pioneer even if he only knows how to talk to a cop the wrong way.
Marquel went down to the Ninth Precinct to talk to the arresting officer. He was prepared to meet a big burly Irishman, because the precinct used to be full of them. But now Marquel saw Asians. In the police force! Times have changed. But it turned out the arresting officer was Irish after all. And burly. And female. It’s a challenge these days to maintain stereotypes but Marquel knew the secret was to maintain flexibility, be tolerant, and progressive. It’s just a matter of being prepared to substitute new stereotypes for old ones. Welcome modernity.
We sat down. I asked about how Baldwin was riding his bike.
“He was riding the wrong way,” she said.
“Exactly how?” I asked.
She started swaying, and said, “sort of like this.”
“And that’s the wrong way?” I asked.
“For a straight white man,” she said, “definitely.”
“Is that it?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, “he was singing. Loudly.”
“And that’s not riding a bike the right way,” I suggested, “for a straight white man.”
“Not in New York,” she said, “and not while you’re swaying.”
“I see,” I said. “What if he were gay?”
“You mean was gay before and now isn’t? It doesn’t matter as long as he’s straight now.” She asserted.
“No,” I said, “subjunctive case.” She hadn’t a clue. In fact she was now fingering her gun handle. I knew I was taking a risk but good grammar is worth it. “I was using the subjunctive case. What I meant was what if a gay person were acting the same way, what then?”
“For a gay person, swaying is not riding the wrong way. Nor is singing. But it would have to be a gay song, so we don’t think he’s just trying to fool us.” She said.
“So a gay person can sway and sing as long as it’s something like ‘I Will Survive’ or ‘YMCA.’ ” I asked.
“Oh that would definitely do,” she said.
“So how are we supposed to know all this?” I asked.
“Oh come on,” she said, ” this is not rocket science, it’s common sense.”
“I suppose so,” I admitted, “but I didn’t think you could get arrested for it.”
“You didn’t know you could get arrested for riding a bike the wrong way?” She challenged me.
“Well of course.” I said.
“That’s it then,” she said.
“But I thought it was like riding west on an eastbound street.” I said.
“Not if you’re Chinese,” she corrected me.
“No?” I wondered.
“If you’re Chinese you’re probably delivering hot food. You start going east on even and west on odd and you won’t get a tip.” She said, suddenly almost human.
“What if you’re black?” I wondered.
“North of 110th street, you can do what you want. South of that you’re riding the wrong way if you’re black.” She said.
“I didn’t realize that,” I admitted.
“Course not,” she said, “you’re not black.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but I could have guessed. It makes sense.” I said, trying to speak to her the right way.
“So what brought about this sudden enforcement?” I asked her.
“Traffic safety. Big push against cell phones, failure to yield to pedestrians, all that,” she answered.
“”And riding the wrong way,” I suggested. She nodded vigorously. “Thanks, for making this a safer city.”
She stood up and sort of saluted me. I did the same.
Alec Baldwin – Arrested for BWW- Biking the Wrong Way. In Manhattan