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  • Writer's pictureChristopher McHale

Michael Jackson Dies on the Subway

Why is Jordan Neely dead?

Upside down photo of train entering NYC subway station
photo: Christopher McHale


During a lifetime of riding NYC subways, I’ve seen and experienced all sorts of shit. I’m talking the 60s, 70s, 80s. People who say the city is worse than ever never lived here in the 70s or 60s. You learn to ignore it, avoid it, move away from it. It’s basic city survival skills. Same thing in any of the great cities.


The thing about NYC street people, and I’ve seen Jordan Neeley, a Michael Jackson impersonator, a guy like that attacking you is pretty unlikely. They may scream and shout, but usually they will respond if you just engage them. They want to be seen.


The best weapon if you feel threatened is a five dollar bill.


Most of them are like feathers in the wind. Weak. Broken. Hungry. Sick.


I’ve never seen any weapon in the hands of a homeless person. I’m not saying it can’t happen, it’s just not how most of these people survive day to day. The absolute last thing they want is that kind of trouble.


And my bottom line is you can always step back. There are always choices. Most of us have food in our bellies and beds to sleep in.


The raw ghost life of being homelesss in New New York City is beyond the imagination of most of us.


This is the long way around to talking about Danny Penny. I don’t care he was a Marine. It’s his ignorance of how to live in a city and his hair-trigger arrogance of putting his hands on a mentally ill person in a subway car. Danny Penny is strong. Jordan Neely was 90 lbs of street bones.


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