The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

"Brooklyn Mike" Part 3

  I am continuing the story about "Brooklyn Mike",   This story did reasonate with me, "Brooklyn Mike" did a good job explaining the complicated relationship that islam has with the rest of the world and the possibility that this could be in the near future, especially with the political establishment of the cities that will kowtow the the gods of multiculturalism and that islam has a special status in that relationship.


Piss Christ? Piss Koran!
Part Three: Crisis

by Matthew Bracken
As the two SWAT commandos slid down their ropes, the chopper lifted for a moment, and one of them was dragged against the crane’s guy wire. He was flicked from his descent line, but he managed to grab hold of the thick steel cable. The helicopter dropped again, its rotors nearly intersecting the cable, but it banked away, dipped its nose, shot forward and corkscrewed downward, the other commando swinging out below its belly on the carnival ride of his life.
The unlucky commando was hanging onto the guy wire halfway out to the end of the jib, his feet more than a yard above the top pipe. He was trying to swing a foot up onto the lower end of the slanting wire, but he was too weighted down with tactical gear. If he tried to go hand-over-hand down the greasy wire, he’d slip and risk bouncing off the crane and falling twenty stories. Instead, the best he could do was to hook an elbow over the wire, and lock his forearm with his other hand.
Mike was angry that the SWAT team had tried a sneak attack during of the mayor’s phone call, but that didn’t change the fact that the officer dangling from the wire was facing the imminent threat of death. He left his secure platform at the end of the jib, and worked his way back toward the tower on the bank building side, his boots on the lower pipe, his bare ungloved hands on the top.
As he moved he yelled, “Hang on, buddy, I’m coming! Stop swinging, save your strength—just hang on!” The first helicopter had switched off its powerful strobe lights and its acoustic weapon, and followed Mike’s progress and the fate of their stranded SWAT team member from a hundred feet out.
In half a minute Mike was beneath the dangling cop, the knobby soles of his black boots dangling more than a yard above the top pipe. The welded struts between the three main pipes were joined at sixty-degree angles, forming alternating triangles along the length of the cantilevered jib. Where two of the struts joined at the top pipe was where Mike could make his move. He blessed himself with a quick sign of the cross, crouched, and then sprang up and inward, getting one leg and then the other around the two diagonally opposed struts halfway up to the top pipe where they met.
He clenched both struts behind his knees, squeezing together with all of his lower body and leg strength while pulling himself up with his hands and arms, then got an elbow and a shoulder over the top pipe. With sheer determination he scissored his legs together and forced himself further up, until he could push one foot over the top pipe, and then work his chest and belly onto it, balancing himself there. He found a matching diagonal strut on the other side with his foot, and then he was at least fairly secure on top, panting and wheezing, but for the moment at no risk of falling. He hooked his ankles around the opposing struts, and pushed his chest away from the top pipe until he was sitting directly below the dangling SWAT commando’s black boots.
Mike said, “Okay, buddy, we can do this, but don’t move. I’m going to grab your feet, okay? Don’t move. I’m going to grab your feet, but don’t move. All right?”
“All right.”
“You’ve got about four feet to the top pipe, okay? Don’t let go yet.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t. But I’m hurt, and I can’t stay up here all day.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll get her done. Hey, what’s your name?” The cop was facing back down the slanting wire toward the end of the crane, the toes of his boots toward Mike. Mike was facing the other way, toward the crane’s tower.
“Frank. My name is Frank.”
“Okay, Frank, we can do this. I have to get a good hold of your feet, but don’t let go yet. Not till I say. When I say, drop down to your hands, and then you’ll only have about three feet to go. You understand? You got that? You want to come down slow.”
“Yeah, I got it, Mike, but I got a hurt arm, so I don’t know how long I can hang on.”
So Frank the SWAT cop already knew his name. Frank wasn’t an Ironworker, but if he was an NYPD SWAT cop, a member of the elite Emergency Service Unit, Mike thought that he’d have to be a damned good all-around athlete. And if he wasn’t, well, then they were both probably going to fall to the street, and that would be that. Even if Frank did everything just right, they still might fall. Mike had never done this trick with another Ironworker; he was purely winging it, operating on adrenaline and instinct. “Okay Frank, I got your feet. Now, when I say, let go from your elbow, and hang by your hands, okay?” Mikes had hand around each of his boots, behind his ankles.
“Okay, but I can’t hang for long.”
“All right, let go from your elbow, and hang.”
Mike clenched the struts on both sides of the top pipe with his feet as hard as he could. Frank’s black boots slid down until the toes were against Mike’s throat, with Mike’s hands around the back of the cop’s knees, which were bulked up with pads. “Okay, Frank, here’s the tricky part. Wait till I say ‘let go.’ Don’t try to balance on top, just keep going until you’re sitting on the pipe like me. Okay? You understand?”
“I got it, I understand. I’m going to straddle the pipe and grab you.”
The guy was cool, Mike had to give him that. “That’s right, you’re going to straddle the pipe, and it’s going to hurt, but you’re a tough guy, right? I’m ready, so when you’re ready, let go, one hand at a time. You ready?”
“I’m ready.”
“Then let go.” Mike had to loosen his grasp and grab again as the SWAT cop fell straight down. Frank spread his feet as he came down to trap the pipe, and grabbed Mike in a bear hug as he stopped short, and just like that, they were face to face, with Mike straining to keep his balance as Frank’s momentum carried his torso over toward the bank building twenty feet away. Mike had to haul him back upright, levering his feet against the struts, and then they were face to face, embracing in a double bear hug, almost nose to nose. Mike said, “Feel behind you with your feet, you’ll hit a pair of struts. Hook them with your ankles.”
“I already got ’em, Mike. I already got ’em.” Frank was wearing a black helmet and dark goggles. Robo-cop in black, from the nose up, but his mouth and lips were alternating between relief and terror.
“I’m good here, Frank, I’m solid, so you climb down first, okay? The struts are on an angle, right? You’re going to slide your foot down a strut toward the building until you reach the bottom pipe. So you got to push away from me a little, and get a leg over, and slide down. I’ll hold you steady. Okay?”
“I can clip a carabiner around the pipe—a snap-link.”
“Perfect, Frank, perfect! That’s the ticket. You do that.” Since he’d left the street, Mike had been climbing without any safety gear at all, but it made sense that the SWAT cop would be ready to hook in. A climbing harness was integrated into his body armor and tactical vest.
The cop said, “I got to let go with one hand, all right? So I can hook my snap-link around the pipe.”
“Do it, I’m ready.” Mike looked at the front of his partner, a black and gray patch said ESU. That was for the Emergency Service Unit, New York’s elite SWAT team.
Frank felt for a carabiner that clipped to his tactical vest; it was connected by a short length of rope to his climbing harness. He deftly flipped it around the top pipe, and then clipped it to its own rope. Once his safety line was attached, relief showed plainly on the half of his face that was visible to Mike. “I thought I was a goner. I tore my bicep when I hit the wire, and it was all I could do to hang on by my elbow.”
“I couldn’t just watch you fall. I couldn’t do that.”
“I have a wife and three kids. And they still got a daddy.”
“Hey, you’re not going to arrest me, are you?”
“Hell no! I’m sorry Mike, this operation wasn’t my idea. It was the mayor, and the commissioner. It was just orders, and I was pulling duty.”
“I understand. Will you get in trouble if you don’t arrest me?”
“I’ll tell them I was hurt. I am hurt. How could I force you to do anything, up here? I’m going to slide off, now. Once I’m standing on the bottom pipe, I’ll hold you steady while you come down.”
“Okay, you first, then me.”
Frank nodded, pushed backward on the top pipe, put a leg over toward the bank building, slid down the strut, and found his footing on the bottom. Then Mike did the same, while the SWAT cop steadied him. During the entire process, from Mike first grabbing Frank’s boots, until they were both safely down, they’d been in close physical contact.
“Frank—thanks for not arresting me.”
“Don’t worry about it. Thanks for saving my life. I think I got the better deal.”
Mike laughed. “Yeah, I guess so. Hey, do you think the mayor will try something like that again?”
“Not with my team, he won’t. I’m sorry, Mike. It was just a job, it was just orders.”
“I understand. It’s your job.” And most of the time, the job involved saving innocent hostages from violent criminal maniacs. They sure had enough of them in the city, and Mike never had any doubts about the absolute need for a team of professionals like the NYPD Emergency Service Unit. If the mayor sent them out for the wrong reason, the ESU guys couldn’t be blamed for that. “So Frank, what happened with the helicopter?”
“That idiot almost killed me, that’s what. Washout Washington, he’s a councilman’s nephew. He wasn’t in the military, like us. I mean, he wasn’t a military pilot first. You were in the Army, right?”
“Right. In the seventies. Peacetime.”
“Well, Washout wanted to be a helicopter pilot, so they gave him three tries at the academy.”
“You’re kidding!?”
“The mayor owed the councilman a favor, and we got Washout for a pilot. I don’t know why they didn’t have him flying the distraction chopper. I think it was just his turn, and he wanted to prove himself. Look, Mike, if you get out of this, I mean, when you get out of this, look me up. Frank Salerno. I got the first round. Hell, I got all the rounds. I’m sure my wife will want to meet you too. And my kids.”
“I’ll do that.” There were standing on one pipe while leaning against another, twenty stories above the pavement, having a conversation like they were across the backyard fence while their barbeque grills were firing up. Mike thought nothing of this, not after decades as an Ironworker.
Frank said, “I think I understand what you’re trying to do up here.”
“That’s all I’m asking for, a little understanding. I’m not going to do anything to hurt anybody. I’ve got no weapons or bombs, and I won’t jump.”
“Look, Mike, I gotta tell you—I think the mayor wants you dead, man. I don’t like saying that, but I got that feeling.”
“Frank, when I get down, I’m going to find you, and get that beer.” They shook hands, and then the SWAT officer let go and started back along the jib toward the tower. The “distraction helicopter” was still hovering a hundred feet away, taking it all in. As he passed the connecting struts, Frank unclipped his carabiner, refastened it around the top pipe, and continued toward the tower, unclipping and clipping. But he was a family man, with young kids.
Mike stayed where he was, his winded exhaustion catching up to his sixty years. He looked at the diagonal struts. There was no way he could do that again, not for a million dollars, not if his life depended on it. But somehow, he’d done it. For five minutes, since the distraction helicopter had first dropped in front of him, he had no age, just a lifetime of experience, and a life-or-death mission to accomplish.
He heard a clacking and rapping noise behind him, a banging, and he twisted around. Twenty feet behind him, along the twentieth floor of the Bank of Europe building, the window wall was now as transparent as air. There were people standing shoulder-to-shoulder across the wide office, and more people were standing behind them. Men in jackets and ties, women in dresses, and cops and firefighters in uniforms. And they were clapping, waving, mouthing hurrahs, smiling, cheering, giving him exuberant thumbs-ups, and holding up smart phones to record it all.
A woman was pressing a tan file folder against the window. She’d scrawled a message on it with a marker that read, “We’re with you, Mike!” He was stunned, not expecting anything like that reception, so he just stared at them. Then he took a hand off the top pipe, twisted halfway around, and waved to them all a little sheepishly. This wasn’t why he’d climbed the tower, and he didn’t know how to respond to their attention. Then he started side-shuffling back out the crane’s jib, toward his little platform at the end.
The distraction helicopter moved away, following the progress of ESU officer Frank Salerno down the twenty steel ladders of the tower. Mike looked around for the other police helicopter, and found it on the ground across 6th Avenue. Ambulances were pulling away from it, with lights and sirens. Traffic had been stopped on the long block in front of the Modern Art Museum, so there was plenty of open space for a helicopter to land. He looked straight down between his feet, there was a new line of police cars on 53rd Street near the base of the tower, blue lights flashing. They were there to pick up Officer Frank Salerno, he guessed.
Mike reached his expanded metal grating platform again, and sat down heavily. If he was still alive tomorrow, he was going to be sore as hell, one giant bruise from his neck to his ankles. He just sat, staring across 6th Avenue at the BCA tower, and down West 53rd toward the MAM, and after a while he regrouped and took stock. His padded stadium seat had caught under his poncho shanty, he recovered it and slid it beneath him again.
His flip phone was still on the grating deck, and so were his binoculars, and his smart phone. The gray shirt and the hardhat were gone, he must have knocked them over in the recent excitement. The plastic bucket was gone, but the Koran was still there, open, pages fluttering in the breeze. The bottle of amber liquid was where he’d left it, under his poncho shanty on the building side. His pack was where he’d left it. He found the water bottle that he’d already opened, and drained it in one go. Then picked up his little radio, and pushed its single ear bud back in.
Jerry Conroy was arguing with a female about just exactly who was responsible for the crisis in Manhattan, which had escalated, step-by-step, until a police officer had been gravely injured. There had been a semi-crash landing of an NYPD helicopter while the other ESU officer was still hanging from it by a rope. Was this Brooklyn Mike’s fault, or the mayor’s, or the police commissioner’s, or the ESU commander’s, or the pilot’s? Somebody had to be held responsible for his injuries, but who?
Both the WNYR radio host and the caller agreed that without Mike’s intervention, at least one NYPD cop would probably be dead. The other helicopter had been unable to get close enough to the building to retrieve the lost officer, because it had been mission-configured to carry its specialized acoustic and visual “distraction devices,” and not to conduct a high-risk rescue so close to a building. The helicopter didn’t have the correct equipment or the right ESU personnel on board, so, naturally, no rescue attempt could be made. More lives would have been put at risk, so the decision had been taken for it to simply observe the events. It was just lucky for the ESU officer dangling from the wire above the crane that Brooklyn Mike had gone out and hauled him down to safety.
Mike noticed that his 9-11 ball cap had been lost somewhere along the way, so he looked into his pack, and found a black one that had NYPD across the front. After meeting Frank Salerno, he knew that needed those guys on his side if he was going to get off the crane in one piece.
Mike picked up the flip phone, it was still on. “Jerry, you still there? Jerry?” He expected that the line had been disconnected, but almost at once he heard a familiar voice. It was the guy who had first answered the phone at the radio station just before dawn.
“Brooklyn Mike, is that you?”
“I’m still here.”
“Great work up there, man! Great work! I’ll tell Jerry you’re on.”
Then he heard Conroy again. “Mike! Holy Jesus, man! Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Jerry.”
“The whole world is watching you, Mike. The whole world is watching! That was amazing, how you grabbed that cop. Nobody would have blamed you if you’d just sat tight, but you just went right out there and got him.”
“Frank Salerno. That’s his name. Frank Salerno of the ESU. We’re good now, we’re tight. It wasn’t his fault. It was the goddamn mayor. Frank was just doing his job.”
“Hey, are you ready to take another caller?”
Mike exhaled, and stretched his shoulders. “Sure, why not?”
“Okay, next up is Lenny from Queens. Lenny, you’re on.”
“Mikey! Mikey Dolan! Goddamn, buddy, holy hell! What the hell, Mikey?”
“Lenny, the Hebrew turn-screw?”
“Mikey, I knew it was you as soon as I heard you on the radio, even before I saw you on TV. Goddamn Mikey Dolan, up on a crane with a Koran and a jug of piss. Mikey, I always knew you were a crazy sonofabitch, but this beats it all.”
“Geez, Lenny, what’s it been, five, six years?”
“Seven. The Port Authority job. Coldest winter in twenty years, and we’re up there bangin’ bolts in the snow. Easy money, right, Mikey? But I thought it was the end for you today. I thought it was the end for you and that cop. We worked a lot higher, you and me, but twenty stories is high enough. Hey, the safety snitches catch you up there without a harness, they’re going to dock your pay, right?” Lenny laughed, but then his voice cracked. “Mikey, you made me proud to be an Ironworker today. You made us all proud. Brothers to the end. Nobody else could have done that — nobody. Only an Ironworker would be that goddamn crazy. Nobody else.”
“I guess everybody knows who I am now, huh, Lenny? Thanks for blowing my cover, you dumb Jew bastard. Why didn’t you go to medical school, like your brother?”
“I know, black sheep of the family. But I didn’t blow your cover. Everybody knows already, Mikey. Everybody. Look, I don’t want to hold you up, I know you got your hands full. But I wanted to tell you that everybody on the picket line is tuned in, and nobody’s talking about nothing else. Haven’t you heard? The whole world is watching, and they already got about five embassies under attack. The one in Islamabad is on fire, and they’re pulling our people out with helicopters. So mazeltov and behatsla’cha, and watch your tuchas you dumb Mick, ’cause in case you didn’t know it, you got all the goat-humpers in the world pissed-off enough to chew half-inch rebar and spit bullets.”
“Don’t I know it? Good to hear from you, Lenny. Really good.” His old friend’s voice brought Mike back to life, and put some new steel into his sore old back. Then, Lenny was gone.
Conroy said, “How about that, Mike? An old friend, eh?”
“More than a friend. A union brother.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
“No, you don’t. But that’s okay. Nobody could. Not unless they been where we been, and done what we done.”
“Okay, okay, fair enough. Are you ready for another caller?”
“Sure, why not?”
“This guy just calls himself Ex-Muslim. So go ahead, Ex-Muslim.”
The caller had a barely perceptible foreign accent. “Mike, you were asking the imam the meaning of the word taqiyya. I’m assuming you already know what it means, but for everybody else, it means holy lying for the purpose of spreading Islam. Lying to a non-believer isn’t a sin for Muslims, it’s just clever. It shows how smart you are to put one over on the stupid kafirs. And that other guy who called himself Ghazi, well that means a holy warrior who is doing jihad against the kafirs. Somebody has to tell you people these things! Americans are so naive when it comes to Islam. I was raised as a Muslim, but when I came to America, I left it all behind. But even now I have to be careful, because if Muslims find out that I left Islam, my life would be in danger. How can you live with people who will kill you for leaving their cult? And that’s what it is: a cult. A death cult, where you get rewarded for killing infidels.”
Conroy said, “That sounds like just a bit of an exaggeration there, Ex-Muslim. Maybe you have a chip on your shoulder. Maybe a few fanatics might feel that way, but—”
“No, Jerry, it’s not an exaggeration. I was born in Egypt, just like Imam Qutb. Believe me, most Egyptians support killing apostate Muslims. They support Sharia Law all the way. Devout Muslims believe that the Koran is the literal word of Allah, dictated word-by-word to Mohammed. That’s why Islam can’t be reformed. Any Muslim who even suggested that one single word of the Koran was a mistake, well, he would be risking a death fatwah.”
“So, you’re saying Islam can’t be reformed?”
“That’s what I’m saying, Jerry. Because any Muslim who said that one single word in the Koran was wrong would be insulting the Prophet. They would be saying that Allah had made a mistake. And that’s enough to get your head chopped off by a fanatic.”
Conroy said, “But what about that abrogation thing? Can’t Muslims see that the abrogated verses were mistakes?”
“Not mistakes. It doesn’t work that way. Each sura of the Koran was correct for its time, that’s what Muslims are taught. When Mohammed was in Mecca, he preached peaceful Islam, because it was correct for that time. It was what worked in Mecca. When Mohammed went to Medina, Allah gave him new revelations, so Mohammed started preaching violent jihad, but both are still the word of Allah.”
“That doesn’t make sense to me. Not if they contradict each other.”
“That’s the point, Jerry, it doesn’t have to make sense. There’s a famous sura about fighting jihad; it’s about killing non-believers. Sura 2:216, I just looked it up. It says that Muslims have to fight jihad, even if they don’t like it. Let me read it: Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not. That’s one of the reasons why I left Islam when I came to America: I wanted to think for myself, and not be a programmed robot, like Mike said.”
“So how can Muslims reform their religion, if the Koran can’t be changed?”
“I wish I knew the answer to that question, Jerry. But I do know this: the more that Muslims study the Koran, the more dangerous they become, not the less dangerous. Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi is the Caliph of the Islamic State, and he has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the Islamic University of Baghdad. So when American politicians say that the Islamic State doesn’t represent Islam, well, that’s like a bad joke to Muslims, because those ISIS guys are actually super-Muslims. The ones that your politicians call the ‘moderate Muslims’ are the ones who don’t read the Koran and hardly know what’s in it. They’re just cultural Muslims, that’s all. They can’t win a single argument against the fanatics who have memorized every sura and hadith. How could they? So when your politicians urge Muslims to study ‘true Islam,’ they’re only helping to create more fanatics.”
“So, what do you think is going to happen today on 53rd Street?”
“I don’t know, but Joseph, the guy from Lebanon who called before, he was correct. Imam Qutb asked all the faithful Muslims to come and stop the two blasphemies. I’m looking at some websites, and some local Islamist groups say that there will be morning prayers on 53rd Street near the museum, and all faithful Muslims should come. After that, I don’t know what will happen, but I think it’s going to be very dangerous. I think that Mike should leave the crane now, while he still can.”
Conroy asked him, “What do you think about what Mike is doing?”
After a pause, Ex-Muslim said, “I don’t know. Of course, it will lead to days of rage around the Muslim world, the ummah, even worse than after the cartoons, or the Life of Mohammed video. Already, embassies are being attacked. But on the other side, maybe it will give Muslims a chance to show that they’re capable of self-control. Or if they’re just killer robots, like Mike said. I just don’t know. Anyway, thank you for allowing me to speak.”
“Thank you, Ex-Muslim.” Jerry let the silence hang for a moment. “So, Mike, you just heard him. Embassies are already being attacked. And you don’t feel responsible?”
“Not at all. I’m not responsible for what other people do. Human beings have free will. Are they programmed killer robots, or not?”
“Any chance you’ll come down before ten o’clock, when the museum opens?”
“None that I can see. But Ex-Muslim gave me a new idea. If every verse in the Koran is the sacred word of Allah, then I guess that Islam really is unreformable. So maybe we can test it out, right here.” Mike picked up the green Koran. His numerous bookmarks were orange sticky notes, so they hadn’t blown away when the book had gone tumbling in the confusion of the helicopter assault. He pinched his flip-phone against this shoulder, he was getting pretty good at it, and said, “Okay, I’m going back to the Verse of the Sword. Sura 9:5. That was in the last chapter that Allah gave to Mohammed, so it erases all the peaceful stuff that came before it.”
Mike opened his Koran to that page. “Muslims always say how peaceful they are, and how Islam is a religion of peace. So, why do they need the Verse of the Sword? How can normal human beings coexist with Muslims, if that sword is always pointing at them? Right? So if Islam is peaceful, then I think peaceful Muslims should be able to do without the Verse of the Sword. Am I making sense?” The retired Ironworker held the Koran toward the cameras, and glanced at his iPhone. The image of the book against his chest was pixilated and blurred. It didn’t matter. They’d get the point. He held the open Koran in one hand, tore the page out, and held it up for the camera. Then he set the book to the side, so that he could hold his flip phone properly.
“Let me read it again. Remember, Allah gave it to Mohammed last, so it erases any peaceful stuff that came before it. That’s called abrogation.” Mike cleared his throat, and began. “Fight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war.” He looked up at the cameras. “The unbelievers is us, everybody who’s not a Muslim. So I think that we can all agree that the Verse of the Sword has no place in the modern, civilized world. I think that peaceful, moderate Muslims can agree that the Koran would be better off without it. I think that everybody will agree that if Muslims are going to rejoin the civilized world, then they have to be ready to toss out the Verse of the Sword. Am I right? And if they can’t let go of it, well, then I guess everybody will know what that means, too.”
Mike tore the page in half, then quarters, and kept tearing it until it was in tiny pieces, and then he threw the handful of confetti from the end of the crane. The scraps rolled and blinked as they caught the morning light, widening into a cloud on their descent to the street. The wind was up now, from the east, so the shredded Verse of the Sword was heading back toward 7th Avenue. The line of police cars that had been along 53rd near the base of the crane was gone, so Frank Salerno must have been picked up and taken away to rejoin his Emergency Service Unit team.
Instead of police cars, the flatbed truck loaded with police barricades was parked in the middle of the block. City workers quickly erected a police line across 53rd, beginning where the temporary fencing around the base of the tower crane ended. This was the place where he had snuck into the construction site in dark. Something bright caught Mike’s eye further to the west toward 7th Avenue. At the end of the long block, there were at least twenty yellow cabs parked haphazardly across 53rd where it ran into 7th Avenue. The cabs had to have come eastbound onto 53rd, the wrong way, since 53rd was one-way westbound. There were already barricades across 53rd on both sides of 6th Avenue, so the block should have been clear of traffic. He picked up his compact binoculars to study the situation.
Along with the cabs, there were hundreds of pedestrians, nearly all of them men, and many of them wearing Middle Eastern man-dresses and Muslim skull caps, and most of them sporting beards. All of them were carrying thick tubes under their arms. Some of these men had walked up to the newly erected police line across the middle of the block, and were unrolling prayer rungs and laying them down in a row across the street. The intersection of 7th and 53rd was quickly choking with even more cabs and cars and vans, and hundreds of pedestrians who must have been pouring out of the subway stations or leaving their places of employment.
Mike grabbed his phone. “Jerry, are you there?”
“Yes, but we’re not on the air.”
“We’re on a break?”
“Um, yeah, a break.”
“Is Victor Del Rio there?”
“Um…yes…he is. Do you want to speak to him?”
“No. Just ask him what’s happening on 53rd, down at the 7th Avenue end.”
“Um… All right.”
When Jerry Conroy came back, he said, “According to Mr. Del Rio, the Muslim community is going to hold their morning call to prayer on West 53rd, to pray for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.”
“What crisis is that, Jerry?”
“Mr. Del Rio says the crisis that you created, Mike. With the Koran.”
“Jerry, there’s a single line of police barricades across 53rd, but it’s pretty close to the crane. There’s hundreds of men with prayer rugs, and more are coming, but there’s no police. Just a line of barricades. It’s got me kind of worried.”
There was a pause, and Conroy said, “Mr. Del Rio thinks it would be a good idea for you to come down right away. For your own safety.”
“Jerry, there are hundreds of Muslim men down there already, and hundreds more are coming.”
“Mr. Del Rio says that you need to make a decision very fast. If you come down, some police officers will meet you at the bottom of the tower and escort you to safety. That’s the best he can do. They’re afraid of provoking an incident with a heavy police presence.”
“But there’s no police down there at all, just a line of steel barricades across the street.” Mike looked at his iPhone. BCA was no longer showing the “standoff” on the crane, but a panel discussion. The evening anchor had joined the morning news crew.
Jerry said, “They’re going to hold their morning prayers at nine o’clock. I don’t know what’s going to happen after that. Mr. Del Rio says that you should come down while you have the chance.”
By then, there were several hundred men and their prayer rugs lined up in ranks and files across 53rd from the unmanned police barricade and extending back to west. The taxi cabs forming an ad-hoc blockade at the 7th Avenue end indicated that the cab drivers, and not the police, were controlling access to the street from the west. At the 6th Avenue end, there was another line of steel barricades, but no police. The only police officers that Mike could see were on the other side of 6th Avenue.
Then Mike heard Vic Del Rio’s voice again. “Last chance, Brooklyn Mike. Come down while you can, smart guy. The Jerry Conroy Show is over for the day, and BCA isn’t covering the standoff any more. It was creating a threat to public safety, and we can’t allow that. Public safety always comes first, that’s in the law. So you’re up there all by yourself, smart guy.”
“No more callers, Vic?”
“No more callers, Brooklyn Mike. Show’s over. So, are you coming down? Morning prayers are going to start at nine. After that, who knows what’s going to happen? So, are you coming down, or not?”
With every minute that passed, more men wearing Middle-Eastern garb were arriving from 7th Avenue, and walking in groups down the middle of 53rd toward the crane, with just the unguarded line of police barricades holding them back.
Jerry Conroy said, “You have to come down, Mike. For your own safety.”
Mike Dolan scanned up and down 53rd Street. To the east across 6th Avenue, there was a small crowd of protesters carrying signs gathered in front of the Modern Art Museum, facing an even greater number of police officers across several protective rings of steel barricades. The helicopters were gone, but there were dozens of police cars, a dozen mounted police on horseback, and a half-dozen television trucks with their microwave antennas jabbing skyward. In the other direction, his direction, there were hundreds of Muslims unrolling prayer rugs, and nary a police officer or television camera crew to be seen.
“So, smart guy, are you coming down?” asked Victor Del Rio, the mayor’s special assistant for public safety.
After swallowing hard, and thinking about his options, Mike replied:
“No. I always liked the view up here. I think I’ll stay.”

Friday, June 24, 2016

"Brooklyn Mike" Part 2

This is the continuation of the story that I had read from Matt Bracken.  To me it shows what can happen in the near future.

This is how I view islam, you can't criticize it or you run afoul of the "PC Police"
And agencies of the government that seems that it is its job to punish those that insult islam.  If you doubt me, remember that the DOJ is heavily politicized and AG Lynch has set up special branches of the DOJ to investigate anti islam behavior.   The United States was founded as a place where you can worship as you please without government getting involved. but now we seem to have one "Protected" religion.

Piss Christ? Piss Koran!
Part Two: Morning Light

by Matthew Bracken
At seven minutes after six, Mike closed his notebook and put the bottle of apple juice behind his pack and near the bottom of his poncho shanty. Then he took a Sony portable AM/FM radio the size of a cigarette pack from a cargo pocket of his trousers. It already had a wire for a single ear bud wrapped around it. He switched it on: it was preset for WNYR-FM.
Jerry Conroy was talking over his show’s lead-in bumper music. “Folks, if you’re just tuning in, we have a major situation happening near 6th Avenue and 53rd, right across from the BCA television network building in Manhattan. If you were listening to this show last Friday, then you already know about the Serrano exhibit that’s opening today at the Modern Art Museum. If you’re not up to speed, Andres Serrano is the artist who created the infamous Piss Christ. Well, today there’s a man sitting up on a construction crane across 6th Avenue from the BCA building, and, he’s threatening to create some new art of his own if the Serrano exhibit opens up this morning. Brooklyn Mike, are you still there?”
Mike Dolan removed the ear bud, and picked up his flip phone. “I’m here, Jerry.” He looked down at the screen of his iPhone. Charlie Thorn was staring intently, saying nothing, and then the BCA camera cut back to its shot of him up on the crane. Then a still picture of Jerry Conroy appeared with the caption, “WNYR talk radio host Jerry Conroy.”
“Mike, can you explain to our listening audience what you’re doing up there?”
“Well, Jerry, like you just said, it’s about the Serrano exhibit.”
“Folks, if you didn’t already see it on BCA a few minutes ago, Brooklyn Mike is threatening to douse a copy of the Koran in urine if the Serrano exhibit opens up. Do we understand that correctly, Mike?”
“You got it, Jerry. If they show the Piss Christ at the MAM, then I’m going to create the Piss Koran up here.”
“Mike, if you do that, you have to know that millions of Muslims around the world are going to be very, very upset.”
“Then that’s their problem. Almost nobody seems to object to the Piss Christ, so why should the Koran be out of bounds? I mean, if we all have the freedom of expression, why shouldn’t I be free to create my own art? The mayor said that we had to respect Serrano’s artistic vision and his right to free expression, so why should the Koran be off limits?”
“That may all be true, but let’s be practical. Let’s be realistic. You have to know there’s going to be a terrible reaction to your stunt. And the responsibility will lie with you.”
“With me? Jerry, last Friday you asked why Christians and Jews were just expected to take this kind of abuse like sheep, but we couldn’t say one word about Islam, or bombs would go off. So you gave me the idea, Jerry, you did. So why don’t you have to share some of the responsibility? How far back does this responsibility thing go? I mean, is there still free speech in America, or not?”
“But if you go through with this stunt, come on, Mike, you know that a lot of people are going to be hurt. A lot of people.”
“Why is that? I’m not threatening to hurt anybody. I’m just going to create a new work of art — just like Serrano.” Mike checked his smart phone again. The still picture of Jerry Conroy was across from him in the corner of the screen.
“Do you understand all of the ramifications of what you’re doing today, Mike?”
After a pause, he said, “Yes, I believe that I do.”
Conroy sighed. “Well, Mike, are you willing to take some questions from callers?”
“Why not?”
“Okay, folks, first up is Reverend Samuel L. Peterson, pastor of the Faith Tabernacle Mission. Reverend Peterson is also on the board of the New York Interfaith Council. Reverend Peterson, go ahead.”
The reverend sounded old and frail. “Mike, oh, Mike, are you really going to do this terrible thing? If you do, you are going to cause an unimaginable outbreak of rage across the Muslim world! I fear that many people are going to be hurt! Do you really want to do that? Do you want that on your conscience?”
“Why would it be on my conscience? I wouldn’t hurt a fly. I’m just creating a new work of art, just like Serrano. Nothing more, and nothing less. I can see the Modern Art Museum from here, down 53rd. It was in the news all last week, pastor. Were you planning to come down to protest against it?”
“Uh, Mike, well, I’m, you see, I’m not much of an expert on art — ”
“And you’re just so busy, I know. Too busy to worry about the Piss Christ, or what Christians think about it. But you’re Johnny-on-the-spot today, aren’t you?”
“Michael, may I call you Michael? Michael, two wrongs don’t make a right.”
Mike snorted. “What? Is that the best you can do? Seriously? Reverend Peterson, tell me something. Do you know what a dhimmi is? In English, it’s spelled d-h-i-m-m-i. Dhimmi. It’s an Arabic word. Do you know what it means? Ever hear of it?”
“Michael, I’m not sure what that has to do with — ”
“It has everything to do with everything! Dhimmi! Do you know the word, or not?”
“I must say that I’m not familiar with it. I don’t speak Arabic, and I don’t see — ”
“Well, I suggest that you look it up, you old fool! Lenin would have called you a useful idiot. You’re not leading your flock to verdant pastures, you’re leading them straight to a pack of hungry wolves! You’re a dhimmi, and you don’t even know it.”
After a moment, Jerry Conroy came back on and said, “Ah, Reverend Peterson seems to have dropped off the line. Mike, we’re not going to get very far if you treat our callers this way.”
“I’m sorry the reverend is gone, because I had some more to tell him. ‘Interfaith’ preachers like Peterson are nothing more than Judas goats, leading their flocks straight into the slaughterhouse. He’s doing the work of the jihadists, and he’s too stupid to even understand it.”
“So, what does this dhimmi thing mean, anyway?”
“You don’t know either?”
“No, should I?”
“Yeah, you should. Look it up sometime.”
“Okay, I will. But now we have more callers waiting. If you can keep your temper, maybe we can work this out. Imam Sayyid Qutb of the Al-Hijra Mosque in Brooklyn is on the line. I’m told that Imam Qutb is one of the foremost authorities on Islamic jurisprudence in America. Imam Qutb, you’re on the air. Am I pronouncing your name correctly?”
An elderly male voice, with a strong Middle Eastern accent. “Yes, that’s fine. And am I also speaking to the man up on the crane, the man who is causing all of the worry and consternation today?”
Mike felt a chill of recognition at the name of the imam, and his mosque. “If you say that I am, then I guess I am.” He had purchased his Koran and his other Islamic holy books in the Al-Hijra Mosque’s bookstore. Then he had done some more research into the mosque, and he even read a few short on-line biographies of the well-known Imam. Mike scanned his iPhone: BCA news had a still shot of the imam on the screen, with a telephone symbol next to it. Below his photo, the caption read “Imam Sayyid Qutb, National Islamic-American Council.” In the photo Qutb had a long gray beard, wire-rimmed glasses, and a checkered scarf around his head.
The imam said, “Oh, Mike, don’t do it — I implore you. Please don’t do it.”
“Why not? Last week the mayor said that multicultural diversity is New York’s greatest strength, and he said that we all have to respect diverse views about what constitutes art, so I’m pretty sure that he’ll love the Piss Koran — ”
“Please, don’t say that! I implore you, Mike, don’t say that again.”
“What’s the problem with saying Piss Koran? It’s a free country, isn’t it?”
“Because you must know that the violent extremists will be provoked. What you have discussed doing will be taken as an extreme provocation by Muslims around the world. I can hardly imagine a worse provocation. I fear that great violence will be the result of such a great act of blasphemy.”
“Nobody cares about the Piss Christ except for a handful of intolerant Christian bigots, that’s what the mayor said. So why should anybody care about the Piss Koran?”
“Mike, it’s a sad reality that there are Muslim extremists who misunderstand the underlying peaceful message of the Holy Koran. If you commit this act of provocation, many people will be hurt, that is my great fear. I don’t want to see that happen, and I’m sure that you don’t want to see it happen either.”
“Imam Qutb, are Muslims really that close to committing violence, that they’ll commit violence over a simple work of art?”
“Mike, Muslims are very peaceful people. The Holy Koran says that anybody who murders another, it is as if he murdered the whole world.”
“Yes, it does say that. In fact, I have a bookmark on that page, so I can read it right now.” Mike took the Koran from the bucket, and opened it across his lap.
“Here it is: Sura 5:32. I even highlighted it. ‘Whoever kills a human being for other than murder or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind. And who saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.’ The problem I have with that verse is the part about ‘or corruption in the earth.’ In context, that refers to unbelievers who resist the spread of Islam after they have heard the message. When it was written, it was referring to the Jews in Arabia, and they were all slaughtered for resisting Islam. Now, I’m not an Islamic scholar, but that ‘corruption in the earth’ part seems like a pretty big loophole to me. It sounds to me like that means it’s fair game for Muslims to kill any infidels who resist the spread of Islam.”
“Where did you ever hear such a thing, Mike?”
“It’s in the Koran, and the Hadiths of Mohammed. And Reliance of the Traveller, and some other Islamic holy books that I’ve been studying.”
“Did you read them yourself, or did somebody tell you that? I fear that you have been very badly misinformed. Islam is first and foremost a religion of peace.”
“Then what about Sura 9:5, the Verse of the Sword?” Mike flipped to another bookmark. “Fight and slay the unbelievers wherever you find them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war. But if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them; for Allah is forgiving and most merciful.”
“The Christian Bible also contains violent passages, would you like to hear some of them as well? You see, there are many differing interpretations of Islam, and there are unfortunately a small percentage of extremists who prefer to choose among the more violent verses. Just as there are violent Christian extremists, who choose among the violent verses of the Bible.”
“But there are over a hundred verses in the Koran that tell Muslims to wage jihad against the infidels until they submit to Islam, so I don’t think that you can compare the Koran to the Bible. And there’s something even more important than the number of times that the Koran tells Muslims to slay the unbelievers — I’m talking about the Islamic principle of abrogation. Tell me if I’m wrong, but abrogation means that the verses from the later chapters cancel out the earlier verses if there’s any contradiction. Sura 9 was the last chapter that Allah gave to Mohammed, so it abrogates any earlier verses that contradict it. It erases them. The peaceful verses were written when Mohammed was in Mecca, and his new religion was only just beginning.
“But in Mecca, Mohammed’s new religion wasn’t pulling in many converts, at most, maybe one or two hundred, and that was after a few years of trying, so he left. It wasn’t until after Mohammed’s hijra migration to Medina that he started to pull in thousands of new converts. You know, hijra — like the name of your mosque. And the big reason that they were suddenly attracted to Mohammed’s new religion was because after he got to Medina, Allah told Mohammed that his followers could kill anybody who opposed the spread of Islam, and take their property, and take their women as slaves. The Verse of the Sword cancels out the peaceful verses from the Meccan period, isn’t that true? Isn’t that the meaning of abrogation?”
“I don’t know where you have learned your understanding of Islam, but I fear that you have come under the influence of the Islamophobes.”
“Imam, you’re one of the leading Islamic scholars in America, so I’m sure that you understand the principle of abrogation. I thought it might be important, so I wrote it down on another bookmark. Here it is: abrogation is ‘naskh’ in Arabic. At least, that’s how they spell it in English. You never heard of it?”
“I’ve heard of it, but I’m afraid that you have only learned one meaning of naskh from among many. A true understanding of these concepts would take many years of careful study at an Islamic university. There are differing ways to interpret the meaning of the holy books, and Muslims understand their faith in differing ways. Thankfully, most Muslims are quite moderate in their beliefs, just as most Christians are.”
“Moderate Muslims…that reminds me. I wrote down something about that. Here it is. President Erdogan of Turkey said that ‘There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it. These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion.’ So, was he wrong to say that?”
“President Erdogan speaks only for himself. I don’t know what was in his mind, or even if that is a true quotation of what he said.”
“Well what about you, Imam Qutb? Do you think it’s insulting to suggest that there is moderate and immoderate Islam? Since you live in America now, do you consider yourself to be a moderate Muslim? I mean, you’re not one of those radical extremists, are you?”
“I consider myself to be a faithful and principled Muslim. But why are you questioning me? That which you are planning to do will lead to a great catastrophe! My question to you is, why are you doing it? What is your hidden agenda?”
“Why? I told you already: I want to create another great work of art like Serrano’s Piss Christ. Maybe even better. Then, someday I can have an exhibit in the Modern Art Museum, too.”
“The unnecessary deaths of many people will be upon your name if you go ahead with this great blasphemy! Are you willing to accept that terrible responsibility?”
“Any murder is the responsibility of the murderer and nobody else. Imam, you’re from Egypt, and Arabic is your first language, isn’t that right?”
“Yes, that is correct. And I must say that if you have been reading the Koran in English, then you can’t really understand the many subtle nuances that are lost in translation.”
“But Imam Qutb, I bought my Koran at an Islamic bookstore, and it says right here that the translation is fully certified by the Al-Azhar Islamic University in Cairo, and it’s recommended for teaching non-Muslims about your faith.” Mike held the inside cover of the Koran up for the camera. “See, it has English on one side, and Arabic on the other. And most of the Muslims in the world don’t speak Arabic, so they have to use a translation of the Koran, otherwise, they can’t read it. So what about the people that can’t read Arabic? Are you saying that only Arabic speakers are able to fully comprehend Islam? Why wouldn’t Allah make Islam comprehensible to all people in all languages?”
“You are speaking in riddles, Mike, and I don’t know why. I’m afraid that a complete understanding of Allah’s divine intentions for mankind are much more complicated than can be conveyed with a brief explanation over the telephone.”
“Well, in that case, can you explain just one more Arabic word to me, with all of its subtle nuances? I think it’s an important word for all Americans to understand.”
“What word is that?”
Taqiyya. Can you tell us the meaning of taqiyya, and how it relates to dawah, which is the spreading of the faith of Islam among the unbelievers?”
“Oh, Mike, I can see that I am wasting my time with you today, and I am very sorry for that. Clearly, your mind has been poisoned by the professional Islamophobes.”
“So, you won’t tell everybody what taqiyya means?”
“Mike, I’m very sorry that your mind is closed to the truth of the message of Allah. And again, I urge you in the very strongest terms not to conduct your act of blasphemy.”
“Can you please explain why blasphemy against one religion is acceptable, but not against another?”
“I would never say that any blasphemy is acceptable, ever. Faithful Muslims are against all forms of blasphemy. If it was my decision, no such blasphemy would be permitted.”
“But in our country, we have the freedom of expression under the First Amendment of the Constitution, and the Constitution is still the supreme law of our country.”
“Free expression is not an excuse for the incitement of violence. One may not shout fire in a crowded theater, to use a famous example.”
“I am doing no such thing. I’m all by myself.”
“Mike, I equally condemn the blasphemous Serrano exhibit as I condemn what you are planning. And I would call on Muslims who honor all of our prophets to come to the place where this blasphemous Serrano exhibit will held, to protest against it.” Imam Qutb then spoke a few sentences in Arabic, which, of course, Mike could not understand.
Jerry Conroy said, “I’m sorry, but what does that mean? What did you just say?”
“I said that faithful Muslims should come to the place of the blasphemy, to pray for peace among all people of faith.”
“Oh, all right. We can certainly all agree on that. Thank you, Imam Qutb. Thank you for your unique perspective.”
“You’re welcome.” Then the imam spoke few more words in Arabic, and he was gone.
Conroy said, “Folks, I know this is an unusual situation, but we’ve blown right through our scheduled break. We’ll be right back after these messages from our sponsors.”
Up on the crane, Mike looked at his smart phone. BCA had also cut to a commercial. He reached into his pack, took out a half-liter water bottle, and sipped from it. He’d been drinking only sparingly since the night before, and had eaten nothing, so that he would not be interrupted by a call of nature. He was much too wired to feel hunger or to need a cup of coffee or any other stimulant. He put the pocket radio’s ear bud back in, and listened to the commercials on WNYR, so that he would know when the break was over.
Then he pushed the preset button for National Public Radio. A panel was discussing the dramatic situation in Midtown Manhattan. Voices were shouting over one another about how to avert the great calamity that was going to befall New York, and indeed, the entire world, if the “standoff” on the crane was allowed to proceed any further. One of the female panelists even suggested that it would be better for the police to shoot Brooklyn Mike dead where he sat, rather than to allow his desecration of the Holy Koran to occur! As the lesser of evils! To save lives! On NPR, no less! Then Mike went back to WNYR, so that he wouldn’t miss the next segment.
He looked down 53rd toward the MAM while he was waiting. It was full morning light, and even though the street was still mostly in shadow, he didn’t need his binoculars to see what was happening. The flatbed with the extra police barricades was now parked at the 6th Avenue end of 53rd in the shadow of the BCA tower. City workers in orange vests were setting up a police line across 53rd where it intersected 6th Avenue. Then he heard the Jerry Conroy Show bumper music, and picked his phone back up.
Conroy was saying, “We’re back live, folks, and all I can say, is — wow! Did anybody see this coming? Brooklyn Mike, are you still there?”
“I’m here, Jerry.”
“Next, we have a special guest who would like to speak with you. In the studio with me is Victor Del Rio, a special assistant to the mayor for public safety. Victor, you’re on.”
“Mike, this is Victor Del Rio, but you can call me Vic, everybody does. So how are feeling up there, buddy? Me, I can’t stand heights. So what are you thinking, big Mike? Anything you need? I’m sure that we can work something out. I’m sure we can settle this problem without anybody getting hurt.”
Mike hesitated before he spoke. “I haven’t said a single word about hurting anybody, Vic. So now I’m guessing that you’re some kind of police negotiator, is that right?”
“Mike, um, no, I, uh, no, uh… No.”
“Vic, I don’t have any weapons. I don’t have a bomb. And I’m not going to jump. You have nothing to worry about from my end. So why don’t you put Jerry back on?”
“Well, gee, Mike, it looks like Jerry has stepped out for a minute, but I’m sure he’ll be back in a while. In the meantime, why don’t you and I talk?”
Mike looked at his iPhone. The shot of him at the end of the crane occupied the entire screen. There was no photo of “Victor Del Rio.” If he was really one of the mayor’s “special assistants,” then BCA News would have a picture of him ready to show the world. They’d had no trouble finding a photo of Imam Qutb, or Reverend Peterson.
“All right, Vic, we can talk. But first, I want to show you something, and then we can talk about it.” Mike took out his aluminum clipboard case, slid out a sheet of paper, and held it up for the camera. “I printed this right off the BCA website over the weekend. See? It’s Serrano’s Piss Christ, right on their website. The web page had links to a couple of their old news stories about it, and I watched some of them. BCA News had no problem at all showing Piss Christ on national television at least five different times.”
A glance at his smart phone showed that BCA was indeed broadcasting the printed screen capture of their web page, complete with a large, well focused rendition of Piss Christ in bright orange and yellow. “See that, Victor? They had no problem at all showing anti-Christian art. The web page was still up yesterday, and it’s probably still up right now.”
Then Mike took another sheet of paper from the aluminum case and held it up for the camera. “But here’s a picture from a much bigger news story. People got killed over pictures like this, but BCA never showed them, not even one single time.”
Mike held a full-page copy of a cartoon next to the copy of the BCA News Piss Christ web page. It was a hand-drawn caricature of a bearded, glaring man wearing a turban. The turban had a lit fuse, making it into a bomb. Mike held the two pictures as steady as he could in his left hand, side by side, because he had to hold the phone in his right. The breeze was coming up, and he had to hold the two pages against his chest to keep them from blowing around. The picture on his smart phone cut away to Charlie Thorn, who appeared completely startled, but no words were formed by his gaping mouth. Then the screen returned to the live crane shot, but this time, both pages on Mike’s chest were pixilated. Mike held the two pages up for a few more seconds, and then he put them away.
“Now, isn’t that interesting, Vic? All these years, and BCA News never had a problem with showing a photograph of Jesus Christ on the cross, submerged in piss. If Christians didn’t like it, that was their problem. But when I put the Piss Christ next to a cartoon of Mohammed, all of the sudden it gets blurred out. Now, why do you think that is?”
Victor Del Rio said, “Mike, I agree with you, man. One hundred percent. And I’m glad that BCA is finally coming around and showing some respect for our Christian values and sensibilities, and we all have you to thank for that. You’ve done a great service today, Mike, you really have. Now, if we can talk about how we’re going to resolve this other situation, I think that — ”
“Vic, I think that you’re an NYPD hostage negotiator, but I don’t see any hostages, do you? So why don’t you put Jerry Conroy back on the phone?”
“Mike, I can’t do that right now. Jerry’s, uh, Jerry’s on his way over to the BCA News studio, and, uh — ”
“Vic, I know it’s just your job, but if you don’t put Jerry back on in the next sixty seconds, I’m not waiting until ten o’clock when the Serrano exhibit opens. I’m not a complete fool, Victor. Fifty seconds.” Mike pinched the phone between his left shoulder and cheek, wishing he had brought some kind of a headset to keep both hands free. He reached behind him and dragged over the bottle of apple juice, set in on the deck in front of the Koran in the bucket, and unscrewed the cap one-handed.
Then Jerry Conroy’s voice returned. “I’m still here, Mike. Please, put the bottle away. I’m still here.”
“I’m glad you are, Jerry. But I don’t want to hear from any more psychologists or police negotiators. If the mayor wants to talk to me, then put on the mayor. If the police commissioner wants to talk to me, then put him on. But no more stooges, okay? No more. Don’t sandbag me like that again. Don’t insult my intelligence.”
“I’m sorry, Mike, I’m really sorry. You have to understand, I’m under a lot of pressure here.”
“You? Under pressure?” Mike snickered. “Tell me about it.”
Jerry Conroy laughed too. “Yeah, I can see your point. You want to take another call?”
“Only if it’s legit. No more stooges.”
“It’s legit, I promise.”
“Then put him on.”
“Okay, Mike. Here’s Joseph. He says he’s a Christian Arab from Lebanon. Okay, Joseph, you’re on the Jerry Conroy Show with Brooklyn Mike.”
“I’m on? Okay. Mike, like Jerry said, I’m a Christian, a Maronite Catholic. Most of my family was wiped out, and the rest of us were driven out of Lebanon by the Muslims thirty years ago, when I was a young man. Now it’s happening again in Syria, in Iraq, everywhere in the Middle East. Ethnic cleansing, religious cleansing, right in the lands where Jesus walked. And I understand why you’re doing what you’re doing. I understand your feelings, I understand your anger. But Mike, if you go through with it, it’s going to be a slaughter. You understand that? A complete slaughter! Innocents will die. The Muslims are going to go absolutely out-of-their-minds bat-shit crazy if you do it.”
“What they do is up to them, Joseph. Are they human beings, with reason, and free will, or are they just robots that look like humans, but are programmed to kill on command?”
“I hear you, Mike, and I know what you’re saying. I really do. But I also wanted to warn you, to warn everybody, that what the imam said that he said in Arabic wasn’t what he really said. This is what he really said.” The caller spoke in Arabic, and then in English again. “He called all the Muslims in the city to come down and stop the great blasphemy, no matter what the price. So I’m very afraid for your safety, Mike. I’m afraid for everybody down there. That’s all I wanted to say. And good luck. But don’t do it.”
“I appreciate that, Joseph, but I’m not changing my mind. If the Serrano exhibit opens, I’m going to create my own work of art. Nothing will change my mind.”
Conroy said, “All right, next caller, but please, keep it in English, so that everybody can understand. Mike, are you ready for another caller?”
“Go ahead, Jerry.”
“All right, next up is Ghazi from Queens. Go ahead, Ghazi.”
“Mike, you are out of your mind, my kafir friend. Out of your mind! Do you know what is going to happen if you go through with this great blasphemy? Do you know? You are not only going to wish that you were dead, you are going to pray for death!” Then the caller launched into a stream of blistering invective in Arabic before he was cut off. With the ten-second delay, Mike guessed that nobody listening would have heard his threats, or what he said in Arabic at the end.
Conroy said, “Real sweet, Ghazi. Real sweet. Listen, folks, we won’t get anywhere like that. If we can’t have a civil conversation, we’re going to clear the lines and start all over again with new callers. Next up, Mohammed is calling from Maryland. Go ahead, Mohammed.”
Another male voice with a thick Middle Eastern accent. “Mike, you are making a very terrible mistake, a very terrible mistake. Already millions of Muslims around the world are watching what you are doing. The whole world is trembling for what you are about to do! The Holy Koran is the received truth of Allah, and Muslims take it very seriously. Please, don’t do this thing to our Holy Koran!”
“Listen, Ghazi, you came to my country, I didn’t go to yours. If you don’t like it, then why don’t you — ”
Conroy cut in. “Mike, the mayor is on the line.”
“Great. Put him on.”
Hizzoner’s deep, gruff voice. “Mike, do you have any idea what kind of hornet’s nest you’ve whipped up? Do you? And not only in New York.”
“I have a pretty good idea, Mr. Mayor. So, are you going to cancel the exhibit, or not?”
“We don’t give in to extortion, Mike. We can’t. Not under duress, not with a gun pointed at our heads. You come on down, and we’ll discuss it like mature adults, I promise. We’ll work something out, we’ll reach a compromise.”
“I don’t have a gun, mayor. But I’m glad you called, because I have a bone to pick with you. Last week, you said that right-wing Christian bigots had to learn to show tolerance for the views of others. That was when you announced that the Serrano exhibit was going ahead no matter how much anger it was creating. Don’t you think that it’s time you gave the same tolerance lecture to the Muslims?”
“How can you possibly equate the two situations?”
“How can you not?”
“Nobody is threatening violence over the Serrano exhibit.”
“And I’m not threatening violence either, so what’s your point?”
“Mike, I’m sure that we can discuss this like mature adults.”
“I’m sure that we can. So call off the Serrano exhibit, Mr. Mayor. Box it up and get it out of the city. After that, we’ll talk about me coming down.”
“I can’t do that, Mike. That would be surrendering to extortion.”
“Well, then I don’t think that we have — ”
Then a blue and white helicopter dropped out of the sky, lurching to a stop fifty feet in front of Mike’s perch, facing him like a science-fiction super insect. It must have been hovering on top of the building to arrive so suddenly and without warning. The rotors and engine were barely audible, but then a wall of sound blasted from the chopper louder than the front row of a death-metal rock concert. Driven by animal reflex he turned away just in time to see a smaller helicopter swerve in from behind the bank building and pull up over the crane’s jib.
Blinding, pulsing light hit Mike’s platform from behind him, so bright that he could barely see, even though he wasn’t looking toward it. It was only a matter of luck that he hadn’t been staring at the police helicopter when the light started flashing, but even while looking away from it he was half blinded by its relentless strobing. The continuous whooping acoustic roar was head-splitting, louder than standing directly behind a jet engine at takeoff, but the sound was uneven, up and down in tone, coming in erratic waves that were synchronized with the blinding light. Waves of nausea rolled through him, his hands clamped over his ears, feeling as if his skull was going to explode.
The smaller helicopter that appeared from behind the building had a pair of SWAT commandos dressed in black leaning out on both sides, their feet on its skids. The pilot worked in close to the crane, the helicopter’s whirling rotors only feet from the window walls of the bank building. Two SWAT cops on the building side of the little helicopter kicked away from the skids and dropped, descending on ropes toward the crane’s jib, halfway out to Mike’s perch.


  Apparently the people in Britain voted to leave the EU, and the statist are in a tizzy, "How dare the great unwashed go against its betters and leave."  I think the average Brit got tired of the edicts coming out of Brussels from the nameless bureaucrats, I heard that they were trying to force the Brits to give up their tea kettles due to carbon footprint and the mandates about the size of the vegetables that can only be sold and other such nonsense.  I also am sure the unfettered immigrations was telling on the average Brit where they were forced to take more "rapeugees" from the middle east where they would take the social benefits and refuse to assimilate to the British culture.  I think they saw what is going on with Germany and the Scandinavian countries and that is giving them pause.  It didn't help the cause when "Dear Leader" lectured them and made threats about they going to the back of the "que" in dealings with the United States.  Also Hillary made the same threats as they inserted themselves into the domestic dealings of another country and that pissed off quite a few of the English citizens.  The Donald told the British that "it is their decision to make and we will support whatever decision the citizens make."  I think this elevated the Donald's standing in the world...except with the statists of course.  The British need to get their backbone in order and become British again rather than "European".  The British have a hard road ahead of them as they have to decide to reclaim their birthright again and shrug off the mantle of death called "Multiculturalism."
and become uniquely British.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Brooklyn Mike" Part 1

This quote from Voltaire I use a lot when it comes to islam.

This story is from Matt Bracken,  I have read his books and he is a 2nd amendment activist and he has walked the walk.  I have read his books and I do enjoy them. I picked this story from WRSA.  I will post the 2nd part of this story tomorrow. There are 4 parts to this story.   It is a very sobering thought of the near future.

Piss Christ? Piss Koran!
Part One: Dark Till Dawn
Mike Dolan came out of the subway, hit the sidewalk and set out down the west side of 6th Avenue with a purposeful stride. Midtown Manhattan never truly sleeps, particularly just before a Monday morning, but compared to what it would be like in a couple of hours, it was geared way down. No tourists yet, mostly delivery trucks and vans. All lanes were northbound, because it was 6th Avenue.
Mike was showered and clean shaven, every item on him and in his possession carefully considered. The white hard hat on his head was the real deal. He wore a gray polo shirt with the embroidered black-and-yellow logo of a crane manufacturer above the pocket. Both items were gifts from old friends. The black cargo-pocket work pants over his Red Wing construction boots were practically new. An iPhone in an armored carrier was clipped to the black nylon rigger’s belt on his right hip. A silver tape measure was next to a small black flashlight on his left. On his back was a compact but heavy pack, also black. In his right hand he carried a small black tool bag, and he held a folding aluminum clipboard case in his left. On the F-Train over from Queens, another early riser had gestured toward Mike’s hard hat, and asked him if the strike was over. Mike just mumbled something about safety inspectors never getting a day off.
After a career spent pounding bolts hanging the high steel, it felt strange for him to be wearing a white hard hat for his trip into Manhattan. The white hard hat and the crane-logo polo shirt were just a disguise for his mission. Like his father before him, Mike was a union man, from the time he got out of the Army, until he’d retired a few years earlier. The New York Ironworkers Local Union 461 had carried him all the way through his family-raising years. Now, the kids were gone, and his wife had passed away.
Mike had always worn a scuffed-to-hell red hard hat with an American flag sticker on the front. Shiny white hard hats were for management pukes way down in the trailers, and for inspectors and reporters and a few other random assholes who would occasionally make an appearance at nose-bleed height. Well, maybe they weren’t all assholes. Some of them were pretty cool, like the construction company honcho who had given him the white hard hat right off his head on the job site parking lot, and offered Mike a salaried position with his big and growing company. That was a line Mike Dolan couldn’t cross—he’d be a union man until the day he died—but it was a welcome gesture. And now that white hard hat was on his head.
After walking a few city blocks south from the subway entrance, the black edge of the forty-story BCA building became visible across the avenue. The BCA building was one of Mike’s two targets, but it was not his destination. The black granite tower was the national headquarters of the BCA television network, including the studios of BCA World News. Another block down 6th, and Mike passed in front of another impressive skyscraper, the fifty-story Grand Hotel. Cabs were waiting under the portico; it was the usual scene remembered from a thousand pre-dawn trips into the city. Hustlers, pimps and low-lifes of every stripe, who were just ending their nights, passed worker bees trudging the other way toward their daily grinds.
While he was approaching 53rd Street, Mike looked around and counted at least four cameras. It didn’t matter. He knew he’d been on film from the time he’d gotten onto the subway. If his mission succeeded, his identity would probably be out anyway. The guy on the F-Train who had asked him about the strike would be giving TV interviews by the twelve o’clock news. So what? It wouldn’t change anything.
Mike’s destination was just across 53rd Street. The southwest corner of the intersection was the home of the forty-five story Bank of Europe building. The corner of the building was set far enough back from the street corner so that in normal times, there was enough space around its main street entrance for a plaza with a big statue, a fountain, and benches extending most of the way down 53rd. But not now. Now this extra space was blocked off from the public as a temporary construction site. Orange plastic barricades were set up along the 53rd Street side of the bank building, leaving only a narrow space near the curb for pedestrians. Just behind the line of orange barricades was a fence made of temporary chain-link sections covered with green fabric.
The barriers were there to keep people away from a tower crane that was being assembled on the 53rd street side of the bank building. Something big and heavy needed to be lifted 600 feet up to the roof, and the way they were going to get it up there was with a temporary crane. But the tower—and the horizontal hammerhead crane on top of it—were only halfway up the side of the bank building. The strike had stopped all Manhattan construction jobs last week. At this temporary work site, there would be no union members walking a picket line. The crane job was just shut down, and it would be forgotten until the dispute was settled, probably in a week or less.
After crossing 53rd, Mike turned right and walked along the line of orange barricades and fencing halfway to 7th Avenue, where they made a ninety-degree left turn and terminated against the side of the building. The dark fabric covering the fencing cast a shadow from the nearest street light across the plastic barricades. There was nobody in sight, so Mike casually swung his legs over the low barricade and went prone, disappearing in the gap between the orange plastic and the fencing. The fabric was just hanging loose at the bottom, easily pushed out of the way. Mike’s black tool bag was already unzipped. Heavy-duty wire cutters clipped the temporary joint where the galvanized pipes of the last two fence sections were sloppily wired together. He only needed to push their bottoms apart to slip through, and he was inside.
Behind the fencing there was little need for security, because there was nothing small or light enough for a thief to steal. Whatever had to be lifted to the roof would not arrive until the tower crane was fully assembled and ready, and it was only halfway up. The tower grew twelve feet at a time by pushing the top section up with the enormous hydraulic pumps in the jack-up climber unit up near the top, and then sticking in another tower section that had just been lifted up by the crane.
Most of the barricaded space along 53rd street was taken up with the next half-dozen tower sections that would go up. Individually, they were giant yellow cubes made of four vertical load-bearing round pipes joined by a grid of horizontal and diagonal cross struts. Mike walked between these sections and the building, and went straight to the base of the tower. A steel hand ladder was welded to each section on the side nearest the building, which was twenty feet away. Crouching there the dark, Mike removed leather work gloves from his gym bag and put them on. The gym bag and his hinged aluminum clipboard went into his backpack, and when he slung it back on, this time he fastened the chest strap. His hard hat’s liner suspension was already tight enough for climbing.
Mike had been out of the game for few years, and he’d lost much of his old strength, but climbing was still second nature to him. He rested and caught his breath after he passed each section. At an easy pace, it took him less than half an hour to climb the twenty stories up to where the horizontal hammerhead crane formed a giant T across the tower. Until the strike was over, this was as high as it was going to get. The load jib, the 150-foot cantilevered-boom end of the hammerhead, rested parallel to the twentieth floor of the bank building, aiming east toward 6th Avenue. The shorter counterweight jib aimed the other way from the tower, back toward 7th.
The standard square tower sections within the climber unit ended below the horizontal crane, and transitioned into a succession of moving structural elements, hydraulic lines, steel cables, conduits, and welded pipes and beams. It was a little tricky climbing the grab-irons around the slewing-ring machinery that would eventually allow the crane to turn in circles above the building, but it was nothing that an old steel-monkey like Mike couldn’t navigate blindfolded in the dark. He wasn’t blindfolded, but it was dark. The yellow paint helped him to find his hand and foot holds, reflecting what light was available.
Mike climbed past the glass-enclosed cubicle where the crane operator would sit. He had great respect for his union brothers, the Operating Engineers, and the hammerhead crane operators were at the very top of that game. Or, as the Ironheads kidded them, they were the only OEs allowed up that high—but only if they were safely tucked inside their little steel boxes with the windows all around. But the truth was, the entire show, down on the street and up in the sky, all ran at the speed of the individual Tonka jockey at the top of the tower.
Once he was above the operator’s cab, Mike was finally at the level of the 150-foot horizontal jib, which was made of three primary load-bearing pipe sections. They were each about eight inches in diameter, with two on the bottom, and one on the top. These three main pipes were each about five feet apart from the other two, creating a stacked triangle that was held rigidly together by a succession of welded struts that were about five inches in diameter. The pair of pipes at the bottom supported the trolley that brought the lifting hook in and out. The single load-bearing pipe at the top was supported by stout guy-wires that extended back to the “cat” at the very top of the tower, and then down again to the counterweight jib at the opposite end of the crane. Like the vertical tower sections, the whole crane was painted bright yellow. It was clean, too, because it had only been up for a short time.
There were no lights burning inside of the twentieth-floor offices, so Mike decided to travel out the jib on the building side. On the odd chance that some janitor or early-bird spotted him, they’d think nothing of it, not after noting his white hard hat and work clothes. He put both boots on the bottom pipe nearest the building, and leaned inward to place his gloved hands on the single top pipe. It was an easy side-stepping shuffle, just maneuvering his legs over the connecting struts as he passed them.
If he slipped, it was 250 feet straight down to the street, but he was used to that view between his toes from decades as an Ironworker. He soon found the rhythm, sliding his right boot out, then bringing his left over, and doing the same with his gloved hands on the top pipe. Nothing to it. The Ironheads would often say easy money to one another in circumstances like that. They’d hook, shackle, bolt or pin something to something else, and get paid damn good money for it. The only catch was, it was usually hundreds of feet up in the air. And today, money had nothing to do with it.
At the end, 150 feet out from the tower, the two bottom pipes had a panel of expanded metal decking welded horizontally between them. This grating was stiffened with stout angle iron at each end, also welded to the two bottom load-bearing pipes. This provided a stable working platform for men making repairs and adjustments to the trolley machinery and other gear that lived near the end of the jib, but mainly underneath it, out of Mike’s way. He had spotted this grating from the street with his binoculars, and he had guessed that it would make him a secure roost where he would have an eagle’s-eye view of both of his targets.
Expanded Metal Grating 2
The top pipe was neck-high to Mike when he was standing straight up on the grated deck. The end of the jib extended a little way beyond the northeast corner of the bank building, so that Mike could see up and down 6th Avenue, with Central Park to the north, and the Empire State Building to the south. The metal grate gave him five feet by five feet of secure footing, with the connecting struts making good hand holds all around. It felt just like back in the old days, but without his buddies hollering their usual Monday-morning banter from beam to beam. The greatest guys in the world, bar none, doing the best jobs in the world. He’d just aged out of it. It was a young man’s game, and Mike Dolan was no longer young. Sixty wasn’t old, but it was too old for Ironworkers.
TC51 Ironworkers
Anybody in the corner offices of the Bank of Europe building was going to have much too close of a view of him, but he’d planned for that. He took off his pack, crouching on the deck, and removed an old Army poncho that had bungee cords attached to the grommets at its corners, all of it stowed in its own plastic bag to prevent snags. Mike secured the green poncho to pipes and struts on the side of the crane toward the building, but a little ways back from the grated platform at the end. Mike wanted to be able to see up and down 6th Avenue, but he didn’t want the NYPD aiming lenses or anything else at him from fifteen yards behind his right shoulder. His poncho lean-to shanty blocked that exposed angle from view.
He stared at the BCA building, his secondary target. It was less than a football field away on the other side of 6th Avenue. The black slab blocked half of his view toward the east, and reminded him of the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. 53rd Street ran along its base on the north side. Just a few degrees to the left and twice the distance away, on the other side of 53rd, was Mike’s primary target: the five-story Modern Art Museum. Both of his targets were in plain sight, and he had not been stopped or hassled even once, not counting the guy on the subway. Mike looked at his glowing digital watch: it was 5:17 in the morning, on Monday, the 22nd of August. He had less than an hour to wait before he made his first call.
Time to sit down, relax, and get ready. He removed the padded stadium seat cushion that had been in his pack against his back, and slid it under his butt. Expanded metal grating was painful to sit on, any old Ironhead knew that. Then he remembered his polo shirt and hard hat. His beef today had nothing to do with the construction trades, so he took off his brain bucket. He’d worn the crane company’s logo polo shirt just for a disguise, in case he was questioned on his way, so he pulled that off too, and wrapped it around the white hard hat.
Underneath, Mike was wearing a white t-shirt with a big American flag across the front. The gray polo had been streaked with grime where he’d brushed against greasy wire cables on his way around the slewing ring, but the white t-shirt was still spotless.
While it grew light, he took out his compact 8X20 Zeiss binoculars. Binos had often saved him a long trip out on the beams just to verify one critical detail or another. Since Mike had retired, he’d made it a habit to bring his binos along when he was in the city. He was always scanning the skylines, watching for moving cranes, and for his brother Ironworkers who built the city. That’s why he’d been carrying his binoculars last Friday, when he’d noticed the chance juxtaposition of the BCA building, the Modern Art Museum, and the half-erected tower crane across 6th Avenue from both of them. He’d been on this mission since that light bulb had switched on in his mind, and three days later, he was sitting on the end of the crane.
Even before full daylight, with his binos Mike could see that a line of police barricades were set up on the street in front of the glass front wall and doors of the Modern Art Museum. Police cars were already lined up in ranks on both sides of 53rd. There was even a horse trailer, for the mounted police, and a flatbed with more barricade sections. New York’s Finest had crowd control at street demonstrations down to a science, and understood the importance of getting to the scene well before the expected angry mobs.
At ten minutes before six o’clock Monday morning, Mike removed a pre-paid flip-phone from a zip-lock bag that contained a half dozen more. He entered the memorized number for the radio station office line of WNYR, New York Radio, FM 101.5, and 1070 on the AM dial. The number was also written in his notebook, but he didn’t need to look it up. The phone rang and rang, but it was finally picked up on about the twentieth ring.
“What?” asked a male voice.
“Is this the radio station? WNYR?”
“Yeah, it is, but this isn’t the call-in line. You’ll have to call back on the other number.”
“I need to speak to Jerry Conroy.”
“That’s why we have a call-in line, pal.”
“It’s urgent—tell him it’s a newsmaker. Tell him he’s got a big scoop, if he wants it.”
“Yeah, sure. Take a hike, pal.”
“Listen, pal, don’t blow this deal. This is the biggest scoop that Jerry ever had. If you hang up, I’ll call WABC and give them the story. Then, when this is all over, I’ll tell Jerry that you hung up on me.”
“Okay, that was pretty good. I’m listening. What do you got?”
“Jerry was talking about the Serrano exhibit last Friday. You know, ‘Piss Christ,’ and all that deal. It’s supposed to open in four hours at the Modern Art Museum. Only it’s not going to open. Tell Jerry that you have somebody on the horn who says that the Serrano exhibit is not going to open at ten. Just tell him that.”
Mike had selected Jerry Conroy because his four-hour talk radio program began a few minutes after six, and Mike had surmised that the radio host would already be somewhere around the station, preparing for his show. The Jerry Conroy Show on WNYR didn’t have top ratings, but they were decent, and its signal blanketed the New York metro area.
Conroy was younger than Mike, around fifty. According to the biography on his website, Conroy had been a Villanova graduate, a Marine Corps captain in Kuwait during Desert Storm, a sometimes lawyer and a sometimes politician, a commentator for BCA News, and finally, a talk radio host. Reading between the lines of what he had heard on his radio program, Mike deduced that Jerry Conroy was divorced, had grown kids somewhere, and was to one degree or another a lapsed Catholic like himself. And he had deduced that Conroy wasn’t afraid to take a drink, or to raise his voice, or to swing a fist.
And they were both Micks, there was that…
After a minute of watching the morning shadows shifting and lifting far down 53rd Street to the east, a familiar voice came out of Mike’s flip phone. “Conroy here. What about the Serrano exhibit? Make it quick, I’m in a hurry.”
“The Serrano exhibit is not going to open at ten.”
“And why is it not going to open at ten?”
“Because I’m going to stop it.”
A pause. “And just how are you going to stop it?”
“Jerry, do you know where the Modern Art Museum is? The MAM?” Mike pronounced it so that it rhymed with ham.
“Of course I do.”
“Then you know that the MAM is down the block and across the street from the BCA building, where you used to work. So here’s the deal, Jerry: if you still have any contacts at BCA, you’ll want to call them right now. Tell them to look out any window on the twentieth floor that faces west. The twentieth floor. Tell them to look at the yellow crane that’s set up on the north side of the Bank of Europe building. Ask them what they see on the end of the crane. I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere.”
“You’re joking, right? This is a hoax, right?”
“No hoax, Jerry. I promise you, it’s no hoax. So if you want to get back on television, here’s your big chance.”
“Don’t go anywhere.”
As if he could. This time, Mike had to wait for almost four minutes before he heard Jerry’s voice again. By then, it was two minutes after six, nearly air time for the Jerry Conroy Show. Conroy said, “Are you out of your mind? What are you going to do, jump?”
“No, Jerry, I’m not going to jump. At least, not without help, and so far, I’m all by my lonesome. Now, here’s the situation. From where I’m sitting, I have a perfect view of the front of the MAM, and if the MAM opens up at ten for the Serrano exhibit, then I’m going to do something that will make everybody wish that they hadn’t.”
Pause. “You’re going to do what, exactly?”
“I’m going to stop the Serrano exhibit from opening, that’s what. Now, you tell your old friends at BCA that they have a head start, and for sure they have the best camera shot, but it won’t take long for the other networks to get crews up on the other buildings around here, like the Grand Hotel I’m looking at right across 53rd. So if BCA wants to scoop the competition, they’ll have to get moving. Just tell them that.”
“They won’t go for it. It’s against their policy to film jumpers.”
“Jerry, I already told you, I’m not a jumper, and yes, they will go for it. They’re not called media whores for nothing, right? You used to work there, didn’t you? So you tell them that there’s going to be a big news story right across 6th Avenue, and they’ll want to get a camera crew up on the twentieth floor ASAP. That is, if they want the scoop. Otherwise, I’m hanging up, and calling WABC. It’s all the same to me.”
“Okay, okay—just wait a minute.”
While he waited, Mike grabbed the smart phone from his belt and brought up BCA national news. The lead story at the top of the hour was a hurricane hitting Mexico. He set the iPhone on the grating, didn’t like the angle, then he placed the hard hat wrapped in the gray shirt just past his left knee, and leaned the iPhone against it. With the screen tilted just right, it was easy to watch, yet it would be invisible to the cameras across the avenue.
Mike had a stack of ball caps in his pack, and sunglasses. He didn’t want to make it too easy for the BCA cameramen (or anybody else) to read his face. 9-11 was embroidered in white across the front of his first cap, which was Navy blue, but the 11 was made to resemble the two World Trade Center towers. Below the 9-11, the cap said NEVER FORGET.
When Jerry came back on the line he said, “Just tell me that you’re not going to do anything crazy. You don’t have a gun, or a bomb, or anything like that, do you?”
“No gun, and no bomb, and I’m not going to jump. I promise, I really do. It’s nothing like that. But what I do have, Jerry, is a special weapon that will stop the Serrano exhibit from opening. Just let me know when BCA has a camera ready to roll, and we’re going to make news together.”
The radio host seemed distracted by then, half listening, carrying on multiple background conversations at once. Finally Conroy asked Mike, “Do you want to talk to somebody at BCA? Charlie Thorn is standing by to speak to you. I’m talking to his production team right now. They’re switching their lineup around because of you—the Serrano exhibit just moved to the top. You can call them, or they can call you. I have their numbers, if you want to call them. Or, I can patch you through, but the sound won’t be as good.”
“No, Jerry, I don’t want to talk to Charlie Thorn. I don’t want to talk to anybody at BCA. I just want to talk to you, so please, don’t hang up. And if I get disconnected, keep this line open, okay? I’ll call right back, but probably from another number.”
“Y-you don’t want to talk to Charlie Thorn?” Jerry Conroy sounded disbelieving, as if Mike had declined a private audience with the president, or the Pope.
“No, I don’t want to talk to Charlie Thorn. I just want to talk to you, Jerry.”
“All right, well, I’m here. What do you want to say?”
Mike Dolan knew that every word he spoke from that point on would be recorded for playback and careful study. “You know, Jerry, I’ve never called a talk show before, but I listen to yours a lot. And last week, on Friday, you asked why Christians never did anything about sacrilegious art, you know, when Muslims get so riled up by it. You were talking about the Serrano exhibit, and his ‘Piss Christ,’ and the ‘Dung Madonna,’ and all the other anti-religious art that the liberals seem to love so much. Then, it’s our sacred right to free expression, right? You asked why Christians just take it like sheep, when people get murdered over cartoons of Mohammed. And then everybody just goes on like that’s perfectly normal, like that’s just what everybody expects.
“You were talking about how we’re not allowed to say anything negative about Islam, not one single word, or bombs will explode, but anybody can say anything about Christians and the Jews, and we’re supposed to just turn the other cheek and suck it up. But the Muslims—oh, no! They’ll chop the heads off of little kids over a stupid cartoon of Mohammed, that’s what you said. They’ll chop the heads off of little kids. Well, that got me thinking, and one thing led to another, and, well…here I am.” Mike paused to clear his throat. “So here’s the deal, Jerry: if the Serrano exhibit opens at ten o’clock, then I’m going to create another art masterpiece on live television, right here. Performance art, or you might—”
Conroy cut in. “They say they have a camera rolling. Can you see it?”
“No, I can’t see it.” In the early light, the heavily-tinted west-facing windows of the black BCA tower were totally opaque, except where random offices were already open for business and lit inside, giving the side of the building the appearance of an enormous cross-word puzzle. The BCA news crew would want it dark inside the office they’d chosen for the camera work, to avoid reflections off their windows.
“Well, they can see you,” said Jerry. “Hey, what’s your name, anyway?”
“My name is Mike. Brooklyn Mike. You said the camera was rolling?”
“That’s what they tell me, but I’m not there.”
Mike removed a gray cylinder the size of a spray paint can from his pack. It had a hinged handle on the side, and a transverse pin like a hand grenade’s on top. There was just a lazy breeze wafting up 6th Avenue toward Central Park. He yanked the ring, let the handle fly, and scarlet smoke erupted and billowed furiously and streamed across the intersection over toward the Grand Hotel. He set the smoke grenade on the left side of the platform, downwind. Mike had wrapped it in gray duct tape, so that the telephoto lenses would not be able to determine its origins. Like a lot of stuff, it had come off a construction site. The smoke sputtered out in half a minute, the pink cloud disappearing up the avenue.
He kept an eye on his iPhone, and in a moment, the Mexican hurricane was replaced with BREAKING NEWS. Charlie Thorn came on as the BCA morning anchor, and then the screen changed, and Mike saw himself in tight close-up, framed by the three yellow pipe girders and connecting struts of the crane around him. From the end-on, it looked like he was sitting inside a floating pyramid made of yellow pipes. Red smoke curled away toward the north. Red smoke, yellow crane, a guy in a white t-shirt with an American flag, wearing a 9-11 ball cap on his head, and sunglasses over his eyes. Even on his smart phone screen, Mike could see that it was beautiful composition. BCA News had beaten their competition to the punch, so come what may, they owned the story, and they would never avert their treasured front-row camera gaze.
Mike turned his head downward, then counted the seconds until he saw the matching movement on his iPhone. He was on at least a ten-second network delay, so that they could cut away in case he unexpectedly blew himself up, or hanged himself, or jumped. Which, of course, he had absolutely no intention of doing.
To Mike, the red smoke was just eye candy, something irresistible for the BCA News producers and directors. On his smart phone, he could see that BCA had gone to a split screen, with a talking Charlie Thorn sharing space with the mystery lunatic perched on the end of a crane, straight across the avenue from their Manhattan corporate headquarters. Mike had a set of ear buds in case he decided to use them later, but for now, he didn’t care what Thorn was saying. He was just hijacking their network cameras for the video portion of his mission. The Jerry Conroy Show would provide the soundtrack. The BCA television and WNYR radio engineers could work out the synchronization between them. Everybody else could share their feeds.
Glancing down at his iPhone in order to be sure that he was still airing on BCA, Mike pulled a clear plastic two-liter bottle full of a pale amber liquid from his pack, and set it to his right side in front of his pack. To save space at the bottom of his pack, the juice bottle had been nested into a square one-gallon ice cream container. Mike set the translucent bucket on the grating between his knees. His legs were spread, and the soles of his work boots were pointed straight at his target audience. Then he withdrew a green hard-covered book from his pack, held it up quite steady for a few seconds, and then he set it into the empty ice cream bucket. An inch of it was still visible above the top edge of the plastic tub. Another glance down at his iPhone showed Mike that he was still live on BCA.
Then Mike pulled a spiral-bound notebook from his gym bag. He had bought the thickest black Sharpie marker that he could find, the kind with a wide, square tip. If they jammed his phones, if they took him off the radio, Mike wasn’t going to quit his mission. In that case, he would create visual text messages for the cameras. There would always be cameras. In fifteen minutes, there would be a dozen. In an hour, a hundred.
Back on his kitchen table in Brooklyn, Mike had already hand-printed a few messages. He opened the notebook toward the BCA building, and held it up with his left hand. Then, with his right hand, he raised the unlabeled bottle full of apple juice above the bucket, and the green book.
In block letters across both pages it read:
Piss Christ?
Piss Koran!
Editor’s Note: “Part Two: The First Hour” coming soon…