On this 25th anniversary (not the best term) of the violence and riot in Crown Heights I want to show two 78rpm recordings donated recently here at the ARC. Why? Well I was on Utica Avenue the morning of August 19, 1991, the morning that a motorcade of a Hasidic Jewish Rabbi hit two Guyanese children, killing one.
I was at Straker Records to license a track for MAS! A Caribbean Christmas CD that the ARC was putting together for Rykodisc. All of a sudden, as in the film, a Chinese woman rushes in and says, “White boy, go quick, big problem.” She was closing up her store and warning people on the street that trouble was brewing. Then the rush and slam of those metal roll-down gates that used to cover every storefront begins. Then Mr. Straker asked an employee to walk me to the subway. Everywhere people were rushing around, the sound of metal gates hitting the sidewalks, the sound of police sirens everywhere, and then it seemed like the streets were completely empty. In the light rain the calm before the storm. My Trinidadian escort was joined by a helmeted mounted policeman who got me to the subway. It was not until I got home that I learned why I was on the move.
So here’s a calypso and a Jewish disc, both a tad irreverent, both with New York roots, found about three discs apart, 25 years later.