I thought the Writers Bench was a writers workshop or collective of sorts here in the Bronx. And I was ready to sign up. Silly me. A deeper Google search, however, led me to the truth. The writers bench is yes really a bench — at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse 2 / 5 subway station, but its writers did not use pen and paper. How could I have forgotten The Big Guy asked me?
My husband had told me about the Writers Bench…where he sat with twenty other boys in the late 70s early 80s. They were graffiti writers and the bench on the 2/5 train platform, the last bench at the back of the train on the uptown side, was their meeting place. Those boys came from all over the city. The Big Guy came up from Brooklyn. They’d cut class, meet up with fellow writers and hang out for hours. This station was the ideal vantage point. It was the intersection of the 2 and 5 train lines.
They could catch the trains passing by with their paintings emblazoned all across the sides. The Big Guy was known as Spin back then and I asked him if he took any photos. He took a few but has since lost them. One of his trains, a piece titled “Dump Koch”, has a cameo appearance in Henry Chalfant’s documentary Style Wars when a photo of it is placed in the hands of the mayor himself. Koch looked over the photo and replied, “I guess I must be getting to them.”
Here is the bench today and at the top photo. The overpass between the Uptown and the Downtown is gated shut. A cop sits nearby in a tiny booth. (He eyed us suspiciously). And of course the redbird trains no longer fly through.
Recently The Big Guy got lucky. A friend called up and said he’d found a photo of one of his trains.