The MTA told a Brooklyn councilwoman to beat it after she suggested that the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station be renamed in honor of Michael Jackson, who famously filmed his “Bad” video there in 1987.
But Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) is still working day and night for subterranean recognition of Jackson on the eve of what would have been the singer’s 51st birthday on Saturday.
Last week, James approached the transit agency again, this time to suggest that a plaque be placed in the station to recognize its role in Jackson’s famed video.
Though the song clocks at only 4:07, the video, directed by Martin Scorsese (“Kundun,” “New York, New York”) is a sprawling, 18-minute magnum opus wherein Jackson uses the power of dance to defeat arch-nemesis Wesley Snipes in a gang fight that takes place in the stark white-tiled station that currently serves as a stop on the A, C and G lines.
“They told me to beat it after I asked for the station to be co-named, and then they also told me no plaque,” said James, who joked that the MTA would likely jump at the chance to rename the station if the Jackson family or its foundation donated $100 million. Indeed, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner bought a renaming of the Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street station for $200,000 earlier this year.
MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz responded that plaques and memorials are prohibited, but station renamings are negotiable.
“We are currently working on guidelines and protocol to see how we can move forward with what we consider to be a viable revenue source,” he said.
The MTA does allow both plaques and statuary under its “Arts in Transit” program, which kicks in whenever a station is renovated. The 14th Street station on the A line, for example, has Tom Otterness figurines cavorting in its crevices.
Frank Bowles, a Clinton Hill resident who was waiting at Hoyt-Schermerhorn on Wednesday, backed James’s bit for a Hoyt-Jackson station.
“It’s a great idea, and I’ll tell you why — it’s a revenue builder,” he said. “All the tourists that would go through the turnstiles just to take that picture.”