The MTA said, “Beat it,” but an effort to honor Michael Jackson at the Downtown Brooklyn subway station that he made famous is moving ahead without the transportation authority.
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership revealed this week that it has a deal with the owner of the building that sits atop the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station to hang a mural dedicated to the late great King of Pop.
Jackson gave the grimy station international renown in the 1987 video for his song, “Bad,” in which he plays a gang member about to rumble with a rival clan headed by Wesley Snipes. The action in the Martin Scorsese-directed video takes place on the unused platform at the station.
The same platform was used for “Weird” Al Yankovic’s alternative version of the same song, “I’m Fat.”
Though both videos remain revered, after Jackson’s death last June, Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene) beseeched the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to rename the station in honor of Jacko. When that failed, James asked for a plaque.
But on Tuesday, the New York Post reported that the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership had convinced the owner of 45 Hoyt St., which sits over the subway entrance, to cover one of its unsightly concrete walls with a mural of the singer.
“Tish had a point,” said Joe Chan, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “This station played an important role in a notable moment in pop culture history. And that role can be leveraged to draw attention and visitors to Downtown Brooklyn. We were disappointed that the MTA could not acknowledge that.”
It is unclear what the mural will look like, though Chan said that the owner, the Manhattan-based Benenson Capital, has veto power. James said she’d push for a competition among Brooklyn artists, though she thinks Chan will favor a “name artist.”
Either way, she’s pleased.
“When this whole thing started, I got more e-mails than ever before, mostly from Europe,” she said. “They all said they’d come to Brooklyn and spend money to visit the station.”
The mural would not require MTA approval because the building itself is privately owned. Benenson Capital did not return repeated calls.
One thing, however, has not been left undecided: Yankovic will not be similarly honored.
“Something tells me that Michael Jackson would be a little more compelling of an international draw than ‘Weird’ Al,” Chan said.