No one knows what was in the drunken and possibly deranged head of Michael Enright when he stabbed Bangladeshi cab driver Ahmed Sharif last week. But the Leatherman-wielding film student, arraigned on hate-crime charges this week, added to a very particular sort of New York street lexicon when he shouted: “Consider this a checkpoint, motherfucker. I am going to have to put you down.”
The pre-violent rampage catchphrase, so beloved by James Bond and many a Hollywood action hero, has a storied history in the annals of New York crime:
“You don’t look so bad, here’s another.” Bernhard Goetz, December 22, 1984, before pumping a second bullet into the body of Darrell Cabey on the downtown 2 train. During the trial, questions were raised about whether Goetz actually said the words aloud. Goetz’s quote appeared on a fast-selling T-shirt celebrating the “fear city” NYC of the eighties, “New York—as hot as it Goetz.”
“Kenneth, what’s the frequency?” William Tager, October 4, 1986, uttered as he attacked news anchor Dan Rather on Park Avenue. The incident inspired the REM song “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”
“What are you going to do, shoot us?” Nicole duFresne, January 27, 2005, shortly before being shot dead by Rudy Fleming on Clinton Street — a crime that novelist Richard Price referenced in his novel “Lush Life,” which has a character shot in a mugging after saying, “Not tonight, my man.”
The truly memorable pre-rampage catchphrase — alongside phrases with more questionable bona fides, like “it’s Giuliani time,” which was never actually said by NYPD officer Justin Volpe as he beat Abner Louima — has great staying power. Will Enright join the list? His line probably doesn’t have the instant catchiness to make it as a T-shirt slogan, but who knows? It could still attain immortality when some hipster rock band records “Consider This a Checkpoint” in 2017.