Onix Lopez, 33
E 9th St and Ave A.
Mon Nov 2 2009
Photograph: Jay Muhlin
How'd you get a name like Onix? I was named after a character in a soap opera.
Some guy who, like, cheated on his wife with her mother or something? [Laughs] Actually, no. It was a man of honor who lost his life trying to keep integrity.
All right, then. What are you up to? I'm visiting from Allentown, Pennsylvania. I grew up right here on 9th Street and moved away six years ago.
What do you do? I'm a commercial driver's license instructor for a school bus company. I also work with inner-city kids—whenever there's a problematic bus, I'm put on it to calm the kids down.
So you're like Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds? Yes, that's partially it. The drivers prior to me were always quitting; the kids were throwing bottles and marbles at them. I wasn't gonna stand for that going on, so I asked for that run. Everyone looked at me in shock. I took it and they haven't had to call the police since.
There is something about you that's insanely calm. Awesome. That's the love of God in my life. There was a time that I backslid, but after five or six years of that, I recognized that I couldn't live without Him in my life. So I'm back with a walk with Christ.
Is he a fast walker? [Laughs] I'm not as fast. My weight slows me down.
You're also kind of on a bus ride with Christ, huh? Oh yes, definitely. In order to not lose it, yes. [Laughs]
More from Onix
"At 3am on 9th Street you can eat whatever you want. You don't have that in Pennsylvania."
"I have a friend, O the Prophet. He's a gospel rapper for inner-city kids, so that they can hear something positive. I do it too—I make beats and we write our own lyrics. I go by Warshipper."
"There's been a lot of changes in this neighborhood. On the way to P.S. 19 every day on three corners, drug dealers would offer us drugs. And the [Tompkins Square Park] riots—they were actually entertaining. It was like a big movie theater: My brothers and I were looking out the window watching this whole thing go crazy in the park. The helicopters flew low enough where the officers were jumping off onto my roof and running down my building."