A terrible darkness has cast a shadow over the soul of NYC ever since Dr. Jonathon Zizmor, NYC's foremost subway dermatologist-slash-pop culture reference, hung up his skincare specialist gloves and announced his retirement earlier this year. Far and wide, New Yorkers cried out: what local subway personality will rise up to take his place? Considering we can barely even remember Lucas from Venmo, is it possible that no one could fill Dr. Zizmor's shoes?
But one man heard those cries and decided to do something—or, more specifically, say something (and then allow his face to be plastered on every train in the greater NYC area). Gregg T., aka Gregg Turkin, a registered attorney in New York and part of the NYPD's Legal Bureau, has become THE face of the MTA's "New Yorkers Keep New York Safe" safety ad campaign (in which real NYers offer first person accounts about identifying suspicious packages). And people can't get enough of him.
Every day I'm thankful for Gregg T. keeping NYC safe
— Tommy B (@RiskRaff) September 28, 2016
Question for New Yorkers: Who is Gregg T. voting for?
— Kirsten (@flungoutofspace) September 27, 2016
— Simon Glenn-Gregg (@SimonGlennGregg) July 20, 2016
All of them are from Gregg T https://t.co/Lxo0v31xgF
— The Train Delayer (@JakeMHS) September 26, 2016
Turkin previously served as Nassau County's Assistant District Attorney; in one landmark case, he prosecuted Long Island man James Warren, who was found guilty of 63 assorted charges of kidnapping, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
But he's become even more famous for calling in a report of some "disconcerting" vehicles parked near a LIRR station. Here's the MTA ad from March that launched a thousand memes:
What started as a whisper has turned into a scream. Across the five boroughs, and into the suburban areas where Metro-North serves, Gregg T. has slowly slipped into legend. There are fake Twitter accounts, Facebook tribute pages and weird websites with photo galleries of his face. His every public appearance is worthy of tweeting about—especially when it involves him falling asleep next to his own photo (Dan Smith would never put up with this amateur hour crap).
— Ryan (@RyGia7) August 12, 2016
— Terry Van Wert (@t_van__) August 27, 2016
There also seems to be a new Reddit thread about him every other day:
- Our Humble Hero Stands Guard Ever Vigilant, Lest cars be parked where they shouldn't be
- New Yorkers keep New York safe - Gregg T., LIRR
- I made a NYC-themed wallpaper! Enjoy!
- I made a new subway pixel portrait featuring a very special guest.
- Spotted! Gregg T. riding front and center at Jamaica.
- Out of the Loop: Who is Gregg T and why is he mini-famous?
Out-of-towners might mistakenly think New Yorkers are mocking Gregg (okay, there are always a few bad seeds out there), but they wouldn't understand just how much we all need local celebrities like him. His (very recognizable) face has become ubiquitous thanks to the posters. After a long, hard day of work and commuting through our stressful urban environment, sometimes you just want to see a familiar face. Even if he is a snitch.
If you see Gregg T., don't say nothing. Known snitch. pic.twitter.com/9VHD6ts3FJ
— Malcolm Harris (@BigMeanInternet) July 16, 2016
Tell me this dude doesn't look exactly like a snitch. Stop snitching, Gregg! pic.twitter.com/UZa9wVKhfH
— Matt Fraher (@MattyFray) June 2, 2016
Reached by phone today, Turkin offered a deep laugh, like the lapping waves of the ocean, when told about his celebrity status. "No comment," was all he could utter.
Gregg T. wakes. The terrorist alert on his iPhone illuminates the dark of his bedroom.
"This is your chance, Gregg."
— Scott Friedstein (@ScottFriedstein) September 19, 2016