Juan Ayala is a mild-mannered Dominican-American New Yorker on his way to work on a jam-packed morning rush hour D train. Suddenly, a petite white woman begins a violent, vile, vicious racist attack on an unsuspecting, unassuming young Asian woman.
Like the apparent true reporter he is, Ayala begins to document the scene with his camera phone. But after the attack becomes more than he can abide, Ayala morphs into Platano Man who springs into action, takes the assailant down and makes a citizen’s arrest of the glaringly deranged attacker: a dyed-blond 40-year-old lawyer from Brooklyn with a Russian accent.
Days later, Platano Man is not just a Twitter handle, but a real-life superhero. The kind of superhero you’d only find in Nueva York.
Here is his story:
1. It’s Tuesday & Juan Ayala Joins Thousands of Strap-Hangers on the Morning Rush Hour Train Headed For Manhattan From Sunset Park in Brooklyn. Little Does he Know He’ll Soon be the Subway Superhero
This is the happy ending of the story. Juan Ayala on the cover of the New York Daily News.
“This is a Job for ‘Platano Man;’ Subway Superhero Collars Hate-Spewing Straphanger”
Ayala is stunned.
“Oh My God ??? Everybody go pick up the @nydailynews today!”
The illustration of ‘Platano Man’ is a stroke of comedic genius, while paying huge homage to the Dominican from Brooklyn just living his life and trying to do the right thing. The image is of the caped Subway Superhero, with his platano signal shining over the New York skyline.
“Thank you, New York. You ridiculous cesspool. ???”
2. It’s 7:50 a.m. Aboard a Packed Subway Car. White Woman Anna Lushchinskaya Begins a Violent, Racist Tirade & Assault on a Young Asian Woman
The subway is packed on the morning commute Tuesday in Sunset Park, Brooklyn heading into Manhattan. Inexplicably, Anna Lushchinskaya launches a deranged and violent racist attack young Asian woman Michelle Tung.
Ayala, bundled up for the weather, is on that train standing just feet from Lushchinskaya. He begins to record her attack.
The video of the nearly 5-minute long assault witnessed by scores of subway riders, begins when Lushchinskaya screams, ‘Fu*k off,” a number of times, and then, strikes Tung with her umbrella and heavy keys. For no reason. Then, Lushchinskaya repeatedly kicks Tung who was simply standing on the train. Tung then tries to defend herself and stop Lushchinskaya from kicking her. That’s when others intervene. Lushchinskaya, with a Russian accent, screams that the man who has stepped in her way is preventing her from hitting Tung and then Lushchinskaya lunges at Tung, who now begins to fight back. All the while, the dyed-blond Lushchinskaya, carrying a Louis Vuitton bag, kicks, strikes, and screams. People in the train are begging her to stop the attack. She then uses the metal part of her umbrella and again, strikes Tung, who is still trying to defend herself. People in the subway car are pleading for Lushchinskaya to stop.
Ayala is recording.
2. Ayala Goes From Recording the Assault to Intervening; Platano Man Subdues the Assailant & Makes a Citizen’s Arrest
In the very beginning of the recording, Ayala, who goes by PlatanoMan on Twitter and Facebook,cuts to himself to provide some comic relief, but soon the incident is far from funny and he finds himself very much part of the action as opposed to just documenting it.
In the second clip, Lushchinskaya continues to fight, scream and then, attack the girl with her closed umbrella, stabbing at Tung. People are yelling, “What are you doing? Stop! What are you doing?” Then, shockingly, as she appears to be using her phone to call the police, she spits at Tung and then yells at her, “Fu*king chink.” People are stunned, screaming at her. “Get the fu*k out of here with your racist shit.”
Lushchinskaya appeared unfazed and when Ayala asks if her plan is to continue to attack people, “So you’re just going to pick fights with everybody on the train now? Is that what you’re going to do?” Her response was to spit on him. She then calls him “fucking Muhammad Atta.”
Incredulous, Ayala responds: “Bitch, I’m Dominican.”
As he tells her the “whole world is laughing at you,” while he continues to record her, she then smacks his headphones out of his hands and then tries to smack his phone out of his hands. Ayala, fed up, shouts, “I’m not the one,” and takes her down to the floor.
Minutes later, when the train stops, Ayala has her in custody, her hands behind her back, awaiting police.
His superhero subway work is done. She is arrested and charged. See the full story about what happens with Lushchinskaya here. This story is about Juan Ayala, Platano Man.
3. Brooklynite Ayala Graduated From the NYC High School of Communication Arts & the City University of New York & He’s Been a Video Producer & Engineer & DJ. And Lots More
Ayala graduated from NYC High School of Communication Arts and the City University of New York where he was trained as a filmmaker and video engineer and producer. He’s had gigs at Univision. His first film from 2008, just a couple of years after he graduated from high school is his first YouTube upload. Since he has made scores of short films and videos.
Since he has produced hundreds of short films and videos. Ayala did sound mixing for recording artists and was a DJ. He’s a multi-tasking creative.
4. Ayala is a Performer, Radio Show Host & Podcaster. And He’s a Dad
Ayala has a comedy podcast that’s available on iTunes called the Juan & Nyle show. In 2016 he had a show called Juan & Brandy.
Ayala has a YouTube channel with a couple of hundred followers and nearly a quarter of a million views.
He also has a show simply titled The Juan Ayala Show which he’s thinking about calling The JuanCast. It’s a fun compilation of skits, one features his son in ‘Shaving With Daddy.’
5. Why Platano Man? Platanos or Plantains Are a Caribbean Staple & Are Awesome Prepared as ‘Platanos Maduros’ or ‘Tostones.’ But Their Significance Goes Beyond la Cucina
The fact is the plantain is far more than just a dietary staple. A prominent food staple in the diets of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, among myriad others, it is representative of the West African diaspora and its cultural significance is intertwined in the cultural fabric of the West Indies and the Caribbean.
Writer Will Triakexplains how food helps define a culture and in specific, the plantain, which he says is a food staple that “transcends borders …food that is so delicious it cannot be confined to one group. There is one food that you should most definitely be drooling over right now. And that food is sweet plantains.”
He explains: “You may know these sweet and crisp wonders as platano maduro, kelewele, or aloco. Sweet plantains, simply put, are bananas that are large and over ripened. These magic vessels of flavor can be fried, mashed, boiled, or roasted. You name it, and sweet plantains can be cooked that way. In many Caribbean countries, plantains are eaten as a staple starch. In Ghana and other West African countries, it is eaten with fish or cabbage, as well as mixed with a host of other ingredients to make eto.”
“When people were kidnapped from different parts of Africa, specifically West Africa, they were taken to different places of the world such as the Caribbean and the Southern United States to be slaves. These people didn’t leave all of their cultures behind, however. Food was one of the main ways that these people in different areas of the world were connected …sweet plantains are more than just a food. They are a marker of one of the largest diasporas in human history. So next time you bite into your eto or your platano maduro, remember its significance.”