It just isn’t fair. Fuck gets all the attention. Sure, it’s a versatile word, applicable to just about any human situation. But all sorts of people have written about fuck, and I want to discuss something different today.

On the corner of Broadway and Myrtle, in Bushwick, are three corner stores. As far as I can tell, their most important contribution to the local economy is in the supply of Colt and Corona to neighborhood gentlemen. As is usually the case, each of the three stores had a group of men out front, when I passed at 6:55 am.

As I approached the stairs to the train, a fellow across the street yelled, “Yo!” A guy standing with one group then replied, “Yo!,” and darted in front of me, across the street, and through oncoming traffic to the other group. This set off a call-and-response, one group to the other, across the busy intersection: “Yo!,” said one man. “Yo!,” replied another. As I climbed the stairs and crossed the street on the overpass, I heard yo knocked about like a volleyball.

Fuck, I can get behind. When I hear it, no matter the context, I usually know what the fucking fuckety duckfucker means who says it. But yo? Other than “Hey,” I don’t know what the hell it means. I still don’t know what it was in that first yo that specifically said, “Luis! I need you over here immediately! Dodge that bus and get your ass over here!”


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