Text and photos by Stacie Joy
It's very possible that you at least heard the "In the Air Tonight" car on East Village streets this holiday season — you know, the 1985 Mazda Rx-7 GSL with an arena-ready sound system that plays the 1981 Phil Collins mega-hit on repeat.
A mutual neighborhood friend led me to meet the car's owner — Don Garcia, a Bushwick-based plumber. We had questions for Garcia after the car was spotted in the East Village on Dec. 14... the subsequent EVG video clip was viewed nearly 120,000 times on Twitter ...
Saturday night is not over until the ‘In the Air Tonight’ mobile makes a dance stop pic.twitter.com/IB89cJRyVd— evgrieve (@evgrieve) December 15, 2019
The two men shown in the video were walking by, and spontaneously felt compelled to start dancing along to the song, featuring that epic drum break, now played at sports arenas around the world. (Gothamist has more on this dance story here.)
This holiday season, Garcia initially used the car — and its sound system — for a toy drive at the St Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. He does the Toys for Tots with the Legendary Muscle Cars Auto Club.
Garcia seemed surprised but appreciative of the attention. He answered some questions before letting me do a ride-along in the East Village as he demonstrated the newly wired sound system and lighting. And of course, playing "In the Air Tonight." (For the record, Garcia did not wear any ear plugs, though I did for this trip)...
How long have you been doing this?
I have had this car for seven years, working on it all that time. But as far as the music and lights part, I started [on Dec. 13] — the day before the videos surfaced.
Why this song?
I was playing this song because it’s such a good song to tune the car stereo and speakers to. It’s a song that makes you want to go out and do something you didn’t think you could. It was me and Lito, the guy who wired my car.
We’d been in Williamsburg earlier testing it out, and we were driving through the East Village when these two guys came out of a bar and requested, well demanded, that we put the song up loud, so we did. They jumped in front of the car and started dancing. We opened the doors at the light, pumped up the sound, and there were about 30 or 40 people standing there watching. When the song ended, we drove off.
Do you play any others?
Yes. I like rap, Spanish music, older stuff with no bad language. I like family-friendly stuff.
Any conversations with the NYPD?
Do you play the same song the entire time over and over?
It's a good song and has a clear sound. People will stop and look, especially at night when you can see the lights.
Garcia also said that he never gets tired of the song.
It was interesting to be in the passenger seat as we rolled through the neighborhood with lights flashing and the song pumping. Lot of bass, and, of course, the famous drum solo. People waved, they pointed, danced, smiled and gave us thumbs up. A lot of people whipped out their phones and started filming. I didn’t see anyone react negatively.