Spike Lee Takes Aim at NYC Gentrifiers

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Cascarino's Pizzeria, Feb 26, 2014.

  1. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    I haven't been a fan of Spike's recent movies, but he makes some relevant points about outsiders coming in and changing the fabric of entire NYC neighborhoods. "Christopher Columbuses" who think they discovered Williamsburg & Ft. Greene and have no interest in the locals or their history there. It's quite a rant:

    Here’s the thing: I grew up here in Fort Greene. I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherf*kin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park. P.S. 20 was not good. P.S. 11. Rothschild 294. The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.

    [Audience member: And I don’t dispute that … ]

    Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. And even more. Let me kill you some more.

    [Audience member: Can I talk about something?]

    Not yet.

    Then comes the motherf*kin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherf*kin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherf*kin’-sixty-eight, and the motherf*kin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherf*kin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherf*kin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the f*ck outta here!


    Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherf*kin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people...

    ...And then! [to audience member] Whoa whoa whoa. And then! So you’re talking about the people’s property change? But what about the people who are renting? They can’t afford it anymore! You can’t afford it. People want live in Fort Greene. People wanna live in Clinton Hill. The Lower East Side, they move to Williamsburg, they can’t even afford f*ckin’, motherf*kin’ Williamsburg now because of motherf*kin’ hipsters. What do they call Bushwick now? What’s the word? [Audience: East Williamsburg]

    That’s another thing: Motherf*kin’… These real estate motherf*kers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? 110th to 125th, there’s another name for Harlem. What is it? What? What is it? No, no, not Morningside Heights. There’s a new one. [Audience: SpaHa] What the f*ck is that? How you changin’ names?

    And we had the crystal ball, motherf*kin’ Do the Right Thing with John Savage’s character, when he rolled his bike over Buggin’ Out’s sneaker. I wrote that script in 1988. He was the first one. How you walking around Brooklyn with a Larry Bird jersey on? You can’t do that. Not in Bed Stuy.

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/spike-lee-amazing-rant-against-gentrification.html


  2. chad

    chad Member+

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    I have some thoughts on this, but a Seinfeld rerun is about to come on so I'm busy.
  3. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    No worries. Crapping on hipsters from Flyoverlandia will be here 24-7. Come on back.
  4. chad

    chad Member+

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    Oh, I get it! I'm the hipster from Flyoverlandia!

    Meanwhile, Kramer is the ASSMAN!


  5. Belgian guy

    Belgian guy Member+

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    Spike has a point, though there is also the fact that neighborhoods are not supposed to be static entities.
    It's not like Brussels (yes, far smaller scale than NYC) still has the same demographic make-up per neighborhood as it did in the 1960s.
  6. soccernutter

    soccernutter Moderator Staff Member

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    I agree with the first point about how people are treated, but not about the second point.

    He is right in that police treat Whites differently. But this needs to be looked at more carefully. What Spike is getting at suggests Belgium Guy's note that Spike seems to expect physical areas to be unchanging. That is far from the truth, areas fluctuate. How many downtown areas were White in the 1950s, Black in the 1980s, and have become redeveloped in 1990s/2000s and are seeing a large influx of Whites move back in?

    About his grandfather playing African drums - there are multiple sides to this, one being the bad apple cliche, and most of us have experienced this regarding a neighborhood. The point that I think Spike misses is that there was only one house that did this.

    But, if that was me, how would I know somebody was playing drums when I went to see the house? Not that I've have an issue with that person's behavior, but I'd prefer a quieter home and neighbors, even considering the possibility that I will be moving to the area (NYC).

    As for the renaming of areas, so ********ing what?! That is marketing. Annoying, but aren't there more important issues, like Stop and Frisk, or bias versus non-Whites?
  7. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    Culdesacia to be exact. ;)

    Bleecker St. used to be a fun block full of bars & nightclubs. Last time I was there it was all Gapped & Duane Reade'd up. CB's is a friggin fashion boutique. I know "supergritty" NY from 30 yrs ago was not ideal either. But NYC should not IMO look like the suburbs either.
  8. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    So what?! Realtors 40 years ago tried to change one of the all-time great neighborhood names - Hell's Kitchen - into the pussified, non-threatening "Clinton" I've never heard any New Yorker use Clinton.

    It's subtle, but it backs up what Spike was saying. Your history here is over so we're moving in and btw, we don't even like the name so we're changing that too. The balls on some of these transplants!
  9. Dante

    Dante Moderator Staff Member

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    I've heard more New Yorkers call part of Hell's Kitchen, Midtown West, especially closer to 8th ave in the 40's.

    And NYC gov't has been using Clinton for Hell's Kitchen officially since 1959.
  10. puttputtfc

    puttputtfc Member+

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    New York City sucks.
  11. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    Spike sounds like a codger.
  12. Norsk Troll

    Norsk Troll Member+

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    What he's REALLY saying is the same thing all the Conservative anti-immigration folks: Now that WE are here, we don't want anyone else coming in. His father bought the house in 1968? Good on him. What was the neighborbood like in 1948? 1928?

    People all want the doors opened for themselves, but then closed right behind them on everyone else.

    Spike Lee is no better than a Minuteman Project cracker.
  13. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    He sounds like a Chicago Lithuanian complaining about how the blacks have ruined Marquette Park. I don't even have to close my eyes to hear it.
  14. ToMhIlL

    ToMhIlL Member+

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    Yeah, I know what you mean. I lived in St Gilles in 1984 and I went back in 2006. My street had a massive new upscale hotel where about 10 rowhoused used to be. The semi-divey pub run by Italian immigrants around the corner was this hipser/yuppie fern-bar and the whole area had gone more "upscale"from what had been an ordinary working class Waloon neighborhood.

    Sure, when you come back after many years away the differences are more pronounced than it would have been if I was there the whole time, and there is a much more gradual change. I briefly visited again in 1987 and noticed that there were much more Vlaams speakers in public than there were just a few years earlier. I'd go to a bank and even if the person's name tag was a Flemish name, they'd still address you in French. A few years later, they'd do it in Dutch, expecting that you'd either speak it or at least have the courtesy to ask them to change languages for you. In 2006, the place was so overrun with Eurocrats that English was the lingua-franca, since if a Portuguese person was speaking to a Norwegian or a Greek, that is the common language.

    Yeah, things change all the time, and not always for the better. Then again, it's hard not to argue against getting rid of crime-riddled drug infested elements of a community and replacing it with people renovating old homes. But it's a fine line when people of more modest means get pushed out of the places they have been living in for a long time.
    Belgian guy repped this.
  15. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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    I'm trying to remember the name of a Latino politician I saw on the Chicago PBS news magazine arguing about the ethnic purity (not the right word: pardon me) of the neighborhood that made up most of his predominately Latino district: Pilsen.

    To his credit, when someone pointed out the fact that he was defending an ethnic enclave blatantly named by another ethnicity, he had a pretty good laugh at the irony.
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  16. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    Really? Because having worked in Manhattan & known ppl from many neighborhoods I've NEVER heard that term. As in "We went to a bar in Midtown West last night." Recent transplants must use it I suppose.
  17. Dante

    Dante Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I've heard it from a few people that work in NYC, but live in the boroughs.

    A couple weeks ago the wife and I spent a few days in NYC, kids free, and stayed at the Intercontinental on 8th and 44th. They (a hotel employee) refereed to it being Midtown West instead of Hells Kitchen. I didn't care, I got to eat Shake Shack every day :D

    I think for some people saying Midtown West doesn't give a negative connotation like Hells Kitchen does.
  18. Cascarino's Pizzeria

    Cascarino's Pizzeria Member+

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    Did you check out SoBro or East Williamsburg while in town? Buy any artisanal mayonnaise or play kickball?
  19. bigredfutbol

    bigredfutbol Moderator Staff Member

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    I met a guy at a bar here in Northern Virginia*; native of Brooklyn, family went back a couple generations at least. He cashed out when rich Russians were buying Brighton Beach-area property for cash. He and his brothers sold the family house for a freaking fortune and moved on.

    I guess I'm saying--in order for NYC to gentrify, some "real" New Yorkers have to facilitate the process.



    *As opposed to Real Virginia, where Real Virginians live.
  20. Norsk Troll

    Norsk Troll Member+

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    Lived on 53rd between 9th/10th from '90-'00. Hell's Kitchen was on it's way out of common usage before I got there.

    Not like when my grandfather was born, living at 51st between 10th/11th in the 1910s.
  21. Dante

    Dante Moderator Staff Member

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    Why would I willingly go to Kings County?
    russ repped this.
  22. ToMhIlL

    ToMhIlL Member+

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    My bit of shock was when people had no idea what I was talking about when I referred to the subway lines that are numbered instead of lettered as "the IRT." Of course, there was always some gray area between which lettered lines were IND or BMT, but the IRT was always a separate entity because the trains themselves were a different size.

    I guess that's what happens when my memory of the place stopped at 1973 when my family moved out of Brooklyn.
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  23. ToMhIlL

    ToMhIlL Member+

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    No! Sleep! Til Brooklyn!
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  24. soccernutter

    soccernutter Moderator Staff Member

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    No it doesn't. If people call it Hell's Kitchen, then that is what it will be. But if a relator calls it that, then that is what the relator calls it. Spike is pissed because somebody is trying to change what he thinks should not be changed, and it has racial tones to the conversation. Sorry, Spike, if you were that concerned, you should be massivly promoting the improvement of education, specifically in the inner-cities.
    USvsIRELAND and Billy South Philly repped this.
  25. argentine soccer fan

    argentine soccer fan Moderator Staff Member

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    It's sort of like when a bunch of old gays in San Francisco's Castro district were complaining that Asian families were buying property there and moving in and "ruining" the ambiance. There was a long article about it in the SF Chronicle some time ago.

    You can't freeze a place in time, no matter how much you value it.

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