It's started. Today, Fulton Avenue and a stretch of my street just beyond Fulton were clogged with mid-nineties model cars and jeeps, production trucks, film equipment, crafts services tables, and P.A.'s with hooded sweatshirts and bored expressions, hopping from one foot to another to stay warm.
They're filming "Notorious," the Biggie Smalls biopic, in my neighborhood, a fact that is sure to be announced, flickr'ed, and repeatedly blogged by every 20 and 30-something white person living within 10 blocks of the production. (Myself included, obviously.)
As a self-acknowledged contributor to gentrification, I possess all the dominant traits--first and foremost a deep scorn toward caucasians who have been living in the neighborhood even one hour less than me. Nonetheless, whenever possible I try to remain aloof, or at least somewhat resigned out of concern for appearing "uppity." For instance, I will publicly defend our Met supermarket to more outspoken (spoiled) gentrifiers who decry its lack of organic produce or safe-for-consumption meats, but I still have private tantrums whenever a common grocery item suddenly disappears from the store for weeks at a time, which happens with mind-boggling frequency. (The most recent offenders: brownie mix, cat litter, Diet Coke)
But even the best-behaved gentrifiers have a hard time keeping quiet about certain things, usually ones that fall into either the category of "Caucasian-Minded Services" (juice bars, thai restaurants, yoga studios, community gardens) or "Street Cred By Proxy." (murders, drug spots, friendly homeless people, a block party where some women are selling jerk chicken and rice or homemade sangria from a 2-liter bottle of Tropical Paradise soda) And a Biggie Smalls movie being filmed on my block straddles both of these categories nicely for reasons which are probably pretty obvious. It's kind of like earning a supporting argument in a classic "my surrounding poverty is greater/cooler than yours" debate.
Mostly, I'm just happy a Biggie Smalls movie is being filmed anywhere, although I am a little concerned about the track record of the creative team behind it. Its director is George Tillman, Jr.--responsible for directing "Soul Food" --and its writer is Reggie Rock Bythewood, who is responsible for writing several episodes of "A Different World" and "Biker Boyz," the first movie to pull of the impossible trick of making both Lawrence Fishburne and Djimon Hounsou appear as gay, if not more gay, than Tyson Beckford. I wonder if the production will have to sweep all the real-life drug dealers off Fulton Street for a couple of days so they can replace them with make-believe movie drug dealers. More importantly, I wonder if they'll clean up some of the city's unfinished-construction debris when they leave, or if they'll keep it around for the production because it makes Fulton Avenue look more "urban."