Saturday, September 26, 2009

The resonance in "The Battle of Brooklyn" documentary: an ACORN encounter and some "Russian dressing"

A documentary in process on Atlantic Yards by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, The Battle of Brooklyn, can't, as Galinsky acknowledges, "do justice to the complex issues that have been raised by this project and this story. We’ll leave that task to Norman Oder and his blog, The Atlantic Yards Report." (Um, thanks.)

The excerpts released so far, as noted below, convey some of the drama of the AY conflict that is difficult to convey in prose.

Here's the "cast": Daniel Goldstein, Shabnam Merchant, Marty Markowitz, Bruce Ratner, Letitia James, Patti Hagan, Norman Siegel, Michael Bloomberg, Frank Gehry. (I've been interviewed for the film, as well, though the filmmakers' aim is to avoid talking heads.)

Goldstein, an old friend of Galinsky, is the protagonist, at least as the trailer suggests, and the filmmaker is obviously sympathetic to the opposition. Then again, as I've quoted former New York Times Public Editor Daniel Okrent, "Fairness requires the consideration of all sides of an issue; it doesn't require the uncritical reporting of any."

Goldstein meets Lewis

The filmmakers recently put up a clip of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Goldstein confronting ACORN leader Bertha Lewis after a press conference on affordable housing. As Galinsky writes:
After the event, Daniel Goldstein confronts her with the fact that tenants are already being pushed out. She admits that ACORN hasn’t actually talked to any of the tenants yet. She then argues that the developer has nothing to do with greedy landlords forcing out tenants before they buy the property.

This is not a gotcha moment, but instead a small part of a complex tale. We feel that it is relevant to follow up on published reports that call into question the relationship between the developer and ACORN. At issue is the fact that the developer gave a $500,000 grant and $1,000,000 low interest loan to ACORN in the midst of a previous scandal when many long time donors refused to continue supporting them.


I think the clip also clearly shows something else: the theatrical Lewis knows she can be intimidating, but Goldstein is not intimidated.



Marty's "Russian dressing"

In a fortuitous moment, the filmmakers years ago filmed Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz as claiming the project "puts the Russian dressing on a great pastrami sandwich." (It's about 2:27 of the trailer below.)

Whether Markowitz considers the sale of the Nets to Russian mogul Mikhail Prokhorov such an equivalent is yet unknown.

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