Sunday, March 07, 2010

"It's a big boat--why rock it?" An episode of Miami Vice offers some food for thought regarding Atlantic Yards

"It's a big boat--why rock it?"

That could be a description of a lot of people's attitudes toward the Atlantic Yards project. The Atlantic Yards Narrative, which, as I wrote in October 2007, is created by the developer, backed by the political establishment, and too often aided by media coverage, unwilling to rock the boat.

But the quote comes from Miami Vice--as a reader pointed out--in an episode titled The Prodigal Sun, Part 2, the opening episode of Season 2.

It's worth a look (via Hulu)--and a ponder. And someone posted the segment on YouTube.



Meeting their quarry

At about the 29-minutes mark, the two vice cops, Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, push their way past a secretary into the office of an evil banker named Johnston.

"Hi there, we're the cops you've been trying to kill," Crockett says forcefully.

Johnston, his back to them in a gesture of disrespect, proceeds to display his inside knowledge of the cops' anemic bank accounts and debt troubles.

Crockett remains unimpressed: "You goin' somewhere with this, or are you just runnin' laps?"

The patrician Johnston sits down, pours a glass of water, and contemplates it.

(Partial transcript at this fan site, where contributors note how Miami Vice can explain the world.)

The value of money

"Money is a commodity, like oil or water," Johnston soliloquizes, in a superior manner. "And that American dollar, is the best brand there is in the world. Now those of us who have it, can make more of it, by loaning it to those that don't. Not so long ago, our bank loaned a lot of money to our friends in Latin America. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. Now they aren't going to repay that by selling straw bags and clay pots. If these Latin borrowers default, we would be decimated. And we are America. We are the entire free world. When we sneeze, everybody catches cold. That is why, it's very, very important, that we nurture and protect our Latin brothers' major cash crops."

"Especially those that he measures in kilos," Tubbs offers slyly.

"Are you sure you wouldn't like a drink?" Johnston asks coldly.

Rocking the boat

"What I want is answers," Crockett responds, with intensity. "I want to know why a Wall Street address is running interference for a couple of bloodthirsty Colombian peasants. I want to know why murder and mayhem are suddenly footnotes on a balance sheet."

"Look," Johnston counters condescendingly, like a parent talking to a child. "All you need to know is that you're just along for the ride. It's a big boat--why rock it?"

"I don't give a damn if it's the U.S.S. Enterprise, pal, or who's on it or why," Crockett retorts. "Our job is to rock it. And if it sinks--so what?"

"I doubt that's going to happen," Johnston counters, unbowed.

"No?" asks Tubbs a bit playfully. "How's it go now? Discreet phone call to some Ivy League buddy? A little button-down talking and suddenly two South Dade cops become tin ducks in a shooting gallery, without backup for a major bust."

"You're dirty... and I'm patient"

"That door," Johnston utters, dismissing them, "leads to the outer hallway."

Tubbs goes to the door. Crockett follows.

He gets the last word.

"I can't touch you; I know that," Crockett tells Johnston. "Too many roadblocks and politics, favors. But you're dirty, Ace. And I'm patient."

2 comments:

  1. I believe that the banker was played by Julian Beck of the Living Theater - ironic as my daughter would say.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Indeed, it's Beck. See
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0065191/

    ReplyDelete