Sunday, November 14, 2010

From Bed-Stuy stoops, 21 years later, to Absolut stoops

Seeing the posters advertising Absolut Brooklyn via an idealized version of Brooklyn stoops (and reading Clay Risen's kinda-late meditation in The Atlantic's food blog, How Spike Lee and Absolut Vodka Sold Out Brooklyn), I was reminded: stoops were crucial to Lee's most enduring work, Do the Right Thing, which emerged in 1989, a time when Brooklyn was much rougher.

Set in a Bedford-Stuyvesant subject to very little gentrification, the stoop was not just the neighborhood porch but also where conflict played out. As one description of the plot has it, "Da Mayor walks by Mother Sisters' stoop, and the lady denounces him as a drunken fool."

Then there was another stoop-side confrontation, as described in this teaching guide:
Buggin' Out shows up, declaring that Mookie is "the man." As he turns to go on his way, a white property-owner wearing a Boston Celtics shirt accidentally steps on his Nike Air Jordans. Yo! YO! This white man is lucky that "a black man has a loving heart."
Does this have anything to do with Atlantic Yards? Only in the macro sense: some people (on both sides of the conflict) are shaped by 1989, and others by 2010.

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