Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Road to Brooklyn" focuses on borough generalizations; Washington Post explores whether Nets = return of Dodgers

In less than six minutes, the fifth episode in the Road To Brooklyn mini-series on Jay-Z's YouTube channel takes on the borough at large, with some predictable quotes from Borough President Marty Markowitz and generalizations--not-so-easy to make for such a sprawling place--from a cast of mostly younger and entertainment industry-affiliated interviewees.

"If you're from Brooklyn, you can't just say Brooklyn, you have to shout it," asserts actor Malcolm Barrett.

Oh, sure.

"We have more character and characters in Brooklyn  than anywhere else in America," declares Markowitz. "We can charm you off your feet and be in your face at the same time."

"Brooklyn is like its own world," asserts one young guy in a baseball cap.

"We are now considered the coolest city on the planet," declares Markowitz, not mentioning that the designation comes from GQ and refers to the artisanal food scene. He's not the first to make that pivot in selling the Brooklyn brand; so too has Forest City Ratner.

"Brooklyn has equity," says clothing designer Seth Braunstein (apparently the guy behind Brooklyn Rock, a new streetwear shop near the Barclays Center). "People come here to do something fresh."

"I always joke that people from Brooklyn say they're from Brooklyn at least three times a day," says model Damaris Lewis, who founded the Heels to Hoops blog.
It's local pride, and I think everyone shoudl have it

"What it really is about Brooklyn is there really is a community here," says radio host and former hip-hop exec Combat Jack, who has longstanding ties to Jay-Z.

"There's so much to be said for the character of this place," says DJ/record producer Tommie Sunshine. "And there's so much culture in Brooklyn. And people in Brooklyn are a little more dug in."

Of course, such observations could lead to the impression that those resistant to Atlantic Yards might be honoring Brooklyn.

Hip-hop artist Telli Ninjasonik declares, "Brooklyn is Brooklyn, man. It's beautiful. Ain't no place in the world like Brooklyn." Oh.

Enter the Nets

Then the music changes and the piece pivots. "The Brooklyn Nets have probably more pressure than any team in the NBA right now because of the city they're in," says DJ Clark Kent, another Jay-Z associate.

Lewis says, "I love the fact that I'm going to be able to say that there's a team in Brooklyn."

"They're going to bring their best game and their heart and soul to this Brooklyn arena, because that's all we know, because you're not just playing for a team, you're playing for a borough, a borough that's a city, a borough that's a country, a borough that's a way of life," declares Telli Ninjasonik.

Markowitz says he's confident the Nets will match the Brooklyn energy.

Advance the Nets

"The Nets coming back to Brooklyn, it is a rebirth," says Combat Jack.

The rest of the piece shows the Nets' Experience Van visiting Fort Hamilton and other places in the borough, with one visitor declaring he's ready to buy season tickets with his son.

"They better do more than just win games and play basketball to win over the hearts of Brooklyn," says Telli.

"Spread some of that money around," says Director X, a music video director who's worked with Jay-Z.

"They should reach out to programs that deal with young people," says street artist Lee Quinones.

So, with triumphant music, we see guard Deron Williams joining kids on a Take Your Child to School Day.

"We have 150 people in our front office that are committed to giving back and being part of the fabric of this community," says team/arena CEO and uber-marketer Brett Yormark

"You can already tell that Brooklyn is going to be very supportive of us, very supportive of the franchise," states Williams, dutifully. "And we're going to try to give back to them." (In Williamsburg, with less dutiful coverage, the reception was a little tougher.)


"Brooklynites don't hold back, we'll tell 'em," says Markowitz, asserting that the Nets will hear from fans whether they do well or poorly.

In the Washington Post

A Washington Post Sports section article 11/23/12, headlined Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and Nets return professional sports to historic borough, queries Andy Rosen of Junior's, Yormark, author Roger Kahn, and public historian Julie Golia:
“It was the unifying force,” Kahn said. “Italians, Jewish, everyone gathered around the Dodgers. Think of a great oak tree falling and when it’s down, there’s a lonesome place against the sky.”
“I think that’s one of the real tensions of the Nets coming in,” Golia said. “Will the Nets have that ability to draw together the diverse population the way the Dodgers did?”
The article, however, moves back to hoops:
Nets games feel like those in any other NBA city. Maybe there’s a bit more Jay-Z played on the public-address system. And because the famous hip-hop star is a minority owner of the team, there’s also a 40/40 Club in the arena and a Rocawear store outside. He also helped design the team’s distinctive black and white uniforms. But the presentation is similar to what fans would find elsewhere, even if Brooklynites are still processing the in-game experience.

“The chemistry between our crowds and our players, we still have a ways to go,” Nets Coach Avery Johnson said. “We’re not Miami or the Lakers where we’ve been in the building for a long time. We’re still learning. It’s still a feel-out process.”
In the comments

Note a few comments:
  • Nothing about Ratner's eminent domain thievery?
  • Anyway, this article is so banal and glosses over many details to tell Yormark's sales pitch. How about a few sources who actually live nearby, new and old, for their perspectives?

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