The other night I felt a series of unusual urges the urge to bang cymbals (though I don't own any)... the urge to repeatedly inflate and squeeze a whoopie cushion into a bullhorn (again, I own neither of these items)... and the urge to launch bottle rockets.
The cause? The presence of a film crew shooting in my neighborhood.
Yeah I knowdon't be a grouch, don't whine, it's part of living in New York City.
Of course, there are grounds for inconveniencing locals for the sake of the greater artistic good. I'm alright with sacrifice for good cause and within limits.
This situation met neither criteria. They were shooting a Rickie Martin video. Please as if in ten years anyone will care. It's not The Deer Hunter, Caligula, or The Ten Commandments.
So what's the grounds of my grousing? I'll set aside the parking hassle, the blocking of sidewalks by big food tables and manifold blockades. I'll also say nil of the jabbering pinheads who dropped trash on the sidewalks while they hung out waiting to see, YO RICKIE.
The larger annoyance was that I, and no doubt many others, were treated like shit. We were pushed around unjustly, told what to do by folks with no legal authority whatsoever.
Let's take my own experience. On the way to pick up a sandwich I was redirected to a sidewalk by a man with a plastic badge and a headset. I complied, I stepped aside, then stopped near the curb's edge to see what the klieg lights were aiming at. Another headset schmuck soon approached and told me to move to the curb. "Why?" I asked. "It's for your own safety, please move back." And you would be...Sargeant who?
Bored by the whole scene, I went on for my sandwich. I strolled down
N. 7th toward Bedford, pausing to squint at the jiggy girls standing near
the vehicle that Rickie was to fuel up (yeah, he appears to have been
playing a gas attendant).
I shook my head in annoyance and tried to move toward a pack of onlookers
near the set. Another headsetted head appeared in front of me.
I looked at this young chap with hulking shoulders, about 9 years less of college education than I, blinked, and asked, "Uh, why?"
"You can't be here, we can't have you here."
"But all these people are here. What's the difference?"
"SIR- THAT IS NOT YOUR CONCERN."
He glowered, "YOU HAVE TO MOVE BACK, THESE PEOPLE ARE PART OF THE CREW, YOU ARE NOT."
This was patently false. Some of the girls standing there where barely 14 years old. Were they hiring underage labor? I shook my head and coughed, "JAWOHL!"
It was all too much, and I had to fight off the urge to slug the guy. I hadn't crossed a clearly demarcated line and crashed the scene like paparazzi. I hadn't done anything illegal. Yet, here was some employee of a private company bossing me around on public property in my own damn neighborhood. What the hell?
Much like the recent hacking up of the Northside's streets to run new pipes to the unnecessary and pollution spewing power plant they are re-starting, it's a case of big money stomping all over individual rights and the people who live here.
Is there a solution? It can't hurt to write to the mayor, local, state and congressional representatives...though I would suggest writing to the local community board (they seem to be little more than the pawns of higher powers). And should they feel civic minded, local business owners can refuse to go for the easy cash and just say no to the offers to rent their bars/restaurants/etc. for use by the movie people.
And one might also subtly make filming in this area less attractive to
movie people. Hmmm...Now where might I find some bottle rockets, a whoopie
cushion, and a bullhorn?
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