As the gentrification process continues to move forward at an astounding rate in Brooklyn, celebrities like Michael Rapport and writers like Wendell Jamieson have taken the position that the changes have been for the better and that any negative impact, be it destruction of culture or displacement of long-time Brooklyn residents is “par for the course.” I wrote the following piece not long ago as a personal exercise to deal with the changes that have affected me, a life-long Brooklyn resident. I never intended to post it but a recent article by Mr. Jamieson entitled “My Brooklyn, Then & Now” and Mr. Rapaport’s public feud with Spike Lee inspired me to post this creative piece about a conversation between two old friends that happen to bump into each other on a Brooklyn street. While it’s more along the lines of a monologue, I think the point will come across.
A Conversation Between Two Old Friends…
Yo bruh! Wuzzzup?!?! Wow! I can’t believe it’s you! Remember me? Yes, Scooter! How long has it been? Ten maybe fifteen years? Twelve years – that’s right. You always had a good memory. Yes, right after 9-11. That’s the last time I saw you. We bumped into each other on the promenade in Brooklyn Heights. Right near that makeshift shrine with a photo of the World Trade Center. All those candles and the photos of people that were missing. Man, the buildings still smoldering, I’ll never forget it. Yeah, I try not to think about that time too much either. Kinda’ sad the shrine was removed when they started upgrading the area. It was really sincere Y’know. Real authentic. I guess you’re right though, no sense in reliving bad memories.
How am I? I’m doing great man. Got myself a steady job working for transit with all the OT I want. Yeah, I had to put the creative endeavors aside. Got a wife and two kids man and they need to eat! Mortgage, car payment, you know the deal. Oh, you paid cash for your crib and ride a bike? Wow! That’s pretty slick bruh! You were always smart about things. Smart to get out of the rap game too when you did. I hung on a little too long. Nowadays you need tons of money to be in the rap game. People coming here from all over with a dollar and a dream. Nah, make that $100,000 and a dream! Buying up all our old clothes and rhymes and then getting paid ten times what we did. Re-purposing rhymes? Ha, ha! You’re still mad funny bruh! Still got a great sense of humor! Man, remember we had nothing and we still made it happen. Didn’t need no club with a cover charge. No promoter or marketing guru to take a taste. We had a basement, a blue light and 2 turntables. And you, you were nasty with those decks! We did it for the love! Refined? Hmmm, I never thought about it that way. Yeah, things are definitely hot right now cause the scene became refined but man, we kept it real when we were coming up!
Yeah man, I agree, enough about the past. Actually, enough about me! Bruh, look at you! You look great man! And you made it! Every time I turn the tv on or look at the news there’s something about you. Man, people talking about you all over the world – even in France! Makes me feel good. Like I made it too! Man, you even met the President! Were there to greet him when he got off that helicopter in Prospect Park. Yes, he is looking out for us. Got my vote – twice! Can you believe a Crooklyn OG like you meeting Obama! Oh, sorry man I guess Crooklyn OG could give people the wrong idea about you. A reporter asked Obama about you and “O” said he said he thought you were cool. That’s awesome bruh! O saying you’re cool. You’re golden now! Good for you man, good for you. I guess good for us, right?
Well, I’m happy you’re living the life! All those celebrity party’s that you host at Barclay’s. I see all those limo’s on Flatbush Avenue now and it blows my mind. Have I been there yet? Nah, too rich for my blood bruh. Wife says we gotta’ stay focused and keep the eyes on the prize. One day though, one day. Funny, people were forced to move so the stadium could be built and now they prolly can’t even afford to sit in a place where they used to sleep. Yeah, I hear you, it’s best for the long run. In fact I’m proud we got a pro team again. Man, I think the Nets can win a championship this year. Oh, you’re not keeping up with basketball? Really, you’re the dude that stood at the foul line, threw the rock off the backboard and dunked on Jerome in Vanderbilt Park! I’ll never forget the look on his face! Oh, you’ve been watching football? That’s tough the Giants and Jets both have been sticking it up. English Premier league? Oh THAT football. You mean soccer bruh!
Yo, remember Tina? I bumped into her a few months ago. She’s still fine, bruh. Still single too. Can’t figure out why she never found someone. She’s a real good girl. Always kept it real. Remember when we double dated at Coney Island and got stuck on The Wonder Wheel? We were both trying to make like we weren’t scared but two hours was a long time. She was the strong one, the one that kept us relaxed with all those funny stories. Man, everyone thought you two would be the first to get married. Yeah, I hear you, relationships can be funny things man. I see that ring on your finger bruh. Who’s the lucky lady? Her name is Chloe? That’s a pretty name bruh. Oh, she’s French? How did you meet? At a chateau while skiing in France? Nice man, nice. You must have a lot in common. Really, she doesn’t speak English? No, no I don’t parlez-vous Francais. Never thought I would need to around here.
Yo, we’re not too far from Smiley’s. How about a slice on me? Oh, they don’t use organic ingredients? I didn’t know there was such a thing as organic pizza. Silly me. Yes, I will definitely look into organic, artisanal, wood baked coal oven pizza with plum tomatoes imported from San Marzano. Well, maybe some other spot we used to go to then? Oh, you have a business brunch to go to in Bushwick for a new wine bar you’re opening that re-creates the atmosphere of southern Spain. That’s awesome man, awesome. You’re really making good bruh! I’m proud of you man! Yes, yes I’d love to come to the opening and meet Chloe. I’ll even try and learn a little French! Alright bruh, Brooklyn, it was great seeing you!