|Posted on 2005-04-01 01:27:40 by Denver|
Diary of a Confused White Man
Why don't the garbage men pick up our recycling? Every Sunday night I put the blue plastic bags filled with our wine bottles and dry cleaning bags out on the curb on Cambridge Place and when I get home from work on Monday evening our three bags are still sitting there. Our bags have usually been ripped open at the top, a neck of a wine bottle or the end of a wire hanger stretches through the gash. And a quick survey of the rest of the block shows a clean pathway. Am I not tying the bags tight enough? Are the bags the wrong color blue? Is there contraband inside that isn't recyclable? I am considering calling Mayor Mike's 311 number to complain about these guys but I don't like to be a nuisance, especially to garbage men. Still, they're not doing their job, and they're definitely not keeping the streets of Brooklyn clean.
Yes, we live in a dirty city. I'm not ashamed of it. I don't live in California anymore. I'm down with the dirt. However, our borough does have an inferiority complex in relation to Manhattan and I don't want to contribute to that. Keeping the streets clean is an uphill battle in this culture, I know, but we all have to do our part.
I don't want to get on the wrong side of these guys however, because we need their services every week. Perhaps if I disguise the recycling in a larger black bag they will assume it's garbage. I think it all goes through the same chute somewhere in Staten Island anyway.
Another freezing cold Saturday in March. I went to see Mrs. Collymore at her coffee shop. She and Bill Saunders, our Democratic District Leader were huddled around an electric heater drinking coffee and arguing about whether there were any Jews in Clinton Hill, our neighborhood. She insisted there was and he said no, in fact, where was the synagogue if that was the case. She said well then where are they and he said they were two sects in Brooklyn near our neighborhood. One was in Williamsburg (the neighborhood to the north) along Bedford Avenue- the sect of the Satmarer Hasidim. I ride my bike through this neighborhood often; it is like traveling back in time to eastern europe. Every man in this neighborhood looks exactly the same; the men wear long frock coats and skullcaps as well as long beards and uncut earlocks. The women wear long dark skirts and head shawls. Their Hasidic Jewish heritage is evident in the Yiddish signs on all of the buildings; except for the cars on the road you don't see a trace of modern American culture anywhere. What's the best restaurant in the neighborhood? What is the ideology of this sequestered community? I wouldn't know who to ask.
The other Jewish community, Bill said, was the Lubavitch sect in Crown Heights. I ride my bike through this area occasionally and do not feel the same sense of isolation that wraps the streets of the Satmar Sect in Williamsburg. They don't dress in the same rigid fashion code or have the same architectural and economic footprint.
Mrs. C said the Jews didn't vote in the last election and that was why we were saddled with much maligned Letitia James, the black city councilwoman in our district. Bill said it wouldn't matter if the Jews did vote as whites make up only eighteen percent of the population in our area (which includes Bed Stuy, Fort Green, Crown Heights, south Williamsburg and Clinton Hill). Mrs. C then switched the subject and wondered aloud why white men were always impregnating black women and then slinking back home to their white wives. I wondered if one of them had tried to sleep with her. I knew her kids and they didn't look like they had any white man's blood in their veins. I had my own theories about interracial romance but I didn't say them out loud. She complained that this kind of miscegenation had been going on for years and she had mulatto friends who were the result. She had just been to a memorial service for one of them. This was a big problem, she said. Bill, who is an old gay black man, had nothing to say about this.
"I guess this has been going on since the days of Thomas Jefferson" I said.
Hell yes, she responded, and continued to excoriate the interbreeding and disingenuous nature of the white male adult in our society.
There is a new movie poster up on our subway platform - Diary of a Mad Black Woman. On the poster is a black man dressed like an old woman. He/she is holding a gun. Didn't Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy both make films dressed as old black women? I haven't seen Brown Sugar, The Cookout, Barbershop 1 or 2, or any of LL Cool J's films. I'm not a big fan of Queen Latifah or Vin Diesel, either. Something about this film - perhaps the fact that it was based on a very successful gospel play or maybe the image of an old black woman with a gun- compelled me to ask my friend Candace, who is black and lives in Harlem, if she wanted to go see it. We got tickets to a sold out 5pm show at the Magic Johnson Cinemas on 125th Street. This is the same Harlem movie theater where Chris Rock interviewed black moviegoers during this year's Academy Awards. In the lobby there are giant fresco murals of Magic Johnson's face smiling benevolently (does he have any other kind of smile?) down from the heavens. The theater was crowded - a woman in our row tried to reserve a seat for her coat and almost got into a fistfight with a patron who wanted to sit in the chair. The previews for upcoming films all featured black characters (Sandra Bullock has a black female sidekick in an upcoming film called Miss Congeniality 2 - my friend Candace whispered "I'm going to see that to support . (the black actress in the film)." Magic Johnson appeared in a clip asking us to visit the concessions stand. The "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" does not star the character featured on the poster - the old black grandmother with a gun. In fact, the film is about a beautiful young black woman who gets revenge on her evil black lawyer husband after he throws her out of their mansion in which they've lived for eighteen years so that he can have uninterrupted sex with his trashy white mistress. God plays a large role - mostly as a deus ex machina that allows the filmmaker to cure a junkie's drug addiction, end a man's paralysis, and resolve a family quarrel. There are long, gratuitous scenes of gospel singing, front yard barbecue dancing, and jazz club canoodling. The tone of the film veers from saccharine romance to intense violence and then to vaudeville transvestite humor. There are jokes about Whitney Houston and Viagra. The great aunt with a gun is a comic supporting role played by the film's writer Tyler Perry, who also plays the old lecherous uncle. During the movie the audience spoke loudly to the characters on the screen expressing their disapproval or satisfaction. My friend Candace took a phone call during the middle of the film, as did the woman sitting on my left.
"Oh yeah, this movie is good. It's funny, you're gonna like it." This went on despite of, and perhaps in protest to, the short pre-film clip reminding patrons about the inappropriateness of using mobile phones in the theater. Later I realized I wasn't privy to a lot of the film's narrative code. Clearly there was something funny about a black man dressed up like an old woman and an old man in the same scene. It means something. I just don't know what.
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