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Friday, August 21, 2009

The community is bigger than one person.

Originally I wasn't going to post anything today, it's Friday and I wanna go outside.

But then along came Abby Weissman. Yes, I'm naming names.

A block party styled event, organized by Spike Lee and DJ Spinna, in honor of Fort Greene and Michael Jackson has been planned for Saturday Aug 29th to be held in Fort Greene Park.

Some people may wonder why.

Here's why Spike Lee, despite no longer residing in Brooklyn, put Fort Greene back on the map, in a positive way, that made all the benefits of today's Fort Greene, and to some extent, all of "Brownstone Brooklyn" possible. You wanna argue that, leave your comments below.

Also Spike Lee's business, 40 Acres and a mule filmworks, opened businesses in Fort Greene, his production office and some may remember, his merchandise store, which not only increased the profile of the Fort Greene area, brought positive press and tourists from around the world. And these businesses were also the sites of what? Block Parties; held right in front of Fort Greene park. Therefore, a Spike Lee/Dj Spinna block party is a tradition. It has not been repeated every year, but it's a part of the neighbor summer tradition in the minds of many long term residents of Brooklyn.

The fact that this year's event was dedicated to Michael Jackson has given opponents to an event held in the park an angle to declare the event unsuitable. Michael Jackson didn't stay in Brooklyn long enough to deserve a party held in Fort Greene, that may be but the party is by Brooklynites who are choosing to celebrate Michael Jackson. MJ didn't have to receive mail in Brooklyn to be appreciated here. Even Borough Prez Marty Markowitz with whom I don't always agree, could see it's a party celebrating music and culture most of all.

Enter Abby Weissman. In a letter to the NYTimes Fort Greene/Clinton Hill blog, she argues against the event being held in Fort Greene Park, raising the specter of the masses who will come (I guess like locusts?) from parts unknown and wreck havoc on the area. Where is the evidence to support this last claim? Abby sites the thousands of people who came to the Michael Jackson memorial in Los Angeles as proof that the neighborhood will be overwhelmed...and then she complains. Fine. We live in a Democracy, I disagree with you but make your voice heard if you need.

But now I read that the city is considering relocating the party. Based on the concerns of people like Abby Weissman, who's initial comments seemed to have started the anti-party bandwagon rolling with further statements asking why taxpayers are footing the bill for policing this party and complaining about how the neighborhood will suffer.

And enter my beef and two cents. A few years back there was a massive event the biggest I've seen in Fort Greene Park held that featured neighborhood food vendors, a concert stage a performance by several musicians headlined by Twalib Kweli and thousands of people. It was held without incident, it was orderly, it went into the night shutting down at the time predetermined by city officials. And it was amazing. The park was not hurt. The vitality of the neighborhood harmed, and local businesses around the park, made good business on the foot traffic to and from the event.

This is was not a MICHAEL JACKSON event, it was a Fort Greene event celebrating Michael Jackson, celebrating Spike, celebrating the neighborhood, celebrating our historic neighborhood culture.

What's the difference you may wonder? This is not the Staples center in LA with a schedule of world renown performers and the Jackson family. I know some of the people involved and they described the event to me this way,"you know those block parties we used to do... it's gonna be like that."

The people opposed to the party have a right to be opposed to everything (and quite possibly are), but they've exaggerated the hypothetical dangers of this neighborhood event, created by neighborhood residents, inappropriately depicted the event because it doesn't match their idea of what the neighborhood is. And now they're pressuring the city to succumb to their personal view of things.

I saw on Facebook (of all places) where Abby responded to a pro-party person calling them a Fascist. Before you get with the name calling start with the man in the mirror.

My opinion, if this event is moved somewhere else, if the city succumbs to the misinformation being put out there then an irreparable wedge will be permanently driven into the heart of the neighborhood which has still managed to be united by the good intentions of diverse neighborhoods despite the arrogant sense of entitlement that represents the downside of gentrification.

People's concerns should be addressed. One view of the neighborhood should not be able to bulldoze other citizens and in fact history.


The party has been moved out of the neighborhood.

"It’s official: Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson birthday party will be held in Prospect Park, not in Fort Greene Park."

from NYTimes Local blog

MJ's Rainbow 6/27 - 18


  1. As a brooklyn born, i'm sad to see the party go somewhere else. MJ definitely stirs up discomfort with subconcious feelings of race in all of us. As Cornell West said, you have more than one Black person together, likely music and dance will be involved. It's apart of our culture and only when the naysayers/racists are comfortable with themselves will they be accepting of those who respect and love Black culture. Now more than ever I need to see those like me in celebration of ourselves and the greats like Mike(an artist through decades of civil rights, and corporate greed) in the way that we do it.

  2. I went to the event today (solo) and had a ball! Any event with music and mutual respect is always a good time. This "woman" who initiated the whole incident regarding moving the the party from FGP to PP represents everything I HATE about gentrification. I was born and raised in BK and grew up in the Fort (corner of Dekalb and Adelphi to be exact) and what this lame ass "woman" failed to realize was she was wrong about Fort Green's quaintness. It was always live in the summer. Even the school yards P.S. 20 and J.H.S. 113. Now 'cause people want to come together a couple times a year they thought it should have been moved? The shit is disrespectful to Fort Green, BKLYN history. It should ALL be celebrated. The event today celebrating Michael Jackson's birthday (in Prospect Park) was beautiful and that's cause it brought all these people together from BK in the name of music. The performing arts was always part of FG. That bitch stole that away from a park very dear to my heart. MJ and Fort Green park was nostalgic for me and I can't help but take it personal. I wish Spike would have told them to kiss his ass. He's matured so much. Maybe someday I will too and quit "blacking out" on blogs.


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