But only the shadows of their presence were on location tonight as my neighborhood became the set of Boardwalk Empire. I passed by earlier on an afternoon out and about. Met Sam, who was sitting coolly at the end of one block, just at the edge of the big lights epicenter of a tv shoot, now a somewhat familiar scene in the hood. More and more we’re seeing the small screen light up our streets with the hustle and bustle of Made in NY crews milling about. By the time I reached Sammy, I knew which show it was, and that one lucky neighbor was living in the imaginary home of Al Capone. I also learned the crew would be there till 11 p.m. Sammy was cool, as was everyone else I happened upon there, so I hurried home and returned awhile later, arms full of my almost famous “Good Bars.” Only the best for the best (the folks there were very seriously nice people). As for the Good Bars, these babies are an updated, fully loaded, all natural, 100% artisanal la-di-da’d, all Brooklyn all the time, not-your-grandmama’s-granola bar. And I donated them out of the goodness of my heart and not at all to warm my way into the ever amazing Steve Buscemi’s good graces.
So Mr. B, as it turns out, was not there. I know because I asked another actor if he would be on set and the (young, good looking, and costumed) man told me no, “only Al Capone.” “Bummer,” I muttered, I think, to Al Capone, and kept walking. I don’t watch BE, but only because I don’t get HBO. If I did, though, I would. For now, I’ll satisfy myself with treating the crew to some down home Brooklyn hospitality, and a glimpse of Mr. B, if it’s ever meant to be.
True story, btw, one night in the early aughts, I sat next to him at the Knitting Factory (the downtown one, not the original but before it moved back up to above Houston). I didn’t know it was him because we were sitting nearly shoulder to shoulder, which is really too close to look someone in the face — it’s like turning around to see who’s behind you in the elevator. You just don’t do it. So I sat next to this man for about 20 minutes or more, writing in my journal, which is a regular kind of thing for me to do, and glancing only at his shoes. It must have been a Tuesday or a Thursday night because it wasn’t horribly crowded, and there weren’t enough people to distract me from the guy next to me who was wearing the hush puppies. I wondered what he did for a living. I couldn’t quite make it out. Wall Street didn’t seem to fit. But who goes home after work to change into hush puppies, and slightly worn ones at that? Ultimately I settled on computer programmer/software geek kind of guy, since I figured maybe he worked at home and had slipped out of his slippers and into his night shoes before going out. Although normally I would introduce myself, I refrained because I was meeting friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, and did not want to be obliged to invite this stranger (who struck me as maybe a bit of a loner, sitting against the wall just like me) to join us. And I knew I would have invited him, so instead I didn’t look directly at him or introduce myself at all. The man with the hush puppies left around the time my friends found me. After we said our hellos, one asked me, “How is it sitting next to Steve Buscemi?” “I don’t know. How?” I asked, and waited for the punchline.
Walking back home tonight, I passed this trailer. It’s an eau de homage to giants of the small screen…doubling as WC signage.
There’s no business like show business like no business I know.