I moved into Fort Greene, Brooklyn on Brooklyn Day 1985. I was already an established music critic/historian, but moving into this area in downtown Brooklyn would change my life just as would scores of other young black and Hispanic artists. The area already had a rich artistic legacy of going back to when Richard Wright composed much of his landmark1940s novel Natiev Son in Fort Greene Park. In the 1970s, just as white flight was changing Fort Greene's ethic balance, jazz musicians like Betty Carter, Cecil Taylor, Slide Hampton and Bill Lee were buying brownstones in the neighborhood. I was lucky enough to move into the area in the wake of another wave of jazz musicians, all in their 20s, were moving in with Branford Marsalis and (briefly) brother Wynton, the most famous of the bunch. Turned out I was renting a duplex around the corner from Spike Lee, a wanna be filmmaker I'd met once through a friend. Spike's breakthrough film, She's Gotta Have It, not only put him on the map, but shown a spotlight on the community of young artists already there and made Fort Greene/Clinton Hill a magnet for emerging actors, musicians, visual artists and designers from all over the country. Rock star Vernon Reid, comedian Chris Rock, actress Rosie Perez, visual artists Lorna Simpson and poet/actor Saul Williams were just a few of the wave of talent that would be seduced by the beautiful brownstones and the feeling of artistic community. A vibrant spoken word scene would develop out of the Brooklyn Moon restaurant, while a group of female artists would form an influential avante garde theater group known as Rodeo Caldonia. I lived through all this, was inspired by it, watched my peers make great art and was saddened as both success and gentrification changed Fort Greene forever. With my directing partner Diane Paragas I'm making Brooklyn Boheme to capture the excitement and spirit of the brilliant artistic community I was so proud to be part of.
- (30 days)