Walking up St. Nicholas Avenue around 2pm on Friday afternoon on my way home from the Wyckoff Starr, the coffee shop I manage, I passed an unusual sight: a tall, long-haired man attempting to throw a pair of laced-together sneakers over a telephone wire in broad daylight.
Unlike most of Manhattan, where they bury the power lines, above-ground telephone poles are an iconic feature of my neighborhood and perhaps of Brooklyn generally, an anachronistic footnote in the digital age. Diagonally across the street from where the man was tossing the sneakers, a film crew of about fifteen waited patiently. I asked them what they were filming. “SNL,” one of them answered.
I stood in the small crowd that had gathered on the southeast corner of St. Nick and Hart Street outside the Ocean Laundry Center run by my next door neighbor, Lee, and watched. The long-haired man got it after a few tries, just as I started shooting video on my phone. I thought about Instagramming with the caption, “Bushwick gets camera-ready” but then deleted it. Too snarky, I decided.
Further up Hart Street, closer to Cypress Avenue, two men sat on a tandem bicycle waiting for their cue. One of my best friends is the proud owner of a tandem, which I have an extremely personal attachment to and still like to borrow when the weather is nice and I have a willing partner to ride along. For my friend’s benefit, I make a point to document every tandem I see.
On Saturday, I got a text from my mom a few minutes before midnight: “SNL in Bushwick!!!” and the next morning I woke up to find an email from her with a video of the sketch called “Bushwick, Brooklyn 2015.”
I think my parents are the biggest fans I know of that show. Still, I couldn’t help but crack up at the line: “You actin’ like somebody put gluten in your muffin or something.” It really got me. This year at the coffee shop, we answered popular demand by offering, for the first time, gluten-free muffins and bars made by a local vegan baker named Hope. I guess life imitates art.
Paul Rome is a writer of fiction and performance literature. His first novel, “We All Sleep in the Same Room,” was longlisted for the 2014 PEN/Bingham Prize for debut fiction. After premiering to a sold-out run at The Bushwick Starr, his latest stage work, “Philadelphia and Other Stories,” runs at Walkerspace in Manhattan, February 11-21. More info at paulrome.com.