Sunday, June 12, 2005

Always do the right thing

Last night the cab driver who took me home (and also lives in my neighborhood) informed me that the deli owner who was shot a few months back died. Last time I was there, it was closed. Get-well cards drawn by school children were hanging in the window and a big teddy bear laid by the gated door. The cards made us all feel hopeful. They said things like "I hope you get better fast mister, and I hope the bad guys that took your money and hurt you get caught." All I can think of now is how I used that deli for shelter on rainy days when waiting for the bus in high school. I would buy a 25 cent cholocolate-covered pretzel stick so I wouldn't get accused of loitering. He was such a nice man, and after 14 years of living in this neighborhood, I still don't know his name. I just remember he was nice.

I finally Netflixed Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" and a part of me felt like I was watching my own neighborhood's story. Why didn't anyone warn me it was gonna be so sad? I cried buckets when Sal's Pizzeria got destroyed. If it was a Pizza Hut no one would have cared.... but when you destroy a small family business, you destroy a family. The way Spike Lee portrayed the tension between the Blacks, Italians, Asian shop-owners and cops was so realistic. Throw in some Jews and a Bangladeshi family and there is my neighborhood. Oh, the other reason the movie hit so close to home is because it took place in the hottest week of the year, just like it is in Philly now. Some scenes left me confused though....

1) Why did Mookie throw the garbage can through Sal's window, causing a riot, if just a few minutes ago Sal told Mookie how he saw him as a son and he would always have a place for him?

2) After destroying the Italian-owned business, in a fit of rage and emotion, why didn't the neighborhood residents destroy the Korean-owned business too? It seemed like Sal was more popular in the neighborhood than the Korean shop owners.

3) Spike Lee says that at the end of the movie he wanted the Blacks to take a stand. What are they taking a stand against? Other ethnicities having businesses in their neighborhood?

4) Who was the leader or moral authority in the movie? Maybe it was Da mayor because even if he was a drunk, he tried to do the right thing. Maybe it was the radio announcer, he commented on what was wrong with the neighborhood, but than again it is easy to be moral when you are removed in a row-home converted studio. Maybe it was Sal, who shouted nasty words here and there, but was a hard worker and led by example.

The hardest part of the movie for me was when the riot started at Sal's Famous Pizzeria, and Sal and his sons could do nothing but watch both their past and future burn to the ground.

This movie left me restless.... too many thoughts going through my head. I don't know what to do.

All I can think to do now is quit eating chocolate-covered pretzel sticks. They bring on too many sad memories.


At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is one of my all-time fav movies, easily. ive yet to see the criterion collection edition, which i head has a retrospective on the movie.

mookie calculates the breakin of Saul's. Much like a son goes against his father out of frustration/angst. much of the rage was based in a basic missunderstading of where the oither side is coming from. Mookie wants his pay. Saul feels like hes helpin mookie out more then anyone else could.

The Koreans were spared, but if you remember the one guy goes 'your OK for now'- or something like that.

there are tons of nuances that get lost in the movie- like mookie saying to saul, that he'll make twice the money in insurance from the fire. obviously a contrast to Radio Rakeem who wont be coming back.

moral authority is the mayor. him being portrayed drunk is a metaphor to the court jester.

the best thing about his movie is the ending. how two quotes of of King and Macolm X are just put up there. kind of to accentuiate the fork in the road for the future that still exists today. but also as a message that its really just one struggle.

crazy one


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