I was riding along with Jewish Friend a while ago as she navigated her neighborhood. As we turned a corner right behind her house, I saw a rent-a-cop, a series of white awning-type-things, and a bunch of people sitting around at tables under the awnings. There was a partial barricade, but the rent-a-cop waved us through apathetically. I careened my neck around.
“Is this a yard sale, or something?” I asked.
Jewish Friend made a face, “No, it’s that damned Brotherhood ruining my life some more.”
“Is that some kind of weird religious group?”
“No, it’s a TV show.”
Turns out The Brotherhood is a TV show on Showtime. It takes place is Providence and showcases the city’s colorful, mafia background. It’s the kind of show that if I had seen it before moving here, I never would have moved here. I got the first disc of the first season from Netflix and within the first five minutes of the pilot the word niggar had been used about ten times, and someone was killed with a shovel. It’s interesting enough, a bit talky for my taste, but rather fun to watch just to figure out where exactly they are within the city.
For example, the main character, lives 1/2 block away from Jewish Friend in a fictitious neighborhood known as “The Hill” (there are actually seven hills in Providence– can you name them all?); they shoot extensively within the State House (since one of the characters is a politician), and at various familiar locales around town– there was a scene where a girl and her boyfriend got beat up right in front of my favorite bookstore! It’s kind of like Where’s Waldo.
This morning I was walking to work and I saw two men standing outside of a parked car. What first made me take notice of them was the fact that they were white and wearing suits. This could be explained away as they were standing in front of the funeral home, but as I looked closer at the scene of one man leaning down and talking to the driver of the car and one man standing slightly behind him, it all seemed a bit strange. The man standing completely upright, had a very deliberate posture, and his skin seemed a strange color. I’ve been sick lately, so I’m a bit slow, but suddenly it hit me, these men were ACTing.
There was another somewhat official looking man, milling around on the sidewalk, and then I noticed an expensive-looking camera mounted on the car. I recalled how many shots in the one or two episodes I wantched of this show were shot through car windows just like this, and concluded “many.”
As I continued on my route to work, I saw the standard rent-a-cop, trailers with shiny silver signs, and the hateful, hateful white paper signs reading “No Parking, Tow Zone” stapled and taped to poles. These signs never have dates or times on them, they are just there, and I swear half the time, The Brotherhood forgets to take them down when they change location. Last time I got a haircut, it took me fifteen minutes to find any patch of street that didn’t have one of these signs, and I was too afraid of being towed to just take a chance.
There was a similar incident this past fall. Apparently Richard Gere was filming a movie in Rhode Island and needed a few academic looking shots. An email came out to all URI students telling up that for three days, we would not be able to park near campus. We were still expected to go to class, of course, but parking would be taken up by movie crews and streets would be blocked off, and we’d best just find another way. I didn’t have to go to campus any of the blackout days, but still told anyone who would listen to me how outraged I was, and demanded “why aren’t I seeing a cut of the money they must be making from this movie?”
So now The Brotherhood may be leaving Jewish Friend’s Hill to come to my Hill, but I’m really not too bothered by it just yet. It makes the walk to work a bit more exciting, and maybe if I keep watching the show, I’ll see myself prancing through the background.