A new show “Somewhere in Bushwick” had its second episode go live on YouTube this past Friday. It’s a humble, 10-minute vision of a local trio: David and Jose Rodriguez, brothers who are Bushwick born and raised, along with Brian Stone, a transplant from the suburbs of New Jersey.
In the show, David and Jose play streetsmart wits who muse and brood in the guise of a budding rapper and his budding manager respectively. As David tells Bushwick Daily, he is indeed a rapper, with a debut EP out, hopefully, by the year’s end. He calls the project an exaggerated rendition of their friendship with Stone, who plays a struggling, gangly filmmaker lost in Bushwick. The series, so far, plot their misadventures shooting a music video.
The brothers make for a charismatic twosome. Their conversational banter brings to mind the bro-philosophizing of early Kevin Smith films, capable of delivering that soft knowledge of the day-to-day, the twinkling ease with which ordinary people live their lives in a place they’ve always known. The “rapidly gentrifying” neighborhood becomes the lived terrain of their world where they must adjust their lives. It’s nice to watch a show that doesn’t bank on making white viewers feel like they belong everywhere because they happen to be polite.
In the first episode, Stone approaches the brothers in a bar, in an exchange that begins with David telling Stone to “do us both a favor and get the fuck out” and ends with Stone drenched in liquor and being forciebly kicked out. Stone’s sheer ordinariness gives the scene a strange, angry poignancy. Jose and David perform the muted rage of the powerless, kicked out of their home by the inches.
“Locals feel like things are being taken from right from underneath us,” David told Bushwick Daily over the phone. His voice gives the show its straightforward political sensibility, a sense of direction that brings to mind Spike Lee, whose landmark “Do The Right Thing” recently celebrated its 30th anniversary in its nearby home of Bed-Stuy, and which gets a nod in the script. (“I’m just a struggling black man trying to keep my dick hard in a cruel and harsh world,” Stone laconically quotes.)
Like Lee’s movie, “Somewhere in Bushwick,” sketches out a particular cultural and geographic milieu. “When it comes down to it, when people talk about Bushwick, we feel like they talk about Dekalb to Jefferson and there’s a lot more to Bushwick than that,” David says. “We want to give a voice to people from Halsey down to Aberdeen.”
The animating sense of purpose lifts “Somewhere In Bushwick” above this decade’s wave of adrift outer-borough programming, like “High Maintenance” and “Broad City.” These web series made the move from online to cable TV commonplaces with heroes who are often bumbling gentrifiers themselves, comically paying lip service to the integrity to the communities they busy themselves disintegrating.
Seeing the neighborhood through Rodriguez and Stone’s lens transforms it in its own small way and gives a sense of place and history to the worn buildings and old stores that populate it. It’s nice to see an idea of the Bushwick devoid of people who care about start-ups or lifestyle brands. Perhaps that’s the point.
“I can walk down certain blocks and it just doesn’t feel like my neighborhood anymore,” David says.
Watch the first episode below. Subscribe to their channel here. Next episode will debut in August.
All images courtesy of “Somewhere in Bushwick.”
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