The Bronx Keeps Creating It


In the immortal words of the Hip-Hop prophet, KRS-ONE, chides the boroughs claiming that, “Manhattan keeps on making it, Brooklyn keeps on taking it, Bronx keeps creating it, and Queens keeps on faking it!!”

He belts this out in the end of his first verse as a shot back at MC Shan’s song “The Bridge.” Although KRS-ONE, performing under the name of his group BDP (Boogie Down Productions), is chiding Shan for proclaiming that Hip-Hop began in Queens, Shan was actually mentioning the Hip-Hop scene in Queens, which had been overlooked (as well as the other boroughs) due to the myth making breeding grounds of the Bronx. The Bronx is an interesting place, and to this day it still feels like a place stuck in suspended animation. The borough had been a haven for working class and middle class families, not to mention its rich history going back to the 16th century. Unfortunately, the great urban planner, and as Robert Caro labeled him the “Pawn Broker,” Robert Moses got his way and carved up the borough beginning in the 1950’s. By the end of the decade of the 1960’s the Cross Bronx Expressway cut right through residential neighborhoods, tearing asunder the cohesiveness of these homogenous communities. The many Jewish, Italian, and Irish families fled to the suburbs, yet some of the poorer families were forced to stay behind. The divestment process began at the same time in reaction to the riots in the 1960’s. Many businesses left the Bronx, creating a glut and blight that rendered the area lawless and un-salvageable. The squalor would lead the neighborhoods to band into gangs, usually with gangs like the Black Spades, which was all black, and the Young Lords, which was mostly Latino. Many positive things came out of this period of stagnation like the birth pangs of Hip-Hop culture. However, popular culture, as it does so proficiently to this day, jumped onto the myth making band wagon by churning out these outer worldly commentaries and pieces on the devastation of the Bronx. The media and Hollywood took a close look at the scene in the Bronx, and then produced these popular films to the backdrop of Hell, A/K/A The Bronx. Movies like Fort Apache: The Bronx,

Portray this area as a desolate island of crime ridden filth, where the cops (mostly depicted in the film as corrupt low lives) patrol through this lawless area where no answer is in sight. You can see in the trailer how all the major newspapers and popular press saw this as a compelling film that all eyes should gaze upon. However, activists and residents of the Bronx protested the making of the film from the very beginning, seeing it as overtly exploitative, racist, and stereotypical of the ghetto porn Hollywood was churning out at this point. Other films made at this time also portrayed the Bronx, as well as the entire New York City area as crime ridden, lawless, and a powder keg of anarchy waiting to explode. Another example is the infamous film The Warriors,
This is a glorification of gang life, as well as their potential to overthrow the city. Although the main characters, The Warriors, hail from Coney Island, Brooklyn, the main attraction is the opening scene where the meetings of the gangs takes place in ground zero, The Bronx. These films came out in the 1970s and 1980s. They kept churning these films out, and all had one common factor; They all portrayed the Bronx as the shit hole where people go to kill or be killed. Just reading the caption of this film you can sense the feeling that we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!!! An Italian perspective, By the 1990’s the films expanded into far-reaching historical territory, but they still felt tense as with the racial tension felt throughout the film. And of course we have the silly, and in actuality the entire film was not filmed in the Bronx, but in neighboring Queens. However, it seems far more sexy calling it Rumble in the Bronx! Who cares about a rumble in Brooklyn, and Rumble in Queens? Let us now take those blinder off and see what the Bronx is really made of. Parts of the Bronx are still in decline, but what we need is a combined campaign of reality. We need to see things for what they really are, grey and complicated. It’s unfair to call the Bronx dangerous, due to the many locations in the borough that create great products, ideas, and innovations. One fine example is a born and bred Bronxite, who’s also a very close friend of mine and just had a Birthday!!! Paul Ramirez. Paul, (pictured on the left) along with his brother Anthony have begun years ago to label the Bronx as a new innovative product for the world. They knew, as well as constantly cheer-led the idea of the many cultural facets and ideas coming from the richness that is the Bronx. Through their company Mainline Entertainment, they inspired others in the borough into creating new visuals and reformulation of the old formula, which is the Bronx. They also heralded a great project through the borough and the city by opening the magnificently tasting Bronx Beer Hall…

In their very words that I want to quote they write that, “Nestled in the heart of the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, The Bronx Beer Hall is the place to be. We offer the complete selection of Jonas Bronck’s Beer Co.’s original craft beers, as well as an original menu curated by Chef David Greco of Mike’s Deli notoriety. Whether shopping for groceries or perusing the bustling streets of the Bronx’s Little Italy, The Bronx Beer Hall is the perfect place to kick back, grab a bite and enjoy a cold one. Come on by, you are always welcome.” I couldn’t have done it better myself. This is one of the many ventures my man Paul has partook in so that he can revitalize the Bronx in a new fashion. We should all check it out, plan gatherings and give him props for the genius of looking beyond the stereotypes and rather amusing movies and seeing the Bronx for what it really is, a beautiful spot that I always felt comfortable in and glad to call it one of the best borough in New York City. Happy Be-Lated Birthday, and thanks for being my honorary Jewish brother, and for your amazing family who have shown me nothing but love, patience and compassion. Much love man, Peace


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