TypePad is featuring "Only The Blog Knows Brooklyn," and...it's making me homesick. I lived in Brooklyn for 19 years, mostly in Park Slope, which this blog features, including the Armory, which I lived across the street from, and is being...lordy, lordy, gentrified/renovated/perhaps even turned into a sports center!
When I was a Brooklynite, the Armory went through lots of changes. It stopped being a training center for reservists. I think I saw that last gasp...or at least, the last few tokes of grass the reservists used to take during their breaks on my street.
Then, it was a homeless shelter, protested mightily at first because the shelter was promoted as a place for women and children, but the first residents appeared to be men. The protest was particularly Park Slopian...the protesters didn't reject the shelter entirely, but they did want to know why the homeless men had been moved in without any apparent announcement. Later on, it went back to being a shelter for women. Remarkable gardens sprouted on the Armory's front lawn, tended, I believe, by the residents.
Then, the Armory developed a little side business, serving various filmmakers as a set and prop facility. From my window, I could see the prop crew making fake gold bricks for the Woody Harrelson's vehicle "The Money Train," stacked higher and higher on a fold-out table perched on one of the loading docks. Later on, much less happily, the movie "Meet Joe Black" moved into the Armory, only to discover that the HVAC and electrical were woefully below par for, you know, cinematic production. This was during the Rudy years, and I heard rumbles that the Armory needed renovations that he wasn't willing to pay for. I think he was too busy suing the Brooklyn Museum that year.
After the movie began shooting, the Armory was suddenly encircled with brutally noisy generators. I worked at home at the time, and when I think of those days, all I can hear is a gigantic mechanical roar. I never saw Brad Pitt, but I heard, frequently, that Anthony Hopkins was just a regular guy. Park Slope being Park Slope, there was picketing. Moviemaking being moviemaking, the shooting continued until it was done. I've worked in the film business, and I generally root for movies to succeed, knowing how hard it is to even make a bad one. But I do have to say, I felt a certain amount of glee as "Meet Joe Black" tanked. But I am glad to hear that the Armory might be returned to a certain kind of community glory.