Okay, movie stars live on my block. I can’t tell you who, but they are pretty big movie stars. They show up in magazines all the time and the wife especially seems to be considered Hollywood royalty.
Only here’s the thing: I don’t live in Hollywood, I live in Brooklyn.
There are other movie stars who live in Brooklyn. It happens that movie stars do in fact occasionally move to Brooklyn. When it happened to our block when the movie stars bought Doris’s house everybody was abuzz. Mostly they were abuzz because it got reported in the Daily News, and people were actually really excited to hear how much money Doris got for her brownstone, which frankly needed a lot of work. My neighbor Ray, who has lived on our block for forty years, was particularly tickled that the Daily News described our street as “upper class.” All of this seemed particularly hilarious to him since when he moved in houses on our block were going for maybe eleven thousand dollars and the neighborhood was far from “upper class.”
Anyway the movie stars bought the house, and then they did a lot of work on it (which as I said it sorely needed) and then they moved in. And they seem like nice enough people, not like they’re trying to be anybody’s best friend or anything, but not all snotty and weird, either. When we had our block stoop sale, they came out and sat on the stoop with their baby, and sold junk that was pretty much like everyone else’s junk. And while of course we all know that they’re movie stars, and they know we know, there’s a general sort of “let’s pretend they’re normal” thing that happens, which makes everyone feel better.
So today reporters showed up on our block. They were wandering up and down the street, asking people, “Do you know the movie stars?” My husband reported this to me before I saw them myself; he had heard it from Gary, who lives further up the block. “If I did, I wouldn’t tell you,” Gary told the reporters. Then as he headed down the street, he passed my husband and warned him, they’re out here looking to get quotes about our movie stars. I passed them a little while later, on the way to the gym, and then I passed them again, on the way back home from the gym. Apparently, they spent a good portion of the afternoon focusing telephoto lenses on the front of the house of the movie stars, and trying to get photographs of people inside, and passing by.
The reason there were creepy people on our block asking about our neighbors was, of course, immediately apparent to all of us: Heath Ledger’s terrible and unexpected death. There is some reason to assume that our movie stars knew Mr. Ledger; no one denies it. But having people stand on your street, clearly trying to spy on your neighbors doesn’t happen in Brooklyn. And it is, frankly, unnerving.
Nobody on our block knew Heath Ledger except, of course, our movie stars. But everyone on our block was upset by his death. And we were also upset that there were total strangers hovering around trying to make a buck off of the grief of our neighbors. Maybe it’s hard to imagine, but trust me: When movie stars move to Brooklyn, it’s because they don’t necessarily want to be in magazines all the time. My block felt violated, not only on behalf of our movie stars, but on it’s own behalf. We don’t expect to be their friends. But we want our movie stars to feel safe. And when the press is out there going after whatever it is they think they have a right to go after, even at a time like this, on a sleepy little block in Brooklyn? We all felt it. None of us are safe.
Oh well. I think America is a pretty bizarre place to live. But I like my block.