Sunday, November 06, 2011

Wall Street Occupied (by the Dark Knight)

On a typical Saturday I walk all around lower Manhattan (starting my walk from my apartment on East 50th Street), sometimes walking up Wall Street. Since 9/11 Wall Street has had limited access, but usually the sidewalks are open to pedestrian traffic and even the street itself is usually open to pedestrian traffic. Since the Occupy Wall Street movement moved into the neighborhood there have been the usual steel barricades to assure that people stay on the sidewalks. But, this past Saturday (11/5) I walked up Wall Street from the East River and around Water Street or Pearl Street even the side walk was closed with barricades and there were two police cars blocking the street.
 
Except, the police cars were an odd color of blue and had some strange-looking emblem on the doors. I figured maybe they were for some private security company since some of the banks on Wall Street have intensive security forces. There were no cops near the cars, so I walked up to examine the emblems and they did say "Police Department", but for the "City of Gotham." Ah... that explains it. I had seen some movie production trucks a block earlier. So, this had to be filming of the new "Dark Knight" sequel That had been rumored.
 
I detoured towards the south of Wall Street and then parallel to Wall Street to get to Broad Street where the New York Stock Exchange is located. They also had Broad Street barricaded, but after a few minutes of looking around I noticed them open up the barricade on the east side of Broad Street and they were letting people through.
 
Walking north on Broad Street across from the stock exchange I noticed a lot of little piles of fluffy white stuff, which I presume was fake snow.
 
Crossing over Wall Street in front of the old Morgan bank building I saw a large stream of movie extras entering the building, many of whom were in full, heavy riot gear with body armor and assault rifles. Presumably they had just finished filming on the closed-off portion of Wall Street.
 
I noticed that all of the usual steel barricades at the intersection of Broad and Wall were gone. I guess they just didn't fit into the movie screenplay. Ironic, that a movie shot with heavy security and street violence would want less security measures visible than what are normally on the street on a typical, uneventful day. Interesting how reality can be stranger than fiction – the old adage that truth can be stranger than fiction since fiction has to make sense.
 
Just up Nassau Street a half-block (Nassau is the continuation of Broad Street but the name changes at Wall Street!) I saw a movie flyer taped to a pole which detailed access restrictions that day due to filming for "Magnus Rex", mentioning the use of simulated gunfire and assault rifles (and noting that this required careful coordination with NYPD). So, yes, this definitely was probably filming for the new Dark Knight sequel. And, once again, quite ironic how with all of the tenseness and quasi-violence of the nearby Occupy Wall Street encampment (two blocks north and one block west), they would have all of this fictional violence at the same time.
 
Is fiction mocking reality or is reality mocking fiction?
 
And, as expected, when I walked along the outside of Zucotti park it was nothing but a kind of calm buzziness not unlike any NYC park – except for the uncontrolled frenzy of the drummers and the spectators egging them on as they approached their 6 PM drumming curfew.
 
AFAICT, the size of the Zucotti Park "movement" was about the same as in recent weeks. It hasn't managed to spill into surrounding areas and other nearby parks yet and is too packed for much more internal growth. In fact, the Manahatta Park at the East River end of Wall Street is still completely empty except for a few kids on skateboards and those little trick bicycles and with no apparent security guards or policemen to give them any grief. Who knows, maybe Manahatta is simply too far from the limelight of Broadway and the World Trade Center site, even if it is actually on Wall Street. There is also a reasonably large brand new park area across the street on the East River and adjacent to the ferry pier, very underutilized and completely devoid of any occupiers, but unlikely to draw the attention of anybody other than a lot of tourists and odd people like me.

-- Jack Krupansky

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