Bicycles, Cars, Trailers, and Movie Magic

Mar 16, 2007 by

Right now, here in New Orleans, Hollywood South, movie magic is happening. Yes, we could all be gushing about Brangelina, or we could debate the finer points of what the film industry could do to/for our city, or we could all ignore it as yet another wave of change rolls in. Instead, I just like to roll around in the movie magic.

Today, on my daily bike ride home, I reveled in the self-righteousness of crusing past several blocks of cars down St. Charles where there is always a jam at the broken light at Jefferson. At the next block, a pair of policemen had stopped a few cars and I looked around for an accident. The cop in the street motions to me to ride up to him. “I don’t see why you can’t go through, no reason to hold you up. They’re filming this College movie at the library, just don’t stop.” I rode on, past the usual fleet of shiny, huge trailers, trucks full of filming equipment, and people scurrying about. (The people who scurry are obviously not local. We don’t scurry here.)

For several blocks there was no traffic at all. I swerved my bike, enjoying the full breadth of St. Charles. The oaks and their speckled shadows were all for me. This was a scene in my movie.

No cars!!!

A week ago, I rode through the filming of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I didn’t realize that they were actually shooting until I happened upon a very friendly couple. They were excellently dressed for a Wednesday afternoon, her in a peach wool suit and him in in crisp brown with a sharp hat. Surrounding us was a array of the finest 50’s and 60’s cars New Orleans has to offer. The white girl with the beehive across the street ultimately tipped me off and I asked the couple if I should keep biking. “Go on. They’ll yell when we’re supposed to start walking up this side walk, again.” I rode on. The doors to all of the crew/cast trailers were open. Inside there were people lounging on comfortable couches, pacing in circles, even scurrying, with the room to do it! These huge trailers lined at least seven blocks of Napoleon Avenue in Broadmoor, dwarfing the FEMA trailers that sat behind them on every other lawn.

I told Maitri about my fantastic bike ride home today as we sat in her car outside of a parking lot full of trailers. I excitedly pointed at the lot. “Look, movie trailers! (Ignore the pun if you dare.) I can tell they’re movie trailers because they’re nice and so much bigger than FEMA trailers!” Momentarily proud of my discernment in trailers, soon the disgusting nature of the comparison sucked the movie magic right out of me. Instead of talking about Brangelina, or the film industry, we just ignored them. Instead we ranted about the toxicity of FEMA trailers, their depressing, confining size, and the criminal amounts of money that were paid for them. FEMA spends about $60,000 for each of these plain white trailers over their estimated life span of 18 months. For that cost they could have got a bulk rate on luxury or at least human sized trailers. A lot of these trailers are camper sized, and intended only for a few nights stay.

So, Hollywood, many of us are glad for the business and jobs that you have brought to our city. I enjoy the magical way you make cars dissapear. But you better look out. What we really like are your trailers.

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