Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Film Grows in Brooklyn

So after I left my incredible 5-month residency on Governors Island last summer, followed by yet another nurturing August at Yaddo, I thought "Well, that's it then...back to the corner of my cramped apartment to make a film."  But what can I say, I'm a lucky girl, and instead I have now landed at a wonderful shared artists' studio space in Dumbo.  I've got the rasp of oil paint in my nose and throat and burning in my eyes courtesy of some fellow studio occupants (one is madly stapling away at a canvas just next to me), and indeed I'm back in the saddle making my film. 
At the moment, I'm looking out the window at the top of the Brooklyn Bridge as it peeks out through the base of the Manhattan Bridge.  If I crane my neck out of one of the picture windows just right, I think I can actually see my old digs on Governors Island....okay, maybe not, but hell, it sure feels like it.  In any event, I seem to be managing to  circle the Lower East Side of Lepke's childhood before he became the Brooklyn mob lord he was. And though his view from his adopted Brownsville wouldn't quite be as picturesque as this, this feels just right for my work of visualizing him walking and talking his way from birth to the electric chair.  Here we go loopty loo.
Recently, I spent a day at the NYC Municipal Archives with my trusty sidekick Kathryn O'Kane sifting through some of the multitudes of files they have on Lepke and Murder Inc.  We made it through a fraction of what's there, so a return trip is definitely coming up, but here's one fun fact:  Lepke's final hiding place before turning himself into J Edgar was with the girlfriend of one of his associates.  When she was was later questioned by police, she reported that he had expressed delight that she served him real meals instead of the spaghetti he was used to cooking up on the run, and was grateful for the conversations he could have with her and her young son.  So pparently it's lonely on the lam and the food sucks - let that be a precaution to all you would-be fugitives....
Speaking of running, I'm headed down to Florida next week - family tree in hand - to see Mom and some Buchalter cousins and collect some more family stories (or navigate the aversions, anyway).  I also hope to see Sean, Gurrah Shapiro's descendant and my current "co-star" of the film.  If you missed the video of our Skype chat, you can check it out right here...and stay tuned for more!

LOOKING FOR LEPKE: Lepke and Gurrah on Vimeo

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