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Crack Head Lee- Spike Lee’s crackhead younger brother

March 26, 2008

Spike’s Joint Grand Opening 1990392 Clinton ave

Now let me preface this story by saying I have nothing but respect for fellow Brooklynite Spike Lee. He’s done a lot of good things as far as representing the neighborhood and Brooklyn as a whole.  You could watch “She’s Gotta Have It” on mute and still appreciate the shots of neighborhood; literally art in motion. Not too many cinematographers would be able to capture the beauty and character of the neighborhood the way it was done in “She’s Gotta Have It”(And it was shot in black and white!).  But being a talented, rich, director/cinematographer does not exempt you from dealing with the problems that plague many in this borough and citywide.  There’s a saying in certain communities around the city and it goes…”Every family has atleast ONE”(1 dope fiend, crackhead, or alcoholic, etc..you get the picture).  And unfortunately the Lee family is not any different!

              1990, the number. Another summer…It’s summer time in the city(crime and crack ruled) and a few friends and I had just made 25.00 for a few hours work, slipping flyers under doors for one of the local politicians(I can’t remember if it was Roger Green or Ed Towns). It was one of those bright Brooklyn days, everybody was out seemingly in a festive mood. We posted up on top of the stoop at 392 Clinton ave and began plotting our day.  Okay, we would chip in 2.50 a piece to get us a nickelbag of skunk, get a 40 ounce of malt liquor, then head over to St.James Towers to kick it with a few shorties(young ladies) we had crushes on. The thinking was that after hanging with them for a few, we’d convince them to come on our side to get a bite to eat at…Where else?! The Cunny House(see post#2)! These plans would change in an instant once we saw a certain someone headed up Clinton ave, coming from Lafayette towards Greene ave.

           Now let me backtrack a bit. Earlier in the summer Spike Lee opened a store in Fort Greene named Spike’s Joint. The store sold merchandise that was garnished with the titles of his movies and film company 40 acres and a mule. I liked some of the shirts and particularly the baseball caps but at 20.00 a pop for a hat and 15.00 for a t-shirt, the clothing was too exorbitant for my pockets. Previously you would only see people that worked on his movies with this gear or people that moved in certan social circles.

          Back to 392 Clinton ave. We look up the block and we see a guy in a red “Mo’ Betta Blues” baseball cap and “Do The Right Thing” t-shirt on with a bag in his hand. He was short, pigeon toed, walking like he was on mission. Even from afar he bore a slight resemblance to one of Brooklyn’s most famous directors; even more so upon inspection as he came closer except his nose was slightly bigger and face looked like rocky road ice cream. When he got in front of the building the conversation went something like this:

 Me: What’s up man?

Crack Head Lee:(eyes wide as 50 cent pieces) huh…

Me: Whats up

CHL: (in a low voice) oh what’s up…ya’ll got work(crack)?

My Friend: How much are you spending?!

CHL: Well…see uhh I have these clothes and I was gonna ask…

Me:(excited) Where are the clothes from?!!

CHL: Spikes Joint, I have two hats and six shirts.

My friend: That’s messed up man

Me:(piggy backing on my homie) Yeah thats real fucked up

CHL: What are you talkin’ ’bout?

Me: You think we don’t know, who you are…your brother opened a store and your gonna steal…

CHL: Listen man I gotta go…I’m tryin’ to get..

My friend: We KNOW..you’re tryin’ to get high

Me: So check it if you go up the block they’re going to give you 3-4 jacks tops(street value $15-$20)

My friend: or they might take it from you…we’ll give you $30 for the whole bag!

CHL:(eyes wider) Okay, I’ll take dat

My friend and I:(laughter) I bet you will!!

So with that the plans for the day changed(as well as our outfits, after a cool shower we put the new gear on immediately). Instead of The Country House the shorties had to settle for Luigi’s Pizza on DeKalb. And that very day we realized that what was just a saying in our minds had to just come to fruition…”There’s one in every family”…Even the family of a critically lauded award winning director. This was the first of few encounters with CHL. I want to end this by saying I am not insensitive nor am I making light of people that have addictions, it’s a problem.  But we crossed paths in life and I should be able to speak on it.

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