I spend a lot of time walking around Brooklyn for work, so I like to think that I'm pretty comfortable on the sidewalks of the borough, even though I'm obviously a transplant and I've only really been doing it for a few months. Still, I no longer jump when a junkyard dog hits the fence barking bloody murder, or when a car horn blasts next to me, or a teenager throws a shoulder at me to impress his friends. I'm no local, I tell myself, but I'm no farm boy, either.
Cut to this afternoon, when I was walking down one of my favorite blocks in Bushwick, the stretch of Woodbine between Evergreen and Central that's home to the Woodbine Street Block Association. It was about 1 in the afternoon, the sun was shining, a pair of older gentlemen had stopped for a brief chat in front of me, an old blue Oldsmobile was rolling by slowly . . . and then a loud blast, followed by the sound of clattering, shattered the peace and quiet. The car screeched to a halt, the two men ahead of me startled, and I, well, I damn near jumped out of my skin and then stumbled all over myself on the ice as I tried to take cover behind a totally inadequate tree. Was it a brick through a window? A bullet through a window? A Molotov cocktail?
Nope. See above. Some pour soul carrying groceries home had apparently lost a coconut, which had made its way into the street only to meet a ghastly end at the hands of the Oldsmobile, a Caribbean retelling of "On Top of Spaghetti." And once I figured this out, I felt about as green as a rack full of discount Brett Favre jerseys. After all, what could possibly be less threatening than a coconut?
To my credit, the noise visibly startled the other men on the street, as well as the driver, who probably thought he'd blown a tire. And it's not as though I'd ever heard a coconut popping before--it was a foreign sound! And come on--the Swiss Family Robinson made use of coconuts to deadly effect! If you think I'm reaching at this point, you'd be right. The bottom line is that a coconut still scared the beejezus out of me.
In conclusion, if you're ever making a low-budget film that requires a few shotgun-blast sound effects, head to the supermarket, buy a few coconuts, and record your buddy running them over with his Olds in the parking lot.