Over the years there has been a shift in New York City and suddenly, Brooklyn has become the trendy place to live. It was once the place where real, hard-working people could afford to live and commute to the city without breaking the bank. It was a place where your average blue collar Joe could own a house with a car and a driveway. Now, it has become a place where young urban professionals raise their organic-fed children and hipsters come to have a vegan brunch. A brownstone now costs the same price as college tuition and driveways are empty lots to build condos on. There are so many people now living in Brooklyn just because it’s the cool place to be, that this Brooklyn native has to wonder where all the real Brooklynites have gone. I’m not just talking about the people that live in Brooklyn and barely put a toe in the borough, let alone venture south of Prospect Park (and don’t even get me started on people that ride the G train.) I’m talking about the people that eat square pizza at Spumoni Gardens, had their first kiss on top of the Wonder Wheel, have taken a number at Meats Supreme, fought for parking on 86th street, rode their bikes along the Belt Parkway and eaten a knish in Brighton Beach. I know there are people living in Brooklyn; I was wondering where the people that are Brooklyn are. The cast of Spike TV’s “Scrappers” are Brooklyn.
“Scrappers” is a show that follows three Brooklyn scrap metal crews as they spend their days lifting, digging, moving, and hunting for metal that can be traded in for cash. It’s a physical and demanding job. This season the scrappers have gotten metal out of dumpsters, cleared out yards, broken down a million radiators, and carried boilers and refrigerators down so many narrow staircases that I questioned whether or not there are any non-walk-up apartments left in Brooklyn. These guys aren’t afraid to get dirty for their metallic fortune either. At one point this season, while working in a house with no running water, Sal the Barber defecated in a garbage bag. Hey- when you’re on the job and you got to go, you got to go.
On top of all the hard work that scrapping entails, doing it in Brooklyn makes life harder. How can anyone make a buck when people double-park and block an entire street? How do you get ahead when every time you get to your van you have a parking ticket? And how do you trade in a lamp when a kooky mom and pop shop is trying to haggle with you?
Watching Frankie Noots Crew, Sal the Barber and Dino and Mimmo bust their ass all season is not glamorous reality TV. If you want to watch a wealthy Park Slope couple teach their children how to speak French, Bravo has a show for that. If you want to watch a show about a group of guys who work hard and bust their ass to just try survive, all while promoting recycling (see Park Slope people- scrapping is environmentally friendly) then this is the show to watch.
I’m talking a lot about hard work and how demanding the job of scrapping is, but there’s more to this show than just watching people get gritty jobs done. Watching “Scrappers” is like hanging out with your older brother and his friends. These guys are hilarious. They make fun of each other for drinking slurpees, they talk about flatulence, and they get into snowball fights. They curse, they pick on each other and they flip through playboy magazines (you never know what you’ll find scrapping.) Rounding out all the laughs, these guys have quick one-liners that make a scene end like an old classic three stooges film. The conversation between these guys has the comedic timing that most reality shows can’t touch. (My favorite line of the season? “Don’t forget Darren, the brains behind the operation.”)
When the season ended last night, the door was left open for a Season two. Darren is going to be a father, Frank might buy his own scrap yard, and will Sal and Frank make amends? Hopefully, we will find out because I don’t know if I can go through life without hearing classic lines like “Slurpeez kick ass” and without knowing that a magnet won’t stick to brass. Maybe I’m biased to “Scrappers” because I know the area and I understand the language (even with the thick accent.) Or maybe I’m just tired of Brooklyn being the place to be because it’s suddenly trendy. It’s the place to be because it’s Brooklyn, and it’s the best.
Written by Jessie Kanev