How they do it in New York: 'Brooklyn Boheme' premieres, SFNY goes out with a bang

Nelson George (far right) chronicles his '90s bonhomie in 'Brooklyn Boheme.'

Do people within a "scene" ever recognize it at the time? Does that self-awareness kill the vibe, or is it essential in forming a group identity? Perhaps the answers can be gleaned at the Thu/12 Bay Area premiere of hip-hop writer Nelson George's latest flick Brooklyn Boheme -- a documentary filled with glimpses of baby Rosie Perez, Erykah Badu, and Talib Kweli in the thick of their Fort Greene, Brooklyn heyday. The show's being thrown down by SFNY,  the three-year event series concluding this week that has connected SF and NYC with promises of slick DJs in fancy hotels and bicoastal culture swap. 

Hip-hop historian Jeff Chang interviewed George about the period he explores in Boheme. In that exchange, George's top five moments from Fort Greene circa mid-'80s to '90s make it sound like a dream: 

"1. I had a book party for The Death of Rhythm & Blues at my place at 19 Willoughby Avenue in 1988 that attracted a very eclectic group of folks, from Russell Simmons to Melba Moore to supermodels. It was a very fun, memorable party.

2. Chris Rock coming over to that same apartment to pitch me the film that eventually became CB4.

3. Sneaking around one night to the apartments of two women who lived around the corner from each other for booty calls. A very risky, but exciting night."

Judging from the trailer, Brooklyn Boheme is an insider's look at the kids everyone wanted to be like in the '90s. Yeah, that's Michael Jordan hanging with Spike Lee, what? Mos Def -- sorry, Yasiin Bey -- pre-Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, visual artist Lorna Simpson reminiscing on the productivity that came from hanging out around densely-packed, extravagantly brilliant people (Lorna, I'm down for tips on how to do this if you're offering.) The snapshot of the temporary community is made even more poignant with the knowledge of what came about in the neighborhood later on. The trailer acknowledges that Fort Greene has become synonymous with gentrification. Blame it on the artists... 

After the flick, head to the Clift Hotel for sets by KM/FM (King Most, FA, and Marky), Wonway Posibul (Latin Soul Brothers-Thinkbeat Radio), Haylow (Roy Ayers Project-70/30), and Jerry Nice (Groove Merchant Records). 

Brooklyn Boheme premiere

Thu/12 8pm; $5 movie only, $15-$45 movie and afterparty

Clay Theater 

2261 Fillmore, SF

SFNY wrap party-Brooklyn Boheme afterparty

Thu/12 10pm-2am

Clift Hotel 

495 Geary, SF