The MTV Video Music Awards has arrived at the Barclays Center and The Brooklyn Paper is on the scene, bringing you the Brooklyn angle like nobody else can.
On the street outside the awards show, which is taping for the first time in Brooklyn and has shut down much of the surrounding neighborhood, we have reporter Will Bredderman tracking the traffic, the celebrity-induced pandemonium, and what the neighbors are saying about it all.
Inside the barricades, reporter Natalie Musumeci is testing celebrities’ Brooklyn IQ, fact-checking the music network’s borough references, and hobnobbing with the stars.
We will be on top of the awards show all night like a triumphant moonman, so keep it locked right here.
There you have it, folks. Katy Perry rocked Brooklyn Bridge Park like a boxer in a children’s fantasy book. ’N Sync reunited, if only for a minute. Li’l Kim came back from the career dead. Lady Gaga wore a seashell bra. Thousands of fans crammed the barricades outside the Barclays Center. Others smoked weed in the bushes.
Brooklyn got a lot of nods, in the playlist (“Where Brooklyn At,” “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”), and in the visuals, but surprisingly few references from the celebs who spoke. By our count, Brooklyn got four name-drops, and that includes throwaway “What up Brooklyn”s. A Jay-Z and Beyonce duet would have been an obvious closer but Brooklyn seemed more backdrop than borough to the minds behind the massive awards show.
They said “No Sleep Till Aug. 25.” We can all go to bed now.
Unmentioned in most pre-show coverage: MTV apparently flew a drone over a crowd gathered for the Video Music Awards Concert Series. Video here (click to page 2).
No one is hosting the Video Music Awards tonight. Does that make Brooklyn the host, or just the word that everyone says to fill space?
MTV’s montage of Brooklyn street scenes looks like the intro to “Welcome Back, Kotter,” but different.
Also, Katy Perry is supposedly riding in a gold 18-wheeler to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Have you seen her? Let us know in the comments.
Not everyone in the crowd outside the Barclays Center is there to rubber-neck after celebs.
Some enterprising souls have set up shop outside.
Canarsie native Kack Splack (he begins his last name with a dollar sign but, for aesthetic reasons, we will not here) drove a trunk-load of light-up baseball hats up to sell. He usually vends the hats from the back of his car at locations around the borough, but he brought them out to the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk across from the Barclays Center tonight to cash in on the crowds.
“This is the main place to be right now,” Splack said, though he declined to share his sales figures.
Down on Flatbush Avenue at Pacific Street, Bronx artist Eltsahfahan Vanderpool was just there for the exposure, painting a giant moonman to join a large portrait of Jay-Z already on display.
Also, ’N Sync!
The first Brooklyn shout-out of the evening comes from Bedford-Stuyvesant native and rapper Li’l Kim.
“Brooklyn, stand up!” she said. “Growing up in Brooklyn I would have never imagined that the VMAs would be here in my hometown.”
It is still an open question as to who will be the first to ask, “Is Brooklyn in the house?”
As Lady Gaga was opening up the big show, Will Bredderman was outside on Bergen Street talking to Nilsa Grin, who has lived on the block between Sixth and Carlton avenues for 40 years and who cannot believe that the award show is happening in her backyard.
“It’s awesome,” Grin said. “Who would have thought this would happen in our part of Brooklyn?”
Grin went with several of her neighbors to the Barclays Center this morning try to purchase tickets, but the event was sold out. But being turned away did nothing to dampen her enthusiasm.
“Everybody’s happy; everybody’s excited,” she said.
As promised, police are maintaining checkpoints on Dean Street between Carlton and Sixth avenues and on part of Grin’s block on Bergen Street.
To pass, the cops are requiring people to prove residence by showing identification or by calling a block resident to come outside.
The crowd of thousands around Atlantic and Flatbush avenues is thinning now that the awards show has started.
Not everyone is so happy about the event, thanks to people are making their own parties in the neighborhood nearby.
“Heard loud noise in front of the house,” May Taliaferrow writes. “Found VMA guest inside my neighbor’s gate smoking weed, sitting at the top step.” Will Bredderman also encountered some MTV fans toking up openly in the residential neighborhood south of the Barclays Center.
Richard Simmons’s handlers pulled him away from our reporter when she asked his opinion on CitiBike distribution in Brooklyn. What are they afraid of?
The tables have turned in the world of ticket scalping. Gone is the man on Flatbush Avenue hawking tickets for $200 apiece. In his place is a guy who wants desperately to get inside.
“Cash for tickets!” he is yelling. “Anybody got tickets?”
Not everyone is so eager, though. A woman nearby asks, “What does VMAs stand for again?”
More on fake Brooklyn: it appears that MTV has covered one entire exterior wall of the building at Sixth Avenue and Pacific Street to make it look like a warehouse. We hear that is where all the kids are planning flash mobs and practicing tricks on their fixed-gear bicycles these days.
Now we know why the music network closed down Sixth Avenue between Pacific and Dean streets. The red carpet does not just run down the block, it is the block, complete with facsimiles of Brooklyn landmarks. The “Brooklyn Bridge” arches at Sixth and Pacific usher celebs onto the red carpet, which covers the entire street. Fake brick walls line the paparazzi gauntlet, offering out-of-town performers some urban ambience, as if being surrounded by screaming people or their limo ride to Flatbush and Atlantic avenues were not enough.
Worlds are colliding outside the Barclays Center. Three women just crossed Fort Greene Place with picket signs that read, “Free Hugs #afropunk.” The two-day do-it-yourself music festival showcasing alternative African-American musicians is taking place just a short jaunt away in Fort Greene’s Commodore Barry Park and will empty out at 9:30 pm, just after the awards show begins.
Earlier this afternoon, someone tweeted from the fest’s Twitter account a message telling Brooklynites not to forget about them.
“Don’t get it twisted,” the tweeter wrote. “Brooklyn belongs to Afropunk today, not the #vmas. Pleeeeaaaseee.”
Pedestrians at S. Portland Street and Atlantic Avenue cannot cross S. Portland without holding up a Video Music Awards wristband. The packed crowd might be sweaty, but there is no way they are as motivated as folks on the red carpet, who just welcomed exercise guru Richard Simmons to the Barclays Center. Then again, Will Bredderman reports a bystander saying, “I better see somebody f------ famous.”
“C’mon, it’s an experience,” a nearby gawker said.
Posting from the Barclays Center area to the social media platform Twitter has slowed to a near standstill and cellphone service is spotty in Downtown and in Prospect Heights. The hashtag “VMA” is trending on Twitter. Calls from our reporters are dropping like flies and text messages are taking minutes to transmit. Will the Video Music Awards break Brooklyn’s telecommunications infrastructure? They certainly seem to be testing the limits.
As we reported earlier, the sidewalk is closed around the entire perimeter of the Barclays Center. A checkpoint is set up on the sidewalk at Flatbush Avenue and Pacific Street across from the Barclays Center. Pedestrians cannot cross Flatbush Avenue without a ticket. Police are moving people along, allowing no one to stand and gawk. Other checkpoints bar pedestrians from crossing Fort Greene Place at Atlantic Avenue and from crossing Atlantic on the Barclays Center side of Flatbush Avenue.
Ticketed fans are standing inside pens at Sixth Avenue and Dean Street. Cries go up every few minutes at the sight of a celebrity arrival.
One scalper on Atlantic Avenue is selling tickets to the awards show for $200 apiece between Flatbush Avenue and Fort Greene Place. They are for section 109, just to the side of half-court. Not bad.
Former “Jersey Shore” star Snooki and boyfriend Jionni LaValle broke the seal by walking out onto the red carpet first.
— Will Bredderman and Natalie Musumeci