Raw footage for the TV series Chicago Slices. Leroy Brown #2, Bridges.
00:00Copy video clip URL Leroy Brown and band on stage at Blue Chicago in the middle of a performance. Audio signal is garbled. Shutter speed is altered creating motion blur and slow motion. The song ends and the audience cheers and the guitarist singles out Brown for his performance.
01:16Copy video clip URL Audio signal improves. Brown smiles and waves to the crowd, exits the stage and heads back stage to a dressing room. The videographer asks how he feels. “Sweatin’, man. Hot!” Brown says, “You’re talking to Leroy Brown, that’s me.”
01:54Copy video clip URL B-roll people dancing as the band continues playing lively blues instrumentals. Audio signal is unclean.
03:20Copy video clip URL B-roll of the band playing on stage. The guitarist plays passionately, feeling the music. At times he addresses the crowd to incite high energy.
06:52Copy video clip URL The band plays another song.
07:12Copy video clip URL Various b-roll of patrons entering the club, greeting, talking though they are hard to hear. Someone introduces to camera a man identified as LB Johnson. Someone calls out, “Seven dollar cover charge. Standing room only.”
08:24Copy video clip URL Brown on stage addressing the crowd and introducing the next act: a band that launches into an energetic blues jam.
11:42Copy video clip URL Brown back on stage introducing LB Johnson. He reminds the audience to treat the bartenders and waitresses right, and reminds the audience that Johnson’s CD Help Yourself is for sale.
12:16Copy video clip URL Change of location. The videographer is standing on a draw bridge focused on a stop light. A warning bell is ringing. The stop light is flashing. The bridge spans the Chicago River in downtown Chicago.
12:28Copy video clip URL An operator, Garaved Damarjian, is at a control panel lowering the guard gate to block traffic from crossing the bridge. The alarm bell keeps ringing. Damarjian communicates to coworkers through walkie talkie. Whenever he talks into the walkie talkie the signal interferes with the camera’s audio signal creating a buzz and hum.
13:14Copy video clip URL Damarjian explains the draw bridge opening process. Once the center locks are disengaged the bridge will open. He notes today they are only raising the south leaf of the bridge. He says they will raise the bridge sometimes twice, but mostly once on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
13:46Copy video clip URL The videographer and Damarjian walk past the barricade onto the bridge. Damarjian points out a vantage point for the videographer to stand so he can see the bridge raise. Damarjian notes they are at the Lake Shore Drive bridge which is manned by 8-10 people. He comments that safety is paramount when they raise the bridge, all pedestrians must be behind barriers, traffic is stopped and everyone is doing their job. The interview is interrupted by many motorists stopped at the barrier honking their horns.
14:45Copy video clip URL Damarjian notes that the sail boats are wait for the bridge to open in a basin at the mouth of the Chicago River. They have about 25 boats preparing to come through. He notes this particular bridge has been standing since the 1960s. He says there are 55-60 bridges in the system and many of them are bascule bridges imitating those that cross the Seine in Paris, France. Bascule bridges have a counterweight that continuously balances the span or “leaf,” throughout the entire upward swing. The operator states that as bridge operator his job is to ensure safety of pedestrians, operate the raising and lowering of the bridges safely, on 52 bridges. He says the bridge will raise once the electricians have checked to make sure everything is clear and the machinists have checked the inner structure. The bridge weighs several tons and like a clock each part works with the other. Humans and computers work together.
18:13Copy video clip URL Tom Weinberg and the operator chit chat while waiting for the bridge to rise. Damarjian says he just got Studs Terkel’s autograph that morning.
18:59Copy video clip URL B-roll of the lowered gate crossing the street to prevent cars from passing. The camera’s shutter speed changes causing the image to slow down and increase motion blur. The operator notes that they are only opening one leaf of the bridge today to conserve energy.
20:36Copy video clip URL Damarjian notes that Chicago has more bridges that open and close than any other city in the United States.
21:04Copy video clip URL Weinberg, the videographer and Damarjian walk to the edge of the north leaf as the south leaf has been raised. Damarjian notes seeing all the bridges open and the boats passing through is a beautiful sight. They reach the edge and observe sail boats cruising past. Damarjian notes these boats are coming in to be moored for the wintertime. Damarjian states that no other city has a lakefront like Chicago, it’s really beautiful. Various of b-roll of boats passing by, Damarjian exchanges dialogue with the boat captains.
23:34Copy video clip URL Damarjian says that he loves his job, it’s a public service. He talks more on his walkie talkie which interferes with the camera’s audio signal. He notes that Chicago is a city of steel bridges with the steel made locally in the city. Damarjian continues communication with workmates via walkie talkie. There is some fuss over the radios about a “guy in a red jacket at the end of the bridge.” The videographer exclaims: “That’s us!”
25:30Copy video clip URL B-roll of Damarjian at the end of the bridge looking down on boaters as they sail by and chit chatting as they pass. “Beautiful boat!” he calls. He comments to camera that he knows some of the boaters just from doing this work. He sees them year after year, coming and going.
26:46Copy video clip URL B-roll of the south leaf of the bridge closing.
27:58Copy video clip URL B-roll of Damarjian raising the bridge barricade gate to let drivers cross the bridge. B-roll of the cars passing by.
28:47Copy video clip URL Damarjian notes his next stop is at the Dearborn Avenue bridge to lift that so the river traffic can continue cruising. He notes his name is Garaved Damarjian and gives the spelling. He comments that he is from Armenia.
29:17Copy video clip URL Damarjian, in a pick up truck, preparing to depart.
29:30Copy video clip URL Damarjian and the videographer are in the pick up traveling to their next location. Damarjian notes the order of the bridges: Lake Shore Drive, Columbus, Wabash, State and Dearborn. They are headed to Dearborn Avenue. He notes Columbus is their most modern bridge. Cermak Avenue bridge is one of the oldest, almost 100 years old.
30:03Copy video clip URL B-roll of the Columbus bridge open.
30:16Copy video clip URL Damarjian continues talking about Cermak bridge but is interrupted by a friend in the pickup next to him, joking around. He comments that the bridges in Chicago are built similar to the bridges in Paris, France. He raves about the beauty of Chicago, calling it diverse, a city of assimilation.
31:57Copy video clip URL B-roll of Wabash Avenue bridge and State Street bridges raised. He notes many famous movies have been made here, most recently The Fugitive.
32:40Copy video clip URL They pull up to Dearborn Avenue bridge and park the truck. Damarjian gets ready to open Dearborn bridge.
33:26Copy video clip URL B-roll of Tom Weinberg pulling up opposite Damarjian and they chit chat then head into the Dearborn Avenue bridge tower to raise the bridge. They enter the control room and meet Ed Buckner, another bridge operator. Buckner explains the process of using the control panel to open the bridge, he control handles, the center lock. He says he raises the bridge once a day and notes that the whole process takes about 15-20 minutes. He estimates the bridge is about a block-and-a-half long. Buckner says he’s been a bridge operator about 9 years and tells the story of how he got the job: he went to City Hall and saw the job opening listed on a job board.
37:22Copy video clip URL Buckner explains all the dials on the control panel: electrical power level indicator, height indicator. He says the bridges raise up to 71-feet, but operators try not to raise them more than 55-feet because more than that and the bridge will sometimes get stuck in the open position.
38:31Copy video clip URL B-roll of the control panel, various shots. B-roll of the operator at the controls.
39:17Copy video clip URL Interview with Damarjian telling a story of opening Lake Shore drive bridge about two months ago to let a replica of the USS Constitution tall ship. It was like experiencing something from a history book!
40:05Copy video clip URL Buckner talks about working with other operators to raise all the bridges simultaneously for a shot in the movie, Backdraft, at night. He says it was a beautiful sight.
40:44Copy video clip URL Weinberg comments that it seems like something out of another century. The buildings surrounding the bridges are so modern. Damarjian notes that bridges holds all the bridges and embrace them. Chicago is a city of architecture. He raves about the city’s architecture.
42:02Copy video clip URL Damarjian tells a story of meeting Harrison Ford when making The Fugitive.
42:29Copy video clip URL Buckner notes that the city’s architecture and bridges are attractive backdrops for Hollywood film crews.
42:58Copy video clip URL Buckner notes that it’s a rare exception that someone other than the bridge operator is permitted in the bridge house.
43:22Copy video clip URL Damarjian tells a story of meeting Dolly Parton and getting a hug from her.
43:51Copy video clip URL B-roll of Dearborn Avenue bridge raising. B-roll of the Chicago River. C-roll of vehicles and pedestrians crossing the bridge.
44:54Copy video clip URL Damarjian and Buckner mention if an excessive amount of boat traffic, 80 boats or more, is coming through at one time they have to raise two or three bridges at one time to allow all that river traffic to get through. They note that, as a public service, they try to be accommodating to everyone as much as possible.
46:00Copy video clip URL Buckner notes that business workers downtown complained that some of the bridges operations caused too much delay, so some bridge openings have been moved to weekday nights and weekend mornings when there is less street traffic downtown. He says he is not up in the bridge house all the time. They also inspect bridges and viaducts and write reports about their findings.
48:12Copy video clip URL B-roll of two bridges open over the river. Damarjian uses a loud speaker system to announce to pedestrians that the Dearborn Avenue bridge is about to rise and to clear the spans. Damarjian lowers the emergency gates. Buckner uses the loud speaker system to ask pedestrians to get behind the gates.
49:55Copy video clip URL B-roll Buckner raises the bridge. Damarjian explains to camera that the bridge will rise to about 45 degree angle, and points out the indicators on the control panel. B-roll of the boats passing by. B-roll of Buckner at the control panel.
54:47Copy video clip URL Buckner notes that technically the river traffic has the right of way. If boats request the bridges rise, they have to raise them. B-roll of bride up in the air.
56:17Copy video clip URL Break in tape.
56:20Copy video clip URL B-roll of a Jim Croce Greatest Hits album cover.
59:15Copy video clip URL END