[The 90’s raw: Checkerboard Lounge, Van Gogh auction]

Raw footage for the award-winning series The 90's. The first half of the tape is from the Checkerboard Lounge on February 28, 1991. Angio relaxes and talks to patrons in the famous blues club Checkerboard Lounge on Chicago's South Side. The exposure is pretty bad so faces don't register well. The second half is tape of Van Gogh auction on March 10, 1991. Joe Angio goes to an auction house in Chicago where a recently discovered Vincent Van Gogh painting is being sold. Artist Tony Fitzpatrick accompanies him, interviews people attending the show and does some commentary of his own. "This isn't about art, it's about money. It seems like money can buy culture." The painting sells for $1,300,000.

00:00Copy video clip URL The tape opens on a neon sign in the dark Checkerboard Lounge, on February 28, 1991. The camera scans the bar, where people play cards, but their faces are in shadow. Angio talks to one man, who says he comes in every day in the afternoon. Angio questions him about the music on Monday nights, and the man says, “It’s probably the top blues spot in the city.” Another man talks about the blues, and lists musicians for whom he used to chauffeur. “It’s just the home of the blues, and everybody love it.” He introduces his godmother, and points out a street sign inside above their heads, that says “E Muddy Waters Dr.” He recounts the time the Rolling Stones played a secret concert in the lounge. Speaking to the diversity of the bar crowd, the man says that if someone likes the blues, they are welcome: “We love everybody!” He tells about the schedule of musicians for the week, and lists some other live music bars.

13:00Copy video clip URL The owner of the Checkerboard, who originally owned it with Buddy Guy, says open mic has been a tradition since 1972. “It’s the oldest club out,” in comparison to less genuine blues clubs on the North Side. He and Angio chat about the friendliness of the place, and the owner bickers casually with a customer.

22:30Copy video clip URL The bar prepares for the open mic to begin, and someone invites musicians up to play. They tune their instruments.

26:49Copy video clip URL The open mic begins, with a small instrumental blues band on stage. The camera pans to look at the audience, but the bar is too dark to see many people. He zooms in to focus on a guitar player. The camera moves around a bit, but tends to watch the guitar player, who is hard to distinguish from the black curtain behind him because of the low light.

31:45Copy video clip URL A man speaks into the microphone, asks for applause, and points out people in the audience. The band begins another song. The camera focuses on the man’s fingers playing the guitar, and another guitarist performs a solo.

39:00Copy video clip URL A man climbs onstage to sing with the band. He has a deep voice, and asks the audience to clap their hands. His lyrics include, “The thrill is gone, the thrill is gone away from me.”

45:39Copy video clip URL Another song begins. The singer again encourages the audience to clap, and and to shout if they love the blues. This song is more upbeat, and says, “Every day, every day I like to sing the blues.”

50:47Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to the exterior of Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on March 10, 1991, where people are starting to file inside. The tape cuts to the interior, where Tony Fitzpatrick introduces the setting. The room is large, with many chairs and different pieces of art lining the walls. For the most part, Fitzpatrick speaks to us from in front of a large hanging rug. The crowd is gathering for the auction of a Van Gogh that someone recently found in their house in Wisconsin, which has a retail price of $500,000-$800,000 dollars.

52:20Copy video clip URL They run into artist Ed Paschke, who says he may try to buy the painting and that many people here are “voyeurs.” Fitzpatrick asks him about how a man did not know that he owned a Van Gogh, and Paschke says that it was probably an issue of brain damage. One of Paschke’s paintings is also up for auction.

54:12Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick describes the paddle system, and they talk to some auction-goers with paddles, but they do not want to bid on the Van Gogh. Instead, they plan to bid on lesser pieces that are also on sale. Fitzpatrick says the Van Gogh is of potted flowers, found in Wisconsin. Apparently the majority of people in attendance are only there to watch.

57:09Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick talks about the life of Van Gogh, and the irony of the situation. Van Gogh himself was very poor, and now they are trying to sell the painting for 1 million dollars. They interview a voyeur who talks about the recent movie, Vincent and Theo.

58:31Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick approaches a woman with a paddle, who does not want to bid on Van Gogh, either. She says the major fascination is that the painting is a recent discovery. She thinks the painting is indeed worth the million dollars.

59:51Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick jokes with Angio, and then explains that the auction is about to start. Angio and Fitzpatrick comment that the auction is like a rock concert because of the crowd. Some television stations are also taping. Fitzpatrick says of the watchers, “This has turned into a vicarious money experience.” The two speculate on how the painting leaves the auction house as they scan the crowd. Fitzpatrick criticizes the situation, saying that “it’s an art auction, but it’s not about art, it’s about money.” They talk about another recent Van Gogh purchase, and analyze the clothing choices of the people there.

01:04:07Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick says this is the first auction he has been to, though one of his own drawings was auctioned off once. He continues to be cynical about the amount of money in the crowd.

01:05:29Copy video clip URL They interview a man, who plans to bid on the Van Gogh, but doesn’t think he’ll win it. He thinks that this is an exciting event. Fitzpatrick asks the patron about the worth of art, and he responds by saying that pricing art is odd because you can’t compare art with other goods: “An art treasure… how can you put a value on it?”

01:08:42Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick complains about being shoved by a rich person. The camera cuts to the crowd, and he says that this place is a good way to meet women, but then continues to be angry about being pushed. “When you got money muscles, you’re ahead of it.” They talk to the man who pushed him, but they are distracted by the man they previously spoke with. Then, they speak with the man who pushed Fitzpatrick, who is not here only for the Van Gogh. He thinks that they will get more than a million dollars for it, and said he would probably pay that much, and that “a painting is almost eternal… if you purchase something like that, then you acquire some piece of eternity.” Then they talk to the man about embroidery as a disappearing art, and “a phase in the development of humanity.”

01:15:15Copy video clip URL Fitzpatrick says, “This event is like a playoff game for people with money… this is a sporting event for people with bank accounts.” They look at women in the crowd, waiting for the auction to start. They see the auctioneer, Leslie Hindman, a woman who they describe as “very handsome and severe-looking.” They talk to the man about the order of the auction.

01:19:08Copy video clip URL The auction begins, and the auctioneer, addressing the large crowd, introduces herself. Their representative in Wisconsin is also present, and she introduces many people involved.

01:21:50Copy video clip URL The tape cuts to the auction of the Van Gogh, and the bidding begins at $500,000. The camera continues to watch Fitzpatrick. The price escalates quickly to $750,000, and continues to climb. A slight amount of applause follows the bid of $1,000,000. The price continues to climb, ultimately reaching $1,300,000. The camera never sees the actual painting, and Fitzpatrick and Angio cannot tell who bought the painting, and are disappointed by the lack of the speed of the auction, attributing it to the recession.

01:26:50Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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