[The 90’s raw: Rick Masley]

Interview with Rick Masley, an orientation and mobility instructor helping the sight impaired adjust to using a cane and navigating the streets of New York City. He demonstrates the process with his student, Lilly Barry, who is learning to navigate to her new office building. Videographer Skip Blumberg follows a workers rights rally and demonstration.

00:00Copy video clip URL Black. Audio of someone moving around.

00:23Copy video clip URL The videographer, Skip Blumberg, shoots the streets of New York City through the lobby window of The Lighthouse, a service for the blind and sight impaired. Blumberg notes that today is April 30, 1991.

00:54Copy video clip URL Interview with Rick Masley. Masley says he is an orientation and mobility instructor, a person who helps the sight impaired adjust to using a cane and navigating the streets of New York City. He notes the heavy volume of traffic inManhattan makes it especially difficult. He notes that he must be more alert than the average pedestrian, noting cracks in the sidewalks, trees, etc., in order to be able to help guide a blind or sight impaired student. He adds that this is his day job. He sings in a band at night. He received a Masters Degree in Special Education in 1973 and has worked in this field for 17 years.

03:30Copy video clip URL Masley says Lighthouse offers rehabilitation for students to learn typing skills, braille skills, how to function in a kitchen, computer skills, and a basic orientation mobility program. His students range from elderly people who need to learn how to navigate their home to students and professionals needing to learn how to travel the city streets to their school or office.

05:23Copy video clip URL Masley notes that the most important thing he has to deal with are the emotional and psychological traumas his students go through.

07:19Copy video clip URL Masley is with Lilly Barry, a blind woman. She says the agency where she works is moving to a new location in a few months. She’s trying to learn how to get from the subway station to the new building. She adds that the first time doing this is always a challenge. It can make her nervous. Her biggest concern is all the construction that goes on in the city. “You just don’t know what to expect.”

09:07Copy video clip URL Barry explains to camera the route she would normally take to get to Grand Central Station downtown. Masley adds that the exit they’re standing in front of is the best for Lilly to use. B-roll of Masley orienting Barry to the route from Grand Central to her new office location. He tells her to cross Lexington by herself. Then he has her exit the station without his assistance, but follows behind. Masley notes to Blumberg that Barry will know she’s at the end of a block by the change in wind pattern, the sun. This helps her know when to make a turn. Standing at an intersection waiting for the light to turn green, Masley advises Barry to locate the curb and prepare to cross the street. Masley adds that when Barry hears traffic on the cross street start to move then she knows it’s time to cross. B-roll of Barry navigating 42nd Street.

13:36Copy video clip URL As Barry and Masley walk down the street, Blumberg notes Barry’s adept usage of the cane. Barry says she’s been a traveler for 20 years. She says to become proficient takes extensive training with buses, subways, going up and down stairs, in and out of crowded areas. She reiterates todays lesson is to help her locate her new office building. Masley notes Barry is an exceptional student. “If she wasn’t she wouldn’t be able to have a conversation with you while she’s walking down the street.”

14:38Copy video clip URL They reach another major intersection at Third Avenue. Masley notes to Blumberg that Barry will need help crossing. “We don’t encourage students to cross by themselves.” He notes the traffic patterns are different at this intersection. There’s a turn lane for cars. In these cases they prefer the student to learn to solicit help to cross the street. B-roll of Barry receiving help from a passerby crossing the street.

16:00Copy video clip URL Barry notes that for the most part New Yorkers are friendly. She says the exception is during a crowded subway ride. “Everybody pushes.” She says the best way for a sighted person to help her is to ask if she needs assistance. It’s better if they let you hold their arm. That way they are a step ahead of you. If they step down, you know you have to step down within the next second. When asked if she thinks she has any advantages over a sighted person, Barry responds with a smile, “Occasionally you’ll get a seat on a bus because you’re visually impaired.” She agrees that she uses her other senses more than someone who has vision. Various b-roll of Barry walking and Masley advising.

20:00Copy video clip URL Videographer changes camera battery. Barry asks Masley about his band, The Rickterscale. Barry notes that she lives in Queens and she prefers it to Manhattan because it’s less congested. It’s also a better place for her young child.

21:53Copy video clip URL Barry notes public transportation in New York City is very good and efficient for the sight impaired. Masley adds that because Manhattan is laid out so squarely, all streets for the most part running north to south or east to west like a grid, it is easier for sight impaired people to navigate. He says it can get difficult in some of the other boroughs because the streets go every which way.

23:00Copy video clip URL Continued b-roll of Masley assisting Barry as she crosses a big intersection and navigates the streets. Barry reaches an intersection where cross traffic is already moving. So she prudently waits until it stops and starts again. Her objective is to cross a street with the flow of parallel traffic so she ensures she has enough time to cross the street.

26:14Copy video clip URL Masley advises Barry on the best way to find the front door of The Lighthouse offices. He advises, the door to the pharmacy is the next door. He points out the shape of the handle as a way of identifying which is the correct door to enter.

28:25Copy video clip URL Masley says that many people are nervous when they see a blind person with a cane on the street. It’s important to stay calm. A sight impaired person will be expecting others on the street to behave normally. Masley advises sighted people, if they want to  help a sight impaired person across the street, not to just grab them by the arm and yank them across. It’s important to first ask if they’d like assistance. Put you arm next to them so they know there’s something to grab onto.

30:33Copy video clip URL Dip to black. Masley and Barry now demonstrate how to help a sight impaired person cross the street.

32:19Copy video clip URL Barry lists the problems she encounters on the street: puddles, snow, ice, landmarks are not as clear as they are on sunny days, construction, pot holes, street vendors, people in a rush. Barry says she has gotten caught in the middle of an intersection when the light changes. When this happens she just stops, “and I pray.” Hopefully the cars stop and someone gives you verbal direction. She says she only has light perception, no vision. She says she has been this way since birth and has been receiving training since she was a senior in high school.

35:45Copy video clip URL Masley notes that some people who have some vision are still classified as legally blind.

37:21Copy video clip URL B-roll of Barry walking along the street.

41:26Copy video clip URL When asked what improvements she would make to the city to aid her impaired vision, Barry says she’d get rid of all the pot holes, smooth the sidewalks, create a little less congestion, and make sighted people aware that vision impaired people have different needs and sometimes could use assistance.

42:39Copy video clip URL B-roll as Masley explains to Barry an exercise to help her remember how to get from 59th and Third to The Lighthouse office. B-roll of Barry making the trek with Masley following behind.

47:12Copy video clip URL B-roll crowded New York City sidewalks, Mid-town.

47:33Copy video clip URL B-roll riding along an avenue in a car.

47:59Copy video clip URL Stop/re-start digitizing. Continued b-roll of various street scenes.

48:01Copy video clip URL B-roll, riding on a public bus.

48:48Copy video clip URL A woman on the bus says the city workers are having a rally. A woman says she’s going to the demonstration because she sympathizes with the workers.

49:50Copy video clip URL The bus driver talks about all the things she sees on New York’s streets on a given day, but doesn’t elaborate. The group talks about where the rally will take place and the best vantage points for the videographer to capture the action.

50:35Copy video clip URL The bus drivers says “what’s sad is that you see so much money being spent on war and people at home are hungry and dying.” The group chit chats idly. One woman says she works for a public school as an aide. They come from PS 130 near Chinatown. They talk about various school programs, meals for under privileged kids even during summer vacation.

53:30Copy video clip URL The bus driver asks a police officer if he thinks she can pass through the traffic to get to a certain location. The officer says all buses are diverted to West Street. The continue idle chit chat. They predict  the demonstration will draw 100,000 people. They talk about all the city’s problems. They don’t like the Governor. They try to navigate through demonstration traffic.

56:08Copy video clip URL B-roll of the bus, and b-roll of the protest. Crowds rally, hold signs, and chant “Mario Cuomo’s got to go!”

59:23Copy video clip URL B-roll of organizers and police discussion the best ways to guide and control the rally.

01:00:15Copy video clip URL B-roll, the videographer walks around the crowds of protesters. The videographer doesn’t realize the camera is rolling.

01:01:50Copy video clip URL Various b-roll of the rally, crowds chanting, music blasting.

01:04:11Copy video clip URL An elderly Sophie Gerson explains that the rally is against all the cuts that have been made on all entitlements city workers should have. “I am for the libraries, senior centers, health issues, medicare.” She notes she is a chairperson for a senior citizen’s council. She says she’s a professional activist. She is sickened by the fact that so much money gets spent on the Gulf War and not enough spent on citizens’ needs back home.

01:07:08Copy video clip URL Interview with a Parks department employee. He thinks it’s a nice demonstration. His job is to make sure the US Park property is kept unharmed by the rally.

01:07:55Copy video clip URL Interview with a group of young people shooting video for the Through our Eyes Video and History Project. One guy says he hates all this. “I want to go to college but don’t want to pay so much.” One woman says she thinks the budget cuts are criminal. She adds they are from an alternative high school in the Bronx, Satellite Academy. She thinks in order to force change students to stop going to school, teachers to stop teaching, hospitals and every other city service needs to shut down.

01:10:44Copy video clip URL B-roll of the rally, speakers and organizers, demonstrators.

01:11:16Copy video clip URL Continued b-roll of the rally; the Statue of Liberty in the distance surrounded by fog.

01:12:30Copy video clip URL B-roll of organizers in conference organizing the rally movement.

01:13:12Copy video clip URL B-roll of a guy selling buttons. He says there isn’t more activism in the 90s compared to other decades. “People don’t know which way to go.”

01:13:54Copy video clip URL B-roll of a band playing protest songs on a flatbed straight truck.

01:14:28Copy video clip URL Children in the rally protesting to “save our schools”.

01:15:00Copy video clip URL B-roll of the rally. A school kid says he likes school. “You learn.” He says he’s demonstrating because of the budget cuts. We need an education! The camera rolls for six-minutes without the operator knowing it.

01:21:37Copy video clip URL B-roll of the rally. The demonstrators begin marching in a controlled, orderly way through the financial district.

01:31:02Copy video clip URL A woman demonstrator says she a union member and wants to support the union. She is with a group of librarians. “We want to save library services for the children of the City of New York.” B-roll of the demonstrators marching and chanting: We’re fired up! Can’t take no more!”

01:32:28Copy video clip URL A woman says “they’re taking our money, they’re taking five days out of our pay without a contract. It’s illegal.” Continued b-roll of the march.

01:35:27Copy video clip URL A man introduces himself as a doctor with CIR, a union of house staff physicians. He says he’s marching for more staff, equipment. He’s excited to be part of the labor movement. Continued b-roll of the march.

01:51:24Copy video clip URL B-roll of  man looking out the window of the American Stock Exchange building at the rally below. Continued b-roll of the march, the demonstrators.

01:53:12Copy video clip URL B-roll of the World Trade Center, the demonstration. Continued b-roll of the march and demonstration.

01:54:41Copy video clip URL END

 

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