[The Other M.J. Pulls 33]

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Rough cut of "The Other M.J."

00:06 Outside of the United Center, floor cleaner Michael Johnson talks about why he doesn’t vote. “I know why it’s important to vote, but why put someone in office if they’re not going to do anything for the neighborhood or the people?”

01:17 Michael explains that he is separated from his wife, but spends as much time with his children as he can. He likes to take them to the city parks, which “kept [him] out of trouble” as a young man. The cameraman asks him if he believes it takes a village to raise a child. “You can’t do it by yourself–it’s teamwork.”

02:07 Michael walks around the perimeter of the United Center while talking about how he unwinds after work. “I play basketball almost everyday,” he says.

03:36 Michael and his co-worker John drive and talk about recent events at the convention center. The conversation turns to childhood memories of fishing.

06:02 “Sometimes it feels kinda strange, going home–the guys around who don’t have jobs–to come home in a uniform, after a day’s work. It feels kind of funny, like I’m comin’ home with a tuxedo or something on.”

06:36 Michael walks home from his El station and talks about his new North Side neighborhood, where he shares an apartment with his girlfriend, Beverly. “It’s mild, compared to where I come from,” he says. Most of the crime he’s aware of in the neighborhood is linked to marijuana, instead of the gang violence he was exposed to growing up.

08:08 “If I were going to be in politics, I would be a Democrat. I could never be a Republican. I was probably born a Democrat. I just never vote.”

10:22 The camera zooms in on a tattoo on Michael’s arm of the initials I.B.M. “That’s my nickname–they used to call me Iceberg Mike. It also stands for a computer. I always wanted to work for I.B.M.”

11:17 Michael talks about his sister, Sheila, who was stabbed in her apartment in 1985.

13:42 Michael talks to Skip Blumberg in his kitchen about the benefits of good government. “To me, the government is like your parents,” he explains. “They’re supposed to know what’s best for you. Give you allowances, teach you rules.”

14:45  “The computer is our future,” Michael says. “If you’re illiterate to the computer, you need to know what’s going on.”

16:21 Blumberg asks Michael if he goes to church often. “I don’t go every Sunday because I’m not very religious–I try to be more spiritual,” he explains. “Religion is for people who are trying to keep from going to Hell, and spirituality is for people who have already been there. I do believe I’ve seen hell on Earth in my day.”

17:48 Footage of Michael and Beverly driving to bring Sheila her birthday present. They talk about voting: Beverly didn’t know that Michael did not vote in the last election. “Well, it’s his own choice,” she concedes, even though she feels it’s important to vote.

18:47 Michael shops for a birthday present for his daughter, and settles on a Hunchback of Notre Dame backpack.

23:13 Shots of the Cabrini-Green housing project, where Michael’s children live.

26:41 Back at the United Center, Michael cleans the floors and talks about the kind of music he listens to while working.

27:19 Michael and Blumberg talk about race relations. Michael explains that on the West Side, relations are often determined by gang affiliation. In his new North Side neighborhood, “I wasn’t used to seeing white, black, Jamaican, Belizean, all kinds of people mix like that.”

31:30 “Right now, I don’t make enough to save,” Michael says. “I probably could put five or ten dollars away, but for what, you know?”



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