The 90’s, episode 309: The Street: Music And People

Episode 309 of the award winning series, The 90's. This episode is called "THE STREET: MUSIC AND PEOPLE" and features the following segments:

00:55Copy video clip URL Cold open: pigeons.

01:39Copy video clip URL The 90’s opening.

02:19Copy video clip URL “Downtown” by Mo Murphy. Mo Murphy sings the classic tune “Downtown” (with ’80s-style backing music) against a backdrop of drunks, bums, rats, hookers, trash, porno halls and drugs. “Downtown… Everything’s waiting for you.”

04:26Copy video clip URL “Polka Dots” by Skip Blumberg. A delivery man loads polka dot dresses into his van via a cord that slides them down from a 5th floor window to the street. Skip asks the man what’s new in this year’s fashions. He replies, “Polka dots, a lot of Chiffon.” Skip retorts, “Yeah, that’s your company, but when you’re driving around on the streets, what are women wearing?” He says, “A lot of tights and tights with polka dots.”

05:17Copy video clip URL “Shell Game” by Skip Blumberg. On the streets of New York, a con man runs a betting game.

05:39Copy video clip URL “Earring Man” by Skip Blumberg. A jewelry store security guard sports a collection of studded earrings along the cartilage of his ear. “I guess you get a discount on earrings,” Skip says.

05:58Copy video clip URL More “Downtown” music video by Mo Murphy.

06:49Copy video clip URL “Across From City Hall” by Carla Leshne / Mission Creek Video. In San Francisco, Food Not Bombs attempted to open a free food line for homeless people, but the city shut them down for health violations and lack of a permit. We see various interviews with homeless people and activists. “What they’re saying is, you can eat out of a dumpster, but you can’t eat home-cooked food.” At a rally the homeless chant, “We’re tired; we’re hungry; we don’t like the government!” “How can they say you need a permit to help people who are hungry? ” “We have to change this value system so that human needs come first.”

10:50Copy video clip URL “Robert Byrd” by Jim Mulryan. Robert Byrd, a homeless man, suggests that in order to deal with the problems of the homeless, everyone should take ten minutes out of his or her day to write a letter to the President. He then lists talking points for a sample letter.

12:43Copy video clip URL “What Memphis Needs” by Alexis Krasilovsky. Poem over images of Memphis. “Memphis needs the National Guard gagging the media/Memphis needs more lady bugs in its magnolia trees… Memphis needs to have a wet dream.”

16:13Copy video clip URL “Zimbabwe Homeless” by Andrew Jones. In Harare, Zimbabwe, videomaker Andrew Jones interviews Richard Raubenheimer, a white homeless man. When Jones expresses confusion about the number of white homeless men on the streets in Harare, Raubenheimer explains that most of these men are former Rhodesian soldiers. He says that many of these men face racism from black managers and are unable to find jobs, or are simply disinterested in working. In conclusion, Jones asks, “What’s special about being on the streets of Harare?” “Nothing. Nothing’s special.”

17:17Copy video clip URL “The Old Balladeer” by Jim Passin. In London, an old man sings “The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen” as he accompanies himself with accordion. The music plays over time lapse city images.

19:22Copy video clip URL “The Wastebasket” by Skip Blumberg. Fred Kent of Project for Public Space, discusses the surprising ways that people utilize the space around a wastebasket on a busy street corner in New York through the use of time lapse film.

21:06Copy video clip URL “Fresh Fish” by Skip Blumberg. Skip Blumberg goes to the market to check out the fish. He asks which fish is the freshest, and the vendor points to a box full of live, squirming catfish. “That’s pretty fresh!” says Skip.

21:40Copy video clip URL “Smogophobia” by Maxi Cohen. Maxi Cohen goes to a health food store to find out what kinds of remedies are available to counteract the negative effects of Los Angeles smog.

23:04Copy video clip URL “What’s That Smell?” by Skip Blumberg. Doug Skinner sings and plays ukulele on a song called “What’s That Smell?,” a jokey sort of song about bad smells. “It’s so abrasive and is so pervasive that you don’t feel well…”

25:33Copy video clip URL “Times Square, 1991” by Esti Marpet. The sights and sounds of Times Square. John Tumelty of the NYPD likens the West Side to a good ham sandwich. Prof. Vernon Boggs of City University tells us how to spot an undercover cop car. Prof. William Kornblum of City University says nothing pays as well as pornography and points out the Show World Center – “a department store of pornography.” A chess match leads to an argument.

27:42Copy video clip URL “Third Avenue: Only the Strong Survive” by Downtown Community TV. A male prostitute points out little kids hustling around Times Square. A young boy under 10 years old says he’s “trying to make some money… look for some homos… When I was seven, I came here. I needed some money. I found someone, so I went with him.”

29:14Copy video clip URL “Art Pushes, Art Provokes” by Pedro Carvajal. A guerrilla art group covers alcohol and tobacco billboards in New York with their own PSAs. Among them include: “McDonald’s: Better Living Through Chemistry,” “Censorship is Good Because *********,” and “AIDS: It’s Not Just for Gays Anymore.”

31:39Copy video clip URL “Woman Walking” by Skip Blumberg. A woman walking down the street talks about how a woman should protect herself when walking on New York City streets. “If you take precautions you’re ok.”

32:37Copy video clip URL “Womanaware” by Skip Blumberg. A self-empowerment workshop teaches women how to defend themselves on the New York streets. In a staged confrontation, a woman plants her cowboy boots into her attacker’s face. She then credits Womanaware for giving her self-confidence and teaching her to read the street. “If you can run – run,” she advises.

33:48Copy video clip URL Excerpt from “Overnight Man” by Tom Weinberg. In footage from 1978, all-night Chicago street reporter Joe Cummings phones in a mysterious death that occurred on the subway: “The man is 25 to 40, fully clothed and… dead.”

35:00Copy video clip URL “Chicago Musicians” by Kathie Robertson. Various street musicians perform on subway platforms in Chicago. A tap dancer dances to “Nobody Cares About Me.” Nicholas Barron sings his original tune “I Wish I Was a Bird” and comments on the importance of street performance as a means to develop as an artist. In the meantime, the Chicago Transit Authority tries to ban street performers.

38:27Copy video clip URL “Project Troubadour” by Stuart Leigh. A group of American musicians and dancers travel to Brazil to entertain rural villages in the troubadour tradition, which involves bringing messages and stories through song from town to town. They discuss the importance of reviving this tradition. “After a performance, we feel bonded with the people.” On “The Day of the King’s Festival” one participant reacts, “I didn’t understand it, but I didn’t feel I had to understand it because I could feel it.”

42:44Copy video clip URL “Todd Alcott” by Skip Blumberg. The 90’s regular, Todd Alcott, rants about his paranoid fantasies and inability to interact with society: “I’ve had enough. Some times when I see people on the street, they’ll follow salutations with ‘How are you?’ I don’t know how to respond to this. I usually get all goggle-eyed and say ‘I’m here!’ They usually take this as a smart remark, a cutting barb, an anti-social jibe. I don’t know what they want me to say. I am there, after all… I’m already interacting like crazy… Sometimes when I walk by an iron fence with spikes on top, I’m always afraid I’m going to trip and impale my head on the spikes… I’m afraid of the subway trains… I can’t remember the name of the place that I work… I am embarrassed. I am unhappy.”

45:14Copy video clip URL “Times Beach” by Bruce Lixey. A documentary about Times Beach, MO. From 1972 to 1973 the city contracted Russell Bliss to spray the roads with an oil-based formula to keep the dust down. In addition to oil, the spray also had dioxin in it, the mos t toxic chemical known to man. The town has since been closed down and purchased by the U.S. government. An ex-resident points out some of the sites of the town, which have since been overcome with weeds. The government knew about the contamination, but the EPA waited until 1982 to test for it. The woman pulls out photographs of her family. Her 18-year-old grandson is deaf, her granddaughter has leukemia and all of her female children have “female problems” In 1992, the government plans to incinerate the town and turn it into a recreational park.

51:01Copy video clip URL “Baby Stroller” by Skip Blumberg. Danica Kombol demonstrates the trials of using a baby stroller on the streets of New York.

53:07Copy video clip URL “One Man Band” by Nancy Cain. In Venice Beach, Cedric Stokes plays the saxophone and drums at the same time.

53:42Copy video clip URL “Blind Walk” by Skip Blumberg. Lilly Barry, a blind woman, talks about the problems she faces getting around New York. At a street corner, Skip says, “Should we go?” and starts her walking across the street. Just in time, he realizes, “I guess we shouldn’t. It’s blinking ‘Don’t Walk.’ That was so stupid on my part.”

55:04Copy video clip URL “Betty Aberlin” by Skip Blumberg. In New York, Betty Aberlin points out metal armrests which the city has installed on park benches to keep the homeless from sleeping on them. She deadpans that they couldn’t sleep there unless “they were extremely thin.”

53:36Copy video clip URL “Federal Express” by Skip Blumberg. Skip walks to Federal Express office and sends some tapes to “The 90’s.”

56:37Copy video clip URL The 90’s Mailbag segment with Joe Cummings.

57:00Copy video clip URL End Credits.



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