‘Oh Ray, the neighbours are recording us.’
Peter Haskett, 1987
When young punks Eddie Guerriero and Mitchell Deprey moved out of their rundown San Francisco Lower Haight district apartment in the late-Eighties they took with them over fourteen hours audio material of their alcoholic neighbours’ drunken tirades; individually listed tracks like ‘Someday I Will Kill You’, ‘If You Want To Talk To Me Then Shut Your Mouth’ and the now infamous ‘Shut Up Little Man’, recorded through walls and windows during their two year tenancy.
They captured the bizarre relationship of alcoholic roommates Raymond Huffman – a foul mouthed, violent homophobe – and Peter Haskett – a curiously poetic, taunting homosexual – in daily outbursts of surreal threats (‘I can kill you from a sitting position’ Ray), domestic disputes (‘I got a decent dinner ready. Nothing happened with the dinner. Because you crucified it. You ruined it.’ Peter) and ludicrous observations (‘You always giggle falsely. You don’t have a decent giggle in you.’ Peter). They were ‘The Odd Couple crossed with Waiting for Godot on acid’ and unwittingly became cult-icons of American urban folklore.
The Shut Up Little Man recordings spread across the United States on mix-tapes via underground zines and audio vérité tape-trading networks before entering subterrantean pop-culture. They inspired comic book illustrators like (Daniel Clowes, Ghost World and Ivan Brunetti, Schizo), playwrights, filmmakers and records labels (Matador, then representing Pavement, The Fall and Teenage Fanclub), were sampled in music tracks (including Devo’s The WipeOuters, Faith No More and The Breeders) and featured in major press articles (Vanity Fair, LA Times).
Shut Up Little Man documents the rise and fallout of pre-digital viral phenomenon and explores the of ethics of consent, art and copyright, implicating not only the viewer but also the documentary itself as collaborator and voyeur. Intelligent, unbiased, entertaining and thought provoking.
Shut Up Little Man can be seen at Leeds Town Hall at 5pm on Thursday 17th November as part of the 2011 Leeds International Film Festival.
For more information:
The official website for the Leeds International Film Festival is www.leedsfilm.com. The box office number is 0113 224 3801. The LIFF25 Box Office is located in The Carriageworks, located on Millennium Square, Leeds. The box office is open from 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday and on Sundays when there is a performance at The Carriageworks. Advance tickets and passes can be purchased either online, by phone or in person.
Josephine Borg is a newly northern, back-rubber extraordinaire. She offers Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage to the good folks of West Yorkshire, along with a brew and a slice of homemade cake. You can find out more at www.lomimassageleeds.com or by following her on Twitter @ilovelomi or Facebook.