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In 1987 San Francisco, Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitch Deprey began recording the squabbles of their stranger than fiction neighbors, the bigoted Raymond Huffman and the out and proud Peter Haskett. The recital of the pair's outrageous reality quickly took on a life of its own. This darkly funny documentary chronicles the history of Raymond and Peter, as well as what happened to former slackers Eddie and Mitch, who paint a picture of not only their outrageous neighbors, but also of San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood in the late 1980s. Interviews with others who were influenced by the recordings document their broad influence on a variety of artists, near and far. Written by
In the end, this movie felt like an excuse to milk the tapes for a little more fame and/or money.
The first 2/3rds nicely chronicle how the whole phenomenon took place. And it truly is fascinating. You get a sense of how strange, serendipitous and organic it must have been to have a personal project turn into a meme.
But the key word is "organic". Other people drove the Pete and Ray story. The partners, correctly, said "go ahead" since, in effect, it wasn't really theirs to control.
It's when they take control that movie inadvertently reveals that, rather than a sweet, hapless pair that fell into something, they've staked their identities on this one thing and they've become kind of self-important assholes.
When Eddie Lee made proclamations about "art" my first thought was - "Really? What other art have you created? Because an artist normally creates more than one piece of art and all you did was tape some guys screaming at each other. Other people picked it up and turned it into something. Duping tapes and giving them to people...well...that's not really art." After that, the pair goes on a quest to do the one thing that art should never do - explain itself. Tracking down Ray, the roommate, felt like a stunt. It was a fishing trip to solve the riddle of whether Pete and Ray were lovers. That's dull and pointless.
Art, imho, allows people to project themselves into and onto what they see. These two, Eddie in particular, seem to want to prove something that doesn't need to be proved. Wrapping up the film with the Pete and Ray dancing sucks everything that's interesting about the relationship out of it.
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