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John S. Dickson,
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
It's difficult to believe that simple recordings of unorthodox arguments had the ability to go viral in the 1980's. It may seem unfathomable, but Tribeca's new documentary Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure assures us that it happened. In 1987, two young punks named Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchell "Mitchell D" Deprey moved into a bright pink, low rent apartment (eventually coined the "Pepto Bismol Palace") and were consistently bothered by their next door neighbors loud, inane arguments that would happen throughout hours of the night.
The neighbors were apparently on a life long welfare and alcohol binge. They were bigoted and homophobic Raymond Huffman and openly homosexual Peter Haskett. Though it appears them living together was a contradiction in itself, sources claim that the two were close friends when sober. Which, as we can assume from watching the film, wasn't too often.
Peter and Raymond would argue like a married couple, using profanity so explicit it may be questioned why they weren't thrown out. They would exchange insults back in forth with Peter usually yelling "shut up, little man!" at Raymond. After growing weary of the yelling, and after an attempt to stop them did not work, Eddie and Mitchell decided to tie a microphone to a ski pole and raise it out the window so they could record their neighbors' mindless rants for their personal record. They recorded them to a cassette tape, and the newly discovered mechanism of evidence and defense eventually became used for enjoyment and curiosity. They continued doing it for the logical reason of human nature; to see how far they would go next time. The result makes for a surprisingly entertaining documentary. Just like the documentaries F**k and Winnebago Man, it proves that the topic of swearing, if taken seriously and effectively, will produce a very interesting breed of films.
What makes this documentary so interesting was it shows how things went viral before computers. What if the "Shut Up Little Man" recordings had Youtube under their belt? They would've spread uncontrollably, but due to the primitive technology, it took longer for them to be heard.
The film was made for two major reasons; the first being because, at one time, three separate films from three separate groups were trying to make a film on this subject, including Eddie and Mitchell, and all were rejected or stuck in development hell. And the second reason because one big question lingers over Eddie and Mitchell's heads "do they owe Peter and Raymond anything?" Both men died in the nineties, but is it fair to market their recordings for a profit without giving them something in return? It's a little late, but the duo do the best they can to try and make amends. This involves tracking down a third member of some of the infamous recordings. To say what happens when they meet him would be criminal. Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure is funny, engaging, and genial. There's nothing to really be biased about, which is why I believe the documentary didn't feel like a burden at all. Just like with Winnebago Man, things could've quickly spiraled into a whirlpool of mindless swearing and inconsistencies. Luckily enough, the film doesn't get preoccupied with ridiculous, directionless comments which is a lot more than can be said about some of the actual recordings.
Starring: Eddie Lee Sausage and Mitchell Deprey. Directed by: Matthew Bate.
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