SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! An Audio Misadventure Review and Trailer

“If you wanna talk to me then shut your fucking mouth!” was just one of the many glorious words that flew from Raymond Huffman‘s lips.  Raymond was just half of the equation; the other half was an equally belligerent flamboyant queen named Peter Haskett and to describe these two as rude would be an understatement.  They seemed to develop a functionally dysfunctional routine of getting highly intoxicated and screaming insults at one another.  This tradition was initially alarming for their neighbors Mitch Deprey and Edward Guerriero.

It is 1987 and “Mitchell D” and “Eddie Lee Sausage” had just moved to San Francisco from Madison, Wisconsin–presumably with the intention of greater opportunities and landed themselves in the “Pepto Bismol Palace,” the nickname for their pale pink apartment complex.  Fearing for their lives, they began to record the riotous quarrels that seeped into their run-down Steiner apartment.  The fights soon became entertainment for these midwest transplants–as did the tapes, which were quickly being copied and distributed among their friends.

Ray and Pete were transforming to the likes of a pop-culture phenomenon, without their knowledge, of course.  They were too drunk to notice – the most lovable and endearing violent alcoholics you would never meet.  Those two had a way with words, turning their drunken bickering into a certain poetic rhetoric.  Back before the internet and Youtube, this angry discourse was immortalized through the use of cassette tapes.  These tapes made their way into the hands of Daniel Clowes, members of DEVO, and Ivan Brunetti – just a few of the many who canonized these characters in comic book, film, play, song and puppet form.  Matthew Bate, the writer and director of this particular adaptation of Ray and Pete’s life, describes the allure of the tapes, “They have an absurdest Beckett quality, a glimpse into the darkest corners of human relationships.  Because it’s purely audio, listening to it forces you to imagine what Peter and Raymond looked like, what their apartment was like and what their circumstances were.  So many questions arise like: why is an obviously gay man living with a raging homophobe?  Who recorded this stuff and how did they get out alive?  And how is this even legal?  These mysteries were seductive.”

The Pete and Ray tapes were officially released by Bananafish Magazine in 1992 which included a disclaimer on the inside of the tape’s case that gave anyone the right to use the material for their own artistic endeavors.  There is much debate on the legality of these projects, since the material was recorded without Peter and Raymond’s consent.  Many boundaries of privacy, exploitation and ownership rights were blurred with the use of these recordings, and soon Mitchell D and Eddie Lee Sausage decided to place a copyright on them.

There are many bands, especially noise bands that use sound clips and found sounds in the making of their music, such as Scanner who uses police scanner recordings.  It is unclear if all of these artists seek out the rights of this ‘audio veritae.’  Most art is appropriated from many different sources, and although many copyright laws exist, it is not always a black and white issue.  The film, Shut Up Little Man may not answer any of these questions, but it certainly brings up an interesting debate.  Shut Up Little Man has everything you need for a fulfilling movie-experience:  art and music debates, vulgar profanity and drunk old men!

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