The most important audio recording released in the nineties wasn't a collection of songs by a self-tortured alternative star. The most important recording released in the grunge era was entitled SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! It was a covert audio recording of two older drunken men living in a small flat in San Francisco, who spent their available free time yelling, screaming, hitting and generally abusing each other.
The phenomenon began in 1987 when Eddie and Mitch (two young punks from the Mid West), moved next door to Peter Haskett (a flamboyant gay man), and Raymond Huffman (a raging homophobe). This ultimate odd-couple hated each other with raging abandon, and through the paper-thin walls their alcohol-fuelled rants terrorised Eddie and Mitch. Fearing for their lives they began to tape record evidence of the insane goings on from next door.
In recording Pete and Ray’s unique dialogue, the boys accidentally created one of the world’s first ‘viral’ pop-culture sensations. Their tapes went on to inspire a cult following, spawning sell-out CD’s, comic artworks by Dan Clowes (Ghostworld), stage-plays, music from the likes of Devo and a Hollywood feeding frenzy. For the newly famous Eddie and Mitchell, this would be a life-changing experience that would see them ingested into the belly and fired out the orifice of the pop culture beast.
In this first feature to come out of the SAFC’s FilmLab initiative, Matthew Bate (What the Future Sounded Like, Mystery of Flying Kicks) explores the blurring boundaries between privacy, art and exploitation.