Sometimes you see something and you just have to have it. It's like a primal spurt of acquisitiveness, or a spontaneous manifestation of the consumer uber-will. Nothing can stand between you and The Thing You Must Buy.
Yesterday, this happened to me. The Thing I Had To Buy was a compact disc.
"SHUT UP, LITTLE MAN!" It's 72 minutes of illicit recordings made by two guys in their San Francisco apartment, recordings made of their neighbors. The neighbors in question are Peter and Raymond, a couple of mean old-fogey drunks who lived on the other side of the paper-thin walls. Peter and Raymond spent their time screaming at each other, screaming about things they hated, arguing about the rent, and getting into fist fights. The amount of bile and self-loathing these two spit out is truly amazing. The title comes from Peter's frequent shout to his embittered roomie: "Shut up, little man!" as used in the following Peter-rant:
"Shut up, little man! Nobody asked you to say anything. Shut up, little man! Shut up, little man! I got--I got a decent dinner ready. Nothing happened with the dinner because you CRUCIFIED it. You ruined it. Goddamn you! Shut up, little man!"
The 36 short tracks on the CD really run the gamut. Several tracks ("I know how to use any weapon," "This time I attack," "I am a killin' muthafucka," "I was a mean muthafucka in mah time," "Cheap little bitch,") are nothing but murderous threats the two men hurl at each other again and again. Others ("I despise all queers!", "Queers giggle," "I don't wanna watch queer shit: Fist Fight III", "Ray's Soliloquy: I am the human race!") are Raymond deriding his favorite target, the gay populace of San Francisco. As you might guess, there are three tracks that compose the Fist Fight trilogy ("Go to bed: Fist Fight I", "On the floor again: Fist Fight II", and the aforementioned "I don't wanna watch queer shit: Fist Fight III") in which--after screaming at each other for a while--Ray and Peter start throwing punches and rolling around the floor kicking and shouting.
As a bonus, there are selected appearances by Tony, described in the liner notes thusly:
"Tony--a Southern-bred Vietnam vet and white trash drifter--moved in and out of their apartment during the time we lived next door. In many ways he was the scariest of the three, recalling a movie extra from _Deliverance_. Tony provided the catalyst for more fighting, new jealousies, and shifting alliances."
They swear like no one I've ever heard. Every profanity known to man gets a vigorous workout. Here's a protracted, drunken exchange between the two:
Ray: "I am a man. I'm a decent fucking human being. I'm a man."
Peter: "Ray, nobody else is saying anything here, you're the only one."
Ray: "Good! Then shut your fucking mouth you sonofabitch! Shut your fucking mouth! I'm trying to talk to Tony I ain't trying to--"
Peter: "Nobody's answering you."
Ray: "I'll try and talk to you...uh...later. I'm trying to talk to Tony. I have not...I really have not...tried to hurt you..."
Peter: "You insulted him."
Ray: "Hey, shut up you sonofabitch! I have not tried to hurt you and I have not tried to hurt Tony. I really haven't."
Peter: "Go to bed."
Ray: "I'LL DO AS I GODDAMN PLEASE DON'T TELL ME TO GO TO BED YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT! I said I have not tried to hurt you or him, or Tony."
Peter: "Then go ahead and go to bed."
Ray: "YOU COCKSUCKER! YOU'RE A PIECE OF SHIT!"
Peter: "You said you weren't hurting me. Don't call me a piece of shit then."
Ray: "We'll I've hurt you a little bit you cocksucker. Hey, you piece of shit. That's all you are is a piece of shit. I do not hurt normal human beings. Believe me, I have not tried to hurt Tony and I have not tried to hurt you. But I will not take any shit--you wanna call me a piece of shit? You fucking cocksucker! Go ahead, call me a piece of shit! I don't give a fuck. I have not tried to hurt you and I have not tried to hurt Tony. Now you go ahead and do that, you cocksucker. But I won't...I won't take no shit from you. Okay? There."
The liner notes are intelligent and engaging. Ray & Peter knew they were being taped--during some fights, their tape-obsessed neighbors would stick a speaker in front of Ray & Peter's door and blast their own screams back at them:
"At some point in the process we recorded Peter saying: 'The neighbors are taping us again.' To which Ray responded: 'Good! Hey, next door, I want to tell the whole world that Peter ain't nothing but a lyin' thievin' piece of shit.'"
Ray died in '92; Peter's fate isn't mentioned. The tapers now live in Ohio, and offer a CD, bumper stickers, t-shirts, and other Ray & Peter paraphernalia of dubious ethical value but of clear interest to a few.
Listening to the desperate ravings and shouting matches of these two mean old drunk bastards, I can't help but break out laughing. Am I a misanthrope? A leering voyeur? Beats me, but I'm sure of one thing--I got my money's worth.