Crack & Despair Building Communities under NYC in Dark Days (2000)

"after a while, you adjust. you'd be surprised what the human mind and the human body can adjust to."

my favorite documentary is "Dark Days" by mark singer. I think you can watch it on netflix streaming and on liveleaks :

it's gritty as heck and has an amazing sound track (dj shadow), shot masterfully in black and white (the film they dug out of dumpsters) with shopping cart dollies rigged to rotting train tracks. it's an hour and a half long documentary about a village of homeless people who find community underground in abandoned amtrack tunnels. they hack into the utilities and take pride in building their hovels. they chat about lost family members and their struggles with substance abuse. most of the film is just long shots of conversation between friends discussing the challenges of everyday life, how to make money, how to love and defend themselves in such vulnerable situations. most prominently featured is their pride. they defend their way of life and take care of their homes. one man paints a NO CRACKHEADS sign on his house to keep out drugs so he doesn't get tempted as he explains how crack is what brought him down in the first place.they talk about family lost and gained. it's really an amazing testiment, some of these people living here for 6 years at time of the filming, and although the village has since been bulldozed it is worth watching to remember.

I don't want to give away too much of the documentary - you really should watch it! - but I will go into the method a bit. singer lived underground with the villagers for some months before suggesting the documentary. it was his first film and all the inhabitants of the tunnel helped as crew and producers, hustling for more film and helping jerry-rig equipment. the feel is gorgeous. the result is an amazingly authentic piece of work as the neighbors take turns interviewing one another and revealing themselves totally to the public whereas they were so previously invested in hiding underground. totally intimate. watch them brushing teeth over buckets, waking up in bed, getting high, crying, wishing, praying...

this was the year 2000 but it feels earlier, older somehow. perhaps we forget in this economy how bad things were for so many before the crash, before 9/11 and all the wars. there are still people living underground in new york city, dodging capital, smoking crack, and hiding out. functional unemployment? you be the judge. these people are hard workers. the film is amazing. *mic drop*

Discussion of Crack & Despair Building Communities under NYC in Dark Days (2000) on tHE r H i z z o n E:

this brings to mind a book i partially read recently titled The Mole People by Jennifer Toth, written in 93 about these very communities. though the author's naiveté may have contributed to the book's lack of validity ( it's still a very poignant account of the bitter life that those bums live, the way they gotta plumb the last remaining resources known to man.

The way i think of it, as with any addiction there are phases, and when one realizes that they're addicted to life itself, they get past the denial phase, deal with it, and end up accepting it. That the reason crack is so good is that you have a living body to put it in. that's kind of prerequisite. but once you're past that you're just happy to be alive.

"You have to keep laughing. If you don't you fall apart. Sometimes you gotta smile when you don't want to, you laugh at terrible things that nobody should laugh at, but it's like your mind has to find something funny or you'll go crazy." Then, tired of speaking seriously, he smiles broadly again. "I know that too. I know it all; I been through it all." He stretches his arms wide and high with self-satisfaction and pride at being alive.

Seville keeps the tunnels lively with his humor. Once while he was panhandling in Grand Central Station a commuter gave him a bag containing a loaf of bread and a pound of baloney. He thanked the man and then, after looking into the bag, shouted out after him, "Pardon me, sir, would you happen to have some Grey Poupon?"

ps didnt watch movie yet so gonna do that now

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