Tonight’s fare is a firm favorite in rabble land. Capturing as it does the bombed out story of the Bronx in the mid-1970s and the gangs that ruled the roost.
You’ve oft heard how New York in the ’70s was a rough looking place, nowhere more so than the South Bronx. Gary Weis’ 80 Blocks From Tiffanys is based on a long piece of prose from Esquire magazine about the two gangs at the centre of the flick.
The doc is something of a lost classic – only seeing a viable commercial DVD release a few years ago. It’s a mammoth journey into informal squatted youth clubs occupied by the Skull and Nomads, as well as the social problems that blighted the borough as it was left to rot by the city’s administration after Robert Moses bulldozed a highway though area, de-industrialisation took hold and middle class whites fled to the ‘burbs.
Shot against a back drop of wide spread arson (presumably initiated by landlords on insurance scams, reluctant as they were to refurbish because of low rents) it captured a much mythologized period of NYC history. You thought The Warriors was a little too Village People? Well, watch this and you’ll see how both film and pop group got their costume cues from the streets.
Also, if you pay attention you’ll notice how Weis accidentally traces out the melting pot of disco, latino and multi-cultural whatever that fueled proto hip hop. If this turns out to be your cup of tea, then your next move is the opening salvos of Jeff Changs’ Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. Among the ruins grew the gangs, but from the gangs came the Mighty Zulu Nation…
Enjoy this shitty Youtube rip, it’s almost as good as watching it on VHS.
buy the dvd…great essay with it.