interviews by Pat Noecker
PAT: Okay, Mike, what do you have to say about Madison?
MIKE: It's got a long way to go before it's Minneapolis. (Laughter)
PAT: Okay, that was Mike. Your name is?
PAT: Lea, what do you have to say about Madison?
LEA: It's okay. It could use some stuff for people to do if they don't want to get drunk. (Laughter)
PAT: So, you're saying there's a lot of bars here in Madison.
LEA: Um, yeah, I guess I really don't need to say that. (Laughter) Everyone knows it.
PAT: Your name?
KIWI: I'm Kiwi.
PAT: Kiwi? Are you sure? (Laughter) Kiwi, tell me about Madison.
KIWI: Um, I think it's pretty decent, too, except fer I kinda wanna be 21. Not so I can drink but so I can go to some of the music places, too. There's DMF, which...yeah...just yeah. (Laughter) DMF is an all-ages techno club or something. Yeah, through the university. It's kinda the only thing. It doesn't really count. It doesn't count.
PAT: Winston, tell me about Madison.
WINSTON: What they said. We need more all-ages venues. Beer rules. Unfortunately.
PAT: Okay, we're in Madison, Wisconsin, and we're with--what's your name?
JAMES: Ah, my name is James.
PAT: And what do you do?
JAMES: Wha' I do?
JAMES: Oh, I jus' do a little cleanin' up. Sweepin' up.
PAT: And you work for Citgo?
JAMES: Yes, I was workin' when he bought the first station.
PAT: Really, where was that at?
JAMES: In town, da town, Madison, Wisconsin.
PAT: And what exactly do you do?
JAMES: Sweep, work, clean up. Yeah, jus' a handyman, jus' a handyman. Cleanin' up, sweepin' up, keep the bathrooms clean.
PAT: Does it pay well for you?
JAMES: Oh, yeah.
PAT: It does?
JAMES: Yeah, it pays so well...I can have money in the bank.
PAT: Uh huh, good. So, how many hours a week do you work?
JAMES: Oh, sometimes five to eight hours, sumpin like that.
PAT: So, do you have a family?
JAMES: No family. Jus' a single man.
PAT: Just a single man?
JAMES: I've been a bachelor all my life. Jus' me by myself, alone.
PAT: So, what do you like to do for fun?
JAMES: For fun? Oh, I like to make money, enjoy myself and drink beer.
PAT: Uh huh.
JAMES: Yeah, havin' fun. Havin' fun. Yeah.
PAT: Do you like the Badgers?
JAMES: Oh, I watch 'em sometimes.
PAT: Do you ever go to Green Bay?
JAMES: I jus' look at 'em on TV and sometimes I watch John Wayne, Colt 45, Wyatt Eart.
PAT: Wyatt Earp? All right. Um, who's your favorite actor?
JAMES: Clint Eastwood and, uh, John Wayne, and Chuck Norri' and Rambo.
PAT: All right. What's your favorite Clint Eastwood movie?
JAMES: Like Clint Eastwood?
PAT: Yeah, your favorite Clint Eastwood movie.
JAMES: Rambo's the same, Chuck Norri's the same, and Clint Eastwood the same one.
PAT: Alright. So, your name is James?
JAMES: 40. Oh, 46 years old.
PAT: And you're from Madison, Wisconsin originally?
JAMES: I'm from Southern town, Mississippi--Southern Mississippi.
PAT: What town in Mississippi?
JAMES: Oh, the otha side of Greenwood and Clydesdale.
PAT: Uh huh. What was it like growing up there?
JAMES: Oh, pickin' cotton, pick da beans, cuttin'--uh--bushes, hedges, pickin' bean, oats, an' corn an' stuff.
PAT: So, how long did you do that before you moved?
JAMES: Oh, I did it while I was eighteen years old, seventeen years old. I stayed. I didn't leave 'til I got in my thirty. I leave 'cause nothin' from there.
PAT: So were your parents farmers also?
JAMES: From Southern Mississippi.
PAT: From Southern Mississippi. All right. Say your name and age again.
JAMES: James. James C.
PAT: Got any final comments?
PAT: Final words to say?
JAMES: From James C.--nice to be on this station.
PAT: Okay, what's your name?
HALLS OREON: Halls Oreon!
PAT: What's your age?
HALLS OREON: Uh, beyond all time-space continuums, uh...measurements on your particular sphere of existence.
PAT: So, what's your age?
HALLS OREON: Oh, age? Oh...(long pause)...infinity...uff...
PAT: What do you do?
HALLS OREON: Uh, exist.
PAT: How do you exist?
HALLS OREON: How? I have no idea.
PAT: Well...what do you do with your time besides exist?
HALLS OREON: God, look at this, it's like an endless...just...jus' tryin' to keep up, y'know? Can't hardly do it, y'know?
PAT: What are you doing right now?
HALLS OREON: W'God, I'm going through hell!
PAT: Why are you going through hell?
HALLS OREON: Because...um...I wanna get to heaven...mmm-hmmm...so here I go!
PAT: What's in heaven?
HALLS OREON: Mmm-hmmm...it's a great place where...everything's happening, y'know? I love it!
PAT: W-what's happening there?
HALLS OREON: Well, we're starting to go to heaven right now. (Whispers emphatically) Yes! We are! PAT: Are you dressed up in a Halloween costume? HALLS OREON: Oh! Is it Halloween? God! Could've told me! Oo, I like that...(perhaps responding to doo-wop song coming over Staches' P.A.) PAT: Are you performing tonight? HALLS OREON: Yes! [Halls Oreon is the bassist for the Hard Black Thing, a Columbus, Ohio band who joined forces with folksinger/comedian Sam Esh for a memorable LP on Siltbreeze Records] PAT: What are you going to do? HALLS OREON: We're going to change the world! PAT: How are you going to change the world? HALLS OREON: sss...by doing what we do. PAT: And you don't wanna say what that is? HALLS OREON: I could never say what it is, I can only do it. PAT: Okay! Um, what do you like best about Columbus, Ohio? HALLS OREON: Ooh, it's just one long test-tube with glares of different types of growth. It's incredible! PAT: Uh huh. What do you like about it? HALLS OREON: Umm...I just--just can't think of anything...worse, y'know, 't's like... PAT: Well what--what don't you like about America? HALLS OREON: Oh...'t's so beautiful I can't even...can't comprehend anything more perfect in the universe...it's unbelievable... PAT: What do you--hmm...are you married? HALLS OREON: Hello, what? PAT: Are you married? HALLS OREON: Married??? Only to my Mom! PAT: Are you a single man? HALLS OREON: Hi Mom! Of course...I'm so single it's...(goes into a sort of a Rodney Dangerfield impression)...it's pitiful! Can't get no respect! Or anything like that, y'know, it's terrible! Hello! (unintelligible) PAT: Okay...(conversation degenerates as Halls is saying something muffled, fiddling with some object, and Pat is going "Hey you! Hey you!" in a rather silly way)...okay, we're setting up some kind of mic contraption. Gimme one last word on this American documentary here...say something that's gonna affect the human population...say something very profound... HALLS OREON: Okay, folks...stop exploding petroleum and stop exploding the atom, because you know...it's...absolutely flawed technology, reckless, and should never have been experimented with...it was only done so because of tremendous commercial interest and it is...uh...a criminal offense under any civilization existant on Planet Earth, and you should track those people down, everyone involved, and...uuuhhhh...perpetuating this extremely dangerous fraud, and you should make them pay for what they've done, what they've extracted out of humanity, because, y'know... PAT: Who's "they"? HALLS OREON: "They"? Well, they're the carpetbaggers...uh, from the turn of the century...they're the ones who...uh...caused the great stock market crash of the United States. It's a political party--uh, it's actually a criminal organization...(getting more riled up) ...and they operate under the guise of some phony ideology... and it's always some kind of conservative CON JOB that they run, and it's always the most absurd thing because they can't even--can't even come up with anything...remotely construed to be whatever they're supposed to stand for at any time, but they can always come up with a lot of BUYING, with a lot of MANIPULATIVE MEDIA to make people conditioned, and to believe that up is down and down is up--y'know, and they... PAT: So do you, uh, do you think America is under this haze of desensitization, or is, like... HALLS OREON: Well...uh, we fought World War II to get rid of those manipulators of public...uh...those, those who sought to lie, cheat and steal and get away with it by manipulation of public opinion, and, uh, and his name was Adolf Hitler, but then they came back in the form of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush, and after that many years of that kind of conditioning, you can imagine the state of the human consciousness right now--and that's why we are even--we are in a march towards suicide and it's even more--uh, extreme than anyone would've ever dreamed, even the most, uh, pessimistic predictor would've ever...ever dreamed, imagined possible...it's um, it's unbelievable... PAT: So what're you gonna do to cure these problems? HALLS OREON: What am I gonna do to cure it? Watch! PAT: Okay! Watch, he's gonna perform. What was your name again? HALLS OREON: Halls Oreon! PAT: And what's your age? HALLS OREON: The age? Infinite!! PAT: Infinite! Okay, thanks Halls...
PAT: You could answer a few questions for me...Why? Because I'm doing a...I'm travelling across America doing this documentary...thing...so, here, le'me, here...okay, I'm just going to ask you your name and age...(into the mic) What's your name and age? HAROLD BRIGHT: (drunk, slurring heavily) Harold Bright, 57, and M.D. PAT: What do you do? HAROLD BRIGHT: I M.D. PAT: You're a medical doctor? HAROLD BRIGHT: Yeah, b' I lo' m' license 'bou' ten years ago! PAT: Uh huh...you lost your wife? HAROLD BRIGHT: No, I lost my license ten years ago! PAT: Oh, you lost your license? HAROLD BRIGHT: Right. PAT: How'd you lose your license? HAROLD BRIGHT: I...malpracticedown Indiana. PAT: Really...what, what, what was the situation, what happened? HAROLD BRIGHT: Uuhhh...I wr-wrote up a wrong prescription...and someone died. PAT: Mm-hmm--he died? He did. Uh huh--so did they sue you? HAROLD BRIGHT: Yeah! PAT: Mm-hmm...for how much? HAROLD BRIGHT: Wuh--fifteen-million, yeah! PAT: Really? HAROLD BRIGHT: I'd get it back now...but since then, my wife died, my son died 'bout six months ago...(unintelligible)...I'd get it back now... PAT: So will you ever be able to practice again? When? HAROLD BRIGHT: Now! PAT: Now? You can practice right now? HAROLD BRIGHT: Yeah! PAT: Then how come you're not practicing? HAROLD BRIGHT: I say--I get it back now--I coulda got it 'bout two or three years ago, but my son died six months ago in Florida. PAT: How'd he die? HAROLD BRIGHT: AIDS. H-he was married nine years. I-I don't know! PAT: How old was he? HAROLD BRIGHT: 34. PAT: 34? Did he have children? HAROLD BRIGHT: No, no children. PAT: Were you able to attend the funeral? HAROLD BRIGHT: (unintelligible) PAT: What's that? Is this your cat? Okay, we're getting something out of a wallet here to look at--you're getting ready to show me what, here? His obituary? And it says here that he died of...(unintelligible)...Is that Andy there? I'll read it. "Andrew J. Bright, age 34, died Sunday, April 16th, 1995, at his residence in Bradenton, Florida..." Okay, more stuff to show me...it's startin' to rain here in Columbus, Ohio...um...what do you do now? Andrew J. Bright, that's the one I looked at before...okay...um, what's it like surviving now, after-- HAROLD BRIGHT: I w' married 26 years, m'wife died 3 years ago...a w' d' M.D. PAT: Uh-huh...so everything just kind of fell apart for you? It did. And do you have a place to live now? HAROLD BRIGHT: Aay-uuhh! I stay on Dodge Street Bridge! PAT: You stay where? HAROLD BRIGHT: The bridge! PAT: The bridge? Under the bridge? What's it like under there? HAROLD BRIGHT: Bad! I've been about four months... PAT: Are there a lot of people that stay there? HAROLD BRIGHT: Uuhhh...couple a--couple other guys... PAT: Are you guys close? No? It's just kind of a hangout? Does it get super-cold down there? HAROLD BRIGHT: Hey! I've been here two years on and off... PAT: You been under the bridge for two years? Umm...do you ever see yourself getting away from the bridge? HAROLD BRIGHT: Nnuh--aft' m' wife died...(unintelligible) PAT: What's that? HAROLD BRIGHT: Aft' m' wife died...I w' married 26 years! Two years... PAT: Uh huh...do you miss her a lot? Yeah? Well, you'll see her again someday, I'm sure. HAROLD BRIGHT: I...I have--son and three daughter, two grandson--they don't have nothin' t' do with me. PAT: Why not? HAROLD BRIGHT: 'Cause I'm a fuckin' drunk! PAT: Mm-hmm...so do you talk to them often? HAROLD BRIGHT: Not for two years. PAT: (Voiceover recorded later) At this point Harold became emotional. I just decided to blot it out--this man went on to tell some more depressing stuff--I'd rather not even have played it back--I feel like I stole his soul for even askin' him. (Back in Columbus) Here, go ahead, take these--here you are--here's ten more cents. HAROLD BRIGHT: Nothin' gon' help me, okay? PAT: Alright, I just thought I'd offer. HAROLD BRIGHT: Hey--hey, at least I was married 26 years...how long-- PAT: That's right, that's a fuckin' long time. HAROLD BRIGHT: When she died, somethin' happened to me... (unintelligible) PAT: What d' you think of Cincinnatti--er, Columbus? You like Columbus? HAROLD BRIGHT: Hey...(breathing fast)...Hey, I was born an' raised around Columbus. But I lived in Indiana 'leven years. M' wife died an' I came back 'n'--couple years ago. PAT: Where'd you go to medical school? HAROLD BRIGHT: In Ohio State. PAT: How long did it take to become a doctor back then? HAROLD BRIGHT: Seven years! PAT: Seven years? Would you like to say any last words before I go? HAROLD BRIGHT: Wha--? PAT: Something you would like to be remembered by--'cause this is all going to be in a book. HAROLD BRIGHT: Eh--wha' can I say? I w' on th' river...Broad Street Bridge...n'--n'--n' the river rat died about six months ago, eight months 'go...he's like a brother to me. I don't have nothin' now! PAT: Is there any way to get anything? Is there anything you can do to get some help? Why not? Y' just don't feel like it? I mean there's just--you have no ambition to, because all this bad stuff has happened? That right? Well, okay, Columbus, Ohio, October 30th, and we're with--what's your name again? HAROLD BRIGHT: Mm--(cough) Bill Clinton, president. PAT: (laughter) Take care.
Say your name and age . . . Uh, John Carl Stigoff the Third. John . . . Carl Stigoff . . . the Third. Okay. What's your age? Twenty-nine years old as of last night. Are you hung over today? Excuse me? Are you hung over today? No. Didja party? No. Can't afford to. Okay. So you live in Youngstown . . . what do you do? No, at this point I don't live in Youngstown anymore. I was born and raised on what is called the West Side of Youngstown. Which is where the German, Hungarian, Austrian, Czechoslovakian, and what's left of the uh, Ukrainian influences of Youngstown have grown up on. We were the . . . managers . . . the supervisors, down in the mills. The "hunkies," as we were called. Right now I live out in a suburb that is called Boardman . . . . Boardman, Ohio. It's the second richest suburb of Youngstown. Um, it is listed as the number two school district in the state of Ohio . . . but, my roots are still in Youngstown. I love the North Side. This is where my family came from when they settled in, from Germany . . . my grandfather's house is still a half a block from here. Um, it still looks like a s-uh, a Lutheran, uh, uh, church steeple, as it always has, and I hope it always will. Hopefully, none of the, none of the, uh, unappreciative individuals in the area will burn it down. Has uh . . . has it become corporate? Now that you're not the managers anymore? The steel mills are all closed now. Oh boy, there's tons of reasons. Uh, either be it that the unions got too strong . . . um, the management . . . made the decisions not to invest their money in the future, and this is "Okay, we'll take the money, let's run now" . . . um, the old work ethics died . . . um . . . What were the old work ethics? You were there when the whistle blows, and you'd go home when the whistle blows. And you'd work as hard as you can, for the sole purpose of . . . having your child or children - no more than your paycheck could pay for - do better than you did. Um, in this area that seems to have changed. You know, in the last two generations it's "I'm gonna have as many kids as I want to, and somebody else'll pay for 'em." That, that old ethic of "I want my children to do better than I did" apparently has died in this area. Do you think that's happening in America? I don't know. I, I do drive a truck, I go in different areas, but - maybe similar than you guys see - it's like I'll go to a new town, but I never have the opportunity to travel out beyond what I'm supposed to be there for. As you know, you guys are here tonight to play in this bar, you're not having any opportunity to see Youngstown. Y'know, you're just here, which, unfortunately, is the worst part of town. Okay, like I was tellin' you before, we pulled in . . . stopped to make a phone call . . . the cops shooed us out of the area, and we stopped to make another phone call, and the security guard basically told us to get out of the area also. Why do you think they told us that? Um, you - on this, on this side of the valley . . . this is an extremely dangerous area . . . for young . . . young white individuals. It isn't necessarily a racial issue . . . it's not like you're white or you're black . . . It's their part of town? This is their turf! I mean . . . one and a half generations ago, they came here from the South. With promises of having jobs in the steel mills, they all came up here . . . and then the mills folded. They're all on welfare . . . all the money is not within the city limits of Youngstown. This area has a ton of money. Look at uh, Edward J. Debartolo. He's from Youngstown. Um, he's in the suburbs. When you're in the city limits of Youngstown, and you're white . . . you have opportunities, you are weak, you are stupid, you are na´ve. These, these, these people within the city limits anymore, with the exception, with the possible exception of the West Side - the Germans will not give up their hold on the West Side - um, every section of town with the exception of the West Side, it's if you're white, you're weak, and you're easily preyed upon. And if you're white, therefore you are from the suburbs, and if you're from the suburbs, you probably are just some dumb, na´ve kid with four-hundred dollars in his back pocket. I'm here to take it. So is that what divides this town? If there's a divider in this town, is that what it is? Mm, yes. It's, you come out of - Youngstown is sitting down in a valley. When you come up outside of the valley . . . you, you're fair game. And it's just, you know, it's dichotomous, um . . . when you are from Youngstown, and unfortunately, it is categorized right now as you are being black. When you're in the suburbs, you're fair game. Um . . . the suburb next to where I live, just the other day, there was a carload of black individuals who were caught in the village of Canfield. For speeding. The police chief uh, pulls 'em over. Tells them, "Drive on down the road, fill the car up with gas, charge it to the Canfield police department, and get the fuck out of town. If I see any of you guys here again, you're done." You know, and all of a sudden this hits the NAACP. The guy's receiving phone calls now, and probably will be receiving them for months on end, and he will get re-elected. The individuals in this area, they will pay for that type of protection. They don't wanna hear it. But you said it wasn't a racial issue . . . No, they were from Youngstown. Youngstown's bad now, I mean we're the murder capital of the United States of America! This is Bombtown, U.S.A., this is Mafiatown, U.S.A. This is a tough community. Paul McGuire from NBC summed it up - summed it up so holistically. Jerry Osowski, from Youngstown, Ohio, from Chaning High School, the same high school that I went to on the West Side of Youngstown. Two years ago, career-ending injury to his knees. Comes back this year, after a few knee surgeries, faster and stronger than he has ever been before that. McGuire summed it up so perfect: "Youngstown is the only town in the United States of America that you can take the ligaments out of a cadaver, put them into an NFL football star, and he will come back stronger than he was before." And that's Youngstown! You think that reflects the old work ethic you were talkin' about? Oh, holistically! I mean, Jerry's from the West Side. O-sow-ski! I mean . . . his parents fled the Nazi storm just thirty years ago. Strong, strong, strong families. Alright, um . . . okay, say one thing . . . about, uh . . . say one thing to Americans that you would say . . . would only come from a person who lives here. Somethin' about your town, or . . . whatever. Well, speakin' as a West-Sider - I cannot, I cannot do a summation of all of Youngstonians - but, from the West Side of Youngstown . . . Don't produce more than your means. Y'know, do a strong work ethic. Get up in the morning, go to work. But ya don't have more kids than your paycheck will allow. LARRY SCHAEFER: Don't say anything about tomorrow. Wanna interview me? Go ahead, okay, what's your name and age? LARRY: Uh . . . I'm Larry Schaefer. Today's my birthday, November 7th, 1995, and the North Side of Youngstown is crazy. There's more killings than ever. Don't come and move here. Amen. God bless. Okay! (tape shuts off) Okay, we're back with . . . who again? Larry Schaefer. North Side holds the record for the most killings this year in Youngstown, and it's terrible. It really is. Over, um, drug dealing. It really is. Why do you think people are killing each other? Over drugs. So do you think they should legalize drugs? Would that take care of the problem? No. So there wouldn't be these black market wars? Yeah, I think they should legalize marijuana. And get rid of the killings. What side of . . . what side of town is . . . The West Side's all white. This is all black. And this side is what side again? Um, North Side. It's all blacks. I live on the North Side, but . . . So why do you stay here? Well, I'm movin' back to Marietta, hell, next month, but - I'm scared! For my own life, all these killings an' stuff. That's why I'm movin' back to Marietta, up by West Virginia. It's safer there. Do you think it's ever gonna get better here? No. No? It's only gonna get worse? Yep. Do you think there's anything they can do to solve the problem? Beef up the, um, police force. Mm-hmm. But if there's no money here, how can they do that? Well, I mean . . . Tax dollars? Yeah, I mean . . . Ed Debartolo was from here . . . uh, there's other big-shots from around the area, I mean . . . has money. They could pay more taxes, and uh . . . get better security around here, I mean . . . that's why you don't see too much college kids down tonight. They're scared, to come down here because it's an all-black neighborhood! That's all I really have to say about it.
Part Two of Pat Noecker Interviews The U.S.A.