Note From the Margins




Sunday Video: Times Square Past


More Jerry Rio: Music video for “Mini-bar’, by Jerry’s old band ‘Sunshine Highway. A fascinating tour of day night-time Times Square, featuring the beautiful (and oft-tacky) signage along the Deuce. So much of this is gone now, it takes seeing old photographs or footage for me to remember that it ever existed. You’d think the tourists would want to see a cleaned-up version of the old Times Square more than the glitz that’s taken over now but then, hey, what do I know. A definite sense of a world about to be swept away in this video. If the Deuce had to be cleaned up, and it did, they could have kept these wonderful signs, and some of the bars and hot-dog joints that made it special. Wouldn’t the tourists dig the Hawaii Kai?

A documentary short of Times Square in the late 80’s, a fascinating portrait of the world that was swept way. By Steven Siegel. From the director’s youtube site:

Pre-Disneyfied Times Square at night — as it existed in the 1980s. As seen from a teenager’s point of view. Includes voice-over interviews of teenagers.

Beautiful neon street signs, and the carnival of street culture that lived on in the Deuce through the early 90’s – street preachers, barkers, hustlers. The video games, voice-overs, camera angles only accent the strange, sometimes frightening sleaziness of the Deuce. And it was sleazy, and sometimes frightening, no doubt about it. Times Square was in a state of advanced decay, and this in itself was a transient state. A lot of this is more romantic at a distance. but hey, it reflected New York at the time, just like Times Square today for better or worse, reflects contemporary Manhattan and its place in the economic chain.
Great sequence at the end riding the train through the tunnels. You don’t see many kids doing it now, but there was always used to be kids by the front window, taking in the strange world of the oncoming tunnel. “Whatever kind of other transportation can you get that kind of view for free, with a regular fare?”

Previous Times Square Posts:
Times Square Redux
Jerry Rio’s The Urban Eye

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  • DP

    the Hawaii Kai !!! used to have friends who were briefly in the house band, I loved the place but sadly it was already in serious decline by the early 80’s — always half empty — neither tourists nor natives were interested. thanks for the links!

    • cityofstrangers

      Wow, thanks for the memories. It was well, well before my time, but I’ll pass the info on to Jerry Rio. Maybe he remembers the band.