Tag Archives: streetwise



There’s some sequels that need to be made and having spent decades pondering the fate of the homeless kids in 1984’s miserable but brilliant documentary, Streetwise (a perfect partner to the semi-fictional Pixote as one of the greatest films of the 1980s) I’ve always wanted to know what became of Erin “Tiny” Blackwell after the film got its Oscar nomination. Sadly, a few of the stars of Martin Bell’s film (based on Cheryl McCall’s LIFE article and Bell’s wife, Mary Ellen Mark‘s photography) passed away in the years that followed, but a torrented pair of 1993 Nightline-style follow-ups regarding Tiny’s life showed that she had a life after the street life in Seattle, albeit a troubled one. But that was 20 years ago, so it’s nice to find out that there’s a Kickstarter for Streetwise: Tiny Revisited charting her hard life from 13 to 44 by Martin and Mary.

We really shouldn’t need any incentive to take part in the funding, but the rare books, prints and posters on offer are better than a middle finger from Rat as far as begging goes. Tom Waits’ Take Care of all my Children was the perfect soundtrack to this classic and I’ve always wondered why Martin Bell never made more great films after 1992’s underrated and uncompromising American Heart (based on Bell’s experience shooting Streetwise). This project feels long overdue and while there’s a funny story about the day of the 57th Academy Awards (Streetwise lost out to the admittedly superb The Times of Harvey Milk) on the Kickstarter site, there’s definitely not a happy ending — it’s a constant struggle. The Streetwise book is coming back for another printing too (I can’t recall seeing it on sale since 1995) with extra pictures. This is a cause worth supporting, as the wake up call the film’s release instigated seems to have been on snooze in recent years.

Now I really want to know what became of Jack, who loves to smoke PCP while watching TV and marvel at the colours in this 1980 documentary. “What do I think about when I’m high? Oh, just glorious things. Happy…Mary Tyler Moore.”

While we’re talking documentaries, this 7-minute film on the mysterious Duncan X is worth spending the time with:

It’s not a secret. Shouts to Trapstar for confirming the rumoured partnership with Roc Nation — this Life + Times documentary is a good look. Shouts to the people who told me that Rocawear had bought it, despite being an Iconix brand — from an organic start to the effort they’ve put into their outerwear and the kind of PR savvy that leaves big agencies in the dust, it’s heartening to see people who put in work get some payback. Make it, put it on people before the latecomers arrive and bring it from an authentic place and they’ll come eventually. Maybe. Or you’ll be one of those people who owned a great brand that stays obscure. There’s no luck here though, because the Trapstar team have done their work.


“Every person, no matter how big or tough they are, should always have a partner. You never want to go on the streets alone. It’s a mistake. It’s just you’ll get lonely, you’ll get upset, you’ll get beat up. Because, you never can tell if someone’s gonna come up from the front of you and start to get your attention, and this other dude is gonna walk up behind you and bust your fuckin’ head. Partners are always better.”

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I’m suffering a bout of lower-middle class guilt for getting mad at an image hosting site for a whole hour while kids are out there starving, or just because it’s always on my mind as an underappreciated  document of the realness in it’s unfortunate bin-digging, prostituting and pimping form, but the 1984 documentary ‘Streetwise’ is on my mind again. Set among the down and out residents of Seattle’s streets, it’s essential viewing for you ’80s teen on screen connoisseurs, and the polar opposite to John Hughes’s fictional youth angst of the era.