75q: Ron Nessen / Patti Smith
Gary Weis Film: Garbage
[Gary Weis film in which New York sanitation workers
are interviewed on the job:]
1st Man: Well, I feel the men should be called
"sanitation men" - not "garbage men."
Man in Truck 1: Eh, sanitation engineer's a
little too high. But "garbage man" -- it - it - it -
it's describing the person. I don't think that's
Man in Truck 2: You can call me anything as
long as I get paid every week!
Man in Truck 3: It doesn't make a difference
one way or another, doesn't matter. You are what ya
[We hear folk singer Pete Seeger's recording of Bill
Steele's 1969 song "Garbage" over a montage of garbage
trucks. The 1st Man directs the trucks. We see an
enormous amount of trash being emptied from trucks
into garbage scows.]
Pete Seeger: [sings]
Mister Thompson calls the waiter, orders steak and
Then he leaves the bone and gristle and he never eats
The busboy comes and takes it, with a cough
He throws it in a can with coffee grounds and sardine
Then a truck comes by on Friday - carts it all
And a thousand trucks just like it are converging on
[sings the refrain]
Chorus: Garbage, garbage,
Pete Seeger: Garbage
Chorus: Garbage, garbage,
[Song ends. Interviews continue:]
1st Man: Around springtime, bodies start
poppin' up. Usually, uh, they fall in around fall or
wintertime. Whatever the reason is I don't know, they
don't come up till spring. Whether it's the water
heatin' up and the chemicals in the body, I dunno but
they pop up around spring. We got four or five of 'em
around here. Fact is, between us and the fireboat one
day, I spotted somethin' I thought was a leg and after
I got the police harbor boat on it, turned out to be,
uh, an arm. The hand was missin' but the rest of it
Man in Truck 2: Sometimes we find guns in the -
in the hopper when we dump the cans.
Man in Truck 4: Found a diamond ring
Man in Truck 5: That depends on what's valuable
to you, you know? I read a lot, I find a lot of
1st Man: [points] Then we found a [clears
throat] guy dead over here on the other pier. Turned
out to be a reporter and he's supposed to have blown
his head off.
[Brief shot of trash falling into scow.]
1st Man: [points] Well, that dark land you see
goin' across the whole of the river down there --
that's Staten Island. On the far side from here,
that's where the scows go.
[We hear bluesman Jimmy Smith's version of "Got My
Mojo Working" as we see a tugboat ferry a scow to the
dump and various heavy machinery at the dump hauling
huge metal dumpsters of garbage.]
Jimmy Smith: [sings]
Well, I tried in New York City!
Oh ho, oh, I'm gonna try it on you!
Oh, yeah -- work my rooster!
[At a salvage yard. Piles of salvageable material in
front of a trailer.]
Salvage Worker 1: We have a contract with the
city of New York. We have men pickin' - pickin'
material right up - right off the dump, right out o'
the dump. Glass, ferrous metals, non-ferrous metals,
you know, brass, copper, steel, iron.
John: [leaning on a truck marked "sanitation"]
Ah, this is part o' the scrap that we get down at the
dump. Eventually, it'll be cut up, sold for
Salvage Worker 2: [petting a dog] We found him
out here on the dump. Somebody dropped him off. He's
only five months old now. He was a pup when we raised
him - from out here. Well, we got him out o' the dump
and, first thing that came to us, we called him
[Dissolve to a long panning shot of a gigantic garbage
dump in Staten Island -- nothing but garbage as far as
the eye can see. Over this, we hear voices:]
Interviewer: What do they call this up here,
John: This is the Brookfield Land Dump.
Interviewer: You know how wide it is?
John: It's about six miles around.
Interviewer: Now, they say it's the largest,
uh, landfill dump in the world, right?
John: It is. It is. The largest in the
Interviewer: You been in business about twenty
John: About twenty years.
[Finally, the pan ends on the Interviewer wearing a
face mask. He talks with John who stands nearby
without a mask.]
Interviewer: Tell me, John, how do you stand
the smell here?
John: Smells good today. Wait till the summer
when it gets real hot and it's-- Stuff starts cookin'
up a little bit. That's when you can't stand it. Now,
Interviewer: This doesn't smell so bad right
John: Nah. Ain't that bad.