Friday, September 21, 2012

Sean - directed by Ralph Arlyck, 1970

Sean is a short documentary about a smart little 4-year-old who lived in the Haight-Ashbury in a hippie crash pad with his family. I don't know if director Ralph Arlyck is good with this floating around on YouTube. I'll place it here until I hear otherwise from him.

I started watching Arlyck's followup documentary made 30 years later, Following Sean, today (streaming on Netflix). It's an introspective look at what happened to Sean when he grew up, along with his family, and Arlyck himself. Class, politics, responsibility, maturity, marriage, family, individualism, the counter-culture, aging—Following Sean is a rumination on life itself. Hope I didn't make it sound too heady. It's very laid-back, actually. I haven't finished watching yet. Preview:

As a young adult, I lived in the Haight and worked around the corner from Sean's old house for a few years. It's what I would call a dynamic neighborhood, despite years of gentrification. I'm currently working on a writing project that's based in San Francisco in the past, so I'll be posting some references here in the next few months.

I just realized that I was six when Sean was filmed, and I lived across town in the Diamond Heights district before my family tried and failed to relocate in North Hollywood for a miserable one-year period. We came back to the Bay Area but I didn't move back to San Francisco until I was 18.

None of my early memories of the Haight are as intense as Sean's, I'm sure. But I do remember seeing hippies and later begging my Dad to drive to the place where the hippies lived. I liked them. They were like big colorful muppets to me. A lot of San Francisco is Muppet-Show-like in my fuzzy early childhood memories. I miss the multitude of neighborhoods full of young families and working-class neighbors. Long gone...

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