Bowery Bums Talk About Their Lives In 1960’s Video

August 26, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

“I don’t really like it, but misery likes company,” is the general sentiment expressed by the subjects of a short documentary from the 1960’s titled How Do You Like The Bowery? The black and white video shows a seamy landscape of flophouses and bleak streets, on which the interviewees spend their time. Some tell tragic stories about disability and death that lead them to their current state, while others list alcohol as the culprit.

Other than two effeminate black men, who seem like they possibly predated the counterculture that was to blossom in the area later, most of the film’s subjects are down and out middle aged white men who even then were relics of another era. It’s hard to believe some of these guys are real. Their accents and attitudes are right out of a movie, like the possible ex-gangster who told the cameraman he retired after he “did a bit in Sing Sing and [it] killed me.” It’s a fascinating peek into another world that once ruled where yuppies now eat at fancy restaurants and sip wine in galleries.