Before the earthquake
May 25, 2010 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Great groove. The first track from Airs' Moon Safari album, accompanied by scenes from a video shot from a streetcar traveling down Market Street in San Francisco in 1905. (SLYT)
posted by shockingbluamp (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
these couldn't match up any less.
posted by rainperimeter at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2010

Sofia Coppola's new movie?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:54 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

That high pitch note at the beginning that runs throughout is really fucking annoying.
posted by ZaneJ. at 1:54 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Whenever I see footage from this era of people on the street I can't help but think about how smelly all of their butts probably were.
posted by item at 2:01 PM on May 25, 2010 [13 favorites]

this is the best clip of an old cityscape I've ever seen. Strangely compelling to a modern city-dweller. Also, I imagine seven minutes of film was a shitload in 1905.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:01 PM on May 25, 2010

This is neat. And what makes the film especially interesting is that most of that cityscape you see bustling around the streetcar would probably be destroyed in the big earthquake one year later...
posted by Asparagirl at 2:14 PM on May 25, 2010

The music doesn't fit the pictures, but it was still an interesting watch. I was surprised by the amount of cars already on the streets... and the complete lack of women. I think I counted three.
posted by afx237vi at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2010

Amazing how many motor vehicles there are. Also, use the crosswalks, people!
posted by beagle at 2:19 PM on May 25, 2010

Isn't this clip also the earliest video footage of its kind on record? I remember hearing that when I saw this a few weeks ago.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:42 PM on May 25, 2010

Of course the music is anachronistic, but it does give the whole thing a pretty dreamy feel, especially as the streetcar is moving along at a consistently steady speed.

It's amazing footage of a lost cityscape. I'm mostly impressed by all the chaos: people zigzagging in front of the streetcar on foot, on horses, in cars, all at completely random angles and without any sense of hesitation. It's almost like everybody's playing chicken with it. Like the guy who's in the lower right corner around 4:36 -- look at him go!

I'm pretty sure someone will soon set it to "Yakety Sax".
posted by lisa g at 2:55 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Were there no traffic laws then? Or were they still mere suggestions in 1905?

That was a lot of fun to watch. Thanks.
posted by ghiacursed at 3:21 PM on May 25, 2010

Threeway Handshake: "Sofia Coppola's new movie?"

What, "Lost in a Tram Station"?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:23 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I just watched the 2005 video. Clearly bicyclists are still exempt from traffic laws.
posted by ghiacursed at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2010

^lisa g: bingo
posted by memebake at 3:27 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Great song, and great footage, but I can't watch this with the sound on or that high-pitched whine will make my head explode.

On the other hand, if it's still here in ten years, I'll most likely be able to listen no problem.
posted by echo target at 3:31 PM on May 25, 2010

People still cross the street like this in San Francisco.
posted by rtha at 3:32 PM on May 25, 2010

That's really fascinating. Thanks for posting it. Coincidentally I'd had Moon Safari pop up on album rotation this morning, so it was strange to see it with the music fresh in my mind.

There's a series of similar films from the same period in London, and a German band called In the Nursery did an entire album of electronic soundtrack pieces for them. They also do silent movie soundtracks, but the short pieces for newsreel-type footage are a particularly interesting musical conceit, or at least set of constraints, for me. Silent movies have plot and emotion you can aim for, but there's nothing to direct you musically in a film like this.
posted by immlass at 4:00 PM on May 25, 2010

I love these old videos. There's similar footage from Vancouver and Victoria B.C. streetcars taken in 1907. Video doesn't seem to be online, but there are stills and a DVD available for purchase here.
posted by Emanuel at 4:02 PM on May 25, 2010

Reminds me of this, from earlier in metafilter, both in composition and in how people react to the camera.
posted by deliquescent at 4:59 PM on May 25, 2010

Yeah, but have you watched the streetcar video on weed?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:44 PM on May 25, 2010

On a more serious note, a couple of things I noticed that I liked very much:
  1. The size of the horseless carriages. It's something you take for granted these days getting into your tiny, fuel-efficient econo-box, but cars in the old days were big. If you ever go to a car museum, be sure to check out any of the pre-War (either one) cars because they are fucking monsters. Watching this video it's easy to understand why: back then, you were competing with huge draft horses and street cars. Without street signs or traffic laws it's pure Darwinism: the largest vehicle gets right-of-way, always.
  2. At one point at about 5:15 in the clip you see one of those huge livery carriages with aforementioned huge horses just straight-out walk right in front of the streetcar, and the streetcar slows. What I find particularly funny is that if you look at the dude manning the cart, he's a Neandertal. A straight-up, missing-link, just-stepped-out-of-a-Dickens-novel, trudgeon-you-with-a-slapjack bruiser. I'd fucking slow down for him, too.
  3. Even though it's a chaotic mess, even though there's no apparent trolley "stop" to wait at, the streetcar still stops at the mere presence of a lady to allow her to board. Wonderful.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:07 PM on May 25, 2010

Also interesting to note was how many of the cars were right hand drive.
posted by Icky at 6:44 PM on May 25, 2010

I've seen this before. Though I can't find the reference now, I read that the filmmaker had arranged for some of the owners of the few autos in the city to drive up and down, and for pedestrians to weave in and out, in order to make the film more visually interesting. So it might not actually be representative.
Here's a post about it with more links.
posted by alexei at 7:00 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Footage aside, if you haven't heard the Moon Safari album, you really owe it to your ears to give it a try. Truly music to fall in love by. Some others from this album include:

All I Need

You Make it Easy


I'm not sure if they ever attained the same heights on later albums, though Cherry Blossom Girl and Mer Du Japon come close.
posted by Sutekh at 10:11 PM on May 25, 2010

I always thought this was pretty good.
Nice little reference to the Sound of Music as well in the original clip.
posted by a non e mouse at 10:25 PM on May 25, 2010

Everything is better with that song. it's like wrapping with bacon.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:30 PM on May 25, 2010

This video is cherry. It's not the destination, it's the journey, but I can't help feeling sad at the end, we never arrive at the building (train station?) at the end. Anyone know what street that is? Would be kinda cool to recreate this with google street view.
posted by joecacti at 5:47 AM on May 26, 2010

It's Market St. The building at the end is the Ferry Building.
posted by rtha at 6:40 AM on May 26, 2010

That high pitch note at the beginning that runs throughout is really fucking annoying.

You mean - Air? Yeah, with you on that one.
posted by the noob at 7:03 AM on May 26, 2010

Loved the juxtaposition. The spirit of the music and the period snapshot oddly sanguine.
posted by Muirwylde at 12:42 AM on May 28, 2010

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