Wiseman on Paul Simon and Mescaline

In 1968, an English teacher, no doubt in an attempt at relevancy, uses Simon and Garfunkel to “teach” her class about poetry. First she reads some lyrics, then she plays the song, and the irony and futility of her efforts (emphasized by the film’s brilliant editing) become painfully obvious. (From High School, 1968)

[Warning: video contains projectile vomiting] A kid comes into the hospital high out of his mind on putrid mescaline and is given ipecac by a remarkably calm doctor, unfazed by what is certainly not the first time an over eager hippy has come in and vomited in a bucket for hours while rambling about his “woman in Europe” and his persistent fears of death. (From Hospital, 1970).

Both clips come from the oeuvre one of the fathers of American documentary, Frederick Wiseman. Starting in the 1960s, he’s made dozens of direct cinema documentaries about American institutions, eschewing narration and interview for “direct” access between the viewer and the world. Check out High School, High School 2 and Juvenile Court for Wiseman’s window into the world of teens.