Shut Up, Little Man!

Original CD liner notes : Some Notes Toward a History of Shut Up, Little Man!

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Original CD liner notes — by Eddie Lee Sausage

237 steiner
237 Steiner, the “Pepto-Bismol Palace”

We were introduced to the saga of Peter and Raymond when we moved next door to them in the fall of 1987. As neighbors, we lived in the same Pepto-Bismol-colored apartment building in San Francisco’s Lower Haight. The building was designed like a cheap motel, so that the apartments were sardined alongside one another and separated by thin walls.

ray passed out
What horror would greet us?
(In the background, Ray passed out.)

Within a week of our arrival, we were exposed to what would become a dependable routine form our next door neighbors: evenings charged with belligerent rants, hateful harangues, drunken soliloquies, death threats, and the sound of wrestling bodies thumping against the wall that separated our apartments. Peter and Raymond fought with a raging abandon and total disregard for everyone in the building. Initially, we were angered by the volume and recurrence of the arguments, but equally we were intimidated by the threatening content. Whenever we got angry enough to go next door, confront them and ask them to keep the noise down, we were forced to give the idea a second thought. Perched in their front window, facing the walkway greeting all who dared pass, was a human skull; what horror would greet us? However, one can be meek and tolerant for only so long. Unnerved by sleepless nights and Peter’s incessant refrain, “Shut Up Little Man” one of us banged on their door, only to receive the first of many murderous death threaths from Ray. “I’m perfectly willing to kill anyone that thinks they’re tough. I was a killer before you were born, I’ll be a killer after you’re dead.” Soon thereafter the notion of recording their threats — in case of the need for criminal proof of an assault — was born.

pete and ray apt 3
Pete & Ray: apt. 3

The first crudely recorded “session” featured a monologue by Ray muttering to himself about his desire to kill. There was something so nakedly sinister about the recording that we were shocked, mystified. At the same time, it instilled in us a hunger for more. We invested in the technology for crisper recordings (we bought a cheap microphone from Radio Shack) and fell into our own obsessive routine of taping. Eventually, our desire for capturing fresh dialogue led us to employ phone prank tactics (listen to “I Was a Mean Muthafucka in Ma Time” and “Nova Express Survey on Alcoholism”). The material that we successfully taped was deliciously dark and incredibly infectious. Day in, Day out, we rehearsed Raymond and Peter’s dialogues; their phraseology and curious logic became our own. After several months of taping, we became Peter and Ray (though we certainly don’t condone gay-bashing or senseless murder).

Our recording was not as secretive as one might suspect. Several times during their extended shouting matches we placed a speaker on the walkway outside their door and subjected them to the tyranny of their own taped voices. At some point in the process, we recorded Peter saying, “The neighbors are taping us again,” to which Ray responded, “Good. Hey, next door! I want to tell the whole world that Peter ain’t nothing but a lyin’, thievin’, piece of shit.” [Well, Ray, these recordings are your chance!] Clearly invasion of privacy is an issue here, but as our friend Seymour Glass once said, “You have to wonder how much right to privacy a person who’s screaming at the top of his lungs expects.”

O’Looney’s, source for the sauce

It should be noted that neither Pete nor Ray worked. They drank. They watched TV. They fought. They rarely left the house, except to go to O’Looney’s convenience store for liquor or to Walgreen’s for smokes. There were frequent visits from the San Francisco Police Department, the Fire Department, and Paramedic teams. Sometimes they spent the night in jail, sometimes in the hospital. To make matters more interesting, Tony — a Southern-bred Vietnam vet and white trash drifter — moved in and out of their apartment during the time we lived next door. In many ways he was the scariest of the three, recalling a movie extra from Deliverance. Tony provided the catalyst for more fighting, new jealousies, and shifting alliances. We are frequently asked about the exact nature of Raymond and Peter’s relationship, but can provide no definitive answer. It remained opaque to us. It is clear, however, that they fought with a penetrating hate that can only be Love.

Peter and Raymond have already assumed legendary status among our friends, families, the police, and the subterranean network of tape traders. This CD will only serve to further propagate the gospel of Pete and Ray, and perhaps will change the face of hatred and self-loathing forever. As a compilation of their best rants, it provides an excellent insight into the themes that constituted their very lives: booze, killing, fisticuffs, thievery, the SFPD, Tony, homosexuality, hospitals, hatred, and corned beef hash.

before and after