Sunday, December 02, 2001

Rick Sebak Completes New
F'ed Up In Oakland Documentary


Noted local WQED filmmaker Rick Sebak has just completed his newest documentary, F'ed Up In Oakland, a virtual bar tour of Oakland's most famous, and not so famous, bars and pubs. Sebak has gained fame both locally and nationally for his comical documentaries on Pittsburgh's history and communities such as South Side, Stuff That's Gone, Kennywood Memories, and most recently, Something About Oakland. "Well, after I released Something About Oakland last year, I got a mixed response," Sebak explained. "While a lot of the area really enjoyed the film, there was quite a bit of criticism from the Oakland community itself. I couldn't understand why. So, one day after doing a pledge-break at the [WQED] studio, I was sitting at Uncle Jimmy's when it hit me. This is why there's 'something about Oakland.'"

"Yeah, I'm all excited for this show last year," said Pitt Senior Mitch Hassenbach, "then it comes on and it's all little shops and book stores and shit." Pitt grad and South Oakland resident Chris Irvine had similar thoughts. "Schenley Park? Screw that! Where's Denny's? Where's The Attic? Hell, even Peter's or, god help me, Mitchell's or something. Not a one. Has [Sebak] ever even been in Oakland? He didn't get it at all."

Featured in the documentary are "looks back" at Oakland bars from the past, such as CJ Barney's, the Beehive/Pollinator, and the famous story of the night Zelda's got closed down. “Hopefully, with the release of F'ed Up In Oakland, I can not only make the Oakland residents happy, but myself as well," said Sebak in a recent interview. “It's not a sequel, but rather a preservation of the real heart and soul of Oakland.”

The film was shot during the span of one Friday, late October, and features Sebak in his own “bar crawl,” stopping in and drinking at as many local bars as he could. Included was an impromptu stop at Mellinger's Beer Distributor on Semple Street. “Yeah, I'd say he showed up at around 9 [pm] or so,” said owner Patsy Bellisario. “We were pretty busy at the time. I don't even know what he was doing in here. I think he tried to buy a six pack of Schlitz Malt talls or something, but we told him we could only sell by the case. He did try to pick up two girls though, while he was in line.”

“Oh my God!” remembered sophomore Samantha Walsh, “I was in there with my younger sister while my boyfriend was buying us some Zima, when this guy comes up to us and says, 'hey girls, have you ever seen The Bridge to Nowhere?” We were kind of creeped out, especially my sister, who's still in high school, but I figured, hey, he was just some drunk old guy. But then I saw the camera and thought maybe I would be on TV.” Bellisario added, “Yeah, it should definitely make for some interesting television, I'll tell you that much.”

Such adventures follow Sebak throughout the program, eventually ending with footage of him passed out in an alley off of Ward Street after apparently being kicked out of a party for starting a fight.

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