Saturday, February 17, 2007

R.I.P. Ryan Larkin.

The Oscar-nominated animator / Schwartz's panhandler has passed away. (Was going to link to his shorts "Walking" and "Street Musique," but, alas, the National Film Board has taken them off YouTube.)

5 comments:

lms said...

You can see clips of Larkin's films (or order them) through the NFB's website . They also have Chris Landreth's award winning film, Ryan, which was what introduced many (including me) to Ryan Larkin's work.

Anonymous said...

Of course, one mystery is how Ryan Larkin got so much press in the past few years, which seemed to lead that film about him rather than follow.

I'd never heard of him until 1999. But that year, some panhandler hung around the Montreal Fringe Beer Tent (it was behind a restaurant that year). Nobody said anything about him being a famous animator from the past, he wsa just the guy who was regularly outside of Schwartz's. He even did some chalking of the Fringe logo on the sidewalk, there's a picture on the web of that though I can't find it now. There was even some incident (I can't remember exactly what happened) where he was asked to leave.

Then in July that year, mere weeks after the Fringe ended, there was a photo of the guy, and a piece about how this panhandler had been an animator at the NFB decades before.

After that, there was a steady stream of articles and of course the film about him.

It always seemed to me that the Fringe had rehabilitated him. That his hanging around had caught someone's attention, either someone heard his story or recognized him, which resulted in that article. It seems too big a coincidence that suddenly he was getting press. It's not as if he hadn't been panhandling before that.


Michael

Anonymous said...

Oscar nominee's a beggar: Former NFB animator still an entertainer, but now it's on the street
Montreal Gazette
Thursday, August 12, 1999
Page: A3
Section: News
Byline: EGLE PROCUTA
Source: The Gazette

Ryan Larkin is something of an institution down on The Main. Most evenings, the skinny 56-year-old, whom friends describe as looking like a cross between Woody Allen and Pee-Wee Herman, is out panhandling in front of Schwartz's deli.

As Larkin puts it: ``There are two ways to panhandle. One is to be miserable. The other is to entertain.''

He paused for a second.

``I am an entertainer,'' he added with gusto.

What passers-by might not know is that Larkin is also a renowned film-maker. In 1969, he was nominated for an Academy Award for his animated short Walking, which is widely considered to be a masterpiece.

Larkin was an animator with the National Film Board between 1963 and 1977, winning dozens of awards at festivals around the world.

Robert Verrall, a film-maker now retired from the NFB, said of Larkin: ``He was one of the most innovative animators. He had genius.''

Larkin feels he was something of a rebel at the world-famous film board.

In the '70s, he painted a mural at the NFB Montreal offices on Cote de Liesse Rd. Asked if it's still there, Larkin grinned slyly. ``Oh no. It was considered to be obscene.'' It was of a boy masturbating.

``It was supposed to be a joke,'' he said.

Larkin said he felt stifled by the bureaucracy at the NFB. Verrall remembered that Larkin ``confessed to being blocked. Efforts were made (by the NFB) to bring him round. It didn't work.''

Larkin also got involved with cocaine.

``It was my ruin,'' he admitted, adding he's been clean for the past three months.

Now he survives on $600-a-month welfare and what he gets panhandling. In July, he was kicked out of his apartment and has been sleeping in a back alley since. He still draws when he has the chance.

Larkin seems alternately defensive and distraught about life on the street.

``It's ... a lot better than sitting behind a desk,'' he said.

But in another breath, he jumped up from a chair as he proclaimed: ``I will live into the 21st century and somebody will give me a f--king job.''

At times, he seethes with anger about how he feels discarded by the Canadian film-making establishment.

``In every university, my films are considered to be necessary education and I get no royalties,'' he said bitterly.

But when pressed about it, he admits knowing that he's not entitled to any royalties. That's the deal for all film-makers on permanent salaried staff at the NFB.

Larkin seems almost proud that people from the film world recognize him panhandling in front of Schwartz's, talking about the time a former NFB colleague saw him on the street and gave him $400 cash.

Larkin likes the attention he gets while miming as he panhandles, boasting about meeting 200 people a day.

He maintains some contact with his parents, who are in their 80s and still live in Dorval where he grew up. But here again, fate seems to have dealt him a lousy hand.

When he lost his apartment, ``I telephoned my mum and asked to leave my belongings in their basement,'' he said.

``But all my belongings were destroyed by my mum.

``She's a paranoid schizophrenic.''

And his eyes well with tears when he talks about his older brother, Ronald, who drowned when they were in their teens.

But Larkin has found another family at Bar St-Laurent, across the street from Schwartz's.

There he's affectionately known as Angleman because of the way he dances to the rock'n'roll spun by DJ Witch Doctor Doc.

The regulars at the bar are very protective of Larkin.

``Angleman has so much spirit. He's a unique and beautiful man,'' the tattoo-covered Witch Doctor said. ``We won't let anything happen to him.''

Anonymous said...

I am crying
Wow
Angleman
I love this man for ever
He was a trwisted by the life he saw
And lived

I am so moved
He was sp kind
A guy who was lieing in the cutter
He looked in a bad way ..

I had just gave angle a dinner
I often did when i could

He stood up off the curb and took food down allyway to the man
I couldn't see him
When i first got to angles hang out

What a great man deep down he was a genius

Im that dj witchdoctor
Wow i am so much greatful to read
My name ..
As i love Angle man ..

Anonymous said...

I am crying
Wow
Angleman
I love this man for ever
He was a trwisted by the life he saw
And lived

I am so moved
He was sp kind
A guy who was lieing in the cutter
He looked in a bad way ..

I had just gave angle a dinner
I often did when i could

He stood up off the curb and took food down allyway to the man
I couldn't see him
When i first got to angles hang out

What a great man deep down he was a genius

Im that dj witchdoctor
Wow i am so much greatful to read
My name ..
As i love Angle man ..

We looked after him as much as we could
It became difficult
To help him out side of bar

But we all did what we could
Many people tried to help

He was awesome ...but it was not easy
To help

Angle man
I have many story's of Angleman .
Rip brother

He was a true spirit of Montreal

Wow I'm so pleased
I knew this great man

Love you all witchdoctor doc