This film is about the life and work of Steven Jay "Jesse" Bernstein (December 4, 1950 – October 22, 1991), who was a vagabond performer, writer and poet. His intense lyrical writings are a searing personal account of the trivialisation of the emotions and the creative life in the commercial and commodity culture of post-industrial and post-Cold War American, amid unemployment, violence, urban ruin, regimented intoxication and mental illness.
Jesse wrote about the about sensitive souls, drifters and drug addicts; the people alienated by a society that refuses to understand them. Bernstein peels back the ugliness and the darkness of life on the fringe to expose tender and not so tender human feeling. His unique rhythms, filled with humor and pain, were especially exciting when read in his own gravely voice. Bernstein was an integral part of the legendary Seattle rock scene of the late 80's and early 90s, and in 1991 was dubbed the "Godfather of Grunge" by the British magazine THE INDEPENDENT.
He often performed as an opening act for the so-called grunge bands of the Washington state and Seattle scene (including Nirvana) in the late 1980s. Bernstein committed suicide at the age of 41 on a Washington State Indian reservation by carefully cutting his own throat after years of struggling with abandonment, bipolarity, epilepsy, incarceration, various addictions, depression and the aftermath of polio. He will not be forgotten and he deserves to be recognized as the important writer and poet he is.
More background to the work of Jesse Bernstein can be gained from this podcast by Alison 'Slow' Loris called Do the Job from 2015.
The Man Upstairs.