, April 15, 2000

NYC’s Garbage Pickers, Canners & Hubcap Scavengers Are In The Spotlight with TOSSED & FOUND

Documentary Has U.S. Premiere on Metro’s NY STORIES April 29 at 9 PM

NEW YORK, NY, April 15, 2000 – Most New Yorkers consider trash as a nuisance. But for tens of thousands of hobbyists and homeless who scavenge our throwaways, the discarded cans, bottles, books, clothes, appliances, etc. are a veritable lifeline – one that can provide the seeds for a successful little sidewalk business.

The surprisingly uplifting story of the people who turn our trash into dollars is the subject of TOSSED & FOUND, a one-hour film that will enjoy its U.S. television premiere on MetroChannels weekly documentary series, NEW YORK STORIES (Saturday @ 9 PM Encore – Wednesday @ 9PM).

TOSSED & FOUND was produced and directed by Douglas Blank, a New Yorker who spent a year living and working alongside our city’s garbage pickers to produce this enlightening documentary. Blank’s film follows the challenges and small triumphs of more than a dozen city scavengers including:

  • Hubcap Joe – A highway scavenger who got “the junkman bug” when he found his first hubcap at the age of 5. Today, he can gather as many as 125 during his daily strolls along Big Apple highways, enough to stock his own successful hubcap shop in New Jersey;
  • Ronnie, The Sewer Fisher – Just like many a young child of the city, Ronnie uses a magnet on a string (and some sticky Crisco) to collect “a small goldmine” in change from the sewers and steam vents of New York. For Ronnie, it provides enough for his meals and an occasional night indoors;
  • Curtis – A “junk artist” whose scrap metal creations are now on display at NY’s American Primitive Gallery;
  • Carlos – An illiterate, dyslexic who learned to read electronic schematics on the streets of New York. He now makes a modest living repairing and reselling NY’s spiraling mountain of castoff computers;
  • Craig – An aspiring songwriter recently released from prison who is “canning” (collecting and redeeming cans and bottles) to get enough money to produce a demo tape of the tunes he writes in his daily junk journeys;
  • Philip & T – Two of the breed of homeless entrepreneurs who are recycling our castoff paperbacks to make a living as sidewalk booksellers (a right protected by the Constitution’s Free Speech amendment).

The poignant images in TOSSED & FOUND are complimented with a soundtrack including songs from Willie Nelson (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) and Tom Waits (“Buddy, Can You Spare A Dime?).

Rainbow Media’s MetroChannels are the first and only suite of television networks devoted entirely to the experience of living in the New York metropolitan area. MetroChannels consist of METRO, Metro Learning, and Metro Traffic&Weather. METRO showcases what New Yorkers are passionate about by providing regularly scheduled original programs focusing on everything from fine dining to live music and sports, classic New York TV series and documentaries about the people, places and history of New York. MetroLearning provides unfiltered coverage of events unfolding in the many diverse communities throughout this metropolis. Metro Traffic&Weather is the tri-state’s first and only 24-hour local traffic, transit, and weather channel. Since its 1998 launch, MetroChannels has received numerous accolades for its programming — the 1999 & 2000 Community Spirit Award, New York Festivals Awards, Omni Awards and the Communicator Awards. In addition, MetroChannels was among the top 10 networks nominated for the 1999 local New York Emmy Awards.


Aileen Budow – MetroChannels
Sal Cataldi/Darcey Agostino – Cataldi PR