NYT Op-Docs: Spider Drove a Taxi

Spider Drove a Taxi is very well done as a video story because the entire piece is narrated by Spider, whose real name is Johnnie Footman, and who was the oldest cabby in New York City.

The video starts off with Spider on screen. His character is perfect for a video story…he’s genuine, personable and talkative, and he’s certainly done a lot of living.

Spider starts off the piece by announcing that he’s been driving a cab since 1945 He recites his cab number and then lights up a cigar. The piece then fades into music- trumpets. It sounds like it’d be heard in a bar in New Orleans.

Spider said he came to NYC after he got tired of using and hearing racial slurs. He then started driving cabs around NYC to, like all the others, make a living and pay his rent.

On top of Spider’s words are photographs of current NYC cab drivers. What makes the story so great is that the producer also includes photographs dating back to the first half of the 20th century, which are all in black and white. Old photographs always make a story better.

One of my favorite lines Spider says in the story is, “they may not understand each other right off hand, but they get along…”

In his own vernacular, it’s said so simply. But its also so profound- if only that applied to the rest of the world.

He also says how every car is from another country…it makes me want to hear all their stories as well.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the music selection, from southern-style (Spider is from Florida) to pure instrumental.

Right after ending with an image of Spider, the producer included one black screen, stating the birth and death of Spider: 1919-2013. I thought this was a very well done piece and a beautiful tribune to someone who may not have otherwise had his story told.


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