Posts Tagged ‘television’
In the wake of the conventions of the last two weeks, and the Fourth Estate’s first draft of history, we might pause to ponder the task facing more traditional historians. Consider, for example, “How Do Smithsonian Curators Decide What to Collect at the Political Conventions?”
* James Joyce,
As we revel in the falling balloons, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981, with the words “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll,” that MTV premiered. The first video featured on the new cable channel was The Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star.” Indeed.
Sadly, no, but he had the makings of a great one, at least as cut together by playwright Danny Thompson, cofounder of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck.
Some twenty five years after Beckett’s death, Thompson—whose credits include the Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in a Dustbin in Paris in an Envelope (Partially Burned) Labeled: Never to Be Performed. Never. Ever. Ever! Or I’ll Sue! I’ll Sue From the Grave!!!—repurposed Rosa Veim and Daniel Schmid’s footage of the moody genius wandering around 1969 Berlin into the opening credits of a nonexistent, 70s era Quinn Martin police procedural.
The title sequence hits all the right period notes, from the jazzy graphics to the presentation of its supporting cast: Andre the Giant, Jean Paul Sartre, and Jean “Huggy Bear” Cocteau. (Did you know that Beckett drove a young Andre the Giant to school in real life?)
More background– and other (real) 70s title sequences for reference, at “Watch the Opening Credits of an Imaginary 70s Cop Show Starring Samuel Beckett.”
* Samuel Beckett
As we wait for you-know-whom, we might recall that it was on this date in 1983 that the Apollo Theater in Harlem was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1913-14 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater, and designed by George Keister in the neo-Classical style, the Apollo fell on hard times in the 20s and limped along until, under new management in the 30s, it became a mecca of the Swing Era. It featured musical acts including Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Chick Webb, and Count Basie, dance acts such as Bill Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers. And though the theater concentrated on showcasing African-American acts, it also presented such white performers as Harry James, Woody Herman and Charlie Barnet during the swing era, and, later, Dave Brubeck, Stan Getz and Buddy Rich, who was a particular favorite of the Apollo crowd.
The Apollo’s “Amateur Night,” a Monday-night talent contest launched many storied careers, from Ella Fitzgerald and Thelma Carpenter to Jimi Hendrix (who won in 1964). Others whose careers were hatched or given an early boost at the Apollo include Billie Holiday, Pearl Bailey, Sammy Davis Jr., James Brown & The Famous Flames, King Curtis, Diana Ross &The Supremes, Parliament-Funkadelic, Wilson Pickett, The Miracles, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Rush Brown, Stephanie Mills, Dionne Warwick, Bobby Short, The Jackson 5, Patti LaBelle, Marvin Gaye, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Ben E. King, Mariah Carey, The Isley Brothers, Lauryn Hill, Sarah Vaughan, Jazmine Sullivan, Ne-Yo, and Machine Gun Kelly.
Restored 10 years ago, the venue draws an estimated 1.3 million visitors a year.
“TELEPHONE n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance”*…
Christian Marclay’s “Telephones” (1995), a 7 1/2-minute compilation of brief Hollywood film clips that creates a narrative of its own. These linked-together snippets of scenes involve innumerable well-known actors such as Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Ray Milland, Humphrey Bogart and Meg Ryan, who dial, pick up the receiver, converse, react, say good-bye and hang up. In doing so, they express a multitude of emotions–surprise, desire, anger, disbelief, excitement, boredom–ultimately leaving the impression that they are all part of one big conversation. The piece moves easily back and forth in time, as well as between color and black-and-white, aided by Marclay’s whimsical notions of continuity…
And as a bonus, this from burgerfiction.com:
* Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
As we check caller ID, we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that Charles F. Jenkins was the first to use city telephone lines to transmit a facsimile photo from 1519 Connecticut Ave in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Navy Radio Station NOF at Anacostia– a demonstration for representatives of U.S.Navy and the Post Office Dept. (Earlier in the year, on June 11, a photograph had been sent by radio across the Atlantic from Rome to Bar Harbor, Maine.)
Jenkins is better remembered as a pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television– he racked up over 400 patents, mostly in those fields– and as the recipient of the first commercial television license.
We don’t know just how long MTV has been releasing old Liquid TV shorts on their website, but what we do know is that this news is pure, uncut awesome. After years of watching crummy youtubes of the most f-ed up cartoons and shorts ever made, MTV has finally decided to release all the contents of Liquid Television online. Which means, all the Psycho-Grams and Winter Steele episodes you want!
So many wonderful things came from this late night animation and puppet variety show: Æon Flux, Beavis and Butt-Head, heaps of They Might Be Giants music videos, and more. It was just solid crazy-person programming…
Hours of fun at Liquid Television.
As we color outside the lines, we might recall that it was on this date in 1929 that Walt Disney released El Terrible Toreador, the second cartoon (following the epic The Skeleton Dance) in the Silly Symphony series (which, unlike Disney’s other consistently character-themed series, like Mickey Mouse, had no continuing characters; rather they were whimsical accompaniments to pieces of music– in the case of El Terrible Toreador, a snatch of Carmen).
Local commercials — those gems of advertising offering sincere pledges of service and strange visuals seemingly inspired by bath salts — didn’t disappoint this year. These ads find a special place in culture and memory with catchy songs, dated graphics and grainy film. So without further ado, revel in the cheesy glory of summer 2015’s bad local ads. If you’re lucky, you might run into one of these local celebrities at the grocery store (or the dog park).
Talking dogs, bombastic lawyers, and more– from Ad Age, “The Best of 2015’s Bad Local Ads (So Far).”
As we reach for the remote, we might send archetypal birthday greetings to Carl Gustav Jung; he was born on this date in 1875. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist, he founded the practice of Analytic Psychotherapy. His concepts of the archetype, the collective unconscious, the complex, and extraversion and introversion were widely influential in psychology, but also in philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, literature, and religious studies… and might give readers who viewed the spots at the link above reason for introspection.
“Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no big lie. There is no system. The universe is indifferent”*…
Did you ever notice that almost every Mad Men episode ends with Don Draper staring blankly?
On the occasion of tomorrow’s series finale, the exquisite Tumbler, “Don Draper Staring Blankly.”
* Don Draper
As we get in touch with our motivations, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988, 24 years after the first Surgeon General’s report enumerating the dangers of smoking, that then-SG C. Everett Koop, delivered the second installment: a report that declared nicotine to be addictive in ways similar to heroin and cocaine.