RTF 316 - The Lucky Seven
October 12th, 1998 | View Post
Kevin Ludlow
Paper I – “The Lucky Seven”
RTF 316 – History of Radio and Television
Amanda Lotz
October 13, 1998

After viewing the NBC television history movie I reminded myself of the media’s “What’s Hot, What’s Not” routine. NBC, being a large news source, is able to manipulate the idea of agenda setting even when they are only reminiscing. They have also shown the world a variety of changes in media technology by displaying the show in a variety of television formats (black and white vs. color) and program formats as well (entertainment vs. news).

Having been the first real network in mass media, NBC shows a great deal of character by showing off a small portion of more popular shows that have been aired since the birth of television. They did not only show NBC run shows, but also those of cable stations and the other major networks, ABC, CBS, and even FOX. As they began their clip, NBC chose a “U2 sounding” drum and bass beat without words to introduce the viewer to the beginning of television, similar to “Where the Streets Have No Names”. Perhaps because at this point in time the television shows had no names, simply meaning that the viewers could not associate with them in the same fashion that we can today. Similarly, as the years progressed so did the vocal content, crying out that television shows finally had concrete names in people’s lives. The idea that we have advanced so quickly in mass media is an excellent parallel to the rapid speed of the program changes. Not only were the shows mixed quickly, they were also intermingled with news clips of the relevant time period as well. NBC did a very good job of displaying the decade to the viewer and allowing us to see what the programming quality of that time period was like. It was also very clear to see a push from black and white programming to color between the 1950’s and 1960’s decades.

It is simply impossible for NBC to have displayed every precious moment in television history in seven minutes. The simple fact is that it would take about four hundred and twenty hours times the number of television stations, basically every running hour of television, to show off every great moment which again put delicately is impossible to recap. Since the birth of the printing presses hundreds of years ago, creators of media have done the same thing over and over again – agenda setting. Although very exciting and entertaining, the entire seven minutes of this film exaggerate that idea to an extreme. If we accept the idea that it is impossible to cram hours and hours of programming into a mere few minutes, then who is to say what gets shown and what does not? As always of course, the media. I imagine that many people alive in the 70’s got entirely sick of seeing Nixon’s mishaps broadcast on television just as we today get sick of O.J.’s affairs or even Clinton’s. The media has become so good at pounding information like that into the public’s heads that we get sick of it. However, NBC pushes it upon us a bit more by showing all three examples in a history of television. On the same note, NBC showed us a clip of Kennedy’s assassination followed by the Beatles. Five incredibly popular men that most of the world would like to have seen more of in the same program with three men that most of the world love to see no more of. The idea that the media can not give us certain beliefs is factual, but it is quite obvious that they try their hardest to by choosing what we can and can not view. I think it is safe to say that the world has listened to more sob stories from Monica Lewinsky on television then John Lennon ever had the time to even write.

The way in which NBC presented their clip was not only entertaining but clearly planned out carefully as well. Their color and sound changes were shown in a very timely fashion according to the time period at hand. The amount of symbolism used specifically with the sound and a selective few joint clips made the viewer think about exactly what television has meant to him or her over the years. However, although NBC did a relatively good job putting together an appropriate reel of clips for entertaining an audience, they were unable to show an unbiased selection. Perhaps someday NBC will be able to create a television history not of what they view it as, but rather for what it is in its exactness. I only hope that the “unwanted” show’s producers can forgive history for not including them in the lucky seven minutes.

RTF 314 - Taxi Driver
October 1st, 1998 | View Post
Kevin Ludlow
RTF 314
Charles Ramirez Berg / Allan Campbell
October 2, 1998

The movie, Taxi Driver, depicts many forms of violence, language, and strong sexual emotions especially those of a mere child. However according Andrew Sarris, the main problem with the movie is not the general controversial topics but rather the way in which the plot has no general structure to it when compared to the character, Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro). Sarris contests the fact that there is not much information given about the character at all. Early in the movie we are told by DeNiro that he is a veteran looking for a job which happens to be for a taxi company in New York. We are told nothing else about his past until later in the movie when we find out that he in fact has parents who are alive. Again, after learning this we still know nothing about his family except that he writes them at least one letter filled with farfetched lies. Being a frequent cab rider, Sarris also argues the ways in which taxi passengers are represented. He makes only a few references, but in the movie there are frequent occurrences and discussions about sex and shootings in the cab. I think that after riding in cabs for long enough, even in New York, it is pretty unusual for one cab driver to repetitively have people having sex in his car much less getting shot or stabbed.

After seeing this movie a few times recently and a few more over the years, it is very easy for me to agree with Sarris’s opinion of a strange plot structure, especially when compared to classical Hollywood cinema style. I have heard the idea before that the entire middle of the movie is to be interpreted as a dream, but I personally find that hard to believe. I find it much easier to handle the idea that Martin Scorsese wanted to depict a taxi driver pulling a complete 360 on his life and essentially fulfill a fantasy of being a recognized city hero, only to put his life back together once again. It seems to me that the general turning point for DeNiro in the movie is when he sees the way that Iris, actress Jodie Foster, is treated as a teenage prostitute. He eventually confronts her and says that he simply wants to help her get her life back together. The way that DeNiro’s character changes at this point seems to leave a great deal of confusion in the viewer’s mind. After buying a small collection of guns to play with, completely changing his look, and even going as far as inventing an automatic gun dispenser, Travis seems to have lost it completely.

At this particular point in the movie, the classical Hollywood cinema style seems to be completely lost from the movie. There is no way of knowing exactly what is going on in the movie even after viewing it many times. However, this lack of understanding does not come from an overwhelming amount of suspense but instead pure confusion. At one point Travis seems intent upon assassinating the office candidate, but shortly afterwards he leaves the entire idea behind him. Perhaps it is because he almost gets caught but it simply destroys any idea the viewer might have for Travis’s intentions. It almost seems as if he is trying to fight for causes that he will not stick with. From the point that DeNiro changes in character, it is impossible to figure out what he is trying to accomplish in the rest of the movie, or if he is trying to accomplish anything at all. He does not have any specific goals that need to be achieved. The most obvious defiance of the classical Hollywood cinema style is the use of characters especially at this point in the movie. Everyone in the movie seems to be playing the role of an antagonist towards DeNiro except for Jodie Foster who comes across in her brief few scenes as a mere victim of society. Even early in the movie Cybill Shepherd’s character seems to turn completely against DeNiro simply as a result of a tasteless date.

When Andrew Sarris set out to write his review back in February of 1976, I do not think that he had the classical Hollywood cinema ideas in his mind. However everything that he discusses in his article is in opposition to the classical Hollywood cinema model. In his first paragraph about Taxi Driver, Sarris proposes several ideas to the reader about who Travis Bickle is supposed to represent. This clearly goes against the idea of the character having a general set of traits throughout the movie. Throughout his article Sarris explains how the movie has somewhat of an irregular flow to it which I agree with completely. This irregularity adds to the lack of conformity to the classical Hollywood cinema model. I do not feel that comparing the film to classical Hollywood helps or hurts the authors viewpoints within his article simply because he expresses very general statements about the movie. I think that it is safe to say that if a “classical Hollywood cinema” style never existed in critics eyes that the same would still be said of the movie, just because of its incredible lack of conformity to reality. I suppose that somewhere in America, perhaps even Manhattan there is a man who is similar to Travis Bickle. On the same note, it would be very hard to understand that person’s ideas in everyday life, much less cinematically.

Taxi Driver was released by Columbia Pictures so I am not sure if it is specifically considered a Hollywood release or not. Taking an in depth look at the pictures content, I would have to say that it was in fact targeted for a specific movie audience, but it is hard to say which one. It is obviously not a romantic story in any way nor do I think it could be considered an action movie. I try not to categorize a movie when I watch it because I think that every film writer or artist for that matter has some meaning that he wants to get across to his viewers. It just seems that in this movie it is very hard to tell exactly what meaning the author wants us to get. I would personally have to categorize Taxi Driver as a dramatic psychopathic film about a very dynamic character that wants to change the way in which people live. Anyone with an open mind would probably love this movie as do I, but more close minded people or even people that could not imagine such a lifestyle may not like Taxi Driver. Again, I do not feel that this film follows many if any at all of the ideas of the classical Hollywood cinema. It surprises me that this movie can be so obscure and yet relatively so popular. I for one am very pleased to know that this movie did so well for itself despite its obvious lack of general cinematic form.

Stormy Eyes
September 29th, 1998 | View Post
After heading back to Austin for my sophomore year in college, I put this little album together for Sarah Wagner. The original title track on the album had been crafted for her several months earlier.

Sarah was from Oklahoma. The artwork used throughout the album was taken from the storm systems common to the area.

Track Listing

The front and the inside of the CD jacket

The back of the CD jacket

Duval Street
Written and Recorded September 1998
Music by Victor Perez
Lyrics by Victor Perez
Guitars: Kevin Ludlow
Vocals: Victor Perez

Small Lake of Wishes
Written and Recorded June 1998
Music by Kevin Ludlow
Guitars: Kevin Ludlow
Bass: Kevin Ludlow
Drums: Kevin Ludlow

Duval Street Lyrics

Duval Street is where we live
Four guys: Chuck, Vic, and Kev
Don't forget the one who brought the first girl
He's the one, he's the only shadow

He knows a girl named Christina
She's blonde
She's a Kappa Delta
He sleeps only five feet away from me
Living in this place I feel so free

We have a back porch where we smoke our cigarettes
We sit down on the one dollar chairs and talk about
How we did nothing all day
Nothing all day
It's okay on Duval Street

Duval Street...

Duval Street...

Take me home

Make me cry

Kevin knows a girl that goes to Duchense
Her name is Sarah she's in the 12th grade
She woke me up today and told me happy she was to be on Duval Street
She's so sweet, she makes him happy

Sometimes she sits on my lappy
Chuck's in his room taking a nappy
Don't forget to give it a tappy-tappy
A tappy-tappy

Chuck is happy
Kevin's happy
Ludlow's happy
Kevin's happy
Mike is happy
Shadow's happy
Chuckle's happy
VP's happy
Victor's happy
We're all happy

Cook me some spaghetti, Kevin

Duval Street...

Does this bus go to Duval Street?

Or 32nd Street, that'll be just fine.


The Fifth Ward Sign
Story circa July 30th, 1998 | View Post

A map of the area detailing the various streets involved in this excursion
When I was in high school, one of the more interesting and regular gifts that I would get for people were street signs bearing their name. It's not a practice that I encourage, but it had its time in my youth.

Over the summer of 1998 I had started dating Sarah Wagner and wanted to get her one of these signs as well. Since this was still really before the time of internet mapping, I took to my local Target and looked up Sarah's name in one of the key map books. When I've told this story in the past, occasionally someone is not familiar with a key map. So just in case, a key map is a bound book that has a map of every single street within a certain area (usually a city). A key map for the city of Houston probably has about three hundred pages to it.

The map showed that there was a tiny road called Sarah Street in northern central Houston, smack dad in the center of the Fifth Ward. It was late at night, probably after 1am, and I called up my dear friend Victor and asked him if he'd join me. He agreed and even drove. We headed out into Houston from Katy, turned up on 59, and drove into the Fifth Ward. The scenery immediately changed.

Even though it was probably near 2am at this point, there were people walking around everywhere. Cars were parked three and four deep onto lawns at almost every home and there was definitely a sense of discomfort about the whole thing. Victor and I couldn't find the street immediately and had different ideas on how to resolve this. I thought we should just continue driving around looking for it, but being one to trust anyone and everyone, Victor decided that we would ask for directions. Incidentally, Victor is now a real-life ordained Catholic priest.

He pulled up next to some guy standing in the middle of the road and asked him if he knew where Sarah Street was. The guy said he would tell us for a dollar. Victor paid him and he proceeded to give us directions. He told us to go up the block, turn left on Collingsworth and then turn left again at Carr Street. That would take us where we wanted to go. I did not have a very good feeling about this, but we gave it a go.

Victor followed the guy's instructions. We drove to the end of the street when two things occurred to me. Number one was that we had just crossed into a train yard. Number two was that the road we were on dead ended at said train yard. I have no idea if the guy was sending us to get robbed, or perhaps there was a drug house over there he assumed we were trying to buy from, or if he was just sending us away. But I do know that two white kids in a shiny Ford Ranger do NOT want to be at the dead end of a train yard in the Fifth Ward of Houston at 2am on bad information. That is almost as bad as the string of prepositional phrases needed to describe the aforementioned problem.

I didn't really think much beyond that point other than to tell Victor to put it in reverse and to back out quickly. He did.

It was the only sign I never successfully got.

Pearl Jam Set List - Reunion Arena
Story circa July 5th, 1998 | View Post
Another bad ass set list from Pearl Jam. I had the pleasure of enjoying this one with my friends Victor Perez and Michael Laidlaw. We drove from Houston to Dallas for it.

* Sometimes
* Last Exit
* Brain Of J.
* Hail, Hail
* Given To Fly
* In Hiding / Corduroy (Interstellar Overdrive)
* Go
* Wishlist
* Rearviewmirror
* Pilate
* Alive
* Spin The Black Circle
* Off He Goes
* Even Flow (Mother) (Monkey Gone to Heaven)
* Daughter
* Mankind
* Do The Evolution

Encore #1

* Jeremy
* Immortality
* Better Man (Save it for Later)
* Sonic Reducer
The Massive Headwound
Story circa June 12th, 1998 | View Post
In the early summer of 1998, Aaron Duke (Sac), Jon Willis (Willis), and myself took a day trip to Surfside near Galveston.  Our intentions were to fish for the first few hours of the day, have a lunch on the beach, and then head over to a fishing spot we'd found along side the channel weeks earlier.

We probably left Katy sometime around 8am and would have ultimately arrived sometime around 9 or 9:30. Though I think Aaron had surfed a handful of times before, neither Willis nor I ever had. Nevertheless, we wasted no time getting into the water and began our morning of surfing.  To the best of my recollection, both Willis and I tended to stick together as we were both learning this new endeavor, whereas Aaron actually did have the ability to climb up on the board and ride a wave, even if for just a few short moments.

All in all things were going pretty well for the three of us; even Willis and I were finally starting to get the hang of it after just 30 or 45 minutes of practice.  After several attempts, some successful, most failures, Willis and I began another trip out towards the breakers.  We ultimately started walking side by side, but somehow or another he wound up getting 20 or 30 feet in front of me.  Without much warning a huge wave came through and though I didn't actually see it, Jon's board came loose from his hand and flew back towards me.  I guess the same wave wound up turning me around as well (which was probably to my advantage), but before I could think of anything I remember taking a hard blunt shot to the lower right quadrant of my cranium.

I immediately sank to the four or five foot murky Gulf of Mexico sea floor and instinctually cupped the back of my head.  I'm not sure how long I was underwater for, but it was strangely enough a rather peaceful feeling. It wasn't until I surfaced, unaware of where any of the boards now were, and brought my cupped hand in front of my face that I was aware of the trauma my head had experienced.  The real hint was the abundance of blood in my hand and even now on the surface of the water.

I'm not sure how long it took Aaron and Jon to realize what had happened, but it wasn't long before the three of us were back on the beach examining the depths of my wound.  Given the fairly uninhabited part of Galveston we were in, and the fact that we'd just driven over and hour and a half to get there, I wasn't particularly fond about the idea of turning back.  Jon suggested that I probably needed stitches, and while he was probably right, I never did get them.  Instead we concocted the idea to soak my t-shirt in our ice water cooler for a few moments and then to use the freezing t-shirt as a tourniquet on my head.  I waited patiently while the others carefully constricted the freezing cotton shirt to my head and tried not to think about how serious of a wound this may or may not have been.

Though I wasn't opposed to the guys continuing to surf, they politely packed things up and having turned down medical attention, we proceeded to fish for the rest of the day instead.

From that day onward, I was commonly called 'Massive Head Wound Harry', from the great Saturday Night Skit.  This name would later be shortened (over many years) to 'Massive Head Wound', and eventually just 'Massive'.

When we finally arrived back at the Duke's house that evening, tired, sunburned, and slightly damaged, there was just one last thing to do: remove the tourniquet.  This part does get slightly painful to speak of.  As the cotton t-shirt had been tightly affixed to an open wound and then left to sit under the hot Galveston sun for about 8 hours, the surrounding blood had dried and crusted over causing it to adhere to the wound.  Slowly and ever so carefully, Mrs. Duke began separating the cloth from the giant head wound.  The way I can really describe it is like ripping a band-aid off of a hairy part of your body, only the band-aid was a giant cotton shirt and the hair was the shard remains of my scalp.

Though I have never actually seen the wound (due to never having shaved my head), to this day I can still feel the two or three inch scar on the back of my head.
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