RTF 316 - Lucky Me
November 23rd, 1998 | View Post
Kevin Ludlow
Paper II – “Lucky Me”
RTF 316 – History of Radio and Television
Amanda Lotz
November 24, 1998

As television moved into American homes in the early 50’s, racism certainly came with it. Although racism was something that was clearly evident in America around that time, television had a unique way of presenting it to look like it was not a problem of the time. From shows with white stars like The Rifleman, to shows that had African American stars such as Amos ‘n’ Andy, racism was always evident in the script.

When looking at a particular text such as The Rifleman, it is generally easy to pick out bits of racism throughout the show. The reason it is so easy for us to pick it out is simply because we live in a period where racism, although it exists, is generally seen as wrong. Although many civil rights movements occurred within the 50’s and 60’s, African Americans were still segregated and viewed as an inferior race to many. In the show, The Rifleman, Chuck Connors stars the show as the character Lucas McCain. He lives with his boy, Mark, on a ranch somewhere in New Mexico. Within the five years that it was on the air, there were many shows that dealt with issues of racism towards not only African Americans, but also Native Indians. African Americans were commonly shown to be thieves and cheap laborers. They were not stars of the show by any means and if they were to appear, chances are they would be rebels of the town and Lucas would have to hunt them down. Many shows also had Indian characters that were generally threats to the community. Uniquely enough, if they honestly were non-hostile Indians who meant no harm to the community, Lucas would side with them. On the flip side, the town would turn against them no matter what the situation was. Native Indians were viewed as the lowest class of people in the area. They were disrespected, mocked, and distrusted even when they did nothing wrong. The townspeople in New Mexico often wanted to gun them down “clean” their town even though the Indians caused little havoc. Chuck Connors was the dominant white male character that the society of that time viewed to be in control of everything. He was on the side of the sheriff and of the townspeople, and wanted justice to always be served. He was a single father and did an excellent job raising Mark, which made him the type of character that people wanted to be. Perhaps it was because of this heroic character that the show became so popular. Of course, with so many people watching shows that constantly portrayed minorities as having unacceptable qualities, it is no wonder racism was so out of hand. Maybe if networks had shows that stared African Americans people would have viewed them differently – on the other hand, maybe it would make it worse.

Although a predecessor of The Rifleman, Amos ‘n’ Andy was a show that not only stared African Americans, was centered on them as well. Staring Alan Childress as Amos and Spencer Williams as Andy, their show was a relatively popular sitcom derived from the even more popular radio show. The shows were often focused on Kingfish, played by Tim Moore. He usually had some sort of idea or scheme to make his lifestyle better or more particularly to become wealthy. Although the show was focused on the African American community, it portrayed blacks in a terrible sort of way. The general character on the show was a poor porch sitter who barely made enough money to get by on a regular basis. The characters did not stand up for things that they believed in especially to white folk. They were uneducated, loud, obnoxious, and worst of all were portrayed to have the worst English grammar in society. The women of the show were portrayed to be just as loud and obnoxious but also very demanding and general nuisances to their husbands. In the episode of “The Happy Stevens”, we are able to see exactly how a typical wife acted on the show. Sapphire (Ernestine Wade) is constantly nagging at the Kingfish to act more like their favorite radio show, “The Happy Couple”. We see how Kingfish miserably tried to mimic the show the best that he can by using cheap imitations of “The Happy Couple’s” ideas. Such disregard for the Kingfish’s taste would never have been shown had he been white. The show was watched by millions of people across America from children to elderly people. More importantly African Americans watched it too. Although blacks were being represented on the television, they would have probably been better off without being so. Not only did people of the time get to see white folk make fun of African Americans, they got to see African Americans make fun of themselves.

Although we are now able to look back at how racism was portrayed on television, we must ask ourselves – has it gotten any better? I think that the answer is no. Directors and producers have simply done a much better job of incorporating racism into shows without us realizing it. Even in much more recent shows, African Americans are still portrayed to be more deviant characters in society. Take for example the popular seven-year show of Designing Women. One of the main characters of the show is Anthony Bouvier, played by Meshach Taylor. Anthony is portrayed to be a hard working and educated friend and employee of the Sugarbaker firm. He was on the show from the beginning until the end, and even though he was such a hard worker, his past always seemed to come up. He had served time in prison for a crime he had committed some time ago and many episodes incorporate racist humor on him. Suzanne Sugarbaker, played by Delta Burke, often makes comments about Anthony that are shots against the African American community. Of course, she does them in a way that seems so natural and innocent that we can not help but realize that she is joking. Although she is his friend and she means no harm upon him, her views towards African Americans are openly expressed in a humorous way to him throughout her five years on the show.

Racism will most likely be a problem that occurs long past our lifetimes, but is it really necessary for television shows to take advantage of it. Most everyone is guilty of finding a great deal of humor in the racist jokes that we hear on television. Many of us do not even view it as racism because it seems so naturalized on television. It will be hard for the world to be completely non-racist as long as television is part of our lives, and racism is part of television. I would like to think that I know how it feels to have an entire viewing audience laughing at me, but unfortunately I will never know. I am a white male who is supposed to find humor in it – lucky me.
TD301 - Capital City Comedy
November 21st, 1998 | View Post
Theater Dance 301
Jane Barnette (MWF 12-1)
Capital City Comedy

After visiting the Capital City Comedy Club on Sunday November the fifteenth, I realized that doing stand up comedy in front of only twenty people changes the skit drastically. As I sat in my seat I looked around at the many empty seats and then proceeded to see what the headlining entertainment looked like. Having already sat through about 45 minutes of comedy, I was starting to get into. However, I just could not figure out how comedian Jeff Jena was going to make it through his entire set with such a weak audience. I soon learned how he would do that - audience interaction. Previous acts J.C. Shakespeare and Chad Dubril used this technique to an extent, but the majority of Jeff Jena’s skit was solely based on improved audience heckling. I sat in the room with a friend for only a few minutes when suddenly her and I were part of the act. He asked us some questions and made fun of us for awhile and then made us get up and move closer or he would not go on. We joked with him as well and moved closer to the stage as he asked. I think that the both of us felt somewhat embarrassed as the temporary “stars” of the show. There could not have been more then twenty-five people in the audience so he had plenty of time to talk with everyone’s little group. I found it to be very entertaining as did the entire audience, at least it seemed that way from the roars of laughter in the crowd. Jeff joked quite a bit about marriage with the audience, which for many couples there obviously leaves a sense of discomfort. That seemed quite funny for the rest of the audience. His simple punch line jokes were excellent as well and I had never heard any of them. All in all I would say that for a few mere dollars, Jeff Jena gives you much more then your moneys worth for a stand-up comedian.
The Zoso Pumpkin
October 31st, 1998 | View Post
While living at the Duval Street apartment, my roommates and I had quite an elaborate display of crap in front of our apartment door. Most of this was designed / put in place by none other than me. We had a park bench, an assortment of fruits and vegetables, plants, a 400 pound wooden Shiner Beer bottle, and for Halloween of 1998, a cool pumpkin.

Seeing on how our apartment was a common ground of music lovers and such (we had the full band setup in the apartment), I guess classic rock was always something that everyone could agree upon, regardless of their specific music tastes. And of course somewhere atop everyone's classic rock stack is a collection of Led Zeppelin. I wanted to make a cool looking pumpkin that everyone would find some interest in and so I looked to Led Zeppelin. Perhaps one of the most known symbols (at least to the LedHeads) is Jimmy Page's "Zoso".

Making the Pumpkin

The process of making a "Zoso" pumpkin is actually pretty simple.
1. Go to your local pumpkin patch
2. Pick out a nice looking 8 pounder
3. Pull out all of those tasty pumpkin guts
4. Surf the web for a picture of the Zoso logo
5. Print the picture and tape it to the pumpkin
6. Use a tack to outline the picture
7. Remove the picture and cut away on the tack holes

That's about it. For anyone who is mildly curious as to what in the hell Zofo means, I couldn't tell you. I've read far too many accounts to really speculate where it came from but the simplest one is that Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were looking at calligraphy-like symbols. Jimmy Page found one that he liked and apparently the symbol 'sounded' like "Zofo" (apparently pronounced Zo-So). From that point on, it was sort of a trademark of his. For any of those now curious as to who the hell Jimmy Page is, he is/was the guitarist of Led Zeppelin and is credited with being one of the more (if not most) famous classic rock guitarists.

The pumpkin glowing on my front porch

Another picture of the same thing

A closeup of the 'Zoso' logo

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.


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