October 5, 19 73 The Garden Hotel* Authentic Colonial Mexican in design and decor, featuring services to the discriminating few, in MEXICO CITY In the city’s preferred location, one block from the Reforms near U.S. Embassy. Private parking. Delightful dining. Purified water. Bar/ Entertainment. Private garden, exclusively for guests. Open year ’round. Reasonable rates. Inquiries invited. Reservations suggested. Tele: 46-9880 erma 31, Mexico 5, O.F. MARTIN ELFANT SUN LIFE OF CANADA LIFE HEALTH DENTAL 600 JEFFERSON SUITE 430 HOUSTON, TEXAS 224-0686 NM NM ON WM 11111 SIM Ole 1110 ION OM ONO MI 7 -FPURTEUSRSA AUSTIN TEXAS Ask for the Union Label on your I printing. It doesn’t cost you more, but it shows that you care more! FUTURA PRESS I IllomiemenenimeleMNIIIIBIIIINENIIINIemmeimo Phone 512/442-7835 1714 SOUTH CONGRESS P.O. BOX 3485 AUSTIN. TEXAS z – N very friendly, open people. Not every burg of 9,000 could calmly accept a dozen freaks prying into its civic consciousness with miniature television cameras and unconventional questions. Space City has not found the traditional hostility against longhairs, probably because it is offering the community a novel service and also because outlooks are changing in rural Texas. When they first moved to town, a curious matron wanted to know exactly who was living at the Allison place and what they were doing. “You mean you’re a commune?” she asked joyously. “May I come out and visit?” Until 1968, when half-inch portapacks were put on the market, local programming for Taylor’s 1,500 cable subscribers was financially infeasible. Most television stations use two-inch color videotape, which requires bulky, expensive studio cameras and a lot of technicians. Half-inch black and white equipment is cheap, battery-operated and completely mobile. The camera weighs about seven pounds; the recorder about 20 pounds. Sound and image are recorded on the videotape, which is immediately replayable, just like a cassette from a tape recorder. Half-inch equipment is very easy to operate. It takes only a few minutes to learn how to handle the zoom lens and the focus. The main difficulties are holding the camera steadily and deciding what to point it at. Of course, there are a number of drawbacks to the portapack the picture quality is not as good as that of more complex equipment; it is difficult to edit with half-inch recorders; and the image is not always stable when broadcast or cablecast. But it is cheap. A Sony portapack camera and recorder costs about $1,650, which means what television programming can now be done on equipment that costs less than a Volkswagen. Space City Video, an experimental television crew, was formed in Houston in 1972 after Mike and Kathy Hart scraped together the money to buy some equipment. Many in the group are refugees from radio. Mike and Dan Earhardt both have worked for a number of big.time AM and FM stations. \(Earhardes radio persona is the notorious Captain Macho of KILT in Houston. Sometimes he and Hart do the play-by-plays at the Taylor High football Green is a former news director at Pacifica Radio in Houston and has worked for KQED-TV’s Newsroom in San Francisco. Narum is an artist. Paula Jaffee came to Space City via CTL Electronics in New York. Dee Hawes says she starved as a drama student in both Houston and Boston before she bought a portapack and joined Space City. Richard Turner was one of the founders of Houston’s University of Thought, and Dale Huguley, the most recent addition to the video commune, is a television engineer. EARLY THIS year they decided to move to Austin, because Capital Cable had freed a TV channel for public access. But fate had something else in mind for the Space City troupe. When they advertised in the Austin paper for a large house, a man in Taylor answered the ad. He was renting the old Allison place, a venerable three-story, 16-room hulk next to an abandoned gravel pit. It was just too good to be turned down. The original French wallpaper still hangs, a bit raggedly, in the entry hall. The mansion shelters a wealth of stained glass, breezy porches, natural wood and ghost stories \(“Seen any knives falling from the ceiling?” the old timers ask. “Has anybody waked up on the yard is the head end of the Taylor cable system, its antenna signaling like the monolith that Space City has found home. They decided that 35 miles wasn’t such an outrageous distance to commute to Austin, not when you have such a stellar place to drive home to. So the cellar was transformed into a television studio and the third floor became a nursery for Mike’s and Kathy’s three girls. Bill got some chickens for the coop and everybody got to work on the garden. Just living took up a lot of time. Soon they were calling Taylor “town” and Austin “the city.” That antenna in the front yard became more and more alluring, so someone was dispatched to investigate. As luck would have it, Gillis Conoley turned out to be a very sympathetic fellow. He did more than hire Space City to do local programming: he agreed to lay cable from the head end right into the house so they can cablecast from the living room. The crew’s first big Taylor gig was the Independence festival. Since then they’ve covered the Taylor Rodeo, Courtney Hart’s trip to the dentist, the first day of school, the Dies y Seiz celebration, comparative meat prices in Taylor and the cotton harvest. Every Friday night Space City tapes the Taylor football game for replay on Sunday evening. The Ducks \(named in in their first two games of the season and no one in town really enjoys reliving those dismal defeats, but Space City is not discouraged. Narum has hopes of making the Ducks into a high school version of the New York Mets. And, besides, the advertisers paid for the whole football season in advance. Onward to basketball and baseball and volleyball and summer lifesaving courses at the local pools. There’s no end of events to televise in Taylor. K.N. We called a state agency the other day to obtain a simple piece of information and, after listening to four transfers of the call, were greeted with the cheery salutation, “Hello this is the last bureaucrat you’ll have to talk to.” It was. Thank you.
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