As some writing colleagues know, I wrote an essay about my father’s involvement with TV pirates. I’m helping to organize a screening of some of the video that he and his mates, the Videofreex, produced. The D.C. Arts Collective in Adams Morgan will host the event on January 19. Read the announcement and RSVP on Facebook (essay has yet to find a home, but rest assured that when it does, you can read about it here):
Step into the social, cultural, and political tumult of the 1960s and ‘70s through the videos of the pirate TV force called the Videofreex. This screening will include interviews with cultural icons, experiments in early special effects, and bits of a pirate TV show broadcast from tiny Lanesville, NY.
Videofreex Skip Blumberg and Rhea Kennedy, along with fellow traveler Eddie Becker, will share background in person.
Wednesday, January 19
DC Arts Center
2438 18th Street NW
Total video running time: about 40 minutes
Contact: Skip Blumberg IMPIncNYC@verizon.net
Full screening description:
Recording on the newly introduced medium of consumer video, the Freex covered Black Panther Fred Hampton, anti-Vietnam clashes on the DC streets, Yippee Abbie Hoffman inciting a Yale University crowd, wild early experimental performances, and the downtown NYC art scene. With a core of 10 productive videomakers, their work presaged reality TV, Michael Moore, YouTube, and Democracy Now! The videotapes played first in underground screenings in their Soho loft-turned-TV studio, and later were broadcast from their pirate TV station in upstate NY, in addition to more widespread educational, media center, public TV and cable TV distribution. This program presents a selection from their 2000 videotapes, now in the Videofreex Archive at VDB.org <http://vdb.org/> , that chronicle an exciting era, capturing it with an immediacy that brings its relevance to life. Videofreex Skip Blumberg, Rhea Kennedy and fellow traveler Eddie Becker will share background in person.
“The Freex are the most production oriented of the video groups… in terms of finished, cleanly edited, high quality tape, which is generally quite entertaining, the Videofreex are clearly the best.” – Michael Shamberg, Guerilla Television
“Special Effects” (selections from experiments) 2:10
“Streets of Chicago” 1:20
“Abbie & Jerry” interviews – raw tape – one long clip 7:50
“Fred Hampton” interview excerpt- to be restored 1:00
“Subject to Change” CBS pilot “live” show excerpt “Reputation” 4:05
“It’s Gonna Rain” 4:30
“Abbie – New Haven” speech 2:55
“Buzzy & the Flute” “That’s the Bag I’m In” 2:20
“Mayday Realtime” excerpt from one-hour video 4:20
“Davidson’s Jail Tape” excerpt 1:30
“Me’s and Youse” 1:15
“Trashing and Gassing” 3:35
“An Oriental Magic Show (with a man in box and a barbarian)” 3:05
Skip Blumberg is one of the original Videofreex who went on to produce his own cultural documentaries including the doc video classic “Pick Up Your Feet: the Double Dutch Show” and TV shorts and shows including 150 shorts for Sesame Street and a dozen for MyHero.com.
Photo: The Videofreex, circa 1970, in their Prince Street loft in Manhattan. Standing (from left): Skip Blumberg, Chuck Kennedy, Davidson Gigliotti, Parry Teasdale, Mary Curtis Ratcliff, and David Cort. Seated (from left): Bart Friedman, Carol Vontobel, Nancy Cain, and Ann Woodward. (Photo by Bill Cox).