My dad, Chuck Kennedy, plays in the snow in Lanesville, NY, some time in the 1970s. Gotta love the snow suit. Photo courtesy of Bart Friedman.
No one knows whether springy or snowy weather will greet these events, but I look forward to going. Cross posted from Videofreex.com.
Videofreex and friends are coming to Washington, D.C. in March. Join us for two events.
1) On Sunday, March 9, the National Gallery of Art will host a screening of Videofreex material and a talk by Videofreex members Skip Blumberg and Parry Teasdale, along with Tom Colley of Video Data Bank.
2) The next day, the work of the Videofreex and their contemporaries comes to the DC Arts Center. The event will debut a new edit of the compilation Videofreex Pirate TV Show and feature video from the landmark May Day protest of 1971.
This past weekend, I waxed nostalgic about a time before I was born. I was attending the event We’re All Videofreex at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, honoring the video collective that ran on creativity, activism, and my father’s ability to solder together errant wires. The legacy of early video and other dissident media set the stage for our landscape today. I’m proud to claim roots in both the past and present.
A crowd of Inauguration-goers waits to get into the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. Photo by Rhea.
President Obama’s second public inauguration this week sparkled with great musical talent and a glinting promise in the president’s address to the nation.
Or so they tell me.
I failed to see any of it live, instead traipsing around the perimeters of a sealed off National Mall with a couple of friends. Eventually, we gave up and headed home.
In the spirit of taking a break from my eat-in posts, I’m going to tell you a story of what I did see that day (and show you in a video if you keep reading).
As I joined the crowd outside one of the jammed Metro stations following my surrender, I encountered two ad hoc entrepreneurs.
“Get your Obama hats!” One of them called. “Only five dollars!”
“Hand warmers!” Said another. “Just two dollars!”
The difference between these guys and the hawkers of oversized buttons or fragrant soft pretzels in the streets was that the former had a captive audience. Up and down the staircase to our left, their patter tumbled over the would-be Metro riders and sometimes turned into a conversation. Continue reading →
The Videofreex and the School of Visual Arts have rescheduled the event We’re All Videofreex, to take place at SVA in Manhattan on April 3 5, 2013. The original event was scheduled for November 1, a.k.a. the fresh aftermath of superstorm Sandy.
Immediately after the cancellation, the group regrouped, figured out this new date, and witnessed (some first hand) the opening of an exhibit about Videofreex contemporary Nam June Paik. I look forward to being there to take part in this evening and connect with my late pop’s video-and-pirate-TV collective.
Videofreex stand in the garden at Maple Tree Farm, with the author’s father standing second from left. Special thanks to Jon Nealon for providing this photo.
The Jew and the Carrot recently published a piece I wrote about my father and food, “The Unlikely Beginnings of a Jewish Cook“. Overall, this has been a great week for the Videofreex. In addition to my piece, in the past seven days news and conversations have appeared in the Woodstock Times and Muff’s Modules and More. Not bad for a small group that made their last tape more than 30 years ago. Perhaps best of all, yesterday the upcoming documentary Here Come the Videofreexhit full funding.
Imagine what you could buy for $15,000 back in 1971. Would it cover a new car? Some high-end electronic equipment? Definitely the rent for the Lanesville, NY house where my father moved in that year with a group of video-making colleagues who called themselves The Videofreex.
I tucked into the book eager to learn more about my father’s life before I existed, hoping to understand more now that he’s gone. I found something unexpected.
Video Days chronicles Nancy’s adventures beginning in the era of 30-pound cameras that democratized the art. It continues until 1996, a few years short of the one-handed Flip Cam era. During the social revolution that straddled the late ’60s and early ’70s, the young Nancy runs off to join the New York video-making collective known as the Videofreex. There, she works alongside my dad, Chuck Kennedy. They all live in a rambling former boarding house in Lanesville, N.Y.
Somewhere in this Freex section, I hit a passage that struck me as familiar:
Chuck was born in the Bronx and spent a large part of his youth in a Catholic orphanage. At a certain point, he was given the choice between reform school or the Army, so he joined up. In the Army, Chuck learned electronics and saw the world. Continue reading →
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