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March 30, 1982 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-30

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The Michigan Daily

Tuesday, March 30, 1982

Page 5

Paxton emphasizes '60s style

By Dave Paton
I AST SATURDAY at the Ark, Ann Arborites
witnessed the performance of a man whose
musical roots date from the early '60s folk boom.
Tom Paxton, who recorded his first album in 1964
brings an appropriately '60s emphasis on topical and
political songwriting to his work. This, in addition to
his idealization and enshrinement of the domestic
working man, links him to the Woody Guthrie-Pete
Seeger folk tradition.
At the same time, Paxton's sardonic wit, and his
occasional predilection for jokey material, tended to
undercut his more heartfelt, moving songs.
Ultimately, he diluted his performance with his
tongue-in-cheek approach.
Paxton's second show of the night demonstrated
the many worthy aspects of his style. His voice belied
the receding hairline; it was strong, warm, and
emotive. His simple six-string acoustic guitar, played
in a basic thumb and finger picking style, served as
an often propulsive vehicle of the lyrical content.
The performer's stage presence was quite
magnificent-the overflow crowd joined in on nearly
every song, even on those that seemed silliest. This
easy communion with the audience was evidence of
the traditional folk approach underlying Paxton's an-

tics. At one point he joked, while organizing a chorus,
"If I were Pete Seeger we'd break that down into
fourteen harmonic possibilities."
The topical songs provide a striking illustration of
the extremes of Paxton's concerns. They ranged
from a moving rendition of "Outward Bound," his
elegy for Bobby Kennedy, and a whiskey-soaked[
number, "Wasn't That A Party." There was a song
about Rubik's Cube ("It's only a game, I muttered
under my breath/It's only a game, like dying is only
death"), and one about the helplessness of the poor
against the rich ("Guns and dollars are voices for
you/Who speaks for me?"). Such abrupt changes of
mood reduced the impact of his more serious topical
"My songs reflect the way people are," Paxton said
after the performance. "People can't stay com-
pletely happy or completely doomed all the time.
They go from reaction to reaction." That may be
true; whether it is an excuse for such thematic flip-
flopping is debatable.
To dwell on this for too long, however, is to waste
time that could be better spent mentioning the better
points of Paxton's performance. His current events
wit was sharp ("The Reagan administration is
providing me with more material than I can handle,"
he said), and his less serious songs were uproarious

at times. One gem was his depiction of the infamous
attack on President Jimmy Carter's rowboat by a
rabbit. Calling Carter "the Charlie Brown of
American politics," Paxton observed that "that
Presidency never shot any sparks, and the rabbit gig
finished it off." Other highlights were "The Bomb,"
in which Paxton had successfully devised his own
apocalyptic weapon, and "I Thought You Were An A-
Rab," his dissection of the Abscam scandal.
The best part of the show came during the encores.
Called back three times by the enthusiastic audience,
many.of whom were about the same age as the per-
former, Paxton sang six serious and beautiful songs,
including "Outward Bound," the wistful "I Didn't
Mean To Be Unkind," and "Annie's Going To Take
Me Back Again." It seemed that the encores con-
tained the elements that have always provided the
base of the best topical folk music: the almost
religious emphasis on the Everyman, the assertion of
hope over despair and cynicism, and the moral sen-
sitivity, that powered a Guthrie or Seeger. It is unfor-
tunate that Paxton, after demonstrating his ability to
perform such music so movingly, spent a lot ot nis
time singing about pop culture instead.

Tom Paxton performed at the Ark Saturday night.

Cable offers community access

By Sarah Basset
AMERICANS ARE hooked on tele-
The A.C. Nielson company claims we
love television enough to stay glued to
our sets for, on average, over six hours
per day. It's a national pastime, and we
seem to want more.
More entertainment, the kind we
watch in comfort at home. More
variety: films, music, and even por-
nography may soon rival "Laverne and
Shirley." More technology: first color
TV, then UHF, and now video recor-
ders, video games and large-screen-
Perhaps in the spirit of American in-
ventiveness, we gobble up the in-
novatiohs. And whether or not each
technical advance and programming
concept will earn our loyalty, serious
television industry watchers predict at
lbast one new medium is here to
stay-cable television.
Cable TV is widely considered one of
today's "boom industries." Since the
Federal Communications Commission
began opening the extra channels on
our UHF dials, cable systems have
proliferated: It is estimated that close
to thirty percent of the nation's homes
are now connected.
The figures are enough to cause
broadcasting networks to take notice. A
recent A.C. Nielson report said that
cable. shows in the last few years were
often watched by up to one third of the
national audience. That means that
many viewers were choosing cable
programs over network fare.
Cable systems are not national in
scope, however, but operate on a local
or regional basis. In 1980, the Ann Arbor
city council awarded its cable franchise
to Ann Arbor Cablevision, one of 23
systems owned by Daniels and
Associates in Denver, Colorado.
The local company currently runs a
28 channel system with a 30 channel
capacity. Each channel offers viewers
a different kind of service, and the
variety is almost mind boggling.
Vytas Kazlauskas, marketing direc-
tor for Ann Arbor Cablevision, said 24 of
the channels are devoted to the com-
pany's basic service. It includes the
Detroit broadcast stations-major net-
works and independent stations
alike-plus four Public Broadcast
System channels and stations from
Windsor, Canada.
Then there are the programs which
are picked off the air and transfered to
cable via satellites. One channel is
reserved for CNN (Cable News
Netowrk), another for ESPN' (solid
sports), and a third and fourth for
religious and children's programming.
Kazlauskas said a popular service is
the C-SPAN channel which broadcasts
live sessions of the U.S. Congress. Area

subscribers receive all the channels in-
cluded in the basic service, he said.
At present, 10,200 Ann Arbor
households subscribe to Cablevision,
about one third of the viewing public.
More are being wired all the time,
Kazlauskas said, although he expects
cable will probably never reach 100
percent of the community.
"Ann: Arbor residents enjoy good
over-the-air reception," he said, "so
they don't subscribe to cable television
because of transmission problems. Our
task is to provide better TV-better
programming-rather than better
Illegal wiring is a problem, however,
and Kazlauskas said probably eight to
ten percent of area households are con-
nected illegally. The company employs
"field auditors" to look for homes with
unregistered hook-ups.
When people think of cable, they often
think first of pay television. Ann Arbor
has that service, as well, in the form of
four separate channels.
One of the most talked about is
Escapade, which features what
Kazlauskas called "racy, R-rated

mances. About sixty percent of the
programming is movies, said
Kazlauskas, while the rest is devoted to
performing arts.
Cablevision, like all cable franchises,
is required by the FCC to provide
several channels for "public use." Mar-
tha Schmidt, coordinator of Ann Arbor
Community Access Television, said
channels 8, 9 and 10 are currently set
aside for community use in the Ann Ar-
bor area.
"The idea," she said, "is to give
citizens the chance to communicate and
express themselves without censorship
or control."
As a result, Community Access
works with local schools and gover-
nment to produce both live and taped
programs for channel 8, the municipal
education channel. The station
cablecasts live city council meetings
and will run a special "candidates'
night" prior to the spring elections.
Channel ten is reserved for special
shows and special events, but also airs
time, weather, and Community Ac-
cess's program schedule twenty-four
hours a day.
Most citizen participation takes place

i nsti?':::' !: i:4::i{"::":i::"ii:Jii:"}i:"::fsiM M ::J: i}:vi}:.ii'r:"iiii~itii~iv: isi
The idea is to give citizens the chance to com-
municate and express themselves without censor-
ship or control.'
-Martha Schmidt, coordinator
for Ann Arbor Community Access Television

"Ann Arbor Screen Scene" is
produced by University of Michigan
students who rotate positions every
week. Wayne Dabney of "Wayne's
Cultural Clinic" manages to host his
show in between family responsibilities
and a full-time job.
Almost anyone can sign up for tr-
taining at Access studios, said Schmidt.
Learning how to use the equipment is
"easy," she noted, and previously-
trained volunteers work hand-in-hand
with new producers.
Community Access is currently
working on a survey to gather data on
its viewers. At this point, there are no
hard figures available, although people
do call the station regularly.
Schmidt said they receive the most
calls "when we goof up" by inadverten-
tly cancelling a show. People also call
when they like what they see and want
to know when it will run again. "Screen
Scene" has a large following, she said,
as well as local educational programs
and city council cablecasts.
In the near future, Community Ac-
cess plans to encourage more local
groups to participate. Many are not in-
terested in using the studio equipment,
but have "something to offer,"-Schmidt
said, in which case the large pool of
student volunteers could be tapped for
technical support.
Schmidt emphasized the volunteer
nature of working at Access. Since it is
a non-commercial, self-supporting arm
of Ann Arbor Cablevision (Cablevision
pays a franchise fee to the Ann Arbor
Cablecasting Commission, a regulatory
body, which then subsidizes public ac-
cess), only she and an assistant are
FCC regulations forbid advbrtising,
obscenity, and mentions of the
Michigan lottery on public channels,
but thus far there have been no major
problems, said Schmidt, noting that
ultimately, the city of Ann Arbor has
control of what airs on Community Ac-
5t Ae- at tibe6y 71-0700
TUES-5:15, 6:55, 8:35, 10:15
WED-1:55, 3:35, 5:15, 6:55,
8:35, 10:15

Wednesday, March 31
Michigan League, Hussey Room
227 S. Ingalls

..; ;
L u:

9:15 a.m.-
12:30 p.m.

Historisk institutt
University of Oslo
Department of Psychology
Stanford University
Department of Philosophy
New York University

The Department of Philosophy
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
March 30 & 31
The Lucius N. Littauer Professor of Political Economy
The John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
The Tanner Lecture on Human Values
"Ethics, Law and Policy Toward
the Problems of Self-Command "
Tuesday, March 30, 3:30 p.m.
Modern Languages Building, Aud. 3
812 E. Washington

Over the past few years, the channel
did "quite well," he noted, without
direct company advertising. Word-of-
mouth alone was effective enough to
cause 1,600 current subscribers to pay
an extra $7.95 a month for the service.
Escapade is gradually phasing out to
become the Playboy Channel. In the
transition period, viewers will be seeing
more of Hugh Hefner's monthly
playmates, celebrity interviews, and
video versions of Playboy magazine's
Ribald Classics feature. Sometime this
autumn, the name change will officially
take place.
Another pay channel shows movies 24
hours a day. And Cablevision runs
Home Box Office, the pay service
featuring movies, specials and sports.
In April, HBO will show a special, pre-
taped live performance of "Barefoot in
the Park," along with its regular
Subscribers can also choose to bring
the lively arts into their homes. The pay
channel Bravo features international
theater and award-winning films,
opera, symphony, and ballet perfor-

on channel 9, the public access channel.
Programs range from a weekly show
produced by Washtenaw County far-
mers' wives-about "what it's like to be
a farmer," said Schmidt-to "Ann Ar-
bor Tonight," a variety/talk show
which has, at times, been likened to a
local "Saturday Night Live."
"We're. here for communication,"
Schmidt said, "to allow people to ex-
press their points of view through a
medium they haven't been able to ac-
cess before. . . When people get too
nitpicky about the quality of the shows
we run, they loose the essence of what
we're trying to do. They should relax
and enjoy us for what we are."
A few years ago, she said, most
programs had a "rugged, grainy look."
but with new equipment and a new
policy requiring intensive training for
beginning users, the overall quality of
programming has improved.
"Ann Arbor Tonight" is one show
Schmidt considers a quality production
for a community access program.
While a self-contained crew produces
that show, other programs have
devised their own systems.

All events are open to the public without charge.
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