PAGE 2 - N.C. ESSAY
Outlook . . .
I’ve been reading a lot about television lately. Two books in par
ticular have caught my attention:How To Talk Back To Your
Television Set by FCC Commissioner Nicholas Johnson and Seven
Glorious Days, Seven Fun-Filled Nights by Charles Sopkin. The for
mer is pretty straight-laced, sound and formidable arguments about
what is wrong with tv and intelligent suggestions about how to im
prove it, written by a man who should know. Sopkin’s book is more
bizarre, an account of the seven outrageous days and nights he spent
bleary-eyed before six (working) tv sets and the cultural shock to
which he was exposed. It’s a funny, well written book with plenty of
insight about the medium of television and programming (or lack of
In his conclusion, here’s what Sopkin has to say about the state of
“ ‘Vast wasteland’, Newton Minnow’s contribution to Americana,
does not really convey what commercial television in this country is
all about. ‘Gigantic garbage dump’ is hardly more accurate. Well,
what can one say? That the networks are trying? They obviously
aren’t. And I have serious doubts that, given all the proper cir-
cimistances, they would even know how to begin to schedule sensible
What I felt after my week of television was, first, utter exhaustion,
and then despair. No matter how you evaluate it, no matter how you
study it, you come to the frightening conclusion that, in some basic
way, television represents true America. If this is so - and I believe
that it is - then all one can be is saddened at this reflection of the
All of which backs up what I’ve been thinking for a long time: To be
of any value at all, television must be improved. Why? You might as
well ask. Because, according to Nick Johnson, “There are 60 million
homes in the United States and over 95 percent of them are equipped
with a television set. (More than 25 percent have two or more sets). In
the average home the television is turned on some five hours forty-five
minutes a day. The average male viewer, between his second and
sixty-fifth year, will watch television for over 3000 entire days .. . .”
T&kc 8 Look
Have you ever watched a whoje day and night of tv? It really is a
mind-blowing experience. The game quiz shows, the mawkish soaps,
old films (30’s vintage, never a decent one), afternoon re-runs of ‘[b^
hits” from years ago, the inane evening line ups of banal variety
shows, lousy movies, those appalling weekly wries (“Mod Squad” is
my fave rave), and those wonderful, enlightening, boring and
generally stupid specials. The only salvation is the talk shows (Car
son, Cavett, Griffin) and they are becoming increasingly stereotyped
and sleep-inducing as well.
And the bitch of it is that television could be, should 1» such a
creative, useful medium. But it probably won’t be any time soon.
Unless something is done.
The reason I’m saying all this is because it relates directly to us,
perhaps more so than anyone else. We plan to someday be artists. But
since ideals have a way of tarnishing and because there are those
basic economic facts of life, we may one day have to work in thu very
wasteland (in any capacity, as actors, dancers, writers, musicians,
etc.). We should be concerned because to do so will include, un
fortunately, a great deal of artistic prostitution.
I’m not sure exactly what can be done, but for starters, I suggest
that you get a copy of Nick Johnson’s valuable little thesis (Bantam
Books, $.95, 245pp.) and also, for your own amusement and in
formation, find Sopkin’s gem (Ace Books, $.75, 255 pp.). And spend
some time watching the mindless pap that goes down on the nation’s
airwaves. Perhaps if enough people find it as blatantly stupid as I do,
action on some levels might be initiated. At this point (now we have
Henry Fonda playing a cop on a new weekly series), anything would
RAP from Israel by Karen Wilson
Israel: Hebrew-Arabic, Farmland-Industry, Culture-War, Joy-War, Peace-War.
The Camerata Singers toured Israel for nine days. “What in the world were we going to do in nine
days?” Butsomething said, “Wait.” I waited-I found I was wrong.
We arrived at 5:00 P.M. Israeli time in Tel Aviv. Saying “Israeli Time” is funny-strange, because it
sounds like the Israeli’s time, as if time were theirs. But quietly, skillfully, they seem to have taken
over that country’s time and made it work into big things, noisy things.
Haifa is a big, beautiful port, with purportedly every kind of industry. But in the region of Galilee,
on farms, in fields, there is the sound of plants growing.
We traveled all over Israel, absorbing at a rate of some 10 gallons a minute, Israel’s rich Jewish-
Moslem-Christian-Roman-Tiu'k-Crusader history. Our giude was Josef Schmetshek. We were not
allowed to use “Sir”-only Josef. He was somewhere in his fifties and wise enough for it. He came
from Vienna to Israel when he was younger, fought during the Second World War. His wife and her
family were in a concentration camp. She was the only one in the family that survived it. These things
came out during our visit to the Ghetto Fighters Museum that holds pictures from the files of some of
the concentration camp doctors and commandants. It serves as a very personal memorial,
remembering also the resistance fighters in the ghettos.
This came out too: “6,000 years of culture got us nothing. Twenty-two years of a good army and we
are one of the most respect^ countries in the world.”
I do not know how the Arabs would handle the county if they had it. Did you ever dig on a white
man tr^g to tell a black man the muck he is getting into, equalizing himself in this country? The
black man might say, “Well, baby, if it’ll keep you off my back....” What can you say about chemical
plants and industries and munitions plants, but that’s the way it goes.
The morale on both sides is marvelous and miraculous. Arabs are beautiful and so are the Israelis
(though I’ve heard that they can be proud to the point of the obnoxious, concerning their
achievements. We all agreed they had a right to be). The laugh of the Israeli has no shame and his
look is direct. Men only get old there when here they are called very old. You don’t really need a
retirement plan. But the Aral» are proud too. I suppose that is what the fighting is all about.
• Sang in Jerusalem -
I should - no, I must tell you that the Camerata Singers sang well and did their school proud. Music
students would ask where we were singing next so that they could hear us again.
We were part of a competitive festival for American colleges that had its growth stunted by poor
communication. Not 16, not 9, but 3 choruses participated! So, instead of cut-throat competition, we
ate in people’s homes, visited a Kibbutz and the office of the Minister of Tourism. We never sang in
Tel Aviv. I think I’m happy for that. It would have been nice to see city-lights again, but not that nice!
Jerusalem is city enough. . ■ ,.
We sang in an around Jerusalem; At Breur High School, a beautiful boarding high school m a very
modem section of Jerusalem. At least it looked modem at that time of dark, foggy night. We sang
twice at halls in the city- paid performances. One of these before an audience that hadn’t expected
us: high school, junior high and working people coming to relax after working hard - they were
rowdy. There was no standing ovation, but relatively quiet listening. Something to be proud of. (We
sang four quick songs.)
- Beautiful Children -
We sang at the Dr. Israel Goldstein Youth Center where Jewish kids from 29 countries grow up into
men and women at the same time they are becoming Israeli. Being Israeli: I got some shocks! We
were shown some rooms: boy’s rooms.The beds were made, the floors looked spotless: beautiful
enamel tiles set in the clay floors.
I asked the little boy who spoke beautiful English if the rooms always looked that way. He smiled
beautifully and said, “Of course,” or something like that. I asked a friend from Lebanon and he said,
“Of course,” as if there were nothing strange about a kid having a clean room. Upon discussion, he
said, “Well, maybe American chil^en are spoiled.”
These are beautiful people. They waited Sabbath supper for us, they taught us their dances and
their songs. They entertained us; we entertained them. They weave and sew beautifully and have the
only course in wateh repair in Israel (so we understand) and they carve the most striking and artistic
olive wood carving that we saw during our stay. And toe first bombs of the six day war fell in their
parking lot. They fought and lived and learned outside and in the shelters. The kids are from 12 to 18
and they don’t seem any older than they are. No one seemed to be what we would call worldly-wise -
just very strong. ,
We sang in the traditional birthplace of Christ, between where he was bora and where they laid him
in a manger. Of all or any times that I have sung in my life- there is where it seemed most right:
Ebniltate Deo and a Polish lullaby to Him and then we left. There happened to have been some
American priests there so we were taped and had our pictures taken. But, believe me, it wasn’t for
that that we sang.
- Kibbutz Life “Together” -
The evening meal in the Kibbutz named Massanik has no meat. Meat is for lunch. There was potato
salad and some other kind. There were pickles, olives, peppers and olives. There was yogurt that
really cleaned your mouth out, pudding, cheese, bread, grapefruit and there were olives, hot potatoes
We went to isee the home of a married couple in this Kibbutz, established more than 30 years ago.
There was a bedroom and a living room, and a patio in front. There were modern colors, a modem
sofa and a very nice bedspread - in fact, about as modem as a sensible hard-working couple married
Continued on Page 3
letter to the editor
N.C. ESSAY Staff Quiz
Match the position with the
Correct answers next week
a. Ed Schloss
d. Kathy Fitzgerald
e. Michael J. Ferguson
f. Fred Avery
g. Mary Beth Zablotny
b. Jon Thompson
i, Sam Barcelona
k. Mary Jane White
I. Tom Kovaleskl
m. Alexander Marsh
n. Cortlandt Jones
o. Alan Zingale
p. Donna Jean Dreyer
q. Kevin Dreyer
I have a friend who recently got into John Lennon’s statement, “The dream is over.” Now he hates
almost all new music, denies all of his adventurous nature and has stifled most of his intimate
I should also have another friend who recently got into John Lennon’s statement “The dream is
over.” Now he wants to make better music and realizes that the real work has just now begun.
I very simply place my vote with my second friend. How about you and your readers and friends?
Sincerely, 'Dee Moses
Photo by Barcelona