TAMI Flashback

TAMI Flashback: In Memory of Lost Austin

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Austin the View from Here

This article is the last for Slackerwood in a series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article.

As Slackerwood ends its long and successful run, so does my favorite Slackerwood beat, the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) Flashback series. In this final installment, TAMI Flashback returns to the place and time where it started: mid-20th century Austin, with two videos that capture the River City in two very different eras.

Produced by the Austin Chamber of Commerce in 1943, Austin the Friendly City shows us a friendly city, alright. The film opens with scrolling text that only someone drinking the Chamber of Commerce Kool-Aid could have written:

Austin is one of the loveliest and most advanced cities in the nation. So outstanding, indeed, that each year, hundreds of families move here in order to benefit from her fine schools, her excellent business conditions, her friendly atmosphere and to enjoy the spell of beauty which the enchanting tower lights cast over the towering oaks and moss-covered walls of a city rich in historical heritage.

TAMI Flashback: Hondo Crouch and Luckenbach, Texas

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Hondo Crouch

This article is part of a series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article.

The Texas Hill Country town of Luckenbach may be little more than a few buildings, including a general store and a dance hall. But few places are more symbolic of mythic Texas than this honky-tonk mecca, party venue and tourist destination a few miles south of Fredericksburg.

Luckenbach owes much of its fame to Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, of course; their 1977 hit "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" introduced the tiny town to a vast audience and made it an essential part of Texas pop culture. But modern Luckenbach might not exist at all if not for another legendary Texan -- Hondo Crouch.

A satirist, writer, rancher, musician, artist, swimming coach and self described "imagineer," Crouch bought the nearly deserted Luckenbach in 1970. He proclaimed himself mayor (the three residents apparently didn't object) and pursued his grand vision for the place. Along with partners Kathy Morgan and actor Guich Koock, he quickly transformed Luckenbach into a popular hangout and venue for all manner of quirky events: no-talent contests, hug-ins, a mud dauber festival, a women-only chili cookoff and the Luckenbach World's Fair. Crouch also turned Luckenbach into a storied music venue; the town's association with country music was cemented in 1973, when Jerry Jeff Walker and the Lost Gonzo Band recorded their classic live album Viva Terlingua in the Luckenbach Dance Hall.

TAMI Flashback: Technology in Texas

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The Computer Tutor

This article is part of a series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article.

This month's TAMI Flashback videos feature cutting-edge technology -- cutting-edge more than 40 years ago, that is. Produced by Dallas-based Bill Stokes Associates, the three videos highlight the state of the art in late Sixties and early Seventies computers and electronics. The technical details may appeal only to your inner nerd -- but with their innovation-a-go-go vibe, the videos are entertaining looks at an era when most people had little exposure to high-tech equipment.

Made in 1966, The Computer Tutor is a cheery and sometimes amusing look at a then-new technology that still isn't perfect: optical character recognition, or OCR. The video sings the praises of an "electronic retina computing reader," which greatly improved OCR accuracy. Invented by Dallas-based Recognition Equipment, the device could read up to 2400 characters per second (or so the video claims) with less than one error per 100,000 characters, while simultaneously processing the data. By scanning in text, the device eliminated the need for the slow, expensive and error-prone process of transferring the information to punch cards.

TAMI Flashback: Happy Birthday, John Henry Faulk

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John Henry Faulk

John Henry Faulk may not be the most famous of famous Austinites -- but he should be. A revered folklorist, storyteller, writer, actor, teacher and civil rights activist, Faulk's ties to Austin run wide and deep.

Born in 1913 in South Austin (his boyhood home is now the elegant Green Pastures restaurant), he spent most of his life in the River City. As a University of Texas student, he was a protégé of the Holy Trinity of Texas letters -- J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb, and Roy Bedichek. He earned a Master's degree in folklore and taught English at the university until the outbreak of World War II, when he joined the Merchant Marines and then came home to serve as an Army medic at Camp Swift in Bastrop.

After the war, Faulk's storytelling talent landed him a career as a popular radio talk show host and entertainer. He hosted The John Henry Faulk Show at WCBS in New York for six years, appeared on TV many times and served as vice president of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). But Faulk's radio and TV career ended abruptly in 1957, a victim of anti-communist hysteria and blacklisting. (Faulk was famously liberal, but no communist.)

TAMI Flashback: The Miss Wool of America Pageant

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Miss Wool of America

This article is the tenth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

In this month's TAMI Flashback, we travel to San Angelo in the Sixties. The videos may make you happy you didn't live there then.

That is, unless you raised sheep at the time, in which case San Angelo was the place to be. The small West Texas city was known as the Wool Capital of the World -- and as if this weren't exciting enough, it also hosted the Miss Wool of America Pageant!

Held annually from 1952 to 1972 and sponsored by wool industry trade groups, the Miss Wool of America Pageant was a celebration of all things wool. It also celebrated all things sexist, as 20 Miss Wools from around the country paraded around a stage in the latest wool fashions, smiling vacantly and answering dumb questions. They competed for a tiara -- doesn't every girl want one? -- a new car, a scholarship, a new wardrobe (all wool!) and the honor of being the wool industry's not-quite-a-celebrity spokesmodel for a year.

TAMI Flashback: The Roy Faires Collection

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Roy Faires

This article is the ninth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

Today's Austinites may not be familiar with Roy Faires. But in the Seventies and Eighties, he was a fixture of local TV news and a household name in the River City.

The University of Texas graduate worked at Austin's PBS affiliate, KLRU-TV, from 1971 to 1976 as a news anchor, reporter and producer, and hosted the Who Knows the Answer? weekly quiz show for high-school students.

Faires then joined Austin's ABC affiliate, KVUE-TV, where he wore many hats and won many awards. In his 13 years at the station (1976-1989), he was a news reporter, anchor, director, editor and producer, as well as an entertainment reporter and film critic for the Good Morning Austin morning show. He also worked on the weekly Crime Stoppers segments, which helped solve local crimes, and Wednesday's Child segments, which helped find adoptive parents for children in foster care.

TAMI Flashback: The Mary Kay Way

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The Mary Kay Way

This article is the eighth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

"They say Mary Kay does not play favorites. That's not true. They do. We're all favorites!"
-– Fictional Mary Kay Cosmetics beauty consultant Susan Anderson

It's tempting to mock the subject of this month's TAMI Flashback videos, Mary Kay Cosmetics. After all, Mary Kay epitomizes the beauty-industrial complex, which is built on the absurd and often cruel practice of telling women they aren't attractive unless they conform to conventional standards of beauty.

But this article is not about the way our culture treats women; it's about TAMI videos. So I'll refrain from mocking the Dallas-based cosmetics giant (it will be a challenge) and focus on three of its corporate films from the late Seventies and early Eighties.

TAMI Flashback: Everything Isn't Normal in These Workplace Videos

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Everything Looks So Normal!

This article is the seventh in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

"Mary doesn't look like a pusher, and surely doesn't think of herself as one."
-- Narration from the workplace drug use training film Everything Looks So Normal!

Ah, but Mary most certainly is a pusher. She and her co-worker Sue, both hooked on tranquilizers, are among the drug-addled employees of an unnamed corporation in Everything Looks So Normal!, a video long overdue for a TAMI Flashback skewering. Drug abuse in the workplace (or anywhere else) is a serious matter, but cheesily dramatic corporate training films like Everything Looks So Normal! make it hard to take all the toking, snorting and pill popping very seriously.

Made in Houston in 1983, the video centers on two managers at a company that manufactures and sells, well, something. When the bosses notice declines in productivity, one suspects drug abuse. The other dismisses his suspicion; after all, everything looks so normal! The employees don't look like drug users!

TAMI Flashback: Be Careful, Kids!

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Are You Listening?

This article is the sixth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

This month's TAMI Flashback installment features three short films for children. But grown-ups may find them entertaining also, because they're so wonderfully odd.

For TAMI fans of a certain age -- middle age, that is -- Mission Possible: Bike Safety may evoke childhood memories of cruising the neighborhood on a way-cool Schwinn Sting-Ray. Actually, cruising is the wrong word -- in that era, any self-respecting kid rode like a bat out of hell. Traffic laws were for cars, right? And bicycle helmets were 20 years away. It's a wonder any of us survived into adulthood.

A goofy imitation of the Mission: Impossible TV series, Mission Possible: Bike Safety is a well intentioned but probably pointless attempt to teach kids about bicycle safety. Shot in Austin in 1975, the film features a Mission: Impossible-style team of careful, law-abiding kids who must teach bike safety to two reckless children, Dirty Larry and Careless Carol. Larry (whose face is actually dirty) and Carol are the terrors of Austin's Allandale Neighborhood and the Village Shopping Center on Anderson Lane, running stop signs on their battered bikes and nearly mowing down pedestrians.

TAMI Flashback: Juvenile Delinquency Isn't Funny, But These Videos Are

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The Lonely Ones

This article is the fifth in Slackerwood's second series about the Texas Archive of the Moving Image (TAMI) video library. For an overview of the TAMI site, refer to this article in the first series.

Half a century ago, juvenile delinquency in Texas may have been less of a problem than it is today. But the TAMI videos featured in this article -- two very different made-for-TV films with a common theme -- are reminders that juvenile crime always has been a serious matter.

Made in 1962, Juvenile Delinquency... and You is the fourth installment of KTBC-TV's Progress Report Austin series, a public affairs program about issues affecting the River City. Narrated by Bonner McLane of the Winn-McLane advertising agency, Juvenile Delinquency... and You addresses the causes of and possible solutions to delinquency, focusing on how parents and the community can work together to solve the problem. (McLane's young children appear at the beginning and end of the video. We'll assume they didn't grow up to be delinquents.)

Juvenile Delinquency... and You follows the standard, rather dry Progress Report Austin format -- a series of talking heads (all middle-aged white men, or course) droning on about the issue, interwoven with shots of Austinites and Austin landmarks. This episode isn't riveting television (there aren't even any landmarks) and would be forgettable if not for its historical significance: Two of the interviewees are Judge J. Harris Gardner and Judge Charles O. Betts, after whom Austin's Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Center is named. The then-new facility was part of the transition to a more enlightened approach to juvenile justice in Austin, with an emphasis on rehabilitation rather than just incarceration.

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