Moving Image || Tools of the Trade – part II

Advanced technologies may have rendered them museum pieces, but these marvels of engineering were made to last.

RCA Colour Broadcast Camera, Model TK-41C, 1954

Fearless Camera Company Panoram Dolly, c. 1940, with Houston-Fearless Cradle Head, date unknown

This camera was the first commercially produced for colour television; it was the industry standard for fifteen years. A beam-splitting prism directed the red, green and blue elements of the picture to their own three-inch-diametre image orthicon camera tubes. At 310 pounds, the weight of the camera head and viewfinder severely limited the camera’s mobility.

International Projector Corporation 35mm Simplex E-7, 1938, with RCA Photophone Soundhead, MI-9054A and Hall and Connolly Lamp, dates unknown

Western Electric Vitaphone System 35mm Universal Base Projector, 1927, with Vitaphone Soundtrack Disc for The Desert Song (1929)

The projector exhibited here was originally used at the Aldine Theatre in Philadelphia, and is one of the only surviving Vitaphone projectors that is still operational. It has both a phonograph player for soundtrack discs and an optical sound head built into the projector. The projector is set up as if it were going to screen a film using a soundtrack disc. The record player and projector as powered by the same motor, which makes it possible for the sound and image to play in synchronicity.

Nicholas Power Company 35mm Cameragraph No. 6B, with Universal Model a Soundhead, c. 1928

When talkies arrived, optical soundheads were added to existing silent film projectors, such as the Nicholas Power Company’s No. 6B. Shown here is the Model A Universal soundhead, which made licensed use of technology patented by the Jenkins and De Forest television companies.

Duplex Motion Picture Industries 35mm Step Printer, c. 1920

Manufactured in Long Island City, this step printer was an industry standard for many years. Print density could be controlled automatically.

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Design is Everything

It will always find its place in a museum collection, even if it wasn’t enough to help up the sales at the time.

Sony Miniature, Model 5-303W, with carrying case, 1962

Philco ”Safari” Model H-2010, 1959

This television set was the first to make use of the new transistor technology that had already revolutionized the portable radio. Powered by a 7.5-volt rechargeable battery with a four-hour operating capacity, it employed an optical projection system that magnified the small cathode ray tube image to create and eighty-square-inch virtual image.

Philco Predicta Model 4654 ”Barber Pole”, Television, 1959

In an effort to combat the industry-wide decline in television sales that began in the mid-1950s, Philco decided to exploit recent developments in picture tube and transistor technology. The Predicta line was the most revolutionary of several models introduced at the time. Designed by Catherine Winkler and Richard Whipple, the Predicta treated the screen surface as a ”semi-flat” element largely detached from the body of the set. Because the new tube was unreliable, sales were poor.

Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria, New York

May 13th, 2018

Chicago || Hill Street Blues and the Wickedest Police District in the World

From the waterfront and Grant Park, on our way to meet a legend – both cultural and architectural.

Meet Maxwell Street Station, aka the 7th District Station, aka UIC Police HQ, aka Hill Street Station. The red brick building that was part of Chicago’s history long before it became the signature image of the Hill Street Blues television series (which, by the way, was not filmed in Chicago but in Los Angeles – on location and in studio). 

I’m reading on the UIC Police website: ”The building, designed in 1888 by the firm of Edbrooke and Burnham, is a well-preserved example of an early Chicago neighborhood police station. It was built of red pressed brick and Joliet limestone, with walls three feet thick at the base — a true fortress.”

”The station was built during a period of tremendous growth after the Chicago Fire of 1871, as the city’s population exploded from 298,000 to almost 1.1 million. As late as 1850, the entire police force of Chicago consisted of just nine men. But the growing population, along with social and economic changes, created the need for more law enforcement.”

”In 1906, the Chicago Tribune called the district “Bloody Maxwell” and “the Wickedest Police District in the World.” The police station was considered a fortress in a precinct that had grown to 200,000 residents and boasted more saloons per capita than any place in town. Over the years, the legendary station played host to some of the nation’s most notorious criminals, including Sam Giancana and Al Capone.”

Listen to the theme song which took Mike Post two hours to write:

And now, try to get the tune out of your head – see if you can! 

943 West Maxwell Street, Chicago

November 5th, 2017


From the iconic pub that became the inspiration for the setting of the American TV classic show ”Cheers”. Located on Beacon Street across the street from the Public Garden, homey and unpretentious with a replica of the set bar, hundreds of stills and other mementos from the TV series on the walls, a decent selection of food and drinks and scores of cheery tourists, the pub has secured its position as one of the top tourist attractions in Boston. Either you are a fan of the show or just a tourist in need of some cheering up, Cheers has you covered. 


May 1st, 2017

Business as usual


That was yesterday, Thursday November 24th, when America celebrated Thanksgiving.
I am a European. In Europe, there is no concept of Thanksgiving – not in this sense, anyway. We eat our turkey on Christmas day.

I didn’t go to Macy’s Parade this year either. Still not brave enough to face the crowd. Apparently it is enormous and it scares me, to be honest. I’ll have to devise a plan for next year. As of now, I have 364 days to make it work.

I did cook though. Roasted chicken and (sweet) potatoes with rosemary. This is a feat in itself, for I don’t think I cooked more than – say – ten times, since we came to New York. It was delicious.

We ate watching Francis Bacon: A Brush with Violence.  A film where friends and acquaintances speak freely, some for the first time, offering their views and revealing truths about the myth that is Francis Bacon. My favourite artist.

Cheerio then,

November 23rd, 2017


Let’s make America sane again? I don’t know Mr Maher, perhaps we should have entrusted the guy next to you in the all-white dress, with the task: the Young Pope might have been totally insane but at least he was young, good looking, a helluvan actor and with a better dress sense…!

January 16th, 2017

New Yorker Festival

Our initiation to The New Yorker Festival, an annual event with performances, screenings and talks bringing together personalities from the worlds of art, culture, literature, politics and, to quote the organisers, everything in-between.

A modest but very interesting start with just two of the events.

Louis C.K. talks with Emily Nussbaum came first. I remember the shock in seeing the dreaded ”sold out” mark next to the ”buy tickets” button. Ever the optimist, after scrolling down for more talks, I thought I’d give it another try. And, lo and behold, two tickets available – must have been the very last ones.

Hot topics like the then upcoming elections and Presidential candidate Trump were covered, but also those more personal like family and work. And money spending, when it came to Mr. C.K.’s latest work Horace and Pete, a production entirely self-funded and web-streamed on his website, yet still managing to loose money even without involvement of middle-men.

We were even treated to a news flash, when Mr. C.K. announced that it would soon become available on Hulu. Two months later the news became official. I had watched Horace and Pete with mixed feelings of disbelief and admiration upto the final moments of grief; for I just couldn’t stand the last episode, torturous from beginning to Horace’s tragic knife-stabbing end. The untimely appearance of his his long-lost son didn’t help either.

The following evening was the turn of a gentleman whose class, charisma, acting mastery and a certain British charm can be summed up in two words: Jeremy Irons.

In ”Jeremy Irons talks with Rebecca Mead’‘ the discussion flowed freely like between two friends having a good time. A journey that started in the Isle of Wight, touched upon Mr. Irons’ childhood years and went on about education, racism, economy. ”Unregulated capitalism is like unregulated water: It will drown you” said Mr. Irons, a phrase that stuck with me since.

His motorbike, Broadway stints and other important steps in his career (Brideshead Revisited – yes, of course) were also mentioned, as was his newest film ”The Man who knew Infinity” which I have yet to watch.

A lively conversation, spoken in Mr. Irons’ distinctive voice, excellent diction and that very charming British humour, enhanced by his expressive gestures – and when these were not enough to contain him in his seat – his walking about the stage in a kind of improvised performance.

Dressed in a steampunkish outfit, matching scarf and biker boots Mr. Irons was the personification of an English gentleman with a touch of ”frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” flare, audiences around the world find so irresistible.

The series is held in different venues in New York City, in October.

October 7th & 8th, 2016