Concepts in Alternative Television


whats the background music, it sounds familiar

if its stuff you folks made in high school thats really cool.


I wish I could claim credit for the music, since it’s definitely the best part. It’s “The 17-Year Cicada” by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. Awesome avant-metal band.


Oh that’s why it sounded familiar! I saw them live when Of Natural History came out! So I must’ve seen that song live!


I’m super jealous, I’ve always wanted to see them live! But sadly, I’m pretty sure they’ve had their grand opening and closing.


Tin Hat is still around at least, if you want to hear music with some member overlap (though pretty different in style)

I’m just going to listen to a bunch of idiot flesh albums now


Yes, Tin Hat rules! Book of Silk is a perfect album, what a mood it generates.


One time I was like 12 and watching MTV2 with my friend really late on one sleepover. During the commercials there was a clip of a young kid (younger than us at the time) outside, standing on a sidewalk. He yelled “I’M SICK OF SEX!!!” one time, and then that was it. Seemed pretty weird at the time and remains unexplained to me


My version of this: in 8th grade we were each assigned a chapter of our Latin textbook (which was set in narrative styles, with little stories about this aristocratic Roman family that slowly introduced grammar concepts) and required to do a project about it, in pairs. Our chapter was about the brother and sister’s oxcart breaking down and waiting to get a ride. We made a Legomation where the brother and sister fell asleep waiting, and then dreamt a huge Lego battle scene with every piece we could muster. We got a C.

Around the same time, the weirdest friend I ever had was also consistently making short movies. He had a younger and older brother, each by a couple years. They called themselves Orange In The Groin Productions, and led off each short with a clip of the youngest brother wandering sleepily out of his bedroom in nothing but boxers, and then an arm coming out of a nearby door and throwing an orange directly into his nads. The short I remember most clearly was Master Peco, starring an empty water cooler jug with a small picture of a stereotypical Mexican dude taped to the front, with two bananas on the sides for ears, wearing a sombrero.

One of my college friends made a short film inspired by Bad Dudes that was legitimately hilarious and had really dece amateur action scenes.

I wish I could find any of these things.

None of these things have to do with television.


i think i’ve posted this link before, but here is a textfile about pirate tv broadcasts in poland and east germany. slightly less on-topic, here’s one from 1992 explaining japanese tv listings, which is mainly interesting for the little descriptions of each show (the focus is, of course, on cartoons), like “dragonball z - arcade-style beat em up”


tag yourself I’m “animated food products” (which is not an inaccurate description of Anpanman, but is very amusing when said that way)


Family anime with “The Slap”


Incredibly, this sort of thing can still happen in 2017:


Fishcam is arguably C31’s best-known programme. It was a pre-recorded broadcast of a fish tank located in the station’s studios, set to music by independent artists. It used to be live, but the station got complaints from the ACMA when there was a dead fish floating on the top of the tank for several days. It was originally shown in place of a test pattern when the station had no programming available for broadcast. After it was discovered that Fishcam was reasonably popular, Fishcam became a scheduled show and was even listed in the TV guide. C31 has boasted that Fishcam is “very popular” and is so widely recognised in the Melbourne community that “many people know C31 as ‘the fish station’.”

The station has previously made VHS tapes of Fishcam available for purchase. After having its timeslot continually cut back over the years to make room for more traditional programming, Fishcam finally ceased broadcasting on 4 March 2007. On 13 October 2014 FishCam returned at the new time of 9pm hosted by Luis from Lessons with Luis. The return of FishCam coincides with the station’s twentieth anniversary.


I meant to write back to this a long time ago, but never got around to it, so now I will.

Cleveland has a long history of strange local TV, most of which can get traced back to Ghoulardi in the 60s. He was a local TV personality named Ernie Anderson (the father of Paul Thomas Anderson, and also the voice of ABC in the 90s, specifically America’s Funniest Home Videos, but also liek TGIF and so much else) who put on a wig and a shitty fake mustache and hosted movies on weekend afternoons with interspersed clips of him saying weird shit and doing whatever he wanted on the TV. It sorta started out as a parody of Beatnik stuff, but then just morphed into its own weird world of sayings and silliness and just live shit. He would ask viewers to send in things to blow up on the air with fireworks. He would constantly mock local suburb Parma (an eminently mocakable place). There aren’t a lot of surviving clips of it, given that it was live TV in the 60s, but here’s a compilation of some of the surviving clips to give you an idea:

Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu wrote/talked about the influence Ghoulardi had, both locally and beyond here, and he is certinaly on about things in Cleveland. So much local culture tied to this weird guy, though a lot of it is being lost to the continual gentrification and such going on in this city, but I guess that is OK.

When I was growing up in the 80s, we had a local guy named Marty Sullivan who hosted a more kid friendly version on local station Channel 43. He was on for like 20 years, and while kinda silly and nowhere near as interesting as Ghoulardi, he definitely brings back some warm fuzzy feelings and such.

Somewhat unrelated but still neat is this clip of Trent Reznor in Nine Inch Nails in a previous band, Exotic Birds, featured here on a local station, Channel 5, on their nightly news broadcast. It’s pretty funny in a lot of ways.

I do remember also the Cleveland Falcon Cam. So in the late 80s/early 90s, Cleveland decided we had a problem with a massive pigeon infestation, and somehow the solution to this was to get some falcons to move into Downtown and hunt the pigeons. The problem is that the falcons only went after the pigeons if they flew, so the pigeons very quickly learned to just never fly unless absolutely necessary, something they still do to this day. The falcons were set up with a nest in the Terminal Tower, at the time the tallest building in Cleveland, and someone decided that they would just put a camera on their nest and devote a whole public access channel just to that camera. So for years, you could find a channel on most local cable networks that was just a non-moving shot of a falcon nest. It was pretty great, even if the falcons didn’t solve the pigeon problem at all, and might have made it worse. Sadly I couldn’t find any footage of this online.

Another public access thing I remember is the broadcast of the annual Appliance Toss. Every New Years Eve for like 25 years, a group in Cleveland has hosted a party wherein someone gets a junkyard-bound car, and everyone brings over old or broken appliances, and throws them off a balcony onto the car around midnight. For some reason, this was broadcast on the local public access channels live, and then recorded and rebroadcast. So randomly you could just dial across and see a dryer falling onto a car.

More recently, there was the whole Norton Furniture thing, which the internet found out about. Norton Furniture did all sorts of weird commercials with no budget that would broadcast at like 2 am and who even knows. The main star of these was the own of Norton furniture, an older guy with a pony tail and a voice that sounded like he swallowed gravel, but actually was because he got kicked in the throat when he was a kid. He even had one commercial (below) that featured local Ghoulardi impersonator The Ghoul (nowhere near as strange as the original, but oh well) to bring this all full circle. I met him one time when my mom bought a recliner at his store, where magically the prices were much better if you were paying in cash, but he was a pretty nice dude and gave me a T-shirt for the fuck of it. He also used to get day-old bread from local grocers and just give it to whoever came into his store, which is in a pretty not great part of Cleveland, so I guess that is a thing.

So yeah, there is all that.


Ghoulardi is also Paul Thomas Anderson’s dad, which never ceases to amaze/amuse me


Yeah, I mentioned that. He’s also long been rumored to be the inspiration behind the dying father in Magnolia, so man, that is a lot about their weird relationship. PT Anderson grew up mostly in California after his dad left Cleveland for the national work in LA.


Oh haha glossed over the parenthetical. He truly seems like a fascinating person. Weirdly I have always associated him with Robert Downey Senior probably because of their celebrity offspring


Yeah, Ernie’s a weird dude. Known for being kinda an asshole, but also for doing all sorts of stuff.

In the first few PTA movies, there are little Cleveland references that are amusing, I think mostly in tribute to him. For example, the nurse taking care of the dad in Magnolia (Hoffman’s character), is Phil Parma, named after the suburb Ghoulardi made fun of constantly. Little things like that.


I’m not sure how many Ghoulardi spinoff The Ghouls there are, but at the big comic con here, one of them always takes a break from his booth to stock up on old Uncle Scrooge comics.


Pretty much just the one that I know of, and he’s a decent enough guy from what I’ve seen, but it’s just nowhere near as neat seeing someone do an impersonation of it as it was to see the original. Good to know he is still out there doing stuff, honestly.