Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rare Video: ABC News Apollo 11 News Coverage: July 19, 1969-Soviet Space Report

by G. Jack Urso

Early Soviet design for a moon rocket
atmospheric booster platform.
This rare video clip is from ABC News Apollo 11 News Coverage on July 19, 1969, and begins with anchor Frank Reynolds briefly discussing Soviet lunar operations before introducing a clip from April 12, 1961, when Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarian became the first man in space.

ABC Science Editor Jules Bergman narrates the 1961 segment, when American self-confidence was shaken by the Soviet triumph. Of particular interest here is the Soviet animation of their own plan to go to the moon, already planned in 1961. America would eventually get there first, but in 1961, with Soviet post-war strength at an all-time high, it very much looked like the hammer and sickle would be planted in lunar soil before the stars and stripes.

The piece ends with Bergman interviewing a very young astronaut by the name of John Glenn. Glenn, interviewed a week before Gagarian’s flight, is asked about the real possibility of the Soviets getting a man in space first. Glenn, confident and relaxed, says he’ll be disappointed, but with an enigmatic smile assures everyone, “We got our goals, I guess they have theirs, and the fact they do or do not get a shot off ahead of us will not alter the objects of Project Mercury.” 
This clip comes from video tape nearly 20 years old. The video and audio is low-grade. It is presented here as a historical document. This video clip is presented on a non-profit blog that accepts no advertising. As such, it meets the definition for Fair Use as established by the U.S. Copyright Office. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Radio Documentary: Taxi Driver — A Portrait in Sound

by G. Jack Urso

Taxi Driver A Portrait in Sound, produced for WAMC Northeast Public Radio in 1995, is a look behind the scenes at the daily operation of a busy taxi company in Albany, New York. The murder of a cab driver, one house up from where I was living at the time, compelled me to find out more about the business.

Walking into Capitaland Taxi in 1995, every stereotype about cabbies from film and TV came to life in living color   and smell in some cases. Taxi companies are indeed the last port of call for many who have been customers in the Hard Luck CafĂ©. However, at the same time you’ll find educated and articulate rugged individualists, such as Phil, interviewed for this piece, who are a match for any philosophical raconteur. Phil bummed around Europe in the 1970s before landing in Albany, getting married, and raising children all the while driving a cab in the heart of the bustling capital of New York State. Phil personifies the very ideal of the philosopher-cabbie and shares a street-level view of our common humanity as fellow travelers in life.

Wherever you are today Phil, this one’s for you:


Monday, October 22, 2012

Radio Interview: A Great Day in Harlem

by G. Jack Urso

A Great Day in Harlem, by Art Kane, August 12, 1958.*
The audio file featured below is my interview with Jean Bach who directed the 1994 film, A Great Day in Harlem, nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature. The documentary explores the story about the famed photo titled A Great Day in Harlem taken in 1958 outside a brownstone in Harlem and featuring 57 jazz musicians of the era, including such artists as Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Marian McPartland, Count Basie, Gene Krupa, Thelonius Monk, and many more.

The photo, by Art Kane, who at the time was on assignment for Esquire magazine, is considered to be an important visual document in the history of Jazz. The photo was taken at approximately ten in the morning on August 12, 1958. One can only wonder what force of nature got so many jazz musicians up so early.

In this interview from 1995, originally aired Sep. 29, 1995, on WAMC Northeast Public Radio, Bach discusses the background behind the documentary and some insights about the photo.

* The picture, A Great Day in Harlem, is presented here in support of an educational feature on a non-revenue generating blog that is entirely non-profit and accepts no advertising. As such, it meets the definition for Fair Use as established by the U.S. Copyright Office.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rare Video: Sci-Fi Writers' Round Table-July 1969

by G. Jack Urso

As part of the coverage by the American Broadcasting Network (ABC) of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, a panel of science fiction writers led by Rod Serling and including Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, and John R. Pierce discuss the accuracy of their own lunar landing predictions. Asimov muses on science fiction topics “beyond the Moon.”
The audio and video quality is relatively low-grade due to the source video tape being nearly twenty years old, and recorded off television. I present it here from my own archives as a relic of historical curiosity. It is not available on any media currently in print.

Rare Video: Poet James Dickey, "The Moon Ground"

by G. Jack Urso 

From the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.

James Dickey, poet and author best known for Deliverance, from which the 1972 film of the same name was made, performed his poem “The Moon Ground," originally written for Life magazine, for the American Broadcasting Network (ABC) on the occasion of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Dickey's spoken word performance of this poem was broadcast in the days following the first moon landing in 1969.

The complete poem is provided below. In transcribing the poem from Dickey’s performance it becomes clear he flubbed a line in the sixth stanza, indicated in bold-faced text and brackets. The stanza structure is my own interpretation.


"The Moon Ground," by James Dickey


You look as though you know me

though the world we came from

is striking you in the forehead

like Apollo


Buddy, we have bought the gods

We know what it is to shine

far off with Earth

We alone of all men can take off our shoes

and fly

one-sixth of ourselves we have gathered

both of us, under another one of us overhead

He is reading the dials

He is understanding time

to save our lives


You and I are in Earth-light

and deep Moon shadow

on magic ground of the dead new world

and we do not, but we could

leap over each other like children

in the universal playground of stone

but we must not play at being here

we must look

we must look for it

the stones are going to tell us

not the why, but the how of all things


Brother, your gold face flashes on me

it is the Earth

I hear your deep voice rumbling from the body

of its huge clothes

Why did we come here?

It does not say,

but the ground looms

and the secret of time

is lying within amazing reach


It is everywhere we walk

Our glass head shimmering with

absolute heat and cold

we leap solely along it

we will take back the very stones of time

and build it where we live

or in the cloud-stripped blue of home

will the secret crumble in our hands with air?


Will the Moon-plagued kill our children in their beds?

The human planet trembles in its black sky with what we do

I can see it hanging in the God-gold-only-brother of your face

We are this world

We are the only men

What hope is there at home

in the azure of breathe

or here with the stone-dead secret?

My matted clothes bubble around me

crackling with static and grave elegy

helplessly coming from my heart

and I say, I think something from high school,

I remember now, say it’s the glimmering landscape on the site

[and all the air of solemn stillness holds]

Earth glimmers and in its air color of solemn stillness holds it


Oh brother, Earth-faced god,


My eyes lined with unreachable tears

My breathe goes all over me and cannot escape

We are here to do one thing only

and that is, rock-by-rock, to carry the Moon

to take it back

our clothes embrace

We cannot touch

We cannot knell

We stare into the Moon dust

the Earth glazing ground

We laugh with the beautiful praise of static

We bend

We pick up stones


The audio and video quality is relatively low-grade due to the source video tape being nearly twenty years old and recorded off television. I present it here from my own archives as a relic of historical curiosity.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Rare Video: “Moon Maiden,” by Duke Ellington

by G. Jack Urso 

Rarely has an individual as cool and elegant as Duke Ellington ever graced the stage, and this rare clip amply shows that. Ellington makes his self-described television debut as a vocalist in “Moon Maiden,” a piece commissioned by the American Broadcasting Network (ABC) on the occasion of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing.

There is a studio recorded version of “Moon Maiden” available on the album The Intimate Ellington (2006); however, it is much slower, almost a spoken word performance. In this clip, Ellington brings a light, lyrical, jazzy touch to the first-ever public performance of “Moon Maiden.” Ellington’s vocals suit the piece, but don’t quit your day job just yet Duke. 
From the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube channel.
Also of interest are the full-sized replicas of the Apollo 11 Command Module and Eagle Lunar Lander in the studio. It gives perspective on how small a space the astronauts lived and worked in on their voyage. The ABC news anchor introducing Ellington is Frank Reynolds.

The audio and video quality is relatively low-grade due to the source video tape being nearly twenty years old and recorded off television. Therefore, audiophiles seeking a higher quality recording will be sorely disappointed. I present it here from my own archives as a relic of historical curiosity. 

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Rare Video: Early NASA Space Station Design

by G. Jack Urso

From the Aeolus 13 Umbra YouTube Channel.

At the height of the Apollo program, NASA considered several plans for space station designs that utilized the technology of the era for long-term orbital platforms. While NASA eventually opted for the Skylab design, this short video clip from ABC News coverage of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing describes an innovative space station design that can be launched in and deployed from a Saturn rocket. Introduced by anchor Tom Jerriel and featuring reporter Bill Owens.
NASA artist's conception of the deployed space station. 
From the 1972 World Book Encyclopedia. Author’s collection.

The design was officially designated the Deployable Artificial-Gravity Space Station and was developed by a team led by NASA Langley Research Center engineer Rene Bergland.
NASA Langley Research Center engineer Rene Bergland with a model
of the Deployable Artificial-Gravity Space Station.
The audio and video quality is relatively low-grade due to the source video tape being nearly twenty years old. Just one of the many obscure videos I recorded off the television over the past three decades.

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