code of honor in self-indulgence requires that I begin with the following
disclaimer: I am awful at this, this being the reduction of my last
41 years down to bare bones. See, packaging is my game and dem bones
a bare minimum, flesh, let alone a fancy outfit. I'll do my best to make
this compendium as naked as possible. I'll even leave lotsa stuff out.
But it's still gonna be pretty long so, if your
eyes start to glaze, take a nap and come back later. Better yet, forget
the whole thing. Shut off the
go do something good. Take a walk, plant a garden, write that novel you've
to write. But if you choose to stick this out, don't say you weren't
the conclusion of my glorious high school career,
I attended Syracuse '62 to '66. Now,
for those reading the fine print on the diploma,
your eyes don't deceive. It says 1969. That's because I was in such
a hurry to get to New York City that I blew off the last 3 credits
needed to graduate and split. 3 years later, reason prevailed (and
I got tired of being called names) and I took a 3 credit course at
Hunter then got my mail-order diploma from Syracuse. My major
was R-TV. I figured I liked to watch TV so how hard could it be? Played
a lot of music and bridge and took a lot of theater and film classes
too, which I actually liked a lot
better. I also got involved in the civil rights movement, my first
taste of activist politics. Got married in my senior year to first
wife, Terry Cesta. We moved to a very
Village and started
hippies. Then, just as we were adjusting to climbing the stairs up
to that 7th floor walkup...
which led to the almost inevitable - a baby, a very big baby (who
is now an even bigger man). Reed is currently 36, in the high tech
sales game, a pretty good musician and song-writer and a great guy,
even if he is still a pain in the you-know-where. However,
forgiven by virtue of the great gift he has bestowed upon us, our
Grandson, Zac. But I digress...
you be interested in a peak at the culprits, that's ex-wife Terry,
gingerly holding infant Reed who did not want to
have anything to do with this family portrait. Other participants
are me (the seated gangster), my 2 sisters Faith & Rebecca
the walk-up's stairs were an impossibility, shlepping that big
kid and his carriage, we moved from MacDougal Street to a first
apartment on 14th. I worked at NBC but wanted to make my own films.
Made a short film and some stationery. I was happening.
the soft deal apartment we had (superintendents of a brownstone
for free rent) went bye bye when the landlord decided his nephew should
have the job. Unable to find affordable housing in NY, we moved to Boston,
where Terry and I split up. I left for New York with Reed and became
a single father of a one year old. Reed and I moved in with my parents
who were living in Douglaston. I worked
a few film, still photo and taxi driving jobs and ended up at a company
There, I was a film editor
but was getting interested in this new portable video thing (1968 was
the year). In 1969, Actron got a stupendous gig - doing large screen
video for the Woodstock Festival.
me on the crane - best seat in the house, about 40 feet from
the edge of the stage and up above the mass of humanity below (for
your further viewing pleasure, you may want to check out this picture
as it appeared in Rolling
Stone Magazine). Woodstock was a revelation
to me. I had resigned myself to a life
working for other people whom I didn't particularly like. This
scene showed me it could be otherwise. Here were companies made
up of hippy artists, pulling off this city of a concert. The Actron
brass didn't get it. They grumbled about everything from beginning
to end. This frustrated me so much that I handed in my resignation
immediately. It was refused immediately. So, after a week
hanging out with the Hog Farm people there at Yasgur's farm, I
went back. They gave me a new title ("Innovationist")
which was very flattering, and more money which came in very handy.
never a very
employee from then on. I needed to spread my wings.
two of the other guys from Actron and one of the Woodstock Festival
coordinators and I lit out on our own and set up The TV Machine.
The mission: Large-screen video at concerts and theatrical events.
I know, I
know, it's an everyday thing now, but then it was still kinda
radical. It had only really been done a few times before.
did shows at the Fillmore East - Taj Mahal, Richie Havens, Nina
Simone (shown here), at the Electric Circus and at college campuses.
Eventually, we got a real paying gig - video for a lavish production
of Brecht-Weill's "Mahagonny" at the Anderson Theater
a few bucks in my pocket, I moved out of my parents house. They
had been a fabulous support system for 4 years but enough is enough,
right? Reed and I and a friend named Ray moved in to a funky apartment
in the East Village, on an action-packed
block (East 5th St. between 2nd & 3rd).
Soon I met Naomi Greenspan. We moved out to Center Moriches,
right on the bay. Naomi was teaching pottery and art history at
a college out there. Together, we did multi-media, which for us
plastic inflatables and doing shows and events inside and outside
them. We put together a pretty wild collection of light show imagery,
combined it with video and live performance, stuffed it all into
a big old mailtruck and, when the school year was over, hit the
road for parts unknown. After a couple of months on the road, the
truck rolled over in Vermont, destroying it and cutting a dream
short. Naomi left, Reed and I stayed, and I was a single father
southeast corner of Vermont (Putney and Brattleboro), in
the early 70s, was my idea of heaven - yummy setting, unspoiled
ingredient was a good way to exercise my somewhat specialized talents
while making a living. Seems there weren't a lot of jobs for video-multimedia
artists. Nevertheless, Reed and I stayed there for 4 years, making
it up as we went along. When a group of us alternative types (who
might have been the majority in them parts at that time) identified
a need for affordable health care, we started a sliding-scale clinic
health education center. I signed on as Education Coordinator,
which meant anything to do
I did coordinate educational programs but I also did all the public
relations stuff and quite a bit of fund-raising. Naturally, I also
shot a lot of video, using some in classes and documenting just
the same time, I was pursuing my art interests, now integrating
dance into multimedia performance pieces. Also, along with a friend,
I started a non-profit called the Vermont Town Media Foundation.
Its purpose, with funding from the Vt. arts Commission,
was to provide low-cost media support to other non-profit organizations.
I also started a little business making a natural halvah that I
like crazy at local health food stores and was being distributed
on a small scale by a regional distributor. It might have gone
somewhere but I got an offer of a job at Austin Community
College and couldn't resist the opportunity to check out a new
earning a regular paycheck for a while. It was a grant project,
with an 18 month term. I figured I'd be zooming back to Vermont
as soon as the project ended. Little did I know how cool Austin
would turn out to be.
after I arrived in Austin (in 1976), I hooked up with a group of
artists called Interartworks. We had a good-sized loft downtown
always been the kid who said "Here's a nice old barn. Let's put
on a show." So I wrote, directed and ring mastered "The Short Circuit
Circus" (I've always been fascinated by the circus). It had clowns,
- the whole shmear, only this was a circus with a video projection
screen and with a political message.
thing led to another and soon I became part of the first cast of
Esther's Follies, Austin's still-running topical vaudeville troupe
(that's me in the middle with bandana and Percy Dovetonsils face).
There I stayed for 2 years, writing, acting, singing, dancing,
playing drums, making props and costumes and tending bar. At the
end of each show, we circulated through the crowd (during a rousing
revival number) with butterfly
nets. The audience usually obligingly filled the nets with cash.
We split the take about 25 ways, netting not quite enough each,
especially for me with a 9 year old. Did pretty well tending
bar during the breaks, tho. Nowadays, Esthers is an institution,
an uptown admission charge and paying the cast pretty well.
me singing one of the jazz songs I did in the show. Nothing was
ever done straight. Everything had a gag attached. In the early
I was with the Follies, we did an entirely new show every week.
It was grueling but exciting, creatively challenging and fun. We
took on whatever was in the news and then some. If you are interested,
more pictures of me in Esther's Follies are available here.
theatrical venture was an idea I spun-off from Esthers, a vaudeville
show for kids called the Pineapple Players. This was the first
of two incarnations of the group. I wrote and performed in the
shows and got the grants to keep them on the road, playing theaters,
centers and school auditoriums around Texas. Want more pictures?
Got 'em right here.
that same time,
I co-wrote, directed, and played a part in "Hole
in the Air",
an anti-nuke oriented old-timey musical (tap dancing throughout).
Of course, I had video as a component of the show because, well,
that's what I do.
New Years Eve in the Follies, I had introduced this 6 person dragon
I made out of Celastic and fabric. He soon became the "Energy
Dragon" and began appearing at City Council meetings to testify
against Austin's involvement in the South Texas Nuclear Project.
He is always lots of fun and quite a hit with the Council and
audience because, in the guise of a dragon, I can be outrageously
the council members. The old dragon now resides in my attic but
still makes occasional Council meeting appearances.
the midst of all that theatrical fun and anti-nuke activism, I
found myself under fire from my son, who wanted clothes that weren't
from Goodwill, (among other stuff) that I was not able to provide.
So I bit the bullet and searched for a real job. Now here's the
irony - the best job I was able to find was for a company named
Texas Nuclear. They make non-contacting measurement devices, not
bombs or nuke plants. So here I was, driving a funky old VW hippy
bus with a "No Nukes" bumper sticker, working for a company with
"nuclear" in the label. Good folks, though. I enjoyed it until...
a cost-cutting move, TN decided to close the video department
and outsource all production work. They asked me if I would like
to set up my own company with them as my first client. They offered
to rent me (for a song) the small building that had housed the
video department as well as all the equipment they had purchased.
I said "Please don't throw me into that briar patch!" But throw
me they did and I have been enormously appreciative ever since.
And AiM Productions was born. That was 1982.
I am at the editing console in that little building. I was happy
there (can't you tell) and did lottsa good work for TN as well
as IBM and others.
grew along with the clientel and I moved into a new office-studio
that AiM was to occupy for the next 17 years. In those new digs,
right behind Texas Instruments' Austin campus, AiM did over 50
projects for IBM and over 100 for our neighbor, Texas Instruments.
We also did many projects for other companies and a slew of government
agencies and non-profit organizations. Want to know more about
AiM's projects, clients, etc.? To check out the website, click here.
in 1982, I met Annie Borden, a beautiful, firey artist with (at
the time) long red hair. We lived together for 7 years and then
got married. The matrimonial bliss continues to this moment.
1987, during the harmonic convergence (remember that?), Annie was
looking for somplace to be alone in nature for some meditation.
A friend was living in a house in the hill country outside Austin
and suggested that Annie could sit by the river that ran through
the property his house was on. So she sat by and in the Pedernales
River and then came running back into town, insisting that I had
to see this
place. I was in the middle of producing a series of 7 videotapes
for the City of Austin and had no time for such frivolity. But
that weekend she dragged me, kicking and screaming, out to see
the river. My mind was blown. I had to have a piece of that land.
A year later, we had some.
1998, Reed and his wife Lisa (now divorced) gave us our grandson,
Zachary (I'll bet a few of you have grandsons named Zachary, eh?).
This is one cool kid, but don't get me started. Here are Reed and Zac
with Annie and moi on our beach by the river this past Fathers' Day.
treat you to one more picture of Zac right now. But, if you've just
gotta have more, click here to
view a year and a half old web page of them.
on by Zac's arrival, in 1998, we began work on our dream, a 2 story,
straw bale house with
many green features including tremendous energy efficiency and
a rainwater harvesting system. We obsessively did much of the work
ourselves but had the help of over 100 friends (and even a few
who participated in many weekend workshops in which we raised the
bales and plastered
inside walls. We are most fortunate to have the friendship of
some talented artists, craftspeople and enthusiasts who helped
us realize our dream.
door, for instance, was made by our friend Wolf, who used mesquite
boards that he milled from a few trees we had to clear when building
the house. The heart and the art in this house have nourished us
way beyond explanation. In 2000, we sort of finished the work
(what's really finished, anyway?) and moved in for real.
that we wouldn't want to leave here to make the 45 minute shlep
into the office every day (I know, 45 minutes on beautiful
country roads is not a commute by NY standards), we shut down
the 2,600 ft. studio space and condensed the business into
amazing act of prestidigitation). Big change. Now I have no
problem getting to work early
every morning (if I want to).
one more pic of the house. If you want to see more, click
here for a web page full of them.
gotta wind this thing down now but I've got to get in
a few vacation pix of Annie and me. I took this one the last time
we were in NY
We escaped from the relatives and stayed in a hotel (the Gershwin,
and cheap), from which we did the galleries, shows and just walkin'
the streets (you know, that NY experience that so many of you get
to have all the
know, I look kinda like a tired and
maybe even a little distraught biker in my black Greenpeace teeshirt
and Annie doesn't seem to be enjoying herself either. But I
love the effect in this mirror piece we
gallery. If you'd like to see a whole web page of images from
that trip, click this.
magical setting is Makena Beach, on the isle of Maui, where we spent
a romantic anniversary (either the 14th or 21st (depending on whether
you count the years living in sin) this past May. The vision in white
is my lady love, trying to get away before I take another picture
guy cooling his butt in Ching's Pond (same island).
same old cat, still standing despite oxygen deprivation related to
hiking at 10,000 feet on very little sleep (Hey, it's a vacation.
Who needs sleep?)
we live in paradise, we don't feel compelled to leave too much. Every
beautiful place we go is generally overrun with people, even when
we make special efforts to beat the hoardes there. Whereas at home,
on the river, we can look far in any direction without spying a single
tourist. And nobody's there to care about our lack of clammy, clinging
bathing garments (the buff being our preferred swimming attire).
Nevertheless, we do get away once or twice a year, whether we need
it or not. Other travels in the last few years have been to Big Bend
(this was shot there, in St. Elena Canyon), Belize, Vancouver Island,
the Yucatan, camping across the West and canoeing down the Green
(doing the whole river in two
parts - two different 5 day runs).
My life is my hobby. I love doing the work I do, which continues
to be video, photography and multimedia (only now multimedia
different meaning). This old dog has learned a bunch of new tricks
of late and I am now also doing stuff on the web, for which
I had some distain not too long ago but now love.
noticed that one of you classmates has an email address something
like "lovetogarden". Well, I don't wear it on my address but I do
love to garden and spend a substantial amount of time and money to
grow vegetables that could surely be purchased with far less of both.
I just can't help myself. There's nothing like watching it all grow
and finally going out and bringing in a basket full of delectable
organic treats for
I just like to sit there on the ground among the plants in one of
my three garden enclosures (with our lovely, friendly deer, no enclosure,
thing I never would have thought I would become fanatical about is
rocks. We have them in the hill country in abundant supply and I
dig digging them up and using them for various structural and decorative
purposes. This is our cistern, our primary source of water. If you
haven't tried rainwater, you should. It's the best.
I lied, I said I wouldn't subject you to any more more Zac pix but
here's one more. Why? Because we're in the hobby section and I can
think of no pursuit more enjoyable than my time with him. Here, in
the guest bedroom, we have just completed a major construction project,
a tower taller than I am (and I'm big) with the blocks I made Zac
left over from our
gang, that's it. If you've made it this far, you have stamina and I
want to thank you for your attention. Some of you might remember me
as a kid
seeking attention, even if it meant falling out of my chair
being forced by the teacher to stay down there on
the floor for a while. Well that kid's still around. Same kid, new
toys and a slightly different approach. In
here are even more opportunities for you to indulge in my self-indulgence
- links to some of my web pages that, with one exception, haven't been
September 25, 2003 edition of the Pedernales Post, a pictorial newsletter
I do for friends and family
August 30, 2003, "Persimmon" issue of the Pedernales Post
August 9th, 2003 Pedernales Post on the Austin Anti-Redistricting Rally
The May 18th, 2003 edition of the Pedernales Post, the Big Bend and wildflowers
Austin peace march in the February, 2003 edition of the Pedernales Post
July, 2002 edition of the Pedernales Post, focusing on the July
June, 2002edition of the Pedernales Post - "What's New in
April, 2002 (and inaugural) edition of same, highlighting the
old garden, river & Zac
Susan Lee Solar Memorial site
Century Management site that we have built and maintain
last but not least, our own Aim Productions site
hope all who do attend the reunion have great fun. And I especially
hope that some of you (like those who really knew and cared about me)
will get in touch soon so we can catch up and maybe even relive some
silly times. I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org,
by snail mail at 24815 Hamilton Pool Rd., Round Mountain, Texas, 78663,
or by phone at 830-825-0133. Enough options? Now use one of 'em. Thanks.
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