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Bizarre 80’s public access TV gone insane: ‘Unwind With The Sweeties’
12:12 pm


cable access
The Sweeties

The eighties were so weird. Even at the time we thought that era was bad, but looking back I always am blown away at how truly amazing that decade was.

It was a time of learning about so much wild stuff because there was suddenly a “critical mass” interest in the “weird” past and tons of CD reissues of… virtually everything. And we were all digging it up—and digging the shit out of it—just as it was about to be dumped, burned or lost. In this pilgrimage was also a great sort of confusion of the decades, known by myself and friends as the “eighties/fifties.” Loads of bands were “eighties/fifties” in great and horrible ways (think DEVO or B-52s as opposed to, say, the Stray Cats). Add onto all this the emergence of cable/public access TV and its availability to anyone with an idea (and follow-through).

My friends in LA and I (in NYC) would trade the weirdest stuff we could find and tape off air. At that time (and still, amazingly enough) my West Coast friends were members of Redd Kross, White Flag, filmmaker and Painted Willie drummer Dave Markey and a whole lot of the insane genius people they hung around with. When our almost mirror image of them (New York-style) collided, it was always amazing.

One of the biggest public access obsessions of my West Coast tape-trading pals was a show called Unwind with the Sweeties. Two bizarro “fifties/eighties” entities with odd faces attached to wool ski-masks pulled completely over their faces, who called each other “Sweetie.” They did boring and mundane things like go to the mall, the bakery, or sometimes, sitting in their cool junk-infested set, they’d just drift into kooky daydreams, or do nothing at all AND IT WAS AMAZING!

They were shrouded in mystery and we all tried to find out who they were. We really went all out, at least my LA buddies did. But we never found out any information about the Sweeties! Nothing! How perfect is that? Like the Residents in a dada situation comedy.

I got to thinking about writing this piece so of course I googled them. There wasn’t much, but there was what seemed to be a blog that was done by them all these years later!  The first couple of entries were funny and what I expected but suddenly, things became very very dark.

Oddly, written in a similar tone as the Sweeties’ first entries were sicker entries with illustrations straight out of a Mexican tabloid. This was like a horror film. I cannot imagine what the hell this is all about and though I’m curious it also really freaks me out. I would not look if you don’t want to see a mutilated dead body, yet the text is written in their “voice” and is actually quite funny. There’s also a link to their Facebook page which does not seem to exist.

More on the mystery of The Sweeties after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Inner-Tube: Legendary cable TV goldmine of Punk, Post-punk, No Wave and New Wave
03:31 pm


New York City
cable access

Since I was only ever able to catch a few of them on TV (I moved to NYC the year it went off the air), I was always on the look-out for bootlegs of a cable access program called Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube, perhaps THE greatest (I can’t imagine what would compare to it) underground video archive of late 70, early 80s punk, post-punk, No Wave and New Wave music that exists.

The Gun Club, Bad Brains, Dead Kennedys, The Cramps, Blondie, Talking Heads, James Chance and the Contortions, Johnny Thunders, Television, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Dead Boys, The Ramones, Siouxsie and the Banshees… the list of bands seen on Inner-Tube goes on and on and on. Shows often shot in color, with two cameras and sound board audio. Performances taped at CBGB, Mudd Club, Danceteria, Max’s Kansas City, Irving Plaza and usually the camera was right up front.

Inner-Tube ran for ten years on Manhattan Cable (meaning that you could only watch it if you lived in Manhattan, the outer boroughs didn’t get it, TV Party, Midnight Blue or Robin Byrd, either). Seriously, it was the best of the best. Unbelievable shit.

I’ve been waiting in vain for years, hoping for a proper DVD release of the “best of” Inner-Tube, but the rights issues would probably make that a nightmare. Now it looks like Tschinkel is starting to put some on YouTube. This should be encouraged!

“This ‘Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube’ program appeared on his Manhattan Cable TV show in 1980. It features live performances at Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs in New York that epitomize the dynamic, exciting music of the time. We see a riveting performance by the Dead Boys and a fast paced one by Levi and the Rockats that also includes a guest appearance by rocker Jayne County. A short piece of old time fiddling music, taped a fiddling convention in Independence VA in 1973, rounds out the program.”

This has only been on YouTube since last night. Here’s hoping for more Inner-Tube!

Via Stupefaction

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment