Friday, January 4, 2013

Z-CAT: Zaghaven Cable Access Television (with NEW LOGOS by FLATBUSH BROWN)

If you thought being on Cable Access was the lowest possible rung of media attention possible, you should try being on the TV channel run in the 6th Borough.  Z-CAT, or, Zaghaven Cable Access Television, has been running sporadic transmissions since 1973.  

New Z-CAT logo possibilities  by FLATBUSH BROWN

At the outset, you could pick it up UHF-style with a pair of Rabbit Ears -- but your TV needed to have a dial so you could set it between Channels 6 and 7, usually holding the dial in place with a little wad of newspaper or a Number 2 Pencil.  Thankfully, by 1980, a crew of Time Warner workers who lived in the 6th illegally wired the entire neighborhood for what has always been an interesting mix of televised entertainment, hailing from what sometimes seems like the 4 corners of the galaxy. These cable guys were able to tap into what is essentially an unprocessed signal, a Videodrome-level tuner -- which feeds from the abnormally giant-sized radar dish that sits on top of (you guessed it) the mysterious Candy Factory on the other side of town.  Sometimes a channel-surfer can tune into local fair from Philly, Argentina, or even Indonesia -- though we're never guaranteed we'll be able to return to to a program if we decide to surf on.  

For the bottom of the screen of ZCAT broadcasts.

Z-Cat, for better or worse, became the most dependable station in the neighborhood.  Unlike the other channels, you could always at least find it.  That doesn't mean there's a show on, but it's always there.  

After Z-Cat's original studio floated away (it was a boat), the illustrious Mr. Parfenix let Z-Cat run its main broadcast feed through a data-port in our building's laundry room, which sends a signal back to the Candy Dish (get it?) and back out to all the Zaghaven TV sets. Computer-Head (who became the head of programming for Z-Cat when no one else wanted the job), now patches in the entire channel from a couple of old VCR's he has set up in MY studio.  He runs all these wires out of the window, down the side of the building, and into the exhaust vent of the laundry room in the basement.

Computer-Head is my oldest computer.  I've had him since high school.  He's a very 90's computer.
He loves Wu-Tang and breakdancing and surfing and when people mess up.  He didn't start out
with arms and legs and all that, but somewhere along the way, he just refused to be pigeon-holed.
Now he doesn't really do too much computing, but he can instantaneously patch into the
blue-tooth that sits in the ear of the phone operator for our favorite Chinese Take-Out.

It is Cable Access after all -- anyone who's got a show is responsible for taping the entire thing, editing it, and turning in the tape to Computer-Head.  If anyone's late with their show, and Computer-Head isn't sleeping, he usually just pops on an old VHS tape from his vast collection of straight-to-video  programming from the 90's. 

And I'm proud to say that in one form or another, Frankie's Apartment has been the longest running show on Z-Cat -- broadcast every single morning for the last 13 years -- on at 6 o'clock in the morning to entertain all the kiddies.  Granted, 87% of our shows are reruns, but that doesn't matter!