Saturday, February 03, 2007

Military Families Speak Out in Oregon - A Great Show on Cable Access

Cable Access gets a lot of snickers from the mainstream media, as well it should. There are tons of amateurish hours with terrible production values, and I speak as someone who has provided way too many of them. My humble show, "Born to Slack" is closing in on its 150 episode, and each aired 3 times in the Portland area. I am occasionally proud of our content and delivery, but I don't stay up nights working on my speech for the Emmys. When it comes to denigrating Cable Access for its amateurish aspects, I am part of the problem.

However, when Cable Access does something right, it is a magnificent thing to behold, and that's how I felt watching "Military Families Speak Out" showing Sunday night at 11 on Channel 23, and once more Tuesday night at 6 p.m. on Channel 22. I have just caught the tail end of 2 earlier showings and I plan to make amends Sunday at 11. The Super Bowl will be long gone and it will be time to address where we really stand once more.

The new name for Portland Cable Access is Portland Community Media and it is amazing how this particular show incorporates experiences I've had here in the Portland community. One of the relatives who is extensively interviewed is Lynn Bradach, the mother of Travis Bradach-Nall. The only time I ever saw her in person was at the funeral of her son at a large church near 39th. In fact, I scanned his picture above from my program from that sad day.

The TV show concludes, with the folk song "Travis John", written by Kate Power, and performed with her husband Steve Einhorn. They have also been a great part of this community, and I've known these two for years, usually kidding around with Steve when I visited Artichoke Music.

The more I hear this song that they composed about Travis's death in Iraq, the more I am convinced it is one of those perfect folk songs that should stick around forever. For lyrical power, I would put it up against anything Bob Dylan or anyone else ever wrote, and I would put Kate's lead vocals right there with Joni Mitchell or any singer out there. You have to live with a song for a few years before you assess it, and this thing has greatness. It could be the best musical piece ever to come out of this part of the country.

So let's review what we have here: Actual Portlanders going off to war and dying for their country, and other Portlanders commenting on the magnitude of their personal loss. Then others in the community making a show about it and putting it on our televisions. This cuts through a ton of national-level spin and brings home the true meaning of what has really gone on. It is heartbreaking stuff, but we owe it to these families and their lost loved ones to listen up. Then at the end of the show, other Portlanders contribute a song about one of the soldiers, making something beautiful and powerful out of the tragedy.

This is extremely well done, and it does much more to capture the Iraq War than a million State of the Union speeches. This is also why Cable Access is so valuable, and it is partly why our government would like so much to shut it down. Sunday night, 11 p.m. Channel 23. See what you think.


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