It was Dec. 10, 2002. Still reeling from the dot-com crash and my subsequent difficulties in finding a job (damn you, Obama! And where's the birth certificate?), my girlfriend Katrina and I decided to cancel our cable subscription. The few shows we actually watched were available over broadcast, so it would be no great loss ... except for one thing: Channel 29, Access San Francisco, the public access channel.
So, I recorded the night for posterity.
10pm: Torah Time
The tape begins, as all things must, with the last few minutes of a show in Russian (with a tiny little bit of yiddish mixed in, I'm told).
10:30pm: The Blue Lew Show
It's the first of the evening's "shot in my living room" shows. (Torah Time was too, in all likelihood, but it looks quasi-professional.) It's mostly amateur video of concerts, including Sammy Hagar at Justin Herman Plaza, but the highlight is the host killing the last few minutes of the show by lip-syncing to Ted Nugent's Double Live Gonzo.
11:00pm: Thrush TV
A frequent disclaimer between shows: "Programming shown after 11 p.m. may contain adult subject matter. Viewer discretion is advised." What tonight's episode lacks in adult subject matter, it makes up for in awesome. Here, after the great Thrush theme song, the Chimney Sweep in Mary Poppins 2002 tells Mary what's up.
11:30 p.m.: Pushy TV
The host's irritated mother shows us how to make cheese latkes for Hanukkah -- from a recipe in Yankee magazine -- but she'd really rather not.
12 midnight: YTV
Oh, I miss this show so much. Yana, who puts the Y in YTV, gets booted from the outside of the Psychic Fair. Twice.
12:30 a.m.: Electric Bulb Productions
The New Pickle Circus rehearses. Never been much for circuses myself, not even the currently hip neo-retro wave, but the rolling thing is neat.
1 a.m.: Reigning in Life
The pastor of a Hayward church talks about "pouring your life into somebody else," which makes me giggle because I will never not be 12 years old in this regard.
Sadly, that's all I have of that particular night, meaning we don't get to see the awesome-sounding 1:30 a.m. show, Bikers for Christ Present. As a consolation, here's YTV from the week before, as Yana gets an impromptu modeling lesson at the corner of 18th and Castro. Gods, I miss Access San Francisco. (Yes, I know the Bay Area Video Coalition does public access now, and you can even watch it online. Allow me my analog nostalgia.)
The only thing I miss more than watching public access is producing my own show, which I was doing at the time. But we'll get to that.------ Sherilyn Connelly is a San Francisco-based writer. She also curates and hosts Bad Movie Night at The Dark Room, every Sunday at 8pm.