A view into the Spectrum

A look back to t.v.before I had cable.
March 23, 2009

Ahhh...sweet memories of Spectrum. What in the hell is Spectrum you might ask? Spectrum is what I would like to think of as the poor man's cable. The box for it was similar in size and shape to normal cable boxes except it only had one shiny silver button on the top, and only one channel available to match. And at 7 years old in 82 that button might as well have been a porthole into another galaxy. A fantasy world filled with monsters, killers, shootouts, car chases, naked breasts, and just about anything else you can imagine as a young boy. I remember Friday and Saturday nights being especially good times to watch it. My mother would hit the local VFW for a night of binge drinking while me and my sister were left to fend for ourselves. Babysitter or not...we would post ourselves in front of the tube and devour whatever was offered. The Funhouse was one of many flicks that freaked me out as a child. Something about a crazed man in a Frankenstein mask choking a hooker just didn't seem right to me. And when the poor woman ripped his mask off during the struggle and I saw this face I was somewhat troubled to say the least. I even recall going to school the next day and drawing a picture of the dude for an art project. Poor Ms.Miller (my 2nd grade teacher) was probably wondering what would possess this weird kid to draw such a thing. I'd like to think that I was nursing my trauma through artClash of the Titans was an extremely cool movie that I also saw on Spectrum complete with a motley crew of monsters. There was Calibos,Medusa,and my personal favorite the Krakkon. And now "Say hello to my little friend"Now this was my introduction to the classic gangster flick. I had seen Godfather, but it didn't compare to Scarface in my opinion. I guess it was because there were so many elements to Tony Montana's story that were actually relevant at that time. It was set during that very time in the 80's when the cocaine trade was flourishing throughout the country but especially in Miami, and it gave the movie alot of realism. He was no hero of mine but his story was still nevertheless interesting.The storyline was so gritty and the characters were so ruthless. I particularly remember the shower scene where Tony was chained up while his friend was chainsawed to death. I just knew the dude was gonna get ground into chorizo and then came Manny, busting into the motel room with an uzi. It was an entertaining story, but we all know how it ended which was pretty much the only one possible other than life in prison. Spectrum is also where I was introduced to softcore porn. I had seen breasts and all that, but this...but this was simulated sex with full frontal nudity! There is nothing quite as strange as growing wood while sitting next to your sister. I would often try to look away, but those globes of fleshy goodness I saw splashed across my t.v. screen would just call me. My sister would usually be the one to look away for fear of seeming interested which made it easier for me to watch. My sister ironically ended up being a lesbian, but that's beside the point. My little man was only as big as a vienna sausage at that point in my life but he would stand at attention when the steamy stuff came on. I am a proud breast man to this day.Now this little guy ruined alot of good spaghetti dinners for me. I never saw the carnage that unfolded at the dinner table on that spaceship coming.They started the meal with pleasant conversation and before you know it one of them was laying on the table with a little thingy busting out of they're gut. That scene was only second in creepiness to the one where the little alien baby scurried across the table after boring out of this poor bastard's tummy. I was just waiting for that thing to come rocketing out of mom's spaghetti and meatballs when I had dinner. I think it was the intestines in the scene that made me think of spaghetti. In retrospect these probably weren't the most ideal images for a child with a developing imagination to see, but hey what are you gonna do? I haven't murdered anyone and i'm not a stalker so I guess that I ended up ok. Besides being introduced to the voyeur in me I was also pleased to realize that I was quite compassionate after seeing "The Elephant Man".
Now I had never heard of John Merrick (the Elephant Man's real name) before I saw the movie. And of course as a goofy kid I imagined a dude with an elephant head instead of a normal human head. Then came the scene where his soon to be doctor 1st went to see him at the sideshow he "performed" at. I could see his silhouette behind a raggedy tarp but never imagined what he actually looked like.
This is an actual picture of the real man depicted in that movie.
His ailment ravaged his body down to the bone.

I couldn't believe that there was actually someone who had looked like this. And the treatment he received before he was fortunate enough to find his doctor Sir FrederickTreeves (who was played by Anthony Hopkins in the movie) was horrible. I read his biography and the movie pretty much paralleled his real life, although the movie left out many things. He was actually born normal and developed the disease at around 12 years old. A couple of years later after his disease progressed his mother died. Someone even looked at him at her funeral and said" Why didn't God take the freak". That was only the beginning to the rejection and maltreatment that he endured. His grotesque image bothered me, but his ill treatment bothered me even more. It was sad to see how his life unfolded but he did experience some joy before he passed. His death is actually somewhat of a mystery. His head was so big that he couldn't sleep on his back because the weight would close his airway. He would sleep sitting upright so that he could breathe while he slept. However on this particular day he was found dead laying on his back. They say that it was an accident and they say that he just wanted to sleep "normally", but there has always been speculation that he just couldn't take it anymore and basically committed suicide. I was touched by this movie and was more compassionate and tolerant by the end of it. I could go on and on about the gambit of movies I saw but these were just a few. My dear Spectrum was eventually laid to rest by this guy.

We had it disconnected shortly after getting a vcr, but the sweet memories live on. This was my 1st article and I promise they'll get better. P E A C E
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