The Good Times Are Killing Me
While Michael Shamberg was preoccupied with arranging cloak- and-dagger adventures underground, Paul Goldsmith was at work realizing a long-standing dream. The veteran documentary film cameraman had been trying to raise money to do a film about Cajun music when he first met up with TVTV. Goldsmith, who spent summers as a boy in Louisiana, had shot a short documentary on Cajuns for French TV in 1972 and was convinced there was a richer, deeper story to tell. When WNET offered TVTV the contract to make five hours of programming, the understanding was that Goldsmith's Cajun project would be one of those hours. Not only was it agreeable to David Loxton, who was attracted to the idea of doing a music program in color, but the station was pleased with TVTV's interest in something other than politicians. 1
TVTV members were also excited. After four months of wearing neckties and dresses, begging for meetings with Washington bureaucrats for "Gerald Ford's America," TVTV was ready to take off for the country. Shamberg, the supreme strategist, was not interested in the show. "He doesn't like to hang out with country people; he doesn't like music; he isn't interested in something that isn't the center of power--so he didn't feel that he was missing anything," Goldsmith remembered. 2 But Hudson Marquez, who grew up in Louisiana, 3 had his bags packed and so did Wendy Appel and Allen Rucker.
In February 1975, TVTV went on location in southwest Louisiana to cover the music and lifestyle of Cajun culture. They conceptualized the program as an experiment combining high-quality music with color documentary videotape in an entertainment format. Pioneering technological innovations had become a matter of course for Goldsmith as TVTV's ace cameraperson. But here his first concern was music. Goldsmith originally thought of doing a stereo simulcast and approached Mal Albaum, WNET's head engineer, with the idea. But