October 25, 2011

The JFK funeral: a cultural spotlight

A few months ago, back when I was more responsible in keeping this blog updated, I did an interview with David Von Pein in which we discussed the extensive footage available of the television coverage surrounding John F. Kennedy's assassination.  At that time I suggested - all right, I virtually promised - that I'd return to this subject.  So here we are, and what I want to look at today is a very particular part of the coverage, along with its cultural significance. 

Many of us have seen the usual clips: Cronkite's announcement of Kennedy's death, the live covearge of Oswald's murder by Ruby, the salute by young John Jr. (which wasn't actually captured live, or at least not in the way that we see it in retrospectives), the bugler cracking during the playing of Taps at the gravesite.  But what interests me most, and has for quite some time, is the Kennedy Funeral Mass.

Very few clips of the Requiem Mass are shown in the standard retrospective, and until I got serious about digging through the hours and hours of online video, I'd pretty much dismissed the idea that I'd see more of it.  Imagine, then, my surprise at finding almost all of CBS's live coverage of the Mass, on the YouTube network of JFK1963Videos.  (David has mentioned to me that he has this coverage as well, but has not uploaded it to YouTube.)

This is a precious piece of footage, for it gives us one of the last glimpses of the pre-Vatican II Mass, the Tridentine (today known as the Extraordinary Form).  The Mass is said entirely in Latin, with the priest facing the altar (ad orientem) for much of the time.  For those who have no memory of the "old Mass," this may be a revelation.  For those who do remember it, or who have attended an Extraordinary Form Mass in the last few years (as this Mass once again becomes more available), there may be even more eye-openers.  For those who aren't Catholic, or even religious, there are many interesting aspects of the television coverage.  Nevertheless, much of what follows could be seen as "inside baseball" aimed at the more liturgically-minded.

October 11, 2011

How the Rangers rounded up the TV bucks

With the Texas Rangers just two victories away from a return trip to the World Series, it seemed a good time to link to this fine article from Jonah Keri over at Grantland (and if you haven't checked this site out lately, do so - it's become one of my daily must-reads) on the role television is playing on the possible creation of a Rangers dynasty.

We all know how earth-shattering the effect has been of television on sports - everything from sustaining the American Football League in the mid-60s, to the boom of college football, to the emergence of ESPN as not just a sports channel but a lifestyle network.  Those of us who follow the business side of the sport know also of the inherent advantages a large-market team has when it comes to local media revenue (see: New York Yankees).

But I found this particularly interesting, in that we're now seeing how TV, especially in the form of regional networks, might be able to level the playing field.  Is it temporary, or will we see a true shift in the ability of teams outside the traditional media centers to compete financially?  And here we thought it was all about putting people in the seats and games on the tube.  Hah!

A fascinating topic, the relationship between television and sports.  I'll be back with more thoughts on this shortly.