|The year was 1997. Favorite city haunts of ours included Reptilian Books, Stikky Fingers and several other places that no longer exist; long before Harbor East was on the map and the hyper-gentrification of Federal Hill made the 8×10 seem almost out of place. In these days, the days when Lith Hall saw forty or fifty crust punks for every hipster, there was Atomic TV. I first caught wind of Atomic TV while sneaking into a Jim Rose show at the aforementioned Lithuanian Hall, noticing hosts Scott Huffines and Tom Warner (also of Atomic Books fame) manning video cameras, capturing the kickass twisted performance.|
Instantly enamored by the whole thing I removed my pork pie hat and asked someone what they were doing. I was told that the whole thing would be on public access, and that they were shooting something called “Atomic TV.” Well, my parents at the time refused to get cable television, so I spent the night at a friend’s house some time later and finally caught an episode of the program at or around 2:30 in the morning.
And my head exploded. A show consisting of collections of old clips/commercials, an interview with a cracked out hippie extolling the virtues of Led Zeppelin, live performances by local bands and the simultaneous introduction of my earholes to the John Spencer Blues Explosion – whom I later saw at the now dead and buried Bohager’s. My teenaged brain was overwhelmed by low budget awesome. I only managed to see a few episodes here and there after that night while hanging out with friends, but every single time I did Atomic TV managed to show me a part of Baltimore that was even dirtier and weirder than I had yet to be exposed to. From crazy art parties to strippers to the now famous “Drunk Alex Trebek” video, ATV continues to deliver the dirt!
Fast forward ten plus years, and thanks to the wonders of the internet every single episode of Atomic TV is available for your streaming pleasure! All of the best videos are available on Atomic TV’s site, via Vimeo, while a number of other classics – including the legendary “Underdog Lady” videos – are over on Youtube. You can even purchase DVD collections of videos on their website or at Atomic Books in Hampden (I think). Some of them do contain vast quantities of graphic content – another reason I loved them as a teen, so be forewarned.
But for you SFW sissies, here’s a nice set of old Natty Boh commercials:
(follow Atomic TV on Facebook too!)