A radical solution, but one that's stuck

For The Record

April 23, 2000|By SUN STAFF

The folks at the TV-Turnoff Network, who urge you to turn off your television all week this week, don't have much good to say about the medium once termed a "half-vast wasteland."

But while they'll say almost anything to convince you to take part in the sixth annual TV-Turnoff Week (officially tomorrow through Sunday), there's one thing they won't say: "Kill Your Television." "No, we don't advocate violence," laughs Frank Vespe, executive director of the TV-Turnoff Network (www.tvfa.org).

But thousands of other Americans say it every day, via the simple black-on-white bumper sticker featuring that saying affixed to their cars. And the violent image it suggests is precisely the point, says the man who made the saying a slogan some 20 years ago.

Ed Zucca, a nationally renowned art-furniture maker in Woodstock, Conn., printed up the first 100 "Kill Your Television" stickers in 1979.

TV, he felt, was "transforming humanity into some kind of monster." So he advocated killing it before it killed you.

When those stickers ran out, Zucca's friend and fellow woodworker G. Leslie Sweetnam took up the cause, and went to progressive printers Donnelly/Colt in Hampton, Conn., to make more.

Twenty-one years later, Donnelly/Colt, which still sells posters, stickers, T-shirts and coffee mugs promoting social change through its Progressive Resource Catalog (www.donnellycolt.com), still sells several thousand of the stickers annually.

In fact, says Kate Donnelly, "Kill Your Television" is probably its second best-selling bumper art of all time, right after "Question Authority." (Others market the sticker too, she says; such slogans aren't easily copyrighted.)

As for original TV killer Zucca, the boob tube has experienced a resurrection -- regretfully -- in his own home. A child was born, the family needed something to do at home, and so ...

But he hasn't completely surrendered to technology.

"I hate computers," says Zucca, who still has never used one. "They're far worse."

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