Moving Pictures |How Television Helped Shape Moses Znaimer’s Path |By Joy Tanner
Fade in to black and white: St. Urbain Street, Montreal, circa 1952. Jewish Immigrants jostle for position inside the cramped grocery store, to get the best “seats” to watch wrestling (the most popular show on the tube). If the monthly bill has been paid, you’ll sit in the parlour. A little behind; you’ll hang by the pickle barrel. In total arrears; face pressed to the grimy exterior window, hoping to get a glimpse of some slam action.
Black and white bleeds into Technicolor, when in 1955, a 13 year old Moses Znaimer takes his Bar Mitzvah money and buys his family their first television set. The Admirable sits in a position of honour in the front room. Late into the evening, Moses, pretending to sleep, watches from his bed, situated in what would have been the dining room. They are the last on the block of St. Urbain to own the status symbol. Thus begins a life long fascination between The Media Genius and The Technology.
Flash forward to the era of The Flat Screen; 2008 precisely. Moses purchases the current location of his Zoomer Empire. Situated in Liberty Village, on 2.6 acres, it is the only one of it’s kind. The south arm of the campus holds offices of both Zoomer Magazine and CARP. The fulcrum of the complex houses, the MZTV Museum and the multitudinous archives. This wends itself into the TV production arena, including sound stages and editing suites for the various content of the numerous Zoomer stations. The north arm contains the recording studios for his radio stations. Impressive.
But so is Moses. He studied ethics, philosophy and political theory at Harvard. “I wrote about Sino-Soviet revolutionary strategies in Africa.” Why didn’t he go into politics? “I’m not sure I’m suited to the search for consensus. And I realized very quickly that most politics revolve around media.” He continues, “Politicians spend an increasing amount of time currying favour with the media. Politics is a system of working through all these intermediary instrumentality’s; committees, money and large social movement.”
Moses speaks quietly, with graceful self assuredness. “Awareness and education are the solution to every problem. If you’re motivated toward social change, you can achieve much more change (through media) than you can through politics. There is something more tangible about making a program.” Media has more power? “Yes, within your sphere. And then I realized anyone could make a program. Real men and women make channels.”
1992 was the 20th anniversary of Citytv. That was when “I decided to get serious about my TV. museum. Up to that point, I was a casual, intuitive collector, responding mostly to what I thought was the beauty of the object.” He decided to “put a frame around the devises to explain their significance. Put them into context.” He also began to buy up other people’s collections. Most significantly in 1994, when he purchased the Arnold Chase Collection. This included the one of a kind, lucite RCA Phantom Teleciever. This was the show stopper of the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and an RCA media campaign to dispel fear that the fledgling technology was magic. It is also the jewel of the MZTV Museum itself.
The beautiful curation explores the technology of the pioneers and inventors; such as John Logie Baird, who obtained the first recognizable image in 1925. The screen is about the size of a postage stamp. Also the sumptuous designs of the ’40’s and ’50’s, where in some pieces, the TV, phonograph, radio receiver, booze and martini glasses were all elegantly housed in exotic wood. The party continued as the race to space drove design to more Sputnik inspired curves of the 1960’s. The collection even cradles Marilyn Monroe’s TV and the Felix The Cat toy, which has been insured for over one million dollars. But these pieces have not stolen his collector’s heart. It is his first purchase,The Predicta Philco Pedestal set.
Post war numbers of TV sets in North America were about 2,000. By 1950, there were over 2 million. “I realized that people weren’t keeping their television sets, despite the ubiquity of television, which had exploded in the 1950’s and ’60’s,” Moses says of our throw away society. “I had trouble finding that Predicta Philco Pedestal set. He first laid eyes on it in New York, in the office of Dr. Peter Goldmark, the head of CBS labs. This was “the institute of the foremost research lab into audio-visual technology,” and Moses was there. “He was unveiling what was going to be a radical new technology and all I could keep my eyes on, was this set. I loved it.” Moses tried to buy it from Dr. Goldmark, who fortuitously said “No.” Challenge seems to drive Moses to great success. “I thought it was so beautiful. It looked like a woman.” An enigmatic smile relaxes across his face, and Moses seems to connect to his bright, curious and slightly mischievous 13 year old self that is still vibrantly alive within.
The MZTV museum is located at 64 Jefferson Avenue, in the heart of Liberty Village. Book your tour by phone (416) 599-7339 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. It is well worth the visit.!
Joy Tanner hails from Pittsford, New York. Graduating with
honours with a double major in English and Theatre from
SUNY Potsdam, she also holds a diploma from the British
American Drama Academy (London/Oxford). She moved to
Canada in the early 90′s, and has been acting professionally
on both the big and small screens for over 20 years. She is
best know for her roles in Cold Squad, Life With Derek and
DeGrassi The Next Generation. Recent film credits include
The Phantoms, The House At The End Of The Street and