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Art Binninger's STAR TRIX: Of Clay And Cardboard

4. The Changing Scene

Home | 1. Pre-Trix: Getting from There to Here | 1a. Tom Vs. Joe La Rita Filmography 1970-1972 | Tom Vs. Joe La Rita Episodes 9 - 16 | Tom Vs. Joe La Rita 17 - 24 | 2. Airman Art | 3. A Starship Is Born | 4. The Changing Scene | 5.The Second Time Around: STAR TRIX II | 6. Up In Smoke: STAR TRIX III | 7. Out of Uniform, Into the World | 8. The New Trek Begins | 9. Sidetracked and SMEGed | 10. Building Sets And Momentum | 10a Sliding Into Space | 11. Lights! Camera! Stop-Action! | 12. Kitchen Counter Cinema | 13. STAR TRIX: THE FLICK | 14. STAR TRIX: THE FLICK Reel 2 | 15. Silly Art, TRIX Are For Lawyers | 16. Moving On | 17. ESCAPE FROM VEGAPINTO | About Me | Favorite Links | Contact Me

The Search For Local Vocals

Art's Whipped Hair
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   As one group of airmen was departing the squadron, a new batch of fresh faces was arriving from tech school. One of the new troops had bypassed school and was sent directly to the 1369th Photographic Squadron from basic training. From a social standpoint, tech school isn't as hardcore military as basic training and serves as a kind of decompression period into normal Air Force life. Martin Baumgarten arrived at Vandenberg expecting more of the same discipline as at Lackland AFB. Many of the people who had been at the squadron for a while found Martin's strict adherence to the military mindset amusing and would playfully pull rank on him to watch his reactions. Gradually, he began pulling weird pranks of his own that kept his elders off balance. He developed routines and recurring characters over the years including Drill Instructor SSgt. Montgomery, the Old Man, The Wimp and The Mole (shown below).
   I first met Martin the night Jim Ereaux and I were photographing the STAR TRIX sets on the back porch of building 7228. Since Martin's bizarre reputation preceded him, we hoped if we ignored him he would go away. Not long after Jim's departure, I discovered that Martin and I had a lot in common (being from large families, growing up in the New York area, liked STAR TREK, etc.). I soon became aware that a lot of his eccentricities were calculated stunts for his own amusement. He was actually getting the laugh on the people who were laughing at him.

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"Normal" Martin
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"Mole" Martin

Mike Howard wielding my 650 watt movie lamp.
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   Another new addition to the squadron was Mike Howard, a native Californian, who had once worked at a Southern California theme park. He would often engage in fake physical assaults like the choreographed western brawls at his former employment. Martin was once the victim of Mike's stunts which resulted in his getting kneed in a sensitive area. Mike took over the voice of Mr. Scotch and Dr. Magillacuddy in STAR TRIX II and Mr. Specks voice in STAR TRIX III. Ed Rudnicki voiced Sterno, the Klepton boss. Sheila Powell, from the Still Camera section provided the voice of Lt. Alluring while Richard Firth returned to his role as Captain Klurk. Mr. Specks' voice was taken over by Roy Lafleur of the Motion Picture Camera section.
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   The long-threatened demolition of Vandenberg's old World War II barracks finally became a reality in 1974. The new arrivals to the Photo Squadron were moved over to modular dormitories closer to the base housing area. They were put two to a room which required some personality adjustments. Martin and his roomie Steve Lucas were soon engaged in an ongoing feud.
   Having a bit of seniority, I was allowed to take a room in another old barracks but would soon have to make new arrangements as well. I made a second STAR TRIX here before I joined the migration to a downtown apartment. The Mods were full and it would be at least a year before new dormitories were built on base.

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The view from barracks 7228 in early 1974.
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The parking lot of the 1369th Photographic Squadron in early 1974.
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The demolition of the World War II-era barracks where I lived from December 1972 to October 1974.
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The dormitories (referred to as "The Mods") where the barracks rats eventually took up residence.