Showing posts with label NBC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NBC. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

3 Chords & the Truth: Wonderful world of music

When the crazy gets to be too much, I get in a mood for the music equivalent of comfort food. I'll bet you do, too.

My happy place lies in the memories of radio when I could still count my age on two hands and a foot. My happy place is filled with all kinds of music . . . a wonderful world of music that's every bit as satisfying as a plate of fried chicken -- or pan-fried steak and onions -- with a slice of apple pie for dessert.

The comfort music of 3 Chords & the Truth comes from the "misty water-colored mem'ries of the way we were," from AM radios playing Top-40 tunes, from the middle-of-the-road stations on the kitchen radio . . . from trailblazing weekend magazine shows like Monitor on the NBC Radio Network.

ACTUALLY, Monitor was about the only magazine show on network radio before National Public Radio borrowed heavily from the formula beginning in 1971. Only Monitor was much more diverse, ran hours a day all weekend long and played a lot more music.

"Grown-up music," to be sure, but some of it was pretty snappy. In a misty, water-colored mem'ry kind of comfort-foody way.

That's where we're going on the Big Show this week. It's not the first time. Probably won't be the last. Linus had his security blanket; I got this.

And now you got this, too. Enjoy.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tom Snyder's alive & well & wrangling hurricanes in Florida

TV legend Tom Snyder, of Tomorrow fame in the 1970s, died a decade ago at age 71.

Well, that's what he wants you to think.

But Revolution 21 has it on good authority that the impish, acerbic NBC anchorman and interviewer -- last seen enveloped in a cloud of cigarette smoke and wearing a tan leisure suit -- actually snuck off to sunny Florida in 2007.

But he didn't stray far from a TV camera and a microphone.


WELL, we're not sure of all the how-tos and wherefores, but a highly reliable source at a Macedonian investigative-news website says the "death" and re-emergence of Snyder went something like this:

Tom Snyder
Snyder, about 15 years ago, stumbled across the Florida location of Ponce de Leòn's fountain of youth, reputedly located in a remote, uninhabited area somewhere between Cypress Gardens and Legoland. The whole "cancer diagnosis" was a ploy that allowed him, after preliminary planning, to disappear from the public eye. And with his "death," attention shifted away from the one-time media icon who did battle late nights with everyone from Johnny Rotten to Rona Barrett.

Sometime late in 2007, he made his way to central Florida. At some point, he immersed himself in the rejuvenating waters of de
Leòn's lost wonder of the New World, then took up meteorology.

Tom Snyder, born again in the magic waters, took on the identity of "Matt Devitt," it is said. The old TV fixture -- once so ubiquitous and recognizable that Dan Ackroyd built a career parodying him on Saturday Night Live -- had undone most telltale signs of his old existence.

Matt Devitt
But not all.

He could lose the leisure suits and the cloud of smoke. He could lose the groovy '70s hairdo. He could lose the past several decades, and lose the public's attention. He could lose his old specialty and pick up a new one.

What he couldn't leave behind, though, was that voice. The mannerisms. His way with words. The impishness.

"Matt Devitt," WINK television weatherman. Yeah, whatever you say "Mr. Devitt."

We'll play along. But you're not really fooling anybody . . . Tom.

We've learned to recognize fake news when we see it. And we damn well know that Tom Snyder will never die. He'll just go to Florida and dunk himself in the old explorer's saving waters as needed.

But don't worry, Tom. We won't tell Rona where you are.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Godspeed, John Glenn

John Glenn is dead.

And with the great astronaut's passing at age 95, so dies a part of every star-struck child of the 1960s. There's not much more a man can say -- the life of an American hero speaks for itself. And what a life Glenn had.

In an age so devoid of greatness -- in an America now so impoverished -- this is what greatness looks like. And below, as broadcast Feb. 20, 1962 on KFAB radio in Omaha, is what greatness sounded like.

Sit back and enjoy this NBC Radio special report reviewing the flight of Friendship 7.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Colorfully killed by irony

Remember the old sitcom, Norby?

No, me neither.

Norby, from the creator of the somewhat better-remembered show Mister Peepers,  ran on NBC for exactly four months in 1955. It's notable for being the first sitcom to have every episode filmed in color.

All 13 of them.

David Wayne starred in the show, one of the first regular series in the then-new "compatible color" format on network TV. It was sponsored by Eastman Kodak -- which wanted to sell color movie film just as much as NBC wanted to sell color TV sets for parent company RCA -- and was "Photographed on Eastman Color Film."

Color sitcom on a network that wanted to showcase the newest big thing -- color -- and a photography behemoth that wanted to move Kodacolor . . . what's not to love?

WELL, this is where the irony comes in.

What wasn't to love? The cost. Kodak hated how much it cost to sponsor and film Norby on Eastman Color Film a lot more than it loved trying to sell color film to the 99.9 percent of TV viewers who, alas, could only see the show in lifeless monochrome instead of living color. Remember, in early 1955, an RCA console color TV would set you back $898 in non-devalued American currency.

That would be, not to put too fine a point on it, $7,955.03 in 2016 cash money.

And, friends, there we have it. The first all-color sitcom in TV history was killed by irony -- it just cost too bloody much.

All because it was in color.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

TV crack for the Boomer vidhead

Playing as soon as you hit the start button . . . the 1972 pilot for Emergency.

Gage, DeSoto, Dr. Brackett, Nurse Dixie, lots of sirens and perilous predicaments . . . and Millie Helper with a toilet seat epoxied to her butt. All directed by Jack Webb. What more could you possibly want out of a TV movie?

Sorry, but I do so miss the '70s.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Music for grown-ups

Longtime Monitor host Gene Rayburn inside NBC's Radio Central

This week on the Big Show, we're all on the Monitor beacon once again.

Monitor was a revolutionary program when it was introduced to NBC Radio in 1955 -- a mix of music, news, features and interviews that ran most of every weekend. But for me, it's a bit of home, a bit of the world I knew.

It's grown-up news, grown-up hosts and grown-up music for what seemed at the time a grown-up world. By the measuring stick of our never-ending silly season -- as in this present moment -- the world of Monitor . . . America in the 1950s, '60s and early '70s seems even more grown up, despite the upheaval of that era.

AT LEAST the '50s and '60s had honest, substantive conflict. We have rival factions of spoiled schoolkids throwing spitballs, calling names and alternately picking up their toys and going home.


Dammit, we all need a happy place. The memory of Monitor is one of mine -- a memory of a world run by adults. As opposed to us.

The memory of Monitor also is the memory of "Monitor music," which seemed very adult and very square then but now, upon further review, seems very adult and kinda cool. We'll be playing a lot of that on this episode of 3 Chords & the Truth.

The Monitor theme of the Big Show this go around jibes with some other themes floating around the stacks of wax in the studio here. Like home, and can you go there again. We'll be exploring that musically.

And old days, lost youth and the march of time. That's a tasty thematic set as well on 3 Chords & the Truth this week.

THAT MAKES two more theme sets that kind of point back to Monitor . . . the long-lost happy place on the radio dial for geeks like me. Monitor, the vanquished redoubt of grown-ups who used to run the world, took serious things seriously and, truth be told, kinda had more class than We Who Knew We Knew Better Than the Old Fogies.

That's it. That's pretty much the show this week, and I think it's a good one. I'll bet you will, too.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

1948: Dewey doesn't defeat Truman

Ladies and gentlemen, you are watching here via the facilities of NBC television and Life magazine, coverage of the 1948 national elections, live and direct across the network.

This is looking more and more like a stunning reversal in fortunes for the Republican ticket headed by Gov. Thomas Dewey, a ticket that had seemed to be destined to coast to victory against a riven Democratic Party and a president whose popularity has steadily faded since he assumed the high office upon the death of FDR. And it is our privilege -- Life and the NBC network -- to bring this live coverage to you, the television viewer, thanks to this electronic miracle of our modern times.

IF YOU will indulge us ladies and gentlemen, as Ben Grauer fires up yet another Camel and we peer into the iconoscope through a smoky haze . . . just a moment, ladies and gentlemen, we are getting word that we have results in from Ohio . . . yes, the results are in ladies and gentlemen of the television audience across the East Coast from Schenectady to Philadelphia to here in New York City and down to our nation's capital, and President Truman has taken Ohio. We repeat, President Truman has won Ohio and thus has claimed the necessary electoral votes for re-election as president of the United States . . . this is extraordinary, a stunning reversal of fortune, television friends.

Now we understand the president may have a statement for the assembled press and supporters at his Kansas City hotel, and you will hear that right here on the NBC hookup, but you won't see it, because we can't do that yet because we don't have the coaxial cable running that far yet. But you will hear it over our NBC microphones, viewing friends as the camera pans wildly to and fro.

Now if you will bear with us as you squint at your 12-inch screen, we have a little confusion here, as it's just 1948 and no one has ever done this sort of thing before -- and frankly, kinescope compadres, we just have no idea what the H-E-double hockey sticks we're doing.

At all.

BUT at least we're not the Chicago Daily Tribune.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The South that raised me

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When I was a child, all of the South was like the Mississippi of this 1966 NBC News documentary, Mississippi: A Self-Portrait.

The only thing was that Mississippi was just a little bit more.

If we all waived Confederate battle flags -- we called them "Rebel flags" -- Mississippians waived them a little bit more. Especially during football season, for the University of Mississippi was (and is) home of the Ole Miss Rebels. Today, the name remains, though the flag and "Colonel Rebel" do not, and that transition was not an easy one for Mississippians.

If we all celebrated "moonlight and magnolias" and venerated "the Lost Cause," Mississippi celebrated and venerated a little bit more.

And if there was ugliness toward blacks -- we called them "Negroes" or "nigras" or "colored," and that's when we were trying to be nice -- or racial strife to be unleashed, Mississippians did what Southerners did back then. Just a little bit more fervently.

I was born in 1961.
Mississippi: A Self-Portrait aired on NBC in 1966, when I was in kindergarten in Baton Rouge. Until 1970, I attended legally segregated elementary schools.

Welcome to my world.

WELCOME to my upbringing as the child of racist parents in a racist, racially segregated society, which represented the only way they knew how to live. Which represented, for a long time, the only world I ever knew.

If you know anything about the South today, watching this film will show you how far it's come in 46 years. If you know anything about the South today, you know how far it still has to go. You also know this:
It gets complicated.

I was raised by white folk just like the white folk in this documentary.

You want to know the dirty little secret of that? The part that makes one both a victim and a perpetrator, brings one to the line where the difference between conscious and unconscious -- willfulness and reflexiveness -- gets . . .

It's this: Ivan Pavlov, of "Pavlov's dog" fame, was right.

Pavlov started ringing a bell whenever he fed his dogs. Soon enough, the dogs began to slobber at the ringing of a bell. We white Southerners of a certain age --
a great many of us -- were conditioned to slobber at the ringing of any number of bells, most of them cracked.

AND THAT'S what the Yankees can't take away -- what maybe even Jesus can't completely take away. We can learn morality. We can accept "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" in our minds and, indeed, even in our hearts.

We can do this. God Almighty compels us to do so; I know this. The force of our will enables us to at least attempt this.

But none of this takes away that goddamned --
God-damned, to be precise -- and devilishly cracked bell that a sick society started to ring in our ears the minute we popped out of our mamas' wombs. If we white Southerners of a certain age are honest, those of us who were neither born saints nor raised by them, we recognize that God-damned, subconscious half a second between some stimulus right out of 1966 (or 1956, for that matter) and the moral conscience that imperfectly informs our conscious mind in 2012.

Most white Southerners won't tell you that; I just did. Because that damning 1966 documentary about Mississippi -- about how old times there were not forgotten -- is pretty much how I was reared in south Louisiana back then. Hell, I remember when my eldest uncle died when I was a junior in high school (and I'm talking 1977 here), it was real important for my old man to find out whether the funeral home in Ponchatoula was "all-white."

The mortician eagerly assured him that, yes, it was. Another place in town was the "colored funeral home."

Because race mixing was
(is?) an issue, even when you're dead as a doornail, sealed in a coffin and 6 feet deep in the good Southern soil.

WELCOME to my world, the one I cannot escape no matter how far afield of the South I might wander. The world that made my mind and haunts my heart. The world that gave so many of us that God-damned subconscious half second.

make sure you go here (and that you watch the segments in order) to see how we're trying -- black and white alike -- to make sense of what made no damn sense at all, God help us.

Monday, February 20, 2012

John Glenn and the way we were

Who were we?

Who were we Americans, who could absorb the psychological body blow of Soviet Russia putting Sputnik into orbit while we still were blowing our satellites up on the launch pad . . . and then four years later, Yuri Gagarin into orbit before we could get a man into suborbital space at all?

Who was this people who sat by radio and television sets this day 50 years ago, waiting for John Glenn, strapped inside his tiny Mercury capsule, to rocket into orbit atop an Atlas rocket and even the spaceflight score with the communists?

What manner of people -- once Glenn had gone up, gone around three times and come down alive and well -- would celebrate his achievement, this affirmation of American greatness, without irony, self-consciousness or reservation? Indeed, what sort of nation would have the audacity to set its sights on placing a man on the moon and returning him to Earth safely in less than a decade's time?

were we? Who were these people of supreme faith -- in themselves, in God and in their way of life?

Who were the people who listened to radio like this on
KCBS in San Francisco as early birds on the West Coast awaited history in the late winter's predawn?

Who were the people heard in this bit of radio history later that night, along the
NBC radio net and over the airwaves of KFAB radio in Omaha as a winter storm roared across the northern Plains?

these people?

Who were we? What sort folks could maintain such hope and confidence amid the threat of the Cold War going hot and the world being engulfed by a mushroom cloud?

Who was this people, the one able to look at the racial horrors of Mississippi, Alabama and across the Deep South, yet keep faith with the better angels of its nature? What sort of man . . . or woman . . . still believed in God, country and heroes?

And who in the world listened to sweet music on the airwaves in the chilly predawn? Who still allowed grown-ups and other assorted squares to have a say in the popular culture?

I remember these people.
I do.

I scarcely recognize them anymore, though. I scarcely recognize the nation that gave us Friendship 7 -- and visions of a bright future -- a mere half-century ago. But on the television today, there's an old man, some 90 years of age, a man clearly of a different age -- an anachronism still in this world, yet not of it.

Not anymore.

Godspeed, John Glenn.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Well, it's OK if you like big towns

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So, the Today show thinks a one-man town in Wyoming is small.

In the realm of Population: 1, however, Buford is a freakin' metropolis. It even has a skyline . . . sort of.

And it's on the dadgum
interstate highway. It has traffic. The store there is full of people pulling off I-80 for gas and sundries.

When is a town of Population: 1 not really all that small? Look at Buford, Wyo.

Unfortunately, the folks at NBC News didn't look much farther than an interstate exit . . . much less its own archives. In the NBC archives, and on the 'Net, is a 2005 piece about a one-woman town in Boyd County, Neb.

MONOWI, by God, Nebraska puts the Population: 1 back into Population: 1.

Not that you can tell that -- again -- to them slicksters in
New York City.

READ that last sentence like this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mrs. Hansen to Chris: 'Why don't you take a seat?'

Chris Hansen, the Dateline NBC exploiter of criminal perversity for titillation and corporate profits, recently has gotten a National Enquirer-administered taste of his own medicine.

It would seem that a guy who, to all appearances, enjoys all too much mining the sordid depths of fallen humanity for the "entertainment" value of it all under the guise of "journalism" has a lot more in common with Lester the Molester than with this picture of a love untouched even by death.

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THIS IS "the Chris Hansen Treatment."

And this, as reported by the
Daily Mail in London, is Chris Hansen undergoing an ironic bit of gotcha:
Hansen, 51, has allegedly been having an affair with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old Florida journalist, for the last four months.

Last weekend he was recorded taking Miss Caddell on a romantic dinner at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manalapan, before spending the night at her Palm Beach apartment.

Hansen, who has two young sons, was caught in an undercover sting operation arranged by the National Enquirer.

Secret cameras filmed the couple as they arrived at the hotel for dinner and then drove back to her apartment - where the pair left, carrying luggage, at 8am the following day.

Hansen lives in Connecticut with his wife Mary, 53, but he has been spending more and more time in South Florida investigating the disappearance of James 'Jimmy T' Trindade - and allegedly sleeping with Miss Caddell.

A source told the newspaper the pair met in March, when they were both out with friends at the Blue Martini Lounge in Palm Beach.

Miss Caddell, who was once an intern with NBC in New York, introduced herself to Hansen in the VIP area, and 'there was an immediate physical attraction between them', according to the source.

The source alleged: 'Chris and Kristyn got on so well that she ended up going back to his room at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach - and later boasted to pals about staying the night with him.'

The couple have allegedly continued to meet up in Miami and Palm Beach over the last few months, with Miss Caddell and her friends even flying to New York to spend a weekend boating with Hansen, the Enquirer reports.

According to the source: 'Chris sends Kristyn flowers and tells her he loves her, but he still doesn't seem all that motivated to leave his wife for her.
HE ONLY sent flowers? Gee, that other guy on Dateline brought strawberries, whipped cream and a stuffed animal.

Some groomer Mr. Hansen is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Simply '70s: News for the hard of hearing

In October 1973, Broadcasting magazine reported on how Boston's public-television station would begin captioning the nightly network news for the hard of hearing.

This lasted a while, but a couple of years later NBC came up with a better method of making TV news accessible for those with hearing difficulties.

The new technique certainly beat slaving over a hot Vidifont keyboard for hours and hours every night, and it offered the possibility of real-time translation -- as opposed to every newscast being delayed for hours while being captioned.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Another grown-up exits the scene

Now it's Bill Monroe who has passed from this mortal coil, another media grown-up who hasn't been -- and can't be -- replaced.

Monroe died Thursday at age 90, leaving behind a legacy as the first news director of Channel 6 in New Orleans, and as Washington bureau chief and moderator of
Meet the Press for NBC television.

Times-Picayune's obituary tells the story of a career defined by integrity . . . and guts:

In 1950, The New Orleans Item, one of the city's two afternoon papers, hired him as an editorial writer. Mr. Monroe had had print experience as a New Orleans reporter for the United Press wire service before he went to war.

Four years later, when WDSU was looking for a news director, Mr. Monroe applied for the job -- and landed it. When he joined the NBC affiliate, it was six years old.

The news staff amounted to "three or four people who just read the news," he said in a 1998 interview. "Early television reporters were converted from newspaper reporters."

Mr. Monroe hired a fleet of seasoned journalists, including the reporters Alec Gifford, Ed Planer and Bill Slatter, and the photographers Mike Lala and Jim Tolhurst.

By that time, the station had already made a name for itself in 1951, when it covered U.S. Sen. Estes Kefauver's organized-crime hearings in New Orleans. Five years later, after Earl K. Long was re-elected governor, Mr. Monroe sent Gifford and Lala to Baton Rouge to show what he felt would be an interesting legislative session.

This was long before open-meetings laws, but nobody said anything, Mr. Monroe said in the interview, because everyone seemed to believe that someone had given them permission.

"We were there a week and a half before we were challenged," he said.

Long tried to have them removed, but the New Orleans delegation resisted because they had become stars.

"That experiment "put people in touch with the Legislature in a way they hadn't seen before," Mr. Monroe said in the interview. "The Legislature came alive. We got more letters for that than any other thing we did."

During that period, the station started airing editorials that Mr. Monroe wrote and delivered. The station stirred up controversy when it called for calm during the civil-rights period, when New Orleans' public schools were facing desegregation.

There were about 50 editorials related to the civil-rights movement, Mr. Monroe said.

The station's call for calm "appealed to the common sense of a lot of people in New Orleans," he said, "but that mild message, in the context of the times generated a bit of hatred toward the station."

Mr. Monroe said he received death threats, and advertisers threatened the station with financial ruin if it didn't back off. But station owner Edgar Stern Jr. stood firm.

For the editorials, WDSU won a Peabody Award, broadcasting's most hallowed honor, and a national award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association.
A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: First, picture a television station running regular editorials, thoughtfully delivered. In many markets -- despite the death of the "Fairness Doctrine" decades ago -- that's difficult enough right there.

Then picture a news director adamantly advocating for a wildly unpopular position . . . just because it's the right and responsible thing to do. Picture him doing this some half a hundred times over the course of a year or so, despite hate mail and death threats.

Now picture the station's (most likely) corporate owner stand behind the station's wildly unpopular editorial stance despite advertisers' threats of an economic Armageddon.

I lost you a step or two ago, didn't I?

That's because the grown-ups have left the building. The loss is all ours.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Simply '70s: The fascist regime strikes back

This must have been from 1978, this Today show report by Jack Perkins on NBC. The Sex Pistols were embarking on their first American tour, amid copious Establishment wailing and cultural gnashing of teeth.

My God, what if they cursed on stage? Spat on the audience? Trashed a hotel room?

Next thing you know, they'd be shooting the telly. What? Elvis did that years before?


STILL, THE ADULT self, some 33 years removed from his teenage hormones, suspects that Establishment Jack was pretty much on target. The Pistols were boorish, dissipated louts of limited technical ability who probably did coarsen the culture, for what that's worth anymore.

I know this; you know this. Jack Perkins certainly knew this, and wasn't shy about telling his horrified TV audience -- the one sitting at the breakfast table putting a little nip of something in the morning coffee, smoking cigarettes and plotting out how to screw that little s*** at the office.

And then that young little thing after work, being that the missus was visiting the mother-in-law.

In your heart, you know I'm right. Somewhere in my cynical, cynical heart, I know Perkins was right.

THAT SAID, how about we throw the old fascist out of a moving limo on the way to the show?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When TV was but a punk kid of 10

In 1949, this was the NBC Television Network. It stretched from New York to St. Louis, all hooked up to the coaxial cable, as ably explained that year by Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabell the Clown.

If your city wasn't on the hookup, then your local network affiliate (assuming you had a TV station at all) got its national programming, what there was of it, via kinescopes -- 16-millimeter film recordings of a TV monitor at the New York studios. The hinterlands got network shows when they got them.

And videotape still was the better part of a decade in the future.

What you see here --
the state of the art four years after the end of World War II -- features less capability and lower quality than a 4G-enabled smart phone today. And it was miraculous.

As primitive as it seems today, it would revolutionize an entire society in the years following 1949.

THOUGH TELEVISION still was very much in its infancy in April 1949, NBC was in a mood to celebrate how far the medium had come since the advent of regular American broadcasts 10 years earlier in New York.

Through the New York facilities of
WNBT (now WNBC), here we have a kinescope of TV's first anniversary gala. NBC was celebrating a decade of television, and the network was throwing a party.

Kind of an austere party by today's standards, but a wingding nevertheless.

the folks at WNBT were thanking their lucky stars for now-forgotten singing stars, because not only was TV history in short supply in 1949, but also reliable ways of archiving old programs. That tends to make retrospectives problematic.

Let's just say I hope you enjoy old kinescopes of fighter planes taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. That was a really big deal back then -- it wasn't the content; it was that the TV people could broadcast from an underway naval vessel at all.

IT'S TIME to go, now. And, of course, that would be Bulova Watch Time.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Saturday morning TV

In 1989, I -- blessedly -- was long, long past my Saturday morning cartoon-watching prime.

Really, Punky Brewster was bad enough in prime time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'll give you my $516.32 worth

I am a late Boomer. Either that means I was born in the year of our Lord 1961, or that I had red beans and rice for supper.

Take your pick.

But as a member of a now-aging generation, one facing the creeping shadows of mortality -- and occasionally the discomfort of gastric distress -- I am increasingly compelled to explain myself, my generation, to those who follow. I suppose this is part of the human need to leave a legacy, to live on in defiance of one's biological expiration date . . . ultimately, to not be forgotten.

To be understood is to, in some way, be less alienated from the rest of humanity. To offer a glimpse into one's thoughts, into one's soul, into one's influences and eccentricities is to seek common ground with generations who find us as mysterious as we find them.

And, yes, The
Gong Show winners above were that Oingo Boingo. Oingo Boingo may be another thing that needs explaining, but not right now.

CHILDREN, look. This is who we were. Deep inside, somewhere, this is who we are.

This is who we were before we began to take ourselves so damned seriously. The sum of what you see here is the totality -- or at least a reasonable facsimile -- of today's molders of the world you know.

HERE WE ARE. Understand us. Come to know us a little better.

And please do not gong us after 20 seconds have elapsed.

If you want to know why the world is the way it is, look at the . . . on second thought, avert your eyes. Ignorance
is bliss.

WE, THE BOOMERS are not just a generation that now worries about heart health and contemplates bladder-control products.

We once were young. We once were 10 feet tall and bulletproof. We once rocked out. We once laughed.

And we once loved weird s***.
Just like you.

TAKE IN what is before you now. Understand that this represents my generation's hopes, fears and insights into the human condition.

UNDERSTAND, too, that we once smoked dope. A lot, a lot of dope.

Which may or may not explain the tea party.

Good night, good luck . . . and I think I'll let Gene Gene the Dancing Machine take us to commercial.

One for Depends, no doubt.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Your Daily '80s: Before Late Night, mid-morning

Before there was
The Late Show with David Letterman, there was Late Night With David Letterman, and before there was Late Night With David Letterman, there was The David Letterman Show. Which wasn't on late at all.

It didn't run long, just from June to October of 1980, but you can see what was to come in a couple of years. Not to mention what Jay Leno would be stealing in another decade or so.

So, welcome back to Sept. 30, 1980. Today's featured guest, Steve Martin.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shake your booty till your brains fall out

If you're a little boy growing up in Ashland, Neb., you can grow up to be an astronaut.

Look at Clayton Anderson. Remember, the sky's the limit.

If you're a little girl in Ashland, and if you want to try your hand at junior cheerleading, you can grow up to shake your butt for the astronauts. And if you don't want to shake it for the youth-football crowd, the cheerleader coach will kick your unshaking butt right off the squad.

Because the "shake your booty" cheer is a real "crowd-pleaser." Make of that what you will when 5- to 11-year-old girls are involved.
And note that the NBC version of the video package originally shot by Omaha's WOWT television artfully cuts away before the little girls shake their butts at the camera.

The local Channel 6 story is here.

HERE'S SOME of the story from the Today show on NBC:
“It just felt wrong. I don’t know why,” Faylene Frampton said Wednesday during an interview on TODAY with Tamron Hall. “It just didn’t feel it was a cheer that was appropriate for kids of my age or younger.”

The sixth-grader from Ashland, Neb., says she complained to cheerleading coach Tina Harris in the past that she did not feel comfortable with the cheer, which is number 33 in the squad’s 44-cheer routine.

The cheer calls upon Faylene and younger members of the squad — including some in the second grade — to turn their backs to the bleachers, bend over, and move their pelvises from side to side.

The cheer had been used in the past, but Faylene says never liked doing it and told the coach so. So when Harris gave the signal for “shake your booty” on Oct. 10, the third-to-last game of the season, she decided it was time to put her foot down — both of them, actually — and take a stand.

Faylene, the oldest and most senior of the junior cheerleaders, refused to do the cheer and was sent home. Later, her father was informed by the coach during a phone call that Faylene was being benched for the last two games for disrespecting the coach.


Coach Harris told the local NBC affiliate that she didn’t find the cheer sexually suggestive or objectionable, but nonetheless dropped it from the last two games. She added that no one had complained about the cheer before, and that explaining the controversy, and her decision to bench Faylene for the remainder of the season, was difficult.
BUT NOT as "difficult" as just not having little girls shake their butts at adults in the stands of an elementary-school football game.

"Shaking it" is one thing. People dance; little kids dance. It's cute when they do.

But little girls, some as young as 5, turning their posteriors to the stands -- bleachers filled with adults -- and "shaking it" at the crowd is entirely another.

As a Catholic who has worked with kids at church -- and as someone who has completed the now-mandatory "safe-environment" training -- that is not something I'd be comfortable letting high-schoolers do for an audience, much less
forcing preadolescents to do under penalty of banishment. Maybe if everybody were doing the "Hokey Pokey" or the "Chicken Dance," but certainly not chanting "Jump! Shake your booty! Jump! Jump! Shake your booty!"

In other words, what the hell is wrong with this overgrown teenager they have "coaching" little girls in Ashland how to be cheerleaders?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist -- or an astronaut -- to refrain from teaching junior cheerleaders how to "shake it" like junior streetwalkers.