Monday, January 28, 2008

the Patti Duke Show

This week I had an earworm that I couldn’t get rid of. Hence the topic for today’s blog. I find myself singing the theme song of the Patti Duke Show on the way to work, at work, on the elevator, in the bathroom, walking to the pizza joint on Warren Street. “While Cathy adores the minuet, the Parlez vous and Crepe Suzette, our Patti like to see the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights. What a wild duet…still they’re cousins, identical cousins all the way. They laugh alike they talk alike at times they even talk alike. You can lose your mind" ….

Uncle Bill once said that television is written for ten year olds. (This from someone who thought Pepino the Italian Mouse was the height of couture). And being ten at the time, I agreed with him.

Truthfully, I enjoyed junk like the Patti Duke Show. I could understand the plot. I could relate to the little brother. Although when the question came up in biology class, we were assured that the presence of identical cousins was a scientific impossibility.

Those ABC situation comedies. There was I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster, Guestward Ho, Bewitched, Gidget and most importantly the Patti Duke Show. But television, even shows written about teenagers like Gidget, were sort of boring at the time. At least compared to the excitement of AM radio.

Editor's note: Steve Post, the legendary announcer on WBAI, is doing a weekly radio show this month on WNYC. Click here to access the podcast.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bunny Lake is Missing

In recent years, aging baby boomers are able to revisit (or perhaps visit for the first time) movies originally made in the sixties, but not widely shown at the time. For example, Bunny Lake is Missing, one of the weirdest yet most sixtieish movies of the sixties, was mostly known to us through the Mad Magazine parody. Another Otto Preminger movie that features Jackie Gleason taking LSD, "Skidoo", was largely unknown to most people in the sixties. Thanks to the Internet, dvd's and cable tv, artifacts of the sixties are in many cases more available now than when they were in the sixties.

A high school kid would hear the name Andy Warhol occasionally, but his movies rarely made it across the Hudson River when they were new. One of the scariest thoughts I have ever had was, "Can you imagine if they had the Internet in the sixties?". For being a kid, even a hip intellectual kid in the sixties, you only knew about things as rumours or long after they happened. Brian Jones dying I only found out about two days later, and that was because the disc jockey at WKBW casually mentioned it before playing "Honky Tonk Women". That John Lennon said the Beatles were more popular than Christ comment took weeks to reach my ears.

When the mainstream media did portray the sixties scene, it was always with beautiful blonde hippie girls with rich fathers and tall sculptured young male hippies with long hair and dirty clothes. Beatnicks were represented by Maynard G. Krebs in the classic sit com the Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. The Monkees were the cleaned up version of actual rock bands and their shenanigans. Perhaps that's what made things so fascinating to kids at the time was that information was harder to come by. Except for the Mommas and the Poppas. Every kid knew all the details of their lusty lives.

Monday, January 7, 2008


The adolescents in the sixties consisted largely of two types until the hip era showed its ugly head. One type was exemplified by the tough girl who used "go" as a verb. That is "go"as a synonym for say. Not "now that it is time for my confirmation it is time to go my Hail Mary". Rather in the sense that teenagers describe verbal conversations involving parents, teachers, sisters, boy friends and others. Usually described in homeroom class by young teenage girls who had to run into class before the bell rang before they finished their cigarettes.

So my mother goes, "So you're going out again without finishing your homework".
And then my father goes, "You should be getting better grades".
Then my brother goes, "I aced that class when I took it two years ago".
And then I go, "Yeah but I didn't have my ass in my shirt like you did."
And then my mother goes....

Then there was her boyfriend, the underlying cause of the conflict in the preceding vignette. He was good at sports but couldn't get into varsity because his grades were too low. On weekends he managed to obtain beer from New York, where the drinking age was eighteen. He was best avoided in the rush from class to class. He couldn't, however, be avoided in gym class, which were arranged in an apparently arbitrary manner.

Of course, every school also had its "goody two shoes". This type was in the Honor Society, the Key Club, and practiced for his one varsity sport, perhaps tennis. These young people would go to good schools and be your bosses when you got older. They would generally be successful at the game of life, though multiple marriages would reduce their net worth.

The rougher boys had cars that they worked on. The "goody two shoes" had to borrow the family car.

With the social upheavals beginning in the mid sixties, a new crowd of hip intellectuals emerged in high school. Bound for good colleges like the "goody two shoes" and occasionally using go as a synonym for say (to show their street creds) they got good grades but were not trusted by their teachers. They were too hip for their own good. In tenth grade, I was basically a "goody two shoes" but had aspirations to join the hip intellectual crowd.