Monday, January 24, 2005

Hey, that wasn't Byard Lancaster playing at the CBGB Lounge last night, but a substitute. A pretty good one at that...y'see, Lancaster couldn't make the trek to New York from Philadelphia because of the all the snow that got pounced upon the East Coast this weekend, so 'stead of Lancaster and co. in the anticipated (at least by me!) 9:00 slot the quartet of Ursel Schlict on piano, Adam Simmons on Lancasteresque tenor sax, Reuben Radding on bass and Klaus Kugel on drums got a chance to strut their stuff and they did a really good job strutting it too, even if something was taken away from the proceedings because of the frequent stop/starting due to "buffering" not to mention the at-times La Jettee-ish freeze frames. Dunno if the fault's with my computer or with the engineers at the club, but I find it more than worth my while tuning into these cybercasts if only to hear a truly underground, exciting side to jazz I don't think Ken Burns will ever really own up to. Really good avant-style, in the "tradition" if I dare say it.

As far as other pertinent news go, I guess I should make a comment or ten re. the recent passing of Johnny Carson. Actually I dunno what I can say other'n what's already been said by anybody IMPORTANT out there, but since I guess I am "famous" at least on a mini-blog/small-run press level (with an audience of maybe ten, fifteen people max) why shouldn't I make my feelings known given this is the age of emote, where everyone from Billy Joel giving his heartfelt sniffblubber over hearing about Prez Kennedy getting shot to the lowliest peon lecturing the highest in command is deemed not only appropriate but part of democracy today!

So here goes...I still remember when THE TONIGHT SHOW was big stuff. Well, at least the local NBC affiliate here would constantly run this whacked out, pop arty TONIGHT SHOW commercial during the morning cartoons (WW II-vintage Warner Brothers!) which in retrospect seems kinda strange, since when are seven-year-old kids gonna be allowed to stay up late to watch Carson anyway? (Maybe you remember this commercial, where the word "tonight" would appear in strange places, like on the Declaration of Independence as a signature etc.!) I also remember how THE TONIGHT SHOW used to tie in with the anxiety of growing...during the school year, I was always worried about taking tests and just being in classes with a whole buncha tormenters (including teachers) whose only reasons for existence were to bother me to no end! Often I would be so keyed up about school and life that I'd lie wide awake in bed just dreading the humiliations and degradation I would be forced to go through the next day whether it be having to dissect a frog or taking a pop quiz re. some subject I knew nada about or perhaps having to face up to the bully and irritant of the week and wouldn't you know it, in the other room the tee-vee was blaring with either the news (I recall that channel 33 filmed the kids who were on THE BARNEY BEAN SHOW that afternoon waving in a pan shot for their parents who weren't home for the live broadcast to see at 11:15 PM...hearing the familiar BARNEY BEAN theme as the film ran was one clue as to what time it was!), or my dad would be howling in laughter at THE TONIGHT SHOW and here I was sweatin' and frettin' about the next day, where a tired and worn out me would have to face another six hours of drudgery and failing grades. Oh well, at least somebody was having fun throughout my torment!

Later on when I was older and I could stay up late on weekends and days off, I'd get an idea of what was going on there...and sheesh, the show was racier'n Dean Martin's which killed me because what they were talkin' about on THE TONIGHT SHOW was stuff that woulda gotten my mouth washed out with soap! Still, the older I got the more I would watch Carson at least if there wasn't some classic old film playing opposite (remember, this was long before the late movie, a fixture on television since around 1953 or so, was pretty much axed from local programming nationwide), and though I got the idea THE TONIGHT SHOW was pretty much "old people's" programming (and for fifteen-year-old me, "old people" were anybody 40 or over), I didn't mind watching Johnny Carson cracking off-color jokes while Ed McMahon guffawed...in fact watching THE TONIGHT SHOW made pimply, tubby 'n insecure ME feel like a big guy, at least until I switched stations to see what was happening on the aforementioned late show anyway.

And as I got even older and could stay up late on a daily basis I got to see more and more of Carson and THE TONIGHT SHOW. Gotta admit that I didn't always stick around for the guests, but I just hadda see the opening monologue as well as "The Mighty Carson Art Players" skit, perhaps featuring such characters as Art Fern from "The Tea Time Movie" with those wild products he pitched ("Preparation H-Bomb") and those films with the outrageous titles ("Frankie Darrow, Mia Farrow, Sonny Bono, Yoko Ono and Splash the Wonder Carp in THE WRIGHT BROTHERS FAIL TO GET IT UP") or perhaps Carson's cutting spoof of Mister Rogers, not to mention the all time great Floyd R. Turbo editorial replies which still crack me up years later ("...and I don't even know why they have women newscasters! Last night I was in bed watching the news with my wife and I told her I'd never turn on a woman in bed...and my wife agreed!").

What was best about Carson was (as many have noted before), he was the last of the great old-time radio/television personalities, or at least a guy who continued using time-tested, hoary old routines from the days of old well into the modern, hipster times which seemed to eschew the old, funny stuff in favor of flaccid hippie humor. As Bill Shute once told me, Carson took a lotta his style from Jack Benny...he being Benny, Ed McMahon being Don Wilson and Phil Harris (well, the drunk jokes part anyway!), Tommy Newsome being Dennis Day and Doc Severinson...hmmmmm, maybe he had a bit of Harris in him as well. Still, Carson kinda updated the Benny oeuvre for a newer audience which is kinda cool considering how a lotta the entertainment over the past thirty years seemed to take the best the old times had to offer and splattered it all over the pavement. Another link to the past..."The Mighty Carson Art Players" name itself, lifted almost directly from "The Mighty Allen Art Players" via Fred Allen's thirties/forties radio show. And I'll bet Carson took a lot more from Jackie Gleason (Carson's remarks to the oft-glitzed out Severinson bear more than a passing resemblance to Gleason's jokes regarding bandleader Sammy Spear) than anyone would dare admit, not to mention a few hundred more old-time personalities who seemed to be heading out to pasture around the time I started growing from a wee sprout to an unsightly weed. And of course for an "out-of-step" kinda kid like me who was constantly digging into old-timey radio/TV comedians and twenties comic strips while everyone else in school was acting "hip" to George Carlin (a frequent TONIGHT SHOW guest...don't remind me!), Carson's old time style revamped as modern establishment cool swung pretty well with me!

And of course who can forget the mythmaking, both real (Ed Ames' axe throwing, Tiny Tim's marriage to Miss Vickie which I wanted to see so bad only it was on a school night!) and imagined (Arnold Palmer's wife kissing his balls for good luck and Carson's "I'll bet that flutters his putter" reply, not to mention Zsa Zsa Gabor and the cat [though when that story was going around my High School it was Raquel Welch who had the misfortune of bringing her feline along!])...

7 comments:

Christopher said...

...and how could I forget the famous Jack Webb/DRAGNET spoof ("The Copper Clapper Caper") which even had stone-faced Webb about to bust a gusset?

Anonymous said...

Ok so your rambeling is the only one outa about 149 K google hits on Barney Bean,, from YOUNGSTOWN OHIO, channel 33 WYTV.
Was looking for Harris's arrest after he attacked a real Estate Lady in a vacant house, he was poseing to be intrested in.this in the mid 1960's

Anonymous said...

I thought he beat up his wife. Oh well, he sure was good at drawing faces out of kids' initials.

I always preferred the 4:30 pm after-school horror movies they used to show on Channel 21, WFMJ.

Christopher said...

A lotta the boys in grade school preferred SHOWTIME to BARNEY BEAN but i preferred the latter (and my sister got her initials made into a picture, as shown in BLACK TO COMM #17!). Unfortunately by the time I was old enough to appreciate horror and z-grade films SHOWTIME had long jettisoned the good fare and became your typical adult-fare afternoon movie show! Just my luck I guess!!! But I sure do remember those days of great TV fare, and my one cousin (the same one who told me that Superman shot himself inna head!) all anxious about watching THE TINGLER that afternoon!!!

Anonymous said...

Sherwood was No city slicker. He was a dummy>> I can't believe I just wasted my time reading this crap. Bye Bye Loser

Christopher said...

Hey, I can use more writers with your valuable insight. Want to contribute something to the next issue?

Whitecastle said...

I have a vinyl 45 rpm of barney bean and sherwood talking. it is old-timey stuff.

I also remember watching his show.