Succulent ’70s Salaciousness: A Tribute to “The Gong Show”

August 13, 2008


Let us now pay homage to one of the funniest, most raucous, transgressive and subversive shows in TV history, “The Gong Show,” hosted by its shambling, shuffling, shaggy dog producer, the enigmatic Chuck Barris. There were, and are, people who don’t “get” this show—thinking it the pre-Jerry Springer version of the end of civilization—but never since has the tube been so wonderfully chaotic and, yes, off-the-cuff witty and surreal. The reactions of the panel to the infamy being perpetrated on stage were priceless, as was Barris’ stoner demeanor and saliva-soaked, ungrammatical ad libs – often punctuated by his awkward hand claps that the audience would humorously mimic. Barris often modeled an arsenal of bad hats, perched precariously over his forehead and covering his eyes, for maximum goofy visual effect. Although some people claim this is an early version of American Idol because part of the fun is watching the bad acts get razzed, that comparison misses the point. A bad act on the Gong Show was just as likely to win the prize as a good one. In fact, some talented people were gonged off the stage while some truly awful acts evaded the boot. The score an act received on The Gong Show was virtually meaningless. Top prize was $516.32 (yes, that’s right), and the winners were pretty much guaranteed continued obscurity, so nobody was taking this seriously. A guest panelist with an absurdist, wicked sense of humor might score a dreadful act a 10, while the celebrity sitting in the next chair might score it a 0 or a 2. Some real talents did appear on the show, Steve Martin, for instance. It was one big unrehearsed spontaneous party, quite unlike the slick and super-controlled production of American Idol. The infamous moment we feature here, highlighting an “act” from 1978, now simply known as “The Popsicle Twins,” allegedly led to the show’s cancellation (though in fact, the show lasted until 1980; what happened was that the western time zones didn’t see this part of the show after outraged callers on the east coast caused NBC to panic and pull the bit). Two young girls, looking way too young (they were too young, 15 and 17), fellate upon some sweet icy goodness as audience and panel members shout, “Yeah, do it! Do it!” and “all right! all right! allright!”- all contributing nicely to the delinquency of minors. Barris allegedly threw this act into the mix as a way to trick the censors, figuring if he put something this blatantly sexual onstage that the censors would cut it out and ignore some of the other presumably less offensive performances. It didn’t work—this baby went out gloriously over the national airwaves, and the rest, including The Gong Show, is history. Incredibly still, this act was not gonged, Jaye P. Morgan and Jamie Farr having absented themselves from the vicinity. One is perplexed, though, at the gall of Phyllis Diller, who at the time was hawking big girthy cucumbers on TV commercials for the now-defunct Paramount Pickle Co., of Louisville, Ky., finding no hypocrisy in scoring these phallic Lolitas with a zed. Morgan, once a ’50s torch singer who earned a somewhat lascivious reputation as the show’s humorous muse (she was the original “Girl Gone Wild,” fond of baring her breasts to the audience during commercial breaks or writing obscene notes on cards that the censors would blot out with a white bar), caps it all off with an honest observation: “Do you know that that’s the way I started?” Anyway, like her, this is something you ladies might learn from. Enjoy.

The Popsicle Twins @ YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUkzIx382mM

(NOTE: I originally posted the direct, embedded Youtube link to this video, but knowing how hamhanded WordPress is about censorship and how skittish it is about Youtube material, I’ve decided to post a link to Youtube instead where you can watch the video. This state of affairs sucks, but WordPress really seems to have no sense of humor, etc.)

Wikipedia’s entry the Gong Show does a pretty good job of separating the myth from the reality.

AS a bonus enjoy this interlude from series regular Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, whose visits occasioned unrestrained festiveness for all. Tell me what other TV show has allowed this kind of sheer joyousness to erupt?

P.S.: I understand that this show has been revived a couple of times, most recently by Comedy Central and hosted by Dave Attell. From what I’ve read, it sounds as bad as all attempts to bring back comedy intensive games shows, eg., Whoopie Goldberg’s arid revisitation of The Hollywood Squares. No thanks.

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A Three-Hour Tour through the Wormhole; or How General American Geographic Ignorance Doesn’t Hurt When Making Hit TV

July 31, 2008

Skipper: Riddle me this, little buddy: Just how many uncharted desert isles with active volcanoes do you think there are just three hours off the coast of the United States?

Gilligan: Uh, ummm, uh … none?

Skipper: Wow, that’s right little buddy. You’re one smart motherfucker.

Gilligan: Well, OK, so where the fuck are we then !!!! ???


Did You Ever Look Like Marlene Dietrich?

July 8, 2008

If you’re a heterosexual male who’s dreaming that you’re looking into a mirror and this image at left is more or less what you see reflected back into your eyes—except it’s in color, highlighted by a hint of medium reddish lipstick—and you really like what you’re seeing, and feeling good about looking like this and feeling this way, then what in bloody bejesus does it all mean? Yes, I dreamt that I looked sort of like Marlene Dietrich and had on a top hat, and pasty white face with perhaps the nose a tad more splayed out and the face maybe a little rounder, and some of the aforementioned lipstick, which I particularly fixated on, since, for some reason, it seemed like the most natural part of the ensemble and everything else seemed new and strange and surprisingly agreeable. Am I getting in touch with my feminine side, my gay side, my side that is tired of being average, unglamorous and unnoticed? Or does it just have something to do with the fact that I recently watched that cherished scene of Dietrich in the 1930 film, Morocco, where she, in this very get-up, plants a hot lesbian kiss on a diminutive brunette cabaret patron, partly to tease legionnaire Gary Cooper but also because she just likes doing erotic things like that? Or does it feed into my frustrations at not being able to have women that I’d like to have, romantically, sexually? In my waking state, I have no drag-queen desires, no urge to don stockings and sing “Quand L’Amour Meurt” or “Ich Bin Die Fesche Lola.” It was an isolated thing, and it only lasted a few seconds, just a blip on a rich full night of dreaming. But it was way too much fun, and that’s why I ponder it. And lest any of you boys want me to “see what the boys in the back room will have,” forget about it. -EG


R.I.P. George Carlin: A True Giant

June 23, 2008

George Carlin is with the worms. Not with God. He knew that was bullshit, and said so.

Unlike Tim Russert, whose eulogies ate up inordinate amounts of bandwidth, newsprint and talking head time this past week, Carlin was a real giant, a true innovator. Perhaps it’s petty to play a game of “dueling dead guys” or “my dead guy is better than your dead guy,” but, unlike Russert, who, when all is said and done never really spoke truth to power, Carlin did. The fact that Fox News hounds eulogized Russert as vociferously and lovingly as anyone else tells me that. Faux News fans cringe at the likes of Carlin, aetheist, critic of religion, and the Bush and Nixon regimes, and general thorn in the side of those with fascistic tendencies.

There will be a lot said about Carlin, I should hope, in the coming days, particularly by other, more articulate and insightful bloggers.

I’ll only note that I always considered it ballsy that PBS hired Carlin to be Mr. Conductor on the pre-school kids’ show, “Thomas the Tank Engine,” considering what a controversial figure he was. That was a great ‘fuck you’ to the Jesse Helms’ and the like of the world who staged political assaults on public TV.

I’ve known Carlin’s work since the ’70s and own all of this records and CDs. He was one of the funniest men who ever lived. Too bad he won’t be around anymore to blast the purveyors of bullshit.

-EG


How to Spot a Lunesta-Bot

June 3, 2008

People of Earth.

We are among you.

You will know us by the smiles we wear throughout our waking and somnolent hours.

You will become one of us through the intake of commercially advertised sleeping drugs.

Your hallucinations will include nightly and waking visitations by a glowing butterfly.

We are most likely to be found teaching school. We are probably blonde and female.

We do not respond to mentions of the cruel realities of life, wars and injustices with anything but a smile and positive aphorisms such as “Oh well, look on the bright side.”

Once detected, we must be shot…

More images of our vacuous facades to help you identify us:

-EG

See the complete Lunesta Madness at:


Copyright Infringement is Your Best Entertainment Value

July 25, 2007

negativlandcopyrightinfringement.jpg(image from the website of that notorious culture-jamming band, Negativland.)

Now that I have your attention with that mildly transgressive idea, I don’t have much to tell you.

A whole lotta stuff in my life is heating up right now (plus I’m becoming a lazy blogger), so the postings during the summer are going to be few and far between.

I state this only in a desperate bid to ward off any thoughts by my regular readers and blogroll buddies (all three of them), to keep me on the radar and on their blogrolls.

Quick stuff and random thoughts:

** This is how an excellent music blog, Electric Mud handled its summer blogging status: He simply posts, “Closed for the Summer.” I won’t go that far, but it’s pretty close to what I’m doing here.

general_patton.jpg ** I remember my parents taking the family to the George S. Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Ky. back in the late ’60s. In those days the museum was in an unglamorous, almost barracks-like warehouse-type building painted a faint green. On the walls above the windows (which were open during the summer; no air-conditioned comfort back then) were painted large scenes of Huey helicopters in action, tilted downward and ready to swoop on the Red enemy (and whomever or whatever else was in the way). Accompanying these images was some kind of banner or tagline that in my fading memory read something like: “The machines that are winning the war.”

It was as ludicrous then as it is now.

scotts-classic-mower.jpg ** Just bought myself a Scotts Classic non-gasoline, non-electric, good ol’-fashioned human-powered lawn mower. They’re officially known as “reel” mowers, but most people I know refer to them as “push” mowers, which doesn’t quite work ’cause even most gas mowers need pushing. I haven’t had time to do the whole yard with it, but a test run on a patch of grass was successful, Anyway, I remember my grandparents having their own version of this, a rusty old hulk hanging in the garage, unused for years. By then they had succumbed to the temptations of the infernal gas-powered machine…

…the machines that are winning the war on weeds and grass.

It was as ludicrous then as it is now.

tomatoes-1-month_0730-11pct.jpg ** After a scary June in which my first batches of tomatoes rotted on the vine and I had to throw out at least two dozen, the veggies have since come in mostly unscathed, starting around July 4 and since then I haven’t had to buy a tomato, and probably won’t have to until September or so. I have 20+ various tomato plants this year, the most I’ve ever planted, including yellow/orange varieties and cherry tomatoes.

tomato-plate_1001-12pct.jpgI used no chemicals at all, the garden is wholly organic, except for the fluoridated & chlorinated tap water I reluctantly had to use for watering due to the sparseness of rain this summer ’round these parts.

That’s led to some good healthy snackin’–and a fresh tomato with dinner every night.

I’m also harvesting the hottest jalapeno peppers I’ve ever tasted…

white-castle-demo1005-13pct.jpg** What you’re seeing here is a very rare occurrence: the demolition of a White Castle restaurant. This is the one that until last week stood at what is now the corner of Westport Road and Hurstbourne Lane. (A new store opened a few yards away; see my previous posting about that…).

white-castle-demo1007-14pct.jpg

I happened to be biking by when the demolition exposed the wall insulation. It’s amazing how many interesting things you can capture when biking around freely and armed with a digicam.

I know when I was driving a car, having the time or inclination to do something like this (when getting through the green light was the most important thing in the world) would not have been possible. The blinders are off…

I leave you with this shot taken from the parking lot of the Kroger at approximately the same location a few weeks ago (July 7, 2007):

parkinglot-2-7-7-07.jpg

Enjoy the summer.

-EG


Lawyer Alert: The White Castle on Westport Road in Louisville, Ky., is Begging to Be Sued (Here’s Why)

July 6, 2007

100_0853-20whitecast.jpgLife and commerce go on without cause for reflection and must not be stopped, and in all that unregulated Wild West hustle bustle of the USA, fucking retarded things like what I’m about to show you happen.

It’s the kind of “what me, worry?” attitude that led to 9/11 (no coordination, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, etc.), and so stupid things slip through the cracks that anyone in any kind of authority should have spotted right off the bat.

What we’re talking about here is the brand spanking new White Castle restaurant on Westport Road, just a few steps from its old location at Hurstbourne Lane in front of the Kroger and across from Zachary Taylor Elementary School in Eastern Jefferson County (Louisville, Ky.)

Why a replacement restaurant of apparently no greater size needed to be built just a few yards from the old one is anyone’s guess. At least with the old locale the traffic direction was fairly simple and controlled.

100_0860-13-white-castle.jpgSo what strikes you about this photo that also struck me instantly when I saw this scene? Something that should have struck the supervisor who supposedly oversaw the finishing and painting of this roadway, or that should have struck the manager of the White Castle who deemed everything hunky dory and safe and ready for business?

Or was everybody just itching so much to open for business that nothing else mattered?

So, in case you’re like those so-called supervisors, let me point out that the traffic arrows indicate that it is perfectly OK for two cars driving past a corner blind spot where neither can see each other to be directed—without any caution or stop signs—to drive into one another.

Not only that, but whoever painted the arrow near the front door the first time sort of had the right idea: keep the traffic flowing out and away from the service window. But somehow, somebody decided there needed to be two-way traffic in front of the store, so the arrow was repainted, but the old arrow is still visible so the whole thing seems to point in two directions at once!

white-castle-2.jpgAdding to this interesting mix is that fact that a whole row of parking spaces abutt this frontal roadway, so that large pickups and SUVs backing out of the spaces can run into people and cars pulling out from the drive-through pickup lane. I saw just such a thing happen here last night (large pickup truck in middle of parking lot row backs toward the outgoing drive-thru lane and nearly backs into car coming out of it)—and I was only here taking pictures for five minutes.

As the fender benders and broken-legged pedestrians pile up here, as they no doubt will, a light bulb might finally turn on in the head of the dimwits in charge.

d-isaccs.jpgSo until the Messrs. at White Castle decide to stop being dumb shits, be ready to call everybody’s favorite TV lawyer, the Louisville Heavy Hitter. I got the pictures, big guy…which can be had for a reasonable fee.

-Evan G