Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Imus, RIP? The Way It Is, 17 April

Submitted for your perusal, if not necessarily your approval, two recent commentaries, both in the New York Post, regarding Don Imus and the hoopla which seems to have needed the evil at Virginia Tech to knock it the hell out of the conversation at last, if only for a little while.

Some of us recall, years ago, listening to a Mets game when WFAN ambushed listeners with an Imus In The Morning promo, a clip from the show that asked whether Mother Teresa is a legitimate candidate for sainthood or "a no-good bitch."

Hilarious stuff.

Some of us also recall when [New York WNBC-TV] sports anchor Len Berman resigned his gig at WFAN after a short and failing run.

Imus could've called Berman "Lenny the Bum" or "Lenny the Quitter." Instead he referred to him as "Lenny the Jew."

Might that have provided a clue as to which way his instincts---and his marvelous sense of humor---run?

So where was everyone back then?

And now, because his act could no longer be indulged, Imus was so desperate . . . that he answered to Al Sharpton, a man with zero credibility.

---Phil Mushnick, Post columnist, from "This Is An Ugly, Old Story."

There's no excusing Imus' recent ridiculous remark, but there's something not kosher in America when one guy gets a Grammy and one gets fired for the same line.

The Matt Lauers and Al Rokers of this world live by the cue-card and die by the cue-card; Imus is a rare bird, indeed---he works without a net. When you work without a net as long as Imus has, sometimes you make mistakes.

Take heart, Imus. You're merely joining a long and legendary laundry list of individuals who were summarily sacrificed in the name of society's sanctimonious soul: Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, Joan of Arc, Mozart and Mark Twain, who was decried as a racist until the day he died for using the N-word rather prolifically in Huckleberry Finn.

---Kinky Friedman, a singer and author who moonlighted recently as a Texas gubernatorial candidate, from "Cowards Kick Away Another Piece of America's Soul."

But you may care to note, too, that a one-time colleague of Imus, in the days when both were engaged by WNBC-AM (which became WFAN before the 1980s expired), where he was a night bird and Imus in the Morning was the awakening preferred by those to whom the like of the elder and longer-living Rambling With Gambling was just so much gentility, isn't exactly going sleepless over Imus's gainful unemployment.

[D]espite his own fight for free speech, he was happy Imus lost his job. [He] went on to explain he felt this way because he once witnessed Imus refer to an African American secretary at WNBC as the n-word, and therefore thought his remark about the Rutgers basketball team wasn’t a joke at all . . . [H]e thought one of the reasons MSNBC fired Imus from his television simulcast was because of its poor ratings, and proceeded to play a clip of one of Imus’ coworkers, Keith Olbermann, discussing how Imus made people cry on a weekly basis because of his behind-the-scenes remarks to women and minorities. Upon hearing that, [he] noted critics could say anything they wanted about his show, but that they wouldn’t be able to find any of his coworkers who could put down how he treated them off the air.

There's also something not kosher in America when Don Imus can be compared Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, Joan of Arc, Mozart and Mark Twain with a straight face (well, word processor), if only because Socrates, Jesus, Galileo, and Joan of Arc weren't exactly aiming their thumbs toward the eyes of their purported superiors simply to make themselves look superior.

I'm not entirely sure about Mozart, unless you accept that Kinky Friedman has bought the Amadeus storyline, long since discredited to a profound extent as biography, though of course it remains too much the truism that facts do get in the way of making a terrific play (which I've read but not seen) or film (which I've seen).

Mark Twain wouldn't have minded getting a thumb into the eyes of his purported superiors, when all was said and done, but he had two things over Imus. Twain, unlike Imus, deployed his too-often-remarked, too-often attacked time-and-place vernacular against the dehumanisation that yielded it. And, unlike Imus, who hasn't been so since the Ford Administration and on rare enough occasions at that, Mark Twain was actually funny.


1941: BETTY LEAVES CARL OVER THE BABY'S NAME---Betty (Ethel Blume) says "Sheila"; Carl, apparently, says "Susan"; and, Jane (Ace) says a mouthful (what a surprise), after allowing Betty to stay with the Aces until the whole megillah blows over, on tonight's edition of Easy Aces. (CBS.)

Ace: Goodman Ace. Marge: Mary Hunter. Announcer: Ford Bond. Writer/director: Goodman Ace.

1949: SEALED INSTRUCTIONS---A proposition promising Dan (Alan Ladd) ten thousand dollars "if you'll go through with it" brings him to an uneasy correspondent, a sealed envelope, a trip to the Philippines to retrieve an unnamed valuable, a phony Manila police lieutenant might have killed to keep Dan from retrieving for him, a troubling revelation about his original correspondent, and half a mysterious map, on tonight's edition of Box 13. (Mutual.)

Suzy: Sylvia Packer. Additional cast: Possibly Alan Reed, Luis Van Rooten, John Beal. Announcer: Vern Cartensen. Writer: Charles Gannett.

1949: DINNER FOR TEACHER---More accurately, for principal---the children's principal (possibly Elvia Allman), whom Alice (Faye) invited for Easter dinner, making her nervous about randy Remley (Elliott Lewis) making hash of the evening . . . until everyone gets a taste of the principal's haughty manner and her badly browbeaten husband, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Phil: Phil Harris. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Willie: Robert North. Julius: Walter Tetley. Announcer: Bill Forman. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


1898---Howard Claney (announcer: American Album of Familiar Music, NBC Symphony), Pittsburgh.
1903---Gregor Piatigorski (cellist, Pittsburgh Symphony: The Pause that Refreshes On the Air), Yekaterinoslav, Russia.
1905---Arthur Lake (actor: Blondie), Corbin, Kentucky.
1910---Ivan Goff (writer: Lux Radio Theater), Perth, Australia.
1911---George Seaton (actor: The Lone Ranger, Screen Director's Playhouse), South Bend, Indiana.
1918---John Hess (writer: The Human Adventure), Chicago; William Holden (actor: Hour of Mystery, The Smiths of Hollywood, So Proudly We Hail), O'Fallon, Illinois; Anne Shirley (actress: Lux Radio Theater), New York City.
1923---Harry Reasoner (CBS News), Dakota City, Iowa.


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