A CAREER OF EVEL
We’ve lost yet another ‘70s icon with the passing of daredevil Evel Knievel yesterday at age 69. This man cheated death probably more than any other human being and was a perfect fit for the madness that was the 1970s in America. Evel never struck me as the nicest guy in the world, but he had kind of a Rock star aura to him—he was Elvis on two wheels for us pre-teens back in the day—and he was as synonymous with Saturday afternoons on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” as Muhammad Ali and Jim McKay. Undoubtedly, Knievel was the inspiration for the rather infamous “Fearless Fonzarelli” episode of “Happy Days” where The Fonz jumped trash barrels on his motorcycle. I also remember a hilarious sketch drawing my older brother once had that parodied Knievel called “Anal Kanal”, featuring a semi-truck jumping over a bunch of Harleys!
Knievel made a couple jumps right here in Kansas City, including one just a couple miles from my house at K.C. International Raceway just a few months before his infamous Snake River Canyon jump in September, 1974 in his custom made “Sky Cycle” rocket contraption. I remember being pissed off that we were unable to watch it live because it was only available as a closed-circuit pay event at movie theaters (or something like that). That jump didn’t seem all that bizarre to me back when I was ten, given the extravagance of the time—this was about the same period that some fool strung a tightrope between the World Trade Center towers and walked across it, so jumping over a river in a homemade rocket al a Wile E. Coyote seemed downright normal. Looking back on it 30 some-odd years later, it’s more of a classic “What the hell was he thinking?” moment.
R.I.P., Evel—the ‘70s wouldn’t have been the same without you, ya crazy mutha…
SPEAKING OF THE FONZ…
I’m currently watching the new Season 3 “Happy Days” DVD set, which features the above-mentioned episode. This was the season HD really took off and “Fonzie Mania” swept the nation. I loved that character at the time, but the years have given me a chance to reevaluate Arthur Fonzarelli a bit, and he was a bit of a douche in some ways. And if he was so cool, then why did he hang out with dorks like Richie, Potsie and Ralph? I have another observation about HD: Wasn’t Mr. C. just a tad overdressed to run a hardware store? He always wore three-piece suits to work!
Still, there were some damn funny episodes that year, like when Richie tries to fight the hoods at Arnold’s (although “Taxi”’s Jeff Conaway hardly made a convincing thug) and when Ralph runs over Fonzie’s bike. This was the lone HD season for Pat Morita as Arnold, as he was a hoot in his Mr. Miyagi voice when he threatened Richie and Potsie with, “I’m gonna kick you out of Arnold’s for life—maybe even a couple days longer!” Morita made a poor career move the following year by starring in his own short-lived ABC series “Mr. T. And Tina”. No, not that Mr. T., but I pity the fools who watched it anyway—it was a crappy show.
SPEAKING OF “HAPPY DAYS“…
I’m also watching the season 3 DVD of the show HD spawned, “Laverne & Shirley”, or as Archie Bunker called them “Lavine & Shirley”. This is another show that seemed like a great idea at the time, but it seems horribly dated now. The storylines were awfully hokey, and they got a little carried away with the physical comedy at times. I never could stand Laverne’s old man, either—I couldn’t understand a word that man said! As Robin Williams once described race car driver Jackie Stewart, Mr. DeFazio was "a man who speaks English and still needs a translator!" I loved Lenny and Squiggy, though—there was actually talk of a spinoff for the other L&S at one time, but it never happened. Just as well, because they were more effective in small doses anyway. "Laverne & Shirley" got really stupid when the cast moved en masse from Milwaukee to California, and overstayed its welcome when it became just plain "Laverne" after Cindy Williams left the show during a contract dispute in the early '80s. Not sure if I’ll even bother with those final couple seasons when they come out on DVD.
SPEAKING OF LENNY & SQUIGGY...
Y'all remember Lenny & The Squigtones, doncha? Yes, that legendary band famous for "Night After Night"—a song "about two nights in a row". And I defy you, gentle readers, to name the cat behind the drums in the photo here, with cat being the key word...
SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE (SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE)--SHAKE YABUTA!
The Royals joined the growing trend in baseball by signing Japanese relief pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta this week. Hell, if the Red Sox can do it, why can’t we? Hell, I say sign an Eskimo if he can pitch worth a damn! Are there any Artesians with good arms out there?
SOME TRADITIONS NEVER DIE
I enjoyed the annual Army-Navy football game again today from Baltimore. Never mind the fact that neither service academy is usually very competitive (although Navy is bowl-bound this season), I love the way the Cadets and the Midshipmen always battle it out like it’s the end of the world. The only thing that would make it better would be if we could somehow resurrect old J.F.K. Stadium in Philadelphia (where Live Aid took place in ‘85) and play the game in the mud and the muck like they used to back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. BTW, Navy won 38-3 today.
MORE PEOPLE I CAN DO WITHOUT
I am very unimpressed with this new “TMZ” show that’s all the rage now. Perhaps I’m a tad biased since I don’t give a monkey’s about celebrity gossip news anyway, but I can really do without these losers that host this caca-fest. They look like a bunch of jaded coffee house denizens who can’t find real jobs…
CLASSIC MISHEARD LYRIC #61
“She Bop”—CYNDI LAUPER (1984) “I hope he will understand…” Minor whiff on my part here—I thought she sang “I don’t even understand.” Still and all, this is the third-greatest song ever about masturbation, right behind Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself” and The Who’s “Pictures of Lily”.
For one night only, the University of Missouri, should alter its traditional “M-I-Z, Z-O-U” chant. Might I suggest they change it to, “M-I-Z, Beat-O-U”?