One week ago, Walter Cronkite died. I only heard the news yesterday. He was never much of an icon to me personally, but I know he’s important and was good at his job. His industry has always confused a lot of people, and has steadily lost ground in terms of the number of assholes and mediocre models polluting its purpose over the years. If you’re a my-side-their-side type, one side says he was perfect and the other side says they liked his old stuff better, before he got all preachy. I never bought any of his albums, but the mainstream stuff seemed OK to me.
I have vague memories of my Dad admiring Cronkite, and there’s very little Papa Goldstein likes that isn’t mostly good. That’s not hero worship. My Dad saves lives almost daily, and I’m certain Walter saved a decent number over the course of his career. Who’s the hero? My answer is obvious, but I don’t worship anyone.
It’s getting immensely easier to enjoy living as I stop trying to prove a point to anyone and just do what’s good. Now, let me go ahead and violate that progress a tiny bit to illustrate what I’m trying to say. Please don’t slime me.
Les Lye died. Today. Yesterday. Whatever you want to call it. To me, it’s happening right now. I am more deeply affected by Lye’s passing than Old Iron Pants. Why is it that I found out about Lye, whose name I’m sure is not nearly as recognizable as Cronkite, so quickly? Because my dear friend Enos tweeted it.
So, thanks to Enos and Twitter, I’m spending these wee, weekend-inaugurating hours watching You Can’t Do That On Television episodes, Turkey TV clips, reading interviews and smiling a lot. Beats the hell out of spending a Friday night doing invoicing and then finding out a month or more later that one of the adults who raised me had died without my knowing or getting a chance to acknowledge it in a timely manner.
If you grew up watching Les and the shows he worked, really absorbed them, and enjoyed them for yourself rather than because your parents “let you” watch Nickelodeon just like all the other kids, then I think you’re pretty much incapable of true malice. You truly can’t do what he did on television anymore, and that’s a little sad.
It amazes me that this stuff was censored at all. It amazes me even more that you can’t find as many genuine, ageless laughs in a month’s worth of today’s “edgy” live-action television for kids as YCDTOT was able to dish out in every episode. Put that right next to Mr. Wizard’s World, and basic cable was really all a happy little nerd needed to make it out of the eighties alive. Oh, and a caring, loving family. Preferably one that won’t beat you too much for wanting to tell a good fart joke every now and then.
Now, what am I going to do with all these pies? Maybe I’ll just try a bite.
P.S. Please slime me.