Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Jack Lord is my Shepherd and I shall not want, but Jack Webb is my God (sorry, Clapton)

There are some benefits to being sick as a dog (no, Michael, I mean 'like a dog' - get outta here with that car battery and waterboard and back down to the Novacare Complex where you belong, they'll be no electrods to the gonads here today).

Where were we? Benefits, yes. Week day television is a big one.

In particular, Hawaii Five-O and Dragnet.

Oh sure, I have them on DVD and can always pop them in. And yeah, I can go to hulu or any number of places on the web and catch them there. But that somehow feels a little less 'genuine' than catching it 'by chance' as I channel surf.

So, on to H50 and Dragnet and, more specifically, Steve McGarrett and Joe Friday.

Men of honor, of integrity. Of staccato, monotoned procedural coptalk perfected. Of RIGHT and WRONG and BLACK and WHITE and LEGAL and ILLEGAL. No shades of gray need apply here.

Each with a very particular, very sharp stick jammed all the way up his ass to where if you look really closely you can see the tip jutting from the back of his throat when he talks. When the sticks were inserted at a very young age they must have severed the nerves around their funny bones, rendering them impervious to humor or irony.

They constitute members of a rare breed, a dying breed, alive only perhaps on channel 69 at 3pm on a Wednesday. They lived, ate and breathed black and white, even when filmed in living color, with iron clad rules as stiff as the pole up their backside.

Steve-o and Joe would just as soon drop the hammer on their best friend or family as they would their worst enemy if their com padre crossed the letter of the law. Hell, McGarrett let his sister's infant child die rather than refuse to testify against a quack doctor for a charge that carried a maximum of a thousand lousy bucks fine or one year in jail. He cried over it (in I think his only show of emotion in the series), but he did it nonetheless.

Lt. McGarrett and Sgt. Friday were both at their most entertaining when confronted with their polar opposite, an antagonist bursting to full with emotion, color, and anarchy.

Dragnet's Blue Boy is a prime example.

As is the Hawaii Five-O's Wo Fat.

And I got to 'enjoy' them both this week.

While it may be true that The Jack Lord is my Shepherd ...

... Jack Webb is my God (just ask him)

Sure, he was only a Sargent. And yes, he and his partner got booted around to a new department every week, probably 'cause none of the department Captains could handle someone of his unyielding principles square-jawed honesty more than a few times a month. He was Serpico before Serpico and without the filthy, commie hippie trappings - a decent haircut, jacket, white shirt and tie was good enough for his father so it damn well is good enough for him. And his hard work has paid off with a new Dragnet stamp!

"It was Tuesday, it was Warm in Los Angeles, we were working the day shift out of Homicide. The Captain's name is [Insert this week's Captain here], my Partner's Bill Gannon, my name's Friday. It's summertime and with the season, the crowds are out at the parks, beaches and streets. Most of the time it's peaceful and people get along, sometimes when they don't, someone crosses the line. That's when I go to work. I carry a badge. Dum de dum dum."

When I hear that, I get a chill. Justice is served on ice. Monotone only, no voice inflection need apply.

You'll notice I have "My Partner's Bill Gannon" and not "Frank Smith" in the excerpt above. That means, I'm a 60s Dragnet man, though I like the 50s variety too.

But the 50s was too easy, too conservative, too much like Friday himself.

The 60s brought hippies and psychedelics and hard rock and Black Panthers and riots and war protesters. They brought Blue Boy.

McGarrett had "'Book'em Danno". Friday countered with "That's weed, Bill". Followed by quick shots of he and Gannon nodding furiously. Okay, that wasn't exactly his catch phrase, but when he did say it, well - you knew he was onto something.

Let the sparks fly!

By the Don's Early Light

My fever broke this morning and I'm slowly crawling out of this summer bug.

Apart from influenza (in August for chrissake), it's been a good week as they go.

I've learned, for instance, that a certain somebody has been googling 'agile software development' and knows enough about it to be extremely dangerous (for the techno-geeks, the pun is intended) but enough also to be a bit more sympathetic to its aims. Time will tell but signs are mildly encouraging.

And it's been a bright week for wacko 'celeb' YouTubeular happenings, what with the luvfest to Yukon Cornelius's cousin Sarah and The Moonwalker's Doktor Kavorkeeon Feelgood, with his 'Who me? I didn't do it' puzzler. I do have sympathy for needing to stretch professionally beyond your licensed practice into something as interesting as anesthesiology. And the Vegas High Rolling (Prescription) Script Writer had his hands full, his patient being a bit of an 'odd bird' and all. But there is that pesky Hippocratic Oath he's supposedly bound by. It's pretty airtight as I understand it, at least morally and ethically speaking.

Speaking of the gloved one, I hear tell they're finally gonna put him in the ground toward the end of the month, as a 'Birthday Present'. He'll appreciate the peace and quiet, I imagine. And the shade. I would guess he's getting a bit ripe propped up outside his Dad Joe's Discount Car Dealership in Anaheim, balloons in one hand and a 'Summer Sizzling Blowout Deals' sign in the other. It being August and all. But the sale's pretty much done and he's finished his last chore for the old man, so into the Earth ya go, son! Happy Birthday!

Speaking of death (or at least feeling like it), I awoke in a cold sweat around 3 this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. The TV was on and the usual pre-dawn Infomercials were in full swing. Between the usual male enhancement pitches and exercise mind fucks, there was some lame Get-Rich-Quick screed that seemingly went on forever. It was beyond forgettable (in fact, I don't remember it less than 12 hours later), but it did remind me of the King of that genre, Don Lapre. It's like a real bad shithole tavern cover band doing a Beatles tune: you recognize the beat and the melody but nothing else about it is right.

Nobody could touch Don in the Making Money department and he filled many a 1990s evening/early morning with entertainment aplenty for yours truly. I miss ol' Don, bursting onto the scene from his 'tiny one bedroom apartment' imparting wisdom to the masses with a formula whose simplicity and power would fill Einstein himself with pride: 'small ads equal big profits!'

Don would invariably be shown hanging out in Hawaii with the wind blowing off the ocean, chatting there with the multitude of millionaires he'd grown organically from the seeds of his sage advice. You could join him in this Rich Man's Paradise if only you'd just 'buy his package!'

And I did buy his package. Not to make money. God no, nothing that frivolous. I bought it for its philosophy, for its spiritual dimension. The power of his words could not be denied: 'Step 3, get rid of your ugly friends!' He was my L. Ron Hubbard and this was his Dianetics.

I never got to see his follow-up on the 'World's Greatest Vitamin' until recently but it was worth the wait! If Don Lapre stamps his name on it, well - ya get what ya pay for. A vitamin supplement is a vitamin supplement is a vitamin supplement you say? Not if Don says it's not! He's a man of his word, above all else. And he has real live Doctors to vouch for it! Doctors! Well, one Doctor, anyway, and one who definitely didn't kill either Elvis or his former Son In Law!

There are some cruel 'spoofs' of Don out there, so beware. Apparently folks are amused by his enthusiasm, but he's a serious cowboy with an honest vision a mile wide.

Donny, come back - we need ya more than ever! I have faith he'll return stronger and louder and truer.

He'll outlive us all.

Perhaps he'll run in 2012. He'd be perfect on a Sista Sarah ticket if it turns out he's not ready for the big chair. That is, unless she's already settled on R. Kelly. It depends on how important the golden shower demographic is come 2012 - it could be a pretty big block of the electorate by that point.

President Lapre. Has a nice sound to it, eh? And I think he's got a real cure to our nation's financial woes I bet Tim Geithner hasn't thought of: Small ads, big profits.