Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Do You Remember Rock and Roll Public Access Video? (STD/TV: Sorta Part Two, Sorta Part One, if You Don't Count the Earlier Tease Post as Part One)

Ah, anniversaries! They're the stuff of remembering things that happened a round-number's-worth of years ago.

Most people like to commemorate the happy anniversaries -- weddings, graduations, formations of businesseseses -- but I like to pause now and then to mark the passage of blocks of time since the occurrence of various hurtful, humiliating, and disastrous things, too. Maybe even moreso. There sure are more of those to remember than the good times.

And here's the story of another one. Maybe it really even happened the way I'm about to tell it. You'll have to take my word for it.

It was Autumn 1986, and my favorite ex-Cub, Bill Buckner, had just blown Game 6 of the World Series for the Red Sox (speaking of bad anniversaries relived over and over for eternity). Anyway, I was spending my evenings hosting a late-night public access talk show on the _______ cable system's STD/TV channel. I think it stood for Standard Television Display Television, but I'm not sure.

The name of my show was STD/PM, and it was pretty popular. Well, my mom said it was good. She also used to say that girls smiled when I walked into a room because they liked me, and not because they were stifling a mocking laugh. I guess that's also why they made those sinus infection noises with their noses and excused themselves right away ... but I'm digressing here.

So one day station management decided -- several years behind the rest of the nation -- that music videos were the new big thing, and it was time for STD/TV to join the videolution. They killed my talk show to make room for the new format, but they were willing to let me stay on as head veejay. I was in no position to refuse.

Now I just had to choose what to use to launch STD/TV's Music Video Cable Access Now With Video Featuring Music. You know, our "Video Killed the Radio Star." But I needed a fresh hook. The premiere was set for November 12, so I headed for the men's room and grabbed an almanac.

What happened on November 12 in history? Let's see. A lot. 1918 -- Austria becomes a republic. 1927 -- Leon Trotsky is expelled from the Soviet Communist Party AND the Holland Tunnel opens. 1969 -- My Lai. Ooh, maybe a bit TOO negative. But what's this? 1934 -- Charles Manson is born.

Bingo.

Now, Charles Manson's 52nd birthday was not exactly a round number, but I had been led to understand that Mr. Manson was very fond of card tricks, and there are 52 cards in a standard deck (sans Jokers), so ...

STD/TV was far from an award-winning public access cable channel, but it had a pretty phenomenal video library. With minutes to airtime, I located the perfect video. At the time, I didn't know much about it, except that it was by an obscure band from Hoboken called Otis Ball & The Chains. And the name of the song was "Charles Manson's Birthday."

The rest is history. Painful, painful history. Long story short, that was my last day in the employ of STD/TV.

I was really disappointed I didn't get to stick around a bit longer to play the follow-up hit, "Carl Mannberg's Bar Mitzvah" ... although that wouldn't really make a lot of sense anyway, because I'm pretty sure "Carl Mannberg" is a Swedish name.

Hey, by the way, what do you call a deaf Swede? Hard of herring!

We would also have accepted, "Vutever y'vunt! He can't hear ya anyvay!"

OK, why is Count Dracula second-guessing my punchlines now? Never mind, just watch this video.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube: Otis Ball & The Chains perform "Charles Manson's Birthday!"



Coming soon: On November 12, 2006 -- STD/TV returns!

4 comments:

Desmo fesmo said...

Not having seen the Charles Manson's Brithday video before, I was pleasantly surprised by the Steve Statdfeld coda.

I also remember Otis's inpromptu reworking of the lyrics at a JLS campfire:

It's Charles Nelson Reilley
in the center square
He's a homosexual
Does anybody care?

And, of course, the highlight of that being that a number of JLSers were instantly offended, particularly Jim McDermott, presaging its inevitable death knell.

Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

That was a long time ago. Remind me what JLS stood for. Juvenile Little Snots? Javelin Lobbing Smurfs? Jammies Lacking Snuggle-factor?

I've exhausted the rule of threes without coming up with a funny joke! Dammit!

Stemmy von stemcell said...

The CNR lyrics were mine!

Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss said...

Heh. You are correct, Sir Stemmerino. And I believe it happened at the OB&tC triple bill in the basement of the John Wesley Crusher Foundation with Kissyfish and My Cousin Kenny. Actually, I don't have a cousin kenny, but that's the name of the band, Abbott.

But I like to allow for the existence of alternative pasts. It's what a fake manager does. Nurture the fake!