Hewitt has been asking for suggestions to revitalize CBS news and bring in the younger demographic. I have a simple solution: animate it. Give it over to Kent Brockman, the Simpsons anchor. Have Alf Clausen score a new parody network news theme. Upside: since it takes six months to animate an episode, any attempts by the news division to push a particular agenda will be someone blunted. Or give it over to Space Ghost: three shots, endlessly repeated, with deadpan Zorak reaction shots.

I’d watch. Otherwise, no. Attempting to revitalize the institution of the Evening Sermon is akin to rethinking ocean liner travel at the dawn of the jet age. Scrap ‘em. Put your news division to work on a 24-7 product I can run in a small window on my laptop, fire every reporter who is incapable of ending a story without some glum portentious warning, and get the hell out of Washington. Declare “Des Moines” day for no particular reason and report the hell out of urban Iowa; it’ll certainly be more interesting than another round of Senatorial posturing. Have an internet channel that consists of nothing but a guy walking around New York interviewing people. Have another channel devoted to South American news broadcasts. Aim it all at the internet. Get over yourselves and the Hudson river, and maybe you’ll be a brand again.

Scanning through the iPod on the way home. Nix, nix, nix, Cars. Yes. I like the Cars. Wasn’t sure about them when they first came out; we weren’t sure if they were authentically New Wave. But certainly more so than Loverboy, who were trying to ride the New Wave movement by wearing red leather pants. As if. Then the first notes of a 1920s jazz tune came on; I clicked ahead.

“That one!” Gnat said. She listened for a few seconds. “It sounds like music from a black and white cartoon.”

How right she is. We drove on; home was still forty blocks away. She fell asleep, and I clicked on. “Cry,” by Godley and Crème. There’s a song that has everything going for it, but bores you dead after a minute and a half. Those guys still confuse me – such tremendous talent, such instrumental prowess; great voices, great studio chops, brainiac composers, but at the heart there’s a chilly disconnected cynicism that makes the work somewhat less than essential. Next. Listened to an ooky Suspense radio drama starring that creepy kid from “The Bad Seed.” She played a creepy kid. It was amusing to hear the voice of her little friend, a next door neighbor kid, since I recognized him as Dick Beals, an adult to made his living doing children’s voices. (He was also the voice of Speedy Alka-Seltzer.) (And Birdboy in the original HB cartoon Birdman. And millions of other programs; you’d recognize his voice instantly.) I woke her up when we got to the grocery store, and we trundled inside, hand in hand.

They were playing Cars over the PA system. “Drive,” as it happened. Not their best song, and I believe it was one of those “let the bassist get one out of his system” numbers. Still, this represented victory. In my skinny-tie days we had the conceit that our music stood in opposition to THE SYSTEM, whatever that was. The grocery stores played Muzak versions of songs that were muzak to begin with – I mean, you don’t truly understand the banality of the melody of “Horse with No Name” until it’s played by a string section. In retrospect I miss the Muzak; I really do. Part of me now wants a grocery store that’s brightly lit with big googie graphics and chipper music-to-seduce-Stepford-wives songs percolating away in the rafters. But that’s over; we won. There’s no alternative to the old alternatives anymore.

The next song, for example, was “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” one of those high-holy hippie tunes I will be content to never hear again. They’re going to pipe this crap into the nursing homes in 2025. I expect to be picking out prunes as a 75 year old man, dimly aware that “Money” by Pink Floyd is playing overhead.

Back in the car. Silence for a few blocks.

“Daddy, did you know, a long time ago, there was a man who was half bull, and half man? It’s true.”

“That would be the Minotaur.”


And then she fell silent again. Twenties animation and Greek myths – I’m constantly amazed at what goes on in that small round head.

Back to work, or rather back to the sofa: I’m done for the day. The Washington Post home section piece on your humble narrator is here. No photos, it seems. Whew. (I haven’t read it yet; can’t bear to. I’ll let my wife tell me whether I come off like Jackassio Supreme.)

And this is the last week I remind you that Joe Ohio is a M-F thing. After this you’re on your own.

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