Archive for Enotes
Labor Day was always my least favorite holiday. I’m sure I was hardly alone.
Of course, I’m talking about when I was a kid, and so just about every other kid likely joined me in that sentiment.
Labor Day meant the unofficial end to summer, though the calendar says that the season runs until September 21. No matter. The calendar didn’t give us kids that long; classes in Livonia, where I grew up, always commenced the day after Labor Day.
It was a final three-day weekend before the baseball mitts and swimming suits were to go back into mothballs, in favor of notebooks, pencils and rulers.
There was one day of excitement, however, in the weeks leading up to the first day of school, and that was the day the class lists would be posted in the school window by the front door. This was for grade school, not beyond.
I’m not sure how we found out that the lists were posted. Probably some sort of loosely designated sentry or Paul Revere type would spread the word. This was some 20-plus years before the Internet became all the rage.
The way it worked was simple. Printed 8-1/2 x 11 inch sheets of paper were taped to the window, face out. The sheets were generally situated by grade. On the top of each sheet was the teacher’s name and the grade he/she taught. The students’ names were listed below. And all the kids—didn’t matter where they lived, they all managed to gather—would frantically search for their names, not knowing until that very moment which teacher they had and which of their friends were in the same class.
It was some pretty intense stuff.
After you located your name, the next step was to search for your friends’ and also your enemies’. Soon there would be a cacophony of sighs of relief mixed with howls of disappointment.
Maybe you got the teacher you wanted, but your best friends were in another classroom. Or, vice-versa.
Regardless, when you got the word that the class lists were ready for consumption, you couldn’t hop onto your bicycle fast enough.
I recently had a drink with an old grade school and middle school pal. We compared teachers that we had in grades 1-6 and not once were we in the same class. I thought that was pretty amazing.
That “what class are you in?” excitement ended when we all shuffled off to middle school, where you didn’t have just one teacher.
It was fun while it lasted, though.
As for Labor Day, I enjoy it now. It means a three-day weekend, which as an adult you treasure.
No matter what kind of class you have.
I suspect that comedians and actors who cause moviegoers and viewers to feel a wide range of emotions are often feeling wide ranges of emotions themselves. Their roller coaster sometimes makes one too many bumps and they fly out of the car.
James Garner was once asked if he’d ever do a nude scene on camera.
“I don’t do horror movies,” he said.
Garner, who died on Saturday at age 86, was a Hollywood leading man but a humble Oklahoman at heart.
“I got into the business to put a roof over my head,” he once said. “I wasn’t looking for star status. I just wanted to keep working.”
And work he did, especially in the 1960s, when Garner was often teamed with the biggest female names in movies, such as Doris Day (Rock Hudson is more famously connected with Day, but Garner did his fair share with her as well), Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and Kim Novak.
The film boom for Garner was set up by his work in TV’s Maverick, in which he starred from 1957-60, playing old Western card shark and ladies man Bret Maverick. The show went toe-to-toe on Sunday nights with The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show, more than holding its own.
If you were a casting director and could mail order a leading man, Garner would arrive at your office.
He was tall, dark and handsome, and possessed a self-effacing style bereft of cockiness. His Oklahoma lilt, which he never tried to disguise, added to the down home feel that just about all of his characters had.
Garner, for a brief time, even dabbled in auto racing, an interest that was piqued when he co-starred in 1966′s Grand Prix. Garner thus joined Steve McQueen and Paul Newman as actors/racers.
But mention James Garner, and even today the first thing likely to spill from peoples’ lips is The Rockford Files, NBC’s series that ran from 1974-80. Loosely based on Garner’s Bret Maverick, brought into modern times, the private investigator Jim Rockford character landed Garner an Emmy Award in 1977.
Some old-timers like yours truly will also recall Garner in a popular series of Polaroid TV commercials in the late-1970s, early-1980s, sharing the screen with Mariette Hartley. The chemistry between the two was so genuine that many viewers thought the pair was married in real life, even though the commercials never really suggested that they were playing a wedded couple.
Garner left The Rockford Files in 1980, not because of poor ratings or disenchantment with the show, but because of the physical toll. Garner, who was an athlete in high school (football and basketball), insisted on doing his own stunts, and the result was significant damage to his knees and back.
In his later years, Garner really used his tall Oklahoman stature to his advantage, often playing rugged, wise cowboys and fatherly and grandfatherly figures. His characters would occasionally fall in love as well.
Speaking of falling in love, Garner did that well, too—and fast. He married Lois Clarke in 1956—just two weeks after they met. He remained married to her until his death.
Despite his own stable marriage, Garner once offered that “Marriage is like the Army. Everyone complains. But you’d be surprised at the large number of people who re-enlist.”
And to show how much Bret Maverick resonated in Garner’s hometown of Norman, Oklahoma, the city unveiled a 10-foot tall bronze statue of the actor as Maverick in 2006, with Garner present for the ceremony.
Garner once explained his acting theory, such as it was.
“I’m a Spencer Tracy-type actor. His idea was to be on time, know your words, hit your marks and tell the truth. Most every actor tries to make it something it isn’t [or] looks for the easy way out. I don’t think acting is that difficult if you can put yourself aside and do what the writer wrote.”
Here’s the irony in Garner’s words: he may have been acting and “putting himself aside,” but to watch him on screen was to have the feeling that James Garner was just being James Garner.
He could have done much worse. And so could have we.
I’m beginning to think that the celebration of Fourth of July with fireworks is carrying on longer than the Revolutionary War itself.
In our neighborhood, the pop-pop-pop of things with fuses starts in late-June and is still going on, and this is nearly a week after the 4th.
Granted, the pace is slowing, but why are we still hearing things that go boom?
If people still possess these firework-like items, what are they waiting for?
Maybe I’m more sensitive to this because we have a dog, and he’s not unlike many other canines who don’t appreciate the rockets’ red glare. Last night we set out for our evening stroll and just five minutes into it, something went boom and just like that, our pup was making a beeline for the house.
I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but do we need to hear the commotion (sometimes past 11:00 p.m.) for a three-week period?
I could go into the accidents, some tragic, but that’s piling on. It’s unfair to take pot shots because some of these mishaps are truly not the result of being careless. The highest profile ones to Detroiters—the death of a 44-year-old man and the loss of an eye of channel 7 meteorologist Dave Rexroth—appear to be nothing more than horrible accidents.
Still, this is what can go wrong when lighters are set to fuses, when those doing the lighting are not professionals.
But back to the ever-growing July 4th “season.”
I understand the concept of a Christmas season, with decorations going up after Thanksgiving and staying up past New Year’s Day. I get it with Halloween as well. It’s fun to look at how creative people can get with their homes. Sometimes we like to pour some hot chocolate or coffee and just hop into the car and drive around, looking at the displays.
But those are nice, quiet holiday seasons. Independence Day is all about twilight’s last gleaming—and it seems to be every twilight for 21 days straight, at least where we live.
As I write this, I must admit that things are quieting down quite a bit, but it’s July 10th, for crying out loud, and the bombs are only just now abating.
I guess my biggest question is, if you shelled out the dough for the higher-end fireworks, why are you holding onto them well past July 4th? It’s not like these things are being discovered in a basement somewhere.
I know there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule here, and I don’t want to come off like a sourpuss (maybe that ship has sailed), but at the risk of sounding like a prude, this does fall into the realm of disturbing the peace, does it not?
Frankly, I quite enjoyed the night of the 4th around here. The celebration lasted for several hours and it was actually pretty cool and impressive, hearing all the rapid fire booming and seeing the pretty colors of fireworks that were mini-me versions of the awesome display we saw in Madison Heights the Sunday prior.
It had really ramped up on the 3rd and carried pretty strong into the 5th. No problem; it was the weekend. I get it.
But this started the last week of June and is only now slowing down. That’s about three weeks.
As for the accidents, they’re going to happen every year, no matter how many safety tips are floated around. It’s sad but true—and inevitable.
But while some of those are unavoidable, what isn’t is the setting off of fireworks for three weeks straight.
Or maybe we just chalk this whole thing off to the grouchiness of a 50-something white male living in the suburbs.
That “season” is much longer than three weeks, by the way.
Before the commercial airwaves on television were taken over by ads for prescription drugs, lawyers and car insurance companies, there was the wild and crazy pitchman.
Every city had them.
The products being pumped were usually electronics, appliances and used cars.
The ads were low on productions costs—usually all we saw was the pitchman screaming into the camera with an occasional glimpse at what he was hawking.
The emphasis was on the supposed insanity of the pitchman, because the deals were so good, you see.
New York had Crazy Eddie, who pitched electronic gizmos while shrieking maniacally at the viewer.
And Detroit had Ollie Fretter.
Fretter, who passed away Sunday at age 91, blanketed the TV and radio ad space with commercials for his appliance store, starting in the 1960s and continuing for about 30 years. He promised five pounds of free coffee if he couldn’t beat your best deal.
The appliance wars in Detroit were hot in the 1970s and ’80s. Fretter went up against Highland Appliance’s creative ads on TV, and Adray Appliance didn’t do as much TV advertising, but Mike Adray was in the game. He sponsored lots of little league baseball and hockey teams to help keep his name on people’s lips.
We fell in love with the items that Fretter and Highland advertised on television. It was a time when microwave ovens, stereos, color TVs and newfangled refrigerators/freezers hit the market with gusto.
At the forefront was Ollie Fretter, who didn’t scream, but who was very prevalent in all his ads, never afraid to look silly and foolish on camera as he shamelessly plugged his metro Detroit locations.
Ollie Fretter, ever shameless
But it was the tag line about the free coffee that became iconic, not unlike Mr. Belvedere’s “We do good work,” which ended all of those home improvement commercials.
Fretter was hardly the only Detroit-area pitchman on TV at the time.
There was Irving Nussbaum for New York Carpet World (“The BETTER carpet people”); the aforementioned Belvedere; Mel Farr “Superstar” (Ford dealership); and a host of other car dealers, like Walt Lazar Chevrolet and Bill Rowan Oldsmobile.
These days, law offices are all over the dial, but of course it would be unseemly if those types got wacky on the air.
There was no shame in screaming about a steal of a deal on appliances and used cars back in Fretter’s day.
In fact, we all waited to see what Ollie’s next spot would bring. Each one seemed to want to outdo the previous in terms of silliness.
Fretter shuttered the last of his stores in the early-1990s. His was one of many dominoes to fall around that time as store after store went out of business, outdone by national, big box retail chains.
I always wondered if Ollie ever gave away any free coffee.
The recall of a car seems to be a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” kind of proposition.
General Motors is recalling cars almost as fast as they’re making them, but what is worse—recalling cars or ignoring the problem?
If anyone knows both sides of that sword, it’s GM.
Nearly 14 million GM cars have been recalled in 2014, and the year isn’t half over.
The latest mulligan for General Motors is the Chevy Aveo, which the other day became the 30th GM vehicle to be recalled in 2014. The 218,000 subcompact Aveos brought the grand total of recalled GM cars to 13.8 million.
The latest recall involves Aveos in model years between 2004 and 2008. The daytime running light module in the dashboard center stack can overheat, melt and catch fire.
Of course, nothing is worse than a recall born out of deaths, and GM knows all about that, too—with its infamous ignition switch debacle from earlier this year that is responsible for at least 13 deaths (according to GM; suing lawyers say the number is 53).
No injuries or deaths have been reported as yet in connection with the Aveo recall.
Yes, recalling nearly 14 million cars isn’t the greatest thing for consumer confidence, but neither is under-reporting or non-reporting problems, as might have been the case with the ignition switch thing.
General Motors, which at one time was among the largest and most robust companies in the entire world, has been, to use an appropriate analogy, spinning its wheels in 2014.
The ignition switch problem, which may have gone on for about 10 years before GM did anything about it, is costing the company $35 million in fines.
But again, what is worse—recall or looking the other way?
I’m reminded of the restaurant that is cited for a slew of health violations and is then host for high profile dignitaries after the problems have been addressed, to supposedly prove how safe it is.
Well, of course it’s safe! A restaurant coming off health violations ought to be the safest in town, don’t you think?
Maybe GM cars will soon be among the safest on the road, seeing as they are being built under hawk-like eyes these days.
Regardless, the question begs: why so many recalls in 2014?
Jeff Boyer, GM’s new safety czar, recently told the media that the ignition switch problem led GM to look at a slew of safety issues with its vehicles, and that begat the spate of recalls.
Make that, dollars and cents.
So far in 2014, GM is on the hook for $1.7 billion in recall-related charges.
That’s a lot of dough, but the loss of business already incurred due to the ignition switch mess is incalculable. How do you measure the number of folks who won’t buy your cars?
GM is taking its safety concerns as seriously as ever these days. Boyer, for one, holds the title of vice president, and that’s a first in the area of safety for GM.
My parents used to own GM cars only, because my father worked for the company. Now we own Fords, because my mother is a retiree.
But in comparing the two, I can only report from personal experience that I have had good luck with both GM and Ford cars. My 1986 Chevy Cavalier, for example, was driven hard for six years, racking up nearly 150,000 miles. It was still kicking when we traded it in for our 1992 Mustang.
The Mustang, for its part, is 22 years old and is still running.
It’s been a tough year at GM for many reasons, but at least no one can say that the cars rolling off the assembly lines these days are being given the bum rush.
And isn’t the bum rush what consumers don’t want from their automakers?
The corner video store has turned into the city video store.
Time was that you couldn’t walk much more than 500 feet in any direction without running smack into a joint that rented VHS tapes. Then, you couldn’t walk much more than 2,000 feet without running into a place that rented DVDs.
Now, you can drive for most of a Sunday afternoon without seeing more than a couple video stores.
They close all the time these days, but locally there is a closing that might tug on some heart strings.
I used to go out of my way to venture into Thomas Video. So did everyone else, because there was only one Thomas Video—literally and figuratively.
Thomas Video, the favorite of the intense B-movie fan, is closing up shop. To many, this is like the news of a loved one with a terminal disease passing away. You knew it was coming.
Thomas Video has been located in Royal Oak since 2009, but I remember visiting when it was on Main Street, south of 14 Mile Road, in Clawson.
Like I said, I went out of my way, even when I lived in Warren from 1995-2007.
I went out of my way because there was no place like Thomas Video (TV).
It wasn’t so much about renting movies (maybe that was part of why they went out of business) as it was just taking it all in.
The lighting was drab, the place was littered with old, museum-like television sets and the videos were stuffed onto shelves in a sort of haphazard way. But the appeal was great.
Thomas Video was a destination spot because they carried movies and shlock that no other so-called “big box” store would dare touch.
I’m not talking about Godzilla movies from the 1960s. That was child’s play for TV.
You had to be a hard-core movie historian or dweeb to have heard of half the titles that TV stocked.
There were also shelves upon shelves of hard-to-find industry magazines and books. There was also an impressive selection of comic books, almost as a complement to the movies—or maybe to keep with the nerdy theme.
Personally, I only rented a few titles. I mainly went there to browse. Maybe in a way I am partly responsible for the store’s closing.
Even TV’s owners saw the writing on the wall.
“We probably should have done this a long time ago,” co-owner Jim Olenski told the Detroit Free Press. “Business has been really bad over the last few years.”
TV started in 1977, right about when home video started to take off. But Olenski blames video-on-demand, NetFlix and other movie-viewing platforms for chomping into TV’s customer base.
Thomas Video co-owner Jim Olenski in the late-1990s
The sad irony is that while those methods of watching movies have indeed taken down a bunch of video stores, TV prided itself on notbeing one of the bunch.
The appeal of Thomas Video was that you could find titles there that literally no one else offered. Yet that novelty wasn’t enough to keep TV going, apparently.
TV wasn’t just a store for hard-to-find titles. It also functioned as an intimate location for cult celebrities like The Ghoul and actor Bruce Campbell (“Evil Dead”) to hang out and sign autographs.
Olenski put it best, in a self-tribute to him and partner Gary Reichel.
“We wanted to be the last video store standing, and we almost were.”
Olenski and Reichel did better than many others who didn’t have the guts or the vision to stock the titles that Thomas Video offered.
In fact, maybe that’s why they survived for as long as they did.
Our daughter just turned 21. And, parked in front of our house as I write this, is the car in which we drove her home.
I remember strapping her tiny, 4-lb. body into her car seat and securing her in the Mustang’s back seat that day in June, 1993 in front of Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. She was born two months premature, and thus weighed just 2-lb, 14-oz. when she was born via emergency C-section.
The Mustang was purchased in September, 1992, just before my bride and I were betrothed. Little did we know that some 21-plus years and 115,000 miles later, we’d still own the car.
But that’s OK. It’s been a good car. How could it not be, if it’s old enough to legally drink alcohol?
It’s starting to come apart at the seams now, which is to be expected. Rust is spreading like cancer.
But the Mustang still runs and it gets me front Point A to Point B. We just make sure that the distance between those two points isn’t too far. We have a 2003 Mercury Sable for that.
The Mustang almost bit the dust some two years ago. It’s a two-door, which means the doors are very heavy and put great strain on the hinging mechanism. It got to a point where you would have to do a lift-and-yank maneuver and then slam in order to properly close the driver’s side door.
One day in 2012, I slammed the door shut after getting gas and the driver’s side window shattered from the impact. It scared the bejeebers out of me.
So I took it to the collision shop and the proprietor delivered bad news. He could fix the door but it would be a job of monumental labor, because of where things were located and the work it would take to get to said things.
He suggested that I put the Mustang to sleep, due to inordinate repair cost.
Well, this was the Mustang. You don’t just put a Mustang to sleep without getting a second opinion.
Collision shop #2 had a brighter outlook. Second opinions are good because you can always play the doom and gloom of the first opinion against the second. Often, the second opinion person likes to play the hero. And, stealing business away from a competitor is never a bad thing.
So second opinion guy said he would give it a whirl, and for a reasonable price.
Over two years later, the repaired door is still working. The Mustang was saved from euthanasia.
I still get compliments and inquiries about the Mustang. Usually it’s at a gas station. Another customer will ask me if I am interested in selling.
Mustangs have a mystique.
Some seven or eight years ago, on a Saturday night, I drove the family to Royal Oak, ostensibly to get some food at our favorite Thai restaurant, Siam Spicy. We took the Mustang.
It was evident as we got closer to the city that something was going on. Traffic was very heavy. By the time we got to Woodward Avenue, it was all too apparent what I had done.
I had driven us right into the Woodward Dream Cruise!
I had no choice but to turn north onto Woodward. The bystanders and lookers-on assumed we were part of the Cruise, tooling around as we were in a Mustang.
They urged us to beep the horn and shouted words of encouragement from their lawn chairs, tipping their beer cans in honor of the great American Mustang.
I tried to tell them that I was just trying to grab some dinner with the family. Nobody heard me.
And, Siam Spicy was closed that night. So the trip was all for naught.
But the Mustang got one of its last moments of glory.
It’s seen its days in various mechanic shops over the years. It has had brake jobs, new starters installed, new exhaust systems and sundry other work. It’s been the Joan Rivers of cars.
But it still turns on when I stick the key in the ignition. And it still is the car we drove our daughter home in, and you can’t put a price on that.
You probably couldn’t sell it now, but it never was for sale anyway.
Long live our ‘Stang!
Sometimes the 24-hour news cycle gets extended.
Sometimes it’s a 48-hour or 72-hour news cycle. And, on occasion, a story manages to stay in the public’s consciousness for a week or more.
News stories anymore are like pieces of pasta thrown against the wall. Only some stick.
The Stephen Utash beating has beat the 24-hour news cycle, by far. Now the question is, Will it matter?
The Utash story is right out of a novel or a made-for-TV movie.
White suburbanite hits a young black boy with his pickup truck, in the city. The suburbanite stops to check on the condition of the boy and is then beaten senseless, perhaps to death (that’s a part of the story that has yet to be resolved), by a mob of black men.
It’s a story that almost had to happen, to provide the most recent litmus test of where we are as a society, particularly when it comes to violence and race relations.
The elements are all there, and if they weren’t, the story wouldn’t work as well. It would be a flawed test.
The driver was white, the hit boy was black. That’s the only way this can work. Any other combo would either not tell us anything we don’t already suspect, or it would be less newsworthy.
The white man is beaten by a mob of black men. Again, reverse it, and it’s just another example of what so many people already suspect, and what so many other people vigorously try to defend.
The person who intervened and got the mob to stop beating the white man was a black female nurse. Author, author!
The white man lies in a medically-induced coma as the suspects are rounded up. Score another for the fiction writer.
Oh, and whites and blacks come together in churches around town and try to pray the violence away. Money is being raised for the white man’s medical bills. Not bad, not bad at all.
And Detroiters did it all by themselves. They didn’t need anyone to zoom into town to rally the troops.
The author did a bang up job on this one.
Ah, but it’s all true.
The Utash beating has a shot—an actual, legitimate shot—at bringing white and black folks together in an effort to take a collective look in the proverbial mirror.
Thankfully, the words “vigilante justice” have been rinsed off this story, revealing it to be what it really is—senseless, animal-like violence that wasn’t advocating for anyone or anything, other than an opportunity to take something out on a poor man. A chance to get your licks in, for whatever reason.
Unlike others, though, I’m not convinced that the mob saw a white man and decided to go to town. Maybe we will never know for sure. Maybe the five (so far) suspects that have been arrested—four have been arraigned—will start chirping, even against each other. Maybe a motive will trickle out.
Maybe had the driver been black, he would have been beaten, too—once identified as the man who hit the boy. Again, we may never know. But we may, eventually.
The fact that no one in the beating mob—according to witnesses’ recounting of the incident—appeared to show any concern for the boy’s physical condition before they started whaling on Utash, is the most damning piece of this horrible crime.
And that’s why the vigilante label doesn’t fit and has been ripped off, rightly so.
You can’t have vigilante justice if you don’t know what the heck you’re justifying.
The facts, of course, weren’t all in when the mob sprang into action. They didn’t know—or didn’t care—that the child stepped off the curb into oncoming traffic. The boy was 10 years old—certainly old enough to know not to step into the street without looking both ways.
But that’s another discussion entirely.
It’s terrible, but often it takes something terrible to finally drum something into people’s heads.
We can only hope that Steve Utash—and let’s hope he survives and regains his wits—evolves into a turning point of sorts. He will not only be a man but a landmark.
Then again, the beating of Vincent Chin didn’t necessarily change anything.
But that’s the thing about hope. You’re willing to throw the history books out the window and say, “Maybe THIS time.”
Maybe this time.
It’s not easy to be a trailblazer when so many of the trails have already been blazed, but David Letterman somehow managed to blaze one anyway.
You may think that late night television was an already-mined resource by the time Letterman, 66, came along in 1982, hosting “Late Night with David Letterman” on NBC.
It’s true that TV at the witching hour was nothing new in 1982, having been first attempted some 30 years prior and being refined for 20 years by Johnny Carson when NBC gave Letterman a late night slot, following Carson’s “Tonight Show.”
But it turned out there was still plenty that Letterman found to do that not even the iconic Carson managed to discover.
Letterman announced today, somewhat shockingly during the taping of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” that 2015 will be the year of his retirement.
“This (retirement) means Paul (bandleader Shaffer) and I can finally get married,” Letterman said to a crowd that seemed to need the laugh to digest the news. But Letterman was serious—about the retirement part.
The longtime late night host said he had a phone conversation with CBS president Les Moonves not long before tonight’s taping and informed Moonves that 2015 would see the end of Letterman’s run on “The Late Show.”
Letterman was a morning loser when NBC gave him a mulligan—a big time mulligan—and put Letterman where his milieu clearly was, in late night.
Letterman’s morning show, which lasted just a few months in 1980, was a critical success of sorts (two Daytime Emmys) but a ratings disaster.
But he was back less than two years later, after midnight.
Where Letterman was able to forage—and where Carson either chose not to go or simply never thought of going—was in the mostly unexplored forest of pulling life’s non-celebrities into the party.
While Carson would occasionally interview folks like an old lady who collected potato chips that looked like people and animals, Johnny’s genius was in his gregarious chats with the famous and in his sketch comedy bits.
Letterman made 15-minute celebrities out of the every man with bits like “Stupid Pet Tricks” and “Stupid Human Tricks.” He also made Larry “Bud” Melman—real name Calvert DeForest, a little-known actor but his day job was working for a pharmaceutical company—famous with Larry Bud’s strangely humorous appearances, which many times made it seem like the joke was on Melman.
While Carson ventured into the crowd for bits like “Stump the Band,” Letterman took it one step further and blended crowd games with cameos from comedic actor Chris Elliott, with hilarious results.
And while Carson had Doc Severinsen and Tommy Newsome leading the “Tonight Show” band and functioning as occasional kibitzing partners, Letterman and Shaffer formed almost a tag-team comedy duo, chatting during the first 10 minutes of each show like they hadn’t spoken with each other all day.
It’s no coincidence that pretty much every late night show after Letterman’s employed a band with a leader who tried to be Paul Shaffer Light.
Sid Caesar and company started doing “Man on the Street” bits in the 1950s (something Carson never really did), but Letterman again turned it up a notch, beseeching the regular folks to partake in stunts and pull pranks on other unsuspecting folks—their colleagues, so to speak.
There are many other directions that Letterman took late night comedy and talk, but they are too numerous to mention here. Suffice it to say that while the genre had been discovered, Letterman took that block of clay and molded it.
“The time has come,” Letterman said today in announcing his retirement a year hence.
He wasn’t emotional, he wasn’t melancholy. He sounded like a man comfortable in his place and with his timing.
It was as if he was saying, “My job here is done.”
Which, it is.