Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cranky Old Men

When I was a New Orleanian teenage commuter in the eighties, making my way in a car from the Westbank to my high school on the Eastbank--first with my dad, then with my classmates or brothers--I listened to a lot of morning radio.  My fellow idiot teenage guys and I enjoyed the likes of Cajun Ken Cooper, Scoot in the Morning, and Michael in the Morning (more like "Michael in da Mawnin'").

One line from Cajun Ken Cooper still sticks in my head.  It was 1982 or so, and Olivia Newton-John was headed to Baton Rouge for a concert during the "Physical" days.  Cajun Ken said of Ms. Newtown-John, "I'd drink her bath water."  That tells you a lot about the level of humor and intelligence on those radio shows.  It also tells you a lot about me that this line still evokes a smile and an occasional laugh if I remember it at just the right time.

Anyway, sometime during my high school days, the new thing became "Walton and Johnson."  These guys made my carmates and me laugh with crass, outrageous humor and funny characters.

Well, I have no idea where Cajun Ken and Scoot are now.

However, Walton and Johnson moved back to Houston and continue to broadcast in New Orleans today.

Have you listened to these guys lately?

They used to be funny in an equal-opportunity kind of way--making fun of and potentially offending everyone.

Now they've become a less intelligent and even less funny version of Rush Limbaugh.

Late last week, scrolling through the radio stations during my short ride to work, I and other listeners were treated to this actual statement from Mr. Walton:

"If this Marxist [Obama] is elected, blood will be spilled on American soil within two years.  Americans will be killing other Americans in a civil war."

He was serious.

What have these guys become?  They have become your grumpy, half-loaded old uncle pontificating after Thanksgiving dinner.  (I believe Garrison Keillor has used something like that line to describe Mr. Limbaugh.)

What percentage of Walton and Johnson's audience know what a Marxist is, anyway?  The cranky old white guys are revealing their age.  Marxists?  That's so sixties.

1860s.

Maybe I was tricked by Walton and Johnson in my youth.  Maybe humor based on sometimes crude (but funny) stereotypes leads to this.  I'd like to think that's not true.  I'd like to think that part of what was appealing about Mr. Kenneth and Mr. Eaux was that they used stereotype to poke fun at all of us--white people, black people, gay people, straight people, and so on.

Now it seems that they use their show and their attempts at humor to scare people and to impose or reinforce the most reactionary brand of political and moral thinking.  (Make no mistake--there is a sort of thinking behind what they do, and it results in a terrible things.)

Meanwhile, Michael in the Morning still broadcasts.  I have come to enjoy what he brings to the table.  The irrelevancies and obscurities of the Rock and Roll Almanac are a particular favorite.  Michael in the Morning's show felt old (in a sort of good way) 25 years ago.  He's still broadcasting essentially the same show and his Beatles fetish remains and it still feels old.  I respect his show more than ever because he's doing what he wants to do--listening to his Muse and following her where she leads him.  There's an honesty in that.

I find only dishonesty in the Cranky Old White Guys Show.

8 comments:

Puddinhead said...

I never quite got into the whole Walton & Johnson bit. Maybe because fairly early in their run they served as judges for an on location contest for "Best New Orleans Breakers" fan (how's THAT for dating myself?). A good friend, who is (as we often term it) "a little slow", got some help creating a blue jester's outfit...he really put a lot of time and effort in, and was excited about the night.

As his turn comes up, Walton takes the mike and asks him some kind of simple question like his name or something, and he stumbles over the answer. Immediately he was "The Retard" to Walton, and we had displays of Walton's sharp wit with lines like "Hey, everybody, here comes The Retard" the rest of the evening. And even that many years ago, the tone was more akin to what you hear on the radio today than what you heard back then.

judyb said...

I find myself avoiding that station in the morning because I can't tolerate their sophmoric bullcrap. Now that you bring up their political ideology, more the reason for me to take that station off of my "favorites" list.

daneeta loretta said...

Blood is already being spilled (spilt?). This country was built on spilt blood.

Here's the funny thing about the whole Marxist/Socialist thing: Socialism is for the rich in this country. The banks have been socialized. For everyone else, it's pure capitalism, baby, and if you can't afford it, well then stuff you. That's not me, by the way, but former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich (http://robertreich.blogspot.com/).

jeffrey said...

Keilor's metaphor is apt. I just spent a few days listening to exactly the same sort of thing from my father-in-law-to-be. He wanted to know if I had a gun yet.


The thing is, I think this mentality represents a much larger portion of the electorate than the polling indicates.

Nabil said...

Uh, I guess I'd drink her bathwater too, but only if she were in the bath. I guess I'm not ageist and all...

John Phoenix said...

I remember Cajun Ken, one thing he said that I'll never forget was a joke: Two flies flying down the Interstate. All of a sudden SPLAT up against the windshield of a semi. One fly turns and says to the other; I bet you don't have the guts to do that again!

Funniest joke i'd ever heard at the time, laughed my butt of for hours.

sscoop said...

Some how one of my son's found this conversation on the internet. I'm
Ken Cooper formally "Cajun Ken". I now live in Tampa and have a TV
and Video production company plus
I still do a radio show called Retro
Country USA. Some of my fondest memories are of New Orleans. I knew
I had made it Big when one night at
some club B-97 was having a station
promotion and Jack Da Wack and I were in the mens room at the urinals when some guy came in an went to the urinal between us. He looked up and said "Dam, here I am takin a piss with Jack Da Wack and Cajun Ken. I thought OK now I must be famous. God Bless! Reading these memories, made my day.

Ken

Briblog Blog said...

Same thing happened to me but the guy said, "I'm taking a piss between Brian Pierce & Fast Eddie."

I did afternoons at the "B" 1982-1986.

Now at KFDI Wichita.