57+ Channels and Somethin’ On: Memories–Fond and Bittersweet–About Television
Bruce Springsteen once wrote an ode to the cable industry called “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”. What a great, hummable song! However, Bruce doesn’t seem to share the same, endless love for the media–any media, for that matter–print and especially broadcast–that I do.
As a child, my parents use to comment what a good baby I was in the late 1950s. Perhaps they didn’t realize I was drooling over images of Howdy Doody or Tom and Jerry on the old tube television. Later, these same parents–I never traded them in for a new pair–would complain that I was in a fog-like dream in front of the new remote control TV set. Sorry, mom and dad: I was fixated on Catwoman’s skin-tight suit or Jeannie’s seductive harem outfit. After all, I had just hit puberty!
When cable was introduced, my after-school treat was watching Marcia-Marcia-Marcia getting hit in the face repeatedly by a runaway football or lusting after the slender Susan Dey on The Partridge Family. Thanks to television, these teenage years were a time of discovery for me. First, I learned getting hit in the face by a football in the real world was more painful than on television. Second, I discovered how I preferred more full-figured women (like Kim Catrall) than Susan Partridge.
Of course, television has shared some of the tragic moments of history with me since 1963, my first year of elementary school. I remember being dismissed early from school to somberly announce the assassination of JFK. I caught a glimpse of Uncle Walter holding back tears while announcing his death.
Television helped build my fear of death, yet I was fascinated by the sad stories which unfolded during the 1960s and early 70s: Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, and the Charles Manson Murders. Kent State, The Vietnam War, and the attempt on the life of Alabama Governor George Wallace were like a train wreck to me, but I couldn’t remove my eyes from the screen.
But television has also played a role in some of my fondest memories: Watching my cousin Angie, in her underwear, march with a broomstick to the tune of “The Daniel Boone Show”. How her kindergarten students would love to see that! Hearing my sons, now 25 and 21, sing off-key to the”Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” theme song. Money can’t buy such memories as this…
Here’s to your memories!
Brian Keller, 52, is a writer, speaker, and business person fascinated by age-related issuses such as anti-aging, relationships, health, and retirement. Learn more about Keller and his interests at http://www.radioactiverambler.com