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  • Lance Mannion
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Hollywood idealizes everything, even when it insists it doesn't. The Dirty Dozen was unrealistic in that there was no chance on earth there'd be a black man in the group; the Army didn't desegregate until after WW 2.

This may be the most dreadful sentence you've ever written (in terms of content): "a time when everybody they knew watched shows like American Idol."


velvet goldmine

Purely from anecdotal and personal experience, I'd suggest that with the keenest nostalgia for certain wholesome shows honestly believe, at least on some level, that the shows depicted a reality that they themselves had been deprived of.

Those who come from unbroken, traditional homes tend to sneer more at The Waltons and Andy Griffith than those who didn't -- just as, I suspect, the Dilberts of the world, suffering from miserable coworkers and unexciting paperwork, are most apt to sigh wistfully over Mary Tyler Moore and Murphy Brown. So do suburban-trapped stay-at-homes, I suspect. And so on.

There's something about books and television shows with no edges that beckon to people, kids especially, who in their larger lives have to keep a constant sharp eye out for sharp edges.

When I was a kid I inhaled the Bobbsey Twins. What symmetry! Two parents, two "kindly Negro" servants, two sets of twins yielding two boys and two girls. Each of the kids had exactly one cousin their own age and gender, and exactly one best friend of the same and the same. And everyone was really nice to one another. Perfect circles turning within perfect circles, no edges in sight.

Spend a few adult years looking around for the real Roslyn, the perfect newsroom, the longed-for siblings and cardiganed parents around the campfire, and where are you? Curmudgeonville, that's where.

blue girl

Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade.
Guys like us we had it made,
Those were the days.

And you knew who you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man
Like Herbert Hoover again.

Didn't need no welfare state,
Everybody pulled his weight.
Gee our old LaSalle ran great.
Those were the days.


Boy, they don't write 'em like that anymore.

velvet goldmine

Blue Girl, it's especially great to think about the "girls were girls and men were men" lyric preceding the Hoover reference now that we know that the G-man wore a G-string.

velvet goldmine

Blue Girl, I also meant to say:

Boy, the Waglan Miller played
Songs that hit the hay parade
Guys like us we had a maid
Those were the days
Amanam anam anam
Girls were girls and men were men
Mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover Roger
Didn't need no wealth those days
Everybody pulled away
G.R.L.P. sour grapes
Those were the days.

-- from

I have to admit that for years I puzzled over why Archie and Edith were singing "Gee our old salad plate."



Herbert Hoover, who was named in the song, was a president of the U.S.

J. Edgar Hoover, the G-Man you refer to, was the director of the FBI.


Was Andy Griffith about a southern family? I remember it as being about an alien planet on the far side of the galaxy which found wandering about space some picture postcards and a single issue of an old weekly newspaper, and on the slim evidence of those artifacts built a set upon which they hoped to trick space explorer homo sapiens sapiens into believing they had circled round and landed home, though why I don't recollect because as it turned out aliens were inclined to this sort of tomfoolery and repeated the shenanigans elsewhere, their desire to hide their true appearance being sometimes for good and other times for ill. But there was always someone who'd not partaken of the lotus and pulled the curtain to reveal the old sideshow wizard manipulating the fantasy, but he was fake too and didn't know how to operate the dirigible, which crashed at the North Pole. There were no red shoes, but there was a red tent. Sean Connery died in a rescue attempt. A very sad episode, as I remember it.


I hated the "Andy Griffith Show" as a child in the 1960s. It struck me as condescending and phony even then. And if you've ever seen Andy Griffith in the great Elia Kazan/Budd Schulberg film, "A Face in The Crowd," it's almost impossible to watch him being the wise, kind sheriff in Mayberry without referencing the wild hypocrite he played in that movie.

Velvet Goldmine's insight has a lot going for it: "I'd suggest that those with the keenest nostalgia for certain wholesome shows honestly believe, at least on some level, that the shows depicted a reality that they themselves had been deprived of." That explains a lot.

Exiled in New Jersey

We had this big mutha of a couch delivered last summer. Seven feet long or so, with low arms just made for resting the head. Two men of Middle Eastern origin delivered it, bringing it in three large pieces, and then assembling it by bolting the end sections to the body. I tipped them, and lay down on it, putting my head in the proper place. From there I could hear the sound of two other curmudgeons: my father, and his father, a man who died before I ever met him. Dad's dad was a carpenter, a builder of doll houses. My dad could swing a hammer with the best of them, but he called that instrument an American screwdriver. Now I shall always be the man in my family who bought the pre-assembled couch, with metal plates holding it together. Curmudgeons are hell.

Donna Dallas

Whatever criticisms one might level at "The Andy Griffith Show", one must admit that Don Knotts's Barney Fife was a truly sublime comic creation. They don't make comic actors like Don Knotts, or Howard McNear, for that matter, anymore.

velvet goldmine

Justin -- no, no, it's "like jedgarhoover again." I'm just sure of it. Good thing no one's looking, right? ;-)

velvet goldmine

sfmike: Thanks for the tip o' the hat. I didn't like the Andy Griffith Show much as a kid either, but I think in that case it had to do with the fact that it was a single-parent show, and I was already bein' there, doin' that. Same with the "Patridge Family" and "My Three Sons."

(It's interesting, though, to to realize that all of those TV parents, unless I'm mistaken -- after the Hoover blunder I've lost all confidence -- became single because their spouses died. These days there are plenty of single parent "role models" on television, but now death, not divorce, has become the great unmentionable.)

harry near indy

lance, you forgot to mention sheldon leonard.

he was the producer behind andy griffin, make room for daddy, and the the dick van dyke show. when you see them, especially andy griffin, you realize that they may be sitcoms, but they aren't lousy, like my mother the car or the baileys of balboa or even gilligan's island.

Anne Laurie

Peripheral realization: Watching the local tv news covering the Oscars, I had a sudden flash that George Clooney may be the modern Andy Griffith. Kentucky born, handsome in a very masculine yet non-threatening way, affable persona, and a much better actor than most of the roles he's played for money have required. Even in our jaded culture, he's a "confirmed bachelor" without setting off the gaydar, and a "playboy" who doesn't come off as a sex-addicted narcissist forever hunting novelty as compensation for his own failures of imagination. He can do comedy, he can do swashbuckling, he can do serious -- he directs, he produces, he gets the money as well as the professional respect. This may explain some of the wingnuts' otherwise inexplicable fury about Clooney's not-especially-shocking liberal worldviews: the Republithugs and Fauxmedivas are convinced that Clooney was born to be one of them, his actual history be damned. Therefore Clooney is not just another left-coast liberal but a turncoat, a traitor to his class, a fifth columnist among innocent redstate icons like Reese Witherspoon and Dolly Parton! After all, when their revolution comes and Mayberry RFD is restored to its rightful supremacy on prime-time tv, what other current male stars can you see replacing Andy? Brad Pitt? Vince Vaughn? Bruce Willis?...


anne,THAT is a very interesting

Phil Nugent

The line from the "All in the Family" theme does indeed go, "Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover" again. Believe me when I say that I take no pride in knowing this, but having grown up with that show blaring in my ears, boy, do I know it. Incidentally, when "All in the Family" premiered in January of 1971, J. Edgar was still both alive and in office, and would be for almost another year and a half.

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