”Car 54 Where Are You?”

Jack Kinsella 90x115by Jack Kinsella

I am a child of the 1950’s and 1960’s.  I grew up with television — I don’t remember a time before television, but I recall being aware that TV was as new to the world as I was.  

I can recall when TV Guide magazine was just a few pages long and a whole night’s prime-time listings could fit on two sides of one page.  

The TV was much more than entertainment.  It also served me as a time piece and a calendar — if it was “The Lone Ranger” it was 7:00 — if it was “Bonanza” it was Sunday.

But everything was entertaining, from the Mr. Clean animated commercials to the Mr. Ed theme song.   

The commercial jingles and the early TV theme songs found plenty of unoccupied space in my brain, burrowing in deep where they didn’t have to worry about competition.  

Back then, I had room for permanent storage.  Now, new data has to compete for temporary rental space.

At least a few of you share my recollection of 1950’s-era sitcom that starred Joe E. Ross as Gunther Toody and Fred Gwynne as Officer Muldoon.  

Car 54, Where Are You?” was eventually remade into a movie, but like most similar efforts, it flopped badly.

It was a good idea in concept, but not so great on film.  A 90-second Joe E. Ross impersonation would have been fun.  Ninety-minutes was eighty-eight too many.  

It wasn’t even my favorite show as a kid — for almost the same reason.   Thirty minutes was twenty too many.  Like the Three Stooges, the original Joe E Ross was only funny for about ten minutes. Much more than that got slightly annoying.

Even when I was a kid it was hard to believe anybody quite that stupid could get a job involving more than two moving parts, let alone one carrying a loaded gun.

But there’s a point to all this.   Wait for it. . .

As I was reading over the top stories of the day a recent Drudge Report, the theme song from the original TV series popped unbidden and unexpectedly into my brain. 

I could hear it as plain as if there was a TV playing in the background . . . I even recalled most of the words (but I admit I had to look it up to be sure):

“There’s a hold-up in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights;
There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights;
There’s a Scout troop short a child; Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild…
Car 54 – Where Are You?”

The Ballad of Car 54 is a word picture of catastrophe and confusion writ large on New York’s relatively small canvas.   It was intended to create the exact image that my young mind instinctively rejected as implausible. 

They were so incompetent that (to me) it wasn’t funny. If Toody and Muldoon were real cops, then instead of laughing at them, people would be horrified.   

Reading through the headlines prompts all that recollection because it feels like the second half of the program.  

It’s a dream sequence where Gunther Toody is the President of the United States and Officer Muldoon holds all the positions in his cabinet.   

There’s a holdup in the Bronx . . .”

Oil from the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico has caused as-yet incalculable, but unquestionably catastrophic damage to the Gulf region already.  The government left BP in charge throughout,  rather than stepping up early and risking the political damage that would come with each failed attempt.  

Now that BP is indelibly associated with the failures, any government effort will seem an improvement.

But not until after catastrophe becomes crisis.  There is blame that can be assigned to catastrophe.  But now that it’s been allowed to become a crisis, the government must be the solution

From Obama’s perspective, the spill afforded a political opportunity, provided it was handled properly.  And it was. They just waited it out until the public saw BP as the only responsible face for the catastrophe — Obama could then ride in as the solution.  

The solution was a moratorium on oil exploration potentially permanently losing 140,000 related jobs along the Gulf and “a renewed commitment to finding alternative forms of energy” etc, etc., together with some vague talk of some kind of ‘international effort’ that will give the UN more power over US sovereignty. 

One linked headline on Drudge recently read:  “Congress preparing to quadruple the tax on oil.” Surprise! 

Another read: “US Plays Down European Crisis But China Worried.”  China is worried but we’re not?

“Brooklyn’s broken out in fights . . .”

Obama’s latest approval ratings hit a new low of 42% according to the most recent polls.    

Thanks to Obama’s financial reform package, widely considered “a disaster”  — the Dow is fluctuating in wild, triple digit leaps and bounds.

“There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights . . .”

After months of silence from Washington and Seoul, a multinational UN investigation concluded that North Korea torpedoed and sank a South Korean naval vessel in international waters, killing 44 South Korean sailors.

The US promptly threatened sanctions made the usual scary threats.  But China is backing North Korea.  If China stops lending us money, the Obama ‘spend us into prosperity’ plan will be exposed as the Ponzi scheme that it is.  

America will do nothing. Seoul’s bluster was more subdued, given that it is home to 22 million South Koreans living within artillery range of the DMZ.  

Remember when Joe Biden promised that Obama would be ‘tested’?  Kim Jong il is grading his paper right now.

There’s a Scout troop short a child;

Eight people have been charged with separately trying to access President Obama’s student loan records, both during his candidacy and after his election.  Each of them faces a year in prison and a maximum one hundred thousand dollars in fines.  

In 2004, Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger stole top secret documents from the National Archives in an effort to mislead the 9/11 Commission’s investigation concerning an act of war against the United States!

On conviction, Berger’s national security clearance was suspended for three years and he was fined ten thousand dollars.  No jail time.

Khrushchev’s due at Idlewild…

Syria’s Bashar Assad gave Obama a public dressing down saying America has “lost its influence in the Middle East” in advance of Obama’s visit with Lebanese leader Saad al-Hariri.  

Lebanon’s ‘government’ includes Hezbollah officials in both the administration and its parliament and is a largely a puppet government controlled from Damascus.   

The visit was the brainchild of Obama’s counter terrorism czar John Brennan, who advises the US to reach out to ‘moderate elements’ within Hezbollah as a way of opening relations with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.   

The White House declared war on Arizona for passing a law they haven’t read that mirrors a federal law that the head of Immigration Enforcement has decided to refuse to enforce.

And when last week’s job’s report showed another 464,00 new jobless claims, VP Biden gave a speech echoing his boss’s recent sentiments. 

As bad as things are, don’t worry.  It could be worse.  Give us a little more time.

Ooh! Ooh!  How’s this for a headline story?  “Obama’s Redistribution Victory;  Private Pay Plummets, Handouts Soar

Car 54, Where Are You . . ?

by Jack Kinsella

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