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DAVID OSSMANof theFiresign Theater

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Baked Potato

Highlights from the Crazy College Tv Show from 1975. You'll laugh, you'll cry...

Sites we like:

Archeophone RecordsThe earliest days of records, cleaned up and on CD. They share a lot of their music and knowledge with us for which we thank them.
Greenbreir Picture Show John McElwee's daily bog on the early days of Hollywood Cinema
News From Me Mark Evinier's essential blog for listeners of Crazy College.

CineSavant Glenn Erickson's CineSavant site is essential reading for anyone trying to keep up with the latest video releases of a certain sort: the sort that I like.

Nostalgia DigestFor all the latest news about the past, available now, today!

Cartoon Research Jerry Beck's daily blog

Dedicated to all music odd, silly or forgotten, Crazy College has been hitting the airways since 1984. Hosted by Geo. Stewart, it's a fun way to look at the whole panoply of American social attitudes and what them change, sometime even evolving for the better. Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Allan Sherman, they all have a home here, as do Brother Theodore, Bob & Ray, Raymond Scott and more.



"Never underestimate the potency of cheap music."

- Amanda Prynne, Private Lives

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* NOTICE New coding issue makes punctuation so difficult some odd shortcuts have to be mad. Like not using quotation marks

Do not miss I Have Got a Secret tonight (technically Wednesday Morning at 3:30 AM EST on the Game Show Network. Jonathan Winters mother is on and she is nuttier than he was!

It is the most wonderful time of the year for game show lovers. The usually unwatchable and terminally anemic Game Show Network ends each year with a one-week look back at two classic Goodson-Toddman Productions; I Have Got a Secret and What is My Line?. The latter is clearly the better of the two, but both are snapshots of a more civilized time (some areas excepted) – a time that may or may not have really existed. While Bill Toddman was mostly the shrewd businessman who kept the company afloat, Goodman saw to the day-to-day creative ends of things, keeping these cash-cow game shows contented. No easy task that since one of the panelists was the very prickly Henry Morgan, an American humorist who was more of a curmudgeon than a wit. (On one showing of I have Got a Secret, Morgan seemed in such a sour mood I thought they might can him on air. But I shared his exasperation when one of the guests’ secrets turned out to be that they were wear hats made by the current welter-weight champion of the world, to which he harrumphed, How could you really expect us to guess THAT!?! Ah, out of the mouths of babes and mad men, especially when they are incorporated in one body.

But the best was I Have Got a Secret moment was when Jonathan Winters' mother was on. She was as crazy as he was! Had her own radio show and did the same sort of wacky voices as he. The nut doesn't fall very far from the tree, it seems. When Garry Moore asked her to do so of her far-out voices, she said, Not for what you're paying. They quickly went to commercial...

After watching a few episodes, the first thing that becomes very apparent and even more off-putting is the utter sexism that permeated the culture at the time. If the contestant is a woman and at all attractive by the standards of the day, one could count on a surfeit of woof whistles from the audience. Wolf whistles, really? It's like something out of a Tex Avery cartoon. The first question the host would ask a woman after she signs in, please, is invariably, Is it Miss or Mrs.? And woe to her if the answer is the former. If so, the male members of the panel will do everything but that: show her their male members. It is a tawdry type of sexism that imprisons both genders, nearly as offensive as the smutty double entendre - no, make that the diminutive, just entendre. This would remain the fashion of the day all through in the liberated Sixties and into the libertine Seventies. I think here of the likes of Richard Dawson, who had all the charm of a porno booth operator doling out quarters- but with only half the wit.

The other striking thing is the non-stop smoking. Henry Morgan, Garry Moore, Bill Collins, all died from cigarette cancer as so many did who fought in WWII when the tobacco companies gave every solder boy an unlimited supply of cigarettes. Morgan s career was almost derailed earlier when his name was tarred as a commie stooge in Red Channels whose center fold poster could have later been Senator Tail Chaser Joe McCarthy. If Morgan was ever forced to testify, I would love to read the transcripts.

Why they do not run these old black and white game shows year round is beyond me. Oh, yeah, they are in black and white. And advertisers do not like black and white, even advertisers for bladder swings and no-stick pans (Get the second one, free! just pay separate handling and shipping...).



Copyright George Stewart




For those listening on the web, bad news: contractual limitation means we can only stream a bit of certain shows. But there is also good news: You can get ALL our shows via MixCloud ( or I will personally deliver them to your mailbox if you will just email me at Crazy College at Verizon dot net.

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Written back before animation film scholarship was nearly nonexistent, Before Mickey was the first series book to trace the history of the earliest days of film cartoons, before it became dominated by Walt Disney. Beginning in 1898 and following up to 1928, such undervalued artists created early masterworks as Girdie the Dinosaur and Felix the Cat.



I don't know which is more damaging: history forgotten or history propagated incorrectly. I am still cleaning up the results of my spit-take when, during today's (August 28, 2022) CBS Sunday Morning, Jane Pauley read clearly unproofed copy that said Charlie Chaplin build the first studio in California call The Flying A Studio in Santa Barbara. He didn't and it wasn't. The first studio was built in LA by the Selig Polyscope Company in what is now Echo Park. This was in 1909, at least 3 years before the Flying A and five years before Chaplin made his first film, in 1914 for Keystone Studios. Not only didn't Chaplin ever own the Flying A, he never even worked for them. He DID build his own studio, in Hollywood, in 1917, not selling it until 1947. Over the years since then it changed hands several times including those of Red Skelton's and then later A&R Records. These are easy facts to check; just go to or ask any film historian. The danger lies when erroneous assertions go uncorrected. Soon they become accepted facts. Lewis Carroll said it best in The Hunting of the Snark: "What I say three times is true," an epitaph worthy of Donald Dump's grave stone.

They say those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. If it meant a return to the Golden Age of Silent films, that would be nice.



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Since we really don't know what show will be done in time to post it much in advance, but we will spill the beans on Facebook the day of...


A Bit of an Obit for My Friend Al Engberg

I first met Albert Engberg at a friend's house on a cold January night in 1968. I had been asked to show some of the movies I had made over the years to a select group of friends. One of the films was an early version of my cinematic collage that would become ' The Bride 's Striped Bear by her Brother Evon ' when it was finally finished some five years later. Among the guests was a quiet man in an unbuttoned vest and college professor ' s corduroy jacket. He surely was years beyond my meager 17 (it would turn out that we were nearly the same age). Tall, rail-thin, with a white boy Afro, he looked a lot like Art Garfunkel, appropriate in that I looked somewhat like Paul Simon. He was impressed by my films and in conversation we began to realized that we shared a similar sense of humor that included the usual: Steve Allan, The Marx Brothers, Kovacs, Firesign Theater, MAD Magazine… Al and I began to hang out, sharing a similar taste in music too: The Move, Zappa, The Nice, etc. He was more into country rock than I ever would be; I gravitated towards the English groups, the weirder, the better.

Al would find himself incorporated into The Bride' s Striped Bear after I shot him running down the yellow line of a busy highway, dodging the oncoming traffic with myself right behind shooting the whole thing. It has been reported that the Lord protects the simple and the childlike. How exactly we made the cut I’m not sure.

When I was set to restart my college career, having found being a busboy unfulfilling both financially and intellectually, I, Al and a third friend rented a nondescript apartment at $212 dollars a month split evenly between us, heat included. Early on one Sunday morning, Al was able to precure cable tv for us for free by climbing up into the complex’s crawlspace with a pair of pliers and a bit of wire. Milk and newspapers were delivered gratis from a rotating roster of unsuspecting neighbors in and around our building. Everything else we had to buy in bulk.

One evening the campus radio station was recruiting new members and I signed up. Cleverly incorporating the University’s fowl fixation within its call letters, WHEN radio was a 10-watt carrier current station, meaning it could only be heard in the dorm rooms, though no one I ever met listened to the station, due to its dreadfully limited programming: In the air studio, next to an ashtray that had never been emptied as far as I could tell, was a small box of forty 45s, the only music that was allowed to be played, hand-selected by the music director, a frat boy on a ROTC scholarship majoring in Advance Killing. He always wore a coat and tie around the station and personally certified all this music to be safe as milk and just as bracing. His choices were somewhat at odds with the first song broadcast by the station when it powered up in October of 1968: John Lennon’s ' Revolution. ' Not only would the musical revolution that they were promising not be televised, it would take a few years more before Al and I would be able to ' tear down that (musical) wall. '

Fortunately, the new program director was a bit more in touch with the real world, a student named Greg Lamearoux. He was aware of how out-of-date the station was, given the turbulent times and was mildly receptive when I suggested that I do a show highlighting cuts from the latest British import albums, obscure gems heard only on Philadelphia's few underground stations and available only in the dark corners of big city head shops and the like. Permission was granted with an indifferent shrug, since the damage I could do at the 2 AM Sunday time slot that I was offered was -- like our audience -- not only minimal but non-existent.

I invited Al to co-host, as I suffered from a bit of mic timidity at the time. He would be ' Mr. Words, ' I would be ' Mr. Music. ' Both roles merged before the first hour was over into some sort of radio freewheeling, free-association, free-for-all ensued. I christened the show ' Side Two, ' grabbing the metaphor of the alternate side of an Lp for this program’s commitment to the alternate side of the mainstream music scene. It also was in reference to a line from Firesign Theater's debut album where a newly liberated political prisoner is asked, ' What side are you on? ' ' Side Two. ' ' Then you're with us, come with me. ' On February, 21, 1971, we did our first show, starting cold with a David Frost impersonator interviewing people about shirts, then leading into a Bonzo Dog Band cut about same, followed by Moby Grape's ' Omaha' (' Listen my friends, I'm yours forever' ), a favorite of Al' s. We were off and running.

In those wee hours over the next six months we explored the entire 45 collection, finding many neglected gems, including The Move ' s newest, ' Brontosaurus' a heavy dirge we like so much we played it back-to-back for a few times – and for many weeks after. Later in the evenings, whenever boredom would set and inspiration had fled, we would hold 45 Races®, putting two copies of the same record on two different turntables to see which one would finish first. With the coming of spring many a shift would end with us hanging a microphone out the window and mixing in the sounds of the sunrise behind the music. The climax would come when the mechanical street sweeper rumbled down the barren roadway.

We were left alone and ignored, forgotten about really, but we enjoyed our weekly does of radio onanism. Finally, each of us scored shifts of our own, teaming up periodically on Side Two for what only I would consider ' Specials.' Most notable was our annual Junior Woodchuck Rock and Roll Extravaganza, (' Eight days and three nights of Peace, Love and Underhandedness ' ), mirroring with ham-fisted subtlety, the Woodstock Festival of 1969. One highlight was when Al would drag a microphone down a flight of stairs to the Men’s Room on the Student Center’s second floor, where I would interview him as the Sana-flush Man from the Woodstock movie. Here between coughing fits and other rude noises, Al would punctuate his proletarian insights with the endless sounds of flushing. He wasted a lot of water that night.

The festival ended in total postdiluvian devastation after a torrential rainstorm collapsed a dam and washed everyone away. The National Lampoon unknowingly stole this idea from us for their off-Broadway review, Lemmings, a much inferior manifestation if I do say so myself, and I do.

One afternoon with nothing better going on in our drab retched lives, we went into the studio and began cutting public service announcements. Al began reading one about the danger of children running with sticks and I, for no good reason, adopted a child's voice and exclaimed, ' Oh, goody, stick it in my eye! ' Playpen Hi-jinx was born. Autobiographical in tone if not detail, it recounted the adventure of Little Billy, his older Brother Allie, their mother Agnes and father Ralph (who as performed by Al sounded just like Walter Cronkite channeling Ralph Kamden.) Al also did the voice for their tormented neighbor Mr. (Edgar) Kennedy, to whom Billy once was driven to observe, ' You know something, Mr. Kennedy, you're not a nice man.' Al also voiced the older boy and his dad; I was Billy and his mother. Now preserved on various episodes of Crazy College, I, and pretty much no one else, consider Playpen Hi-jinx to be some of the best comedy writing I ever did.

In a quiet corner of the English Department was an unassuming academic named Gerald Barret. Through him I received my first rigorous, systematic education of the history and aesthetic of film. He and Victor Spinski of the sculpture department also taught a class in the rudiments of filmmaker. One of the first exercises was to make a 3-minute film edited in the camera. For someone as well versed in filmmaking this was an insult that could not go unchallenged. My three-minute films had more in-camera edits than any hip-hop video would some thirty years later, a comic romp with Al playing all the roles, even chasing himself upstairs and down, climaxing with him throwing a pie into his own face. Al’s brilliance was recognized by those few lucky enough to see it.

At the time, the University took seriously its mandate to expose us to the latest trends, even in the arts, with a series of lectures by the leaders in their fields. We also had a six week break between the fall and spring semesters to explore personal interest. Al and I took part in one the most ambitious, two weeks of programming for a local cable channel, including a daily news report, entertainment programs and music shows. Al was roped into my two weekly contributions; a kid’s show and a comedy program. ' Ricky’s Restaurant' found Al doing the main puppet, named succinctly ' Duck' for clarity’s sake. Forsaking the current trend of Muppet knockoffs, Duck was a hard-shell puppet that oddly only had one arm when the money for props ran out half way through its construction. Not surprisingly Al immediately had the Duck try and do pushups. ' Side Two’s Bake Potato' was my salute to Ernie Kovacs, an endless series of unconnected blackout bits that featured Al in most of them. One bit found Captain Kirk discovering Andy Warhol abandoned on a planet made entirely of dry ice. Another was ' I Loved Loosely' with Al as Lucille Ball and me as Ethel. After the gals were arrested by the FBI for being the Rosenbergs’ connection, Ricky ran in yelling ' Lucy, Lucy! Fred killed the baby!!' They made me change that. In hindsight, a good decision probably….

Highlights of Baked Potato can be found on YouTube via the website.

WHEN now had a new GM with some vision: Pete Booker who would go on to take over WDEL and WSTW and turn them into the next iteration of underground radio, now neutered and made safe, predictable and thoroughly sanitized for the listeners’ protection. Al would follow Pete there and be the late-night jock for many a year, but right now he was honing his skills doing two late night shifts on WHEN.

Unable to stretch my college career any further, I found myself in Wilmington with Tom Watkins and a few others as part of a very limited and quickly unsuccessful Art Collective, the Mayor’s desperate attempt to revitalizing the decaying city. I began seeing Al less and less until the mid-80s when once again we both ended up working together, this time at Tom Mitten’s video company; I as the staff director, Al as cameraman/editor. Punctuality was never one of Al’s strong suits and his arrival time was very flexible. Most morning he would suddenly just be there, a cup of coffee in his left hand, the morning paper under his right arm and a cigarette hanging from his lip. He looked like he had slept in his clothes, though truth be told that was always how he looked. Once settle behind the editing desk, he would wait for the right moment and as stealthily as possible turn the minute hand on the clock back to 9. Oddly enough by the end of the work day the clock would now be ahead at least of the same amount, maybe more.

Like most small business it wasn’t financially viable and we all went our separate ways. I found work at another production house; Al got a job at the University of Delaware’s tv studio. He would remain there until he retired, taking a nice pension with him and returning to the house he grew up that he inherited when his folks died. Every now and then I would try and get in touch, but phone calls and emails went either unanswered or were uninformative. Nothing more was heard of him until last Tuesday when emails from mutual friends started arriving with news of his death, a predictable fate that awaits us all.



5 PM Sunday nights on 91.3 Due to Spotify restrictions some episodes of Crazy College may be interruped over the internet



Unable to stretch my college career any further, I found myself in Wilmington, part of a very limited and quickly unsuccessful attempted at revitalizing the decaying city. Tom Watkins, Joyce Brabner, Craig Dawson and I were the foundation of an arts collective centered around the Rondo Center whose various parts included Tom Watkins's studio and apartment, a cinematique, and a comic book store, Xanadu, run by Craig. The 4-story brick building sat on the corner or 5th and Shipley streets and use to house one of nine newspapers that kept Wilmington’s population well informed (mostly about sports) as the 18th century drifted into the 19th. It was designed to be functional, large windows, floors of roughly hewed wide thick planks, spotted and stained by printer’s ink and lead type. The top floor once housed the lino-type machines, which hung heavenly on iron hooks bolted to a series of mammoth beams that ran across the ceiling.

The Rondo Center itself overlooked Market Street barely perceptible through two huge grimy windows and was dressed up with a few mismatched chairs, a couch and well-worn pillows scattered along the floor.

Tom and I booked most of the events at The Rondo Center, a casually scheduled series of programs that was eclectic in the extreme. The Rondo Center was named after an obscure 1940s character actor Rondo Hatton who suffered from acromegaly, a rare disease that progressively disfigures its victims, distending limbs and swelling facial features into a grotesque simulacrum of our Neanderthal ancestors. The once hansom actor found as sad sort of stardom as a horror actor employed by a studio pleased to be able to save a fortune in monster makeup in their rock-gut horror films.

He was the perfect mascot for Tom's biggest undertaking, a major Happening centered around the Rondo center and Rick Jones' studio across the street in what is now The Queen music venue. Christened The First Annual Sleaze Convention (and so far the ONLY edition of Sleaze Convention) the event brought the nascent New York Punk Scene to Wilmington. John Holstrom and Legs McNeal, the publishers of the Punk Magazine came down and Legs immediately vomited on the studio floor. Soon-to-be super star Debbie Harry also came, having just left The Stilettos for a new band, Blondie. She gave me one of the first pressings of their first 45, Sex Offender”, which immediately became a staple on Side Two for months before the first album came out. Sparing much expense, our guests stayed at the fleabag Terminal Hotel, a name never more apt, given its location near the train station and the health of most of its habitués.

The centerpiece of the weekend was the Delaware premiere of John Water's masterpiece of bad taste, Desperate Living, for which Tom had provided a key prop. John even came for the opening night and joined us in one of Tom's organic buffet dinners that came with the admission.

For the Sleaze Convention, Rick's gallery displayed a broad selection of outsider art, including a wall-size collage of detritus that I had collected over the years, including a Denny's face mask, a plastic ice cube with a fly in it, various penny toys from a time when such a thing actually existed all accompanied by and endless loop to crass commercials from local broadcasting stations. 'If Corns, callouses and bunions bother you” “If you have a passion for fashion…' “If you didn’t buy your suite from Krass Brothers…” If, If, If…

Later that spring Eddie “The Egg Lady” Massey, John Waters' second most famous star, came to town for a visit. Tom somehow convinced the city fathers that such a famous personage was a natural to lead the Wilmington Easter Parade down Market Street. It even made the papers, Eddie dress regally with a basket of spring flowers arm in arm with a giant bunny.

Over its 18-month existence, The Rondo Center exposed the local cognoscenti to a mixed bag of delights. I was behind the booking of a potpourri film from 1938 called “The Goldwyn Follies,” that featured many of my favorite – and very obscure – refugees from vaudeville, including the Ritz Brothers, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy. The music was by George Gershwin and proved to be his last film score before his premature death.

The most financially successful film ever shown at the Rondo Center, was a double bill of the TAMI Show and The T.N.T Show, some of the first movies to be shot on high-def video (by Steve Allen's crew) and then transferred to film. They are seminal documents, unseen for years, of many of the most important Top Forty acts of 1964, including the likes of Chuck Berry, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Lesley Gore, The Beach Boys, James Brown and the Rolling Stones. The house was packed.

A patron of the arts down in Maryland somewhere lent us a tabletop half-inch video deck which I began to explore back at the Rondo Center. That first night I threaded it up and dragged the camera over to the studio's tiny balcony that looked out on the corner of 5th & Shipley. Framing the neighborhood bar to the right and the storefront apartment next to it for no apparent reason, I began to roll tape on the quite summer's night. After a half hour Tom became bored and so did I so when he said to turn it off, I did – just as a drunk staggered from the bar and made his way down the street supporting himself by leaning on the buildings. He was doing alright until he reach the apartment's picture window, which could not support him and gave way dropping a huge sheet of glass on his body as he tumbled inside. The elderly woman who live there began a long series of defining screeches, which seemed to awake the drunk sufficiently from his stupor that he was able to rise up and tottle away. Why he had not been bifurcated horizontally is a mystery for the ages that baffles me still. But they say, “God protects fools, drunks and children,” though I could never figure out why the first two would get such preferential treatment.



I remember Sally Starr

(January 25, 1923 to January 27, 2013)

When Sally Star died two days after her 91st birthday I was forced to come to terms with my OWN mortality. At the time only Gene London and Pixanne lived on. The chief and Unhappy the Clown had died some time earlier. Now Gene is gone too.

Really, she was only famous for one thing - one BIG thing: ' Popeye Theater ' .

I ' m trying to remember the show (was it really 60 years ago?). It should not be this hard considering the hours I spent watching it every day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. I remember it starting weekdays at 4 PM with Sally in full cowgirl regalia, her finely tooled boot resting on a rather rickety fencepost, the full measure of production value afforded her show. First off: 30 minutes of Popeye cartoons. (I quickly came to realize that if the cartoon had the sliding doors it would be a good one, but even the later ones were ok to my young inexperienced eyes) Then at about 4:30 we ' d get twenty minutes with some combination of the Three Stooges. If at the start there were rays coming off the Statue of Liberty like it was radioactive (a real possibility in those duck-and-cover day), then it would be one of the good ones. That meant with Curly and lots of out-of-date references, like an Ice Man making deliveries from a horse drawn wagon, or floor sized radios or men in derby hats. Filling out the first hour was another cartoon, maybe Huckleberry Hound or Yogi Bear. They were ok, but didn’t have the artistry of any of the Fleischer films by a long shot. At 5 PM it was Rock and his Friends, who would fill our little minds with subversive ideas and surreal madness for the next quarter hour. It was damage to the American culture that thankfully lingers in me to this day. From then on it was downhill; more cartoon, some good, some bad until 5:55, when, like clockwork, the show wound down with the worst of the worst: Clutch Cargo with Spinner and Paddlefoot, or, later, Space Angel. Bad drawings with superimposed real lips heavily outlined in lipstick like some sort of Daliesque nightmare. A whole week to tell one really lame story....

Later on, with the arrival of a new decade and a young president, the station bought another package of cartoons, newly minted, with limited animation but worse, limit imagination. Beatle Bailey. Crazy Cat. And bad, bad Popeyes. They may not be good but they were in color and that was what the advertiser wanted! These new series were commissioned by King Features, the distributor of the comic strips, produced by Al Brodax who would do the same sort of damage to the Beatles when they turned into pen and ink.

But I digress...

She was born on January 25, 1923 as Alleen Mae Beller in Kansas City, Missouri. The second of five girls, she and her sister perform as the ' Little Missouri Maids ' on CBS radio in 1935. Major fame would elude her until she began hosting her beloved afternoon children's program ' Popeye Theater ' in Philadelphia on WFIL-TV sometime in the early 1950s. It was to be Fame that was only local, but lasting, and that was good. Her trademark greeting was, ' Hope you feel as good as you look, 'cause you sure look good to your gal Sal. ' And she ended her show with ' Love, luck and lollipops. Bye for now. '. In 1965 we even got to see her on the big screen in the Three Stooges' final film, 'The Outlaws Is Coming ' , as sharpshooter Belle Starr. (In a very cagey marketing move, the Stooges gave cameos to many of the Kids show hosts across the nation who ran their Columbia shorts as a way to get a lot of free publicity. Moe was no dummy...)

Soon local kids shows got too expensive when the government made it illegal for the hosts to do the commercials and augmenting their salaries by shilling stuff to their overly impressionable audience. No more Flav-r Straws or Sugar Smacks or even Apple Flavored Jell-o endorsements from these members of our extended video family.

But by then the damage was done; we would all be diabetic by our Forties.

Her show was canceled on Channel 6 in 1971 because any syndicated program was cheaper and would certainly be more attractive to an advertiser-friendly demographic of young women, not their kids who could only demand so much Bosco. Starr joined her other tv brethren in taking the demotion and the pay cut and went over to local UHF station, Channel 29. There she hosted an early afternoon movie. Gone was the fringe jacket and cowboy hat. Instead, they stuffed her into a too-tight black dress that would frighten the horses (even her favorite, ' Pal. ' ). She looked like a hostess at a sleezy bar, waiting for last call so she could go home. The show did not last.

Her later years grew harder and harder and is told in more detail by others more knowledgeable. In a nutshell: A move to Florida, a fire in her house trailer that destroyed all her mementos, a quiet return to the Garden State, then personal bankruptcy and a willingness to take any job for any money, just to keep going. She continued to make personal appearances to the last (where young parents, and all too soon, grandparents, would push their smelly dirty kids in her face and tell them how much they loved their Aunt Sally). She was also an AM DJ and operated a pizza parlor in Atco, New Jersey.

In 2006 I booked Sally into the Franklyn Institute for an evening of her cartoons. The museum forgot to tell anybody she was coming, but her fans found out anyway and packed the place. Even the torrential rains that made driving a nightmare wouldn’t keep them away. She walked with a cane now and never stood any longer than she had to, but she greeted everyone with a smile, signed her photos (even old cynical me asked her for one). While we ran the cartoons that she had seen too many times to count and too many times to watch again for the money we were paying, she sat in a dark corner of the basement next to the boiler, eating slightly dried-out cold cuts and gossiped about the other local hosts. (She was not a fan of Gene London). But that's another story for another time.



The Wondrously Magical Lenape Park

As a kid a visit to my may material grandparents meant the possibility to visit Lenape Park located just a 10-minute ride from their old farmhouse home. It was always a hard choice of which ride to go on first. The gondolas hanging from ropes that swung higher and higher with each tug of the ropes? The bumper cars? The merry-go round with hand carved horses and the chance to grab the brass ring? (I never did find out what I would get if I succeeded, thought I DID know I had a better chance of falling off and breaking my leg.) Then there was the roller coaster the creaked and swayed under the weight of each plummeting carload, riders laughing and screaming in joy unaware of the rain of bolts that fell to the ground with their passing. No safety-harnesses back then. I NEVER did ride that thing.

I had my own personal challenge to face, one that took many attempts before I would prove victorious: the Lenape Funhouse, another death trap that I both loved and feared. It was all rickety boards, built decades ago of now-desiccated pine wood, tinder really, awaiting nothing more than one stray cigarette butt to set it ablaze. The interior was painted pitch black with strands of strings that hung from the ceiling ticking your forehead. They felt like cobwebs and kept grossing me out as I batted them away. At one point the hallway parted and let the public watch us from their vantage point outside as we tried to navigate across floors that would suddenly drop out from under you or wobble from side to side in an attempt to destroy your ankles. All this was under the mocking gaze of mechanical clown who laughed maniacally at our torment while spasmodically jerking from side to side. Every now and then a blast of cold air would shoot up from the floor blowing ladies' dresses above their knees and exposing their legs.

Soon all was black again; the hallway narrowed as we felt our way upwards then down then turning left then right, then left again. Suddenly up ahead: a weak bit of light! It was beckoning us onwards, washing out the gloom ending in a large room with a long bench, a chance to sit and savoy the possibility of escape. Without warning the bench would collapse, dropping you on a long conveyer belt that pushed you towards a sea of blazing sunlight as fake fruits and rubber vegetables rained down from the ceiling. There it was; the exit! People standing around outside, eating cotton candy, drinking soda and waiting for their friends and family members to be deposited at their feet. WE HAD SURVIVED!!

I was 5, maybe even 6, before I finally made it all the way through on my own. Many times I would be so scared I couldn't make more than a few yards in before I would give up run back out way I came, forfeiting not only my pride but my nickel admission, a whole week's allowance back then that I could ill afford to forfeit. Still with every visit I would gird my lions and try and face those demons again.


This childhood dreamland came to a sudden cruel end in the mid-60s, like so many did. I am told that John Gibney, the park’s last owner, just got tired of the whole thing and decided late one Autumn it was time to close for good and move on to more hospitable pursuits. Years later it was turned into a corporate retreat, the wooden rides long gone to the termites and time. All that remained from its glory days were a few decrepit picnic tables and a large empty parking lot being consumed by weeds. The final blow came in September 2021 when Hurricane Ida inundated the Brandywine Creek with such brutal force that there was nothing left when the waters retreated many days later. Nothing that is but a few fading memories and a yellowing photo or two.



Geo and Andy: The Meeting of the Mimes (Be very very quiet)

ROBERT DOWNEY, Sr, a prince without portfolio

1936- 2021

Even when he was a card-carrying member of the countercultural Art scene in the 1960s, Robert Downey Sr, (a prince), was still a full- blown maverick, a true outsider. While other grew their hair long and preached peace and love, Bob practiced it even while his films made fun of the whole naivety of it all. When he died on October 19 at the age of 85, he left a legacy of films that continue to challenge even in this cancel culture age that can't separate satire from reportage, absurdity from reality and joyous optimism from pedantic nihilism. Like a hot, spicy meal, the sharp sting of his wit lingers long after his points have been digested. 1969 saw the first of a trilogy of film.

Putney Swope (1969) dared to argue that all men, regardless of race, color or creed, are equally corrupt. Full of racist, sexist and anti-Semitic jokes well before Mel Brooks made it acceptable -- and commercial, his biting satire freed African Americans from the crystalline shackles of the Sidney Poitier stereotype. It was a prison almost as demeaning (and clearly as confining) as Stepin Fetchit's image was a generation earlier. And when Bob showed it as my guest at the Atlantic City Downbeach Film Festival, it was the Black members in the audience who understood the heart at the core of the film, coming up afterwards to shake his hand and talk about the film long after everyone else had left. It was risky to show a film like that back in 2015; in today's cancel-culture it would not be tolerated or understood. But in 1969 New York Magazine placed it among its Top 10 Films of the Year and just recently the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry of culturally important films.

It had all started as a lark back in 1960, when he first began writing and directing basement-budgeted, absurdist films that became touchstones of the then-burgeoning underground film movement: Balls Bluff (1961), Babo 73 (1963), Chafed Elbows (1965) and No More Excuses (1968). The last three recently received a major restoration partially funded by Martin Scorsese's film foundation before being collected in a five-film box set released on Criterion's sister label, Eclipse, of a decade ago, but still available. Two years ago, the foundation began saving his greatest work Greaser's Palace.

As a writer/director, Bob became a major influence in the still minor underground film movement, but his style would quickly be co-opted by many in main-stream cinema. His take-no-prisoners manner of movie making would also become an inspiration to the next generation of outsider artists. Downey created a signature visual comic style as unique as Richard Lester's, but where Lester painted with a gentle brush, Downey attacked his canvases with a can of spray paint and a putty knife. His pacing recalled that of Laurel and Hardy -- if they had ever been directed Antonioni. His sense of humor was as dark as both Brecht (Bertolt) and Beck (Julian).

After Putney Swope came Pound (1970), wherein humans play dogs hoping to be adopted before their time runs out and they are gassed. The film ends with man's best friends riding a subway car to the afterlife while the Mexican hairless walks down the aisle singings 'Just One More Chance' through a megaphone.

Downey concluded his unofficial trilogy of redemption with Greaser's Palace (1972), an outrageous restaging of the life of Christ in spaghetti western terms. But where Leone's man-with-no-name was an a-moral avenging angel, here he was a zoot-suited Jesse who parachuted one day into a dusty ghost town as the world prepares to end not with a bang but a whimper. This time it was both the New York Post and TIME that put one of Downey's film on its list of the year's best.

At his best he was a great filmmaker, wildly underrated in proportion to his influence. But he was also a warm, genial presence to friend and stranger alike, a trait that earned him the moniker Guest Without Portfolio at the Philadelphia Film Festival. At the few instances that I got to spend some time with him he was always gracious and welcoming to everyone, willing to listen to the most outlandish stories with a bemused smile and a soft laugh. It's one reason he was able to get away with some of the most incendiary aspects in his films.

Downey's comic sense was both verbal and cinematic, composing his frames to exclude information. Only when more is revealed that we discover its true narrative and at time philosophical meaning. Case in point, when the prairie woman is digging the grave for her capriciously murdered husband. Suddenly in a tight shot he begins to jerk about as if being resurrected. Only when he cuts back to the wide shot do we realize that the hope-for miracle is just her pulling on his legs to drop him in the grave.

Long takes let situations develop their own rhythm of humor. Wide lens alternates with long Leone-esque telephoto shots distorted by heat while compressing the space. Don't tell Bob about what it all means; he would only smile, say ok and deny everything.

Downey's take-no-prisoners sense of humor continued cutting a path in Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1975), his plotless home movie/surrealist collage and a decade later in Hugo Pool (1997), a film that examines a day in the life of a female pool cleaner in Hollywood. Rittenhouse Square (2005) was his second teaming with Max Raab, having been a consultant on Raab's award-winning STRUT! (2003). In between there was several should-have-beens or maybe should-not-have-beens, including The Gong Show Movie and Mad Magazine's Up the Academy. Blame truculent producers and too much coke for the carnage.

In addition to his film credits, Downey also directed episodes of The Twilight Zone (1985) and adapted David Rabe's play Sticks and Bones (1973) for CBS television. From time to time, he acted (badly, according to him) and can be seen in blighting up the screen in Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999) and Family Man (2000).

His son, of course, is the fame Robert Downey Jr. who revealed that his father (who jokingly, but accurately, tended to list himself in his film credits as 'a prince') had died after losing a five-year battle with Parkinson's disease.

Even in these intolerant times, Downey's films still have many fans, I among them. Those with narrow minds and low tolerance for crude humor are advised to stay away. For the adventurous among you, I give the final words to Edward Van Sloan: 'Well, don't say I didn't warn you. '


copyright 2021 George Stewart

While trapped at home by the Coke-a-cola virus, Pearl and I just hung around the house and watched the paint dry.



Lenape Park at the start of the 1960s

As a kid a visit to my may material grandparents meant the possibility to visit Lenape Park located just a 10-minute ride from their old farmhouse home. It was always a hard choice of which ride to go on first. The merry-go round with hand carved horses and the chance to grab the gold ring? The swinging gondolas that swung higher and higher with each tug of the ropes? The bumper cars, tethered to long poles that sputtered and sparked from the high voltage in the ceiling? The roller coaster the creaked and swayed and rained down bolts under the weight of each passing carload of laughing and screaming riders. No safety-harnesses back then! I NEVER did ride that thing.

I had my own challenge in the form of the Lenape Funhouse, another death trap that I both loved and feared. It was all rickey boards, built decades ago of now-desiccated pine wood, tinder really, awaiting nothing more than one stray cigarette to set it ablaze. The interior was painted pitch black with strands of spider webs that hung from the ceiling ticking your forehead and grossing you out. At one point the public could watch from outside as you tried to navigate across floors that would suddenly drop out from under you or tilt side to side in an attempt to destroy your ankles. All this was under the mocking gaze of mechanical clown who spasmodically jerked from side to side, laughing maniacally. Every now and then a blast of cold air would shoot up from the floor blowing ladies' dresses above their knees and exposing their legs.

Finally, a weak bit of light would break through the gloom, offering a desperate opportunity towards escape. The climb up a narrowing ramp led to a large room with a long bench, a chance to sit and wonder how to escape. Without warning the bench would collapse, dropping you on a long conveyer belt that pushed you towards the exit as fake fruits and vegetables rained from the ceiling. Until I was 6, there were many of times I would be so scared I would never make more than a few yards in before I would give into my mounting fears and run back the way I came into the comfort of the blazing sunlight, forfeiting not only my pride but my nickel admission, a whole week's allowance back then. Still with every visit I would gird my lions and try and face the demons again.

This childhood dreamland came to a sudden cruel end in the early 1960s I am told when the park’s owner decided it was time to close for good and move on. Years later it was turned into a corporate retreat, the wooden rides long gone. All that remains now are a few decrepit picnic tables and a large empty parking lot.



You could get a Crazy College Dream Hour of your very own, too. Call Steve Kramarck at 302 831-2703 during normal business hours and spare the world from me for 60 minutes!


Another great Christmas gift, again from mom, back in the early 1970s. The copyright reads "1922-1924 King Features"

This is the limited edition Crazy College T Shirt from 1989.


The people who put together My Book House did a multi-volume set on the history of the world – just like Will and Ariel Durant, but for kids and with better illustrations. This is the cover of Volume One.




From the "Mr. Wizard's Worst Nightmare" Dept:

My best Christmas gift ever. There was a rivalry between those who had Gilbert Chemistry Sets and those of us that had Porter. What I wouldn't give to find a copy of the old lab manual of instructions....

To me a house without squeaky floors can never be a home.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Soupy Sales with eager student:

More News You Can Loose...Check out the interview section for insightful conversations with satirists Tom Lehrer and Stan Freberg, comedian Dayton Allen, Disney animator and founder of The Firehouse Five plus Two, Ward Kimball, and satanic madmad (he was really a nice guy) Brother Theodore and more!.


From the G. Stewart/C. Healy Archives: A 7 year old Andrew Warhola does his first silk screen: འ Wax Coke Bottles.'


Chris White heard me talk about my chemistry set on the air one day a while back and surprised me a few weeks later with an original copy of the Experiment Book that came with the set. There were two schools when it came to Chem Sets: you were either a Gilbert person or a Perfect boy, I the latter. At its peak, my lab had nearly a hundred bottles of chemicals, bought at Mitchll's Hobby Shop for $0.25 each ($0.35 for Cobalt Chloride), most of which would get you arrested if you had them in your home. My Golden Book of Chemistry told you how to make a Chlorine Generator which I did and end up collapsed on the front yard. That book was later recalled and several experiments removed and that was one of them. Thanks ever so for the memories, Chris!




Hey, all you big time public radio stations!


You can get a free Crazy College Special on SPIKE JONES and/or a National edition of Crazy College featuring DAVID OSSMAN of FIRESIGN THEATER or our Silly Seasonal Christmas Songs Fest: merry music from the likes of Stan Freberg, Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer, and the like. Or the Halloween Special...Or get the Stan Freberg Special featuring interviews with June Foray, Daws Butler, Peter Leeds, Dr. Demento and Stan the man himself. Plus lots of musical tracks from Stan! Available to any and all by contacting Crazy College. You can run it anytime you want as often as you want until the end of time or the end of the next millennium, whichever comes first! Perfect fun come fund raising time. No salesmen will call. Act now! No unpleasant bending; no visible panty lines. email at or call [302] 994 - 7571 for details. Get any or all: The Spike Jones Special, The Firesign Theater special, the Tom Lehrer special, the Stan Freberg AND The Halloween and Christmas Specials for the incredibly low price of ABSOLUTELY FREE! You can't get a better deal ANYWHERE!! As seen on television! Not available in stores!!!



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