What's Up Chuck
Soupy Bush...Feel the Thunder...Make Some Noise...
Thursday, October 18, 2001
Baby-boomers--the 56-year-old President''s generation--are likely to remember Soupy Sales as the host of a children''s TV show that ran (in a couple different incarnations) in the mid ''60s. He was a revolutionary, hip antidote to other syrupy kid-show hosts. While Shari Lewis crooned to Lamb Chop, Sales took approximately 14,000 pies in the face and had conversations with White Fang, a barely intelligible character that we never saw except for an enormous paw.
But if there''s any one thing (besides all the pies) for which Soupy Sales is remembered, it''s the prank he pulled on Jan. 1, 1965. Toward the end of the live broadcast, Sales, who was reportedly a little miffed about having to work on New Year''s Day, decided to ad lib the ending of the show. There is no transcript of the show, so there are various versions of what he actually said but, according to Sales, what came out of his mouth was something like, "Hey, kids, last night was New Year''s Eve, and your mom and dad were out having a great time. They''re probably in the bedroom asleep. So what I want you to do is tip-toe into the bedroom. Don''t wake them up. I want you to go in your mom''s pocketbook, your dad''s pants, and you''ll see green pieces of paper with pictures of guys in beards. Take all those pieces of paper, put them in an envelope, and address it to Soupy Sales, Channel 5, New York, New York." Parents were horrified, money rolled into the station (some estimates say it came to $80,000, but that''s generally considered an inflated figure), and Sales'' show was suspended for a week.
Fast forward to last Thursday, Oct. 11, and President Bush''s televised press conference. After answering questions, Bush appeared ready to leave the podium. Then he turned to the camera and addressed the nation''s children.
"Before we leave," drawled the President, "I want to make a special request to the children of America. I ask you to join in a special effort to help the children of Afghanistan. Their country has been through a great deal of war and suffering...We''ve created a special relief effort that will be supervised by the Red Cross. We are asking every child in America to earn or give a dollar that will be used to provide food and medical help for the children of Afghanistan. You can send your dollar in an envelope, marked "America''s Fund for Afghan Children," right here to the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C. ..."
Just as Sales was groundbreaking in his oeuvre, so is President Bush. Although President Woodrow Wilson appealed to young people to conserve resources during World War I, never before has a president asked children to contribute money.
I will never doubt the power of the media to influence behavior ever again. At least not until next time.
FEEL THE THUNDER... The biker community gets into benefit mode this weekend, doing what they love to do best. On Sunday, there''s a motorcycle run starting at 1pm at Bill''s Monterey Custom Motorcycles in Seaside and ending at Ocean Thunder in Monterey. Beginning around 4pm at Ocean Thunder, the Shane Dwight Blues Band will provide music while barbecue is served and raffles are raffled. The cost for participating in the run is $10 and proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross'' newly formed Liberty Fund; Sign-in is at noon. For more info: 643-9169. MAKE SOME NOISE... The fifth annual Carmel Valley Soul, Blues and Jazz Review on Saturday offers would-be jazz and blues players a chance to learn a couple new chops while showcasing some of the young musical talent in the area. The afternoon begins with a series of workshops from noon to 3pm, with instruction based on the Just Enough learning system that was developed in conjunction with The Blue Tones and their mentor Stu Heydon. From 3pm to 10pm, there''ll be a jam concert. Tix are $20 for 21 and older; $10/20 and younger. Proceeds benefit local music-education projects. 624-2467, 277-5223.