Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, November 20, 2021

Combine public broadcasting with trademark 70s-style freakouts, and you have “Sesame Street: Old School”, a DVD collection of the vintage original episodes of the venerable educational television series.

What makes the old-school version of the show so distinct from today’s version? Consider the hazardous sensory inputs a kid was confronted with, back in the day:

The show rolled, and the sweet trauma came flooding back. What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar’s depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn’t exist.

Nothing in the children’s entertainment of today, candy-colored animation hopped up on computer tricks, can prepare young or old for this frightening glimpse of simpler times. Back then — as on the very first episode, which aired on PBS Nov. 10, 1969 — a pretty, lonely girl like Sally might find herself befriended by an older male stranger who held her hand and took her home. Granted, Gordon just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies, but… well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her milk and cookies. The milk looks dangerously whole.

Live-action cows also charge the 1969 screen — cows eating common grass, not grain improved with hormones. Cows are milked by plain old farmers, who use their unsanitary hands and fill one bucket at a time. Elsewhere, two brothers risk concussion while whaling on each other with allergenic feather pillows. Overweight layabouts, lacking touch-screen iPods and headphones, jockey for airtime with their deafening transistor radios. And one of those radios plays a late-’60s news report — something about a “senior American official” and “two billion in credit over the next five years” — that conjures a bleak economic climate, with war debt and stagflation in the offing.

If that’s not a chilling enough portrait for you, then take in this energetic paean to subway-riding (featuring, I must point out, an oddly unnerving Ernie-less Bert):

Think the modern-day, ultra-sanitized edition would dare suggest to America’s cloistered youth that descending into the dark underground tube is actually fun? Even if they lost their minds and did it, they’d face the rabid howls of outraged parents throughout suburbia.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/20/2007 11:47:32 PM
Category: Pop Culture, TV
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Now that Lil’ Romeo ain’t so little anymore, he’s going to be playing hoops for Southern Cal for the next four years, thus living out his athletic dreams.

And, no doubt, his father’s too:

Lil’ Romeo, whose full name is Percy Romeo Miller, is currently a senior guard at Beverly Hills High who averaged 13.9 points and 5.6 assists last season. His father, hip-hop mogul Master P, had tryouts with two NBA teams in the 1990s.

I don’t remember the specifics of those two tryouts, but I sure remember talking about them while I was at the St. Petersburg Times Sports desk. One of the copy editors was trying to lead that news bit into a news-roundup column, but couldn’t make it work. The key would have been incorporating his trademark catchphrase into an appropriately punny headline; but given that his most-recognizable lyrical wordplay was “Uhhhhhh!”, we quickly reached a dead end. Hopefully, his son’s basketball career will be more amenable to quippiness.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/20/2007 11:24:48 PM
Category: Basketball, Pop Culture
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