Aisle Of Wit

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Two Out of Three Ain’t Good

Good Lord, 2022.  Does every weekend of yours HAVE to start out with multiple deaths that dominate my social media timelines???!

Yesterday I woke up to the news that both Meat Loaf and Louie Anderson had both left this world, both sizable talents who didn’t quite make three-quarters of a century. Like so many of my social media buds, I had personal experience or emotional connection with both of them.

My moments with Louie were largely spent with colleagues at the FOX Kids Network, who I briefly worked with during my second tour of duty for Rupert et al.Louie’s heartwarming take on his childhood was the impetus behind the animated sitcom LIFE WITH LOUIE, which was completing its four-year run on the network when I showed up.    An an animated incarnation of his childhood self, Louie’s honesty and appeal crossed generations,  As an adult who at the time was far closer to Louie’s size, I could identify with his vision, particularly when you’d have access to him as I did when he’d tell the network affiliates that this was indeed what he wished his childhood would have been like.  His dad, voiced by Louie himself, was a taskmaster, but much more sadistic at times than the homogenized version that the cartoon depicted.  His friends were far less plentiful and supportive than those he cast as background players.  Perhaps it explains in part the exceeses that Louie indulged in during his adult life.

Some of his tributes yesterday mused that it may have been ironic that Louie became the host of a show called FAMILY FEUD.  It seemed to define his past.  Perhaps that’s why his performance was thought to be muted and, at times, thrown in.  While he indeed had the comic timings of his predecesors Richard Dawson and Ray Combs, his level of enthusiasm was far more muted.  He left the show after three seasons.  But make no mistake the Steve Harvey incarnation that now dominates syndication and GSN that has been far and away the most successful version of this show would not be on the air today were it not for the groundwork that got FEUD back on the air after an ill-advised attempt to return Dawson to the show in the mid-90s crash-landed.

As for Mr. Loaf (which is how The New York Times referred to him during a review of his iconic BAT OUT OF HELL, ever loyal to its formal way of giving the subjects of its articles the respect they warranted), no, I never met him.  But I sure did listen to his music a lot, particularly during my college years.  PARADISE BY THE DASHBOARD LIGHT was invariably one of the songs in the dance set played during last call, its addictive lyrics and beat an aphrodisiac unto itself as I valiantly attempted to convince an inebriated enough girl to spend the night with me.  How could anybody not love soundtrack where none other than Yankee legend and announcer Phil Rizzuto give the play-by-play to an attempt to get laid?  Witness:

OK, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker going here,
Two down, nobody on, no score, bottom of the ninth,
There’s the windup, and there it is, a line shot up the middle,
Look at him go. This boy can really fly! He’s rounding first and really
Turning it on now, he’s not letting up at all, he’s gonna try for
Second; the ball is bobbled out in center, and here comes the
Throw, and what a throw! He’s gonna slide in head first, here he
Comes, he’s out! No, wait, safe-safe at second base, this kid
Really makes things happen out there. Batter steps up to thePlate, here’s the pitch-he’s going, and what a jump he’s got,
He’s trying for third, here’s the throw, it’s in the dirt-safe at
Third! Holy cow, stolen base! He’s taking a pretty big lead out
There, almost daring him to try and pick him off. The pitcher
Glances over, winds up, and it’s bunted, bunted down the third
Base line, the suicide squeeze is on! Here he comes, squeeze
Play, it’s gonna be close, holy cow, I think he’s gonna make it!

Stop right there!
I gotta know right now!
Before we go any further!
Do you love me?
Will you love me forever?
Do you need me?
Will you never leave me?
Will you make me so happy for the rest of my life?
Will you take me away and will you make me your wife?
Do you love me!?
Will you love me forever!?

Trust me, I heard the second of those stanzas far more often.  Particularly in college.

And the third reference from today’s title?  Well, f—ing Omicron is still around even as these larger-than-life figures leave.  Yet again business and personal plans were upended by “the surge”.  Please don’t use the s word in my presence any time in the near future.  Once again, I’ll explicitly remind anyone who may be offput by my views on this controversial topic that I’m triple vaccinated, never tested positive and have had previous close contact.  No, I don’t have unvaccinated children nor immuno-compromized living parents to worry about, so I acknowledge I’m in a minority.

So as I drowned my frustration in a soothing bowl of chicken noodle soup, I caught the season premiere of REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER.  I’ve discovered my views on this virus thing to mirror those of Maher.  Here’s what he offered up during an interview with DEADLINE yesterday:

I’m over Covid…we’re in a very different place with Covid than we were just when I was on the air last time, and that is the vaccines, we know, do not prevent you from either transmitting it or getting the disease. We know that. That’s a fact now. They just prevent you from dying, which is a great part of it, let’s not undercount that. But if they don’t prevent you from transmitting it and they don’t prevent you from getting it why are we still treating this disease the way we always have? And what the f*ck is the use of a booster shot?

…DEADLINE: One of the emerging realities over the past few months is that many are simply exhausted by the pandemic now and what feels like ever-changing standards from governments and scientists — changing regulations, requirement and edicts, like the recent move to quarantine now for just five days if you test positive for Covid. Listening to you, it sounds like you really don’t think Dr. Anthony Fauci or the medical establishment really know what they are doing, that this is more whack-a-mole?

I’ll let you go the site to find out how Maher responded.  Suffice to say, we’re sympatico.

So it’s painfully ironic that many media outlets reported Mr. Loaf held even stronger views on COVID than I, and may very well have died from contracting it.  The belief was he was never vaccinnated, and as a 74-year-old man with a history of weight issues and other more recent health concerns, well, that’s not bright.  It’s what drives me to deal with my own fear of needles and get my shots.  But I completely identify with his scepticism.

I wrote about that earlier this week, and I stand by it.  Yesterday the kindly pastor neighbor of mine heard my views in our hallway, he and his young family having recently endured their own battles with the virus.  He was masked and subdued and shied away from me when I attempted to hug him as he often did when I was having some darker moments last year.  He shook his head and said, “Sorry, Steve, I can’t help you”.

I felt like I had pissed off Jesus.

Well, Jesus, could you maybe lay off with this damn virus and this city’s perpetual pall that has the few people still on the streets walking hurriedly and with glazed over eyes that exhaustedly gaze emptily over their now-ubiquituous and cosmetically unflattering N-95s and surgical blues?  I’m over it.

It was particuarly sad that Meat Loaf, a.k.a. Marvin Lee Aday, fantasy baseball addict, died the same week the sport’s first 2022 preview magazine hit the newsstands. The season may or may not happen.  If it does, it will happen without him.  I think I’m gonna dedicate my team to his memory.  I hope some of his expertise and perspective osmoses from wherever he is now.

More than ever, it’s cold and lonely in my deep dark night.  I hope to soon see paradise by my dashboard light.

Until next time….