Thursday, October 01, 2015

Good Morning, Dave: Wed, 10/1/80

Over the years as I've searched for more Morning Dave episodes, I've found that nearly all of the surviving tapes cover the end (or near end) of his run.  There was a sneaking suspicion that a show of this kind may never be on TV again, so the effort to record for history's sake was well worth the effort.

Today's Beta transfer might not be pristine, but what the fuck do you want, it's 35 years old!

The applause this morning seems to last extra long, which in hindsight I took to mean (and possibly fear) as "don't cancel this show!"  Mary Stuart from Search for Tomorrow is the lead guest, as well as a survivalist Tom Brown, who is introduced as someone who "spent 14 months nude in New Jersey.  (Laughs)  I know you're saying sure, we've all done a little of that."

The plan in prep for today's show was for a courtroom sketch artist to draw different segments of the show.  But the person backed out at the last minute, so Dave heads to the audience to find a replacement.  Dave impresses that the drawings don't have to be great ("It won't be" she claims) but Dave won't take no for an answer at this point, and she's selected.

Barbara Jean Lloyd is now seated near the stage and almost laments that now she'd better pay attention to the show.  All Dave can do is laugh.

Mary Stuart covers her career on the show and tells how glad she is that she show isn't live as it was in the old days.  "David, you're too young to remember live television."  Dave looks around nervously to tell her that, indeed, the show she's on NOW is live.  "Nobody told me!"

Next, being a daytime show, it's time for some jogging tips, all labeled as a "public service announcement."  Items such as making your own shoes, cooking food inside pants while you run, and running alongside an accordion player (so you hear "the real thing") are included, but I must admit the take is starting to get a little rough at this point.

Next is another audience member, Betty Brown, who is at the show because her daughter dragged her along.  Dave has a sample of foods from a Health Food store, and after some easy jokes at the absurdity of 1980 good living, they get to the meat of the segment: cooking freeze-dried egg product.

After the break with some typical commercials for Daytime, 1980, ("Some job - I'm standing all day, and now I've got hemmoroids!") we return to see the finished product.

Betty says "it tastes better than it looks."  The audience doesn't seemed interested in enjoying the freeze dried egg product.  Next, Tom Brown comes out for another visit.  (Tom's still at it in 2015)  Tom speaks of living in the woods of New Jersey to live off the land there, and most of his calm claims are met with stunned silence by the audience.

The other side of the break is Tom covering his job in tracking for missing or lost people in the woods, and to survive in such a situation, he and Dave do a demonstration.  After going over what plants are edible in the wild (and Tom's quick fact that the % of poisonous plants are high), Dave attempts to make fire using wood, a bow, and the side of his shoe.

The audience chants, and band plays along and...nothing.  A big "awwww!" from the audience.  After Edwin Newman's news update, we review the court sketches.  The glare and 35 years take much away from the artist's intention, but still, an accurate drawing.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Good Morning, Dave: Tue, 9/30/80

One of the earliest clips on YouTube of the morning show still exists all these years later.  Steve Martin is the lead guest, there to promote the special "All Commercials" (which is on Steve's box set from Shout Factory).

Items of note: We've got people sitting in the aisles, now.  There's a groundswell of fandom, no doubt.  And yes, that's John Tesh in the audience.

Dave also calls Floyd Stiles for a reason: in his small town paper in Collins, MO, it was reported that Dave had invited Floyd and his wife Zola Mae to visit the show in New York all expenses paid.  This was not true, but what the hell, let's make it happen.  They set the date of Friday, October 10th.  Floyd admits that he hasn't been to New York, but he wants to "look it over."  

And now, for a very relaxed Steve...

Part 2, with Steve out of bed:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dave visits Tom: The Tomorrow Show, September 1980

As The David Letterman Show seemed to continue to gain creative steam and teeter on the brink of cancellation, Dave was featured as the lead guest on the new Tomorrow Show.  As part of Johnny Carson's new contract in 1980, the Tonight Show was cut back to 60 minutes.  NBC, not yet content to give that 30 minutes back to stations, stretched Tomorrow to 90 minutes, and added a studio audience (among other things).  This was week 2, and the early reviews from fans were not kind.  Nevertheless...

Tom welcomes everyone, acknowledges the applause, and then begins to read some of the viewer mail that has "poured in" (3 or 4 letters).  All uniformly negative.

If there was a thought that spending a few minutes seeing if the audience has any questions would break up that sentiment, he finds it's more of the same.  A man looking like a friendly serial killer asks if he misses the old format.

Tom: "I will tell you, it's uncomfortable here.  Audiences come to television shows to do 2 things: win a washing machine, or laugh uproariously, and we don't have that going on the whole time here."

After a 3rd question (making 2 of the 3 wanting a return of the old format) Tom figures it's best to move along...and maybe light up a new cigarette.

After the break, here's Dave, and the audience gives him a highly enthusiastic welcome.

Whether it's because of the new format, or the immediate audience feedback, the audience seems to be mostly made up of Dave's own staff.  Dave acknowledges this and considers this group a loyal one, and Tom states how he knew it was them: "I can tell, I see all the help wanted signs."

Since Tom brought it up, he mentions a recent New York Times story which stated that the future of his show is in jeopardy.  Could he address this issue?  Dave says that, as of a phone call with an executive today, the show has NOT been cancelled.  

This leads to a hearty round of applause, but an almost apprehensive smile by Dave at the response.  

Tom: "Probably means it's going to be picked up again."   
Dave: "I didn't say that, nor did the person I talked to say that."

After some more chat, Tom references that of the many bits Dave does in the building, one was a tour of Tom Snyder's dressing room.  In the bit, you see Tom's bartender, a piano player, singer, and tanning bed.

Even on a replay it gets laughs, but Tom wants to set the record straight of how things are at the new Tomorrow show, so they un-clip their microphones and go wandering through the 3rd floor.  Amidst the piles of studio equipment is a guy playing a grand piano.  Tom introduces him to Dave, who states the whole area reminds him of a Muncie cathouse.

The big moment: Tom's actual dressing room, which looks like the return counter at Macy's:

The above screen-grab looks like something out of underground video, yet it was broadcast coast to coast on NBC.  Wandering back, Tom invites Dave to visit anytime and take use of the facilities.  Dave, gamely going with Tom, can only thank him.  As they return to the set, Tom gives him a quick pep talk.

Tom: "In spite of all the nonsense that goes on in the background, stay with it.  Don't give up.  And stay with us in New York."
Dave: "I like being here.  Thank you very much."

They two seemed to get along well in Dave's 2nd visit to the show...if only the two of them knew how their professional lives would cross in the future...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Hillbilly blues way back on the ridge

Smile everyone, we're back!

(straightens tie, sucks in gut)

She just keeps going around, doesn't she?  Like a fine sazerac, we find the Old Gold getting better with age.  Or, at the least, it isn't vinegar.  Yet.

The freak party rages on, of course, and there have been some major league softballs toss'd in the direction of the Great White this past year (or 10, whatever).  We got a few Chick Fil A's.  You can find frosting on a stick if you look hard enough (every major outdoor gathering).  Finally found that quarterback for the next decade.  So, because of these and many more, you can see things are turning around.

That's all we can ask for, right?  To build up little victories as we stumble to the middle of the road?  I used to sit in front of a computer at work and write fictional back stories to a rap group from Edina.  I can't say it wasn't a blast.  We were wired into the main breaker then, circuits all popping regardless of life events.  Now things just take time.

If you really want to see the other side of that, get into Bukowski.  Specifically, The Captain is Out To Lunch.  Hey, did you like the horse track?  Have you ever gambled?  What about the worthiness of life?  Too much of that though, is like too much sazerac.  It burns the palate so the cheap stuff doesn't taste as good.

Ah hell, I'm off the tracks again.  I suppose we should pay homage to Old Bess and what she has done.  Well, personally, she saw spoutings from west of the Pacific for quite some time, then from right smack the christ in the middle of it.  I always liked to think of her as an empty chalkboard to just douse in theory of life.  Hell, most of it made no sense.  The stuff that was coherent was still a jumbled mess.  There are nuggets of truth, but they're buried in babble, from me anyway.  Hell though, that's the point, right?  We never said this was going to be easy.  "Well for breakfast today, I fired up the breakfast sandwich maker and I....... burrrrrrrrrrrrrrr".  Life isn't like that.  If you want meaning, you have to find it.  You can't camp out in front of someone's compound and hope they tell you what cards to play.  John Lennon just served that guy tea and biscuits.  Notice he did not allow him inside.

So, keep on.  Lord knows we're not going anywhere - in fact, we're just settling down for a long winter's nap.  (ed. note - by "nap", he means, a "season-long brandy and apple cider chugging contest")  In ten more years, we might not have moved the needle, but we damn sure will have done the revolutions.  And really, as we bang off the walls, name me a better place than the middle?

I'll see you there.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ten Years of Gold

Ten years ago, the need for uncluttered thought and substance-addled prose ignited us enough to start this blog and run free. The volume has ebbed and flowed, and to be sure Trip is alone now, but it's worth celebrating the staying power and evolution.

Within this decade, we've reported from the front-lines of culture, good and bad, around the world.  Some thoughts have been clear (even with libations), others, well, less than so.  But that's the whole nature of this place.  Trip has even dipped into his old columns from the LA Reader newspaper, though it still has yet to be determined if that's to highlight changing times, or pure laziness.

When you're on the gold hunt, life can get in the way.  10 years will do that to you, and perhaps that's why the prose, while no doubt continuing to ignite Jake and Drew's brains, remains untapped.  Jake began to write over 5 years ago "Is Success Measured in Degrees?"  It's a question that can lead to an easy answer, but as this blog also speaks of the strife in Dealville, it's not a clear-cut answer.  Drew's last post a few years ago was of a Las Vegas hunt that seemed to appear like a Vietnam flashback.  There was pictures and documentation, but the sudden rush comes and goes on its own.  While those days aren't gone for anyone, days like THAT are, and it leaves the reader to decide if it's good, bad, or somewhere in-between.

And yet, the spirit lives on.  Maybe not in the same way, or as often as it used to, but there are moments.  We raise our glass and salute the 10th birthday.  Anytime those moments are detailed here, well, that's gold.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Good Morning, Dave: Fri, 9/12/80

This episode, mere days after the Christmas episode, seems as close to a "typical" episode as anything.  But things seem a bit askew in the beginning when Dave maybe walks out a beat too early, considers doing it again, realizes he can't, and then walks out anyway.

The audience does or doesn't recognize this, and gives him an enthusiastic welcome.

"We have a keen show for you this morning.  Do you know anyone who uses the word keen?"  (The audience applauds)  "No, you don't, you're hoping to win prizes."  These are his people.  Edwin Newman will saunter down from the news department to discuss the '80 election, book authors on the 2 paycheck family (this is daytime, remember), and Dave teases a musical surprise for later in the show.

Dave also mentions that next week begins a contest: have The David Letterman Show in your own home.  (You'll see this in later dates).  But the end of the week (as it was on Late Night) is time for viewer mail.  Among the letters: a request of a replay of a Stupid Pet Trick of a dog playing piano, and a replay of what might be the most famous moment: the end of Sam & Betty Cottonoff's anniversary party, where the sparklers set the confetti on fire.

This clip also made it to the last episode of Jon Stewart's talk show. and to be honest not only was I surprised on the lack of morning show clips up to Dave's retirement, I was especially surprised this didn't make it in somewhere.

By mid-September, there were no scheduled debates for president in what, at the time, was very much a 3 man race of Reagan/Carter/Anderson.  Edwin and Dave talk on why it's a big deal, and what's delaying it.  It's interesting to see this segment after comedy, especially since it comes across as 2 people talking politics, and with dry wit to match.

Next, Dave takes a tour of street food vendors, "A restaurant row for people who like to eat dangerously."  As the camera tilts down from the top of the skyscrapers Dave says, to an ice cream vendor's face "That's one of the high points along 6th avenue, and one of the low points of 6th to speak."  Next, a visit to a man selling "perfect lemonade" who is, essentially, shirtless.

Further down the road, knishes (which Dave calls "a wallet filled with mashed potatoes"), and "a man is selling what he euphemistically refers to as 'hamburgers."  He then stops along Rich Hall, one of the regulars, selling "generic meat, for people who know the need meat in their diet, but aren't particular about what kind."

After a brief segment on  how to get to Willard Scott's house (with some family photos that shows how tough it was before Photoshop), Dave interviews Margorie & Morton Shaevitz on the 2 paycheck family.  While it might seem typical for 1980, many folks had grown up in the "traditional" structure.  It's a fairly standard interview except for this moment:

Margorie: Mothers stayed home, and they took care of the kinds of things like washing, cleaning, ironing, kids, the grocery man who didn't show up, or the linoleum man who did, but now...
(audience holding back laughter)
Dave: I think you rang a bell with linoleum there.
(audience free to laugh now)
Margorie: I wonder what the significance of that is?
Dave: I don't know, I think there's an old, cheap, ugly joke involved.

But after Edwin's news update, we're on to the main event: the big musical surprise.  The late Paul Raley, one of the writers and original member of "The David Letterman Family of the Air" comes out and, well...

This video comes from Harve Mann's own page.  Thank you, Harve!  What a pleasant way to start a weekend!

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Good Morning, Dave: 9/9/80, Christmas in September

For Dave's followers, those minding the kids at home or back to school, they might have missed the announcement at the end of the Monday episode.  The promo later in the day left no doubt: it will be Christmas tomorrow, just to get the "special" episode over-with.

The opening remained the same, but true to all those whimsical holiday cards of yore, Dave enters framed in a wreath.

The audience, of course, is already in the holiday spirit.

The reasons explained were simple: you're tired of Christmas by December what with all the specials, shopping, so on.  Get it out of the way, and you don't have to go shopping afterward.  This would also be rerun on December 24th or 25th (sadly, this wouldn't be an issue).

First, comes a look at predictions of the hot gifts for Christmas '80, including a shirt stained with fancy foods (to give the impression of high dining), a couch-sized whoopee cushion, and Mr. Mashed Potato Head.

The end result gets a mixture of laughs and uncomfortable groans, which leaves Dave to remind the audience that these are just a few and not all of the hot gifts for this Christmas.

First guest, Susan Powell (Miss America 1981), gives Dave insight on the pageant.  When she says that regardless of how large of a group are competing for a crown or not, you really compete with yourself, Dave asks "You don't mean to say you were the only entry in the pageant."  Though the audience laughs, Dave reminds her it's a joke, which leads to fake laughter by the guest and a host caught a bit off guard.

If anything, it shows Powell is more than game to play on Dave's level.

Dave: Thank you for having the courage for being on the show.
Susan: You know, I was just thinking that...

In the next segment, Powell sings "White Christmas" while Dave reminds viewers "is there anything more American than Miss America singing White Christmas, even in September..."

After a view of folks doing their last minute shopping for the holidays (on a day considered "unseasonably warm")...Dave brings up a recent article in Small Town News.  This usually showed headlines and brief snippets of local color (it's where Jay Leno "thought of" Headlines on his shows).  This segment is the "Men & Their Vegetables Hall of Fame"

He then calls the farmer of a squash that weighs 337 lbs., John Ritz of Canton, OH.  John answers the phone "Morning, Dave!"  How did it happen?  Good seed, good soil, and a lot of tea.  He spreads out this tea each August on the fields.  "Now this sounds kind of crazy, but it's not the kind of tea you're gonna drink.  It's a tea made of sheep manure and cow manure."  Dave's response "And you say people don't drink that, huh?"  The squash will keep for another month, and will likely feed most of it to his sheep.

Next is guest Tom Feltenstein, a fast food psychologist, specifically on what makes these restaurants work and how they create turnover.  He states it as "Fast Service," a phrase commonly used today.  He mentions that kids decide so much of the visits, that if they know there is a playground or games there, that leads to where a family ends up visiting a high majority of occasions.  Tom also talks about the key of drive-thru, specifically for those customers who don't want the "hassle" of going inside.  Dave seems interested in this topic and you hear him on the mic say as they go to break "I'd like you to come back."

But what Christmas special would be complete without a visit from Santa!  (Sadly, Santa has some trouble getting out of the sled)

Dave later admits that this is not the real Santa Claus ("The real Santa is vacationing in Las Vegas") but Today show weatherman Willard Scott.  The program closes with all of the kids in the audience joining Dave, Susan and Tom, and everyone gets a Christmas gift.

Was it a can of Winky's Cow Paste?  Part of the giant squash?  We may never know.