Bong hits, Donald Fagen and maybe a little José Cuervo.
“Biscayne Bay, where the Cuban gentlemen sleep all day.”
Loved that line. Always sang out loud. Still do actually.
Maybe it’s in the blood… ya think?
A decade-plus old LP spinning on my decade-old Technics SL-3300 table that still sounded good, even with the pops and that one skip about a minute and fifteen seconds into “Any World (That I’m Welcome To)” . Throw throw in some friends and libations.
Any random night in 1988.
Well, all that and eventually Morton.
Morton Downey Jr. that is.
Look… I was young and stupid.
I could have TRIED talking the bong hits and tequila crowd hanging out at my place into tuning to Buckley’s “Firing Line”, it had the shit time slot on the one other TV station we could get in the apartment, but let’s be real for a minute here. What guy my age in 1988 would own up to watching Buckley?
Old people watched that crap.
Strippers for God, white supremacists at the Apollo and Al Sharpton getting knocked on his ass. Morton was entertainment for the sans-culottes. The main course to follow the bong hits, Steely Dan and the shots of José Cuervo.
It’s hard to imagine that The Morton Downey Jr. Show only lasted two years.
Buckley’s Firing Line ran for thirty-three years. Over fifteen hundred episodes with Buckley being its only host. I watched as many as I could once I was alone, far from the madding crowd… well, madding only up until the second round of Cuervo anyway.
I have to admit that a lot of it went over my head, and some of it put me to sleep, but sometimes Buckley could make my head buzz as wildly as some of the other stuff did.
Buckley was great.
Thirty-three years of intelligent, erudite conversation and on topics of substance being batted about by people of substance equal to the complexity of the issues, yet, it was Morton Downey Jr. that changed America forever.
Morton saw us for what we were.
Morton saw the future.
What was scandalous about the Morton Downey, Jr. show yesterday, is standard in pretty much every show on TV and even our daily lives.
Case in point.
My wife watches a “reality” show called The Bachelor/Bachelorette. The format is very simple:
- You take a guy, you surround him with a bunch of single women.
- Add all the booze they can consume.
- Fly them around to exotic places in the world.
- He sends a woman (or two or three) who fail to please him (to one degree or another) home every week, and the party’s over for them.
He gets to hook up with all of them (to one degree or another) which is how he decides who stays and who goes, and eventually falls in love (to one degree or another) with one of them, and he may (or may not) propose matrimony to that last standing babe.
The Bachelorette is the same thing, except with one gal and twenty-five guys heading off into the sunset, looking for love, or at least hook ups.
This season, I watched The Bachelorette with my better half (happy wife, happy life!) and it was something else.
You see, this season’s Bachelorette almost immediately knew who was “it”, but she had to continue on with the show. All the flights and hotels hab been booked after all.
Now, she told Mr. “It” that he was “it” way early in the show, but seeing how the show had to go on, he had to watch her make out with twenty plus other guys that he had to room with for weeks. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, one guy decided to join the show two weeks into the process, and he KNEW our heroine from “before”. Then in a booze-drive romantic tryst, somewhere in the Irish countryside, the Bachelorette and the late arrival consummate their passion while Mr. It sits back at the hotel and talks about trusting his girl.
There is a point to all this… truet me.
Not unexpectedly, the blogosphere and social media went after our randy heroine with a passion. It was ugly.
Every day my wife would read the worst of the worst comments from fan pages and Facebook groups, and they were bad.
Then, she had to tell Mr. It, on camera, that she had slept with the Other Guy. He just sat there until he had to leave the room.
A few episodes later, he proposes to her.
Then came the “After the Show” show and when the issue of all the nastiness came up, the crowd stood and cheered for our brave Bachelorette and her brave stance in the face of all the”unfair and unjustified” attacks on her values and morals, and just like that, the trollop had her virtue (sort of) restored as she sat there fighting back tears and holding her head up, while Mr. “It” sat next to her wondering just how many more times he was going to have to hear about how the girl of his dreams had banged some guy on national TV, just a few nights before he proposed to her.
The show plays twice a year (one Bachelor and one Bachelorette) and a selected number of each of the show’s “also rans” (the ones sent home early) get to spend a few weeks at a Mexican Beach resort in Puerto Vallarta, where Jorge the bartender pours them drinks in coconuts while dishing out relationship advice. The hook ups run wild.
This, oddly enough, doesn’t play as “odd” to most people today. It’s normal.
This year, the summer hook-up-in-Mexico-for-losers show ran roughly during the same slot as another odd show.
I’m talking about “I Am Cait.”
For those of you that have been stuck in the International Space Station for the past year or sow, this show is basically a set of cameras and microphones following Bruce Jenner (the former Olympian) dressed like a woman and (among other things) shopping for one-piece bathing suit that properly hides her package, some sensible pumps in a man’s size 12, and a women that “she” may be attracted to.
This too, is part of the new normal.
Caitlyn Jenner was awarded the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage, so named for the universally admired tennis player who died in 1993 and was famous for his steely determination and sense of personal dignity.
There were others that could have been considered for the award like Lauren Hill, the 19-year-old college freshman from Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati who helped raise money for cancer research while waging an inspirational battle with an inoperable brain tumor that failed to stop her from achieving her dream of playing college basketball.
Lauren was apparently not as courageous as Caitlyn.
Then there was Noah Galloway, an Iraqi war veteran who lost two limbs but in spite of that continued to enter competitions, including an inspiring run on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
Noah was apparently as courageous as Caitlyn.
It’s a mad, mad, mad world.
It’s a Morton Downey, Jr. world, because Morton understood the power that one can generate by tapping into the people’s base instincts. He led the way and along the way created an entirely new genre of TV entertainment that gave life to shows like The Jerry Springer Show, the Sally Jesse Raphael Show, Maury “Who’s Your Daddy” Povich, The People’s Court,etc.
Beyond that, and equally as significant, Mort’s trend have permeated the TV talking head shows, with the likes of Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Al “You a Punk Faggot” Sharpton, Sean Hannity, Judge Jeanine, Rachel “Mad Cow” Maddow, Bill O’Reilly taking up the Morton Downey, Jr. standard to one degree or another.
The Morton Downey, Jr style can be heard over the airwaves and podcasts. Too many there to name.
These entertainers reign over the media. Sure, there are some remnants of the old “Firing Line” format, but no one watches them because they’re bland, boring and no one yells at anyone. And we want yelling and we want to be entertained, and to Hell with substance and erudite conversation.
But I don’t think that even Morton could have seen Trump coming.
I don’t think that even in his wildest imaginings Morton could have imagined the Trump candidacy, and his standings in the polls.
Morton, whose entire show premiered and peaked during the Reagan Presidency could have never believed that just a few decades later, he GOP’s leading contender and the conservative choice for the Presidency would be a pro-choice, pro gun control, pro taxation, pro socialized medicine billionaire who as a registered Democrat during the George W. Bush administration, and whose most recent job experience was as a host in a TV “reality” show. Conservatives who spent the entire Obama administration hammering him on his crippling inexperience have elevated three candidates to the top of the polls who “make Sarah Palin look like a wisened political veteran”.
Even Morton may be shocked.
So this is the world where those people who watched The Morton Downey, Jr. show live now live in.
A world where Target removes “Gender-Based Signs” from their aisles to avoid some manner of frustrations expressed by some of their customers over signs offering gender-specific products, while Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner shops for a one-piece bathing suit dressed as a woman and discusses a woman that “she” is going away for a weekend with.
A world were trollops are virtuous and virgins rare and even weird.
A world were trannies are courageous and police officers cowards.
A world were Donald Trump is the leading contender for the office once occupied by the likes of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Reagan.
A world were people will wonder around Target lost, not knowing where to find tampons or cup protectors.
Somewhere, Morton may be thinking of suing the nation for royalties.
Our world is one never-ending Morton Downey, Jr Show every day.
Or maybe, Morton should be The Donald’s VP.
That way at least there would be one real Republican in the ticket