I wrote last week about literary smackdowns, and I mentioned Dick Cavett. That made me think to look to see if he has a presence on Facebook. He does. And he was posting about rebroadcasts of his show airing on a network called Decades. Hadn’t heard of that. Turns out that it is a secondary digital channel broadcast on CBS-owned stations. And my television provider offers it.
What a delight. Programs air Monday through Friday. Decades offers shows from Cavett’s ABC program from the early 1970’s, his PBS program from the late seventies and early eighties, and his short-lived series on the USA Network from 1985. Now I admit that I have three box sets on DVD from the ABC show and I haven’t watched all the programs, but how convenient to have the programs right there on my DVR.
As someone with a permanent 1970’s mentality, this is a real treat.
There is a column each week in the Sunday New York Times Book Review called “By the Book.” Each week a different author is interviewed with a more or less standard set of questions. Here is an exchange from a recent interview with author Daniel Silva:
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer, with William F. Buckley to serve as referee. I think I would set the table with paper plates and plastic utensils to avoid any undue bloodshed.
I posted this to Facebook and commented, “Can we somehow involve Dick Cavett in this as well?” After I wrote this I realized that Cavett had both Mailer and Vidal on his weeknight half hour PBS program in the mid and late 1970s. I don’t recall Buckley ever being on the show, but this was when Buckley was ascendant with his own weekend program in which he engaged in an intellectual smackdown with whomever his guest might be.
In fact, if I recall correctly, Cavett once had Mailer and Vidal together on the same episode, and there was something of a smackdown on that show.
There was some marvelous television in the 1970’s.
I received a fresh copy of the Pitzer College alumni magazine, The Participant, last week. It contained a piece about the retirement of a professor who arrived at Pitzer ten years after my graduation.
I graduated from Pitzer in 1975. I would have attended my 40th year reunion last year with my friends Laurie and Ron had Terry and I not been right smack dab in the middle of our move from Silicon Valley to the eastern reaches of the Inland Empire.
This woman joined Pitzer in 1985 and retired last year. That’s thirty years. By any standards I guess that is a career.
The math works out. But I do not like the math.
An Olive Street recollection.
My Olive Street apartment in Claremont from 1975 to 1977 was in a convenient location. The main north-south thoroughfare, Indian Hill Boulevard, was just a block over. Olive Street ended at Arrow Highway, and we were just a house or two up from there. On the other side of Arrow Highway was a strip shopping mall that contained useful establishments from a practical, everyday perspective.
There was an old Safeway store that was not fancy, but had what we needed. There was a desk where you got your check approved before checking out. Sometimes we preferred a newer, nicer, store and so would drive to Ralph’s, Alpha Beta, or Lucky. But Safeway was always there for ease and simplicity.
Then there was a laundromat. It was very nice not having to go too far to do our laundry.
The strip mall also had a newsstand. The books were not a big deal as I worked in a bookstore, but I enjoyed flipping through the Village Voice and New York Review of Books.
Finally, there was a TG&Y variety store (remember those?). We didn’t shop there much, but sometimes we would try to change our bills for quarters there so we could do laundry.
Our Olive Street apartment. Convenient and appreciated.
During my Claremont days in the 1970’s there were a few choices for classical music on the radio. One of the main options was KFAC, a commercial station. People, myself included, liked to complain that the station played too many war horses. Too much Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss (any or all of them). The non-commercial KUSC was something of an alternative.
These days when I experience news overdose and need to turn away from NPR, often my first thought is to tune to KUSC. But it is now KUSC that tends to be somewhat heavy on the war horses. The Los Angeles commercial classical station, KMZT, is generally worse. I often end up tuning to the NPR classical service, which I pick up via a secondary channel on KPBS in San Diego.
Some things don’t change.
An Olive Street recollection.
When I was sharing the Olive Street apartment with George, we did some slightly offbeat things. But that’s not unusual for folks of post-college age.
One time I got recruited to take the gang to Foster’s Doughnuts. George had a small Nissan (before the make was called Datsun) and I had a big Ford Galaxy. Foster’s was in Glendora, which was about a forty minute drive from Claremont. I was not told this until we were in the car and driving down Foothill Boulevard. And it wasn’t exactly midday. It was after nine p.m. The thing was, the cinnamon rolls came out of the oven at 10:00 pm, and the idea was to get them as fresh as possible.
This became a regular thing. We would get there about 9:45 or so and wait for the cinnamon rolls to be ready. Sometimes they would be injecting jelly into the jelly doughnuts and our friend Dick would inappropriate sounds. Well, appropriate for what he was thinking.
Then Foster’s changed their schedule, and there were no longer fresh cinnamon rolls at 10:00 pm.
It was fun while it lasted.
Those of you who are old enough to remember Richard Brautigan will recognize the first part of my title as a reference to his novella about an abortion in Mexico that did not go well. The second part of my title represents this way of thinking: WTF? Why the bleep are we still having to fight this battle?
Last week the South Carolina legislature passed a law prohibiting abortions after twenty weeks. The governor signed the bill this week. The same week the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill making abortion a felony. Fortunately the Oklahoma governor vetoed that one. As I said, WTF?
Let me tell you a story. I’ve told this before, but it’s been some years.
I was living on Olive Street during my Claremont Cockroach days. Beth was my housemate. She was a sophomore at Scripps College. Her boyfriend Ken, who, in fact, arranged for her to help me share in the rent, came back to Claremont from his Ivy League medical school over Christmas. They did what lovers do, and the birth control failed.
Beth had a problem. She got some good advice and signed up for MediCal. Then she talked to the folks at the Planned Parenthood clinic and made an appointment for her abortion. I dropped her off at the clinic on my way to work at B. Dalton Bookseller and she had arranged for someone else to pick her up afterwards.
She had a lot of pain and Ken was a humongous jerk in grilling her over the phone as to how much of that pain was psychological. But she was free of the pregnancy.
Had Beth been required to bring that pregnancy to term her college career would have been ended and her entire future would have been in jeopardy. I don’t know where Beth is today, but I trust that she is successful and doing well.
Roe v. Wade is the law of the land. We cannot allow ourselves to backslide.