THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
I say incorrigible because here's Vince extolling the virtues of sobriety last year, proud of his many years sober, free from the bonds of liquor and drugs. The week after this aired - Vince was popped again for boozin' and losin'. You have to admire his shamelessness. And my callousness given my own past and present proclivities!
It used to be rock stars reveled in their drunken decadence, now they're going out of their way trying to convince us they're sober when they aren't. I'm not sure that's progress.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 12:33pm
Mike Ransom: Re our discussion about the Pyne/Zappa-table quip that supposedly happened between Frank Zappa and ultra-conservative talk show host Joe Pyne (who had a wooden leg due to a war injury) that went something like this:
Pyne: "So I guess your long hair makes you a woman."
I was prompted to think about it again by the retirement of Dr. Steadman Upham from the University of Tulsa this week. Dr. Upham once wrote this essay based around the 'table' comment.
The story serves as a pivot for the point of his article. In it, he claims to have personally viewed the incident on TV, but wraps up his recollection with this: "Zappa's flash of wit and humor put both men at ease and set the tone for what I remember to be a wonderful conversation."
Knowing of Pyne's sensitivity about his wooden leg and dislike of hippies, I find that very hard to believe. Upham's retelling also included that hallmark of the story, "Without shifting expression, Zappa fired back..." Other variations are "Without missing a beat" or "Without batting an eye".
As an aside, here is a quote from Dan Greenburg's hilarious 1982 novel, "What Do Women Want?":
Pyne was also known for his phobia of being touched: "Don't touch me unless you love me". (You'll see that in the clip above when one of the stage guys tries to help him up.)
However, there is online evidence that Zappa was on the Pyne show at least once as part of a "freak-out" band. Take a look at this 1966 Long Beach newspaper clipping and associated comments.
Your article is cited there as well.
Despite the likelihood of Zappa appearing on the Pyne show in 1966, he wasn't yet enough of a name to even be credited in the clipping; the crazy sculptor got all the glory. As the commenter (who mentions nothing about the legendary exchange) describes the Dionysian scene, it seems unlikely that Zappa would be welcome enough in Pyne's proximity to be given a chance to utter the infamous comeback. But who knows for sure?
The 'wooden leg' story stills seems a little too perfect to me. A Wikipedia writer relates a very similar story (again, "without missing a beat"):
If I were a betting man, I would wager that the Zappa story was transmuted and refined from the Krassner story.
Vito Paulekas was a sculptor who freaked out with a group of dancers at early Mothers of Invention concerts. He is heard on The Mothers' "Freak Out" album. So the above link corroborates the claim that Zappa appeared on The Joe Pyne Show, whether he uttered the legendary comeback or not.
Friday, April 15, 2011 - 7:50am
ENTERTAINMENT OPPORTUNITY IN LA TONIGHT
Friday, April 15, 2011 - 7:10am
He started out life in show biz as a burlesque club comic, here's a cleaned up sample of his 1950's act as half of a duo with Dave Starr, crammed full of corny vaudeville routines but funny none the less.
He shot to stardom on Nat Hiken's Sgt. Bilko as the imbecilic mess sergeant, Rupert Ritzik. His trademark phrase "Oooh, Oooh" sprang from an inability to remember his lines, he was stalling until the words finally came.
But sudden fame was like lighting a match to his flame, soon the unlikely TV star was gaining a reputation in town as a hard partier who was undependable on the set. His vivacious appetite for hookers, cigarettes, fatty foods, and booze were fueled by Hollywood's open embrace for that sort of behavior. He returned to the nightclubs when Bilko was cancelled in 1959.
Still, his charm was irresistable to the home audience so Nat Hiken cast him as one of the leads in his new series, Car 54, where Joe E. Ross proved even more difficult to control.
Car 54 was dropped after two terms and a few years later Joe E. Ross landed the show I first saw him on, It's About Time, which I loved as a 9 year old. The kooky combo of Joe E. Ross and Imogene Coca was hard to resist. Again his co-workers complained about his loutish behavior and that one season wonder was the comedian's last primetime series.
In the 1970s he was relegated to doing cartoon voices for Hanna-Barbera where he once again resurrected his "Ooh, Oooh" catch phrase to delight a new generation. Even that career was short-lived. He died in 1982 entertaining in an apartment complex clubhouse in Van Nuys, CA. You can read Joe E. Ross' cautionary tale here.
Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 11:00am
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