I was a regular viewer of standard 1970s and 1980s television serials – sitcoms like the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family (or “The Poopridge Fartilee, as my big sister dubbed it) – as well as hourlong dramas like Emergency and Starsky and Hutch.
And occasionally I’d watch shows like the hip urban high-school drama Room 222, or the cop/detective drama The Mod Squad.
The Mod Squad were mod because they had diversity: Pete, the white cop with a mop of hair and sideburns; Linc, the black cop with an afro and a gap between his front teeth; Julie, the “girl” as we used to call adult women back in those days, played by Peggy Lipton, who would later appear in Twins Peaks.
In the opening credits, this squad of mod cops (as the creators may have called them in pitch meetings, or maybe when one of them was writing the first line of a haiku) individually emerge into view, where they are fleeing some unseen menace in a dank, urban tunnel. The camera freezes each in a closeup; the second one frozen is Clarence Williams III, who played Linc. Once together and in full view, Pete and Linc take Julie by the arms and they run off, suggesting that she’s not strong enough to keep up.
I remember almost none of the Mod Squad episodes, but somehow one scene was seared into my memory from the moment I saw it. As I recall it, some strange malady (or maybe poison, or drug) is afflicting people, causing intense headaches and paranoia. Maybe Pete is suffering from it as well. Linc is trying to save someone – maybe Pete? (can’t remember that detail) – who is in the throes of the malady, but when he approaches, the ailing victim doesn’t believe this black dude with an afro is actually a cop, until Link pulls out his badge and flings it across the room yelling, “Believe it man!” That line – “Believe it man!” – is one that I somehow can’t shake from my memory, many decades later.
As we are about to go to press, I ask my band of editors for a few extra minutes so I can scan the Mod Squad episode list on Wikipedia (I know, you hate Wikipedia; so do I, except almost every time I call upon it to give me information like this). Very likely, the episode in question is "Find Tara Chapman!" The summary of this episode is that the mod cops are trying to track down a "dying girl on the run" who may unwittingly spark a "meningitis epidemic." Hmm. That makes some sense. Meningitis affects the brain and can make people incoherent.
Alas, we lost Clarence Williams III in early June. Believe it man.
Word on the street is that I don’t know how to tell a real emergency from yet more fake emergencies, but the truth is that I was directly involved in many an emergency over the course of my checkered health past. Did you know that I hang glided into a wall of rocks and broke ribs?
No, sorry, it was my cousin’s ex-boyfriend who did that. I’m much less clumsy than that guy! I’ve almost never broken ribs. Only in car accidents, beer-league softball games and via falling off bikes. It’s much less sexy to break your ribs falling off a bike that you shouldn’t have been on in the first place (icy roads) than by hang gliding. It’s like snapping a tendon in your left middle finger while trying to remove a sock. Who does that? (I did, but only once).
However, my most consistent exposure to emergency situations was provided by network tv in the 1970s via the aptly-named program Emergency! Each week, paramedics Roy DeSoto and John Gage were faced with several riveting emergencies. Choking victims; heart attacks; scorpions hitch-hiking back in luggage from exotic destinations, and so forth. One time, there was a construction worker whose leg was irrevocably wedged between collapsing beams in a building, and the whole shebang was about to come down upon him, his co-workers and our heros Gage and DeSoto. This called for the white-haired Doctor (Joe Early, according an Emergency episode I just watched on youtube) to come and do a quick amputation. He arrived with his kit bag (do they really have amputation tools in those?) but the team managed to extricate the victim and his numb leg before we could see the bloody details.
My favorite weekly Emergency! treat was to see the obligatory cardiac arrest, which required one of our paramedic heroes to karate-chop the dying patient in the chest in order to break ribs and facilitate chest compressions. That was always followed by defibrillator usage. “Clear!”
Now that it’s the future, we have learned that CPR can be done without karate-chopping, but it was so fun to see that back in the 1970s.
I don’t remember any episode involving an emergency wall being built, but maybe I just don’t remember all the episodes.
A person of interest in my life has challenged me to watch the first season of Mad Men (in the comfort of my own palatial, villa-like personal space) in order to catch up to where she is in her Netflix cue.
I know you don’t believe I can do this, which is why I’m so totally jacked to prove you wrong. And also why the following haiku will be totally in your face, in an extremely subtle way.
Five o’clock shadow
Don Draper has it going
At, like, ten a.m.
Did you enjoy the subtle references to you, me, and life (etc.) in that haiku? Phew! At least we have that in common.
Downton Abbey can bring back Gwen, the former maid and current “Mrs. Harding,” wife to Hillcroft College treasurer John Harding, and have her tell the story of the young feminist Lady Sybil helping her get her first job, but don’t for a second think this counts as bringing back Sybil as a ghost.
If this is your idea of a ghost, then you’ve got some thinking to do. In some people’s minds, you can feel the presence of a ghost in a conversation at the dining room table, hear it in people’s voices and “see” the long-dead person who's being discussed in the eyes of everyone affected by her. My idea is that when a ghost enters a room, you actually lay eyes on the physical specimen, preferably in a flattering costume.
For example, the next time Robert winces from another episode of whatever it is that is causing the stabbing pain in his gut and is destined to kill him, have it be when he’s alone in the drawing room so he doesn’t get to say to Lady Grantham, “I can’t drink Bourbon any longer, unless, of course, it’s Knob Creek.” Instead, have him keel over and appear to actually be dying. And then, as it looks like some essential internal pipe has blown and he’s hemorrhaging bigtime, have Sybil appear in her nurse’s garb to staunch the wound with heavy pressure applied to the abdomen, whilst kicking over a couple of tables and chairs to awaken the house.
Tom and Mary are first to arrive, and it’s no coincidence that they are together. They don’t see Sybil and neither does Robert, but he sure feels her and is doubled over from the pressure she’s applying to his gut, which is actually saving the man’s life.
Doctor Clarkson is quickly summoned, and during the wait Lady Sybil comes to see in the guilty faces of Tom and Mary that…well…”finally you two!” (She doesn’t care! Do you think she was going to wait all those years in heaven for Tom to get old and flabby and die?)
Needless to say, there should be evidence of more such scenes to come "On the next episode of Downtown Abbey."
J'Biden Era Haikuage
People's Arms. That's right!
200 million shots
In 100 days
We are good people
But we still have far to go
Repair. Restore. Heal.
There's nothing new here
The Affordable Care Act
We're restoring it
Democracy is fragile
The world is watching
Strategy is based
On Science, not politics
Truth, not denial
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