April 15, 2005


Whatever happened to Rodney Allen Rippy? Remember him? He was a little kid who gained fame in the early '70s somehow. He appeared on all kinds of TV shows and commercials. He got his big break in ads for Jack In The Box. Nowadays, I think, Jack In The Box exists only on the west coast. What was in that special "Jack Sauce" anyway?

I remember when Rodney and little Ricky Segall appeared at a podium at a Grammy Awards show with Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson. Whatever happened to Michael Jackson? Has anyone ever figured that out?

I remember when Ricky Segall was on Wonderama which, in those days, was hosted by Bob MacAllister. Ricky sang a song called "Say Hey, Willie, Wont You Hit One Out Here?". See, that was back when Willie Mays was still playing ball. He was with the Mets at the time. The Mets won the 1973 Eastern Division with a record that was only 2 games over .500. It's still hard to believe that they actually beat the Big Red Machine in the playoffs. But, that's not really part of the story.

Bob MacAllister used to end Wonderama by singing a song called "Kids Are People, Too". I never understood what that song was supposed to be about. I was a kid and I was a person. I knew that and I think everybody else did, too. In fact, to me it looked like the world was designed for kids, not adults. But, I guess I was seeing my world through my own eyes. It was just my world; a kid's world.

I remember when the Jackson 5 appeared on the show. I was a huge fan of the Jackson 5, and Michael was my idol. I wanted to sing like him, dress like him and, basically, grow up to be him. Some dreams are better left unfullfilled. But, I digress.

The thing about TV back then was that there were only about 5-8 channels that came in reasonably clear, and everyone seemed to watch all the same shows. For instance, if you watched TV in the '70s you watched Jeaque Cousteau's specials on PBS. I remember when John Denver went along on a trip, but all I remember about it was what he said after resurfacing one time: "Was THAT a BARACUDA?!". "Baracuda" was a hit single by Heart, by the way. It wasn't as big as "Magic Man", but it was more suitable to use as thumping throbbing opening number at their concerts. But, that's not really what I wanna focus on now.

John Denver, in homage to his time with Cousteau's team, wrote a song called "Calypso". Calypso was the name of Cousteau's boat, y'see. I've always wanted to own a boat. A big wooden one like Quint's Orca in JAWS. Thought I might name it Driftwood, but, that might be tempting fate.

One of my favorite lines in JAWS is when Hooper shouts "Hey, I don't need this 'working class hero' crap!". I like it because it's a moment when Stephen Speilberg admits the formulaic (though excellent) dialogue leading up to it. Even though we, the audience, would've been fine with letting Quint's character develop as a prototypical "working class hero", Speilberg skillfully injects critique, by Hooper, to keep the characters honest and grounded so as not to seem to present them as cartoons. They are, firstly and critically, people, not kinds of people.

And, in that respect, the art of good filmmaking is alot like the art of good living: "keeping it real." Well, not just real, but keeping it really worth living. And to do that we gotta keep interacting with others. I met a guy last night at the Bridgeport bus terminal. I worked late and left at 7:15. I was waiting for the 9:10 Park Avenue bus with enough cash on me to pay for tomorrow morning's bus fare and a cup of coffee. Two singles, a quarter in my watch pocket and some loose change. Ol' Howie -- a stranger to me -- walked up to me and asked me for a cigarette. I gave him one. He saw that I only had two left at the time and said "Oh, no, I don't wanna run you out..." "It's okay." I assured him. "I've got a fresh pack at home." He hung by me with, obviously, something on his mind. I had half an hour to kill.

He told me a bit of his story. He's been out of prison for three days. They put him out homeless and penniless. He seems to be in his mid-50s and has no family or friends (that he'd like to be back in touch with) to take him in. He's a former Hell's Angels club member who, he promises, wants to live it straight and right from here on out. The Office of Whatever that needs to give him an ID card is running him in circles. All he wants, he says, is to get a frickin' ID card so's he can go to ManPower™ and get a decent day's work and pay and a place to sleep at night.

As he was talking - and my bus was arriving - I surreptitiously grabbed a single from my right jeans' pocket and stuffed it into the cigarette pack in my sweater pocket. "Don't do it," I thought. "That's yer coffee money for tomorrow morning."
When I was ready to board the bus I handed him the pack. "Take my last cigarette, Dude," I said as I left. I hope he actually looked in the box and found the dollar rather than grabbed the ciggie whilst looking at the scenery.

So, I had no coffee this morning. Oh, well. It was annoying not to be sipping some joe on the long ride to Milford, but I thought about what that dollar meant to Howie today. It was doing more good in his hands then it would've done in mine. All was well.

Just after lunchtime the Boss walked up to me and handed me an envelope. I mentioned in my last post that he'd sold the business and that today was his last day as my boss. (He's working tomorrow, but I'm not.)

I opened the envelope and in it was a card thanking me for 10+ years of loyal service. "I often recount," he said, "that half of the battle of success is just showing up. Of all the pressman I've seen in this business, you're the one that always showed up."

Wow. I opened the card and found $500 in cash. Five $100 bills. Wow!

I ran into Howie again this afternoon. I was free to leave work early, YAY!

"Hey! How's it goin'?" I asked him.

"Ugh!" he cried. "I went down to get my ID card, like I told you yesterday.. 'oh we wont have it 'til Monday' they told me." Now, he got into more detail than I will now but, bottom line, he's in deep shit 'til Monday.

"I asked them to just Give! Me! Something! Anything! Y'know, I can survive for days on $5, y'know how? Little cakes. You can get a package of two for 25cents. It puts something in your stomach, y'know? That and one meal a day at the soup kitchen is enough."

I wasn't surreptitious at all this time. 5 bucks, eh? Gotta get to Monday, eh? I pulled out me billfold and gave him a $10 bill. "Eat more than just 25cent cakes this weekend, okay?" I told him. He just about shit. He leaned in and gave me a hug like I haven't felt since my grandmother's hug at grampa's funeral. $500 in my billfold (which I'm gonna use to pay up current on the bills and maybe get a few new pairs o' jeans and some shirts) and all I had to do was give up 10 bucks of it to make a real real difference to someone whose less fortunate than even frickin' me.

When you look at the news and think about the big picture it often seems like nothing's right with the world. But, I believe, if you look at the world and think about the big picture it more often seems like there's nothing right with the news. We know what's good and we know how to be good. We so-o-o-o know how to be good it's rediculous. All we gotta do and be is what we know we're s'posed to be doin' and bein'.

Blessings come to those who bless.

"Huh?" I think I hear. "But, only God can bless!" Nope, I tells ya. It is we, together, who bring the blessings. God speaks to each of us and when we obey we are angels for His blessings. And the blessings, in turn, according to my experience anyway, will come to those who bless. Anywho, I believe that right now.

This post started out as a gimmick; a stream of consciousness rambling piece of nothingness. I hope that it turned into something that makes some kinda sense to someone out there!

I go google Rodney Allen Rippy now....

Posted by Tuning Spork at April 15, 2005 09:13 PM

I'm proud to consider you a friend.

Posted by: Ted at April 16, 2005 10:55 AM

So did he find the dollar in the cig pack?

Posted by: Susie at April 17, 2005 11:12 AM

That was incredible. And wonderful.

Posted by: Debbye at April 17, 2005 09:31 PM

Thanks guy and gals!

Susie, I have no idea if he got the dollar. He didn't say and I didn't ask. But, I'll bet he saw it if only 'cause he probably looked to make sure there was only one cigarette in the pack.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at April 18, 2005 07:52 PM

Coolness. Just very cool. I don't know what else to say.

Posted by: RP at April 20, 2005 09:14 PM

1) Plenty of Jack In The Box down here in Texas -- What-A-Burger, too.

2) I remember those Rodney Allen Rippy commercials from when I was a kid -- Jack In The Box was pretty much a West Coast thing back then, and I thought the commercials were cute during the short time I got to see them (I don't remember if it was in the couple of weeks we visited family before moving to Guam, or if it was when we came back two years later).

3) Bob MacAllister and Wonderama -- My God! I thought I was the only person on the face of the earth that remembered that show.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at May 7, 2005 09:49 AM

Whats going on??? (Smile) I'm still hanging in there. I have 3 feature films in development and I just did an interview with E! Entertainment and it will air in Nov. 05
Keep in touch you wacky people! hahaha
Rodney Allen Rippy!

Posted by: Rodney Allen Rippy at October 28, 2005 09:07 PM
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