Let Me Now Praise. . .Sweathogs?!
Am I going crazy, or does it seem that 2012 feels more like a century than a year?
Perhaps one reason 2012 feels so long is the way-overlong presidential election is shaping up to be a colossal dud rather than the all-time clash of political titans. I am not excited over the Republican (Mitt Romney) and the Democratic (Barack Obama) nominees for presidents. Even third party candidates like Jill Stein for the Green Party and Gary Johnson for the Libertarian party sound more like middle school social studies teachers than serious politicians running for president. Athough I will do my patriotic duty and vote in the November elections, I simply do not know who I will select for president. Maybe I will choose Mr. or Ms. None of the Above because they probably do the best job running this wobegone country.
Or maybe the reason I think 2012 has been moving slower than a millipede is this has not been one of my better summers. Not only has the weather been hellacious, I have taken loved ones to the hospital several times. It it absolutely no fun trying to make small talk with huffy doctors and nurses and looking at sick elderly people hobbling around with their aluminum canes.
Yet another reason why 2012 seems endless is that I have lost so many of my childhood icons. Since New Year’s Day, Davy Jones, Earl Scruggs, Dick Clark, Andy Griffith, George Lindsey (he played Goober on The Andy Griffith Show), Sally Ride, Ernest Borgnine, Dick Tufeld (the voice of the Robot on Lost in Space), and Mike Wallace have passed away.
And 2012 has been especially hard of fans of Welcome. Back Kotter. In January, Robert Hegyes, who played the remedial student Juan Epstein suffered an apparently fatal heart attack. And now Ron Palillo, who played Arnold Horshack (yes, folks, that was his name, even though it sounds like one of those words you cannot say on television), is gone.
Even though I was one of those teenagers who liked my teachers and usually got great grades except in mind-numbing subjects like mathematics and chemistry, I loved Welcome Back, Kotter because it was perhaps the greatest utterly moronic-but-hilarious Late Boomer (the generation of people born between 1956 and 1964) sitcom. Welcome Back, Kotter focused on the misadventures of a hip wisecracking teacher named Gabe Kotter (played by Gabe Kaplan) and a bunch of remedial students called the Sweathogs at James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn. Although the Sweathogs looked and talked tough, they acted more like adolescent Marx Brothers than the brutal New York City juvenile deliquents in The Blackboard Jungle and West Side Story. Much like Groucho, Chico, and Harpo outwitting Margaret Dumont and other rich snobs in A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races, the Sweathogs, despite not being members of the National Honor Society or even the vocational arts club, were always seemingly a couple of steps ahead of the priggish, know-it-all, know-nothing vice-principal Mr. Woodman and the annoying intellectuals of Buchanan High.
As Vinnie Barbarino, John Travolta became the most famous Sweathog by uttering such memorable dialogue as “Up your nose with a rubber hose!” and also starring in now-classic Late Boomer movies like Saturday Night Fever and Carrie. However, I was a huge fan of Horshack because he looked and acted like a brunette Harpo Marx except he talked like a nasally high pitched foghorn. I went into hysterics whenever he went “Oooh! Oooh!” whenever he answered a question. Maybe the reason I found this so funny was that in the second grade, I was secretly filmed in a school movie frantically ooohing, ooohing while answering a question.
When Welcome Back, Kotter was cancelled, I was quite disappointed. However, I found solace watching Animal House, Porky’s, and other utterly moronic-but-hilarious raunchy movies from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. And today, I get great pleasure by watching the original masters of hilarious nitwit humor, Laurel and Hardy and the Three Stooges.
Epstein and Horshack, you may had not been honor students but you were geniuses when it came to comedy. Thanks for the laughs when I was slogging through geometry and nearly blowing up the chemistry lab in high school.
Joe’s Maybe Memorable Quote of the Day
I am really not a smart guy, but I usually try to act smart.