No! Cookie Monster!

As I watch the saccharine meanderings of Calliou on Children's Television, I hark back to the really weird and wonderful thing that was Sesame Street when we were little.

Above, Stevie Wonder, Sesame Street, 1973.

Supposedly, the DVD releases of the first few seasons of Sesame Street came with a warning to parents that it was much grittier than what we watch today.

No kidding. The above looks like Saturday Night Light circa 1977.

I think one of the kids in the background is smoking.

No puppets.

But, as a side note, Jimmy and Mary Frances absolutely adore dancing to this song as I cook dinner.

With the death of adventure playgrounds, the rise of bike helmets, and the disappearance of lawn darts, I worry for the next generation. The world is a much richer, deeper, scarier, and even darker place than Barney would lead you to believe.

Plus, the above is simply the coolest thing I've ever seen from the Children's Television Workshop.


traca de broon said...

And then there's Morgan Freeman getting his reading fix on the Electric Company, while encouraging children to play with matches.

Back to the subject at hand, this song has been in my head for 30 years.

the plunge said...

Awesome. And the skit with Grover and Stevie is just about as great, happy, and excellent an advertisement for going back to the 70s and never coming back.


the plunge said...

And lower quality but high yield -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN_CIn7Z8rk&NR=1

Grendel said...

I always loved the Count and Cookie Monster best. Here they are together, cooperating.

I share your scorn for the emblandment and Teletubbing of children's world today, El Gordo. Lawn darts! We played with those for a whole summer till one got stuck in the hood of my dad's car. After that they were put away.

We discovered fire, and the horrid smell of burning the model cars and dinosaurs we'd built the year before. It sure looked good on the Super 8 films we made. We moved on to explosives, starting with packing firecrackers together in ever-larger massings to blow up increasingly large objects.

We discovered the formula for gunpowder in the encyclopedia, (it's just salt peter, charcoal, and sulfur, all of which were available at the friendly neighborhood drugstore). There were truly dangerous explosions where we'd light a long fuse and literally run for it. The bombs were made of glass -- old model paint bottles. I was probably 12.

There were The Bottlerocket Wars, and the purchasing with allowance money of professional slingshots. BB guns. Evel Knievel inspired us to build ever-larger bike ramps from discarded construction site boards and cinder blocks. We got our preschool sister to lie between the "launch ramp" and the "landing ramp." She stayed there without complaining until my grandmother spotted us through the window and rescued her. The record was an 18-foot jump by Mike Moses. Sure, there were injuries. They made us smarter about risk.

I'm not sure how aware our parents were. We found a way to do pretty much what we wanted. It was a small town, summertime. When I wasn't in the mood to blow things up or rig a crude pulley and rope system to travel from tree to tree, I'd get on my bike and vanish into the woods for a whole day, where I'd race over bumpy trails or walk around barefoot looking at weird mushrooms and plants and animals and fish. I'd swim and catch turtles and crayfish and pull leeches off my legs. My mom had no idea where I was all day. She trusted me. Those were some of the best days of my life.

I have heard someone seriously contemplate putting a child in a helmet to make walking around the house safer.

If whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, whatever makes you more protected makes you weaker. And the tighter you squeeze, the more what you hold squirts from between your fingers. All this suppression of the natural, God-given yearning for messiness, for going out and doing stupid and dangerous things and getting in trouble ... from these overprotected kids there will be serious blowback one day. Maybe that's what the rise of X-treme sports portends? At any rate, a hard rain is gonna fall.

And I don't care what they say about seatbeltedly watching Dora the Explorer DVDs -- you haven't traveled till you've done it in sleeping bags in the middle of the night in the back of a station wagon listening to the spookily adult sounds of "So Into You" on the radio as your dad swerves the wooden-paneled gas guzzler through the Smoky Mountains on your way to getting a 2nd degree sunburn in Florida.