Reality on TV
The other day, a friend forwarded me some YouTube links to Captain Beefheart performing "Hot Head" and "Ashtray Heart" on Saturday Night Live. This was from way back when, during the release of the fantastic Doc at the Radar Station album. I'd seen this clip when it happened, and I've seen it in .mpg format a few times over the last few years. This time, though, just days after watching a completely wasted and creepy Iggy Pop sitting down with an awkward, chain-smoking Tom Snyder (on that Punk Rock on the Tomorrow Show box set that's now out on DVD) as well as a charming, articulate Elvis Costello discuss with Snyder his misadventures in unscripted live performance during those same glory days of SNL, it's a wonder us older folks who lived through those days - days when reality actually could be televised for a few minutes at a time - don't just collectively shoot ourselves. I'm not saying we should and that life sucks because Saturday Night Live hasn't broadcast more than a moment or two of furiously joyous performances and comedy bits over the last 20 years, but I see stuff like this, and I'm reminded of just how right SCTV's original opening shot of tvs being thrown out high-rise windows was. Think about how the occasional thrill we get on tv these days, like the breakdown in lip-synching technology suffered by Ashlee Simpson, compares. As Larry Brown used to say after tough wins coaching the Philadelphia 76ers, "It's time I go home and kiss my wife and smell my kids."