Friday, October 26, 2012

What's Happening!!

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The Day I Lost My Innocence and Realized We’re All Just Shills for the Man...

I had to check out IMDB to find the date, and according to it, the day I lost my innocence and realized we’re all just shills for the man was February 4th, 1978. It was the day that the popular television show What’s Happening!! aired the episode “Doobie or Not Doobie, Part 2”. I was nine years old at the time. It was one of my favorite sitcoms in which “A trio of black youths learn about life, love, friendship, credit cards, gambling, and a variety of other things while growing up in an inner city.” I was a white kid growing up in mid-America suburbia, but didn’t really see much difference between me and them, other than that they lived in apartments and had a different skin color. And that Rerun, despite his obesity, could really dance. I didn’t get out much.

So this particular episode was the second of a two story arc in which the stars of the show, Roger, Dwayne, and Rerun, really, really, really want to go see the Doobie Brothers in concert at their school. But it’s sold out. But luckily they’re approached by a seedy character who will give them free tickets if they just sneak a tape recorder into the show. At the time, I didn’t know a lot about the Doobie Brothers, other than that they were one of those bands that appealed to the peace and love and long hair and everyone getting along crowd, which was fine with me. I liked – still like – a lot of those bands. Anyway, where was I?

I don’t remember a whole lot of the details. Rerun knows that what he’s doing is wrong, but the bad guy and his henchman threaten him with implied violence. Again, it’s kind of hazy. So they’re in the front row at a Doobie Brother’s concert and Rerun is getting into the music and starts dancing, and then oh-oh! The tape recorder falls out of his trench coat. And apparently the band sees this and all stop playing at the same time. And everyone gasps.

Then we cut to the Doobie Brothers themselves interrogating Rerun and his friends about the incident after the concert. First of all, the Doobie Brothers can’t act their way out of a paper bag. Second, even as a very naive 9-year old, I thought what the fuck, man? Hey, Doobie Brothers, are you trying to tell me that you multi-millionaires faux-hippies are so strapped for cash that you actually give a rat’s ass about poor Rerun, Roger and Dwayne ripping you off? Fuck you!

Okay, maybe those weren’t my exact nine-year old thoughts, but you get the gist.

It would have been understandable if the band’s management went after the kids for bootlegging, but the actual band? No! They’re supposed to be all about peace, love, understanding, and marijuana euphemisms.

My innocence was irretrievably lost. At least until the next time it was irretrievably lost. Happened to me a lot.

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