Monday, February 25, 2008
Sesame Street Was Funky
This is the first time in my adult life that I've felt proud of America, too, Michele Obama.
You know, the last time I felt this much hope in the air was when I was between the ages of 4 and 6. I'm not kidding about this. I watched Sesame Street as a little kid, and that was one show that really did its work. First, it portrayed a reality that was not at all like what was up in my neighborhood, but it was able to convince me that this is what was up in other neighborhoods and I couldn't wait to find them.
It is obviously not a rich neighborhood that the little girl moves into on the first Sesame Street episode, but it's the hippest neighborhood there is. The first day she gets there, Gordon shows her around and introduces her to the neighbors. He respects her as a human, you know, something that you really appreciate when you're a kid. He even takes her by his house, and his wife, Susan, invites her over for milk and cookies. It starts to look like Sesame Street is a place where anybody will give you milk and cookies just any old time 'cause that's just the decent thing to do. Plus, Susan is pretty and she wears really cool dresses and shoes, and you know that if you take Susan up on her invitations, she'll also tell you straight about all the woman-stuff you need to know when you're 4-6, and she'll talk to you like a person and not like a child.
That little girl gets to meet everybody in the neighborhood, too. There is no discrimination. I mean, Gordon says he wants to introduce her to Bert, who lives in the basement apartment with his friend Ernie. Ernie is taking a bath at the time, singing "Ring Around My Rosie" and, next thing you know, Bert is the bathroom with him. And, hey, that's totally cool. Ernie is a little on the dramatic side, and he breaks into tears of revelry about beautiful things, like the number 2. Bert consoles him. They're both such good people. Gordon also introduces her to Oscar, who lives in a garbage can. He's not ever in a good mood, and you can dig that 'cause you wouldn't be either if you lived in a garbage can, but that's no reason not to dig Oscar, too. He lives in the neighborhood.
That Mr. Hooper is a pushover. And you know that Maria will teach you how to knit and crochet, but not like grandmother shit. She knits and crochets the good shit.
All that "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1!" is totally psychadelic. And you also get to see kids outside the city milking a cow. You learn that milking a cow is best because milking machines might hurt the cow. The show pops in with little vignettes, like a black hand and a white hand shaking in friendship. You're 4-6, and you know there's hope in the air while you're watching Sesame Street. There was not hope in the air in my household and some rough personal things went down, but what I'm trying to say is that there was a good and hopeful vibe in the air at large.
In addition, Beatles movies came on network tv on Saturday mornings, and once that stuff was in my head, I just wasn't settling anymore.
A couple years later it seemed like everything had just gone to hell. All the sudden, everything was dangerous and the "hip" outlook was to be scared of everything and everybody and move to the suburbs, out by the WalMart. Reagan got elected when I was 13. It was all over. Clinton didn't undo any of that. And then the country got overthrown by fascists. It's been a long stretch.
This all may sound crazy, reductive, or stupid, and readers (all three of you :) may have three words for me: "Save To Draft." But there's a feeling in the air now, despite everything fucked up about the country and the world, that somebody can help us figure out how to get (how to get) to Sesame Street. And it's not that "It takes a village" lady, either. If this is a delusion, I say let it be. But also refer to all the wonky posts on the blog about policy differences. They're real.