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Atomic Platters

Tom Lehrer Interview

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Brother Theodore Interview

Walt Disney's UB Iwerks Interview

DAVID OSSMANof theFiresign Theater

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See us on TV!

Baked Potato

Highlights from the Crazy College Tv Show from 1975. You'll laugh, you'll cry...

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Sites we like:

Archeophone RecordsThe earliest days of records, cleaned up and on CD. They share a lot of their music and knowledge with us for which we thank them.
Greenbreir Picture Show John McElwee's daily bog on the early days of Hollywood Cinema
News From Me Mark Evinier's essential blog for listeners of Crazy College.

Paley Center for Media (Museum of Television and Radio) Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Cartoon Research Jerry Beck's daily blog

Dedicated to all music odd, silly or forgotten, Crazy College has been hitting the airways since 1984. Hosted by Geo. Stewart, it's a fun way to look at the whole panoply of American social attitudes and what them change, sometime even evolving for the better. Spike Jones, Stan Freberg, Allan Sherman, they all have a home here, as do Brother Theodore, Bob & Ray, Raymond Scott and more.

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"Never underestimate the potency of cheap music."


- Amanda Prynne, Private Lives

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COMING SOON: NEW SEASONS OF CRAZY COLLEGE AND SCRATCHY GROOVES!!!

Dedicated to the musics from the earliest days of the century - the LAST century -- Scratchy Grooves invites you to wind up the old Victrola and hear the roots of the Great American Song Book. *


7 PM Sunday nights on 91.3 WVUD.org until Nov 7 when we begin at 5 PM


Sunday, October 31 7PM EDT

' Say Hello to Halloween '

This week the ghost and goblins come out of their old haunts as Crazy College plays some spooky favorites from the likes Spike Jones, Lydia Lunch, Bobby Boris Picket and John Zackery, all guaranteed to give you a good scare.

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New time!

Sunday, November 7 at 5 PM


' It's a Mad, Mad World! '

A Super Spectacular edition of Crazy College as it hits the air on 91.3 WVUD in its new timeslot of 5PM on Sunday, November, by dedicating the whole hour to the music of MAD Magazine. For decades the satiric publication would periodically include a free flexi-disc as a means to increase phonograph needle sales. Most of us remember such shouldda-been hits as She Got a Nose Job, and It's a Gas. We'll play them and many more, plus talk with the usual gang of idiots who made Mad Magazine happen.

Send us your email and each week and get access to Crazy College electronically! It is a free service certain to put a smile on your face and in your ears.

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I remember Sally Starr

(January 25, 1923 to January 27, 2013)

When Sally Star died two days after her 91st birthday I was forced to come to terms with my OWN mortality. At the time only Gene London and Pixanne lived on. The chief and Unhappy the Clown had died some time earlier. Now Gene is gone too.

Really, she was only famous for one thing - one BIG thing: ' Popeye Theater ' .

I ' m trying to remember the show (was it really 60 years ago?). It should not be this hard considering the hours I spent watching it every day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year. I remember it starting weekdays at 4 PM with Sally in full cowgirl regalia, her finely tooled boot resting on a rather rickety fencepost, the full measure of production value afforded her show. First off: 30 minutes of Popeye cartoons. (I quickly came to realize that if the cartoon had the sliding doors it would be a good one, but even the later ones were ok to my young inexperienced eyes) Then at about 4:30 we ' d get twenty minutes with some combination of the Three Stooges. If at the start there were rays coming off the Statue of Liberty like it was radioactive (a real possibility in those duck-and-cover day), then it would be one of the good ones. That meant with Curly and lots of out-of-date references, like an Ice Man making deliveries from a horse drawn wagon, or floor sized radios or men in derby hats. Filling out the first hour was another cartoon, maybe Huckleberry Hound or Yogi Bear. They were ok, but didn’t have the artistry of any of the Fleischer films by a long shot. At 5 PM it was Rock and his Friends, who would fill our little minds with subversive ideas and surreal madness for the next quarter hour. It was damage to the American culture that thankfully lingers in me to this day. From then on it was downhill; more cartoon, some good, some bad until 5:55, when, like clockwork, the show wound down with the worst of the worst: Clutch Cargo with Spinner and Paddlefoot, or, later, Space Angel. Bad drawings with superimposed real lips heavily outlined in lipstick like some sort of Daliesque nightmare. A whole week to tell one really lame story....

Later on, with the arrival of a new decade and a young president, the station bought another package of cartoons, newly minted, with limited animation but worse, limit imagination. Beatle Bailey. Crazy Cat. And bad, bad Popeyes. They may not be good but they were in color and that was what the advertiser wanted! These new series were commissioned by King Features, the distributor of the comic strips, produced by Al Brodax who would do the same sort of damage to the Beatles when they turned into pen and ink.

But I digress...

She was born on January 25, 1923 as Alleen Mae Beller in Kansas City, Missouri. The second of five girls, she and her sister perform as the ' Little Missouri Maids ' on CBS radio in 1935. Major fame would elude her until she began hosting her beloved afternoon children's program ' Popeye Theater ' in Philadelphia on WFIL-TV sometime in the early 1950s. It was to be Fame that was only local, but lasting, and that was good. Her trademark greeting was, ' Hope you feel as good as you look, 'cause you sure look good to your gal Sal. ' And she ended her show with ' Love, luck and lollipops. Bye for now. '. In 1965 we even got to see her on the big screen in the Three Stooges' final film, 'The Outlaws Is Coming ' , as sharpshooter Belle Starr. (In a very cagey marketing move, the Stooges gave cameos to many of the Kids show hosts across the nation who ran their Columbia shorts as a way to get a lot of free publicity. Moe was no dummy...)

Soon local kids shows got too expensive when the government made it illegal for the hosts to do the commercials and augmenting their salaries by shilling stuff to their overly impressionable audience. No more Flav-r Straws or Sugar Smacks or even Apple Flavored Jell-o endorsements from these members of our extended video family.

But by then the damage was done; we would all be diabetic by our Forties.

Her show was canceled on Channel 6 in 1971 because any syndicated program was cheaper and would certainly be more attractive to an advertiser-friendly demographic of young women, not their kids who could only demand so much Bosco. Starr joined her other tv brethren in taking the demotion and the pay cut and went over to local UHF station, Channel 29. There she hosted an early afternoon movie. Gone was the fringe jacket and cowboy hat. Instead, they stuffed her into a too-tight black dress that would frighten the horses (even her favorite, ' Pal. ' ). She looked like a hostess at a sleezy bar, waiting for last call so she could go home. The show did not last.

Her later years grew harder and harder and is told in more detail by others more knowledgeable. In a nutshell: A move to Florida, a fire in her house trailer that destroyed all her mementos, a quiet return to the Garden State, then personal bankruptcy and a willingness to take any job for any money, just to keep going. She continued to make personal appearances to the last (where young parents, and all too soon, grandparents, would push their smelly dirty kids in her face and tell them how much they loved their Aunt Sally). She was also an AM DJ and operated a pizza parlor in Atco, New Jersey.

In 2006 I booked Sally into the Franklyn Institute for an evening of her cartoons. The museum forgot to tell anybody she was coming, but her fans found out anyway and packed the place. Even the torrential rains that made driving a nightmare wouldn’t keep them away. She walked with a cane now and never stood any longer than she had to, but she greeted everyone with a smile, signed her photos (even old cynical me asked her for one). While we ran the cartoons that she had seen too many times to count and too many times to watch again for the money we were paying, she sat in a dark corner of the basement next to the boiler, eating slightly dried-out cold cuts and gossiped about the other local hosts. (She was not a fan of Gene London). But that's another story for another time.

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The Wondrously Magical Lenape Park

As a kid a visit to my may material grandparents meant the possibility to visit Lenape Park located just a 10-minute ride from their old farmhouse home. It was always a hard choice of which ride to go on first. The gondolas hanging from ropes that swung higher and higher with each tug of the ropes? The bumper cars? The merry-go round with hand carved horses and the chance to grab the brass ring? (I never did find out what I would get if I succeeded, thought I DID know I had a better chance of falling off and breaking my leg.) Then there was the roller coaster the creaked and swayed under the weight of each plummeting carload, riders laughing and screaming in joy unaware of the rain of bolts that fell to the ground with their passing. No safety-harnesses back then. I NEVER did ride that thing.

I had my own personal challenge to face, one that took many attempts before I would prove victorious: the Lenape Funhouse, another death trap that I both loved and feared. It was all rickety boards, built decades ago of now-desiccated pine wood, tinder really, awaiting nothing more than one stray cigarette butt to set it ablaze. The interior was painted pitch black with strands of strings that hung from the ceiling ticking your forehead. They felt like cobwebs and kept grossing me out as I batted them away. At one point the hallway parted and let the public watch us from their vantage point outside as we tried to navigate across floors that would suddenly drop out from under you or wobble from side to side in an attempt to destroy your ankles. All this was under the mocking gaze of mechanical clown who laughed maniacally at our torment while spasmodically jerking from side to side. Every now and then a blast of cold air would shoot up from the floor blowing ladies' dresses above their knees and exposing their legs.

Soon all was black again; the hallway narrowed as we felt our way upwards then down then turning left then right, then left again. Suddenly up ahead: a weak bit of light! It was beckoning us onwards, washing out the gloom ending in a large room with a long bench, a chance to sit and savoy the possibility of escape. Without warning the bench would collapse, dropping you on a long conveyer belt that pushed you towards a sea of blazing sunlight as fake fruits and rubber vegetables rained down from the ceiling. There it was; the exit! People standing around outside, eating cotton candy, drinking soda and waiting for their friends and family members to be deposited at their feet. WE HAD SURVIVED!!

I was 5, maybe even 6, before I finally made it all the way through on my own. Many times I would be so scared I couldn't make more than a few yards in before I would give up run back out way I came, forfeiting not only my pride but my nickel admission, a whole week's allowance back then that I could ill afford to forfeit. Still with every visit I would gird my lions and try and face those demons again.

EPILOGUE

This childhood dreamland came to a sudden cruel end in the mid-60s, like so many did. I am told that John Gibney, the park’s last owner, just got tired of the whole thing and decided late one Autumn it was time to close for good and move on to more hospitable pursuits. Years later it was turned into a corporate retreat, the wooden rides long gone to the termites and time. All that remained from its glory days were a few decrepit picnic tables and a large empty parking lot being consumed by weeds. The final blow came in September 2021 when Hurricane Ida inundated the Brandywine Creek with such brutal force that there was nothing left when the waters retreated many days later. Nothing that is but a few fading memories and a yellowing photo or two.

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Geo and Andy: The Meeting of the Mimes (Be very very quiet)



ROBERT DOWNEY, Sr, a prince without portfolio

1936- 2021


Even when he was a card-carrying member of the countercultural Art scene in the 1960s, Robert Downey Sr, (a prince), was still a full- blown maverick, a true outsider. While other grew their hair long and preached peace and love, Bob practiced it even while his films made fun of the whole naivety of it all. When he died on October 19 at the age of 85, he left a legacy of films that continue to challenge even in this cancel culture age that can't separate satire from reportage, absurdity from reality and joyous optimism from pedantic nihilism. Like a hot, spicy meal, the sharp sting of his wit lingers long after his points have been digested. 1969 saw the first of a trilogy of film.

Putney Swope (1969) dared to argue that all men, regardless of race, color or creed, are equally corrupt. Full of racist, sexist and anti-Semitic jokes well before Mel Brooks made it acceptable -- and commercial, his biting satire freed African Americans from the crystalline shackles of the Sidney Poitier stereotype. It was a prison almost as demeaning (and clearly as confining) as Stepin Fetchit's image was a generation earlier. And when Bob showed it as my guest at the Atlantic City Downbeach Film Festival, it was the Black members in the audience who understood the heart at the core of the film, coming up afterwards to shake his hand and talk about the film long after everyone else had left. It was risky to show a film like that back in 2015; in today's cancel-culture it would not be tolerated or understood. But in 1969 New York Magazine placed it among its Top 10 Films of the Year and just recently the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry of culturally important films.

It had all started as a lark back in 1960, when he first began writing and directing basement-budgeted, absurdist films that became touchstones of the then-burgeoning underground film movement: Balls Bluff (1961), Babo 73 (1963), Chafed Elbows (1965) and No More Excuses (1968). The last three recently received a major restoration partially funded by Martin Scorsese's film foundation before being collected in a five-film box set released on Criterion's sister label, Eclipse, of a decade ago, but still available. Two years ago, the foundation began saving his greatest work Greaser's Palace.

As a writer/director, Bob became a major influence in the still minor underground film movement, but his style would quickly be co-opted by many in main-stream cinema. His take-no-prisoners manner of movie making would also become an inspiration to the next generation of outsider artists. Downey created a signature visual comic style as unique as Richard Lester's, but where Lester painted with a gentle brush, Downey attacked his canvases with a can of spray paint and a putty knife. His pacing recalled that of Laurel and Hardy -- if they had ever been directed Antonioni. His sense of humor was as dark as both Brecht (Bertolt) and Beck (Julian).

After Putney Swope came Pound (1970), wherein humans play dogs hoping to be adopted before their time runs out and they are gassed. The film ends with man's best friends riding a subway car to the afterlife while the Mexican hairless walks down the aisle singings 'Just One More Chance' through a megaphone.

Downey concluded his unofficial trilogy of redemption with Greaser's Palace (1972), an outrageous restaging of the life of Christ in spaghetti western terms. But where Leone's man-with-no-name was an a-moral avenging angel, here he was a zoot-suited Jesse who parachuted one day into a dusty ghost town as the world prepares to end not with a bang but a whimper. This time it was both the New York Post and TIME that put one of Downey's film on its list of the year's best.

At his best he was a great filmmaker, wildly underrated in proportion to his influence. But he was also a warm, genial presence to friend and stranger alike, a trait that earned him the moniker Guest Without Portfolio at the Philadelphia Film Festival. At the few instances that I got to spend some time with him he was always gracious and welcoming to everyone, willing to listen to the most outlandish stories with a bemused smile and a soft laugh. It's one reason he was able to get away with some of the most incendiary aspects in his films.

Downey's comic sense was both verbal and cinematic, composing his frames to exclude information. Only when more is revealed that we discover its true narrative and at time philosophical meaning. Case in point, when the prairie woman is digging the grave for her capriciously murdered husband. Suddenly in a tight shot he begins to jerk about as if being resurrected. Only when he cuts back to the wide shot do we realize that the hope-for miracle is just her pulling on his legs to drop him in the grave.

Long takes let situations develop their own rhythm of humor. Wide lens alternates with long Leone-esque telephoto shots distorted by heat while compressing the space. Don't tell Bob about what it all means; he would only smile, say ok and deny everything.

Downey's take-no-prisoners sense of humor continued cutting a path in Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight (1975), his plotless home movie/surrealist collage and a decade later in Hugo Pool (1997), a film that examines a day in the life of a female pool cleaner in Hollywood. Rittenhouse Square (2005) was his second teaming with Max Raab, having been a consultant on Raab's award-winning STRUT! (2003). In between there was several should-have-beens or maybe should-not-have-beens, including The Gong Show Movie and Mad Magazine's Up the Academy. Blame truculent producers and too much coke for the carnage.

In addition to his film credits, Downey also directed episodes of The Twilight Zone (1985) and adapted David Rabe's play Sticks and Bones (1973) for CBS television. From time to time, he acted (badly, according to him) and can be seen in blighting up the screen in Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999) and Family Man (2000).

His son, of course, is the fame Robert Downey Jr. who revealed that his father (who jokingly, but accurately, tended to list himself in his film credits as 'a prince') had died after losing a five-year battle with Parkinson's disease.

Even in these intolerant times, Downey's films still have many fans, I among them. Those with narrow minds and low tolerance for crude humor are advised to stay away. For the adventurous among you, I give the final words to Edward Van Sloan: 'Well, don't say I didn't warn you. '

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copyright 2021 George Stewart

While trapped at home by the Coke-a-cola virus, Pearl and I just hung around the house and watched the paint dry.

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Lenape Park at the start of the 1960s

As a kid a visit to my may material grandparents meant the possibility to visit Lenape Park located just a 10-minute ride from their old farmhouse home. It was always a hard choice of which ride to go on first. The merry-go round with hand carved horses and the chance to grab the gold ring? The swinging gondolas that swung higher and higher with each tug of the ropes? The bumper cars, tethered to long poles that sputtered and sparked from the high voltage in the ceiling? The roller coaster the creaked and swayed and rained down bolts under the weight of each passing carload of laughing and screaming riders. No safety-harnesses back then! I NEVER did ride that thing.

I had my own challenge in the form of the Lenape Funhouse, another death trap that I both loved and feared. It was all rickey boards, built decades ago of now-desiccated pine wood, tinder really, awaiting nothing more than one stray cigarette to set it ablaze. The interior was painted pitch black with strands of spider webs that hung from the ceiling ticking your forehead and grossing you out. At one point the public could watch from outside as you tried to navigate across floors that would suddenly drop out from under you or tilt side to side in an attempt to destroy your ankles. All this was under the mocking gaze of mechanical clown who spasmodically jerked from side to side, laughing maniacally. Every now and then a blast of cold air would shoot up from the floor blowing ladies' dresses above their knees and exposing their legs.

Finally, a weak bit of light would break through the gloom, offering a desperate opportunity towards escape. The climb up a narrowing ramp led to a large room with a long bench, a chance to sit and wonder how to escape. Without warning the bench would collapse, dropping you on a long conveyer belt that pushed you towards the exit as fake fruits and vegetables rained from the ceiling. Until I was 6, there were many of times I would be so scared I would never make more than a few yards in before I would give into my mounting fears and run back the way I came into the comfort of the blazing sunlight, forfeiting not only my pride but my nickel admission, a whole week's allowance back then. Still with every visit I would gird my lions and try and face the demons again.

This childhood dreamland came to a sudden cruel end in the early 1960s I am told when the park’s owner decided it was time to close for good and move on. Years later it was turned into a corporate retreat, the wooden rides long gone. All that remains now are a few decrepit picnic tables and a large empty parking lot.

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You could get a Crazy College Dream Hour of your very own, too. Call Steve Kramarck at 302 831-2703 during normal business hours and spare the world from me for 60 minutes!

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Another great Christmas gift, again from mom, back in the early 1970s. The copyright reads "1922-1924 King Features"



This is the limited edition Crazy College T Shirt from 1989.


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The people who put together My Book House did a multi-volume set on the history of the world – just like Will and Ariel Durant, but for kids and with better illustrations. This is the cover of Volume One.

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NEWS FLASHS!.. SEE EXCERPTS FROM THE CRAZY COLLEGE TV SHOW, BAKED POTATO, now on YOUTUBE!! But don't tell mom...




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From the "Mr. Wizard's Worst Nightmare" Dept:


My best Christmas gift ever. There was a rivalry between those who had Gilbert Chemistry Sets and those of us that had Porter. What I wouldn't give to find a copy of the old lab manual of instructions....



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To me a house without squeaky floors can never be a home.

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Professor Emeritus Dr. Soupy Sales with eager student:




More News You Can Loose...Check out the interview section for insightful conversations with satirists Tom Lehrer and Stan Freberg, comedian Dayton Allen, Disney animator and founder of The Firehouse Five plus Two, Ward Kimball, and satanic madmad (he was really a nice guy) Brother Theodore and more!.

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From the G. Stewart/C. Healy Archives: A 7 year old Andrew Warhola does his first silk screen: འ Wax Coke Bottles.'






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Chris White heard me talk about my chemistry set on the air one day a while back and surprised me a few weeks later with an original copy of the Experiment Book that came with the set. There were two schools when it came to Chem Sets: you were either a Gilbert person or a Perfect boy, I the latter. At its peak, my lab had nearly a hundred bottles of chemicals, bought at Mitchll's Hobby Shop for $0.25 each ($0.35 for Cobalt Chloride), most of which would get you arrested if you had them in your home. My Golden Book of Chemistry told you how to make a Chlorine Generator which I did and end up collapsed on the front yard. That book was later recalled and several experiments removed and that was one of them. Thanks ever so for the memories, Chris!



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Hey, all you big time public radio stations!

NEW CHRISTMAS SPECIAL NOW AVAILABLE!

You can get a free Crazy College Special on SPIKE JONES and/or a National edition of Crazy College featuring DAVID OSSMAN of FIRESIGN THEATER or our Silly Seasonal Christmas Songs Fest: merry music from the likes of Stan Freberg, Allan Sherman, Tom Lehrer, and the like. Or the Halloween Special...Or get the Stan Freberg Special featuring interviews with June Foray, Daws Butler, Peter Leeds, Dr. Demento and Stan the man himself. Plus lots of musical tracks from Stan! Available to any and all by contacting Crazy College. You can run it anytime you want as often as you want until the end of time or the end of the next millennium, whichever comes first! Perfect fun come fund raising time. No salesmen will call. Act now! No unpleasant bending; no visible panty lines. email at sidetwomedia@gmail.com or call [302] 994 - 7571 for details. Get any or all: The Spike Jones Special, The Firesign Theater special, the Tom Lehrer special, the Stan Freberg AND The Halloween and Christmas Specials for the incredibly low price of ABSOLUTELY FREE! You can't get a better deal ANYWHERE!! As seen on television! Not available in stores!!!

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This is the Crazy College Promise:We will update this website a lot, so you call come back now!


"Crazy College" TM. All original material copyright George Stewart.
Rights to all other material remains with the original copyright holders
May not be reproduced without expressed permission. All rights reserved.

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This leading page designed according to Geo's desires by:
Neil Banerjee [Neil does a really neat show of music from the Indian Subcontinant that you should listen to on Sundays at 4pm (skbde@yahoo.com)
For a free sample visit RAGA and experience music and culture from the other side of the world!

BIO | INTERVIEWS| CATCH ALL/CENTER>