BROOKE GLADSTONE: I have that Ed Sullivan DVD set, and to see the Beatles again within the context of that show is to appreciate, again, the power of anarchy. Tucked within that tidy hour of crooners, comics and puppeteers, the pandemonium wrought by the mere appearance of the Beatles felt like revolution. Even Ed seemed uncertain the Fab Four would play by the rules. But America had loose cannons of its own, and one of them even appeared on a Sullivan show with the Beatles where he sang his own hit song...
SOUPY SALES: [SINGING] HEY-- DO THE MOUSE, YEAH. HEY-- YOU CAN DO IT IN YOUR HOUSE, YEAH. ON THE RUN OR ON THE WALL, IF YOUR FOLKS GIVE IT UP, DO IT IN THE HALL-- DO THE MOUSE, YEAH. LET'S DO THE MOUSE, COME ON AND DO THE MOUSE WITH ME. [AND UNDER]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Talk about youth culture. Part Pee-Wee Herman, part Crusty the Clown, Soupy Sales was the loosest of cannons, playing a succession of local and national kid shows from Detroit to L.A. to New York. And we loved him, partly because he was nuts, with a cast of hyperactive hand puppets manned by someone's hairy forearm; partly because of the roughly 19,000 pies he hurled over the decades; and partly because of this ultimate bit of mischief on New Year's Day, 1965. He asked us to go into daddy's wallet and, quote, "get those little green pieces of paper with pictures of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Lincoln and Jefferson on them, send them to me, and I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico." He was suspended for a week, and then to our relief, returned, whereupon he was immediately smacked by a pie. This week I finally asked him why on earth he brought up those little green pieces of paper.
SOUPY SALES: Oh, that was [LAUGHS] that was really something, the green pieces of paper. It was one of those things that happens, spur of the moment. I could do what I wanted to do, and I did it. It was a wild show. Highly unpredictable. They tried censorship a few times, but it was never very effective, because there was never any problem of what I was doing; nothing really they could nail me on.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:It put me in mind of Janet and Justin, now generating a torrent of hot water for CBS, the NFL, the sponsors, Congress and the FCC. Janet and Justin got nailed. Soupy says they asked for it. It was calculated and it was ever thus.
SOUPY SALES: I think it's the same old argument. I don't think it's any different.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: TV has always been a reflection of America in a funhouse mirror. Sometimes we just don't like what we see. We can pretend to be shocked at Jackson's glittering nipple. We can call it a rude awakening. But the reality is for anyone who spends any amount of time slack-jawed in front of what has long been called "the boob tube," it's just one more pie in the face. [MUSIC]
SOUPY SALES: PACHALAFAKA, PACHALAFAKA THEY WHISPER IT ALL OVER TURKEY PACHALAFAKA, PACHALAFAKA IT SOUNDS SO ROMANTIC AND PERKY OH, I KNOW THAT PHRASE WILL MAKE ME THRILL ALWAYS FOR IT REMINDS ME OF YOU, MY SWEET JUST THE MENTION OF THAT TENDER WORD OF LOVE GIVES MY HEART A JERKISH, TURKISH BEAT. AND IT'S THERE WE'LL STAY, TILL THE VERY DAY WE FIND OUT WHAT PACHALAFAKA MEANS-- WE FIND OUT WHAT PACHALAFAKA MEANS. [THEME MUSIC]
BOB GARFIELD: 58:00 That's it for this week's show. On the Media was directed by Katya Rogers and produced by Janeen Price, Megan Ryan and Tony Field, engineered by Dylan Keefe and Rob Christiansen, and edited by Brooke. We had help from Sharon Ball and Derek John. Our webmaster is Amy Pearl.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:Arun Rath is our senior producer and Dean Cappello our executive producer. Bassist/composer Ben Allison wrote our theme. You can listen to the program and get free transcripts and MP3 downloads at onthemedia.org, and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is On the Media, from NPR. I'm Brooke Gladstone.
BOB GARFIELD: And I'm Bob Garfield.
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