What the hell has happened to the evening news on television?
Remember the news?
At 6 and 11 PM you would turn on the news and they would lead off with a juicy murder, or a titillating sex scandal. There would be news about politics, theater, movies, business and human interest stories.
Every morning the producers of the news on WCBS, WNBC, and WABC would buy a copy of The New York Post and check out the lead story on Page 3, then they would turn to the gossip on Page 6 and plan the news that you and I got to see that night.
It was a time when reporting the news was much more fun than making the news. It was the time of Bill Beutel, Roger Grimsby, Doug Johnson, Geraldo Rivera, Chuck Scarborough, John Roland, Jim Jenson.
One of the first women to join that rough, tough boys club was my wife, the beautiful Judy Licht. She was a young kid, not that long out of Connecticut College, who found herself covering crime stories in the South Bronx.
John Johnson, a fine reporter from WABC-TV, once came up to me and said, "Did I ever tell you the story of the time when your wife and I were going after the same guy for an interview and when I got ahead of her she kicked me?"
"You're lucky," I replied. "I married her. She kicks me every day."
These days the news is beyond boring. It's all weather all the time. Every night at 6 and 11 the lead story is about the weather. So it's a cold, nasty winter. So what?
The other night a local anchorperson breathlessly announced that we could expect two inches of snow. She repeated "two inches" so many times I thought she was going to have an orgasm over two lousy inches of snow.
Then on danced the terminally happy weather guy, and he was ecstatic over the two inches, too.
Then they went out into the field and an attractive woman reporter who looked as if she was freezing told us how New York City was going to deal with these incredible two inches of snow. She could have told us this from a nice, warm studio, but the station had to tell the world that she was an on-the-spot "field reporter" and the best place for her to tell us about the dreaded two inches of snow was while she was standing on a street corner with her teeth chattering while she was freezing her ass off.
Then they switched to another news reporter who was interviewing the mayor of some godforsaken town in Connecticut who was moaning that his town was running out of salt to melt the lousy two inches of snow.
Then they showed some tape of the place in New Jersey where they keep the salt to melt snow and they interviewed this salt honcho who said, "Typically, in a storm like this, we like to have 3000 tons."
Then they showed a plow pushing tons of salt in a warehouse loaded with salt and I thought of my dad. On a typical Sunday meal he shook that much salt on his food.
That night the snow never came. Not one half inch, not one inch, nothing. "Something diverted . . . there was some mumbo jumbo wind off-shore . . . mumble, mumble . . . "
The fact is these people who cannot tell you what the weather will be in six hours are fast to predict that in six, 60 or 600 years we're going to have Global Warming.
Has there been a total overreaction about the weather by the media, which has gone nuts with the same story every night? That's what the media does. It overreacts. If it's an impending snowstorm, or a wave of cold or hot weather, the media is all over it. We must understand that it is their job to make it sound worse than it is going to be.
There was a time when weather came on just before sports on the evening news. Now the weatherperson leads the news show and comes on before the anchorperson. The same weather stories take up half the local news programs each and every night. They are wrong more times about the weather than they are right.
What a revolting development.
On another cranky note: Did you see that photo of Mayor Bill "Occupy Wall Street Won" de Blasio walking across a street with a cell phone stuck to his ear, crossing against a light? What an idiot. Not as bad as the idiots who voted for him.
People have gone nuts. They walk against the light, against traffic, with cell phones stuck to their ears, daring drivers to hit them.
Everyone has a phone these days.
For some reason, when I saw dopey de Blasio breaking the law and jaywalking with his phone I remembered the early cell phones and the static and the missed connections. Which reminded me of a happier thought of when I used to call my mom, which I did every day.
It was a wonderful nightmare that I miss. This was heightened by the fact that both my mother and father were at a susceptible age so when they approached a ringing phone it was as though it was a time bomb and lifting the receiver would either dismantle it or cause it to explode.
My mom couldn't hear all that well and I found myself screaming on the phone and having comic conversations with a partially deaf 89-year-old lady.
"Hello [crackle] M-o[static] -m!" I would say.
"WHO IS IT?" she would scream.
"It's [static] me, [static] erry," I would answer.
"[static] erry... [crackle] erry, your son, [static] erry."
"I HAVE NO SON NAMED HARRY."
"Not [static] Harry," I would say.
"NOTARY? WHAT DOES THISMEAN?"
"It's me [crackle], Mom, Jerry, [static] your [static] son."
"JERRY WANTS TO HAVE FUN? WHO'S STOPPING HIM?"
"Not [static] fun, son ...son ... [static] son."
"SON? JERRY WANTS TO HAVE A SON? HE HAS TWO SONS. WHO ARE YOU?"
"It's me, [static] Jerry[crackle]."
"WHY DIDN'T YOU SAY THAT? WHAT'S WRONG?"
"NOTH ... [static] ING!" I would scream in a panic. And then the phone would go dead. I would stare at the dead phone.
God, I so miss her.
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