Archive for December 26th, 2011

No – It’s Not “O-Tay!”

Monday, December 26th, 2011


Remember Buckwheat?  The young actor who played the character in “The Little Rascals” was famous for a few years – and then took a dive into oblivion.  What happened to him?

ABC’s respected investigative reporting show, 20/20,  decided to find out. In October, 1990, the show claimed it had tracked down Buckwheat to Tempe, Arizona where, sadly, he worked as a grocery bagger. In the televised interview. ‘Buckwheat’ told his sad tale and many viewers felt sorry for him. Some sent money.

It was a great ‘riches-to-rags’ story except for one thing: the real Buckwheat, William Thomas, died over 10-years before the 20/20 show. His IMPOSTOR, Bill English, pretended to be Buckwheat for over 30-years! Uh, oh.

Within a week, a red-faced ABC admitted its mistake, fired the producer of the piece – and was sued by the child star’s son.

William Thomas wouldn’t have liked any of this. He was a quiet, modest man, who worked for many years in Hollywood as a film lab technician. And he never could understand the nostalgia that was making famous, once again, the ‘Rascals” series which made him a fleeting star.

Nonetheless, in 1980, Mr. Thomas reluctantly accepted an invitation to a ‘Nostalgia TV’ convention. He doubted many people would even remember the show – much less what he considered his minor contribution. He was wrong. Even before his introduction was finished, the audience burst into a spontaneous, loud and long, standing ovation which moved him to tears.

It was Buckwheat’s last shining moment. Just three months later, Mr. William Thomas dropped dead of a heart attack. He was 49.

Here’s a typical Buckwheat scene from “The Little Rascals”:

youtube.com

Tie Died

Monday, December 26th, 2011


Manhattan, 1972. Retail shopping CRUSH-week between Christmas and New Years and every New Yorker thought it his Constitutional Right to exchange every doofus clothing item he got for Christmas – or thought he got for Christmas – or got for Christmas around 1965.

I worked in Barneys, the World’s Largest Mens’ store and the cacophony of customer craziness was mind numbing. “Sir!”, “Sir!”, “Sir!”, “Pardon me, Sir!” “Sir!”, “Excuse me. May I get some service here?” “Sir!”,“Sir!”, “Sir!”,”Hey, Sir!” “Sir!”,“Sir!”,“Sir!”.

I think I can speak for the majority of the 1st Floor Sales Team when I say we hated them – hated every goddamn one of them who waved a crumbled Barney’s sales receipt at us. There were thousands of them – pushing, pleading, whining, yelling, DEMANDING!

The 1st Floor Team had a little pool going to see which one of us would S-n-a-p! first. I was the odds-on favorite.  I was already demoted from sweaters to ties for being rude to customers.


Working in the tie department was a nightmare! Barneys advertised that they had 100,000 different ties. I never counted them but I must have folded that many at least once a day. There were racks of ties – tables of ties – walls of ties – cases of ties – ties everywhere.

It was about 9:40 pm – 20-minutes until closing – and the crowd had gone. I was exhausted and not exactly in a chipper Barneys mood. I was just mindlessly folding ties on the counter – minding my own business – when this businessman walks over.


“Uh, Sir,” he says, “I don’t see the tie I want here.” SNN…..

I slowly and painfully looked up. “Mister, we carry over 100,000 ties. I’m sure it’s here somewhere.”

“Nope. I looked.” SNNNA….

“Well, Sir, if you looked and didn’t find it, we must not have it. I’m sorry.” And then I started refolding my pile of ties. “Would you GO AWAY,” I thought, “JUST GO AWAY!”

“Well do you have any more ties in the back?” SNNNAAAAAPPPPPPP!

“The ties in the back? No – those are our really good ties. We save those for ourselves. We don’t even have to pay for them – and they’re great ties – but you can’t buy one. Sorry.”

“Are you being smart with me? I pay your salary, you know!”

“Really? Great. Can I have a raise?”

“I’d like to see your manager. NOW!”

“Oh sure, I’ll get him. He’s in the back with the good ties.”

I walked to the back of the store and kept on walking. The A-train stop was only half a block away. I never even bothered to go back for my paycheck.