Saturday, September 01, 2012

Labor Day Without Jerry Lewis

For me, the MDA Telethon has been over for a while now. Not just the last two years that Jerry Lewis is no longer the host, but for the last 20 years or so.

It was then that my local MDA 'Love Network' channel (Channel 2 in the Bay Area), stopped carrying it live and actually started to play it Monday morning at 9AM. But even before Channel 2 started that stupid delayed broadcast crap, I was loosing interest because Jerry would 'rest' and disappear during the wee hours of the show.

The heyday of the MDA Telethon was the 70's and early 80's.

In those days Jerry was wild. He would go from being sad, sweet and lovable one moment, to angry, short-tempered and bitter the next. Very uncomfortable but totally fascinating. His career was in the dumpster and he was lit up on pain killers. It was a blast.

I would watch the whole show, wired on coffee and on the edge of my seat every time Jerry was on the air. This was in the day of no Internet and no YouTube. So if Jerry was going to do something crazy at 3AM, you had to be watching it at 3AM. The only option was taping all 20 hours on your VCR.

I actually tried taping it a few times, but found that after Labor Day, I had no interest in watching it. For me, it had to be seen live or it lost all of the impact.

Also, I should note, I always made a pledge because Jerry made me feel so damn guilty if I didn't.

Those were my Portland days and it can get really hot in Portland around Labor Day. Three-digits hot. As the late evening turned into early morning, the city would cool down. But by the time the show wrapped on Labor Day afternoon, the temperature had climbed up again and I was spent.

With sleep deprivation and images of wheelchairs and schizophrenic Jerry swirling in my head, I would feel like I was coming down from a crazy drug trip. God how I miss that.


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