Tuesday, September 25, 2007

It was a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad world

Cuz responded to my previous post about the book Blink with a book recommendation of his own, The Glass Castle. (Looks good, by the way.) What struck me about his recommendation, though, is how far we've come since those summers in the early 60's, when we spent many an hour laughing over Mad Magazines.

Spy vs. Spy, Alfred E. Newman, iconic wild-eyed-hinged-footed Don Martin cartoon people, and song lyric parodies (our particular favorite) kept us entertained for hours. We committed verses of those silly songs to memory and drove everybody in the house, well, mad spouting them over and over.

In those days, the magazine was full of Cold War humor (yes, the Cold War could be funny) and commentary on cultural mores of the times. I'm sure a whole lot of stuff went right over our 10-, 11-, 12-year-old little heads, but like Bugs Bunny cartoons, there was enough har-dee-har-har business to keep us highly amused.

It was funny but not crude. OK, just a little crude, but nothing in comparison to South Park. At any rate, Mad certainly wasn't banned - even in our Southern Baptist households. I do wonder if our parents ever secretly read the thing when we weren't around. Hmmmm.

And that Alfred E. Newman was such a rebel, eh? "What, me worry?" certainly ran counter to the bomb shelter, hiding under school desks mentality of the day. He gave us permission to forget about the USSR, homework, and ironing our button-down Gant shirts for just a little while. Thank you, Al.

It's heartening to know that both Cuz's and my reading tastes have matured over the years. Still, I wish I could get my hands on one or two of those Mads from my youth. I'll bet they would dredge up all kinds of memories. I suspect Cuz, Lil Sis, and I could launch right into one of those song parodies, if we only had the words . . .

5 comments:

chux said...

just popped by the have a nose again as to what you've been upto.

My mum would say 'i've come to give you a sniff'.

Busy again I can see :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Shorty, for mentioning me in the last Blog. "Memory's Keep" is another book I would recommend to you and your readers. And, if you want a good history of early American politics, "The Age of Federalism" is an excellent beginning.

Love,

Cuz.

Winston said...

Ah, yes, I remember MAD quite well. Back then, if you really wanted to know what was what in the order of world affairs, you read MAD (and read below the surface), and watched shows like Laugh In and That Was The Week That Was. Whatever those shows mocked was something to be noted. TW3 starred David Frost - probably first time America had seen him. Wonder what ever happened to him...

Isn't it odd that some of the most serious aspects of our lives are best communicated and dealt with through humor and comedy...

MaryB said...

chux - sniffin' back at ya'!

Cuz - so, um, Mad Magazine's no longer on your "To Be Read" stack? From Mad to Federalism - you've come a long way, sir!

Winston - I loved TW3. I can still hum the theme song, as I've created many a week-ending song parody to the tune. Nancy Ames was the TW3 blond - who else was on the show besides Frost? Must google now . . .

Chris said...

Oh, wow - I remember MAD. And Laugh In. And TW3. And I was a married grown-up then, not just a young whippersnapper of 10 or 11!

One of the names that immediately springs to mind for me from TW3 is Millicent Martin (latterly seen on 'Frasier'), who must have been the British Nancy Ames. 'Frostie' is still going strong here, mainly doing deeply searching political interviews.