nother one of those lucky finds in a curb-side library, both books of Harland Ellison’s TV reviews that he wrote while on the staff of the Los Angles Free Press in 1968. It was meant to be a review of what was on the tube each week in the LA area. What it became was a radical criticism in the age leading up to the fall of Nixon.
I lived though that time (I was ten) and living (I believe) somewhere in California. Life was nice with brown hills and humming power lines. The sounds from my parent’s TV during news hour really didn’t concern me – the race riots, the political corruption, the Vietnam war, the angry middle class. I was oblivious to it but it did leave a faint imprint on me, something that guides me now as an aging liberal hipster in an eclectic downtown neighborhood in Oburg. Ellison called it all out, shaming the networks for cancelling fine shows (like the original attempt to do All in the Family), the tepid racial casting of Julia (Ellison wondered what the blacks rioting in Watts thought of it), and even the vapid Green Acres. There are a number of humorous reviews – real reviews: Ellison was a big fan of George of the Jungle (my wife really loved it too and I had to read that whole chapter to her).
But overall, Ellison talks about the same things we are STILL talking about, the inequities of race in our country, our endless wars, our idiotic TV shows (at least with all the streaming services, there is something you can find that isn’t mind-numbingly stupid (though people will still watch idiotic shows, regardless of choices). It was eye-opening to realize that the battlelines between conservatives and liberals are still entrenched, that nobody is going anywhere, that the rich and vanishing middle class still protect their loot from the people they’ve stolen it from.
I can only respect Harland more for the truths he told and the penalties he suffered. So, in a few weeks, I’ll read his companion book, The Other Glass Teat, the one the publishing house cancelled because of political pressure. I’m really looking forward to it.
If you vaguely remember those times (or even if you don’t) you should get The Glass Teat and remember what good and evil are all about.