Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A different kind of Vic and Sade interview with Louie Johnson

The internet is a wonderful place (sometimes) where one can run into others who share your compassion for things.

One of my compassions is Vic and Sade.  I think that's pretty obvious.  I recently got an email from Louie Johnson, who has bent over backwards to help me in my research on my favorite radio show.

I asked him if he would consent to an interview, which he agreed to.  I asked him if we could take a bit of a different route and he agreed to that also...

Jimbo: Why do you think Nicer Scott was always doing things to provoke Rush?

Louie Johnson: I imagine Nicer's mother fed him on a diet rich in starch and cheese and that much of the time his gastrointestinal tract was rather sluggish.

To help him out, she would then try to counteract the binding effect by giving him Bromo-Seltzer, which, as we now know, contained trace elements of tranquilizers and other poisons.  Either that or he was just a jerk.

Jimbo: Let's assume the flirtation in Vic's life made him think ... thoughts.  Was he a Lolita di Rienzi man or a Pom Pom Cordova man?

Louie Johnson: Have to believe he was a Lolita man. Pom Pom seems to have been the more effervescent, lively one of the pair. Lolita was more quietly seductive, dropping subtle suggestions that tickled Vic where it counts.  He was much more thrilled that she thought he had a heart-shaped face than he was interested in becoming a third member of a dubious musical ensemble.

Jimbo: There wasn't a lot of affection shown between Vic and Sade.  Why is this?

Louie Johnson: I disagree with the premise. I believe there was a lot of affection expressed between them, done in the manner and mores of the times.

People pulling together for family survival was the hallmark of the era, and doing little things for each other was a quiet expression of their love for each other. Their quiet giggles loudly proclaimed their affection.

Jimbo: Which one of the Bright Kentucky Hotel inhabitants is the most interesting to you and why?

Louie Johnson: As I recall, Gumpox was a denizen of the Bright Kentucky and that while he was sleeping as the fast passenger trains shook the building at night, his bed would travel out the door and down the hallway.

Jimbo: Continuity on the show seemed to take a dive about the time Bill Idelson left the show.  Any ideas or thoughts on this?

Louie Johnson: When a major character departs any program, something needs to replace the vacuum left behind, and I suppose Rhymer and the directors soon realized there was a need for a central familial figure, and they were fortunate to find the brilliant David Whitehouse, whose performances, to me, are every bit as good as Idelson's.  He brought great intelligence to the role, and he was just a tiny bit more acerbic than Rush. I enjoy his sarcastic petulance as much as I enjoy Idelson's great enthusiasms.

Jimbo: What's the oddest incident we learn about in the show's history?

Louie Johnson: The two things that stand out for me are both from the same episode from 1942 "Landlady's Washrag Collection". The idea that someone would issue a commemorative washrag in remembrance of a man who had a railroad trestle fall on him is gargantuan in its absurdity, and the idea that someone else would create a washrag with pockets for coins, keys, and an insurance policy reduces me to tears every time I hear it.

Jimbo: At my site, Imagined Plots of Vic and Sade, I imagined Mr. Sludge having a very social moment and deciding to join the Sacred Stars of the Milky Way and the Thimble Club on the same day.  What crazy things have you imagined could have happened?

Louie Johnson: That would be an interesting situation for sure.  I haven't imagined many crazy things that could have happened because Rhymer did such a good job to begin with.  I truly believe his humor was subversive in the way he knocked the pins out from a lot of stuffed shirts (who always deserve that treatment).  The Bible says God is not a respecter of persons. Neither was Rhymer, and I love them both for it.

Jimbo: Imagine that 3000 Vic and Sade discs were found tomorrow and they were all put on the internet by 2013.  Would you take the time to listen to them all?

Louie Johnson: I'm certain I would listen to them all eventually. Even in the worst episodes there's always a Rhymer-ism to grab onto - a nugget of linguistic wonderfulness. When I first discovered Vic and Sade back around 1991, I listened to the 200 episodes we had available at the time every night while drifting off to sleep. This went on for four or five years, and then resumed again in 2004. I haven't listened to them much since then, but they are constantly swimming around in my skull, affecting just about everything I do.  When I was a teenager in New Jersey, I listened to Jean Shepherd (also a Rhymer afficianado) every night from 1962 until he left the air in 1977.  His world-view formulated my aesthetic sensibilities more than any other single human being, and Rhymer's Vic and Sade put a high polish on those views and attitudes.

Jimbo: Imagine having dinner with the following characters.  You can only ask each character one question.  Reveal the question you would ask:


Louie Johnson: What is your objection to Vic's simple desire to wear a wide-brimmed hat?

Homer U. McDancey?

Louie Johnson: Will the All-Star Marching Team ever actually perform together - I mean in the same place at the same time?

Mis' Appelrot?

Louie Johnson: Have you been tested for tetanus recently?

Mis' Neagle?

Louie Johnson: How did you get so beefy and are you busy tonight?

Russell Miller?

Louie Johnson: How come you never talk about your brother?

Robert and Slobert Hink?

Louie Johnson: Honestly, are Cupid and Stupid as creepy as you two?

Rotten Davis?

Louie Johnson: Is ill-fitting underwear the real reason you want to raise such a fuss all the time?

Mr. Sludge?

Louie Johnson: How did you develop your fear of naps?

Hank Gutstop?

Louie Johnson: Would you consider training me to be Deputy House Detective at the Bright Kentucky?

Jimbo: Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

Louie Johnson: Thank you for asking them ...

©Jimbo 2012
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