I can die now. I have seen everything. There is nothing left that could possibly top what I have seen. Oh, I thought I had seen it all. I have seen a man walk on the moon. I have seen the fall of the Berlin wall. I have seen solo synchronized swimming. I have seen the president of the United States playing Elvis tunes on a saxophone. I have seen a movie called Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. I have seen Howard Stem. I thought I had seen it all, but nothing could beat what I saw on TV the other night.
I have always suspected that television was indeed a vast wasteland, but I didn’t know how bad it had become. When I was a child there were only three channels on the tube, and quite often there was nothing on to watch. But we were quite happy watching our three channels of nothing. Then along came cable, and suddenly our entertainment options exploded. We now had thirteen channels of nothing to watch. Some of them even had nothing on 24 hours a day. We marveled at this electronic miracle. Then VCR’s were invented, so that if nothing was on, we could tape it and watch it later. Plus they had those nifty little digital clocks on the front of them. We didn’t even mind that turning on the vacuum cleaner and the air conditioner at the same time would cause a micro-second flicker that instantly reset the clock to a flashing 12:00. Then cable grew, soon there were 30, or even 60 channels of even less interesting stuff to watch. If that wasn’t enough, along came home satellite systems. Now you could watch nothing in a foreign language, like Canadian. And it is an even wider variety of nothing. Never again will you miss you favorite lose weight and get rich through psychic 1-900 counseling infomercial, they run 24 hours a day. There are exciting sports like harness racing, cricket, and Scandinavian women’s full contact volleyball. (Well, not really, but I wish there was.)
And the movies are great too, classics like Meatballs 3, the memorable Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, and, of course, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. (I swear I didn’t make that up. It is a touching version of that old traditional love story: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl eats boy in a sacred ritual to please the pagan gods of the mighty avocado.) Now they say that soon there will be 500 channels on cable. It boggles the mind. I hope somebody makes a remote control with turbo so I can keep up. The way I figure, it should break down something like this: In addition to the 60 or so channels of nothing we already have, there will be at least 100 channels of non-stop infomercials, another 100 or so home shopping channels, roughly 100 channels of religious programming, probably about 100 channels showing nothing but reruns of Cheers and/or Simon and Simon, at least one all-Elvis channel, and 39 channels of Guatemalan rules flag football.
One night I was channel surfing through the electronic ocean, and I saw it, the sight to end all sights. It is etched into my mind; it is indelibly stamped into my very being, I will carry this image with me to the day I die. I saw Robin Leach eating Spam on a Twinkie. I swear this is true; even my mind cannot invent something as twisted as this. Right there on the Television Food Network, in living color and full stereo sound, was Mr. Lifestyles himself choking down a Spam covered Twinkie. Any more questions about TV being a wasteland?
How does something like this happen? Well to start with, you need a food channel And, yes indeed, there is a food channel. There is a channel for everything, there are channels about other channels, there are channels about channeling, there are channels about the English channel, there are channels about Chanel no.5, and in the midst of it all, there is a food channel. As it turns out, Robin Leach has his own show on the food channel; it’s called Food That Might Possibly Be Eaten By People Who Think They Are Rich And Famous, or something like that. This particular night he had two items on his agenda. One, showing the correct way to open a bottle of champagne, and two, talking to a woman who had written a book about Spam. I don’t know which is more disturbing, the fact that someone has written an entire book about Spam, or that there are people out there who will pay good money to read it. Or the fact that this Spam person was being interviewed on national television. Or the fact that Ms. Spam was so seemingly important that she was being interviewed by phone. Or the fact that I was actually watching this. Take your pick of disturbing images, at least I didn’t buy the book. Actually the Spam lady’s book was about all different types of junk food, not just the slimy pink kind that comes in a tin can.
Robin Leach lost it. Somewhere between talking about that strange glaze-like jelly at the top of the Spam can and talking about where the cream in the Twinkie comes from, and how it gets there, he simply lost it. Perhaps he had been practicing on opening the champagne bottles earlier, I don’t know, but in any case he completely lost it. He had a package of Twinkles and a can of Spam in front of him. He cracked open the Spam, scooped out a nice healthy chunk with his fork, and tossed it down. The stage crew audibly grimaced, if such a thing is possible. Robin didn’t seem to like the Spam very much. Looking back, I don’t think he really cared much for the Spam lady either. Then he broke out the Twinkies. He seemed to like those better. Then he popped open a Coca-Cola and washed it all down. He seemed to like that too, although not as much as, say, champagne. Then the perverse side of Robin Leach came out, he began mixing and matching. He grabbed another Twinkie in one hand, then a forkful of Spam in another. The crew began to grimace again. They urged him not to do it, but he was out of control. He spread the Spam on top of the Twinkie like it was cheese on a cracker, only it wasn’t. And as God is my witness he ate it.
He seemed to enjoy it, sort of like Jack Nicholson seemed to enjoy smashing things up in that Steven King movie. Some of the crew excused themselves and ran towards the bathroom. He didn’t stop there. Since Coke and Twinkies go together, and he forced the Spam and Twinkies together, he thought he would give Coke and Spam a try. He poured the Coke into the Spam can, making what may be the world first Coca-Cola and Spam float. Little pieces of that jelly-like stuff started floating to the top. It turned a very strange color, one you don’t find occurring in nature. Then Robin Leach drank his Spam float. I was stunned. The crew was gone. Robin Leach grimaced. Robin Leach turned a very strange color, one you don’t find occurring in nature. This seemed to snap him back to his senses. He hung up on the Spam lady, tossed the whole Spam/Twinkie/Coke mess into the trash, and moved over to work on opening those champagne bottles. He seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. He opened one of the bottles, not at all the correct way, and poured himself a tall one. The crew was slowly beginning to return. He mumbled something about never having Spam on the show again, tossed back his champagne glass, and went to a commercial. Hopefully, he’s learned his lesson. If there is anything to be seen that can top this I’m not sure I want to see it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t want to see the Spam incident, but it’s too late now.