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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Klecko's 50th Birthday Message

On the eve of ones 50th birthday, I imagine it is relevant to reflect.

To reflect on the circumstances and systems that keep a person afloat for half a century.

To reflect on fate and even geography that serve as influences.

Of course one shouldn't forget those who have mentored and inspired. Those contributions mean so much because they usually are selfless acts that come at pivotal junctures in our lives.

But other than the obvious....was there any other contributing factors?

Any intangible that makes a person who they are after the typical God-Parents and State?

For me, there is nothing to think about.

My answer can be summed up in two letters.

T and V.

In the summer of 1969, the world was witnessing Woodstock, Vietnam and and additudes that questioned values and authority.

I was six years old at the time, and I followed all these experiences on a nineteen inch Magnavox black and white television.

As long as I live, I will never be the benefactor of a gift that will have the impact on me, than that TV did.

Even at an earlier age, while my family laid asleep, it wasn't uncommon for me to wake up at four or five in the morning.

Per usual, I just set camp in the middle of the living room with my Matchbox cars and baseball cards.

I sat patiently (in my footy pajamas) waiting for that fantastic voice to blurt out that we were about to commence with another day of broadcasting.

Oftentimes, throughout this process I would use the test pattern on the television screen as a race track and conduct countless races (all which were three laps) until the American flag magically appeared, washing away my raceway.

To me, TV was not real, it was better than than reality.

I still don't know where that idea came from, but I was smitten.

I recall how my sister and I raced to the TV for the introduction of Lassie.

When that mutt rushed to the forefront of the screen, we'd actually pet the glass crying out....

"Lassie, I love you Lassie."

And like many of my TV rituals, this never seemed to get old.

About a decade before I hit puberty...I had such a Doris Day crush. I had it bad for her.

When you're a child, time seems to pass so slow.

In my minds eye, I loved Doris Day for years, when in all actuality, it may have been weeks.

But then the unthinkable happened.

A beautiful young nun dressed in a white habit got her own show.

Sally Field more than knocked Doris to the curb, she stomped on her.

To this day I still have Nun thoughts that may get me in trouble if I should reach the pearly gates.

Perhaps the single program that I spent the most time with during my youth was the road runner.

I'm not sure why I always was glued to that show, but I do remember how patient I was in waiting for the coyote to catch that bird and throttle it.

I literally waited for a decade to see this happen before abandoning hope.

TV was interesting when I was a kid because we only had four major channels, and then there was always PBS.

But Channel 2 didn't really count because it never had cartoons or sports, and the shows that were programmed to youth were educational.

I still remember how in second grade I had to skip morning recess to sit in with a select few to watch a PBS show (that launched a young Morgan Freeman) called The Electric Company.

When news of this got around, some of my older neighbors told me that only the retarded kids had to do this, and for the longest time.....I wondered and worried if I was "retarded".

In my fourth grade report card, there were comments of concern from Mrs Braun. She overheard me discussing Frankenstein VS the Wolfman. The problem was started at midnight, on a school night, and I had watched the entire movie.

Throughout life two characteristics have contributed to my love of television.

#1 -

I have never been able to stay asleep for more than a couple hours at a time

#2 -

I loathe being alone

TV can rectify both of these.

As I grew into a young man, guys like Baretta and Jim Rockford served as templates for the kind of man I wanted to become.

I don't think anybody views themselves as easily influenced, but any woman I have ever spent consecutive hours with has made reference that-that may be one of my strengths and weaknesses.

In my late teens, or early twenties I watched a movie called......


And it starred Christopher Walken.

Walken plays the role of a mercenary / hit-man that travels the world whacking rulers that might be deemed as problematic by Uncle Sam.

But the part that inspired me to no end was that when Walken left to whack some presidential guy in Africa, he didn't bother to turn off the television.

I wondered if perhaps this guy didn't have a mother like me who would constantly announce.............

"Turn off your television, do you want to burn the house down?"

Well....Walken traveled to the "Dark Continent" under the guise of being a journalist for a bird watching publication.

His intentions were suspect at first, but he weathered the beating and eventually terminated the dictator, and when he got home....he stumbled in that grimy little apartment and that television glowed through the evenings darkness.

After witnessing this, I became liberated.

I can't tell you how or why, but something about living my life in the world, and knowing my TV was on back home kinda made me bulletproof.

This neurosis incidentally, has been passed on to my son whose clicker doesn't have a power off button.

Throughout life -

Throughout love -

TV has created interesting dynamics in my relationships.

I think every woman in KleckoLand has been a cave sleeper, which in layman terms is a persons that prefers slumber in darkness and quiet.

It's not possible for me.

When I flew to NYC to do the Martha Stewart show, Sue McGleno couldn't accompany me because she had burned all her vacation on the birth of our first grandchild.

So not wanting to go alone, I invited Mike Mitchelson who was the editor of Food Service News at the time.

The monkey wrench in this scenario was.....we had to share a room.

We had separate beds, but they were right next to each other.

Even on the flight over I remember thinking......

"O-M-G.....I can just tell, Mitchelson is gonna be a TV-Off guy."

And true enough, my prophecy came to pass.

We stumbled into our room after closing down the Russian-Vodka Room, and after brushing our teeth and hitting the sack, I turned on the sole HBO channel that the Hilton offered and it was that espionage movie starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes.

Mitchelson laughed because it was such a bad film, but in my opinion.....

Bad films beat silence every time.

Mitchelson helped himself to the clicker and shut the TV off, and there laid Klecko, pensive in the Big Apple.

I had to be on the radio in four hours, but I knew I couldn't whether the silence even with the help of numerous vodka shots.

So I laid there, in silence......much like Walken waited in the bushes to whack that dictator, and the second Mitchelson began to snore, I turned the set back on for the movies conclusion.   

To this day, I often put on what I call "GO TO SLEEP" movies.

Some movies are simply better for enhancing slumber than others.

My son is quick to point out that dialog is the most important component in the "GTSM"

"You never want to put in Breakfast Club, because your mind will always wait the the next punchline, this will  make sleep impossible." he says each summer when returning from college.

Action films are bad as well.

One summer I slept to "Jaws " 100 nights in a row.

"JFK" is another film that serves as the soundtrack to my dreams.

The great thing is when you get into a groove where you can wake up just prior to the films conclusion.

On a good night, a film should never complete its loop.

Recently I have been looking for films that range between 90-110 minutes.

Most nights I will wake up throughout the 4 cycles that make up a sleeping period.

Sue McGleno finds it unnerving, but I find it calming, soothing to be in a controlled environment.

Recently in a road trip with Sue McGleno U2's "With or Without You" came on the radio, and she was so surprised to see me get excited.

"You have the disc right here. You've only heard it a million times, whats the big deal?"

Well, a favorite song always sounds the best when you don't know it's coming on.

This rule apply s to TV as well.

If I am walking by a set and Rifleman or Perry Mason are on, it doesent matter what obligations stand before me......I'm gonna make camp until it is finished.

The Pinnacle TV experience I can have personally is to wake up in the middle of the night to one of those Sherlock Holmes movies that star Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.

It doeskin matter if it is 2 a.m., I'm going let out the dogs to go pee, and then close out that film.

You can't beat Sherlock Holmes.

I'm gonna tell you guys the truth, tomorrow when I tun 50, I will be freaked out.

I know it's not the end of the line, but you're no longer young, and you can actually see the finish line.

Those jerks at AARP even sent me a membership card last week.

Its all so daunting.

Klecko has had a wonderful life, and doesn't fear crossing over for a second, but when he does......

Man I hope there is HBO in heaven.

Thanks to all you you that have been so gracious to me during this special moment in my life.


  1. Great post, great writing, and happiest of birthdays to you!
    Since my shop is small, it's just me in the kitchen and every night I bake to Netflix - mostly Marvel comics adapted to film (same for going to sleep). So, I'm curious - is there TV when Klecko bakes, or just GTSM's?

    1. Mockingbird,

      For several reasons..."NO"

      We don't, I don't allow music or radio because we have a crew. Crews fight, and to be honest.....baking (or cooking at home) is the only time I don't feel apprehensive in silence. BTW, I too am a Marvel fan, but Man of Steel was pretty awesome. Thanks for your kind words.

  2. You took me right back into my childhood, when, after Sunday lunch, I always went up on flight of stairs to my aunt's apartment. SHE OWNED A TV! At 2 p.m. Lassie came on, and I watched, while being treated to my aunt's famous quark dessert. Afterwards I went down, telling my mother that Aunt Tüti's quark dessert tasted better than hers... a review that was not appreciated!
    Big hug for you birthday!

    1. Thanks aunt gave me Fignewton's with cheese slices and those big orange Circus Peanut candies.