“The price of finding me was losing you”
– The Theme to WKRP in CIncinnati by Steve Carlisle
I first encountered David Letterman not on TV in person. This was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and my parents took us to see magician Doug Henning. Doug Henning must be part Pinoy because two decades later he ran for office. I can not remember one magic trick from Doug all those years later but I can still remember a few of Dave’s jokes. He was still three years removed from getting his own show.
Today the big buzz in the entertainment world is that Dave is announcing his retirement. It has very little effect on me. I stopped being a hardcore Letterman fan 21 years ago. I was initially excited about his move from 1235 to 1135. I even bought the Time Magazine where he was the cover boy. Before I go any further I pray I don’t invoke the wrath of Kent for not being what he thinks GRP stands for.
When Late Night with David Letterman ( NBC) started, it was in a cozy studio in 30 Rockefeller overlooking this restaurant and skating rink. Some of the stunts Dave pulled involved the camera just looking out the window and he would call a person by phone or use a bullhorn. The band was only 4 people. Everybody was in on the act. It was like a family. They were my family. I filled over twenty 6 hour VHS tapes of Dave highlights from 1987 to 1993.
Various moves scattered my collection but I do have a bit of it preserved on avi file. Of the ones still with me, age did render some of them useless. Eventually my VHS player died after 11 years of service. Too bad I can’t share it with you since I am sure World Wide Pants will sue my worthless butt if I ever uploaded it anywhere. YouTube ‘s detection is so detailed that I uploaded a clip that I captured from local news over 16 years ago and it blocked it right away.
I have no idea if there is some vault somewhere playing these classics that have been so precious to me. The visit to the Hoover Dam. Chris Elliot impersonating Marlon Brando, similarities between Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley , Larry Bud Melman’s trip to Tierra Del Fuego. All these can never be duplicated and I still have them.
I hate to sound like a those were the days fossil but they really were. It was a big deal at the time when Letterman in 1992 was not unlike what LeBron was experiencing in 2010. NBC wanted him to stay but in the 1235 time slot. The Tonight Show with Leno was doing well. ABC wanted him to follow Ted Koppel’s Nightline. The difference between LeBron and Dave is that the negotiations went on while Letterman was still doing the NBC show.
“Disc Six A dance remix, so I can catch the latest trend and it’ll make you scratch your head and wonder where my taste went. So now my fans are crying sellout, they say that I’ve lost my touch. They say I should just get the hell out before I do too much.”
Ultimately CBS came up with the winning combination: the earlier time slot, the generous financial package and the Ed Sullivan Theater. I tuned in faithfully for like a month. Then after a while I was not getting out of the new show what I was so accustomed to in the old show. The time slot of 1135 was everything. Sure it came with more money but to sustain it you had to take the edge off of what made the show so appealing to freaks like me at 12:35. Stockholders in CBS are happy and that is all that ultimately matters. If CBS offered me all that money at the cost of my cult following I might have made that choice too.
Life is about change and change is inevitable. Life is also about choice. For me the greatest invention known to human kind is the video capture dongle. Mine was purchased from CDR King. That wonderful device coupled with my choice of accumulating hours and hours of the NBC era David Letterman has provided me with a library of rare, albeit esoteric treasures that have withstood changes in time and tastes. It allows this dinosaur to choose to live in the past quite contently. Happy Retirement Dave.
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