of July this year has been quiet for us. Vague plans to run a few errands and maybe take in a movie were
abandoned early in the day. Instead, we stayed home to spend time with our cats.
It was an easy decision since we will be away for the remainder of the holiday
our basement cat, Oreo, this morning I discovered that one of the cable
networks was running a marathon of the old Batman television shows. Ah, I basked in the glory of my childhood for
a few hours! I lived to see this show each
week when it premiered at the height of the 60s.
I never read
the comic books, but I got caught up in the Batmania that overtook the
country. For many of us, the television
was our introduction to camp, and by camp I am not referring to some remote
place where children were sent at least once a year (usually summer) with only a thin
canvas cloth to protect them from the elements, which could include intense heat
and humidity, torrential rains, and, of course,
mosquitoes. This was our parents idea
of letting us have fun. When camping season was over in the fall, then we had
Batman twice a week in the fall and winter.
Of course, at
that time, we youngsters didn’t “get” the subtle, perhaps satirical, nuances of
comic book superheroes supplanting our respect for what passed for political
leadership in America at that time. For
example: can any one of us imagine our Batman punching and kapowing the bejesus out
of the Vietcong in Saigon? The mind
reels at the possibilities!
Batman meets Mao Zedong and the Gang of Four!
All we knew was that there were bad guys in the world and our Caped Crusader would pose a
serious threat to them amid a torrent of slapstick fights accentuated by sound
effects and cartoon balloons and outrageously clichéd dialogue. How, I now wonder, did our parents overcome
the intense waves of nausea they must have felt while their progeny planted
themselves in front of the television each week to worship their hero.
situations in each episode were comical, which made sense since the source
material sprang from comic books. Each week,
our hero and his teenage sidekick (Robin the Boy Wonder, for those of you playing
along at home) would summarily take on the villain and at least three henchmen,
and fisticuff the entire mob into submission. And, oh yeah, the criminal element never thought to exercise their Second
Amendment rights and arm themselves with guns. They always showed up ready to duke it out after their boss failed to
kill the dynamic duo with some sort of plot device that surely originated with
The Perils of Pauline. In other words,
Batman was not only campy, but it was creaky as well.
a hard day of protecting the good citizens of Gotham City and sending the bad guys
back to prison, our heroes would return
home and assume their day-to-day identities of millionaire capitalist Bruce
Wayne and his youthful ward Dick
Grayson. The elderly Aunt Harriet - clueless
and naïve about their lives - and the wiser and even older (like Methuselah-old)
butler Alfred completed their family at “stately” (always “stately”) Wayne
Here Bruce/Batman would muse on
their recent adventure and Dick/Robin would nosh on milk and cookies offered to
him by Alfred. Of course, everyone
over-acted like there was no tomorrow!
Yes, I lived
to watch this series when I was a child.
few of these episodes today brought back a flood of memories and gave me an
excuse to spend more time with Oreo. I
spent the entire afternoon with Oreo as I engaged in my annual Fourth of July
ritual: watching 1776. Not the greatest
musical produced in Hollywood, but still a lot of fun and played more or less
straight (except for the singing). The
film recounts the story of our Founding Fathers debating and declaring our
independence from the tyrannical King George III without resorting to bat
capes, bat mobiles, opening secret passages in stately manors via a split top
bust of Shakespeare, answering bat signals in the sky, climbing up the sides
of buildings, or having elderly men creep up behind them and whisper into their
ear, “It’s the batphone, sir!” Go
Picnics and fireworks
on the Fourth of July? Who needs them
when we’ve got 60s camp to warm the cockles of our hearts?
for reading and hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! Again, for those playing along at home, here
is another memory from Batman: “Atomic batteries to power…turbines to speed…blah,