Lessons of late night.

Monday, August 16th, 1999

"Are you involved in a sexual lifestyle so bizarre you have to keep it a secret? Call us at 1-800-96-JERRY and tell us your story."
Yeah, that’s exactly what you should do. This is the twisted logic of the nineties. Having a relationship problem? Go on television to confess. Got a secret? Only national TV will do.
Reach a crossroads in your relationship? Go on a blind date with someone a TV show staff picks, and then come on and talk about it on television…maybe you’ll have a Change of Heart. Why does that make sense to people? Yeah, honey, we should call and be on TV.
And the good news is that impotence can be treated if you go to the right place, which, apparently, is Cartersville, (the erection capital of North Georgia?). There’s a creepy guy in a white lab coat who will fix you right upand he knows, he’s been there.
These are the lessons of late night television.
It’s one AM, and although they’re closed for the night, Tom Park of Atlanta Toyota (and about a zillion other dealerships nationwide) is out there just to talk to us. Yeah, right. Whatever happened to that dogwhat was he, Spuds Toyota?
Killed in Iraq, I suppose.
"He’ll balance a motorcycle on his teeth, just for you, Tuesday on Fox." I can’t thumb the remote fast enough. "When you were a kid, who was on your lunchbox? Sir Issac Newton? Or was itthe A-Team?" What are they selling? What are they saying? And why do you care?
Owe another phone company money? We’ll hook you up for just $49! No credit needed! No ID! Oh, that’s logical. Can’t pay Southern Bell $17.44 a month, so you’ll pay these other folks 49 bucks? Mmmmok. It’s your money.
Every once in a while, one of those tough dogs hooks up with one of the pretty dogs (to the music of "Superfly.") They’re selling cars again, damned if I know which one-but these guys could care less about what lunchbox I had when I was a kid. It all blurs together. It all looks the same. It all cost someone a heck of a lot of money, and the message doesn’t stick in my mind, unlike Mr. Cartersville Lab Coat and Mr. Toyota.
Rappin’ Rosie O’Donnell leaps out of a school bus, singing (chanting?) about cheap kids clothes at something called ‘Big K.’ Is that anything like Special K? Or Kmart?
Click! Enormous bouncing coins over the landscape. Zap! Bouncing tires! We’re being hyp-mo-tized by gigantic round things. The round things morph into the Mastercard logo. Ooh, that’s priceless.
The irony emerging (as I click around) is that the classiest commercials seem to be on my old place of employment, the Superstation. What happened to Ronco? What happened to the profound wisdom that although in Japan the hand can cut like a knife, that doesn’t work with a tomato?
Then I sat straight up at the sound of a familiar TV voice from TBS past. Could that be? That is! Tina Seldin, former co-anchor (with Bill Tush) of 17 Update Early in the Morning-a landmark in Atlanta late night television. She’s apparently now recommending remedial education in various trades and computer specialties.
OK, Tina. Can I bring my A-Team lunchbox to class?