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Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Flintstones Over The Simpsons

" And I'm a helluva dancer, ya know..."

I. The Weigh-In

No, there can't be two winners. Or a tie. A line needs to be drawn and people need to hop on their side with their people.

There are plenty of precedents- Ginger and Mary Ann; Lennon or McCartney; T or A.

Freud called such petty divisions "The Narcissism of Minor Differences" and thought it healthy.

So, it is high time you choose: Flintstones or Simpsons?

But before you do, it's only fair that an argument be made for The Flintstones, whose original series run ended in 1966.


A friend told me of when Ben of Ben&Jerry's came to his college economics class to pitch an approach to socially conscious business.

At the end of the class, they rolled in standing freezers and the students were given a free pint. I hadn't yet tried the brand and I asked him how it was. "The best ice cream I've ever had."

"You liked it that much?" I asked.
"No, I fucking hated it."
After Ben's two hours of self-congratulation, each bite he took, along with a peanut butter cup, he was swallowing Ben's inflated sense of his own done-goodery.

Well-intentioned or not; important for the future of the planet or not; deftly economical and yet, responsible or not, this shit don't belong in a pint of Cherry Garcia.

In mucky terrain, nothing is more indispensable than a good pair of boots. However, you might find that they sour your pot of beef stew.

But man, Ben&Jerry's is good and don't I buy it two times or more a week.

But on the occasion I crave a little more or less, I get in my car and drive to the other side of town and get some Brigham's.

Brigham's is local to the Greater Boston area.

Old School:Raspberry Lime Rickey, Soda Fountains, Brownies wrapped in Cellophane, the trail on the counter of hardened marshmallow from the last sundae snags the five dollar bill you push towards the pleasantly plump (and even pimplish) teenager, and melted whipped cream spots the faux-linoleum floor.

Selling quarts of simple pistachio, strawberry, vanilla in plain blue containers and stamped with the most generic ice cream logo. I take it home and spoon out a bowl that doesn't speak to me while I watch TV.

Places like Brigham's are few and dying, and while I'm thankful for all Ben&Jerry's has done for me, if one had to perish, I think the world would be fine with the Vermont-based creamery running head first into  a moose on the I-89.

Brigham's on the other hand...

If the aim of B&J is to imagine a world without war, then I can think of no better way than not being reminded of it while I eat my ice cream and collect my strength to fight the good fight.

Industrialists who love Phish pop up like fruit flies and soon we will have someone replace Ben and friend.

I'm not sure what we'll do without Brigham's or its memory.

The Simpsons, like Ben&Jerry's, is an overload of delightful indulgence, yes, but along the way they kinda let it be known that it was "more than just entertainment."

And like Ben&Jerry's, it is probably best enjoyed by those stoned, soon-to-be-stoned, and stoned-not-so-long-ago.

Fred Flintstone was every bit the moody, selfish, deluded lout that Homer is.

He hates his job, loves his wife, loves and hates his best friend, and abuses the occasional moment of power and glory he gets to the annoyance of all.

I can't take Homer seriously, and in the same way, when someone says "ice cream", I don't think of it as filled with chocolate-covered pretzels (though, fine ice cream can contain it), no matter how hilarious and buffoonish, I can't bring myself to give up Fred for the cartoonish cartoonery of Homer.


Superstar shortstop, Ozzie Smith would perform a cartwheel to a back handspring when he took the field each game. It delighted fans and made weekly appearances on This Week In Baseball.  However, he never hit one in a game and I'm sure had he, it would've made the season highlight reel of This Week In Fuckheads.

To that end, having read Robert Caro or being versed in '70s film might wow those wowed by such things, especially when watching an animated show ("It is just so smart!"), but do you have to jam it down our fucking throats at every turn?

We get it, Simpsons' Staff!  You're smart! Sure, Ozzie Smith wasn't just a guy who could gobble a mean grounder, he could do a back-flip- he could be a gymnast. Similarly, those Simpsons writers aren't just wise-asses, they're political theorists.

Hedging their bets, aren't they? The joke doesn't work- well, you're dumb! You better read Caro, shit-for -brains!

That's a thing we Americans have: I'm not just the thing I dreamed of being, worked my ass off to be and  now that I've attained it should be counting my blessings I've done it...I'm a little more...

No, I'm not a father was a teacher...I'm also a novelist...

I'm not a comedian, I'm a senator from Minnesota.

Good old fashioned father hate here.

Speaking of fathers...ever play Trivia Pursuit with your Old man? Pretty impressive wasn't it? And not half as belittling as that smart ass on your Trivia Team at the local bar.

That's the Flintstones.

It surprises you: There's the episode where Fred saves the drowning guy who becomes a pain in the ass (Renoir's "Boudu Saved From Drowning"); There's the take-off on the Orson Welles' staged "War of the Worlds"; There's plays on words from Psych 101 and history galore.

And it never detracts from the flat-out silliness- like Fred and Barney compromising on a name for a boat, Fred wanted Nautical Queen, Barney-Sea Bound (or something), they settled on: Nau-sea.

And like the cod-liver oil your dad dumped in your orange juice, you didn't know all that smart stuff was there...but it still did you good.

The Simpsons, like the Grape Flavored Flu Remedy, sticks with you in ways that you might not want...

Do you want to be pining for a spoonful of dextromethorphane?

Should you be buying Krusty the Klown phones or, God Help Us, doing that awful Mr. Burns imitation just because everyone else did?

Like the smart father he was, Fred Flintstone shows his love and doesn't pander so you stick around; he shoves a five in your pocket and sends you on your way to live your life.


I watched a re-run of The Simpsons lately at my gym. The sound was down, so I was especially aware the visuals: The credits ran for minutes and minutes, listing producer after producer after associate producer and on.

It went on quite aways into the action and story.

Once Fred puts that clam-shell speaker to the roof of family wagon, it is all Bedrock.

I know life is more complicated than this, that the machinations and inner-workings of comedy writing is like the gang from the Alan Brady show, Morrie Amsterdam pacing the wall-to-wall carpeting thinking of the perfect play on words...

Carl Reiner created the show because, well, that is how he wrote comedy for Sid Caesar...along with Mel Brooks and others.

I like to believe that the laugh is the brainchild of several of a like-mind.

This said, I have appreciated the new world with its mass emails and voicemail jokes, it's you-gotta-see-this video and some the stuff is the funniest shit I've seen or heard...

As was Smithers fantasizing about Monty Burns popping out of a cake delivering a sultry (and naked) "Happy Birthday, Dear Smithers...."

Like a mouthful of Ben and Jerry's, I'm thankful at that moment...

But I feel bad for the new generation that has never known the simple joy of Neapolitan.

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