Monday, May 28, 2012

Learning to speak English real good

Yogi Berra
I was telling someone the other day about a friend of mine who was once among  "...the most recognizable people in the world!"...but no one knew who he was.

Yogi Berra couldn't have said it better.

As twisted as Yogi's most memorable phrases were, almost all of them made perfectly good sense.

Who doesn't know exactly what he meant when he said, "Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded." or "It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much."

Unfortunately, I'm reminded much too often of his admonition,: "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours."
Does anyone NOT understand that?.

"The Congress is coming, the Congress is coming!"

On the other hand, the really incomprehensible language is coming from our government and the other so called, “elites.”such as the lawyers, politicians and the education establishment.

The income tax code is perhaps the best known example. Lawyerspeak is another and listening to academia trying to explain why college tuitions keep rising at double and triple the rate of inflation is truly a verbal high wire act that any circus would be proud of.

No, the language of the common people is generally pretty clear. The problem is coming from our “elites”...the often “over educated” and “better than you” ruling class.

Now, about my famous friend who nobody has ever heard of (out of TV range of Washington.)
His name is Don Richards, an announcer who worked with me at WTOP-TV/CBS in Washington.

In the early 60's Washington was known in the film business as “Hollywood on the Potomac” because of all the government films being shot here. President Reagan, of all people, put a stop to that soon after he arrived, but until then, any bureaucrat who ever wanted to be in “show business” could fulfill his dreams by producing a film touting whatever message his particular agency was pushing at the time.

And, believe it or not, many TV stations at the time aired some of these films because, local stations were hungry for “moving pictures” to use in their newscasts (for relief from the “talking head syndrome.” I remember my old boss at WSOC-TV telling me that “if it don't wiggle, it ain't TV.” Also, the FCC awarded stations brownie points for each government film used...calling them “public service announcements.”
A few, but not many, actually were.

The “Hollywood on the Potomac” days were great for Washington announcers like Don Richards and me. We picked up extra money either narrating or acting in films for one government agency or another just about every month. (Somewhere, floating in the ether is a 1962 film produced by the Agriculture Department of me extolling the health benefits of hot dogs and one showing me rolling a watermelon down a grocery store aisle... promoting who knows what.)

Ed Murrow, head of the USIA in 1960
Perhaps the most successful film series the government ever produced was one Don acted in for the USIA (United States Information Agency) titled “Let's Learn English.” It was an education film for non speakers of the English language but was not allowed to be shown in this country, since the USIA is in charge of spreading propaganda overseas and is prohibited from distributing it in this country.
That statute is no longer needed now that the American TV networks, (ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN) do that for them.

“Let's Learn English” was shown on TV in more than 50 countries, often during prime time. Don Richards became known just about everywhere...except in this country.

I've often thought of how appropriate it would be if this series were brought back and designated "required viewing" for all government officials, lawyers, academics and anyone else in the business of communicating
with the public

I'm sure the elite would welcome such an opportunity to help the public understand exactly what they're trying to do to us!  Wouldn't they?


Beam me up Scotty!


(I invite you to meet the once famous man who nobody knew by watching an interview I did with Don a few months ago for a TV show aired  here in the Virginia and Washington area.
There's a little more about our local TV scene than you probably want to know, but you'll find Don to be a very interesting...and amusing person!
Watch it HERE. )