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Adalbert is a forum for me, to post ephemera, photography, poetry, occasional travel notes, and various spontaneous motions. Cover photo: Parsonage where my great-grandfather spent his early years. Taken near Liegnitz, Silesia, ca. 1870.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Saeternesdaeg Night Live

What's the deal with Saturday Night Live anyway?  The night on which William S. Burroughs gave a spoken word performance, November 7, 1981:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw1U4EJdtgs, (seen in this sketchy Japanese-subtitled video) which I saw on its initial broadcast (and which was immediately followed by a short, parodic film about a French poet, dadaist, literary dog) was for me the highest point of SNL.  The show's toughness as it has lasted for nearly 40 years, its longevity, is remarkable.  I remember when Gunsmoke was cited as an unusually long-lasting show.  Now the goal is to persist for a time at least as long as that from the Ford admistration to the Obama epoch.  The first Saturday Night was broadcast in 1975.  That is a long spectrum of timeliness -- splice in whatever stereotyped image one wants, from the same year of 1975, the last helicopter rising from the Saigon rooftop whilst White Christmas plays, the Watergate crisis recently having ended....

My viddying of this show has been long and complicated.  I have a curious memory of some sort of promotional special about Saturday Night shown a day or two before the first George Carlin-hosted assemblage.  I have a recollection only of John Belushi, as Mussolini or a Mussolini-like figure speaking from a balcony, but can find no record of such a performance (it's possible I'm confusing this with something else).  My watching of SNL has generally been sporadic, from the days of Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase, Larraine Newman, etc., to the many incarnations since.  Although often uneven, there was a literary and artistic aspect, along with a willingness to risk experiments, in the 1970s and 80s especially, that has for the years since given way to a less challenging approach. 

Another occasional avante garde series from the 1980s on SNL were short films with Andy Warhol (or was it an Andy Warhol double?).


  1. I know that it exists, but I've never seen it. It isn't shown where I live. The clip of William S.Burroughs was interesting, he was older than I expected.

  2. Rob, in a lot of cases, you haven't missed that much. The show has had a good many solid skits, short films, and musical performances over the decades, though.

  3. I want to say that the figure on the balcony was Brezhnev...?