Nickelodeon’s golden years of 1990 to 1995 were nothing short of a revelation. If you spent anytime in front of the tube during this time, the network was a hotbed of nonstop entertainment because of shows like Hey Dude, Double Dare, Wild & Crazy Kids, Are You Afraid Of the Dark?, Clarissa Explains It All and the mackdaddy of them all, SALUTE YOUR SHORTS.
Everyone knows summer days as a kid were dreamlike, but can you imagine a summer without rules, reading lists, the neighbor’s killer dog or parents? Some of us dreamed of what it would be like being dumped at summer camp for two months, and those of us who did had fantasies swirling around in our heads thanks to a little place we visited in our minds for a half-hour each afternoon…
So reach for that watermelon Italian Ice and kick those hi-top CONS up on your desk as Uncle T takes us back to camp with July’s Local-Hot-Spot-Of-The-Month: CAMP ANAWANNA!
Every summer camp disciple knows a camp is only as strong as it’s campers, and this place had a wrecking crew like no other: Dina, ZZ, Michael, Telly, Pinsky, Sponge, DonkeyLips and Budnick…FUCKING BOBBY BUDNICK. This prankster was Anawanna’s #1 troubled teen and Budnick held the title of most obnoxious camper year after year with high prestige. The ratty, redheaded-stepchild really deserves a spotlight feature on his own around here, which clearly has a lot to due with him playing John Connor’s punker friend in Terminator 2, because he’s still 100% “Budnick” in the movie. Nothing was radder on a young, impressionable mind than a couple kids riding dirt bikes, listening to Guns N’ Roses and ripping off ATMs. Okay, back to Camp…
Bobby and Donkey Lips, crude dudes 4 life…
At the surface, Salute Your Shorts seemed to have all the stereotypical “camp” characters, but it became something else entirely. All the kids at Anawanna had completely different personalities, and sticking them in a couple cabins together for a summer brought out the best in them. Take for instance Donkey Lips, a fat oddball with a heart of gold who became friends with kids he never would have back at home or in school. As annoying as he was, even Donkey Lips taught the others a thing or two, like when he won over Dina’s heart during a “spotlight dance” at one of the camp socials. Of course, Dina was forced to dance with him, but she learns an important life lesson about kindness from ol’ Donkey Lips, of all people. Then there was Michael from the show’s primere episode, who’s first experience at camp involved Budnick and a couple of his goons stealing his trunks and running them up the flagpole for all camp to salute!
These motley camp-goers were the rebellious type (the way they should be). Being clever and brave to achieve some kind of victory was a quality shared in other Nickelodeon shows at the time as well. Kids acted like kids, not mini-adults obsessed with status, cell phones and “likes”. At Camp Anawanna it was all about food fights, telling ghost stories, smuggling salami into camp, lighting things on fire and giving someone an awful waffle*.
*Administering an “Awful Waffle”: 1) Pin somebody to the top of a table. 2) Pull their shirt up. 3) Firmly press a tennis racket into their stomach. 4) Pour syrup on their stomach.
Kevin “Ug” Lee!
“Ug” was the neurotic, goofball camp counselor who everyone pulled pranks on. Nothing was funnier than seeing Ug go bananas after trying to discipline the campers and failing miserably. His trademark features were his bucket hat, sunscreened nose and floral shirts.
I’ve always wondered how old Ug was supposed to be and also how he landed the head counselor position in the first place.
Zeke the Plumber!
The introduction of Zeke the Plumber in the first season of Salute Your Shorts was a nightmare of epic proportions that rattled the memories of ’90s kids even to this day. The story of Zeke begins in the Philippines when his nose was bitten off by a parrot. He couldn’t smell a gas leak created when he hit a gas pipe while digging a hole, so he makes a big mistake and lights a match, causing an explosion. The only item that remained was his toilet plunger which now bared a curse. It is said, according to paranormal historian Bobby Budnick, that Zeke wanders the camp trying to find his plunger and anyone who touches it will be haunted in their dreams.
Ask any kid who grew up watching this show how difficult it was sleeping at night after this episode aired in 1991 (only the 2nd episode of the 1st season!). Zeke wore a mask that appeared to be made of flesh, and as silly as the scene may look now, people watching a Nickelodeon show about summer camp in ’91 didn’t see this coming. The ability to strike a nerve using a story like this speaks to the genius of Nickelodeon during this time. So many kids were left feeling something after watching this episode, to the point that by 2016 Zeke the Plumber has generated a certain cult following.
It sucked when parents, teachers and child psychologists used to say that pint-sized TNUC’s brain was turning into zombie mush from watching too much Nickelodeon. This mere myth couldn’t have been further from the truth, as shows like Salute Your Shorts and Are You Afraid of the Dark? made me want to run outside and have neighborhood super soaker wars, play laser tag and face plant into giant piles of leaves. What a time to be alive.
[Local-Hot-Spot-Of-The-Month is a adrenaline-thrusting history lesson and celebration of signature hangout spots one might recognize from television, film or real life. Our objective is to not just rediscover and dissect these places, but more importantly create a feeling like you’re really there. Take your time with these entries. Hang out. Turn some music on.
To visit the rest of ’em, go here.]
Leave it to a wise-cracking, America-loving neanderthal like Uncle TNUC to declare that this weekend we’ll be hosting and hoisting the almighty hamburger as the #1 symbol to celebrate our nation’s big birthday.
It prompted a mandatory screening of 1986’s Hamburger: The Motion Picture, a movie that should be on everyone’s must-watch list this time of year after the required viewing during the winter months of the film’s kid brother, Hot Dog: The Movie. Both of course are directed by Mike Marvin, the same guy who did The Wraith.
Hamburger is the story of Russell Proscope, who’s “beef” is that he gets kicked out of every university he attends from getting too frisky with virtually every set of toasty female buns that come into his path. If he doesn’t earn a diploma soon, that promised trust fund from his family will be out of the question. The only prep school that will take him is Buster Burger University – where they educate the fine youth of America on how to manage a Buster Burger franchise. The BBU campus is filled with no shortage of sleazy coeds, lewd hijinks and weekend pool parties – plus a paranoid drill sergeant *played by Dick Butkus of the Chicago Bears*. All our young scholar needs to do to achieve that prestigious Buster Burger diploma is to stay out of trouble and keep the girls off his manmeat.
One of my favorite qualities of Hamburger is the plethora of sunglass-tippin’, high-fivin’, leg-slappin’ music featured throughout the movie. Nothing will stick in your head for YEARS to come than the intro montage music, which TNUC has the proud privilege of sharing today. Listen/Eat/Dance/Repeat!
I don’t know about you, but this juicy dance number makes me awfully hungry, so it’s definitely time to crush a meaty burg’. Whichever sleazy hamburger joint you plan on invading this weekend – Buster Burger, Whammy Burger, Big Kay’s, The Max, The Peach Pit, Honker Burger, Clown Dog or All American Burger – just remember to queue up this song before you head out the door.
“COOKIN’ BURGERS AIN’T EXOTIC…BUT SOME FOLKS SAY IT’S PATRIOTIC!”
But wait…don’t rest for a second this 4th of July without revisiting BIG MIKE’S ALL-AMERICAN MEGA-MOTIVATION MIXTAPE from last year! It will turn that mush into muscle and send you soaring high with the proudest eagles in the sky.
Even though yesterday was the first day of summer and the original plan was to have this year’s “TNUC Wet Hot Summer Anthems” list ready to go, I think we’ll take a rain check on that due to the following song swooping into the TNUC spectrum and legitimately stopping me right in my tassel loafers w/ no socks.
Plus, it’s 100 degrees right now in Los Angeles and we don’t need any reminders about how toasty the weather is. Instead let’s cool off under the midnight rain…
She stepped out of the ominous looking, slicked, black car onto the wet asphalt. Her thigh-high nylons glistened under the streetlight. The look on her face made it seem like she’d just seen a ghastly spectacle until she looked up and cried out “SAX, PLEASE?” The Midnight answered.
I’m admittedly a sucker for saxophone, but not every sax-riff clobbers me over the head like the sultriness spread over this song by Los Angeles synth duo The Midnight. Hopefully it generates a few tingling sensations for you and a loved one as you enjoy a chilly 6-pack of Zimas tonight.
Since the title of the track is Vampires and it involves thick layers of unforgiving saxophone, we figure the spirit of boardwalk brute Tim Cappello was a deep motivator here. All kidding aside, songs like these have so many rich “moments” that produce different feelings in all of us, whether it’s exhilaration, dreams, nostalgia, fantasies or a quick escape behind the wheel of your Lamborghini Jalpa for a self-reflecting night ride montage. Maximum respect to the artists who bring out these feelings in all of us.
The Midnight’s new album ‘Endless Summer’ is poised to strike any day now, so keep your eyes and ears locked on the group’s Soundcloud page.