The minute I heard that “Officer Levitt” from Barney Miller had died, I knew I had to put up this simply perfect clip from Ernie Pintoff’s Dynamite Chicken. It is especially appropriate as Carey’s obits noted that at one point he considered the priesthood as a vocation. I have loved the piece for years; it’s not particularly laugh-out-loud funny, it’s just a superb evocation of dancing from Hollywood’s Golden Age and on the steps of St. Pat’s, at that.
For those who have never heard of it, a word about Dynamite Chicken. It’s a film I turn to time and again on the show, since it contains some exquisitely emblematic 1960s footage (scenes and special material from Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Tuli Kupferberg, Leonard Cohen, Paul Krassner, Al Goldstein), as well as containing truly “raw” early clips of great comedians like the Ace Trucking Company, the wonderful Marshall Efron, the late St. Michael O’Donoghue, and the completely irreplaceable Richard Pryor. Ron’s segment is a delightful dance number he does to the song “God Loves Rock and Roll” by Lionel Goldbart. I looked up Mr. Goldbart to write this entry, and found out that he was a poet and antiwar activist who seemingly didn’t have much of a lengthy musical career, but has become renowned for being a big winner on Jeopardy (and he also has a kick-ass prescription for changing the Gregorian calendar; now if someone could only cut this “daylight savings time” shit, we’d all be much better off). The scene itself is priceless – they must’ve filmed it PLENTY early in the morning to have Fifth Avenue that empty of traffic. Carey’s Jimmy Cagney moves and Fred Astaire pauses are top-notch; plus any intelligent or imaginative spoof of the clergy always has me amused.
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