Sesame Street premiered 40 years ago today in 1969, and as legend has it, my mom heard about the new program and propped me up in front of our tiny black-and-white TV to see the very first one. Thanks to the genius of YouTube - as well as my well-oiled archivist machinery - this is a picture of me watching Sesame Street later that year in San Jose, California:
...and the exact picture I'm watching on that television is right at :11 in this clip:
There are very few cultural elements as basic to my structure as Sesame Street - add Peanuts cartoons, the original "Willy Wonka" movie and the mid-period Beatles albums my brother bought me, and you've got my basic belief structure. I mean, can you believe this was the way we learned numbers?
From "Sesame Street" came so many amazing ideas: Ernie counting fire engines in bed just to annoy Bert; Bert rushing home in time to hear the Pigeon Report; Oscar the Grouch with hilarious throwaway lines that only made sense fifteen years later; the Mah Nà Mah Nà muppets, clear through Kermit the Frog singing "Rainbow Connection" in a swamp.
I know old fartbags like me can bemoan the more current version of Sesame Street, with motherfrickin' Elmo and the like, but the show has morphed with the times, and has never been shy about changing formats when research showed kids learning better another way. Besides, we always keep three or four on the Tivo for Lucy's weekends, and... they still got it, whatever it is. Lucy adores it, and she's picky. Besides, they occasionally show The Mysterious Nose Snatcher, and that's good enough for me (as are cookies that start with "c").
Jim Henson was a genius. A toast to him and Frank Oz!
Posted by Ian Williams at November 4, 2009 11:08 PM