Thursday, April 21, 2011

Angry Youth! Born to Die!

I was thinking today about Stevie Washington.

Stevie Washington was half of a cartoon duo called Stevie and Zoya.  In the very late 80s, MTV would show the animated series in one minute snippets between videos, commercials, or inane VeeJay banter (I shouldn't complain.  Back then, MTV was like the Library of Alexandria compared to the current nadir.)  Stevie worked for a nebulous organization known as DADDIO.  He rode a skateboard and faced down supervillains in a city that was "all crime."  Here is the unforgettable voiceover into for each installment:

"Stevie Washington, the angry youth.
Born to Die!
New York's, New York. [sic]
The turn of the century.
All crime!!"

At that point, Stevie finds himself surrounded by a bunch of shady guys.
Believe it or not, I just learned that the film noir narration was provided by Russell Johnson, the same actor who played The Professor on Gilligan's Island.

What was it about Stevie that captured me?  Several things.
First, there was the fast-paced kitsch of it all.  It was drawn in a film noir style and blended with a 1960s sensibility.  The plot was deliberately pulpy with its time and place being deliciously weird and ambiguous. 
Most of all, it resonated with my 18 year-old angsty self.  While on college radio, I adopted the moniker of "Jonny Nichols: Angry Youth.  BORN TO DIE!"  Keeping stacks of heavy metal and goth alternative CDs at my side, I vowed to keep the campus of St. Joseph's College safe from the likes of Elton John, Billy Joel, and Journey.  I would also play out that Angry Youth character through radio dramas with my both on and off air compatriot, Bingo Elkins.  You can see the character in your mind's eye, can't you?  Me in my black leather jacket, lighting up a smoke in a trashy alley with an anarchy symbol spray painted graffiti-style on the brick wall behind me?
This persona went on for three years until I eventually subsided into a run-o-the-mill heavy rock radio format.

That's a lot of influence for a one-minute cartoon to have.   And thanks to YouTube, you can all relive it with me:

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

1 comment:

  1. On Facebook, Ghost Dogg said: "So that's where it came from! I always wondered."


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