why.i.hate.dc FLASHBACK: John Thompson and His Howling Commandos

Mr. J, Mr. A, Mr. M-E-S, Mr. F., Mr. Hates D.C. I'm headed for the top, ain't never gonna stop; won't you please come hate with me?

Oh yeah, it's totally story time, bitch. I don't know why I never posted this story before, because it's a pretty good one. And it's matured with age, like a fine wine.

This happened almost exactly two years ago, during the run-up to us invading Iraq. A quick reminder of the political climate at the time (paraphrasing):

ME: Iraq? Uh, where did this come from? Why are we attacking them?
EVERYONE ELSE: Yay, spill the blood of the brown-skins! Doesn't matter which ones!

As you might expect, I became more and more confused and flabberghasted as the invasion date approached. When that day (March 19, 2003) arrived, I basically spent all day at work browsing around the news sites and blogs, maybe hoping for some signs of a delay or a peace accord or something. But no, it was clear that we were going to go bomb the shit out of them, and neither I nor anybody else could stop it.

So I left work a little early and headed home, depressed. In order to get away from all the war talk on the radio, I turned on the local sports station (980 WTEM). It happened to be John Thompson's show.

If you're unfamiliar with Thompson: he was a long-time basketball coach at Georgetown, and became the first black coach to win an NCAA title in 1984. He was a great recruiter and had some great teams in the '80s, finally retiring in 1999. At that point, he became a radio talk show host and occasional hoops analyst on TV.

The fact that his radio show has lasted for six years is a little mind-blowing. I keep wondering if there's some kind of parallel-universe affirmative action going on at Clear Channel... not race-based, but intelligence-based. Because I'm pretty sure John Thompson is, for all intents and purposes, retarded.

I know, I know, that's a terrible, insensitive thing to say, and I feel awful about it already (but now that I've typed it, and I can't very well "untype" it). Really, though... have you listened to him talk? He always seems to be using EVERY SCRAP OF BRAIN POWER just to put together a semi-coherent sentence. He talks in the same way that I imagine 50 Cent will talk in about 35 years.

Obviously, this makes for great radio. Half the time I find myself yelling at my radio, "What does that even MEAN?!"

When I listen to John Thompson, I can feel my IQ slowly dropping away. The synapses just shut right down. It's like I'm living out "Flowers for Algernon" right there in my car. My mind tries futilely to slog through Thompson's swamp of nonsensical cliches and unresearched analysis. It's a uniquely stupid experience. (Or maybe it's stupidly unique?) During March Madness, just listening to Thompson try to pronounce the word "tournament" practically makes me forget my own name. ("Toonamint!")

And, although his job title is supposedly "sports talk show host," he knows nothing about any sport other than college basketball. (Which, as you can imagine, makes the months of April through November especially mind-numbing.)

And so it was that on the afternoon of March 19, 2003 at 4:55 p.m., I figured John Thompson's show was just what I needed: it would induce complete cerebral shutdown, thus getting my mind off the impending war. I turned on 980 in time to hear Thompson close out that day's show.

Surprisingly, Thompson is something of a country music buff; his traditional closing music is "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" by Alan Jackson. But on this day, it was slightly different. Mr. Thompson decided to get political, in his own way; he started playing "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley.

Obviously, this was and is an infuriating song for me to hear, because the song's pro-war argument hinged on the incorrect notion that a Saddam-Al Queda connection existed, while also questioning whether I remembered the hijacked airliner that crashed into our country's military headquarters, killing a hundred people less than five miles from my apartment. YEAH, I THINK I FUCKING REMEMBER. Silly me. I didn't want war with Iraq over 9/11; I wanted us TO MAYBE ACTUALLY GO AFTER THE GROUP THAT ACTUALLY DID IT. But here was Darryl Worley on my radio, trying to convince me that invading Iraq was a good idea, through song. So much for trying to get away from the war.

Ah, but the fun didn't stop there. Because John Thompson wasn't just playing "Have You Forgotten." He was also... oh, God... he was talk-singing along with it, in his inimitable mouth-breathing way. This was maybe the most surreal thing I've ever experienced. It went kind of like this:

SONG: Have you forgotten how it felt that day?
THOMPSON (speaking): Have you forgotten.
SONG: To see your homeland under fire
And her people blown away?

THOMPSON: Homeland under fire.
SONG:Have you forgotten when those towers fell?
We had neighbors still inside going through a living hell.

THOMPSON: Neighbors still inside.
SONG: And you say we shouldn't worry 'bout bin Laden.
Have you forgotten?

THOMPSON: Have you forgotten.
My God. I probably would have driven off the road laughing if the subject wasn't such a sore spot with me.

Yeah, I've got to say that, in retrospect, this is the Funniest Thing I Have Ever Heard On Radio. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson retardedly talk-singing along with Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" Congratulations, you win first prize.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I created this blog a few days later out of general frustration.

And now you know... the rest of the story.

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