Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"Fair Enough, Sir. I'll Buy That."

Tom Snyder died of leukemia on Sunday. He was 71. I had no idea this happened until today, and while I'm not shocked by the news ("Death never takes the wise man by surprise, he is always ready to go" -- La Fontaine), I'm a little saddened to see another part of my youth fade away. For my generation, Snyder's "Tomorrow" was the only place you could see the truly off-beat on TV. Then there was Dan Aykroyd's impression of Snyder on "SNL", which was semi-iconic, though not appreciated by Snyder, who tended to take himself a little too seriously. (For the record, Harry Shearer did a more accurate Snyder, but Aykroyd's was funnier and at times stranger.)

Snyder interviewed many interesting people, not all of them celebrities or even apparently sane. His type of television is long gone; no one really talks at length anymore, and there's very little color in most contemporary exchanges. I've yet to see Snyder's confrontation with the National Lampoon's Doug Kenney from 1975, which I understand was quite tense, owing to Kenney's barely-hidden hostility and brain saturated with hashish. (If anyone has access to that tape, please let me know.) But I do own the DVD box set featuring Snyder's many interviews with punk and new wave artists from the late-70s and early-80s, and without doubt, the most entertaining segment is Snyder attempting to understand John Lydon and Keith Levene of Public Image, Ltd. This is emblematic of Snyder at his best and worst. From June 25, 1980.