Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history
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A Crumbled Kookie Caper, and No Comb
I don't know Edd Byrnes personally, and it's probably for the best.
In person, he might be a charming, very likable young man.
And if that were the case, all of my firm convictions about him would be destroyed.
Mr. Byrnes -- for those of you who don't have straying teen-age children -- is the latest of Hollywood's incessant stream of male idols.
They call him, for reasons beyond my aging ken, "Kookie."
I first became aware of him as a peril to my peace of mind when my kids began performing the ritual of chanting "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb."
Naturally, I hadn't the vaguest notion what it meant. And I hadn't the vaguest interest in finding out.
But I did.
Quite by accident one day, I blundered off KFAC and turned my car radio to one of those abominable disc jockey shows that play nothing but rock 'n' roll.
I heard, "Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb."
And as the subtle, tender lyrics unfolded, there loomed in my mind a vision of a thoroughly obnoxious, ego-maniacal punk who didn't even have the common courtesy to reply to his girl's constant entreaties to let her borrow his comb.
The girl, whom I feel sure was dating this delinquent against her parent's wishes, was obviously embarrassed enough at having forgotten her comb without his making things worse by ignoring her urgent request.
Then, as the chorus ended, it was apparent that he wasn't ignoring her. He was using the damn comb himself.
And if there is one thing I consider the epitome of poor taste, it's a guy combing his ducktail in public.
By far the most degrading part of all this is that despite my revulsion, I find myself humming the song. Of course, this is quite impossible since it is not a song.
What I do, I walk around murmuring, "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb."
And I must admit I'm a pretty ridiculous sight.
My plight, however, is not the worst.
A couple of weeks ago, Byrnes came out with another release which has stirred his band of worshipers to new fury.
The record is entitled "Like I Love You," and -- as I understand it -- involves a phone conversation between him and his girl friend. (This is not the same girl whom he refused the loan of his comb. Doubtlessly, the kid realized she was making a fool of herself.)
In the course of the conversation between Kookie and his new date, the phone number SUnset 7-7777 is mentioned.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out the latest fad of Kookie's flock.
They're all dialing SU. 7-7777.
And they're getting an operator who repeats over and over again, very pleasantly: "The number you are calling has been changed to a TRiangle number. The new number is TR. and the last five numerals of the number you are calling."
In their blind devotion, the kids follow the operator's instructions. And they get the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Zaid. And they ask, in high-pitched, giggly voices: "May I speak to Kookie, please?"
The Zaids, who have teen-age and pre-teen children of their own, didn't mind the intrusion at first.
But now, the volume of calls has built up so fantastically that it's no longer a joke. Their phone starts ringing at 7:30 in the morning and doesn't quit until after midnight. This week they've been logging some 200 calls a day.
Naturally, the callers include a generous sampling of the mildly demented who get their kicks by anonymously mouthing obscenities.
Zaid, who conducts his business from his home and needs a public listing, would gladly change his phone number. But, for clients to reach him, he'd have to allow the phone company to give out his new number to anyone who dialed TR. 7-7777. And that would include Kookie's legion of pals.
Kookie may be real "gone" -- but for Mr. and Mrs. Zaid, he's not gone far enough.
Pills, marijuana and peyote on Sunset Strip -- but the mobsters are gone. Sophie Tucker (75) and Ted Lewis (67) were strictly for the Geritol crowd by 1959.
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