Yesterday's news brought mention of one of my all-time favorite characters, none other than Jimmy Swaggart. While the news item itself merely concerned itself with one of Swaggart's asinine pronouncements, it's always good to see old Jimmy get some more visibility, even if he does (pardon the expression) look like hell. I used to get a real kick out of watching Swaggart on Sunday nights; PBS would occasionally run favorites like Monty Python, Fawlty Towers or The Prisoner which would distract me, but old Jimmy ran on what is now the UPN station (notorious for running old Warner Oland movies and the like) in a traditionally dead spot, and boy did he give us a hoot for Monday AM. You'd pass on the opening musical segments with the people who got rejected from Lawrence Welk for being too wholesome (BTW, I won't diss old Lawrence. His stuff wasn't my cup of tea, but he always put on a consummately professional show and he was a gentleman by all accounts, so I'll indicate my respect for the man), then Jimmy would come on and brother, was he open for business. By some accounts, Bruce Springsteen stole shtick from Jimmy, and you know, even if you weren't into his message, you had to respect the showmanship and the passion he put into it. Of course, after the show they put the bite on you, with his none-too-exciting son and formidable wife portraying the happiest of families while trying to con pensioners out of their Social Security checks to support transmitting the program into Tannu Tuva and building their own little empire in Baton Rouge. Then of course, he made the televangelists' consistent fatal mistake - he got caught. Not quite as bad as Bakker, but salacious enough (moral - don't tick off a fellow minister when you've got skeletons in your closet). Funny how it seems these guys have a penchant for getting into this kind of pickle, witness Paul Crouch's (my current absurd favorite) bit of dirty laundry being aired (and his wife, hoo boy. Tammy Bakker is an amateur compared to her.....). You have to love these guys even when they do something really bizzaro. My personal favorite was John Hagee dancing around on the stage/pulpit with a tallis
, and for all the world looking like a fat Mick Jagger in Gimme Shelter.