Larry King Septuagenarian Hipster Genius

Posted on February 24, 2011


I eat blueberries every day and I am better off for it…

–Larry King

For years Larry King has been mocked and parodied for his unique don’t-learn-anything-about-the-guest interviewing style and his laundry list columns, a rambling catalog of non-sequiturs, name-dropping, plugs, and shamefully obvious observations:

I’d buy Britney Spears’ new album, but the store was closed…


I get a good feeling when I see a police officer on a horse.

Here was a man unashamed to see the world through superlative-colored glasses and couldn’t help describing everything as the finest, the best, or the top ten all time, making you wonder how Tommy Lasorda felt when his pasta sauce was described as only ‘very, very good’.

But in the wake of his recent retirement I find myself philosophical and ready to re-examine King’s legacy.

Paul McCartney immediately comes to mind, a man whose legacy as a songwriting legend seemed untouchable after the Beatles era. But in Wings the man who wrote Hey Jude received criticism in equal measure for writing syrupy moon-in-June tunes like Silly Love Songs and the musical equivalent of a prostate exam: Wonderful Christmastime*, a song McCartney created by turning on his new Apple III, entering the line ‘Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time’, then the line ‘ding dong, ding dong, ding dong, ding dong’, then falling asleep on the keyboard and inadvertently pressing Ctrl+Alt+H, which on early Apple IIIs activated the shortcut for ‘Destroy Humanity’**.

Bruce Springsteen once told Paul McCartney, “You know what? I like Silly Love Songs. I really didn’t get it at first, but now I’ve got a wife and kids I get what you meant.”

Let me translate for Springsteen: Paul McCartney, you made your bones with the Beatles and have nothing left to prove. Is there any artistic merit left in disguising meaning behind metaphors and creative prose? Why not just say exactly what you’re thinking?

What new pleasures remain for a man like Paul McCartney and what pleasures remain for Larry King, a man who’s seen seven decades, amassed a large fortune, met every celebrity, and been married seven times? When you’ve eaten Chinese food two hundred times, how are you supposed to describe it the two hundredth time? Maybe the only thing left to say is:

Chinese food tastes better Sunday nights.

If you’re going to pop in on Sunday nights, make sure and call first because that’s the night Larry King eats Chinese food. He eats his egg rolls, wipes his mouth with a hundred dollar bill, drives his solid gold Cadillac back home, and his wife asks him how was dinner, and Larry King thinks of all the ways he’s described Chinese food over the previous 77 years, and after a moment of contemplation, shrugs and answers, “Chinese food tastes better Sunday nights.

King knows what he’s saying. He’s a poet who demands we take his words or do not take them. Sorry, no pretenses. This is what I am. All I can give you is, “I eat, I think, I love, I feel, I am.”

Without further throat-clearing, I give you a poem culled from King’s columns My Two Cents, King’s Things, and Twitter:

I’ve Never Been Big on Cuff Links

By Paul Johnson and Larry King

I don’t know why, but I’ve never been big on cuff links.
Has anybody seen Manny Ramirez lately…
I never get tired of listening to Canada ’s national anthem.
Is there anything in broadcasting that Ryan Seacrest does not do…and do well…

The tap water in NYC tastes as good as any $5.00 bottle of water…
Flat screen TVs spoil you…

If you pin me down, my favorite color is orange…

Download my spoken word version with accompaniment by Charles Mingus: I’veneverbeenbigoncufflinks

*Paul McCartney later admitted he was embarrassed by Wonderful Christmastime, calling into question the theory that it was intentionally bad and poking a hole in my theory, but maybe he’s on the next level of mind games now and we’re not yet ready to understand his meaning.

**A story Paul McCartney told James Cameron at a filming of Circus of the Stars, inspiring Cameron to write the screenplays Terminator and Dirty Dancing, although Dirty Dancing underwent significant re-writes before filming.

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