Tune In, Turn On, Watch “Baywatch”

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, April 12 1996

The Richmond State was a plucky upstart alternative newspaper (not that kind of “alternative”) that challenged the editorial might of the stodgy Richmond Times-Dispatch beginning in 1994. It folded in 1997 and left so little of a legacy that there is a grand total of one search result for it in all of the Googles, which is a link to the Library of Congress where you can find which libraries have copies on microfiche. At the time, Paul Caputo and I thought this was our ticket to comedy stardom. We were exceptionally stupid.

Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. At least our parents didn’t name us “Pongo” or “Mad.”

Not long ago, in this very “newspaper,” we published a column about the Richmond news media (which, due to typographical errors, included  Channel 8). Like all of our best work, it contained biting political and social commentary, and repeated references to the word “ass.”  The column earned these wacky comments from cheerful WRVA morning personality Tim “Tim” Timberlake:

“It seems we’ve been mentioned here in the … is this a newspaper? Oh, ha ha, how funny. Incidentally, you’ve blown it now, haven’t you, you filth-ridden vermin? Are you listening Jeff and Paul?! WITH GOD AS MY WITNESS, YOU WILL NEVER BE ON THE RADIO IN THIS TOWN FOR AS LONG AS I LIVE! Let’s take a caller.”

Or something.

In fact, this controversial column provoked a flood of similar responses from “many” of our “readers.” 

“Hey,” NewsChannel 6 Anchor Charles Fishburne did not say, “Why don’t you punks write something about cable television and leave us the Hell alone?”

That gave us an idea: “Let’s have PIZZA for dinner again!” But it also gave us another idea:

Jeff and Paul’s Guide to Cable TV

DIVISION I: The Basics

USA Network

Motto:Where Old Canceled Sitcoms Go to Die

Format: Every bad TV show you can think of, plus excellent live theater (“WWF Monday Nite RAW!”)

Best Feature: (tie) 18-hour “Knight Rider” marathons keep derelicts (Paul) off the street./When Judge Wapner bit the head off a live plaintiff on camera.

Worst Feature: When Judge Wapner’s bowels are acting up and he gives people the death sentence.

Trivia Fact: It not only insults your intelligence, but slaps it upside the head, too.

The Weather Channel

Motto: One Step Up From Static!

Format: A wide variety of topical programs concerning important political and social issues, ranging from rainy weather to sunny weather

Best Feature: Vital up-to-the-minute barometric pressure readings from Boise, Idaho.

Worst Feature: Hey! It’s weather! Just look out the window, for God’s sake.

Trivia Fact: Temperatures in the 70s do not actually turn an entire state orange.

BET (Black Entertainment Television)

Motto:When You Just Can’t Get Enough Rap Videos

Format: Surprisingly, rap videos

Best Feature: No danger of seeing “Mama’s Family” at any time

Worst Feature: You won’t believe this, but it gets kinda old after a while.

Trivia Fact: Counterpart channel “NET” (Norwegian Entertainment Television) failed due to lack of rap videos about fjords or people named “Ingemar.”

VH-1 (Video Hits One)

Motto:White Entertainment Television

Format: Imagine Lite 98 with pictures.

Best Feature: (tie) Cool Cheesy ‘80s videos they got out of the attic at MTV/Keeps Mariah Carey off welfare

Worst Feature: Has been known to cause dizziness, stomach cramps and mild comas.

Trivia Fact: Originally intended as a “Baby Boomer” counterpart to the “younger, hipper” MTV, it is now used as an industrial-strength sedative, while MTV is used to entertain mutants and rabid farm animals.

MTV (Music Television)

Motto:Cretin Central

Format: Irritating game shows, cheese-ridden pseudo-dramas, “Beavis and Butthead,” and info-mercials, plus up to three bad music videos per day.

Best Feature: “The Great Cornholio” episode of “Beavis and Butthead”

Worst Feature: Is basically just total crap.

Trivia Fact: If someone identifies himself as an avid MTV watcher, it is socially acceptable to punch him in the face.

The Discovery Channel

Motto:Must-Ignore TV

Format: Alternating footage of sharks eating divers and World War II planes dropping bombs on buildings.

Best Feature: When they drop bombs on sharks.

Worst Feature: Jacques Cousteau thinks he’s so much cooler than everyone else.
Trivia Fact: Come see Jeff in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” this weekend at the University of Richmond theater! Mention at the box office that you saw this notice in The Richmond State, and they will punch you in the face.

Trivia Fact II: Sometimes you can see Paul walking around in the background of Channel 12 newsroom live shots.

Trivia Fact III: The fastest land mammal is the cheetah.

Trivia Fact IV: The fattest land mammal is Rush Limbaugh.


Motto:We DARE You to Watch!”

Format: Pulse-pounding, rivetingly incomprehensible legislative session coverage

Best Feature: Wacky skits all the congressmen perform in drag between bills

Worst Feature: They only rarely air old episodes of “What’s Happening.”
Trivia Fact: Dwayne from “What’s Happening” was really kind of a dork.

E! (Entertainment Television)

Motto: (tie) “E!-rritating!” or ”AIIIEEEEE!”

Format: No one really cares.

Best Feature: “Talk Soup” is used as a nationwide indicator of stupidity.

Worst Feature: Howard Stern is just really ugly.
Trivia Fact: The exclamation point in “E!” is pronounced “Prince.”

ESPN (Entertainment Sports Programming Network)

Motto: “CNN With Excess Testosterone

Format: All sports, all the time, except when they show golf

Best Feature: The SportsCenter anchors make having a rotten attitude seem cool.

Worst Feature: Occasionally shows New York Mets games, under the title “The Parade of Shame and Wasted Lives.”
Trivia Fact: In September of 1983, a woman watched ESPN.

ESPN2 “The Deuce”

Motto: If You’re Watching This, You’re Pathetic”

Format: 24-hour coverage of second-rate sports, like “underwater skateboarding,” “beach bowling,” “wheelchair rugby” and “professional ice hockey.”

Best Feature: They’ve got to be hiring.

Worst Feature: Try as we might, we can’t get them to cover our annual Richmond State Whiffle Ball Tournament.
Trivia Fact: No one has ever actually seen ESPN2.

CNN Headline News

Motto: Enough News to Choke a Horse

Format: 24 hours a day – news from Really Ugly People

Best Feature: If you close your eyes and crumple newspapers, you can pretend you’re listening to WRVA.

Worst Feature: Not enough skin.
Trivia Fact: It’s the only news service to run syndicated repeats of old broadcasts.

QVC (Quality Value Convenience) Shopping Network

Motto:Like Shopping, but More Irritating!”

Format: Kind of a cross between the Wheel of Fortune and BLAB TV

Best Feature: It makes you realize there are many worthwhile, valuable things you could do instead of watching TV.

Worst Feature: You’ll watch it anyway.
Trivia Fact: The modern consumer could do 100 percent of his daily shopping from home, provided all he ever needed were Diamanoid rings the size of golf balls and Cubic Zirconia coat hangers.

TBS (Turner Broadcasting System)

Motto: Look, Jane, I own a TV station!”

Format: The Atlanta Braves and other minions of Satan, like “Matlock.”

Best Feature: Jane Fonda used to wear just a leotard to Atlanta Braves games.

Worst Feature: Jane Fonda still wears just a leotard to Atlanta Braves games
Trivia Fact: Paul hates the Braves more than he does any other group of human beings this side of the KKK and the phone company.

DIVISION II: Pay Stations


Motto:Breasts Ahoy!

Format: Breasts

Best Feature: Large breasts

Worst Feature: Small breasts

Trivia Fact: May not be suitable for children under 17 who don’t like breasts.

Trivia Fact II: We’ll be back watching this channel, once our girflfriends refuse to talk to us for a week after reading all these “breast” gags.

HBO (Home Box Office)

Motto: You Were Just Too Lazy to Go to the Video Store, Weren’t You?

Format: Good movies twice a month; “Ernest Goes to Hell” six times a day.

Best Feature: Thank GOD you didn’t pay to see these movies in a theater.

Worst Feature: You’re still paying an extra $5 a month to see these movies on cable.

Trivia Fact: Nobody has understood a single word said on “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam” in over three years.


Motto: Calling All Idiots!

Format: Movies two months before they show up on HBO, plus specials like (True Fact!) “David Hasselhoff and Friends,” featuring Marla Maples and David singing.

Best Feature: Provides the pleasant illusion of being in a cheap hotel somewhere.

Worst Feature: You may miss that Mike Tyson fight you paid $40 for if you sneeze.

Trivia Fact: “Rosebud” was Citizen Kane’s sled.

© 1996 Puff Carpluto

Sports Preview-ish “Thingy”

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, April 4 1996

The Richmond State was a plucky upstart alternative newspaper (not that kind of “alternative”) that challenged the editorial might of the stodgy Richmond Times-Dispatch beginning in 1994. It folded in 1997 and left so little of a legacy that there is a grand total of one search result for it in all of the Googles, which is a link to the Library of Congress where you can find which libraries have copies on microfiche. At the time, Paul Caputo and I thought this was our ticket to comedy stardom. We were exceptionally stupid.

Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. We’re throwing out our balls on opening day! Umm … that didn’t sound too good.

If someone asked you about the biggest problems facing the City of Richmond (motto: “No Parking!”), you, being sensible, would say “Men who drink Zima” (motto: “It Zucks!”). But that’s not what we are here to talk about; indeed, you psychos, we’re not “there,” and neither of us is talking.

What we are writing about is the lack of quality sports in this Godforsaken town. The Richmond sports situation is worse than radio station 104.7 “The BUZZ” (motto: “Like Chewing Razors, But You Listen to It”). Why are there no die-hard legions of courageous, yet somehow mentally deficient Richmond fans lining up for tickets in the snow? Most other cities have them. Why aren’t the names of Richmond’s sports teams, whatever they are, a topic of regular discussion among the local hoi-polloi (that’s you)? Sports teams are worshipped in other cities (“Visit the Temple of the Toronto Raptors!”). And it’s no use blaming it all on the fact that recent statistics show that everyone in Richmond has been murdered three times. There’s something wrong here. And it’s all for one simple reason.

What is that reason? 

We have NO damn idea.

We decided to investigate or something. The result: more than 75% of Richmond professional players, coaches and managers we interviewed believed that The Richmond State was either “just west of North Carolina” or “a kind of fish.” 

For those of you who are exceptionally stupid or work for TV news or both, Richmond has no major-league professional sports team. What we do have, idiots, are minor-league teams, which, if you have been to an actual city, you know is like being 39 cents shy of the proverbial Value Meal, if you know what we mean. If you do know what we mean, please write to us and explain it, c/o this newspaper.

To this end, we, Jeff and Paul (motto: “Not Funny!”), recently attended the Richmond Braves’ “Media” Day. (They make us put “media” in quotes because Channel 8 has passes, too.) We then left after we realized that there was no free food.

Now, while baseball is the greatest facet of American culture this side of “V: The Final Battle” or reruns of “Schoolhouse Rock” and, in Richmond, it is the closest thing we have to major league sports (The Renegades don’t count because they play hockey.) (C’mon. Hockey?), our first real exposure to the world of sports in Richmond revealed a disturbing fact: That “Ukrops” spelled backwards is the satanic riddle “Spork! U?” 

No! That’s not it. What we discovered was this: We still haven’t seen those free baseball caps NewsChannel 6 said they were mailing us. No! Dammit! That’s not it either. What we actually discovered was this: that all our minor-league teams are actually kinda pretty good. To wit:

The Richmond Braves: Go R-Braves! Woooo Hoo! The “R-Braves,” as they are called,(to distinguish them from the “Their-Braves,”) are Richmond’s number one sports team, since they are first alphabetically. The Braves are also our favorite Richmond sports team and not just because we have season press passes. No way. It’s because we have season press passes and free parking passes. This, in our opinions, makes the R-Braves the GREATEST THING EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.

The Braves have won every single game they have ever played over the course of their 30-year history, with the unfortunate exception of several hundred games that they lost because the umpires were Nun-abusing Homosexual Communists and almost certainly had serious personal hygiene problems.

While we were at the Braves’ media day last week, we interviewed cumulatively almost one person each, who filled us in on some important information we will need to cover the Braves this year:

PAUL: So, um, do you guys like baseball? You know?

TALL GUY WITH A NUMBER ON HIS SHIRT: Hey! You write for The Richmond State? Is Pongo Twistleton here?

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice:

JEFF: I thought there was going to be free food here.


Coincidentally, you can find weekly coverage of the Braves (True Fact!) every Thursday this summer right here in the State.

Richmond Kickers: Okay. These are grown men playing soccer. Frankly, it looks ridiculous. 

The Kickers, whose name derives from the latin, kickvs, meaning “guys who can run a lot” and er, meaning “but can’t catch worth a dead rat’s ass,” are one of Richmond’s most successful teams, in that they have won a lot of championships. Of course, in whatever the Hell league it is they play in, every time you win a game, you apparently win a championship. Last year the Kickers won their league championship, the Professional League Championship, the Tournament of Champions Championship and “Final Jeopardy,” all in one game. By the end of the season, they had won the Virginia Cup, the Newberry and Caldecott Awards, the Nobel Prize, and two of them were named “Miss America.” 

We look forward this season to the Kickers to win six Pulitzers, an Academy Award for “Best Foreign Documentary,” and the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes.

Richmond Renegades: Those of you who follow our column on a regular basis should remember this number: 1-900-GET-HELP. Also, you should remember the column we wrote about our visit to “The Freezer” several weeks ago for a Renegades game. Incidentally, we take this opportunity to point out that the wounds are healing nicely, and 

Paul is getting used to not having a nose anymore. We would like to ask that whichever exuberant fan ate Jeff’s car’s bumper to please return it.

If you missed our Renegades column, you can find back issues of the State in your local Christian Science Reading Room, or gutter.

Virginia Commonwealth University: The VCU “Rams” (motto: “Our athletes aren’t nearly as freakish as the rest of our students!”) fielded an excellent basketball team this year. Which was a shame because you don’t play basketball on a field.

VUU/VSU: Both of these schools actually exist, we’re told. At any rate, their sports teams can’t be nearly as bad as the University of Richmond’s.

University of Richmond: U of R’s big sports teams, contrary to popular belief, aren’t half bad this year. 

They’re ALL bad. The UR basketball team (motto: “We may lose badly, but we have a beautiful 300-acre wooded campus with a scenic lake and tranquil atmosphere!”) finished its 1995-96 season with a record of 3-271, placing it last in the CAA, and two rankings below the Goochland Girls Scouts.

U of R proudly boasts several talented athletes, all of whom transferred just last week, leaving the school with only (True Fact!) a nationally ranked Synchronized Swimming Team, a gaggle of male cheerleaders (“The Spiderettes”) and a very masculine campus newspaper intramural “Hardyball” team.

The U of R football team has a long, fine tradition of running up the middle and getting sacked for six-yard losses. That’s it.

U of R, it turns out, is actually the only purveyor of sports in the city that does suck.

Perhaps that’s what is missing. Part of the reason, say, Chicago’s sports fans are so dedicated is the knowledge that they can share the Cubs getting pummeled by visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses softball teams with their children, and their grandchildren. So we need teams that suck …. etc.

The Richmond Valued Customers (NFL): Owned by Ukrop’s, (motto: “Jesus Wants You to Buy This Cole Slaw”) the RVCs would have attractive green uniforms, refuse to play games on Sunday afternoons because they should all be at their “house of worship,” and try to get other teams to move out of cities where Howard Stern is broadcast. Their secret weapon would be to scatter delicious Ukrop’s Potato Wedges™ all over the field as decoys.