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.

They Aren’t Paying Us Enough to Be Funny

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, March 26 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.

Yell-O. We are Jeff and Paul. Aren’t you excited? Well, you DAMN well should be.

Once again, we, Jeff and Paul, investigative journalists, Defenders of Truth, Writers of Crap, Users of Many Commas, are dipping into our ever-brimming Loyal Reader Mail Sack™, if you know what we mean. We sure as Hell don’t. Furthermore, also. Therefore, we are answering a letter from a lucky reader, who is almost certainly not you, because you didn’t write in.

Dear Messrs. Carl and Caputo,

Your payments on the Deluxe Model Foosball Table are now four months overdue. Please kindly pay immediately or a sales representative named “Torg” will visit you soon, and shove a lamp up your asses. Thank you for your prompt attention…

Whoops! Wrong mailbag! That seems to have been the Loyal Angry Creditor Mailbag®. We have found our Loyal Reader Mailbag or Whatever©, and will now answer a letter.

Dear “Jeff” and/or “Paul,”

Remember that column you wrote? The one about the thing? You know? Well, what’s up with that? You know?

Q: Is there any over-the-counter medication I can take which will give me fresh, minty breath and improve my gas mileage?

A: That’s a fine question. Here’s what you do: You walk up to your boss and say, “It was me who stocked the company water cooler with goldfish!” Then stomp on his foot, kick him in the shins and staple his eyelids to his forehead.

He won’t be pinching your ass again. And that’s one to grow on.

Q: Is it true that research has been found, in clinical studies, to cause cancer in laboratory animals?

A: Let’s face it. Even to suggest that Denny’s “Moons Over My Hammy” breakfast meal is even a little bit offensive is just a bit over the top. Even if you are a Ukrop.

Q: Is there any reason that the people responsible for ‘Mentos: the Freshmaker!’ commercials should be allowed to live?

A: Hmm… We’re not sure. Try Pongo Twistleton’s column. By the way, there were no contest winners from last week, so please be sure to mail your entries with the postage stamp on the outside.

Q: Which is worse: Hitler, or people who say ‘nucular’ instead of ‘nuclear?’

A: Our favorite country is Norway. The people there are so short, and yet somehow so large. It might have something to do with all those pastries.

Q: Does Søren Kierkegaard’s existentialist dogma (positing, for the æsthete, that ennui is the demonic pantheism) properly encapsulate man’s will to exist? Or is it all just a bunch of crapola?

A: A little warm milk and a lot of penicillin, and everything will be just fine.

Q: Would you agree that advancements in computer technology have gone straight downhill ever since “Super Challenge Baseball” for Atari 2600?

A: The worst thing is wrong numbers. For example, Jeff’s phone number is very similar to that of the Poison Control Center, so he always gets calls from people whining about “Ohhh, I just drank a quart of Draño!” or whatever. He tells them to: 1. “Have some ‘Wheaties’ and you’ll be all right,” or 2. “Watch ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ to induce vomiting,” then hangs up.

Q: Oh my God! What is that thing on your face?

A: The trick is to hold the ferret firmly in the palm of your hand before jamming into slot 4, as shown in the diagram.

Q: If you had a million dollars to give to any charity organization in the world, would you?

A: Well, it’s your fault for not having a Macintosh in the first place. That’s what we say.

Q: Doesn’t ‘Newt Gingrich’ sound like a name for a Klingon or something?

A: If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a bajillion times: Swallowing tiny bits of Nerf will not cure scurvy or the Clap.

Q: Is there a restroom here I can use?

A: The mighty sequoia, which grows to over three hundred feet in height.

Q: Did you know that if you held your breath for a long time, then someone unexpectedly punched you in the gut, you would either black out or start thinking just like Rush Limbaugh?

A: In 1995 alone, more than 400 cats died in accidents directly related to Dust Busters.

Huge Mouse, Cajun-Style

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, March 20 1996

This column was a combination of our unpaid shilling for Fan restaurant ‘Gumbo Ya-Ya’ with our righteous distaste for Disney’s planned “American History and Indian Massacre Gift Shop.” So we came up with a projected Richmond Disney theme park. We were really hoping that ‘Gumbo Ya-Ya’ would give us free food, but they never did, because they, like the rest of Richmond didn’t read The Richmond State.

Howdy. We are Jeff “Gumbo” Carl and Paul Ca-“Ya-Ya”-puto. We should point out that we would never compromise our journalistic impartiality by endorsing any sort of cajun-style restaurants.

Recently or whatever, the Disney Corporation (motto: “We’d Like You to Forget About ‘Escape From Witch Mountain’”) planned to build a “History-Land” theme-park in Northern Virginia. This would have combined all the creepiness of people dancing around frantically in animal costumes with the skull-crunching dullness of Eighth-Grade American History. 

Many Virginians (motto: “Yee-haw! NASCAR!!!!”) objected vehemently, sometimes in complete sentences, complaining that attractions like the “Thomas Jefferson Mausoleum and Putt-Putt Golf Course” (motto: “Score a hole in one and Tom spins in his grave!”) or the “Jamestown Indian Massacre and Driftwood Sculpture Gift Shop” did not respect history, or crunch skulls with its dullness. Furthermore, it completely ignored the delicious, low-priced lunch entrees at Gumbo Ya-Ya.

Eventually Disney gave up on Northern Virginia and just went and bought Zaire (motto: “Where the Hell are we?”). But they secretly never abandoned their plans for the park, and finally purchased the tract of underdeveloped rural land they needed.

You guessed it. They bought the City of Richmond, (motto: “We’ll Tow Any Car for $49.95!”) and they’re turning the whole city into an amusement park (motto: “Crawfish Are Back!”), which will combine all the excitement of the city’s historical attractions (motto: “We DARE you to visit the Valentine Riverside”) with all the surliness of the wait staff at Euro-Disney (motto: “Içi, ce sucks beaucoup”). 

So who do you think is designing this park?

You guessed it even more. We, Jeff and Paul, are supplementing our meager paychecks from the State (motto: “In exchange for your articles, we will give you many shiny beads and trinkets”) by designing the new Disney Richmond Historical Fun Land.

The park, which will be inexplicably named “Six Flags Over Gumbo Ya-Ya,” will be divided into five parts, all easily accessible by the space-age Powhite Monorail™. It will be free to ride, but will require passengers to pay 35 cents in exact change every half mile. Furthermore, the monorail will occasionally burst into flames for no particular reason. But you don’t need to wait for a monorail to go to Gumbo Ya-Ya, conveniently located on Main Street in the historic Fan district!

The staff, complete with guys walking around in enormous cartoon Leonidas Young costumes, will comprise City of Richmond public school teachers, which means the park will be closed on days when there’s a good game on.

Admission to the park will be free, but city employees will post “Street Cleaning Right Now!” signs in the parking lot and tow everybody’s car and charge them $50. That’s much more than you would pay for some hot ‘n’ spicy shrimp at Gumbo Ya-Ya!

The park’s main attractions are the secret biological experiments in Jurassic Copyright Infringement Land, in which disturbed scientists will genetically engineer radioactive clones of L. Shirley Harvey. Also, we are planning an enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex designed specifically to eat Joynes and Bieber.

The restof the park breaks down (no pun intended) like this:


Like-Real-History-But-If-There-Were-Cartoon-Characters-There Land: This would include some things almost like Actual History, but with their own special Virginian/Disney twist. For instance, in the Civil War re-enactments, the Southerners (the 3rd Artillery Mousketeers Division) win all the battles (their battle cry: “Winn, Dixie!”) and beat up Abraham Lincoln (motto: “My GOD! I just realized how creepy I look!”) and take his lunch money, winning the War of Northern Aggression.

Hall of City Council Members: Full of creepy androids like the Hall of Presidents, but instead of reciting historical speeches, the characters recite where they bought it and who else uses the stuff. If you’re talking about nutritious, hearty food, we bought it at Gumbo Ya-Ya!

Walt Disney’s Wussy Dancing World on Ice: Staffed by the ex-Richmond Renegades, this part of the park will feature figure-skating in frillly skirts and cartoon animals cross-checking each other. It will make heterosexuals, including us, who are not gay — unlike some columnists we could name — extremely uncomfortable.


Haunted VCU Freak Show and Body-Piercing Hut: Guaranteed to scare the bejeezus out of youngsters, with lifelike “students” who wear whimsical black costumes and say things like “My band does Frank Zappa covers on kazoo. We’re still waiting for our first gig, but I hear Jonathan Fox wrote a great article about us in the State.” Kids can meet the new VCU mascot, Rolf, the angst-ridden Doberman.

Hookers of Broad Street: Like the “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but with cheap hookers and colorful non-tropical diseases. Coincidentally, Louisiana, which is where Gumbo Ya-Ya food is from, is very near the Caribbean.

Epcot Center: This will feature one lone booth, with Bell Atlantic (motto: “Mr. Carl, Your Bill is Now Three Months Overdue”) demonstrating a futuristic but highly unbelievable reasonably-priced residential phone service.

The James River Log Flume Ride: Joyful flume-riders (motto: “What the Hell is a flume?”) will laugh and play in the water of the mighty James River, which should not be ingested internally and bonds skin instantly.


Richmond Snow Removal Crew Bumper Cars: Children can experience the thrill of their misbegotten lives, riding a two-mile-per-hour snow plow bumper car as it playfully crashes into simulated snowed-in cars in The Fan.

Electrical Parade on Main Street: At the end of each evening, visitors gather on Main Street (motto: “It is On Our Mighty Sidewalks Where You Will Find Gumbo Ya-Ya!”), where Disney puts on its daily whimsical parade, designed by Nazi Psychiatrists™ and Chinese torture specialists to be the single-most annoying event in the history of the universe. All parade floats will be towed if parked between 4 and 6 p.m., and will be made out of delicious jambalaya rice from Gumbo Ya-Ya. Mm-Mmmm Good!

“It’s a NASCAR World”: Modeled after the wildly unpopular “It’s a Small World” feature at Disney World or Land or Whatever™, passengers will sit in miniature NASCAR cars and crash into each other, bursting into flames as they whip around a track surrounded by automated hillbilly pit stop mechanic dolls singing:           

            It’s a world of grease, It’s a world of dirt/

            Our intellect’s in a world of hurt/

            Our cars tend to roll, when we spit out our Skoal/

            We’re in NASCAR after all

Times-Dispatch Office Pavilion: Every day a different five-year-old visitor would be the “Editorial Page Editor For A Day.” Anyone who notices the difference will win $1,000,000, but they will be placed on the payroll of The Richmond State, and should expect to receive their check in late February 2015.


Monument Avenue: Automated statues of Arthur Ashe and “Goofy” will play tennis against each other on horseback and only occasionally have disastrous mechanical malfunctions that make them go berzerk and kill everyone in the park. Not to be missed is the mouse-eared Stonewall Jackson, singing “Zippity Doo-Dah,” three times daily.


Gumbo Ya-Ya: This will be the best part of the park, if for no other reason that if we keep mentioning their name, they might give us free food.

© Puff Carpluto 1996

Furthermore, Also!

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, March 17 1996

Our predictions for the 1996 Presidential election, including Lamar Alexander’s blaming of unemployment on “Space Aliens.” While we weren’t technically correct in our prediction that the 1996 election would be won by the cast of “Friends,” we still think they would have won if Chandler hadn’t gone into rehab.

Hello (note change). We are Jeff and Paul. We put the “ech” back in “election.”

In recent weeks, there has been much serious discussion of the big issues facing the nation’s presidential hopefuls. Frankly, that is the kind of claptrap you might read in boring newspapers (like The Richmond Times-Dispatch) or fundamentalist extremist pamphlets (like The Richmond Times-Dispatch).Well, there’s none of that crapola in The Richmond State. Nosiree Bob.


Because we just got our Crystal (“Magic 8”) Ball out again to predict what was going to happen in the election. This saves you valuable time reading newspapers, when you could have been watching “Punky Brewster.” So go ahead and cancel your subscription to the Times-Dispatch, and send us the money instead. You’ll thank us later. 

Decision ‘96: A Look Ahead

March 14: President Clinton hits the campaign trail for the state primaries. He promises to “tax you bastards back to the Stone Age.” He adds, “Hey! You don’t like it? Vote for someone else. Oops! I’m the only one on the ticket!”

March 18: Lamar Alexander gets back in the race, claiming that “the tiny flowers told me to.”

March 19: Republican Richard Lugar drops out of the race, sparking headlines around the country of “Weather to Remain Cloudy Through Weekend.”

April 4: Bob Dole opts not to attend a debate among Republican hopefuls because he “always chokes during Double Jeopardy.”

April 16: Richard Lugar drops back in the race. An opinion poll reveals that 99% of Americans believe that he is not a real person, but a joke candidate with a silly name, like “Hugh G. Rection.”

May 4: Clinton arrives in Utah for the Democratic primary there and promises “I’ll personally kick the ass of everybody who votes for me. I dare you.”

May 20: Lamar Alexander’s campaign stalls when, in a televised debate, he blames unemployment on “Space Aliens.”

June 1: Malcolm “Steve” Forbes spends an unprecedented $400 gazillion on advertising to annouce that Richard Lugar is dropping out of the race.

June 18: Pat Buchanan, fighting allegations of racism, claims that he has met several black people, and tipped them all very well.

July 2: Clinton, campaigning for the Wyoming state primary, places a random phone call to a Wyoming resident and asks him to “let people know I’m running, okay?”

July 7: Dole’s approval rating slips into negative numbers when he changes his campaign slogan from “The Choice of an Old Rich White Generation” to “Soon I’ll Be Dead.”

July 22: Dole fails to show for yet another Republican debate, saying, “I had to wash my hair.”

August 6: President Clinton takes his campaign to Delaware. “Nice quote-unquote ‘state’ you got here,” he says, adding, “I hope all 12 of you voted for me in your primary last month. But you know what? I really don’t give a dead rat’s ass.”

August 12: In a speech at the Republican national convention in San Diego, Malcom “Steve” Forbes admits that there is just no way for “Steve” to be short for “Malcolm.” Furthermore, he says, “I’m not wearing any pants right now.”

August 13: At the convention, Bob Dole wins the GOP nomination, barely edging out surprise contenders Elizabeth Dole and “Pongo Twistleton.” Dole introduces the GOP’s election slogan: “Dole: Because I’m older and meaner.”

August 14: Buchanan, spurned by the party’s voters but still a good sport about it, announces that “everybody can go bite me.”

August 15: Lamar Alexander, desperate for publicity, announces that “everybody can bite me, too, if they want.” 

August 19: Richard Lugar announces that he may drop out of the race, adding, “and then you’d be sorry!”

August 21: Republican leaders search long and hard for a Vice Presidential candidate to perfectly complement Bob Dole. Unfortunately, Ray Charles turns down the invitation.

August 23: Buchanan is frustrated when, searching for a name for his own new political party, an aide informs him that “Nazi” was taken already.

August 26: At the Democratic convention, Clinton accepts the party’s nomination. His entire acceptance speech: “Oh, big surprise. Yeah, whatever.” Clinton and Gore capture all but three Democratic delegates, who remain steadfast in their support for Jimmy “J. J.” Walker and “Pongo Twistleton.”

September 1: Buchanan, still searching for a party name, rejects “The Cranky White Party;” “It’s My Party and I’ll Run if I Want To;” and “The Citizens for Better Broadcasting.” He eventually settles on the “I Hate People Party.”

September 9: Clinton, realizing that he has an opponent now, attacks Dole’s war record, saying that Dole was wounded in World War II “because he just wasn’t trying hard enough.”

September 15: Dole is hurt when congressional Republicans announce that they are holding out on the “Contract With America” until they receive a signing bonus and a 10% cut in healthcare for the elderly if they bat over .300.

September 16: After Tony Danza, Colin Powell and “Hamburgler” turn down the VP nomination, Republicans announce that they will give it to Arnold Schwarzenegger, who promises to “attend state funerals and kick ass.” 

September 19: Pat Buchanan announces that his running mate will be T-D editor Ross MacKenzie.

September 26: Clinton defends his own war record, saying that he “saw more action at an Arkansas cheerleader convention than Dole did in all of World War II.” Clinton adds that people have been shooting at him a lot lately, but he can still use both his arms, so what’s the big deal?

September 28: A Gallup Poll finds that the biggest concern of voters is the Budget Deficit. However, due to a typo, it appears in reports as the “Budgie Deficit.”

September 29: Clinton calls Robert Gallup and asks, “Budgie?! You mean like a parakeet?!” Gallup, in a further typo, says “Yes.”

September 30: Clinton announces that he will place three parakeets in his cabinet, and appoint a talking parrot as his press chief. However, its only answers to the press will be “Squawk!” and “Polly loves a Sailor.” Later, Dole counterattacks, mentioning that he lost a parakeet in World War II. 

October 3: Al Gore scores big points when he appears on “Seinfeld” as Kramer’s long-lost, more normal twin, “Warren.”

October 10: Reader’s Digest names Clinton advisor James Carville “The Scariest-Looking Sonovabitch in the World.”

October 11: Dole is haunted by his past when it is revealed that he played the evil white guy “Mr. Big” in the movie Shaft. When asked about it, he says “Hush yo’ mouth! I’m talkin’ ‘bout Shaft.”

October 15: Clinton’s polls drop when, in an unguarded moment, he sucks an entire quart of “Miracle Whip” through a straw on national TV.

October 17: Dole is again hurt by his past when it is revealed that he, as a young Senator, played an improper role in the Louisiana Purchase of 1815.

October 24: “Whitewater” comes back to haunt Clinton, as it is revealed that he owned stock in the White Water Company, the largest maker of racially-segregated drinking fountains in the South.

October 28: Hoping that publicity lightning will strike twice, Clinton plays the saxophone on national TV. Unfortunately, it is on a particularly depressing episode of “Homicide: Life on the Streets,” and no one is amused.

November 2: Ross Perot enters the race, saying “Hell, I’m older, meaner and whiter than any of these guys.”

November 3: Dole is hurt when reporters discover that Dole, just out of high school, was an intern for the Spanish Inquisition.

November 4: Clinton is hurt when reporters discover that he really is basically just a big hillbilly.

November 5 (Election Day): In a surprise move, disgruntled voters elect as president the entire cast of “Friends.”

November 9: Richard Lugar drops out of the race.

Meet the Élite-tles

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, March 16 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.

Hiya. We are Jeff and Paul. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Have you ever heard Pat Buchanan,  a member of the Christian Coalition, or any of the winos on 7th Street talk about their press coverage? They all say that they are portrayed inaccurately (respectively, as a jingoistic extremist, a society of pious bigots, and winos who talk to their bottles of “Richard’s Wild Irish Rose”) in the press. And they all blame one villain: No, not “That sweet, sweet booze that done me wrong.” We mean: “THE LIBERAL MEDIA ÉLITE.”

According to Pat and other God-fearing, right-thinking Americans with no sense of humor, The Liberal Media Élite is a secret cabal of reporters who dress up in robes and conspire to defeat him, at wild nude-Twister parties in Georgetown hosted by Bob Woodward every Thursday night. Pat naturally assumes that if members of a profession are, –with some notable exceptions, like USA Today (“We cost 50 cents just like a real newspaper!”) – generally  well-educated, intelligent and well-informed and they SOMEHOW still don’t all love him, there MUST be some kind of conspiracy.

And he’s exactly right.

Here, for the first time, exclusive for readers of The Richmond State – yes, both of you – is the truth about the Secret Brotherhood of the Richmond Liberal Media Élite. Do we have any questions from the audience?

Q: Who is the leader of the Richmond Media Élite?

A: Archwarlock Jason Roop, our Exalted Master Reporter-Dude.

Q: Do you have a secret agenda?

A: Yes. We would all like to get paid more.

Q: What is your secret password?

A: Our secret password, which has been used for hundreds of years, is “Nixon Sucks.”

Q: Who is in this so-called “Richmond Media Élite?” Can you describe them in roughly 900 words?

A: We’re glad you asked.

The Richmond Media Élite:


WTVR “NewsChannel 6”

Motto: “Coverage You Can Dwell On”

Format: News at 6, 11, and “The Young and the Restless.”

Staff: Hard-working, God-fearing people like X.

Worst Feature: Watching Angie Miles fidget nervously because she’s sitting so close to Charles “Burning Fish” Fishburne.

Best Feature: Vague hope that Angie Miles could, at any moment,  slap Charles Fishburne.

WRIC Channel 8

Motto: “Richmond’s Last-in-the-Ratings People”

Format: News at 6and 11 p.m.; Morning show indistinguishable from a test of the Emergency Broadcast System.

Staff: Numerous clever trained seals.

Worst Feature: Knowledge that Lisa Schaffner would never, never go out with you.

Best Feature: Richard Real’s dance numbers during slow parts of the show.

WWBT Channel 12

Motto: “Virginia’s Best News Organization, According to Some Wino We Found on 7th Street”

Format: News from 5 – 7 p.m., because you just couldn’t fit all those stories about surfing kittens into one hour.

Staff: Several people plus Gene Lepley, who (True Fact!) looks just like “Jon” from “Garfield.”

Worst Feature: Lingering doubts over whether Gene Cox is wearing pants at any given moment.

Best Feature: Campbell Brown – she puts the “Hot” in “Remote Live Shot.”

WRHL Fox-35

Motto: “The Nightly  Psychic Space Alien Report”

Format: 10 p.m., cleverly scheduled to be when nobody is watching, so nobody notices the screw-ups.

Staff: Three people, if you count Curt Autry’s forehead as a separate person.

Worst Feature: The way they always try to make stories sound like a case from “The X-Files.”

Best Feature: Curt Aurtry says “Beam me up!” and teleports out of seat at the end of each newscast.


WRVA 1140 AM

Motto: “All the News, Plus Static”

Format: Intermittent news radio between commercials on “The Rush Limbaugh Show.” Bills itself as “Richmond’s 24-Hour News Service,” as if all the other reporters go to bed at 4 p.m.

Staff: One guy who watches CNN

Worst Feature: Static-y reception of station causes news bulletins like “Authorities say ‘For God’s sake, whatever you do, PLEASE DO NOT (bzzzzzzz) or your eyeballs will explode! … Let’s take another caller.”

Best Feature: Nobody there looks like Charles Fishburne, and even if they did you couldn’t tell.

Richmond Times-Dispatch Broadcast News Service

Motto: “Unfortunately, We Can’t Jut Read You the ‘Comics’ Section”

Format: Morning news broadcasts between playing “Love in an Elevator” and “Wanted: Dead or Alive” on XL102; complementing the soothing nasal tones of Bill Bevins on Lite 98; and other assorted radio stations.

Staff: One guy who comes in at 5 a.m., reads that morning’s Times-Dispatch, condenses it, laughs at it and then just makes up the news he thinks would be interesting.

Worst Feature: One of the fill-in anchors sounds like Jeff.

Best Feature: The full one-minute  WLEE “Morning NASCAR Report” keeps you prepared for current events discussions all day

Robin on “The Howard Stern Show”

Motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Make ‘Penis’ Jokes About”

Format: The last 15 minutes of the show, which could be anywhere from 9:45 to 4:00 in the afternoon. Not technically part of the Richmond media, but Pat Buchanan hates them, and they irritate Bob Ukrop, so we made them honorary members.

Staff: Robin, who reads the news; and “Jackie the Joke Man,” who laughs whenever a story involves a busload of crippled orphans plunging off a cliff or something.

Worst Feature: 15-minute commercials seldom feature the soothing voice of “Mad Dog.”

Best Feature: Vital information about how the day’s current events relate to Howard’s penis.


The Richmond Times-Dispatch

Motto: (tie) “Housebreak Your Pets Economically” or “All the News That’s Fit to Print on Page B3” or “Copy Editing? Why?”

Format: A daily newspaper, although you only need to actually read it on Sunday, when Dave Barry is in it.

Staff: One guy transcribing the AP wire, two blind copy editors and 400 people who write stories for the Henrico Plus Section.

Worst Feature: Ross MacKenzie editorials where he keeps referring to his “Hard Time in the Big House” after the infamous “Motorized Squirrels” incident.

Best Feature: Excellent for composting.

Style Weekly

Motto: “Look … At Least It’s Free”

Format: A weekly color ad supplement.

Staff: Two reporters and 600 people in the ad department.

Worst Feature: Reading Style can cause herpes.

Best Feature: Guilty pleasure of reading the 30 pages of gay and lesbian personal ads.

Richmond Magazine

Motto: “We Promise We’re an Acutal News Organization”

Format: As far as we can tell, it’s just one issue per year with the “Best and Worst” restaurants in it.

Staff: One guy who spends the whole year eating.

Worst Feature: Blatant disregard for Taco Bell in its ratings.

Best Feature: Entire magazine is in “Scratch-and-Sniff” format.

The Richmond State

Motto: “Your #1 Source for Crap”

Format: Weekly, except during Christmas, Halloween, snow breaks, Islamic holy days or whenever they feel like it.

Staff: Six or seven killer androids, plus “Mad Dog.”

Worst Feature: (tie) 1. Jonathan Fox’s weekly profiles of bands like “Buttsteak”/2. Your  keg parties never seem to show up in the “Society” section.

Best Feature: Jeff and Paul might get fired at any moment.

If anyone is interested in Official Media Élite™ T-Shirts or baseball caps, please write us in care of this newspaper.

©1996 Puff Carpluto

Fun with Horrible Violence

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, February 28 1996

Our sports review of the Richmond Renegades hockey team, including lots of praise for Frozen Walt Disney, “Funky Town,” compressed-Uranium bowling balls, and “Ice-Cold Hot Dogs.” Nothing says “timeless, universal comedy” like starting your column out with a shot across the bow of a short-lived word processing software release. It’s the kind of thing everyone can identify with and really get behind.

Hi. We are Jeff and Paul, continuing our crusade against Evil, Non-Alcoholic Beer and Microsoft Word 6.0 for Macintosh.

Last week, we were given a Special Assignment, which generally means that the State is trying to send us somewhere where we’ll get killed so we won’t write anymore. Jason Roop, dressed in ceremonial robes, escorted us into the office of the Lord High Editor, and after we bowed and made the customary salutations and ritual sacrifices, we were told our mission: “To investigate the terrible violence problem in the city.” We said that was fine, and asked could it be the violence problem in the city of Acapulco? “No,” we were told, “in Richmond.”

So we went to the most violent part of the city at night and wrote about what we saw.

We went to the Coliseum for a hockey game between the Richmond Renegades and the Charlotte Checkers. The Renegades (not affiliated with Lorenzo Lamas) are Richmond’s premier sports franchise, except, of course, for the Richmond Braves, the VCU Rams basketball team, the University of Richmond synchronized judo team and the Dallas Cowboys.

For those of you who are woefully ignorant, or French, hockey is a sport wherein players put on ice skates and attempt to kill each other. The players skate around and hit a “puck” with big “sticks,” then hit “each other.” Also, people score “goals” or something.

When we arrived, our press passes were ready and waiting for us, probably because we told them we worked for the Times-Dispatch. We wandered around the Coliseum, which they call “The Freezer” during Renegades games because that’s where they keep all the leftovers, searching for the Press Room, hoping that there would be journalism supplies, like free beer. The basement was strewn with threatening signs indicating horrible things behind locked doors: “No Admittance!” “Warning: Poisonous Ice Snakes!” and “NewsChannel 6: Coverage You Can Count On!” When we found it, the Press Room’s doors were chained shut – either to keep unauthorized people out, or to keep reporters in – and when we finally got inside, all they had was soda and pizza left over from the Ford administration. 

The game began and several fans immediately stood up and yelled that various other people sucked.. While the quality of the Richmond booing was not quite up to the high standards of, say, Philadelphia (where Paul once loudly booed an eight-year-old boy for missing a pop-fly at a Phillies game), the booing was consistent and had good tonal variation.

The game itself was pivotal: the Renegades had the best record in the “Eastern Division” standings, but the Checkers were in first place in the all-important “Alphabetical” standings. The tension was not only palpable, it was palatable and sort of minty-flavored.

When the Renegades made a good play (usually involving a member of the opposition losing at least three fingers), the fans — many of whom were eating “Rold Gold” pretzels, just in case Richmond needed an extra goalie — would cheer and tell people they sucked.

We took a seat in the lowest level, which we figured improved our chances of catching a puck in the teeth. Hockey pucks, we are told, are made of rubber. This is a lie. Jeff knows from his high-school hockey days as a goalie that pucks are made of compressed uranium bowling balls. Furthermore, pucks are just angry about life, and actually want to smack people in the face if they get the chance.

Eventually, we wandered down to ice-level and interviewed Channel 12 sports guy Jeff Taylor. The sides of the rink were ringed with advertisements from “ice-” or “deep freeze-” themed products, like Icehouse Beer, Walt Disney, et cetera. We stared through the glass while, inches away, players slammed into the boards and began wrestling and biting each other. It looked like the shark cage in the Baltimore Aquarium, except the sharks wore uniforms, had legs and knew how to ice skate. Taylor remarked about how violent it was – not the players, but drunken fans, who had (True Fact!) threatened to plug certain of his bodily orifices with his video camera. Paul nodded in agreement, then grabbed an elderly usher and punched her in the face. 

The Renegades work hard to keep the spectators amused during the 20-minute intermissions, because otherwise the fans would go sack and burn the city. So while players had their limbs reattached in the locker room, the Colorful, Whimsical, Theoretically-Amusing Mascots skated out onto the ice. Paul’s favorite was “Sport,” which looks like a carnivorous version of Big Bird. Its primary purpose was to dance around amusingly, and give children horrible nightmares. Jeff’s favorite was “Zamboni Driver,” who is, incidentally, one half of the Richmond Snow Removal Road Crew. The mascots skated out again and hurled free frisbees and beer bottles.

The mascots left and a little girl came out to figure skate to “Swan Lake” or “Funky Town” or something. After a few minutes of politely graceful swoops and turns, she fell down and exploded, which earned great applause. Then, a small radio-controlled blimp descended from the rafters and flew around, while fans happily tried to shoot it down with blow darts.

During the second intermission, two Pee-Wee League hockey teams skated out onto the ice, looking like eighth-grade football teams, but much less graceful. They played for six minutes, and all the goals were scored by one really big kid who just hurled the other kids out of his way. It was refreshing to see the childrens’ enthusiastic smiles and hear their tiny skulls cracking like walnuts. After the game, the winning team celebrated by (True Fact!) beating the crap out of the mascot.

When the game resumed, two Renegades collided, sending bone shards everywhere. Many fans to rose to their feet in sincere concern over which team had the puck. With five minutes left in the game, the score was tied and some fans began to get nervous. In the Eastern Coast Hockey League, if a game ends in a tie, its victor is decided by a “shoot-out,” where members of both teams line up and spray the audience with bullets. It never accomplishes anything, but it gives the survivors something extra to cheer about.

By this point, the players has lost interest in the puck and had taken to swinging their sticks exclusively at each others’ shins. One player argued a call, and two referees held him down while the timekeeper pulled his last three teeth out with pliers. A vendor, yelling “Get-yer-ice-cold-hot-dogs,” leaped into the penalty box and began bludgeoning Checkers players with his payload of Reprocessed Bun-Encased Meat-Ish Products. Fans in the balcony celebrated the scoring of a goal by heaving live Cub Scouts on to the ice. Then, at the buzzer, a fat guy with an air horn spontaneously combusted, setting off an explosive chain reaction that vaporized the entire Coliseum, laying waste to several city blocks and scattering mascot-bits for miles. 

This earned a large round of applause.

Well, not really. Nobody died, or was even hurt that badly, except for Jeff, who got trichinosis from one of the hot dogs. It was a good game — the ‘Gades lost 3-2 after a third-period Charlotte power-play goal — and everybody had a lot of fun.

Except for the dead Cub Scouts.

Howard’s End … Or Not

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, February 20 1996

At the time, there was a Very Moral campaign to get the Howard Stern Show kicked off of the radio station in Richmond that carried it. We bravely faced down the “advertisers’ boycott” against Howard Stern and spoke out against it. Mainly because nobody was advertising in The Richmond State anyway. We gave out our actual real phone numbers in the column, but for some reason nobody – not one single person – called to complain. We chose not to apply Occam’s Razor to this conundrum.

Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. You’re listening to WARP 101.8, “The Sounds of Crap!”

If you listen to the radio, or are just not dead, then you know that radio station 106.5 “Wheel of Formats” WVGO recently brought wildly popular and also tall morning radio personality Howard “Wheel of ‘Penis’ Jokes” Stern to Richmond. The move ranked just above the At-Large Mayor Issue and just below the Whether-Cream-of-Wheat-and-Grits-are-the-Same-Thing Controversy on the Official News Media Controversy-O-Meter.

In response, a group called The Citizens for Better Broadcasting (“CBB”) (Or possibly “CFBB,” or “TCFBB,” or “TCBY” or maybe just “Kim”) declared war on WVGO and set about getting Stern removed from Richmond airwaves.  How?  By lobbying businesses to stop advertising on Stern’s show, or else. Or else all three people in the organization were not buying lunch at Dominic’s of New York.  WVGO retaliated by airing the phone number of the CBB and asking listeners to call and lobby the CBB to go bite themselves.  Then the CBB stopped answering the phone.

So whence the controversy?  Howard Stern, most famous of the “Shock Jocks,” does a radio show from (True Fact!) New York City, which is listened to, according to Stern, by more than 300 trillion people daily, several of whom have IQs.  Here is an actual transcript (Blatant Lie!) of Howard and his co-host Robin Quivers:

HOWARD: Penis.


(Repeat.  Rinse.)

This seems bad until you consider the other morning personalities, like John Boy and Billy, on 96.5 WLEE:





JOHN BOY: Well, if mah family tree don’t fork, we got us a caller on the TELLY-PHONE!

BILLY: Yer on the air!



So what makes a few people, namely the CBB, risk their lives (or whatever) just to get one morning radio deejay off the air?  We don’t know.  Probably something. 

We decided to investigate. We divvied up the work, approaching the story using the classic “Pincers Movement”: Jeff would contact the CBB and Paul would contact WVGO.  Then we would both contact Ukrop’s and ask to have “Hugh Jass” paged over the P.A. system.

Jeff called the CBB and got an answering machine that said, to paraphrase cheerfully, “This is the Citizens for Better Broadcasting and you can rot in Hell.” Jeff left a message explaining that we are serious columnists for a serious newspaper. We just hoped they had never read the State.  Anyway, Jeff called back later and got the same message.  Then he called again and got a recorded message saying that the line was “being checked for trouble.” 

Meanwhile, Paul violated the International Newspaper Columnist Code (“Don’t do any work”) and interviewed WVGO program director Bill “Cheerful On-Air Personality with a Different Name” Glasser about the Howard Stern controversy. Glasser explained that the CBB was “harrassing” Richmond businesses that advertise during Stern’s show by calling them and threatening a boycott. However, none of the Richmond businesses was forced to disconnect its phones and put signs on its doors saying “Go Away!  Lots of Plague Here!” Which is poignant, because that’s exactly what the CBB did.

Why?  Try this: Move to Germany and establish an organization dedicated to banning David Hasselhoff. Keep in mind that all Germans are fanatical lunatics who would sell their own mothers to get a “Knight Rider” T-shirt. Now advertise your home phone number on the nightly “David Hasselhoff Worship Hour” in Düsseldorf and put a big sign on your house that says “Please Riot Here.”

This is around about how it must have felt to be a CBB staffer.  Either of them.

Jeff called the CBB again and got a message saying that the number had been changed.  In fact, it had been changed into Japanese so nobody could call it.

Paul got bored and interviewed social commentator and Channel 12 reporter Vince Maddox about the issue. 

“No way,” Maddox said (True Fact!). “Unh-uh. I don’t want to be in that newspaper. You’ll misquote me. You’ll have me saying something stupid.”

His fears proved to be justified.

Meanwhile, Jeff, getting desperate, was going house-to-house in the Richmond Metro Area, knocking on doors at random and asking, “Are you the CBB?”

At long last, Paul received the phone message we had been waiting for. “Mr. Caputo,” it said. “This is the University of Richmond calling to remind you that you have not officially graduated until you pay your campus parking tickets.” 

Also, a woman from the CBB called. She said that she “appreciated our interest” but that the media “continues to slant the story toward the big money.” She said — to paraphrase — that she wouldn’t wrap dead fish with a rag like The Richmond State and that we were going to have to do our story without a comment from the CBB.  Oh, and by the way, she hoped we would be fair and objective.

There are certain things you just don’t do if you want fair coverage from the media.  Refusing to talk to reporters is about eight of them.

Actually, we thought it was great. We figured that since they wouldn’t deny it, we could assume the CBB’s real purpose was to start a fast-food restaurant that specialized in Clubbed-Baby-Seal Burgers.

The sad thing is that we were actually prepared to like the CBB, since they are private citizens attempting to affect censorship, rather than getting the government to do it.  That’s the sort of free-enterprise spirit that we, being mean people anyway, admire.  But if you can’t be bothered to explain yourself, be prepared for others to do it for you, and to mention Clubbed Baby Seal Burgers while they’re doing it.           

But, all petty spitefulness aside, the CBB maintains that it is trying to bring a standard of common decency to Richmond radio. This is fine in theory, but is actually quite stupid.

Many modern radios include a wonderful device, called the “Off Switch,” which allows you to turn them off if you don’t like what you’re hearing. Other, deluxe-model radios sometimes even allow you to change stations, too.

If the CBB were truly interested in decency, it would have formed years ago, attempting to outlaw fat men who wear bikini briefs as swim-suits, girls who don’t shave their legs and the senior citizens’ home in Chesterfield called (True Fact!) “The Happy Woodpecker.”

We truly were disappointed that the CBB would not talk with us. We understand that Stern’s show is “slightly offensive” (a term derived from the latin Offens, meaning “this guy” and Ive, meaning “who is a total jerkface”), but so is just about anything on television except for tests of the Emergency Broadcasting System. 

It all comes down to this: People who get outraged about something like Howard Stern should get a sense of humor, or at least lease one with attractive financing.  Neither of us agrees with much that Stern has to say, but we still think he’s funny.  Mind you, he’s not witty like “Mad Dog,” but he isgood for a chuckle.  This is more than the CBB can say.

And if the CBB wants our phone numbers, they are 355-3981 and 672-8529.  But please be fair.

Give a Hoot, Pass the Wings

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, February 11 1996

I think The Richmond State may have teased this above the fold on A1 as a “Hooters expose.” We didn’t actually expose anything at Hooters, except the fact that Hooters waitresses only made $2.13 an hour and depended on the tips of loser guys like ourselves to make a living, which made the whole thing more sad than funny. At least the wings were good.

Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. Some folks say we’re the “Pongo Twistleton of the ‘90s!”

If you have never heard the expression, “A city is made by its food,” it’s because that’s a rotten expression and no one would ever use it. However, it remains true that one must look at a city’s restaurants before one can really understand a city, and authoritatively say, for example, “This city sucks.” It is for this reason that we, Jeff and Paul, visited each of Richmond’s finest restaurants last week just to run up our lavish Richmond State expense account. 

Well, actually, that’s a lie. The Richmond State couldn’t afford Jeff’s bar tab.  But we did drive past a lot of restaurants on our way to “Hooters.”

Writing about our visit to Hooters is risky, not only because of its controversial nature, but also because of the possiblity that our girlfriends might read this column. It wasn’t easy to write, because, let’s face it, it’s just hard to think when you’re waist-deep in cleavage.

But since the mayoral election idea was deep-sixed, we needed something important and thought-provoking to write about besides David Hasselhoff.  In a bizarre coincidence, we just happened to decide to write about something that had a large quotient of scantily-clad girls with large breasts.  Pure coincidence, really.

Before we go on, we should mention that many people — most of them do-gooder-liberals and other derelicts — do not like Hooters restaurants. The Real Truth is that every word the restaurant chain’s critics have ever uttered has been absolutely 100 percent true. 

The wings really are not that good.

Furthermore, in a blatant case of false advertising, owls were nowhere to be found on the menu.  So why do people go there?  We had to investigate.

We arrived late one night at the restaurant on Broad Street (which we’ve heard was named after Hooters).  As we opened the door, a strong gust of cold air blew in on the scantily-clad greeter.  

It was a sight that every 15-year-old boy on earth figures Heaven looks like. 

The greeter, who we are sure is a wonderful person and a sensitive intellectual, was, through no fault of her own, EXTREMELY attractive. She was wearing an outfit that could only be properly described by males through a series of guttural sounds and mildly obscene hand gestures.

We, of course, deplore this nonsense. 

We paused a moment and deplored from a couple of different angles, then followed the extremely attractive hostess (Making sure to deplore some more along the way!) to our table.  As we looked around the dining room, we noticed that Hooters was filled with celebrities and other important people. In a booth to the left, we saw Associate Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Then, on the right, we saw hick superstar comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and several other people who were also Jeff Foxworthy.  Also, unsurprisingly, Elvis was there.

The actual building reflected the spirit of the restaurant. The architecture was sort of Post-Colonial Lincoln Logs, designed by Fisher-Price and decorated by Beavis and Butthead, but without the AC-DC posters. On the walls, which were lined with large multi-colored Christmas lights, there was a series of humorous but obviously fake signs: “Caution: Blondes Thinking,” “Look Out!  There are Many Large Breasts Here!” and “NewsChannel 6 — Coverage You Can Count On.”

As we sat down, we noticed that one of the waitresses was using the intercom system (a megaphone inside an enormous tin can)  had organized a trivia game for the customers, which they were all actively engaged in ignoring.  An actual quotation follows:

SCANTILY CLAD HOSTESS: Who discovered the electric light?


(five minute pause)


SCANTILY CLAD HOSTESS: Um, okay, that was, uh, Miles Standish.  Next question!

We would have preferred an informal version of “The $20,000 Pyramid.” involving her and several of the restaurant’s patrons. The exchange would go something like this:

“Umm … these are things on your chest …”

“Things which are minty?”

“You put them in a bra…”

“Uhhh … toilet paper?”

“No … they have nipples …”

“Newt Gingrich?”

“No … OK … ‘Everybody has seen Madonna’s …”

“The TV show Sheriff Lobo?”

“No, no, uh … PASS!”

At any rate, when the food eventually came, it was kinda okay.

So whither the Hooters Controversy?  Recently, the ACLU vowed to fight for men’s rights to work as waitresses at Hooters. The controversy culminated in a Washington D.C. rally that featured many (“eight”) Hooters waitresses chanting catchy slogans (“Hey, ho! Having men as waiters would suck because guys go there to look at our enormous breasts and since guys don’t have enormous breasts — most of them, anyway — we think they should not be waitresses at Hooters!” … um, OK, maybe the slogans weren’t that catchy) outside the White House until Al Gore had the Secret Service bring them in for “questioning.”

As semi-responsible journalists, we took a moment to interview our waitress about the male waitress controversy.

Paul: So, have you had any men come in here to apply for jobs?

Waitress: You want a job here?

Paul: No no no. We’re doing an interview for The Richmond State.

Waitress: The what? You can’t work here, you know.

Jeff: Will you go out with me?

During the course of the interview, we discovered some disturbing facts. First, it was revealed that a Hooters waitress earns an hourly wage of $2.13, plus tips, which consist of roughly pocket change and half a pack of chiclets per night.

The second, even more disturbing fact revealed during the interview was that we had been ogling somebody’s mom.  In fact, our waitress talked about her child at length.  This really brought it home, because Paul and Jeff, oddly enough, both have moms – neither of whom we could imagine working at Hooters.  

In reality, it’s very difficult to look at the whole Hooters Male Waitresses Controversy and see the restaurant and its current female (very female, we might add) waitresses as the villains.  At least the restaurant is upfront about its purposes: it is designed for guys – who obviously need girlfriends – to come there and feel cool, staring at the surroundings (or, as Paul remarked at one point, nearly spitting out his Ultra Mild Menthol Chicken wing, “There’s … there’s just ass everywhere!”)  Male waitresses simply don’t fit in.  Every job should be open to both sexes as long as both sexes are qualified.  The qualifications for being a Hooters waitress/waiter are something like this:

Y   N   1. I have large, floppy breasts.

Y   N   2. I can fit into really tight shorts that were OBVIOUSLY not designed with the male anatomy in mind.

Y   N   3. I am suitable to be stared at by guys who aren’t “getting any” but need to prove their manhood while eating chicken wings.

We’re guessing that most guys would have to answer “no.”  And we don’t want to meet the guys who answered “yes.”

Richmond Gets a Snow Job

By Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl

The Richmond State, or at least the closest I could find to it
The Richmond State, February 1 1996

For some reason, whenever there was even a 5% chance of snow, the entire City of Richmond would go apes**t and start driving into trees and hoarding 2 percent milk. So, we made fun of them. Oh, and on the unlikely chance that anyone ever reads this, Paul Dipasquale was the designer of the widely panned Arthur Ashe statute on Richmond’s Monument Avenue. Pongo Twistleton was a fellow Richmond State columnist with an outlandish persona that in retrospect I recognize as a modern Bertie Wooster homage but at the time I just thought he was a nerd. So if you harbored any illusions that this would be funny if only you understood the references, that’s one more myth dispelled.

Hi. We are Jeff and Paul. This week, we will be your kooky Eskimo pals, Nanook and Elvis.

If you turned on your TV last week-end, you undoubtedly saw your normally-calm local weather person (Biff or Bunny McGargle) in an all-out panic. His or her hair was disheveled, articles of clothing were buttoned wrong and he or she grabbed hold of the camera with both hands and stared at you with bloodshot eyes, imploring you, for the sake of God, to get to a grocery store AND PLEASE, PLEASE PURCHASE MILK before you had to spend the next month eating insects or old lampshades.

You should be getting used to this by now. Of course, at the beginning of the month, we experienced what the newsmedia called “The Blizzard of ‘96,” which was followed a week later by what the newsmedia called “Also The Blizzard of ‘96” (or “Blizzard Lite”). Then, just this past weekend, Richmond was subjected to the “The Blizzard of the First Week of February,” which was followed by Monday’s “Blizzard From 2 O’Clock until Three-ish.”

That’s right, folks, it’s been snowing in Richmond lately. First, it snowed in history-making droves, prompting this concerned headline from the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Sources Reveal Clinton Has Fat Butt;” and this this story on the fourteenth page of the Science section: “Richmond Attacked by Very Cold Water.” Then, this last weekend, it just seemed blasé, and TV weatherpeople pleaded for milk-purchasing frenzy in a much calmer, detached way.

As Richmond Mayoral candidates, we hereby Announce that We Are in Favor of Snow, not only because it allows us to throw snowballs through Paul Dipasquale and “Pongo Twistleton”’s car windows, but also because when people ask us, “How did you find the roads?” we get to say, “We just went outside and there they were.”

From the first mention of the word snow, every single person in the Tri-State area (Virginia, New Mexio, North Dakota? We’re not sure.) descended upon area grocery stores, apparently to stock up on vaseline to lather up their car tires.

While most people stock up on canned goods before a snow storm in case, say, Summer is canceled, it is our civic responsibility to point out this Actual News Item from just days before The Big Storm. According to the news story, a young woman whom we will call “Jabba” (although her real name is Carmella Sheets) was eating canned spaghetti straight from the can and almost choked to death on a plastic cheese-slice wrapper that somehow got into the can. So: what does this tell us? This tells us that “Jabba” had enough spaghetti on her fork to hide an entire cheese slice wrapper and that she chewed it little enough not to realize that she was swallowing plastic.

In the story (True Fact!), “Jabba” said, “I like spaghetti, but I don’t think I’ll be able to eat it the same way.”

Well, we hope not.

So if you must eat canned goods during the snow storm, make sure to remember the golden rule of canned food: There are probably at least two forkfuls in every can. (Another rule to keep in mind: “Just don’t be that person.”)

The entire East Coast was seized in the grip of panic, fear, mild nausea and cramps. It was a typical winter scene: people in Boston put on snow tires (we mean on their cars). Pennsylvanians got drunk and threw snowballs at the Philadelphia Eagles and little children. People in New York shot each other. Richmond-area road crews (two guys named “Buck” and a shovel) were out in force, laminating area roadways and covering them with ball bearings, so that even if it didn’t snow, Richmonders could still participate in the Southern winter ritual of crashing into things with their cars.

Whenever it snows, Richmonders join together in the sort of collective mindblock that can really bring a community together. Literally. As soon as it even smelled like snow, cars started skidding into telephone poles, houses, other cars and dairy farms. As Paul drove around after the Big Storm (which he can do because he’s originally from the North), he saw – strewn among the corpses of TV Weatherpeople committing suicide – abandoned cars in snowbanks, on rooftops and in the branches of tall trees.

Meanwhile, Jeff was busy being a Journalist. The first rule of journalism is that whenever anything happens, you have to interview somebody about it, even if that somebody is the Nigerian Under-Secretary for Fish Processing. So Jeff had gone to a grocery store to “take the pulse” of the city (it turned out to be 130 over 90). There, he interviewed an Actual Richmond Shopper. The interview went something like this:

JEFF: Hello, ma’am, how do you…


JEFF: Is snow affecting…

WOMAN: Oh, the Snow Gods are angry at us! We are doomed! Milk! MILK!

JEFF: Are you…

WOMAN: I must buy it before snow falls! You should NEVER allow milk to get cold!

JEFF: Can I just ask…

WOMAN: God help me, I’ll even drink skim!!!!

GROCERY CLERK WITH SHOTGUN: Freeze!!! Are you a Valued Customer?

Or something.

At this point you may be asking, “So what’s good about snow? 

Snow is “neat” because it makes dogs — already somewhat dim — go totally insane. Also, it makes most Richmonders act like they’ve been snorting motor oil.

Furthermore, snow is neat because it is responsible for creating a situation in which Paul felt totally justified leaving his car right in the middle of Grove Avenue for almost half an hour. People could have parked their cars in George Allen’s bathroom and they wouldn’t have gotten towed. 

Snow also creates jobs in the booming Shovel Manufacturing and “Snoopy Snow Cone Machine-Operator” industries. We “dig” – as the kids these days say – snow because it reminds Jeff of his childhood in the last Ice Age, when mammoth were plentiful, and skiing conditions were always bitchin’. Most importantly, we are in favor of snow because it keeps The Richmond State’s editors from panhandling in the streets like ususal.

The Big Question is, why don’t we get snow more often? Because the short-sighted current management of this city simply has not appropriated enough funding for it. 

We are flexible candidates, meaning that Paul can sometimes touch his toes. More importantly, this means that if you’re against snow, we can change our minds. We would outlaw clouds, and make snow illegal. Police Chief Jerry Oliver would be authorized to execute people for humming “White Christmas.” We would invite disaster by ordering the construction of a giant Snow Shield over the city, which would eventually collapse under its own weight, killing thousands.

So, what have we learned?

1. Wrapping snow chains around your children will not give them additional traction.

2. The Snow Gods DEMAND that Leonidas Young be sacrificed to them, or they will DESTROY this city with another light-to-medium snowfall.

3. Anything that gets us off work for a day can’t be that bad.

© 1996 Puff Carpluto

Hey! “Dig “Jeff and Paul on the Internet at http://www.pluginc.com!