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BrustBlog Pontifications on Microsoft and the Tech Industry

I am enjoying immensely the reruns of "Welcome Back, Kotter", running in syndication and on an odd, seemingly religious/family values channel, called the Good Life Network.  My Windows Media Center PC is recording these reruns in the wee hours for me.

On a recent episode, in a scene in the schoolyard, I noticed that even though the 1970s set was wildly fake-looking, one of its attempts at NYC public schoolyard graffiti was rather realistic: "B.M.T. Sheiks."  For those who don't know, BMT is one of three disused names for divisions of the NYC Subway system.  The BMT lines were once run by the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation, a private concern whose holdings were eventually taken over by the agency that is now the NY State government authority called the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  I don't know if the Sheiks actually existed, but the BMT Lines did (and do) serve the neighborhood where the show's Buchanan High School is seemingly located.

The B.M.T. Sheiks "tag" reminds me of a strange Manhattan public access cable show in the 80s called the "Crank Call Show."  The show basically consisted of private school teenagers calling in, saying something stupid, giggling, and then hanging up.  There was one guy who kept calling in saying his name was Muhammad, and that he sold incense on the D Train and the (Times Square - Grand Central) Shuttle.  That was funny, because there really was such a person who really did that.

Why did I put this posting into the Tech Industry category?  Because it turns out that Steve Lasker, a member of the VB Team and a former RD, grew up here in NYC and worked on the crew of the Crank Call Show.  I was in stitches when he told me this a few weeks ago, and he was impressed that I even knew what the Crank Call Show was.

I never in a million years would imagine that my VB world would collide with my NYC 80s public access TV show/subway riding world.  I guess Times Square really is the crossroads of the world.

Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 9:26 PM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Welcome Back, Graffiti

# re: Welcome Back, Graffiti
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Bring back the Crank Call Show! John where are you?
Left by Osama Bin Dover on Feb 21, 2012 12:42 PM

# re: Welcome Back, Graffiti
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I remember the Crank Call Show and my brothers and I loved loved loved it! Our favorite episode was the 1980 Presidential Debate parody with two guys in Reagan and Carter masks (with the third party candidate character John Anderson sitting on the floor) ... I remember one caller asking Jimmy if Rosalynn gave good blowjobs and he answered back "Rosalynn's good, but your mama's the best!" if anyone has any tapes of this please let me know; hadrons@aol.com
Left by Mike on Mar 22, 2014 10:02 AM

# re: Welcome Back, Graffiti
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Of all the shows we did at ETC/Metro Access Studios, the Crank Call show was at the top of the stack. The host, wish I remembered his name, was a guy who just wanted to take life as it came. He sat for 28 minutes and let callers have theld only do the most basic B&W show, which was probably $20 for the time slot, but we sometimes wanted to have more fun, so we'd fire up the color equipment and I would put by Atari 800 in the background as we had him float through space. It was a magical time in New York, and one with great memories of great friends and great creativity.
I'm trying to remember all the great shows
Morris Fonte Telepsychic - he was dead set on, even for my own personal things. Psychic by night, window washer by day
A sports show called the A Game, or something like that
A homeopathic show, where I learned some great heath lessons from a man who lived a great life, right until he dropped dead minutes before the show.
A news show by an old Friend, David Schifter who I just found on Facebook. Wow, what a small world.
Of course, the Robyn Byrd show
Anyone from that time, would love to trade stories.
Sad to say even YouTube doesn't have videos from that era. Ok, we're old...
Left by Steve on Mar 24, 2014 10:46 PM

# re: Welcome Back, Graffiti
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FWIW that same episode of WBK that displayed the "BMT Shieks" gang graffiti also shows a "Red Hook Stompers" tag on the same brick wall. The Red Hook Stompers were apparently a real brooklyn gang in the 50s; if you Google them you'll find bios of a quasi-famous then-39-year-old sword fencer from the 1970s who relates how he had to stab someone as initiation into the Red Hook Stompers when he was a kid.
Left by jinkies on May 23, 2014 1:28 AM

# re: Welcome Back, Graffiti
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The Crank Call Show was great…
it was on Saturday nights at 11pm,
on Manhattan Cable.

I forget what channel… the cable channel "numbers" were letters then.
It was probably on Channel "C" or Channel "D."
All the porn was on Channel "J."

The calls and language were completely un-censored.
It was a little like being up in the blue seats for a Rangers game.

Kids would call up and abuse John, the host, or scream ridiculous
things that only they or their friends could understand.


I remember one drunk guy would call every week and just repeatedly yell: "HOFSTRA!!!!!!!!!"
Left by pete on Feb 04, 2015 10:00 PM

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