I entered the first grade in 1970, which meant that my class was one of the first to enter an era of modern “experimentation” on our young minds, as guinea pigs of the newly minted “education technocrats” trained in the 1960s. This was the beginning of “new math” and “set theory”, and new ways of learning; gone was “Dick and Jane”, and even the old schoolhouse. I entered a new school with “mod” lowercase lettering on the doors, “open” floor plans, mentally soothing environments and new textbooks and ways of learning.
It was also the beginning of the era of “Sesame Street” – the biggest national mass-education “psy op” ever devised (Papa Joe Stalin would have been proud). I and my peers took the maiden voyage on that ship. Gone was Howdy Doody and learning to say your prayers and listen to Mom and Dad; it was replaced by multi-cultural harmony, saying “nope to dope”, and an urban consciousness. Much of it was fun, like the guy that would bring in 27 cream pies and fall down the steps, or the “manamana” song. However, there were dark elements as well – and I don’t mean just the Grouch and the Count, when Mr. Hooper died, or the frustration of Mr. Snuffelupogas disappearances. Elements of it were haunting, to me at least, right up to today.
I have always had this dim memory in the cobwebs of my mind of a Sesame Street film, in their tender folksy style, about cows, with the recurring refrain, “Hey cow…I see you now” (I know that sounds weird to hold on to). The memory itself creeped me out, in its schmaltzy, saccharine way like when you meet a burned out hippie who is just a little TOO MUCH in touch with his feelings. Inspired by Kindertrauma and my peers here, I recently commenced to searching for this enigmatic piece of celluloid on my local Youtube, and voila! There it was all along, in all its creepy, washed-out ‘70s glory…
As I relived it, watching it again for the first time in 44 or so years, I was immediately transported back to my favorite purple jeans with hippie flowers, polo shirt and Donald Duck cup (or a Great Shakes cup full of Nestle’s Quik), watching the black and white Heathkit portable TV that Dad built, curled up in a chair in the kitchen. And yes – it was just as creepy as it ever was. Beyond the grainy, porn-like video quality and watching grown men grab the extremities of large animals, most importantly it was accompanied by the most unnerving folk/soft rock love ballad, directed lovingly to a cow – a style perfect for bestial love-making, with the haunting refrain of “Hey cow…I see you now” as he gently strokes the acoustic guitar strings.
The composer, Joe Raposo, was evidently famous for composing the Sesame Street theme and a host of other theme songs for iconic ‘70s TV shows, but if it were me, I would have immediately put his name on a neighborhood watch list. The pinnacle of the video, if you choose to indulge, is around 3:52 into the voyeuristic film where a man grabs the swollen nipple/udder of a cow, and SQUIRTS IT HORIZONTALLY FOR A NUMBER OF FEET, UNTIL IT FLOWS DIRECTLY INTO THE OPEN MOUTH OF A SMALL CHILD! I felt dirty after watching it and felt a need to report it to somebody, but if you watch it, you will know what I mean – it was the reason cinematic censorship was justified. I will never be the same, having seen it again. We see in the film that this “Hellfire Club” of barnyard sin and debauchery is brought directly and innocently into each of our very homes, with every carton of milk we bring home. I don’t know if I can even use those little creamer cups for gas station coffee anymore.
Well, having conquered my fears and confronted them directly, like identifying a body in the morgue, I will try to move on in life, although I am afraid the haunting melody is only etched ever deeper. At least now I know it is real and not my imagination, and as G.I. Joe says, “Now we know what’s wrong, and that’s half of solving the problem”. I know that’s why this shared quest is why destiny brought us all here together at Kindertrauma.