Earl Butz, who was born 105 years ago today, was one of the worst US government officials ever. He was Secretary of Agriculture in the Cabinets of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. “His policies favored large-scale corporate farming” which has damaged the family farm to this day, and arguably “led directly to overproduction of corn and a subsequent rise of obesity in the United States.” But “he is best remembered for a series of verbal gaffes that eventually cost him his job.”
Butz resigned his cabinet post on October 4, 1976… News outlets revealed a racist remark he made in front of entertainer Pat Boone and former White House counsel John Dean while aboard a commercial flight to California following the 1976 Republican National Convention. The October 18, 1976 issue of Time reported the comment while obscuring its vulgarity [which I will only mildly do so here]:
…When the conversation turned to politics, Boone, a right-wing Republican, asked Butz why the party of Lincoln was not able to attract more blacks. The Secretary responded… “I’ll tell you what the coloreds want. It’s three things: first, a tight p****; second, loose shoes; and third, a warm place to s***.”
After some indecision, Dean used the line in Rolling Stone, attributing it to an unnamed Cabinet officer. But New Times magazine enterprisingly sleuthed out Butz’s identity by checking the itineraries of all Cabinet members.
Butz was later convicted of tax evasion. He died in 2008 at the age of 98. As Arlo Guthrie said: “But that’s not what I came to tell you about.”
There was a 1980 movie called Loose Shoes, a/k/a Coming Attractions, which was probably filmed two or three years earlier. The premise was rather intriguing, to make a series of trailers for films that actually did not exist. The movie did not fare particularly well critically. It featured author Kinky Friedman, Buddy Hackett, Howard Hesseman (WKRP), Jaye P. Morgan, songwriter Van Dyke Parks, Avery Schreiber, Betty Thomas (Hill Street Blues), and Mark Volman of the singing group The Turtles, with voiceovers by, among others, Gary Owens and Harry Shearer. The reason it probably got released at all was the ascendant star power of Bill Murray, who had starred in Meatballs and Caddyshack, plus his tenure on Saturday Night Live.
But there was one segment of the comedy that was almost universally praised. From HERE: “A sketch movie along the lines of Kentucky Fried Movie, it was racially and sexually offensive and mostly unfunny, except…about an hour into the film was a short musical sketch based on Earl Butz’s joke that also gave the movie its title. This sketch is pure offensive genius. I can’t/won’t describe it, but its effect is on the order of the ‘Springtime for Hitler’ scene in The Producers.”
The reason I found it at all humorous, in its vulgar sort of way, was, in skewering the bigot Butz, that it is an almost letter-perfect take on jazz great Cab Calloway’s band. It was SO good, in fact, that Internet references ask whether the song was some lost Calloway ditty; it was not.
OK, if you like it, fine. If you’re offended, don’t say you weren’t warned. Watch Darktown After Dark HERE or HERE.