22 May 2007

The Now Explosion

A newbie in my orbit has me reliving my salad days. The wannabeau and I are the same age and grew up in Atlanta, so we’ve had a lot of “Remember when Lenox was an open-air mall?” and “My first trip to Oxford Books was” and “How many times did you ride the Pink Pig?” conversations.

Yank your nasty brain out of the gutter right now. Riding the Pink Pig isn’t a euphemism for how we hit that here in Georgia. The Pink Pig was an Atlanta tradition, a rite of passage, a kiddie train at the downtown Rich’s department store during the Christmas season. Why we celebrated Christmas by riding a train that looked like a pig is beyond me … but it was special, dammit.

All these conversations about the Atlanta of the 1960s and 1970s got me thinking about some coolness from the sixth grade … so I Googled and I YouTubed … and found that the University of Georgia has archived footgage from — wait for it — The Now Explosion.

You late fortysomething kids from Atlanta and Jacksonville and other blessed cities are squealing right now, aren’t you? The rest of you? I feel sorry for your lack of Now Explosionism.

What was The Now Explosion? Nope, not Larry Tee’s first band; my Now Explosion predates that musical marvel by about a decade. The Now Explosion was music videos. In 1970. Eleven years before MTV’s moonman and that Buggles song.

Why is that still a trivia question? Doesn’t everyone know that “Video Killed the Radio Star” by now?

The Now Explosion played locally produced videos for Top 40 hits. For several glorious months in 1970, Channel 17 — now known throughout the world as Super Station TBS, but then just a local UHF station — broadcast Now Explosion every weekend, for about twelve hours straight, Saturday and Sunday. It was a badge of honor to brag on Mondays about the number of weekend hours wasted watching Now Explosion.

The Now Explosion was just plain cool. No, not cool — groovy. Now Explosion was the epitome of groovy. Trippy, hippy graphics and dancing chicks. On TV. All weekend long. The right thing at the right time for an impressionable eleven-year-old girl already passionately in love with music. I was also fascinated with hippies in those days. A big thrill was the occasional Sunday drive down to Piedmont Park, where we’d watch the hippies. Being a complete and total dork, I used to make magazine photo collages of hippies.

Now Explosion was a beautiful moment that was of the moment. It was, as the marketing materials stated, providing television that young adults really dig. Since the videos were, for the most part, shot around Atlanta, you had the connection of a favorite song with a slice of your city. It was something just for us.

Here are snippets from some of the videos. I’ve watched this several times (more times than I want to admit) since I found it last night; I was surprised at how many of the videos I remembered. It’s well worth watching the full nine-plus minutes; some clips are brilliant, some hilarious. And now I know why I dance the way I do.

Try to stick with this video until the end, and you'll be rewarded with a non-silver-foxed Kenny Rogers singing and emoting to “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town” (helluva great song).

My favorite isn’t included in this clip. It was a video of a beautiful hippy girl with long hair, playing Frisbee in Piedmont Park, with Simon & Garfunkel’s “Cecilia” playing. I wanted to be that carefree hippy chick. I still want to be that carefree hippy chick.

Skinny Bobby Harper — a longtime Atlanta disc jockey, and a family fave throughout my childhood — was one of the DJs on Now Explosion (the term “veejay” had yet to be uttered). Here’s a clip of him remembering the Now Explosion days:

When The Beatles announced their breakup, Skinny Bobby played the video for “Let It Be,” which ended with the four-square photo collage from the album. As the song faded and the screen froze on the photo, he said something like “Look closely. This will be the last time you’ll see them together.”

Appropriately schwaaaaaaah.

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At 5/23/2007 01:43:00 AM, Blogger The Wandering Author said...

We never had anything like the Now Explosion up in New England. I don't remember any cool local shows.

A video of Cecilia - I suspect I would have been in love with the girl, if I'd ever seen the video. Man... my early teen years were blighted, and I never even knew it until now.

You were watching the Now Explosion while we were stuck with stuff like Candlepin Bowling.

At 5/23/2007 09:11:00 AM, Blogger Splotchy said...

Wow, that show is fantastic.

And I thought I was cool with my Night Tracks and Night Flight.

At 5/23/2007 10:47:00 AM, Anonymous CD said...

I remember Now Explosion. My friends and I used to do our own "Now Explosion" and lip sync to Three Dog Night songs for the neighbors.

At 5/23/2007 03:37:00 PM, Anonymous m said...

hippies scare me...with their awful dancing and their bad perfume...and let's not forget the way they sold out!

At 5/23/2007 07:41:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Trippy! I wish we'd had something like that.

At 5/23/2007 10:20:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

WANDERING AUTHOR: It was a great moment in Atlanta broadcast history. It didn't last long ... but it lasted long enough to make a lasting impression on me.

SPLOTCHY: It was so damn cool. I forgot all about Night Tracks! Wasn't late-night TV grand for music back in the day? Don Kirschner's Rock Concert and all the other shows?

CD: Next time I come over, you're lip-syncing for me.

M: I still love them.

DALE: Y'all had Margaret Trudeau.

At 5/23/2007 11:54:00 PM, Blogger Bubs said...



At 5/24/2007 12:40:00 AM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

Oh my word. How cool is that? That was too cool. I wish we had something local growing up. Well..moved around too much to be local but still. Very cool. I've always had "My MTV". Hey I was born on the same day and same time and same year that MTV came on. Yup, too bad it sucks now.

At 5/24/2007 07:44:00 AM, Blogger Old Lady said...


At 5/24/2007 09:37:00 AM, Blogger Tenacious S said...

Maybe that explains the freaky hippy contingent I knew in South Carolina. I've never known more hippies in my life than when I was in the South.

At 5/24/2007 09:58:00 AM, Anonymous CD said...

Name your fave Three Dog Night song and I will do my routine for you!

At 5/24/2007 03:25:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

Your blog just got a lot groovier.

At 5/24/2007 05:07:00 PM, Anonymous HollyC said...

Wow,I do remember the Now Explosion-Ted was way ahead on that one! You need to do some research and come up with re-caps of up all night with Bill Tush!

At 5/24/2007 11:46:00 PM, Blogger mellowlee said...

I love that term wannabeau! Do you still have any of those hippie collages Beth?

At 5/25/2007 08:11:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

BUBS: Exactly.

ARTFUL DODGER: I suddenly feel very old. But also very glad I was around for Now Explosion.

OLD LADY: Those were the good days, weren't they?

TENACIOUS S: There are still a few around.

At 5/25/2007 08:13:00 AM, Blogger Beth said...

CD: "Never Been to Spain." Work on your routine this weekend.

GRANT MILLER: I'm proud I've gained in grooviness.

HOLLYC: I loved Bill Tush! I'll have to research that ...

MELLOWLEE: I came up with "wannabeau" a few years ago. One of these days I'm going to write a novel with that title. And, sadly, I no longer have any of those hippie collages.

At 7/10/2008 04:20:00 AM, Anonymous Bklyn Yid said...

My girlfriend at the time Debbie Rosen danced on the show. I was in NYC at the time and remember watching her on WPIX I believe.

She made a big ten dollars as a telent fee for her efforts.

At 8/14/2008 11:26:00 PM, Anonymous Donna said...

Man, you have no idea how happy I was to see somebody remember this show! EVERYBODY in my town of Lindenhurst, Long Island would watch this show on WPIX. It was great. Thanks, you made my day

At 8/19/2008 04:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there! I am the youngest of 5 siblings. I'm so glad to see "The Now Exlosion DID exist, no one remembers in my family....I was 10... and I remember this show was way cool, thanks :) Flee

At 8/09/2009 04:25:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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