Clevelands Radio Satirists Of the 1980s
My friend, Bob Pilskaln, started a satirical radio group called Just Guise. They did parodies of famous songs satirizing Cleveland and it aired on one of Cleveland’s most popular morning drive programs. At some point, Bob wanted to expand into doing more original songs and college radio. That is where I entered the picture.
Bob and I did skits on Just Guises syndicated college radio program. We took traditional folk songs like: What Shall we do With the Drunken Sailor, and changed them. The song suggests that what you do with a drunken sailor is to put him in the scuppers with a hose pipe on him, or take him to the deck and shove him over. Bob and I would stop in the middle of the song and speak in the tradition of the Smothers Brothers. I would say, “Don’t you think that’s a backdated way to treat a drinking problem. We should come up with a more progressive human. way of treating the problem Let’s put him in the rehab with a well-trained counselor.”
We took many old traditional folk songs and twisted them around such as – This Old Man and The Bear went over the Mountain which we turned into a commentary about the cold war with the Soviet Union. Bob and I wrote some good songs together including fantasy dance craze called Rock Reggae Polka Twistin, where the music would change constantly between old rock, reggae and polka.
Rock Reggae Polka Twistin
Just Guise single release
'Just Guise' Liner Notes Essay on Rock Reggae Polka Twistin'
I had been a musician for quite a while In Cleveland, Ohio, but I was not prepared for the adventure I was about to go on when I teamed up with Kindly Old Doctor Bob (Bob Pilskaln) of "Just Guise" I knew the minute I met him that I had found a buddy, a song writing partner and, most importantly, a true friend.
Our most noteworthy project was Folk Space, where we basically acted like a '90s version of the Smothers Brothers, twisting traditional folk songs such as "Drunken Sailor". "Put him in the rehab with a well trained couns'lor," was one of the politically correct solutions to the "Drunken Sailor" situation, and "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" became a commentary on the Soviet Union plus a therapy session for our cold war fears.
We wrote an anti-drug rap song for John Lanigan and Lynn Tolivar (Local DJ ) as well as a few parodies for John. One tune we wrote was a new dance craze to bring the Greater Cleveland Area, called the "Rock, Reggae, Polka Twist". Another was a subtle environmental song called, "Breathtaking."
The 1980s were very special times for us. Taking our pens and papers, ready to write, we went wining and dining at some of the finest restaurants in northeast Ohio, ranging from arty University Circle to some of the more obscure places in Euclid. The food and conversation seemed to enhance our creativity,
But, oddly enough, it was a little humble McDonalds in South Euclid where we penned one of our most progressive pieces. I knew this was a special McDonalds when I saw the sign in the parking lot: "Those found eating in their cars will be under violation and will face stiff penalties". I was eating two cheeseburgers (I was still eating red meat at the time), staring at the broken salt containers, and the smeared ketchup on the yellow wrapper, drinking some of that really hot coffee.
Kindly Ol' and I realized at the same time (which was often the case) we had to use our position of media power in Cleveland to do something really worthwhile. We had tried through our song "Breathtaking" to make others aware of the pollution problem, but we needed to write something bigger and grander..
Then we knew! We'd make up a dance craze that would bring all nationalities in the city together with the "Rock Reggae Polka Twist". And Oh, did it work! Cleveland was one big party town from then on, everyone dancing together. It worked so well that recently Cleveland has been re-admitted into the United States! But now with this new album we can reach millions more and generations to come.
All over this great land, people are "Rock Reggae Polka Twist"in'. Through the power of a simple dance craze created at a humble McDonalds in South Euclid Ohio, multitudes have come to realize that hey, we've got a lot in common. If we can dance together maybe we can do lunch. Hey, not only is rock'n'roll here to stay but so is Just Guise and their "Rock Reggae Polka Twist"in'. Yeah.