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(Whatever You Do, Don’t) Ask Doug! #3

Dear Dare I Asketh Thee, Doug?

I have been way waaaay waaaaaaaaay into your column for more than a year now, poring over it for a strictly regimented 16 hours per day in order to puzzle out the clandestine clues and hidden codes you have so expertly embedded in your obscure phrasings.

I regularly post such findings on a social media account that now has 17 million inexplicably credulous followers ready to act upon your veiled suggestions.

I am writing today to ask for confirmation of—and further clarification regarding—some of my prevailing theories about your (now our) covert agendas. Reading between the lines, I have deduced that you have gained access to data that proves gravity is optional and on July 17 will demonstrate this by aggressively reversing all gravity worldwide, and thereby jettisoning forever from the earth all of the “untethered flotsam” who refuse to unbelieve in gravity, and who will therefore remain “unbuckled” on that great day of reckoning.

Secondly, it is my understanding that you wish your followers to wear vole-trimmed, purple capes (representing something I’m not yet certain of, but that I nonetheless recognize as of utmost significance to our cause), and thirdly that you wish us to militantly push an agenda denouncing “Space Ice!”

Finally, I am pleased to report that I have cleverly detected multiple words of exactly three syllables in your columns—words such as premium, government, and knee-shine (if you count the hyphen as a silent second syllable, which I’m pretty sure is what you wanted). I assume these 3-syllable words are intended to direct our attention to the number three, and thereby to the 1975 Robert Redford/Faye Dunaway movie “Three Days of the Condor,” which is in turn a subtle reference directing us to call into question all recent CIA activities and/or to maintain a vigilant suspicion of condors.

Could you kindly confirm these theories (in further code, if necessary)? I would hate for our burgeoning conspiracy movement to go off the rails due to the admittedly slim possibility that we might have connected “a few of the wrong dots” as it were.

Conspiratorially (but not the crazy kind!),

—Desperately Decoding in Decatur


Dear Decoderer,

Why have we failed to toboggan?

What shape skirts scare horses?

Who controls two-digit trade protocols while the rest of us are sleeping?

Why is the media strangely silent about sea urchins?

What is the worth of a fife when all the bugles have been impounded?

When did the muskrat enunciate? Was it always so lonely?

What is the original name for space ice? What is the extra crispy name?

How long before being five must one be four? Why must one be four? How in the world could you possibly believe that “one” must be “four”?

Who is president of the oceans?1

Now please, please, please stop interrupting me, dear readers, that I might move on to my “stated purpose.” Namely, to complete this overly-protracted tale of the great Paul Harvey and of his ill-fated Abe Lincoln radio broadcast, and [SPOILER ALERT] his subsequent downfall as the nation’s most popular radio personality. Now for the love of small, Spanish goats2, let us please get on with

Who Was This Paul Harvey


Why Should You Care About

Part 3 of

Who Was This Paul Harvey and Why Should You Care?

Now, Dear Readers, where did we most recently leave off in our compelling narrative? Ah yes, right smack-dab in the middle of Paul Harvey’s ill-fated “The Rest of the Story” episode transcript. We were at the point (delivered in Harvey’s silky, saber-toothed3, midwestern croon) at which President Abraham Lincoln had, in a fit of protracted frustration and vexation, exercised the power of the “Executive Bellow,”4 to angrily and forcefully hail a moose-drawn cab. Eliminate All Space Ice!5 Now let us jump feet-first right back into the middle of the


September 27, 1977

“The Rest of the Story” RADIO BROADCAST

Keep your knees well-polished, friends, just like the Harveys do, including the world-famous Harvey Quints, including Warvey the Elder!

And now for the rest of the rest of the story…

The rest of the story must be pieced together from the written records of two individuals: the cab driver Jed “Reeky” Pitt6, and a D.C. apothecary named Ebenezer “Untucked” Tuck.7

Lincoln, Pitt recounts, “brooded like a coiled reptile” in the bowels of the carriage, occasionally pounding a ham-sized fist into his palm with a threatening sluwumph!

At first the nation’s chief executive barked no orders, so Reeky “shimmy-jacked a cordle of jerry-slack to the gabble-rashers,8” sending the hobbled moose along a meandering path, perhaps absentmindedly tracing through the city streets, in cursive, the name of some lost love 9. As they looped past the recently constructed Washington memorial, Lincoln is reported to have sneered and derisively muttered an ancient, incantational curse10.

Fearing now for his life, Pitt turned the cab in the direction of the more populated areas of the capitol. Ebenezer Tuck, a rheumy, near-sighted apothecary headed home to his dank “reconstitution chamber” after brewing a potent filibuster potion for the Federalists, happened to see the carriage pass by. Immediately recognizing his President in stovepipe silhouette11, Tuck drew himself up and gave a smart salute. Lincoln responded by heaving his size twenty-nine battle boot12 at the startled Mr. Tuck, slicing him across the ear with the razor-sharp, spinning-tungsten heel. It was ever after a scar Ebenezer Tuck wore with pride and, albeit, some confusion.13

The moosiecab14 continued its route past D.C.’s once-famous Delbert Gilbert Still15 fountains and into the shanty towns around the seedy harbor, where the greasy air reeked of fish-oil smoke and cheap magic.16

There, Lincoln commanded the driver to stop, “jindle-pop down-wagon hoop abreavement,”17 and follow him into an alley, claiming that “executive orders must always be followed on penalty of death.” The frightened Mr. Pitt nervously obeyed, even while maintaining as much distance as he dared. Whether he would survive to see another dawn was far from certain. As they ambled down the alley, the gawky mister Lincoln undertook a series of “bizarre and spectral stretches,” as if he were “the ghost of an athletic competitor” warming up for some “forgotten sporting event designed especially for tall, gangly men at twilight.”

“You,” the president said, abruptly turning and pressing a bony finger into the sternum of the hapless driver, “will be my second. You are to take my place as president if something goes wrong. And your valiant moose back there shall be my third.18 Now clasp my sacred beard in your red right hand and solemnly swear it shall be so!”

“B-But I don’t know how to be president!” Pitt stuttered.

“Oh yeah, like I really do either!” Lincoln replied sarcastically, shoving Pitt backwards, and turning on his heel.19 The commander-in-chief trotted down the alley singing an old West Point fighting song20, while Pitt scratched his head uncertainly21.

It was then that Lincoln’s intentions became obvious. At the far end of the alley three wandering philosophers22 lay in crumpled heaps, sleeping off their latest “insights.”23  Lincoln approached and began kicking roughly at their boots to rouse them.

“Mr. Davis,” he shouted. “Mr. Lee, and Mr. Booth! On your feet! Let’s settle this once and for all!”

The driver observed in disbelief as the chief executive then heaved the disoriented men to their feet, stood them against the wall, and grappled them all at once in his long, wiry arms, ignoring their woeful cries and entreaties and also their poorly delivered incantations of warding, hastily composed from the writings of Rousseau and Aristotle.

Lincoln’s relentless wrestling moves “did then flow like a ferrous, liquid lightning, furious and battering.” His pugilistic prowesses were as effortless, Pitt remembered, as those “of a great house cat,”24 and his aggression as fierce as that “of an enraged arena bull.”25 The three rattled philosophers may as well have been facing down a howling midnight train.

“That’s for these United States!” Abe cried, slapping each fellow smartly upon the belly button, “And this one’s for me!” he all but roared, felling all three men with one Dormmitt’s Dread Crab Pincer™ wrestling move, his scissoring legs scattering them like a row of poorly-wrought bowling pins.

The chief executive then danced around the alley a moment, waiting to see if any of the men would rise. None of them did.26

When Lincoln returned to the cab shortly thereafter, he was a calm, controlled man, no longer on the verge of an explosive hysteria. Both cab driver and moose27 were amazed at the change.

“He was gentled, easygoing, pleasant,” Pitt told friends. “We made frivolous conversation all the way back to the White House as if nothing unusual had happened. When I scobby-whicked28 him at the door he slipped twenty dollars (Confederate money) in my hand and said ‘Be here next Friday night or you will regret it most forcefully I don’t know how I can make myself any clearer yes I am threatening you but perform these sacred duties and your reward shall be great I am your dread sovereign and I have spoken, mincing no words not even one.’”29

White House staff observed a stark and immediate change in the president’s demeanor. “Abe was suddenly staid, calm, resolute, like a glistened sheet of hardy dowdy girded by a brittle bottom of molasses plied most thicke,” official presidential descriptionist and White House food journalist Goodie Solyndra recorded in her daily presidential update. Gone were the angry outbursts, the fits of rage, the unwanted games of tussle-tag30.

For the next three years without fail, every Friday [Down with Space Ice!!!] night Lincoln would fold his tall frame into Pitt’s imitation-mahogany31

moose-cab, and head off to frequent the back alleys of Washington, D.C., seeking out and defeating “in time-honored ceremony of grappling with little to no affection” the wandering philosophers of the city. Always to him they were “Mr. Davis, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Booth,” however, and occasionally “That Toad that Trapped Me In Marriage By Her Dark Magic.”

And now you know The Rest of the Story.”



So ended the infamous broadcast. The backlash was swift and rancorous. Listeners across America were incensed by the irreverent, unhinged portrayal of their second-most32 beloved president.

“Even if it’s true, it’s still a lie!” unruly protesters shouted outside the studios of Harvey’s flagship station WKRP in Toledo33. They chanted furious slogans like “You can’t tell us things we don’t want to know!” “All Conspiracy Theories Must Be True, Otherwise How Could They Exist!” “Earth is No Place for Space Ice!” and “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Mister Harvey’s Got to Leave This Place Relatively Soon!”

Within 24 hours the initially-geographically-focused protest had spread and devolved into wide-scale name-calling and furious “poppin’ & lockin’” dance-offs in the streets. Harvey’s sponsors began canceling en masse their blocks of ads34 scheduled for future “The Rest of the Story Broadcasts.” Sensing that the heart of the nation was like a rapidly-rising tide turning against him, Paul Harvey had to make some desperate counter-move, and fast, all the while never betraying the presence of the small, Spanish goat that had masterminded his vast media empire.35

Stunned by “the sudden loss of widespread affection for my merits both demonstrated and assumed,” Harvey tried to spin the situation as best he could, hoping to play up the educational value of the ill-fated broadcast.

Rather than simply apologizing and enduring the traditional, humiliating penance of offering himself to be strapped “without raiment save a burlap onesie, and exposed to all weathers” for four consecutive weeks atop the dome of the Jefferson Memorial, Harvey instead panicked and ordered his staff to hastily design, assemble, and mail out “Harvey Happy-Time History Packets” to every elementary school in America. The packets included a recording of the Abe Lincoln broadcast (with the more incendiary statements either garbled or redacted), as well as a dozen other history-related “The Rest of the Story” broadcasts36. A hodge-podge assortment of hastily-printed classroom materials were included as well, with the intention that the mini-curriculum would be viewed as a great boon to public education, and would be utilized in history classes.

The “Harvey Packets” also included one hundred wads of Bazooka Bubble Gum each. This was a move intended to re-endear Harvey to the schoolchildren and so to soften the now-loathed broadcast personality’s image in the minds of the younger generation. “My only hope of future idolization now lies with them,” Harvey told his staff, a lone tear reportedly streaming down his autumnal cheek.

“Harvey’s Bungle,” as this desperate mail-out came to be known in radio circles, backfired when it was discovered that the gum wads were all pre-chewed—by Harvey himself!37 “But it’s still perfectly good gum!” Harvey protested, in the lone, ill-advised press conference he gave. “I never chew a stick of gum only once. It would be unpatriotic! We’ve got a war on, don’t we?38 Rationing is patriotic! Why, when I was the age of those kids, I had one piece of gum and that’s all I had. I chewed that piece of gum for eleven years. No, no, you’re all wrong. That gum I sent out to the kids was practically unchewed and let me tell ya, they should be happy to get it!”

“Gumgate” marked the end of the beginning of the end for “America’s Wireless Sweetheart.” For the first time in more than five decades, Paul Harvey failed to make People Magazine’s list of “The 100 Most Popular Despite Not Also Being Really Buff & Dreamy Guys” list.

The debacle of the “Harvey Packets” only served to further inflame sentiments against the public figure. His poll numbers absolutely tanked.39 Most of the packets were destroyed in public bonfires lit during city council meetings across the country.40

A lone copy of that original mail-out was preserved in the secure underground vaults of the Museum of Radio and Television in Washington, D.C., where once every five years, a random scholar is chosen by lottery and then, after great ceremony, allowed one hour’s access to the controversial documents.41

The scholar is afterwards publicly pilloried in atonement for what is now their knowing participation in the ongoing history of the scandal, and then they are afterwards “dealt with,”42 but not before being given the opportunity to recite hastily-memorized portions of the text (or portions of “the quotable goat’s quotable goat quotes™,” depending on which version of alternate reality you subscribe to).

The crowd of spectators—forcibly assembled for the ceremony—whose unfortunate ears these words fall upon, are also summarily “dealt with” for their complicity-by-proximity43. Finally, or so the prophecy goes, Harvey himself, as the last undealt-with human on earth, will place himself voluntarily in the stocks and fling fruit at his own face till the old era is finally ended, and the mayoral hopefuls are at last proved right, and the sentient coffee sludge has learned to love, and the Mayors return to establish their village built of “a fine and glorious mud, in which king and commoner alike will frolic and enjoy abundance of sweet, clotted butter and sauces of vinegar and many pickled fishes perhaps not every day but no less than once per week.”44

And now you know a lot of things related to the story that you might not have known previously!™

Space Ice. Wrong for America! Wrong for Americans!™45

So that’s all I have to say about Paul Harvey.

What, pray tell dear readers, will you want to talk about next?

With feigned urgency,

—Ask Doug!

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