It’s like Mr. Bluster Took Over Doodyville

HOWDY DOODY infused a wacky imagination into our collective unconsciousness from 1947 to 1960. My generation has electromagnetically channeled the vibe, characters and those zany little melodramas from Doodyville— like when Howdy ran for President of all the Kids in 1948.

The imagination of our childhoods can help us to understand recent cultural and political events better as a very scary plot twist on the HOWDY DOODY SHOW.


“……Phineas has been trying to get me out of Doodyville for a long time……”

To further such an understanding, here is an open letter to BUFFALO BOB SMITH, the television generation’s first mass authority figure.

Surely, Buffalo Bob, above everyone else in our collective imagination, is the one to speak up for the kids of America today.


Dear Buffalo Bob,

Howdy Doody&Buffalo Bob

Since you died in 1998, things have gone terribly wrong for the kids of Doodyville.

In 2000, Howdy ran again for President.

But the election was STOLEN by Phineas T. Bluster and his accomplices!


Mr. Bluster beguiled Dilly Dally, as usual, who now became his front man.

Dilly Dally


Howdy won the popular vote fair and square, of course, but Bluster and his henchmen figured out how to manipulate the technicalities to their advantage.

The Bluster Brigade declared a complete and utter victory. They claimed there was an overwhelming mandate for their GET RICH QUICK policies.

Their great moral crusade was to make the children of America take life more seriously.

That meant getting rid of Clarabell.

BLUSTER- TV first made up complete lies about the clown’s character.  When that didn’t work, they promoted a so-called scientific report claiming that “hysterical laughing is bad for children’s health.”

Then Mr. Bluster personally chased all the kids out of the Peanut Gallery and ordered it jackhammered to pieces.

Your real “peanuts” were replaced by a bank of TV monitors displaying video loops of children playing in Pixar-created outdoor environments.

Mr. Bluster’s next big campaign was to get a new law passed making all the kids of America have to sit still in school for hours longer and take more tests.

American boys and girls of all ages stopped singing, dancing, reciting poetry and doing plays in their classrooms. Classes stopped going out to nursing homes, hospitals or day care centers on Community Service projects.

Bluster’s education reform schemes recognized only the kind of learning that is measured by paper and pencil tests.

Instead of inspiring teachers to make learning more joyful, Bluster’s so-called Reformers promoted programs paying cash rewards to teachers if their students achieved certain numbers on the tests.

They were mean to teachers, blaming their unions for blocking Blusterite reform schemes.

All at the same time, of course, while the U.S. Government was holding school superintendents’ noses to the grindstone and making them scrupulously accountable for test results, the bankers and financial people were let out of their cages and encouraged to be more “creative.”

Unregulated and unsupervised money-grabbing were endemic in Doodyville, but the Bluster administration was obsessed with controlling Reading and Math scores. Data was scrutinized to tenths of percentages, and used to punish teachers and principals for not doing their jobs.

With Bluster and the Bluster Brigade in control of the American economy and our national school system, teaching became less and less personal from teacher to child and more and more regulated by the nation’s Numbers Crunchers.

At the very same time, now liberated from “government interference,” financial products grew increasingly phantasmagorical in concept, and the newly artistic bankers and stock brokers showed fits of temper.

We thought those terrible times would come to an end with the election of 2008.

There was hope when Princess Summerfall Winterspring became our First Lady.

Chief Thundercloud had married her to a young brave from the Ooragnak tribe.

But one year later, and we see kids more strictly controlled by Bluster’s educational system than ever before.

Buffalo Bob, we VOTED like you always told us to.

But changing the government has not changed anything for the kids of America. It’s getting even worse for them.

You were a good authority figure because you represented the Establishment yet had a wacky imagination. You showed us how to live in real and imaginative worlds at the same time.  You delighted in making us laugh and then could made us believe you when you became serious. You were patriotic while embracing diversity.

These days, when parents talk about what they want for their kids, Bluster twists all they say into test scores and future jobs.

We need somebody who can stop Mr. Bluster and represent what’s good for the kids of America again.

Buffalo Bob, please send us a sign that your Spirit is with us.

7 Responses to “It’s like Mr. Bluster Took Over Doodyville”

  1. Ben says:

    This is a very clever conceit, Howard. I liked the use of the images to illustrate points. However, I think it only works for people of a certain age who remember Howdy Pineas T. Bluster and Buffalo Bob. How about one for Mickey Mouse and Jimmy Dodd. He was a role model for us, too.

    I don’t think the video excerpt at the end adds anything.

  2. Franco Calderale says:

    Hello Howard,
    Enjoyed your sojourn into days gone by and am wondering when Barack is going to touch base with the current malaise entrenching our educational system.

    The scary thing for me is the thought that the status of education today is the result of a collective consciousness. The interactive environments and activities are gone. Instead of an educational soul we now are wedded to a spiritless quest.

    When I went to my daughter’s first junior high school conference , I asked her teacher to share with me what she knew about her. She said, “one moment…” and then handed me a computer handout showing a compilation of scores.

    Thus spoke the new Zarathustra.
    Thanks for the pulse beat brother.

  3. Penelope says:

    Oh Howard,
    Initially, my decision to become a substitute teacher with designs to one day become a teacher was filled with the stardust from my “Howdy Doody” world. Stepping into the classroom as a substitute and encountering some students negative almost hostile reaction to my presence, I thought perhaps my mindset was out of step with current attitudes.

    Reading your blog has illuminated for me some students hostility towards what I represent, a judgmental, insidious, detached robot created by a government who perceives the students as pawns instead of humans. It only now occurs to me why some students have become so disenchanted and dismissive of educators and the educational system. If I were in their shoes, perhaps I would have the same negative attitudes toward the educational system.

    It only reaffirms for me that I must be vigilant in contributing to the overall education of the child.
    Thanks Howard

  4. Romy says:

    Way to go Howard – now if only YOU would run for president!!

  5. David Katzoff says:

    The most powerful observation of the piece, which resonated with me the most, was how bankers have been encouraged to be more creative and children less. This is a dissertation in-and-of itself. In yesteryear, the children who were less inclined to be creative would grow-up more likely to become bankers.

    I have this conversation all the time with clients. Our educational system aside, it doesn’t bode well for our future that most of our most brilliant minds from traditionally non-creative industries like medicine, engineering, civic planning, research etc. have all gone to Wall Street to manipulate the way money can be made.

    It does seem like this is a fight Obama is actually beginning to take head-on, but, we shall see…

  6. Terry Wise says:

    Thank you for guiding me to your blog. It’s clear to me that you have not actually retired, but are now onto a bigger and deeper mission. I hope your thoughts and creative delivery will reach some of the Mr. Bluster decisionmakers.

  7. It would be nice if we could all get out of Doodyville. At least we have a president whose heart is in the right place – if only he could be allowed to do something instead of being cut off at every pass just for the sake of partisan egos.