Name of College Uttered in Vain; 'CCNY Prof.' Rants Over Airwaves
Friday - November 7, 1958
Last Update: 12-11-2015
Late Sunday night, ears of the faithful "Night People" throughout the city perked up at the introduction of Dr. Sholem Stein, "CCNY Professor" on the Jean Shepherd WOR radio show.
Dr. Stein was introduced on a tape recording as "Professor of Hebrew at the City College of New York" and an "authority on the origins of calypso." The hundreds of students flipping through the pages of the College Bulletin in search of the professor's name met with disappointment. It wasn't there.
Meanwhile, the interview had progressed to the point where Dr. Stein was reciting the following calypso verse:
"Way down south where Bananas grow,
Ants are stepping on elephant toes.
Elephant jump with tears in his eyes,
He said, 'Why don't you mash someone your size?' "
"This seems rather innocent verse," the doctor observed, "but comparing it to the Mishnah, the third of the seven books of Moses, we find a similar thing . . . the banana symbolizes a plantain. Scientific authorities have shown us that the world is shaped like a football. It seems to be maintaining balance that way, going on and on through the ages."
At this stage, even the most faithful Shepherd devotee thought he had missed a few words.
The doctor then proceeded to a discussion of his secondary interests, among them, political science. "Israel," he said, "is the pivot point of the Near East.
"If that falls, the British Empire, the Suez Canal, consequently the Panama Canal, in fact all canals, ah (pause), international trade will be affected and the British pound sterling will go down. That will bring the value of gold up and the ratio will be thrown off balance to create reflections even in the ruble, the yen. Yes, it's a very profound subject, economics. Very interesting."
Commenting on this portion of the show, Mr. Irwin Brownstein (Student Life) said that it is "unfortunate when the College's name is used in this manner."
"Just as I thought the Colledge of Complexes of New York was detrimental publicity for the school," he continued, "the use of our name in any instance is illegitimate and unfortunate for the College and the people of New York who are responsible for it.
When asked for comment, Jean Shepherd maintained that he "can't worry about those who don't understand [satire]. It's too bad if they don't." ||
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