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PBS remembers the day the Doors ruined America

I know, I know. You're feeling so triumphant after crashing the mall at 5 a.m. and getting a $2.98 computer and a free soft pretzel. But face it, by Saturday night you'll be broke, exhausted and quasi-suicidal after 36 hours of continuous shopping. Happily, if you live in South Florida, there's a way to erase it. A legal way, I mean. (For the other ways, you're reading the wrong blog.) I'm referring to an opportunity to wallow in somebody else's misery -- specifically, Ed Sullivan's.

Doors Back in 1967, when the Doors had just hit it big with Light My Fire, they were invited to appear on live Sullivan's Sunday-night CBS variety show that practically everybody in America watched. One condition: They had to change one of the song's lyrics, from "girl, we couldn't get much higher" to "girl, we couldn't get much better." Jim Morrison and the rest of the Doors happily agreed. Of course, they were lying. Once they were on the air, they did the song the same way they always did, millions of American teenagers immediately raced out into the streets in search of blotter acid and hashish, and the world quickly devolved into an anarchic hellhole of Lewinskys, Gosselins and Lamberts.

Because the show aired live with no delay, there wasn't much the furious Sullivan could do about it except to refuse to shake hands with the band and send one of his flunkies to Morrison to hiss, "You'll never do the Sullivan show again!" To which Morrison snickered, "We just did the Sullivan show." Sullivan made good on his threat, else we might have subsequently been treated to a televised performance of Morrison's subsequent let-it-all-hang-out performance in Coconut Grove.

Now you can see the whole thing -- I mean, the Sullivan appearance, not the Coconut Grove show -- with your own eyes. WPBT-PBS 2 is broadcasting a special titled Ed Sullivan -- The Sixties at 7 p.m. on Saturday that includes the Doors' performance and Sullivan's icy reaction. The show also includes the Beatles' memorable 1964 appearance on Sullivan from the Deauville Hotel on Miami Beach, for most Americans the first look at the hot new band from Liverpool. South Florida's influence notwithstanding, they all kept their pants on.


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