I have no idea what that subject line means. It's part of the theme song to HR Pufnstuf, one of the many acid-laced 1960s TV creations of Sid and Marty Krofft that I adored as a kid. Small children and people doing excessive amounts of LSD connect in the trippy lands of the Kroffts, like Lidsville. And HR Pufnstuf.
What I loved the most about HR Pufnstuf was the human being among all the puppets and foam creatures: Jack Wild. He was a boyish teen who had this little British trill that made his Rs sound like Ws. He had a megawatt smile. He had... a magic flute.
I never knew he was in reruns. I just knew he was my first TV crush.
My crush was solidified when I saw Oliver, in which he played the Artful Dodger. He knew the city, was a masterful pickpocket and wasn't quite trustworthy; in short, he was eminently cooler than Oliver, who struck me as a whiner and a follower. Charmers with wicked smiles and bad habits: you're beginning to see my downfall.
Anyway, Jack Wild's bad habits were those of your basic child star: as he got older, he indulged in too much alcohol and who knows what else. Sometime in the 1990s or so he cleaned up and got himself back together, but in 2004 he was diagnosed with mouth cancer. His radiation treatments left him literally speechless, and he died yesterday. Jack Wild was 53.
I wish I'd had the heart to write him a fan letter when he was sick and not so old, instead of now. I wish I could say thanks for letting me know, early on, that life didn't have to be full of Olivers; I could, for better or worse, find a few Artful Dodgers.