by Ralph Bailey
posted Nov 4 2013 3:00PM
So for so bad goes my reading of “Johnny Carson” the book being hawked by Carson-attorney Henry Bushkin.
First, Bushkin portrays Carson as a sullen, loner. He depicts Carson as a mark, not only to shifty Hollywood moguls but to mere friends and trusted confidantes who lined their pockets on scams using Carson’s talent while, surprisingly, Johnny wasn’t making the mega dollars he would garner late in his career.
Secondly, the story is told from Bushkin’s perspective.
Who is Henry Bushkin, you ask?
My point exactly!
I don’t give a good doggone about what Bushkin thought of Johnny or Bushkin’s interpretation of Johnny’s peaks and valleys. The stories are compelling but the rehashed conversations, for the most part, are mere idle gossip that seems as traitorous as some of the snake in the grass financial moves made against John.
For example, Bushkin is the compassionate ear for Johnny one drunken night in New York early in their relationship. The next day Carson calls and asks, ”What did I say?” Buskin allays his fears insisting he’s Johnny’s attorney now and anything said can’t be repeated while he’s alive.
I’m sorry but I doubt very seriously if he added that part about, “…while you’re still alive.” Now, it gives Bushkin cover for all the retelling of confidential stories and happenings that for my money ain’t right, even after the subject’s death.
However, as I stated the stories are compelling. I would just like to remember Mr. Carson as the classic, wit. The Bon vivant, man about town who kept us entertained and laughing late night. To miss Johnny Carson in the 1970s was not to be in the “in” crowd. One had to be able to recreate Johnny’s monologue or you might as well go and “sit on it!” If you missed “Carnak the Magnificent” may an elephant with gas invade your bath tub.
That’s how I want to remember John. Not as the lonely, drunken Iowa boy who could never make his parents proud, as Bushkin describes, all in an effort to sell books. SMH!!!