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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jonathan has lunch in a cafeteria.
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00:00:00hello podcast listener Ela and I've got a new show on Fusion called happy ending with Nando Vila just to clarify it's a TV show not a podcast show cast except there's movie pictures listen to my show with your eyes and with your heart as we try to understand a crazy world we live in while having a little fun in the meantime with Nando Vila Thursdays at 10 p.m. for channel listings go to Fusion. TV / where to watch
00:00:34I'm getting late I'm Starley kind and this is Mystery show every week I saw the new mystery mystery that can't be solved online Mysteries you can't help yourself
00:00:56up until now there hasn't been anyone to help with this that person is now me
00:01:06tomorrow I'll find out
00:01:13I don't even know what I don't even know those mystery
00:01:19hanging around
00:01:32should I start from the beginning beginning mean childhood not that beginning this mystery belongs to my friend Jonathan a couple weekends ago I went to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC I didn't do any of like the smart things and go see like you know documents I looked at a Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is a shoes Archie Bunker's chair you know the dumbass part at the Museum so I saw that stuff and then 10 minutes later I went to the cafeteria to get something to eat I'll probably spend more time at the cafeteria lunch and on the way in they have behind glass all of these lunch pails
00:02:19and what caught my eye was a Welcome Back Kotter lunch pail the sitcom from the 70s starring Gabe Kaplan and John Travolta better group of four guys in high school I guess they were learning disabled or you said risk yeah they were juvenile delinquents I guess yeah with learning disability definitely Arnold Horshack either had a learning disability or was just Jewish back then he was funny and they called him sweat Hogs
00:02:50that was a huge Welcome Back Kotter fan like I loved it so much and not only that I watch it I used to tape record I had it audio tape recorder when I used to tape record episodes and then listen to them again later like it snow there radio plays yeah and I used to even like memorize lines at at our cool that I could use some school like your mom so low that you can play handball against the curb there's a lot of mother jokes like John Travolta's character Vinnie barbarino would always say that about my mother she's my mother was a saint member that nope absolutely not I in fact I think I just use that line on you last time I saw you I said hey like you brought up my mother and I said my mother's Asain I was quoting Vinnie barbarino never said anything to me that wasn't from Welcome Back Kotter so I was studying the scene depicted on the lunch pail and there was something in in the image that made no sense to me and I just stood there
00:03:50quite a while holding my tray full of food just staring at this lunch pail trying to figure out what the what the image was
00:04:01what I'm going to do is I'm going to summon it up cuz I took a photograph of it interest I can show you my iPhone pictures one of my niece one of my nephew maybe a picture of parking sign so I remember where I parked or something and then this Welcome Back Kotter lunch pail I don't like to waste I don't like to waste memory said the man whose childhood memories were filled to capacity of Welcome Back Kotter episodes okay you see all four sweat Hogs and mr. Kotter they're all standing outside a locker bank and Juan Epstein and Vinnie barbarino look as though they're about to get into a fight and that's the moment that's been immortalised on this on this lunch pail
00:04:55so I was like that's really odd one would never fight with Barberino they were all friends so I looked at it more closely and I realized Juan Epstein is holding his jacket which is I get a denim jacket a jean jacket the kind of jacket that a juvenile delinquent in the 70s might wear and the sleeves of the jacket have not seen them like someone is taking the sleeve like at like a length of rope or a shoelace and has just tied knots in it texting is dangling the jacket in front of Barberino accusingly as though it were a dead pet left on his porch by Mad Men
00:05:42Freddie Boom-Boom Washington is behind them and Arnold horseshack is behind Barberino and looks like he's pulling Barberino back you can eat a visual picture one of those huge Renaissance painting of Christ being taken down off the cross crown of thorns on his head life was Body pradel by his disciples lunch box he knows alot like that except instead of Christ it's a jean jacket with knots in the sleeves
00:06:10what makes it so inscrutable to me is the presence of the sleeve knotted jacket and something I've never have you ever heard of that like jacket sleeve nodding what is that about was that like a thing was that a prank that people pulled in the 70s Jonathan and thought museums are places you go to grab a nice lunch turned out they also contain Mysteries cuz I can't find it on the internet I look up all kinds of different permutations nodding jacket sleeves knots in coat sleeves not sleeve joke why the knots in the sleeves might have been one most confounded John and then he was the Injustice of it that most wanted him millions of years from now when the world has turned to dust and nothing but the wall lunch boxes is left standing this is how Welcome Back Kotter would be regarded by Future civilizations
00:07:04I don't think it's an image taken from the actual TV show I think that whoever the artist was who created the the picture might have never seen the show and you seen all the episodes yes the repeat like yeah many times over listen to the audio Denham being taught forward that sound be and like all the great I'm sure lunch boxes iron before him Jonathan at some ideas of his own but how it should have gone we could have put on the Washington doing the air base Nico boom boom boom boom boom boom boom they could have put Arnold Horshack raising his hand going Barberino doing the Barberino dance why this I'm wondering where does this come from it was it a thing was it a national craze like the you know the Charleston the twenties or something jacket nodding in the seven
00:08:04and it's just something lost to us so I'm curious about that and I'm also curious about whoever the artist was who created the the picture on the lunch pail whether he was drawn from his own history or something that he just invented wholesale so I am imploring you to get to the bottom of this of this mystery
00:08:28so what am I really are important flooring then I'd like you to help me help me get to the bottom of this okay he's been in the business for weeks this case Brinkley team a little beneath my experience level Sonata jacketed probably been on the show and John had just forgotten just like you would have forgotten where you parked at one time if you hadn't taken a picture of the space or just like how you forgotten to document the rest of this whole entire life but nonetheless I agreed to take on this case I'd spend a few hours on it you know a favor for an old pal besides I always have been a sucker for a good and pouring
00:09:10Welcome Back Kotter was on for Four Seasons with the last season was shot in 1979 and a lunch box came out in 1977 that meant to say I'm going to be in season 4 of making brisk work this already
00:09:27there were 22 episode 2 season 8 episode 24 minutes long without commercials that's 1500 and 84 minutes or a little more than one full day I didn't have that kind of time not without it cutting into my watching other television shows so I Enlisted the help of two of my best to Gators I told them that ideally they find the scene itself but they were to be on the lookout for other clothes too and heating nodded anything Denim and of course any pranks hijinx escapate Capers Antics are Larks if there was so much of the banana peel out of place I wanted to hear about it
00:10:03whatever is going on in that picture in the lunch box is way too complicated for the typical plot line of a of a Welcome Back Kotter episode the first shift season 1
00:10:16okay do they wear denim denim shirt denim is so pervasive in Welcome Back Kotter now we're getting somewhere but they have all the extras and the sweat Hogs and romance just to see if Dunham minutes and that's okay there's denim jackets denim jeans denim shirts bell bottoms that are Denim and then with patches of other kinds of denim there are people who wear outfits where the top is a denim shirt and the bottom is jeans jeans with no back pockets that's weird Vinnie barbarino has a denim jacket it's actually like I didn't know this was never cool but it's more like a barn style jacket cut with a bigger pockets it's like a mom jean jacket you don't have such a long torso I don't know they had any choice. To me with the length of John Travolta's choice
00:11:06are pranks a significant part of the show they're definitely there there are pranks okay so like a typical prank from season one would be like oh we we took the signs off the bathroom do you put the sign for girls on the boys bathroom we put a sign for boys and the girls bathroom that's a solid prank
00:11:26you like that
00:11:28fixie watch your season believe me I will wait because first I had to check in with Eric about his season as far as I can never happens in season 2 I'm a little afraid that it's going to be a situation where I was like watching it so closely I missed it you know I finished them that they think 12:15 at night and I got to the end and I was like alright I didn't see it did I can't wait I got really excited think it's episode 3 maybe the vice principal character was rummaging through the sweat Hogs lockers they get to Barberino soccer and they open it up and he pulls out a jacket Michael this is got to be at Discovery something here so I can watch really intently for some like it was so heavy on the jackets that one
00:12:28it was time for my season season 3
00:12:33buy season 3 the cast of Welcome Back Kotter where some of the biggest stars in the country in interviews from that time this would hug big knowledge of the danger of becoming so famous so young they knew they wouldn't be 26 playing 16 years old forever
00:12:47the trick is staying relevant to Robert Hedges who played Epstein what to do at all act direct produce heat I started a film production company called sativa which is Latin for marijuana
00:12:59sort of
00:13:02that you're John Travolta starred in both Saturday Night Fever and grease hissing stress me out I kept looking for indications of lack of commitment to the role of Barberino now that he become a movie star such as a phone in his catchphrase only doing The Who and the what but not bothering with the where
00:13:20Welcome Back Kotter takes place on four sets more or less the classroom the hallway by the lockers the schoolyard and the quarters living room the same article of clothing appear over and over again when should a particular a t-shirt with a bald eagle iron Don kept showing up on different Sweathogs as though they were real life friends who shared each others clothes
00:13:43there was no not a jean jacket in season 3 I did however find an important bit of Connor pranking philosophy in episode 18 a new girl Angie and rolls in their one-room schoolhouse James Buchanan High she walks in the class and the sweat Hogs go nuts I'm pretty sure you can see Epstein's heart beat out of his chest through a shirt all Bugs Bunny like that and he's not interested in dating this white hog she wants to become one of them she dropped paint on the vice principal has a way of impressing the guys but Barberino calls are in a mature are stents always have two things he tells her
00:14:21the original and they leave no evidence
00:14:24but not a jean jacket prank satisfied both criteria it was so Regional no one has ever heard of it and apparently it was not a shred of evidence behind
00:14:39I needed to talk to someone who work directly on the show maybe the lunch box image came from something that happened on the set like an inside joke five out of six of the main Welcome Back Kotter cast members rather dead turn me down when I asked over John Travolta dealing with the release of going clear on HBO the six of Gabe Kaplan who played cutter himself as in welcome back, I was giving his cell phone number but didn't hear back so I tried the man who co-created the show with Alan sacks dear mr. sax I wrote there's an image on the cutter lunch box that we just can't understand
00:15:19text me Alan's back. Back to me right away and gave me his address so I could come talk to him about it in person
00:15:31hey. He just one question though
00:15:35who is we so before we get started on low maybe we are started I wanted to tell you something when you said we you know in the email and I responded to you who's we it struck something that was really one of the real interesting events in my life I was held at gunpoint by Phil Spector so like
00:16:015 hours
00:16:09when was that's It Was 1980 I was producing this pilot for ABC
00:16:16and who better for me to get to do the music then Phil Spector and I got him on the phone and he says great come on over so we set up a time he and I and his secretary called me to confirm and she said who's coming and I said I'm coming myself and said okay I'll let Phil know that come at 7:30 but as I'm leaving the office the casting director is there said what are you doing let's go get some Japanese food and I said okay let's do that but I got to go over to Phil spector's house tonight wanting to take a ride with me we'll go up there I will listen to some music and then we'll go out to eat afterwards
00:16:56we get in my car we start driving down the Sunset Strip and was smoking a joint while listening to Dire Straits on the radio on way to Phil spector's house very excited
00:17:08now we get to the end of Sunset and he lives up a cul-de-sac in Beverly Hills as we getting closer is Bob wire signs that say no trespassing protected by Smith & Wesson press the buzzer the gate opens up drive my car in Pocket we get out two dogs come charging at us the door opens up and there's a guy standing in like a karate show giant said hi I'm George I'm Phyllis man hi George I'm Alan this is Kathy come on in we go in George closes the door any locks with a K from the inside click click click and puts the key in his pocket
00:18:04so I look at Kathy and the only way I know we can get out of there
00:18:09is that George has to open up the door
00:18:14they brings us into we know this beautifully appointed living room Tiffany Shades leather bound books leather chairs and pictures of Lenin pictures of the Ramones pictures of Ike and Tina the Righteous Brothers and suddenly at the very far end of the room so you Jus Drew we hear wrestling than Phil Spector comes down the steps and he looks over Kathy and I and he screams at the top of his lungs there's too many people here this too many people in my house he wasn't expecting Kathy. No way to just being Kathy works for me she goes running out
00:19:09he comes out about a half hour later sits down at the coffee table shakes my hand and he looks at me and says what are you doing here as well you know what I'm doing here I called you we spoke on the phone I want you to do the music for this pilot that I'm doing he said no no no you're here because you want to go back and tell people I drink too much I take drugs and I play with guns with that he stands up he takes off his jacket and he's strapped with the biggest gun I've ever been in a room in in my life
00:19:43and now the gun comes out and I said put that shit away man I got to get out of here he said no not yet. We're not ready to go yet and for the next 6 hours that sells like the like button the gun around insanity
00:19:59he asked me if I knew karate and I said no is it come on I'll show you a karate and then he said do you like Leonard Cohen and so now we have to go and lay down in his music room I'm on the floor he's on the floor Kathy's on the floor the gun is between us and who we have the headset on I will listen to Leonard Cohen singing get you like Leonard death of a ladies man that album
00:20:28to come listening to the tracks of death of the ladies met you no respect with a gun between us
00:20:39nanny said come on I wrote the music for you you wrote the music for me you kidding wow so we go up to the panel room and he starts playing on the piano a dirge and I can't sing but it goes like we're all rock and rollers rock and roll is all trying to earn a living before the final curtain call and the gun is like on the piano and he would pick it up every once in awhile hahaha come on out and sing it with me we are all rock and rollers rock and roll is trying to earn a living before the final. This went on for hours
00:21:21so finally some guy who worked at a radio station he was working the late Lobster shift he was getting off and called Phil and today I want to come by I'm going to come by with the woman I'm with you now Phil said yeah come on by so when this guy came we were able to Scurry out of the room like kittens and then we were gone
00:21:47the next day he sent me at all sorts of gifts like Phil Spector cocktail napkins and then note that said hey Al I really had a swell time with you last night let's do it again soon
00:22:02put the president of NBC said to me what did you get Phil Spector to do the music does he want to do it I said you know what he does but I tell you something buddy you got to have the next meeting with him cuz I'm not so when you said we didn't want to surprise I was doing my Phil Spector so now we can talk about Potter I had to get right to the point less I let another careless part on slip out I asked Allen it wasn't too much trouble will you please tell me every single thing he knew about the Welcome Back Kotter lunch box that I don't remember of course he didn't I didn't really care about the merchandise and Connor getting another was found it so the pilot for Cotter within 6 months of moving to Hollywood had no idea what he was doing he didn't get syndication rights Heating and Merchandising rights
00:22:59he did get a lot of Hotel pool lounging time in though but until that counts as legal tender as I've often petition for it to there wasn't much he could do with that now I showed Alan the image on The Lunchbox what do you think is happening in that
00:23:14substance jacket
00:23:17he's accusing somebody of doing something to his jacket sleeves
00:23:26oh yeah what is that all about I don't know why that happened you say you tied knots in my shirt is that a thing was it something in your childhood was by the way you're like wearing what's on the lunch box you you're wearing a denim shirt button down shirt and jeans this is a Japanese denim shirt in like 4 years was in the back of my closet for the lunch box
00:24:08that's funny it's spring I wanted to wear a transitional shirt that will get me from the winter to the spring in like a very subtle way and I wanted it to be soft
00:24:22I left Alan's no closer to understanding the purpose of putting knots in a jean jacket sleeves but much more open-minded about the versatility of denim in general has an option all year round
00:24:34Alamo Stone tied with Gabe Kaplan and you connect the Two of Us by email I updated my client I talked to Alan sacks whose co-creator Welcome Back Kotter. Guy unavailable
00:24:52so you didn't
00:24:58can get Kaplan O2 Starley email are you okay
00:25:04send it 1:02 a.m.
00:25:07hi Starley I think you're making way too much out of this damages are so leaving the mind of the illustrator you probably saw a couple of shows and came up with his ideas if you asked me to guess what action the pictures trying to detail my guess is that as Connor and sweat hog look on Epstein is challenging barbarino in some way I like they were first time I've caught her there's nothing behind the grassy knoll Gabe
00:25:30which means definitely or definately coming down the grassy knoll
00:25:34nice try Gabe Kaplan but you're clever attempt to call me out the case backfired I now had a new direction to head in for the mind of lunch boxes illustrator
00:25:46he was none too soon either as a lunch box mystery seem to be tightening its grip on Jonathan to already caught a clogged mind what I'm on the subway going to work I look at people sitting across from me and I think which of them has jackets who sleeves would lend themselves to be noted that the easiest like I seen someone in a fur coat and I think oh that would be a really hard one to two jacket sleeve not an interesting challenge an interesting challenge yes you know see someone with an Overcoat or one of those sleeveless jackets and then you think we'll what are you going to do with that what am I going to do with that find out after the break
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00:27:37promo code mystery show all one word
00:27:42welcome back welcome back welcome back
00:27:47I moved on to the next person of interest the creator of The Lunchbox I needed to find this Outsider this dilettante Would Waltz 10 and got Jonathan Role Models All Wrong
00:27:59I quickly found a name online Elmore Leonard not the author of Get Shorty Leonard with a t and Elmer with an e r Elmer work for 30 years at Aladdin Industries Latin me lunch boxes lots of them if you were a child before you are an adult and you relied on food for sustenance chances are good that you care to lunchbox illustrated by Elmer
00:28:25interrogating Elmer about the Welcome Back Kotter lunch box though would be difficult if not impossible Elmer wasn't alive
00:28:35I take back the part about calling him a dilettante to solve the mystery I would have to assemble a dossier based on eyewitness accounts
00:28:47if Elmer was a Don Draper of lunch boxes when she was I just said it
00:28:52Beverly was his Peggy when I first started working with him I was 23 he love doing lunch boxes and his sketches and concept we're just unbelievable he was he was just good
00:29:08so I understand you lived across the street from Elmore Leonard this is Joe the neighbor kid when I was 4 years old and he's for big Southern neighborhoods really big lots and his house was up on a big hill in Clear Sight from my home and had a paved driveway and above the garage was his studio and I remember going into his Studio as a kid walking over there on my own I don't even remember if she invited me or if I invited myself
00:29:51he would let me watching paint
00:29:57I was married
00:30:01woman that it didn't it didn't work out in the long run but
00:30:07I was freelancing and she wanted me to have a regular job my friend and actually I'm at Elmer the first day
00:30:23Elmo was a very unique very talented individual
00:30:33not unpleasant but he wasn't like gregarious at all he was very demanding very very quiet even Christ very very reserved some people had a hard time with it but then when I got a loan great really inside Elmer with a teddy bear very verbal kind of person held but I don't recall him at all acting annoyed by my questions and he certainly you no talk to me a lot he asked me one of the first things you asked me was did you carry a lunchbox when you were a kid and I said yeah Carrie did Davy Crockett
00:31:15and he said I did the artwork that's one of the reasons I took the job I like the idea of working with Elmer you know here's the guy that lets go straight into lunch box to spit eismeier does a child make me feel like I was
00:31:33in the presence of something I actually owned the Doctor Dolittle lunch box so I brought him my lunch box I said you mom says you did this painting any cuz I did these pulled out the illustration boards with those paintings on them in the illustration had little tick box and instructions just like your lunch box you know I don't know if you've ever seen a poster of a Monet painting and then seen it in person the fibers of the real thing is incredible I love my lunch box but here is the original painting that was
00:32:16it was the same size but much more Vivid
00:32:23he spent so much time and took so much pride and what he was doing
00:32:31a very much loved his work that mean that really set me on a path ultimately I can distribute the fact that I wanted to become a commercial artist because of him
00:32:43besides don't run away from something you're not good at go at it learn it like when I was building my house and said I need to build a retaining wall so the book how to light Block & Brick and so then I studied how to lay brick when that my dad was calling me about midnight so what are you doing then he went you didn't what
00:33:10you know my father going through a war he was the man is the head of the household you know that's the way he was brought up but whenever come along in my life and he convinced me there was anything I couldn't do
00:33:29one-time Beverly told Elmer that she was terrible at drawing hands he told her that she should practice drawing them 15 minutes every morning over and over again
00:33:39you can always tell my lunch box by the characters hands what other artist only showed fist or has everyone mesh together unit on Elmer's each finger with individual to find is true on the car lunch box you can see every last one hug digit mr. Carter's hands on his hips his fingers played if he shoots his students a what are you guys up to now look at Steve's left hand grips and not a jacket sleeve while his right hand pointed index finger Reddit
00:34:12pointing finger in fact seems to have been one of the owners go to lose on The Beverly Hillbillies lunch box Jethro point out the family fancy new digs if they pull up in their jalopy piled high with everything they own an atom ProBox terrifying little girl clutching a teddy bear gleefully at our brother who got his head stuck in a gate and it goes without saying that Elmer was a perfect artist to capture and the most famous pointing finger of the 1980s ET
00:34:45since lunch boxes were commissioned before the actual film or TV show came out the Aladdin illustrators were sent footage of a then chose images from sometimes they were invited to secret screenings it was Elmer came up with Aladdin signature style to have the images on the lunch box tell the story so that the kid who it belong to would want to look all over it like miniature portable versions of the films and shows they love
00:35:11Aladdin bass in Nashville was like a miniature version of the Hollywood studio system
00:35:18there was a trip to LA to meet with big wigs in the back again we'll just shoveled and skin looks like somebody have been cleaning up you know one of me and he turned around and it was filbert
00:35:46there was a fragile ego the movie starts to consider standing there with a push me pull you and I and the big giant snail and we spent some time looking at it and he showed me a few things and then he says in the color of his eyes I say yeah and it's this tiny little dot of paint she said I had to redo that several times because Rex Harrison told me that his eyes were not that color
00:36:30as well as the fickle and possible to please Taste of network executives
00:36:35every year I had to come up with a new concept for Mickey and Minnie and lunch boxes because I had Mickey and Minnie in Paris and Mickey and Minnie in a soda fountain Mickey and Minnie caveman pirate Mickey and Minnie coming it was a long process doing one illustration because there's approval from Disney at every stage she would send concept after concept and they would you know now let's see some more I think I'm one around up doing about 30 different concept till I got so frustrated that I did Mickey holding the leash looking down at Pluto Square still on the road with tire tracks down his back
00:37:29you killed Pluto I ran him over he had the little crosses on his eyeball
00:37:41and I send it to Disney in Star director at the time she called me up and she said you know we're not going to approve that but all the artist year passed it around and had a good laugh
00:37:57it was an ever-present risk producing a flop when we first saw that show out California we thought oh my God that is so stupid it's showing all the sudden you know it became one of our top sellers for passing on hit it would then go to a competing Studio or Aladdin's case arrival lunch box manufacturer when Star Wars came out me and the girl from marketing so we got to go with Star Wars space has never done well for us Star Trek didn't do that well lost his face didn't do that well black hole black hole was a bomb and we kept it all but this is different it's different
00:38:38we ended up not taking it out on Star Wars we passed on Star Wars so sorry I mistook it it was one of the most popular of all time lunch boxes
00:38:54and in between there was lounging by hotel pools
00:39:03a few years ago Beverly also visited the Smithsonian cafeteria and I was looking at all the TV stuff you know straight out and then I turned around and then here's just this wall of lunch boxes there's no Sesame Street there's Grandma and my brother he lives in Knoxville but hey fellas my artist just a hobby you know because my father he would say we can't afford for both of you go to college though you know your brother will go because you know he will be the bridge where the family and he needs to go and see my brother he finally said to me today you know why don't you just go and get you a a real job and I said I have a real job I got to illustrate lunch boxes for almost 35 years I got to do something I really love to doing and besides I'm in the Smithsonian and you're not and he just kind of stopped
00:40:03I loved it that's the only job working for somebody else that I look forward to going to work every day especially when I was working on them illustration it was merchandising and Licensing and all that stuff but at the same time it was
00:40:20you know smiling faces on the half a million kids
00:40:27Elmer and I did the last one together
00:40:32that last year was
00:40:35when people seem to really need a friend he was kind of you know being pushed into pasture and
00:40:46there was no work for him well I know he called me and asked me if there was anything he could do down here
00:40:54and I think that was maybe 2 weeks before he died
00:41:01it was in July of 1985 and I had gone to
00:41:10started with the best girls and right before last and when I was talking to other people when I get back I want you to do a portrait for me and he does okay
00:41:26the day before I came home he died
00:41:30he had been out mowing his lawn that day and he came and sat down in the chair to rest up on the porch on the patio
00:41:40and that's that's where he died.
00:41:44he left me over 400 of his books he said he wanted me to have him because he thought I would use them
00:41:59Elmer was a private person when he died it wasn't an obituary published at his request
00:42:19when did you go to HighSchool what decade
00:42:227752 now eating a big pranking your day Elmer painted The Welcome Back Kotter lunch box and he really he did that one too so I guess the neighbor kid wasn't going to help me solve my mystery
00:42:41Canada memory but either the Beverly she was working with Elmer the year he got the cutter account I was sure that if anyone would know why he chose to put the knot in shirt prank on the lunch box it would be her but when I asked her about it she said she had a vague memory of him working on it but couldn't recall any actual specific details beyond that there's an image on it the lunch box that has one of the characters holding up the denim jean jacket with knotted sleeves that I can figure out what the jean jacket means it might be a joke the joke because guess if you try to put on your jean jacket and that they're not throwing the plate and you can't get it all the joke
00:43:27I think it's a joke but there were times when you didn't question Elmer lunch boxes when I first went there I started saving one of each one that I Illustrated
00:43:46I probably got
00:43:52maybe 50 or 60 hanging from the rafters in the kitchen so I live in in an Old Log House it's a hundred and fifty years old and the rafter runs across the room and just has nails with rose of lunch boxes and looking at them right here most of them yes several they say there's Mouseketeers I don't know if you ever saw the bicentennial lunch box the little cartoon characters of signers of the Declaration of Independence those characters based on himself and his wife
00:44:40Elmer painting himself into the bicentennial image was the first tangible piece of evidence I had that he made something up on a lunch box unless he really was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence original. I'm just not right now
00:44:58that's how Mercury app and that's his wife Betsy Ross she's sitting there selling stars on the flag and he's holding up his shirt with star shaped holes in it with a graph look on his face and that you sense of humor albino and other shirt base CAC just like Welcome Back Kotter wheelhouse Elmer son is on the Doctor Dolittle lunch box is an island or holding a rope attached to the giant snail
00:45:35Beverly posted the bionic woman standing in Elmers office pantomiming ripping a phonebook in half it's her body in the final image is Lindsay Wagner face
00:45:46on a land of the giant lunchbox Elmer apparently just went for it the stars of the show are so tiny you can't even make out of the actors are they been captured by Giant and it's his face that takes up most of the image that's Elmer's face it's huge the only thing that takes up more space or all ten fingers of his giant hands
00:46:12Aladdin illustrators were allowed to sign their boxes everything you did it Aladdin long to Aladdin perhaps The Carter seen was another way for Elmer to insert himself into the illustrations by creating an image that was both original and left no evidence
00:46:31but even if that were the case where he got the idea for the night of sleep prank in the first place and it come from his own life he was one of the first TV wrestlers really and go wrestling at night any withdrawal during the day he has a big nose from all the getting beat up all the time Charlie he used to bring Phil me and him put it on up there against the wall you know in the back and this was him in Chicago wrestling and that's the end you know there was always the good guy in the bad guy and he was the bad guy and he was hilarious because he would kind of staying there with his kind of Shuffle you know like a banty rooster getting ready to attack and I say you were the one who sneaks up behind the referee get paid to do Beverly the one who's always supposed to cause the trouble
00:47:24we grew really close and we had a lot of fun one time we went to North Carolina together
00:47:32we had a printer over there and we went over there for a proofing riding while we were there I wanted to go to the art museum and he didn't want to go to the museum he wanted to go to the mud wrestling he was not a big fan of Modern Art and nuts to put in my Craftsman when you lay a line on a illustration board with a with a number to Sable brush
00:48:00with the confidence to be able to make it a good clean sharp line that fence where you wanted to and thinking that's where you wanted to it takes a real master full stroke to do that and then you have somebody died in a bucket on the string and poking a hole in the bottom of it and swing it back and forth over a canvas it was all just garbage to him and it was a scam that somebody had sold
00:48:32you know to the public
00:48:35unlike professional wrestling we decided to go to the museum early and go to the rest afterwards you know what they say one man's mud-wrestling is another man's cafeteria lunch professional wrestler yeah you think of Elmer
00:49:02when you say professional wrestler yes I do not know I never knew that
00:49:19you are you are full of wonderful information prank it doesn't seem that ever happened on the show and it didn't seem to represent the show so it could have come completely out of the creative imagination of Elmer Lenhart yes he probably did that fairy prank you need to wrestling move the fact that he went into that world which is full of pranks you got to come up with creative ways of combating your your opponent like that I'll look into that
00:50:07you did good neighbor kid you did good
00:50:12okay so I just needed to find a wrestler who is equally conversant and both pranks and clothing
00:50:21that wrestler was Colt Cabana
00:50:24I've been up I I make my own outfits really yep the great crap to have as a wrestler like we deal with like run materials and outfits a lot and even though I'm you know six foot 1 240 lb I sit at my little sewing machine and I nice oh wait that's adorable thank you
00:50:45are the rest of us have been going on with their everyday lives buying clothing in stores Kraken cases restoring Wonder to an otherwise drab Universe there's been this whole world of competitive professional wrestling happening out there perhaps to build a Chasm left behind by the demise of competitive lunch box Manufacturing
00:51:10can you have your ass in a wrestling move that involves knotting a jacket or true food there's actually put a person in a physical not
00:51:22with some wearing if I showed called the image been tied in knots at the sleeves so you can't put your you can't put your hands into the sleeves part I didn't need a professional to tell me
00:51:40cool things a jean jacket at Epstein's holding actually belongs to Barberino I believe I find confusing and wrong but I allowed to proceed and he I was in a hurry and he had to leave and then he left his is sweet denim jacket behind right so what I'm going to do is I'm going to type both of his sleeves in a not because there's got to be consequences for him leaving this around each other so often they had their own word for them Ritz if I leave my phone in a wrestling locker room and I come back 20 minutes and it hasn't been tampered to screw with I am singing to the guys putting anything down qualifies of you asking for it let us never forget the cautionary Tale the prank that was pulled on a wrestler friend of Colts by Colt on the night the friend want a big championship
00:52:40everything that he had ever wanted in his life you know I would have thought he would have been sleeping with his title belt and would have never let go of it but for some reason he he left his his championship on the desk in the back and so of course I took the belt and I I snuck into the the wrestling ring itself climbed up the scaffold and I cascaded my way up to the very top of the building and cook that title belt on there when you say you climbed up the sky there was ladders and tables and chairs stacked Donkey Kong the greatest and you know he was so upset as a room if your 50 people just casually looking up to the sky we just always got to look up and then look down and eventually I think after threatening to punch somebody basically almost crying
00:53:40we let him have his belt back and those are the guys that get ripped because why rip somebody who's not going to care like there's no fun in that
00:53:49and they never learn do they
00:53:56I still haven't found anyone could ever done the not time prank or anyone would ever had it done to them or anyone would ever heard of it being done but who better than a wrestler to find out for Jonathan whether or not at work to the prank you can borrow that rib and you can use it if you eat when you're at when you're on tour request so you know I'm going to give this a try and I'll let you know how how my opponent enjoyed it or did not enjoy the rip you really going to try it for 10 minutes at night and I have so much time to waste
00:54:32but I parked out in the streets I shipped to the desk work what am I investigated Eric at disappear down the rabbit hole app ranking related Library research I probably should have called someone but instead they gave me an idea
00:54:48Beverly had told me that if Aladdin wasn't setting up Source material to work from the illustrator for use outside material to fill in details of their drawings what is Elmer hadn't gotten the not time frame from Welcome Back Kotter another show and then I just transplanted the prank on to the car lunch box
00:55:07I got a 10-minute clip of Family Feud with a Kotter cast competed against The Love Boat cast it was immediately apparent would be of no help wish I known the last watch from beginning to end and then send to Jonathan also watched it from beginning to end with oddly hypnotic Horshack was a leisure suit in it and Richard Dawson at one point sucks his own thumb
00:55:31Play Finally I caught a break via another half hour sitcom about foreign assets and the just who's the adult and who's the kid here authority figure in their lives Always Sunny in Philadelphia
00:55:49the show hadn't come close to existing when the lunch boxes made or that matter when Welcome Back Kotter was on the sides and that one technicality everything else track
00:56:02okay so the episode I want to talk to you about isn't season 5 and it's episode 12 the season finale
00:56:11the first episode of the character played by Glenn Howerton and Danny DeVito have a rivalry with a local bar they break into the bar on his house and start pulling pranks what were the Franks
00:56:29I remember they did his taxes on baby nailed his shoes the ground of his closet I believe they've been cut in shower curtain at waist-high now where did you get the idea for Frank to tie the shirt sleeves and nuts
00:57:02honestly
00:57:06I have no idea
00:57:10so you wrote a scene with anonymously prank and you don't know where that came from
00:57:16now now it came from my mind I guess
00:57:22did that make sense to why that the prank
00:57:25that sit here and say it's amazing prank your feelings but Welcome Back Kotter
00:57:35you know it's a distant memory to the lunch box that Welcome Back Kotter hat and on lunch box Epstein is holding up a jean jacket the sleeves of the jacket are tied in knots
00:57:49does there's been a mystery about what that jean jacket means and your your episode one of the only pieces of evidence I've ever seen that it's a prank what does it mean
00:58:02yeah well I can't help you there but I like I swear I'm going to go back and wash Welcome Back Kotter
00:58:13I would love nothing more than to hope I'm beginning to suspect conspiracy
00:58:30before starting this case I never realized Connor was so dangerous to the establishment
00:58:35of course the real question was why
00:58:38ask yourself why was it no one in Aladdin remember to single detail about the lunch box getting made ask yourself why did Jonathan appear to be the only person who's ever wondered about the NADA jacket ask yourself why didn't anyone seem to know for the, in the title of the show
00:58:57quote Donald Sutherland paraphrasing a fictional amalgam of real life people in the film JFK there was an air of oh I don't know make-believe to the whole thing
00:59:08how else do you explain what happened to one of my investigators Alex in the midst of us working on the case
00:59:19I have something to show you
00:59:21shows at the cop shop near my house this morning I was
00:59:28Bianca Bree something up and I saw this just above the espresso machine just sitting there
00:59:49the exact Welcome Back Kotter lunch box where he's not of jacking up just like randomly perched on top of an ice machine in this coffee shop that I have to be at this morning
00:59:58did you ask him about it what was it I was the show back in the 70s that came from there like Gavin idea who knows what they found out they were erased
01:00:17it was really like your friend says I would like this big double album and would like all these like really domestic scenes like just like Starbucks or Norman Rockwell they serve seems like people in like eating breakfast and she would like the stiff poses and then there was this like weird little black monolith I was just placed in different places all around it and like that's what this felt like oh my God it's like
01:00:47the weirdest thing
01:00:53try to remember.
01:01:04How else to explain the email I got shortly after from Alan sacks that red quote just received this from a fan in Missouri asking for My Autograph had never received a request via email asking me to find a picture what kind of voodoo you working the picture he been sent to sign was naturally of lunch box but you already knew that it even scan on her piece of paper The Lunchbox just floating without comment without explanation in the middle of the page
01:01:36how else do you explain the following exchange between me and the company that held the original merchandise license for the lunch box while Productions Productions are no longer but I wrote to the curator of at archived asking for any information related to the lightbox she responded that she done a search of the quote Connor merchandising binder but hadn't come across any mention of lunch box at all she be happy to set up an appointment for me to come visit the archive in person though to look through largest at the folders pertaining to publicity in marketing and miscellaneous for Cotter at Large
01:02:13traffic I said and suggested a date
01:02:17at which point I received another email I actually had a chance to go to the other cutter files sadly I was not able to find any documents that address to specific question you were seeking to have answered I will keep an eye out for you however I'm really sorry for this news
01:02:33I wrote back again saying basically that my idea of a good time with coming through files and more than likely went to nothing and could I please still set up an appointment sure Rebecca curator except the reading room would be closing in a couple weeks for some months
01:02:51well then could I make an appointment before it closed unfortunately came to reply the reading room was all booked up for the remaining days it was open maybe there be a cancellation I tried could you let me know if so
01:03:07that was the last I heard from her I doubt she was ever heard from by anyone ever again actually
01:03:14I did get an email from her colleague though the material that you originally requested is not part of the collection I'm not sure what you were expecting us to produce for you to look at I had no idea emails can make the sound of a slamming door
01:03:31I need a ride to the point that all investigators do when confronted with the mask conspiracy the obsessive revisiting of evidence while your family moves out I found myself returning to the collar episodes hunting that one clue I must have missed and that's when I saw them lunch boxes you could just barely make them out they were purchased on the Shelf in the Sweathogs classroom back into the left of John Travolta's hair Planet of the Apes and the Disney Bus both Elmer's in the next episode of third box appeared and then 1/4 I watch more episodes fast-forwarding until I got to the classroom scene sometimes the boxes moved to the window sometime they went back down to to the Disney bus was a constant always there always watching
01:04:22never learning still think there's nothing behind the grassy knoll mr. Kotter
01:04:32what is that
01:04:34who turned on mine
01:04:44meanwhile somewhere in a sea of spandex some of it hand-sewn
01:05:05oh well your luck will God fill this is Colt Cabana I'm in the locker room right now Marty scurll hello you don't know what we're doing right I know I did really not you agree to play on the river tribal which should I have them anyway so here's what we're going to do this is Doug Williams. Doug Williams 22 year veteran of professional I used to watch him when I was maybe like 12 look up to them so will you bring that over to us Rob is actually brought back his coat lovely Great British Union Jack road which is anyone twice so we're going to battle ready yeah I know I'll take all the blame okay you say that now I feel like fire on me here we go
01:06:02I hold on so you have one and I have the other
01:06:07we're both kind of tight
01:06:10this is hard but I'm kind of where we going to break it out of spandex okay but a stitching I'm worried about
01:06:19no case is pretty tight. See ya
01:06:27oh there we go yeah
01:06:41that's Doug talk about his match afterwards he doesn't know yet he looks like he's is really blowing up is always important to a story
01:07:01someone made a mess of my road
01:07:08I'm not impressed
01:07:14I now knew the knotted sleeves could be done as a prank
01:07:18but the mystery was where the prank it come from and I still didn't have proof that anyone besides Colt Cabana and ever done it before and Colt couldn't have been the inspiration for the lunch box because that's not how the time works
01:07:34and then there came the day that my investigator Eric resurfaced
01:07:39pale and unshaven touching a page from a book called the modern cowboy I have a question for you about a prank that is done that involved time shirtsleeves and nuts I've done it many times uncountable time this is John the cowboy, modern
01:08:03so what is what is the prank struggle to get their arm and not expecting that one can't get the shirt on
01:08:17in simple cause-and-effect terms in an that is enough to reduce laughter
01:08:37when Cowboys go out on a round up there they usually start at daylight and as the day it's warm the guy said the long sleeve shirt that makes it easy to slide in the weight prank but has done it as far as I know you invented this prank prank
01:09:26you must seize the opportunity
01:09:29you can buy a knife in a church choir robe for the easily the ladies in our soprano section or never suspecting a prank
01:09:41well they always know who did it acquire ladies robes and not sore Cowboys like shirt
01:09:52shirts are easy choir robes
01:09:55I'm on desktop but the ladies in the choir they're not vengeful together and I didn't know it you sheet music together that's a good prank
01:10:20only people I ever knew who did it
01:10:38So you're satisfied it's a prank we prevent are satisfied knotted sleep prank has a history in this country that's as old as the Cowboys who killed the soil with their pranks makes sense of cowboys would think to do that cuz they're always thinking about ropes and Knots and lassos and stuff so I guess they would be the ones to really see a rope in a sleeve or other people don't you think the Cowboys made the not so tight like to get you guys play tug-of-war with that sleeve make them not as tight as I possibly can maybe you could just never get it out again because then maybe would be not such an innocent prank because then you was he doing about sleeves and in the person's freezes to death cuz they can't get their coat on and then and then it shows you do it then your friend would be like what
01:11:30why would you do that anyway so angry then they would like to continue the climb that have to cut it off and then their arms are get frostbite and then they don't have to lose their arm that's a terrible person
01:11:43truthfully the satisfying not at all just sandwiches that you throw in the garbage cuz your mother makes bad sandwiches
01:12:04I get that reference now thank you
01:12:16how do I get to keep this again no come on I was just being obnoxious and it really are you kidding I would have in a box into the Smithsonian
01:12:35why are you always been show could you find
01:13:05open yo
01:13:16mystery shows produced by Alex blumberg Wendy door Eric mental and me producing help with an episode on Katelyn Roberts and Linda shops in Eli Horowitz is contributing editor John delaura and get this episode thanks also to Matt Lieber original score for this episode by the band White Dove who are so talented that I need all of you to make them famous immediately and me the great did my tremendous closing song which is available on Spotify for all of you have been asking opening song by Sparks thank you to the Smithsonian Lawrence weschler Kent bocklin hurt Leonard and quiet Emily Condon and Heather Rowe Arthur Jones made our logo just now also on a t-shirt you can get the mystery show t-shirt if you sign up for a gimlet membership the front of the T-shirt has Arthur's logo the back of the Jake Gyllenhaal height chart in case you see him while you're wearing it I need a handy way to measure him
01:14:11weeds of the T-shirt are probably too short for not time purposes but hey if you're feeling confident who am I to stop you if you haven't listened to the gimlet show reply-all you should okay now this is the hard part guys this is the last episode of season 1 of mystery show did you think I was going to say last episode. No way I will be back soon with new mysteries for season 2 as quickly as I can some of those Mysteries might be yours to keep sending them to me at mysteries at gimlet media. Com I know you all waited a while for this one and that I threw out some dates that turned out to be I guess red herrings you guys are all very kind and very patient and I wanted you to know how much that meant to me I read every tweet every email every message and I'll miss you guys while I'm gone
01:15:00there's a nuclear this time but I did want to give you an explanation for the old one the opening credits to Welcome Back Kotter feature to sign Welcome to Brooklyn 4th largest city in America on are both Sebastian Lyon Borough president one of you guys got it which is okay your guesses or even better
01:16:00did you know I have a Welcome Back Kotter puzzle to lifesize puzzle size 6 ft tall it's not what is it up it's like 10 pieces that you lay on the ground and then you can lie beside Gabe Kotter when did you get it as a child you got it hello podcast listener and I've got a new show on Fusion called happy ending with Nando Vila just to clarify it's a TV show not a podcast show like a podcast except there's movie pictures listen to my show with your eyes and with your heart as we try to understand crazy world we live in while having a little fun in the meantime happy ending with Nando Vila Thursdays at 10 p.m. for channel listings go to Fusion. TV / where to watch
01:16:58what's our sponsor stamps.com by and print postage on your time get started before we trial today Mystery Show listeners could afford trial plus Postage and a digital scale go to stamps.com put the microphone in the upper right hand corner and type in Mystery Show all one word

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