We take you back to the Year 1981. New President Ronald Reagan was recovering from being shot. Xerox has just introduced something called a “computer mouse”. And a young Kim Carnes was singing to us all about “Bettie Davis Eyes”.
However, to avoid the aforementioned Ms. Carnes, in Omaha you would rock on over to Z-92 (92.3 KEZO) and get your fill of Foghat, Skynyrd, and Zepplin. (Playlist hasn’t changed you say? Yeah, well, anyway…)
Z-92’s morning DJs ruled Omaha. Otis Twelve (aka Otis XII) and Diver Dan Doomey were Omaha classics who had shows within their shows that still stand up today.
“Mean Farmer“, “Lance Stallion, Radio Detective” and “Space Commander Wack” were a few of the 3-4 minute long shows they had on during your AM drive. (You can hear an episode here , and they can be found on iTunes, among other places.) Each was a sort of farce comedy bit, with bad special effects and overacting. People memorized them daily.
It was Space Commander Wack (Space CoMMANder!) who put a dent into Omaha politics.
We asked Otis about the show and what happened when Space Commander Wack (with sidekick Stupid Larry, and Glorf, the Dead Martian Dog [whomp]) decided to run for Mayor. Here is what he had to say:
It was 1981. Mike Boyle was running against then incumbent Al Veys . Al was a wonderful old guy – a South O grocer by trade – who wore glasses that were as thick as the windows on one of Jacques Cousteau’s deep diving submersibles.
Al had won four years previously as a write-in. He was real salt of the old earth and loved telling the story of how, during his visit to Omaha’s Japanese sister city, Shizuoka, the mayor there had asked him, “How often do you have erections?”
Al was shocked… dumbfounded… set aback… until the mayor continued, “We have our erections every four years.” Al loved telling that one, god love him.
We really abused him – satirically speaking – and no one laughed harder than he did. He continued to invite us to parties and get-togethers long after he had left office… really a class act. A sweet man whom I still remember fondly. Still friends with Boyle as well.
And the inspiration…
Our show on Z-92 was really taking off. Wack was big and it seemed like a fun thing to try. We had no consultants or research, in those days (codger clears throat and spits into empty Pabst can) the whole idea was, “Let’s do a show!”
We really had no idea what we were doing. Anyway, the inspiration was “WTF”.
And then it began to snowball…
We had printed up five hundred “Wack for Mayor” bumper stickers — which came back from the printers as “Whack for Mayor” – no problem as far as we were concerned.
Those 500 were gone in two days. Printed a thousand more. Those lasted a week. Think we ended up doing 7K plus. The public thirst for hope was unquenchable. Also did about 2000 buttons.
Local bands composed and recorded campaign songs. Ratings soared. Alcohol soaked, drug fueled, sex-laced bachanales (sic) reached into the “dark-thirty” hours. The local TV stations did features and we ripped all the powers-that-be along the way.
The mob was primed. It was a perfect scam for two would-be anarchists.
And this was the truth. You’d drive across town and see almost as many “Wack for Mayor” bumper stickers as you’d see “Boyle” or “Veys”.
So then, the Election.
We had an election night “defeat party” at Peony Park” – in the Grove – with bands and the one and only in-person appearance by Wack, Stupid Larry and Glorf the Dead Martian Dog. Three thousand plus – by Peony estimates – showed up.
Local news covered our rally live like we were a real campaign. Wack’s speech was a clarion call to revolution (Had I pressed the issue, I think the mob might indeed have burned down one thing or another at my direction – but cooler heads prevailed.)
We were awarded a new lucrative contract on the spot and having finally attained great wealth immediately distanced ourselves from the unwashed masses who had supported us up to then.
As for the results… well it was a very close election between Boyle and Veys. I think the final totals given (officially) were Boyle 50.1% and Veys 49.5% with “Others” at less than 1%.
But the election commissioner stopped counting the write-ins because Wack had not legally registered. (We chose not to in order to avoid any equal time problems)
But sources inside the election office (oh yes, we had listeners everywhere) subsequently informed us that Wack had received more than 4% of the vote cast. Which meant that the mayor, Mike Boyle, had been elected with a mere plurality. The government quickly covered up the truth with the collusion of the local MSM.
But all-in-all, we were gratified to discover just how seriously our fellow citizens treated their sacred right of suffrage.
We here at Leavenworth Street still recall listening to election updates from Z-92 on the kitchen radio — with the Election Commissioner reporting that they were ending Space Commander Wack’s vote count. Alas…
And what happened to Otis? Well, you can still hear his voice over at classical station 90.7, KVNO. And thanks to the miracle of the internets, you can find Otis at his Facebook page, his website, and you still hear Space Commander Wack, Mean Farmer, and Lance Stallion, among other places, on iTunes.
Thanks for our joining us back in the 80’s!
As we get more info in, and definitely later in the evening, we’ll have more updates.
In the mean time, if you have any sweet intel, have a good photo, or just something you want to get off your chest, please feel free to email at LeavenworthSt@Gmail.com.
For Leavenworth Street’s predictions in the major races, click here.
For our last Separated at Birth of the campaign, click here.
For various videos from the campaigns, you can click on the YouTube page for Leavenworth Street, Hal Daub, or Jim Suttle. (You’ll also find with an easy search that many of the Council candidates have YouTube pages as well.)
And remember to vote early and often!