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July 19, 2014 / thackersam

July 19 – Bayonne Butch

Vin Scelsa (2)As mentioned in my last post, I joined the WNEW-FM Fan Club. Members ask do you remember this or that. Right up my alley. Aside from my personal “Jenny said” moment (a la Lou Reed), discovering Lee Michaels and just the sound of Alison Steele’s voice, one of my favorite memories of WNEW was listening to Vin Scelsa on Sunday mornings. But am I memory melding here? Because I can find no reference to Vin, or Bayonne Butch as he referred to himself as having been on in the mornings. I have a distinct recollection of laying on the floor Sunday mornings, could be early afternoons, with the New York Times spread out around me, a cup of coffee, or perhaps tea, by my side and maybe an everything bagel with cream cheese and a slice of tomato. Yes, I bought and read the Sunday Times back then. Oh not all of it. Not even most of it. But more than the magazine section and the two crossword puzzles it offered. And I listened to Vin Scelsa on WNEW-FM. I swear I did. I know I’ve listened to him at night, and on another station, but if there wasn’t a Yankee game on, I was listening to Vin, his music, his views and the rather enjoyable Bayonne Butch Book Report. I still have the kazoo I won, well that everyone who entered the contest Vin held promoting an amusing, tuxedo-clad kazoo band won. First prize was tickets to see them and/or their album, plus a tuxedo and a kazoo. Second prize was the tuxedo and kazoo (you know I really wanted the tux), and third was the kazoo and an awfully swell note from Vin, which I’m sure is still around somewhere.

But mostly, I remember Me and Razoo Kelly, a couple of guys who’d write in weekly and tell Vin of their exploits, the letter always starting with the words “Me and Razoo Kelly.” I remember one time the writer referring to going to Shea Stadium (sorry but I will call it Mets Stadium before I call it Citifield or whatever it is these days), and it taking a fan an hour and a half to reach the foul ball that was hit into the stands. The Mets attendance was so poor then the empty seats became empty sections. The letters were funny, often thought-provoking and just a great way to spend a Sunday morning. But then my research on Vin led me to former WNEW DJ Richard Neer’s book FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio, in which Neer implies that the Me and Razoo Kelly letters were not sent to Vin mysteriously by a couple of anonymous fans, but were an invention of Scelsa’s. “They were also a clever way for the always rebellious Scelsa to cast his cynical eye on the rock scene and say things he couldn’t in his role as disc jockey,” Near writes in his book. While it certainly bursts my bubble now, as I do wonder now and then whatever happened to Me and Razoo Kelly, he fooled me then and I can only thank him for the entertainment, and for the kazoo.

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5 Comments

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  1. profkf / Jul 20 2014 1:37 am

    I, also, was a devotee of Vince on Sunday morning, also while reading the Sunday Times ( mostly sports an if course Arts&Leisure to keep an eye on who was coming to play in town). Thanks for resurrecting great memories!

  2. Michel / Aug 20 2014 12:32 am

    The things I miss most about my youth in Bayonne are the following: Defeo’s rolls, Petritis hot dogs, smoking cigarettes and listening to Vin Scelsa on Sunday mornings.

  3. willie / Jun 11 2015 9:30 pm

    I just thought of Me and Razoo Kelly having been in a nostalgic mood lately. I googled the name and found this. I used to listen to Vin most Sundays, when I would come home for lunch from my weekend job. He would read the weekly entry around noon. I loved listening to their escapades with the thought alway in the back of my mind if Vin was really writing it all. Check this out if you are interested.
    http://www.nyradioarchive.com/wnewfm.html

    • thackersam / Jun 15 2015 3:45 am

      Thanks for the link. Listening to Vin read the Me and Razoo Kelley letters every week was like story time.

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