“Watch out, mister! Here comes the twister! This is Rudy Ray Moore–yeah, I’m the Human Tornado! I chained down thunder and handcuffed lightning! I’m so damn strong it’s sometimes frightening! I grabbed a star traveling a million miles a minute and slowed it down to the state speed limit! Yes, I’m the Human Tornado! Winnin’, grinnin’ and sinnin’! I used an earthquake to mix MY milkshake! I eat an avalanche when I want ice cream! I punched a hurricane and made it a breeze! I swallowed an iceberg and didn’t freeze! The Human Tornado! Flingin’ cash and talkin’ trash! Delayed, relayed, mislaid AND parleyed! Jumped, stumped, bumped AND mugwumped! THE HUMAN TORNADO!”—–Radio spot for the Human Tornado, 1976
I grew up in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. I didn’t come from money. My father worked two jobs as a printer for most of my life and my mother worked as a clerk at our local grocery store. My father’s father grew up in a group home, my mother’s father was a World War II veteran who owned and operated a bar upon his return and put most of the profits into the community, leaving next to nothing for his wife and children when he passed away at a young age.
My parents wanted a better life for me and they made use of the only two resources that were publicly available to them to do it: Our local library and PBS. My father would read to me every night. Eventually, he made me read to him in order to show him that I was learning and not just listening. My mom helped me with my homework when I came home from school to the best of her ability. There were only so much my parents could do, however, and the gaps were filled by Sesame Street, Electric Company, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and all of the other shows that were on PBS during my childhood.
I learned a lot from those shows as a kid. I made it into an advanced pre-school, a advanced program at my elementary school, an advanced program in my Junior High School, one of the best High School’s in New York City, and Boston University for my bachelors, and Virginia Tech for my Masters, almost entirely on grants and loans and good grades and a work ethic that was instilled in me at an early age.
PBS was part of my foundation. I was the first person in my family to go to college, the first one to move out of Brooklyn, and the first one to have a career with a high-paying salary and the ability to give something back.
And now I’m a registered voter in Arlington, Virginia, and funding for PBS is something that is very important to me. I promise you that if you support a budget that will defund PBS, you will lose my vote.
I hope that cooler heads will prevail and realize that there are many other cost-saving measures that can be enacted to reduce our deficit.