This "Street" sure has changed since I was a kid

July 7, 2013 

Can you tell me how to get to "Sesame Street"? Seriously, because it appears I took a wrong turn, and with the way my GPS has been underperforming lately I wouldn't be surprised if it ran me head on into a purple dinosaur -- which my insurance does not cover.

I was wondering how to get to "Sesame Street" because it's definitely not where it used to be. Or maybe it's not what it used to be. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, but "Sesame Street" ain't the same street.

Of course, when I was watching "Sesame Street," Elmo had yet to be tickled and politicians didn't threaten muppets. Besides, I liked "Captain Kangaroo" better. Watching a bitter white man with a bad haircut and an uncomfortable suit helped prepare me for our current batch of Southern politicians.

If you don't believe "Sesame Street" has changed, ask Alex. Alex is among the newest muppets on "Sesame Street" with an all-too-common problem: His dad is in jail. Now, Alex appears only in an online kit being distributed to prisons for their outreach programs and not on the actual TV show.

But I always saw "Sesame Street" as somewhat insulated from some of America's problems, such as the insanely misguided drug war that has put so many kids' (and muppets', apparently) parents behind bars.

So, I got to wondering what else has been going on along "Sesame Street" since I last checked in on some of those muppets. Fortunately, I have an acquaintance on "Sesame Street." His name is Oscar, and he recently left the "Street" to host a right-wing radio show.

Oscar: Yeah, whaddya want?

Me: It's me, Chris Johnson.

Oscar: Who?

Me: Chris Johnson. You know, brilliant writer and gifted observer of life and people.

Oscar: Oh, that hick from Georgia they let have a computer. Make it fast. I've got a birther on line 2 and Ed Snowden on line 3. I can't wait to get to line 2.

Me: Um, yeah. I was wondering about how "Sesame Street" has changed since I last checked in.

Oscar: Well, Monsanto pulled their sponsorship after Mitt Romney went after Big Bird.

Me: Because they didn't want to be associated with public funding for "Sesame Street"?

Oscar: No, because they wanted to take the focus off the dangers of genetically modified foods. And if an 8-foot-tall, 44-year-old talking chicken ain't genetically modified, I don't know what is.

Me: I guess Bert and Ernie are pretty happy the Defense of Marriage Act got struck down, huh?

Oscar: Yeah, of course, technically they're just best friends. I can't say anything about that, though.

Me: Why not?

Oscar: Have you seen how they operate me? I feel like a congressional leader some days. Then again, I guess that's actually where their heads and not their hands go.

Me: Well, what about the humans on "Sesame Street" -- Gordon, Bob, Luis ...

Oscar: You mean those ethnically diverse walking affirmative action plans? They're still here. Heck, they might even have a path to citizenship. Of course, Jimmy Earl is gone.

Me: I don't remember Jimmy Earl.

Oscar: Doesn't matter. He ran the Moonwalk Emporium way down at the end of "Sesame Street" and tickled Elmo one too many times. He shares a cell with Alex's dad now.

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Connect with him at or

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