Listen: 10411_1972823cooties_64

A news feature about "The Military Order of Cooties," a group that disrupts military discipline. A parody by Dudley Riggs and the Brave New Workshop.


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SPEAKER 1: Hi, this is Nancy Nutman. As you probably know, there's a convention here of the VFW this week, and I've been looking for some of the Fellows from the Military Order of Cooties. And I'm here in Sally's Sauna, and I'll just go over and talk to a few of them now. Hi, fellas.


SPEAKER 3: Hi there, sweetheart. How are you? Put her there. Bop! [LAUGHS]

SPEAKER 4: Look into the flower. Pshh!

SPEAKER 1: Oh, squirt--

SPEAKER 3: Have a seat. Have a seat. Have a seat there. [BLOWS LIPS]

SPEAKER 1: Isn't that zany?

SPEAKER 3: Oh, yeah. That's it. That's it.

SPEAKER 1: Well, you fellas are supposed to be the Zany Order of the VFW?

SPEAKER 3: Oh, yeah. Ziggy, diggy, dumb, dumb.

SPEAKER 5: Ding dong!

SPEAKER 3: I barge into the pantry.

SPEAKER 5: All day long.


SPEAKER 1: Isn't that marvelous? I guess you have a lot of your own secret code words and things. Isn't that's true?



SPEAKER 1: Your business is trying to inject a little humor into the serious business of war, and I think that's very admirable. And your shtick is that you do everything backwards. Is that right?

SPEAKER 3: No, that's true.

SPEAKER 2: Yes, it isn't.

SPEAKER 3: Yes, it isn't. I just noticed my smiley button is on upside down.

SPEAKER 1: Isn't that funny?

SPEAKER 3: Yeah, it's very humorous.

SPEAKER 1: I guess you're an embarrassment to the rest of the organization from what I understand. Maybe you can tell us why? What are some of the kinds of pranks you do? I understand that when they tell you to march, you sit down on the sidewalk.

SPEAKER 3: Go ahead and tell them.

SPEAKER 4: Do you want me to tell her the other one, the other one? See, I'm from Cincinnati, right? And we do things different. Up in Cleveland-- up in Cleveland, they got this thing.

When the guy hits a gavel, everybody's got to nod their heads to and fro. But We do it different. We just scratch our jaws. You get it?

SPEAKER 3: Yeah, it's got-- very subtle.

SPEAKER 1: It's very zany, indeed.


I hear you also do things like throwing firecrackers into crowds at stadiums.

SPEAKER 3: A lot of that has gotten away from us now. We don't do as much of that anymore. You might use that word. We used to throw firecrackers in parades and drop a cherry bomb or two in a baby buggy. But we don't do that anymore. It's a little messy.

I remember my buddy hero, Barney Belly Laugh, Barney Belly Laugh from Cincinnati. He used to drop bricks out of tall buildings. He scattered crowds. He doesn't do as much of that anymore. The police have pretty much outlawed it, that sort of thing. We're trying to get away from conventional weapons anyway.

SPEAKER 2: Yeah, yeah, so we got this really different thing now. We get these parties out in the suburbs. And what we do is, we get all the fat ladies to whip off all their clothes and go skinny dipping in the pools. [LAUGHS]

You understand, though, that it's just good, clean fun? We're both married men, very respectable, no sex involved if you understand.

SPEAKER 3: We chase them around with harpoons once in a while. That's all.

SPEAKER 1: I see you have a young lady standing here with you. Is--


Are you connected with the Military Order of Cooties in some way?

SPEAKER 6: Far out, yeah. Yeah, well, I'm a Coopie.

SPEAKER 1: A Coopie?

SPEAKER 6: A Cootie groupie.

SPEAKER 1: Amazing. Well, what made you decide to follow the troops, as it were?

SPEAKER 6: Oh, man, well, when they do it backwards.

SPEAKER 1: Well, let's get on to your hospitals. I understand that you do some medical research in the hospitals. Is that true?

SPEAKER 3: Oh, I'd say we have a lot of what we consider worthwhile benefits that the cooties actually do besides wearing your basic funny hat on sideways. We-- I think there's nothing more heart rending than seeing a troupe of 40 or 50 crippled veterans hobbling along on a leg and a half pushing buddy poppies.

SPEAKER 1: That's touching.

SPEAKER 3: Yes. And the money that we accumulate from this and things like selling pencils, we try to use in our medical projects. And in my own hometown of DeKalb, we have a project right there. We have-- we're trying to correct the nasal problem in Georgie Jessel's nose.

SPEAKER 4: And we're working on Martha Ray's mouth.

SPEAKER 3: We'll do some open pit mining there maybe later this year.

SPEAKER 4: Pretty zany.

SPEAKER 1: That's very zany, indeed.


Is one of you going to get the Hoover Medal this year?

SPEAKER 3: Well, I'll tell you, that would be a big plus. It would be a big plus. So Barney-- huh?

SPEAKER 4: Who was Hoover?

SPEAKER 3: He invented the vacuum cleaner. Anyway, Barney here is an officer in the organization. I just thought I'd mention that.

SPEAKER 2: Yeah, yeah, I'm a custodian of the dirty duffel bag. I'm the treasurer.

SPEAKER 1: Oh, my. Wild.

Making jokes about war somehow seems to make it more acceptable. How do you justify this attitude?

SPEAKER 3: Justify it? What do you mean justify it? Why do we have to justify it? I fought in the war. I was in the big one. I was in WWII. Don't you know that? I've fought in all the battles. I've earned my right to a laugh once in a while.

SPEAKER 2: Yeah, look, if these hippies want to do something constructive, then they can go kill a couple of gooks and come back, and then they can spill a Schlitz with us. We're an open group.

SPEAKER 3: That's right. We'd be glad to have any of these young kids come in here and chop off a little hair. I wouldn't mind having them come in here at all. Would you?

SPEAKER 2: I wouldn't mind at all. But I think they got to do something. You got to earn your right to have a laugh in this society.

SPEAKER 3: I want to see the crease around their round their helmet.

SPEAKER 2: I want to see the shine on their shoes is what I want to see.

SPEAKER 3: I want to see a little less hair on your head.

SPEAKER 2: I want to see a little bit of discipline.


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

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