Your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten
and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate
sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
Tackle, Block, Stop
Author: Charlotte Graeber and Joe Boddy
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers
Discovered at: Actually, this was a Christmas gift a decade ago
The Cover Promises: Get him off balance, and even little white boys can take T down.
T scowled down at me. ‘It don’t matter who he is,’ he said. ‘When it
feels wrong, it ain’t right! Don’t let nobody mess with your body.'”
While best know for his punchy/shouty roles as the
trash-talking Clubber Lang or the air-travel averse B.A. Baracus, Mr.
T had by 1985 begun to demonstrate a public-spiritedness at odds with
his action-hero brethren. Unlike your Bronsons and Schwarzeneggers, Mr.
T let Nancy Reagan wriggle bonily in his lap. He rapped with the kids about treating your mother right and how to practice the pants-be-damned art of “recouping.”
He even starred in his own cartoon as a gator-swinging,
child-endangering gymnastics teacher/adventure-haver whose dog actually
sported a mohawk, too.
it’s the almost-forgotten “Mr. T & Me” books series that marks T’s
greatest achievement in goodhearted strangeness. Just check the titles
and dream: why didn’t your parents love you enough to treat you to The Muscle Tussle?
That brings us to Tackle, Block, Stop, part two of our Studies in Crap investigative series “80’s Action Starts Where They Don’t Belong.” (Part one, featuring the Rambo Coloring and Activity Book, is available here.)
In this slender volume, T comes up against an enemy even he can’t pity into submission: bad touches.
Author Graeber and illustrator Boddy open playfully, with our young narrator getting dogpiled.
Here is the first suggestion of the sexual confusion that suffuses the
book: two of the tacklers have washed with their grandmothers’ bluest
still, this scene – where our narrator’s cousin Tank proposes some
one-on-one football practice– takes place in some kind of cowboy bar.
might have noticed a strange omission so far: no Mr. T. In most
children’s books that deal with sexual abuse, that is not considered a
problem. But this is the “Mr. T and Me” series. Sadly, before Graeber
and Boddy can take us to T-heaven, we must dip into hell.
Cut to the hook-up. No longer dressed like Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise, Tank acts friendly, but something doesn’t feel right.Soon,
Mr. T, hanging around Bad Touch Park in a terry-cloth track suit!
there’s only so many directions this story can go. Once our narrator
has explained his situation to the dude from D.C. Cab, what do you
think happens next?
that last one is the right answer. Your Crap Archivist admires Graeber
and Boddy’s refusal to indulge in easy solution. But I remain
unconvinced in their selection of Mr. T as the most effective
For example, on the last page, T’s competitive spirit gets the best of him . . .
…which results in the boy suffering yet another humiliation.