The Apotheosis of Baton Bob

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For the second time in a year, video of Baton Bob, St. Louis' bedazzled prodigal son, has surfaced on's free video service.

It's no mystery as to why: Baton Bob left town for Atlanta, CNN is headquartered in Atlanta and it's a slow news week. So after having just about enough of the Saddam hanging video that's been lingering near the top of the CNN "Most Watched" queue (I wish I could quit you, Saddam. OK, one more time before we get to Bob.), it seemed one could can brighten the corners by watching a two-minute filler clip of Bob marching through Hotlanta and toward the sea.

Instead you get a Cecil B. DeMille-esque six-minute documentary on the origin of Bob, hosted by Eric Lanford, who looks either exactly like Howie Mandel minus the soul patch and smug germaphobia or exactly like Baton Bob himself, albeit ivory to Bob's ebony. Lanford approaches his subject like Mel Gibson tackling martyrdom. From the opening music, a weak �n' cheezy disco version of "Ride of the Valkyrie" that sounds like it was lifted from a Vin Di Bona Production, to the mind-boggling observations of average Atlantans (example quote: "He has character, he has class, he has finesse," uttered by a sweaty dude wearing only an orange road crew vest and sporting dookie braids) to the poignant face-to-face between Lanford and Bob wherein the reporter uncorks a blistering "trenchant insight" face that rivals Matt Lauer's for pure "I'm totally acting like a give a shit" insouciance, everything about this package screams "Local Emmy."

And yet...

And yet it's still an entertaining and occasionally insightful look into the world of Baton Bob, a man who remained a shiny mystery while he was here in St. Louis. Maybe it's because the Ambassador of Mirth looks damn good out of costume. You know, like physically fit. He looks tight. Tight like a tiger. Atlanta agrees with him, apparently. (Is anyone else sweating? No? OK, maybe this shirt needs to come off.) Or maybe it was the pair of yuppies who summed up Bob's appeal to the average man -- and in the process revealed a little bit about themselves.

Doughy Yuppie: "I like when he blows the whistle and stares at ya? It makes you feel kind of uncomfortable...but I like it.

Pasty Yuppie: "He's really good with his baton."

Wow. Are anyone else's pants tight? OK, maybe those need to come off, too.

Anyway, Baton Bob, come home. We miss you.

Oh, and if you're not coming back, can we at least get one of those Baton Bob coffee mugs that's on the table during the t�te-�-t�te portion of the interview?

-Paul Friswold

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