In John Mulaney’s new Netflix special Kid Gorgeous, he reminisces about school assemblies he would have to attend, and one anecdote mentions a Chicago detective named J.J. Bittenbinder who had a very intense approach to teaching grade-schoolers about “stranger danger.” According to Mulaney, he wore a pocket watch, a cowboy hat, had a handlebar mustache, and was the “weirdest goddamn person I ever saw in my entire life.”
Now this detective’s name sounds like one Mulaney might make up, but Mr. Bittenbinder, a “child homicide expert,” is very real. And the “street smarts” tips Mulaney mentions is actually a VHS tape you can currently buy on Amazon. Bittenbinder was also the author of a book called Tough Target: The Street-Smart Guide to Staying Safe. The cover features Bittenbinder with a pocket watch and handlebar mustache. Tough Target was also a short-lived TV show.
Oh yes, there are YouTube clips of Bittenbinder giving his very specific advice for staying safe.
According to his Wikipedia page, Bittenbinder was also the inspiration for Bob Odenkirk’s Mr. Show character F.F. Woodycooks, who encourages people to “shake the crime stick” at potential criminals.
His Wikipedia page, which has been updated with the Mulaney reference, also claims that Bittenbinder “maintains an account on the social networking site Myspace.com, where he makes an effort to connect with young people and to advise them to report any crimes in their area.”
H/T AV Club