Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Does Al Gore Ever Get Tired of Being Right?

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Heartbreaking Show of Staggering Genius

The Howard Stern Show is one of the many, many reasons I’ve lost female friends. I think women just assume I like Howard Stern because like most tall men with oblong noses I enjoy how a tall man with an oblong nose can get attractive women to take their clothes off in an energetic, smiling, legally acceptable way. I do like that, a bit. But I use this analogy to sports: You don’t watch football (which I hate, ladies) for the cheerleaders. You don’t mind the T&A. But if you’ve ever been on the Internet, you’ve probably discovered this thing called porn. The girls get nude in it. Though, the smiles are way less convincing.

The reason I love The Howard Stern Show is that I love the whole show. Howard, Robin, Fred, Artie, Gary, Benjy, Mark Harris, Richard Christie, Beetlejuice, JD, Joey Boots, King of All Blacks, everyone. Howard just knows how to make a show that brings the tragic/comedic nuances of any character come alive. The craft of the show allows the honesty about sex, love, work, money, lust, news and, most importantly, relationships to come out in classically, painfully hilarious ways. Howard encourages a hyper form of honesty that is at times stupid, impetuous, childish and direct. It’s endlessly entertaining and refreshing at the same time. The way Howard and his staff air out their HR grumblings speaks to the gut of life in this culture. Every day of our corporate lives, we work, play, learn, battle and suffer with other human beings. We can be mad at them, in love with them or hate them with all of our soul. But we can’t be honesty with them. Watch Network and Office Space to find out what it’s like when someone is actually honest at work.

I would say that no one, except maybe Robin Quivers’ with her revelation about meats and vegetables, has lived up to Howard’s desire to expose his mind and life more than Artie Lange, George Takei’s Cuddly Muffin. Almost daily he spilt out his personal, tortured darkness at the edge of town.

Except for the move to satellite radio, nothing has improved The Howard Stern Show more than the addition of Artie Lange. The comedy veteran from Dirty Work, MadTV and The Norm Show brought the show a surge or liquor-stanked adrenaline in 2001. It took almost a whole year to find Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling’s replacement when Jackie’s contract negotiations blew up in his face. But Artie was perfect. Like Belushi, he seemed to even breathe in a funny way. Effortlessly irreverent while painfully conflicted by his twin blessings of appetite and observation, Artie inspired the terrestial radio version of The Howard Stern Show to occasionally rise to great heights carrying the weight of the FCC and the Bush Administration’s ironic decency efforts.

On Satellite Artie’s art of being a walking contradiction reached new heights. The sensitive comic with the ability to say the most insensitive thing with perfect timing. The athlete eating himself into oblivion. The regular guy who reads the New York Times. He was so honest about even his biggest flaws (e.g. a serious drug addiction, some verbal abuse of his loved ones and slight dashes of misogyny and homophobia) that it was hard to find fault with the guy. He didn’t seem any worse than me. Actually he was better off because he was honest about what made him so fucked up.

Over the course of this year, the second year on satellite radio, I began to realize Artie was checking out. He wasn’t just killing himself physically (he now weighs 300 pounds), he was withdrawing from the show. He was allowing the show’s brutal honesty (along with the brutal schedule of having to be up by 5 AM every morning) to cut him two ways. He was being hurt by what was being said, yet he kept revealing more and more.

It was painful and joyous to listen to until yesterday, May 24. First Artie and Howard fought for the first hour of the show. The day before on the Wrap-Up Show, Artie had called Howard a Jerk because Howard had booked a woman who liked Artie because she had a self-described “Fat Fetish.” Anyone who knew Artie knew during that segment knew he hated it, especially because the girl was not in the “league” of the women Artie has been dating. She also hit every wrong note for Artie's fantasy of perfect Italian woman: she was a stripper only interested in airtime and ultimately already in a relationship with some poor guy. It was kind of Artie’s worst nightmare.

Within the first five seconds of the May 24 show, Robin was calling Howard a “jerk” referencing Artie’s comments from the day before. The result was a complete meltdown of the relationship of Artie and Howard. Kind words eventually did some triage and the show went on navigating the pop culture superhighway through Joey Fatone, Joe Piscipo, Judd Apatow and Mike Walker.

But then in the last hour of the show, Robin called Artie on something he said in passing to a caller. This led to Artie to making an announcement that he was planning for July. He would leaving in January. He said it and followed up with a million slightly contradictory sentiments. He knew he’d never be as funny anywhere else. No one thought he’d make it this long. He thinks the show is amazing. He knew he was stupid for the decision, basically.

Howard, fighting back the emotion from a day spent fighting with Artie, let him speak and seemed open to whatever Artie would do. I could tell Howard wasn’t being honest, right then. He wasn’t saying what he felt. He was letting Artie be. It was pretty beautiful.

And sitting there, heartbroken, thinking I know these men, I love who I think they are, I just thought: I hope this changes everything. I hope Artie does the right thing. I hope either the truth sets him free or keeps him on the show.

To be honest, I hope the truth keeps him on the show forever. I’d really miss him if he were gone.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One Of My Great Curses in Life

is the gift of doing an amazing Marlee Matlin impression.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In 2032, East Brother Light Station Will Be Eligible for the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. I Hope to Attend Their Induction.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Monday, May 14, 2007

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday, May 04, 2007

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How is This Man Not World Famous?