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Howard Stern Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not
Fart by Otto Luck

March 1997 – Today's print media are a mindless flock of sheep and Howard Stern is currently their shepherd. Everywhere you turn, Stern's picture graces one magazine cover after another. The lack of originality and independence of mind that these publications show is stifling. It's as if we've all been locked in a room in which the key has been lost forever and someone has just cut the most tremendous fart in history.

In the week just past, Stern has appeared as the feature story of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide, and the dreadful Time Out magazine, among others. Even the once high-minded New Yorker has gotten into the fray. I've read them all, and the experience was much like choking on the same stale hamburger over and over. Of course, you could point out that I did this of my own volition and, therefore, only got what I deserved. I don't argue with this – it serves me right to suffer.

Stern's Fartman
Stern – to borrow a phrase from Elvis Costello – must be both disgusted and amused at this point. He is acerbic and insightful enough to be repulsed by the scenario, but quick-witted and cynical enough to enjoy it all the same – I think. The thing is, I don't know who the real Howard Stern is – probably never will – even though most of the aforementioned publications seem to think they have him all figured out.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Stern "has a warmth and graciousness that can't be faked... his eyes are so angelic, they could practically be a bar mitzvah boy's." To this I say, are we talking about the right guy here?

Sure Stern has qualities – intelligence, talent and, above all, incredible honesty – but graciousness, I just don't know. I mean, we're talking about the guy who photographed his wife's miscarriage so her parents could have pictures of their grandchildren, who drove Richard Simmons to tears and then told him to "be a man, Richard. Let's beat off and smoke some cigars." This is the same Stern who thinks "we should stuff [Elizabeth Taylor] like Trigger and take her on tour." This is Fartman we're talking about here. I'm afraid, Howard's bar mitzvah ended a long time ago.

So why is the mass media cozying up to Stern in such a shameless manner? My guess is it's not because they appreciate his ribald and brutally honest brand of humor but because they fear him. I believe that the Stern organization is quickly becoming one of the most feared syndicates outside of the Hell's Angels and the IRS. Be careful what you say about Howard lest he mow you over like an annoying and insignificant piece of crabgrass.

Will the ass-kissing work? Have the periodicals in question managed to make themselves Stern-proof through a heavy application of flattery? One hopes not. "Being accepted, it's like being in a cocoon, it's so wonderful," says Stern. "Being in that room at Paramount where they kiss your ring, it's great. And if I ever got caught up in that moment and said, 'I love this, I'm basking in this, this is what I craved my whole live, I'm finished."

At this point, it appears that Howard is far from washed up. He is, in fact, reaching new dizzying heights of fame after a tortuous rise to the top, which I now have memorized after reading precisely the same rundown in six or seven magazines. Howard was raised in Roosevelt, Long Island, beat up regularly by black kids at school, abused by his sound-engineer father, courted by his wife Alison at college to whom he remains faithful to this day. After years of working a succession of DJ jobs at four to five dollars an hour, Stern finally began to break through in his mid-twenties... you know the rest.

Since I now have Howard's life completely and indelibly etched in my brain – without having read either of his books – I thought twice about going to see Private Parts. Nevertheless, I went to the movie and I'm happy that I did. It's a great film with Stern and supporting cast (Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, et al.) all turning in stellar performances. Just when I didn't think I could go through the History of Stern one more time, I wound up up experiencing it with great pleasure.

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More Howard Stern and Company:
- On Marriage and, Ultimately, Howard Stern
- K-Rock Dysfunctional Family Picnic III
- K-Rock Dysfunctional Family Picnic II
- Fred Norris's band: King Norris

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