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 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.
Stern's Fartman|| |
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
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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