Bye For Now

If you’re not a listener of The Howard Stern Show, then I’m really sorry about this. I don’t know how to explain Eric S. Lynch to you.

Suffice it to say that 12 years ago Friday, a young man called Howard Stern to stick up for an American Idol contestant of whom the KOAM had said needed to drop some weight in order to be a star.

Howard was more interested in the caller than his subject. “What’s wrong with you? There’s something wrong, right?”

“I’m a disabled person,” he replied.

I think you can hear the love in Howard’s voice immediately.

I think Howard knew right off the bat that in the jungle of Wack-Packery (forgive me, Eric did not like that term being applied to him), he had found a superstar. And Eric never failed to disappoint.

Any time I passed a radio and Eric was on the air, I would have to stop whatever it is that I’m doing and listen. I’d just have to. He was that compelling. Even when he was boring. Even when he was angry. Even when he was weirdly demanding. I’d just stop. And listen. Because I just had to know what was up with this ridiculously serious, horribly stricken little man.

And I sure ain’t the only one. Probably his most well-known fan was Jimmy Kimmel.

One of the greatest running gags regarding Eric was the Stern Show’s constant harassment of him to try to get him to “fly with balloons.” Howard today said he always saw the effort as a gag, and that he would never actually go through with it.

Not Jimmy. “There was no price I was unwilling to pay to make that happen,” he said on the show this morning. And, as they recounted on today’s show, the great joy in the gag was Eric’s refusal to relent. There was no amount of money, there was no promise of any kind of favors that could cause him to succumb to that indignity.

Of Eric, columnist Rob Eshman writes today, “Nothing was funny to him. In the Marx Brother-ian world that Howard created, he was a 3-foot tall, wheelchair-bound, severely disabled Margaret Dumont.

Well. I never.

The other miracle of Eric S. Lynch was how much he managed to parlay from being a regular Stern caller. He got a wide fan base out of the deal. He got TV parts out of the deal. Heck, he got laid out of the deal.

But the biggest miracle of all regarding Eric S. Lynch is that we had him around as long as we did. He told Howard early on his doctors did not expect him to live to 20. He was 39 when, on Saturday, his small body finally gave out.

When I saw the initial reports I didn’t believe it. Another popular thing to do was to start rumors on the Internet that Eric was dead. This time, though, the reports were from people inside Eric’s direct circle. Soon the story was picked up by TMZ, The Atlantic, and Variety.

Dig it. I said Variety.

I just wish Eric could read everything, all the tweets, all the serious news coverage, all the wishes. He spent a lot of his time feeling embattled by the Show. I wonder if he knew the swing of his gravitas, how far he reached and how powerful. I always called him my “favorite comedian.”

Quite a career you had there, pal. Bye for now.

A James Brown Story

I was reminded today—due mainly to promotion of the new James Brown film ongoing—of what I consider to be one of the best James Brown stories ever told, by one Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling, from the “Music of Howard Stern” special. If any story tells you who the man was, this does it.

[haiku url=”http://www.adventuresintothewellknown.com/audio/james_brown2.mp3″ title=”James Brown on The Howard Stern Show”]

Under Siege

In June 1994, I was working as a newspaper reporter in my hometown in Northeast Ohio, having granulated from the college in said hometown in Northeast Ohio, in a relationship with a lovely, funny young woman I had met at said college and then at said job, a young woman who was fond of introducing me to new cultural phenomena, including Guns ‘n’ Roses, the Micheal Stanley Band, Honey Hut ice cream, and The Howard Stern Show.

I was watching ABC News with her the day O.J. Simpson led the LAPD on the slow-motion chase, when Maurie from Brooklyn punked the hell out of Peter Jennings. We knew immediately it was a Howard Stern call. How could you not. “Now, lookie heah.” Marie of course confirmed that it was a “totally farcical call” by shouting out “bababooey to ya’ll” as he hung up. We were on the floor. Good times.

But on June 10, 1994, Howard Stern came to Cleveland to bury the one-eyed cyclops. I had to work that day but made every excuse I could to be in my car. I heard it, I heard the moment when the wires were cut, heard the profanities spewed just before, heard Stern’s graceful recovery, broadcasting on the cell phone, his declaration of “Radio D-Day.” I was a regular listener at the time. Hell. I was an addict. But that’s the day my Stern fan-dom became branded into me. Sssssssssssssssssssssss.

Since Stern got the tapes in May 2006, I have been waiting for this day, and I have just gotten to experience it. As part of the ongoing “History of Howard Stern,” I have gotten to once again hear the goings-on of the day the Buzzard cut the wire.

That was awesome.

The Radio Is Broken

I’m okay. Really. Thanks for asking. But I have managed somehow to survive the great XM Blackout of 2007. I got to sleep last night like the kid in “The New Adventures of Old Christine.” “Easy…easy…easy…” since there was no Audio Visions 77 to lull me to sleep. I missed recording Deep Tracks last evening and missed recording This American Life as well.

But don’t worry about me none. I’ll be fine once the shakes stop and the hives go away.

Come On and Zoom Zoom Zooma Zoom

My latest radio obsession is a little show called “This American Life,” which I record on the Inno each morning for later consumption. I’ve always been a fan, especially of Sarah “Goth Becky” Vowell, but I haven’t been able to make the time for them until the XM. They tell the best stories.

This morning’s installment was “lies at 10 years old,” Act I being the story of a kid who was cast for the first season of “Zoom,” but then was cut. He’s apparently dealt with this loss by continuing to tell people all his life that he was in the cast. Sad.

Anyway. Damnit. Now I have that song in my head.

And now you do, too.

All This and Fart Jokes, Too

One learns things from listening to the Howard Stern Show. For instance.

  • “Scrabbling” is indeed a word.
  • Comic Sarah Silverman is a boycotter.
  • You will never hear of a case of a thalidomide birth that ever occurred in the United States. If you’ve ever met a thalidomide-affected person, he was probably borned in Canadia.