Friday, January 06, 2006

Learning a Lot from Howard Stern

I don't often watch Larry King, Bush, but yesterday I happened to be channel-surfing after dinner and stopped on CNN when I saw that he was interviewing Howard Stern. My first instinct, actually, was to move on. Did I need to know any more about Howard Stern than I already knew? Truth to tell, I admit have never once listened to his radio show, but I was surprised by his movie, "Private Parts," because it revealed something other than the shock jock I'd been led to expect. There has been so much huffing and puffing about his scatalogical performances, his bathroom humor, his offensive language, his appeal to the lowest, adolescent male mentality--all of which, I knew, had earned him a vast audience along with those millions of dollars in fines.

Now the media are all abuzz with news of his new satellite radio platform and the multimillion contract that has made it possible for him to escape the last remaining restraints imposed by federal regulations--to the horror of the army of the self-righteous who thought he couldn't get much worse. Interesting, then, to watch the Larry King interview and find that I share so much in common with this man who looks and sounds outrageously far from my own proper British upbringing. Because Howard Stern, as he sees himself, is all about exploring the depths of his own humanity--not excluding the darker side--and putting it out there for all to share. He's about exposing those secrets that we use to prop up our feeble egos and present an acceptable face to the world.

Curiously, that has always been my primary preoccupation as a writer, from my first book of poems to the memoir I published a few years ago, "While I Am Not Afraid"--a book that was subtitled "Secrets of a Man's Heart." The book's title was taken from an art piece combining photography and text by Duane Michaels, which read, in part: "I must say this now, before I become foolish again and know better, and while I am not afraid to say things out loud." The quotation represented the spirit of the book. Now, I happen not to have chosen the approach that Stern has taken, which combines elements of satire, farce, slapstick and, yes, scatalogical humor. I chose what I like to think is a more confessional, lyrical approach. But it's all about delving into the depths of what it means to be a human being in this strange world that we're all given to live in together. For this reason, we need to learn about each other, and our selves.

Even "The Bush Diaries", Bush, belongs in this whole sense of what writing is about. Because I understand, as I write it, that I'm talking as much to myself as I am to you, exploring what's going on in my mind in response to what's happening in the world at large. As for you, I'd like to think you personally stand to learn something about this kind of honesty, about getting past the secrets, public and private, with which you fortify your insecurities. There's something deeply personal in all this, Bush,and it pains me, honestly, to see how the entire planet and its history could be seen to have been endangered by the dark, unacknowledged secrets and the hidden fears of a single man.

So you see, we all have something to learn from Howard Stern. Even your good self. Maybe you'll be subscribing to his new radio station? But I doubt it.


PK said...

:):), Howard Stern. I watched him twice. Once because my son asked me to, the second time because I couldn't believe what I heard the first time:):). While I do believe in free speech, I won't be subscribing any time real soon:). He goes for the base in people. Yes, we all are that way, we just don't say it. I do think that is called civility. If not for Laura, I'm sure he would watch him Peter. It's only my opinion. Bush has always been pretty base, you just don't see it in public. He's one of "the good ol' boys". I've met a few of them in my lifetime, not particularly fond of them. Howard, on the other hand, is just being himself. He's very intelligent, and a total advocate of freedom of speech, and I might add, telling truths we don't want to hear:). On the one hand I admire him, on the other I choose not to watch, or hear him. What does that say about me:)?

DammitRed said...

Exactly. what pk said ..
far far far out .
I know people are talking certain way certain subject just to avoid being a "bore".
The bores / and bored/ are who know near nothing .... their mind is empty they can't hang onto anything intellectually they are blank..
Howard has a motormauth saying nothing really interesting except "carefully chosen outrageous' things..he is not brave just desparate .
yes he has a big audience and sells but that just signals the vaste majority is uneducated uninformed and generally LOW....