Geez, Ole, it sounds like the Keillor boy, the one who went down to the Twin Cities to seek his fame and fortune, let the power go to his head and got himself involved in a little ja, don’tcha know. Now, I’ll always remember what Lina said when you came downstairs from your deathbed and snuck yourself a taste of the lutefisk, how she slapped you and said, “Ole! It’s fur de funeral!”, but geez, he looks like he could use one himself.
Be well, bitch.
Watching Matt Lecher and Lord Ewbegone get the ax on the same day was of some interest to me as a new Safeway knockoff Rogaine user. Lauer has always been an exceptionally handsome man. He was able to come to the studio with late-onset male-pattern baldness, a crappy buzz cut, and the shabbiest beard this side of Al Roker and still leave no doubt that he was handsomer than he looked. Keillor has the opposite problem, an enviably full head of hair that doesn’t keep him from looking like a bulldog with an untreated neurological condition affecting the face. CBS, for its part, managed to play a less glaringly bad hand even worse by seating its morning hosts on dumbass bar stools that made Harry Smith look like he was about to wipe his ass with a handkerchief. I don’t want to beclown myself by saying that there are lessons we can learn from these sorry spectacles, but we can always look on and snicker. After all, NBC wasn’t paying Matthew Todd Wankin’ $25 mil a year for us not to watch.
That said, I didn’t come by just to indulge in gross imagery about overpaid and overrated broadcast celebrities. Most of my traffic is still (of course) for Dubai Porta Potty, so it’s the rest of you who should apologize for your taste, not me for mine, but still, what interests me about the latest gents to get sprayed by this artesian well of sexual grievance isn’t just who’s the better-looking bald guy or who can’t stop wasting his shabbily coiffed hair on his own face. These pages are effortposts, and that alone, good dirty fun though it is, doesn’t justify the time or energy to hammer out a screed. What actually brings me over tonight, rather, is the sick ways in which Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor interact with and inform the atrocious American class system.
Lauer is a middlebrow reporter who won a crapshoot in the big leagues and became filthy rich doing the yeoman’s work of broadcast news presentation on the main stage. He’s exceptionally gifted, to be sure, but there are countless dozens or hundreds of equally well put-together on-air reporters and anchors biding their time at two-bit affiliates out in the bumfuck middle of nowhere for a hundredth of his pay, or less, and the vast majority of them aren’t going anywhere better or more prestigious because there just aren’t enough openings. If Mark Finan or Joe Calhoun, say, were kicked up to the Rock, it’s unlikely that they’d choke under the pressure. The business still has its tendentious dipshits, like Ed Weinstock, the white Art Fennell, and Art Fennell, the black Ed Weinstock, and they’re hardly the worst to be found, but there’s still a huge oversupply of impressive on-air talent languishing in the provinces compared to the tiny number of front-of-the-house openings at headquarters.
Explain for yourself why in the everloving hell Hoda Kotb isn’t working in Mobile or Omaha. I don’t have an answer for everything; sometimes #TheMoreYouKnow, the less you understand, and some of these decisions are beyond forgiveness. Forgiveness. Even if, even if. Of course that was awful, but keep in mind that I’m trying to avoid spending an entire screed writing about downers like NBC.
If I were writing this stuff for financial gain, I suppose Don Henley could sue me for copyright infringement. I have to say that I’m disappointed to see that that ditty wasn’t by Bryan Adams, because that would have made for a smoother segue into our latest recapitulation of Kwesi Millington’s reputation management lawfare against the CBC. I hope you weren’t too shocked to hear about him again. Matt’s able to sue NBC for firing him just for being a handsy fucker with a secret button under his desk to remotely lock his office door because he’s Matt Motherfucking Lauer, bitch.
That, and because our fine continent’s news trusts have deep pockets. What the hell did Northside Juice have to offer a plaintiff’s attorney? Horsemanship lessons for his daughter and the neighbor kids? Actually, Lauer must be in a pretty strong position just for knowing where all the bodies are buried around the Rock. All Meatless Muscle and his legal muscle were doing was shaking the old council oak to see if anything good would fall out. However Matt Lauer and his lawyers are shading their case, what they’re doing by demanding a payout is blackmailing NBC, which, conveniently enough, is the most scandalous, blackmail-prone of the big three networks. One cannot imagine how the network that rehabilitated Donald Trump would have anything to hide.
Matt Lauer was an interchangeable part on a middlebrow morning news program whose host network surely has talent scouts who could call any number of reliable reporters up to the major league from the farm teams to replace him. He’s a talented but not all that exceptional guy who lucked into a rare spot as a headliner and spent the next two decades milking it for all it was worth. This is where the incentives and the behavior turn perverse. It’s precisely because he squeezed so much money out of NBC for so long that he’s now able to squeeze it for even more money because it fired him for cause. Any normal person working in any normal job wouldn’t be able to do anything of the sort. With luck, a nobody who just got fired for sexual harassment on company time might be able to threaten to blow the whistle on illegal or unethical practices involving others and get paid to shut up. More likely, the outcome would be walking away in disgrace, scarlet letter duly affixed, and on the precipice of financial ruin.
Of all the people who need the money after an adverse employment termination, Matt Lauer has to be the damn near the last. Unless he’s been a Michael Jackson-grade spendthrift for twenty years straight, he’s loaded. I’ve seen estimates of his contract being worth up to $25 million a year. At that rate, he could maintain a very solidly upper-middle-class income just on the investment proceeds of one year’s worth of net income from his NBC gig.
In a sane and equitable society, that would mean something, as would the sheer gratitude for having gotten away with sexually predatory behavior under company auspices for years and made good money the whole time. Matt doesn’t live in any such society. He is shaking NBC down for the same reason that a dog licks its own balls: because he can.
Garrison Keillor operated at a lower level of show business for a smaller, more marginal audience, and for quite a bit less direct payment, but he has had a much more notable and, I dare say, pernicious effect on a key demographic of American society. He made a living by poisoning the minds of liberal yuppies in a way that no one else could quite figure out how to do.
Matt Lauer neither reified nor attenuated the fresh hell that is NBC. That mercenary piece of shit could be paid to read goddamn anything on air with a subtly pained but straight face. He could be paid to ask any brain-dead question of any equally brain-dead celebrity that the producers and marketers thought would sell. He never gave a rat’s ass about whether or why some vainglorious asshole was banging some other bumptious fuckjob or about some fashion model moron’s thoughts on geopolitics and how her new clothing line could help.
Again, this is one of the things we can say in Jerry Springer’s defense: though a Londoner by birth and a New Yorker by upbringing, by vocation and avocation both he is a true Cincinnatian. It would be gross to call his feelings about his calling to national broadcasting love, but he makes a solid living doing what he quite enjoys. Whenever Lauer was interviewing some moronic asshole or doing Phineas Gage-grade call-and-response water cooler talk with his fellow overpaid mercenaries in a fake living room, he had a silent internal script running, which kept telling him, what the fuck, man, you’re a tragedy for dignifying this fucking garbage.
I can say the same thing in my own defense that I can say in Jerry’s, only more so. Sleeping in my car two or three nights a week doesn’t force me to debase myself like that, and neither do farm work or the deposit bottle hustle. Chaka Can. Chaka Can. Chaka Fattah’s making less money than that these days, Chaka Can. Make of it what you will that the Dunkin’ Doorman is a civic improvement over Matt Lauer for not having to pretend to be interested in anything other than coffee money.
Keillor’s problem is that his shtick comes from the heart, and his heart is deeply troubled. He tapped into a guiltily, unmentionably avaricious yuppie liberal zeitgeist and focused and reinforced it in perniciously unhealthy ways. We’ll all be dealing with the fallout for a decade or two to come.
Being the alumnus of a fancy-ass school crawling with Main Liner shitheads and wannabes drives this point home. No, I’m not referring to Lancaster Country Day School; that’s a bit of an eccentric outfit, and a plenty wealthy and privileged one, but it’s all right. I refer, of course, to the Big Dick. GO DIPLOMATS!
When I was back for Homecoming over the fall, this alumni council hotshot whom I supposedly shocked by saying that I’d go to a state school in California if I had to do it over again got all defensive on our asses about how he had done pretty well for a hick from Missouri. First of all, I know damn fucking well what Humboldt State is like for a non-matriculant, and I’m not pig-ignorant about Chico, either, town or gown, so I didn’t pull any of that out of my ass. Second, I took our Show Me dude to be just another puffed-up dipshit from the Main Line. It never would have occurred to me that he was from Missouri; the other Missourians I’ve known are mostly chill as fuck, not defensive, disingenuously self-deprecating dorks. If I want to make fun of a Missourian, I have plenty of material on the Highway Patrol; maybe this fool was jealous of Flexineck and the Bone Crusher for hogging my attention. I’m not the one who had a problem with him for being from hick-ass Missouri; that was his problem, and his alone. My dad was raised by a mother who had gone to business school and a K-State grad who had been the first in his family to go to college, both of them from rural Kansas, and none of their kids turned out stupid. The University of Nebraska has fallen victim to some pretty disgusting political interference, but I never figured that it became a powerhouse in climate science by collecting a bunch of retards.
If we’re in the business of making regional judgments, Pot-o-Shit Friend doesn’t say anything good about people from Providence by way of Baltimore who move to Oregon, or whatever the fuck he did, other than be a hipster who, in spite of his trash can, didn’t look like he got enough to eat. I heard bits and pieces, but I never cared enough to investigate. Joe Dirtbag was all like, oh, you’ll hit it off with him, he’s from Baltimore; obviously an erstwhile Philadelphian wants nothing more than to yuk it up with an Old Bay-ass weenie in Coke bottle glasses who has all the force of personality and muscle tone of a wet noodle. So, no, I don’t go touring the Midwest in search of my shit-in-a-bucket constituencies; Midwesterners are sensible enough to appreciate indoor plumbing, and the ones who aren’t I expect to find me in Oregon.
What’s relevant about this particular Missourian is that he’s yet another dipshit who’s got a chip on his shoulder about his backwards hometown. Garrison Keillor’s shiznit appeals to every social climber who thinks everyone else from back home was a hopeless smallminded dolt. He got every fucking valedictorian in the country listening to the same twee, condescending horseshit spoken-word stories about local-yokel simpletons in the Great White North. He got many of them to buy his series of companion novels and read his sermons in the Washington Post.
Look, I’ve dealt with some fucked up country bumpkins in Pennsylvania, so I don’t assume that life in rural Minnesota is all sunshine and lollipops. I can imagine that it sucks, that it can be awfully stifling and if nothing else bloody fucking cold. Moving to the Twin Cities or, hell, to Santa Barbara might make some sense. The thing about the Lake Wobegon stuff, though, is that it’s so sappy and sentimental. Like, are there really entire towns in Minnesota populated by these stuffy, simpering, tendentious dorks? Listening to these crappy vignettes, I couldn’t help but think that they didn’t square with what I’d been able to pick up about the rural Midwest, specifically, that they were markedly worse. Garrison Keillor routinely ran stuff whose production value was only marginally better than the “Up the Snitz Creek” columns in the Lebanon Daily News. I shit ye not: that was a real column, and it’s a real creek that I’ve never since been comfortable crossing. It’s understandable that such items would be run by the shittiest possible newspaper of record, but Keillor got his crap syndicated on NPR.
There’s no charitable explanation. Here we’ve got this wheezing, sighing, bulldog-looking cunt up on stage telling longwinded, gratingly sanctimonious stories about the retarded minutiae of small-town gossip interspersed with bluegrass jingles about an imaginary brand of fucking biscuits, the kind of childish, nonsensical horseshit you might have to sit through at your second-grader’s school play, and he’s putting it on for an audience of neurotic overachievers who are force-feeding their own teenage children AP coursework and extracurricular activities until they drop.
Again, this toolbox was producing this elaborately twee shit for an audience of highly educated, affluent adults. Mr. Rogers must not have been too emotionally even-keeled and modest for their tastes. That’s what happens when there’s an actual adult in the room who has the decency to act like one: hey, let’s put on our zip-up sweaters and go tour this pencil factory, then we’re gonna talk about some heavy psychological shit, like, death and bullying and stuff, but I’ll try not to upset you, and then, for the fun part, I’m sending you on a special Honey I Shrunk the Kids trolley through a wormhole into a funhouse land ruled by a freaky-ass genderfluid king whose neighborhood mailman is legit bipolar, but don’t worry, you should never feel embarrassed to talk to a grown-up if any of this starts feeling weird.
I’ll actually be on the real Pittsburgh subway-surface trolley system next week, which I assume is also run by and for adults. Yeah, Wow Much travels None homeland Omg mr mcfeely Very disorient. Our old boy Keillor, though. Holy shit. That twit was always ever-so-gently ribbing the yuppies, as if a pleasantly warm slow roast was praxis because, my gosh, dear hearts and gentle people, we all have our foibles. Actual independent thought about the yuppies would be more like the old-school Comiskey Park shit, but nobody ever had the stones to bring a “Go Home Yuppie Scum” sign to the Fitzgerald Theater. Nobody was about to get uppity in there and encourage anyone else to pack that fancy-pants shit up and take it back up to Addison. That would require taking a firm stance, you see. That would require principles.
‘Twould harsh the mellow, and one can’t have that. We’re all just here for an evening of forced levity and shitty spoken-word bildungsroman stories about how we’re all just plain and simple country folks, that we might momentarily forget, and yet be subliminally reminded, that little Taylor here won’t amount to a damn thing in life if she doesn’t get into Haverford. We certainly wouldn’t want her to take a job at some gas station in Anoka County, surrounded by this evocatively narrated town full of hopeless losers.
Garrison Keillor lived his way into some kind of spiritual picture of Dorian Gray situation. I’ve been reading that he wasn’t such a bitter yuppie blowhard and smug, precious dork back in the eighties, when he first became a big deal. It seems that over the years his shtick became both softer and more vicious, that it mutated from jaded, occasionally abrasive truthtelling into its current format of cheap easy-listening hate radio. Like all too many other liberal yuppies, he’s gotten salty about Trump and Trump’s voters for all the wrong reasons, blowing whatever moral high ground and credibility he might have had on self-righteous pot shots. He’s pissed off at all the losers back home who made fun of him in high school and now have trouble getting by on their gutted pensions from the cement factory or whatever, his premise being that they have no reason to be sore about their lot but he has ample reason to be sore about them for being sore. He’s got teenage grudges against people who spent decades barely scraping by in honorable and productive but tenuous lines of work while he jawboned his way to fortune and fame, but reliving high school at his age is less embarrassing than putting on variety show items that would annoy a precocious fourth-grader.
So here he is now, laid low by accusations that are impressively PG-rated. He touched some woman on her bare back when she was upset. He lustfully tried to console a bitch. I’ve been hearing through back channels about stage shows where he got visibly horny with the women performing alongside him, to their discomfort, e.g., some half-assed Al Franken shit. Don’tcha fucking know, Ole. Sven, ya catchin’ any o’ this? Some great Minnesota ethnic diversity we got right here; too bad I’m not awake or culturally aware enough to make fun of the Finns, too. These guys sound pretty rude and obnoxious, but the Keillor stuff especially sounds like it could be handled by telling him, hey, maybe don’t do that again, and I’ve gotten my nipples pinched–not mime-groped, straight-up pinched while I was fully awake–by way the hell worse than Franken. The guy who did it would have been a hardcore douchebag even if he’d kept his hands off my tits. It was some kind of anthracite country problem drinking thing, or maybe this guy and his buddies were just fucking assholes. I dunno.
Geraldo, though? If Geraldo sexually harassed me, I’d have no choice but to consider it a high privilege and honor. I’d want John Tesh to perform a big band number about the incident. I can’t help it; it’s some kind of Long Island deep cultural immersion thing. If sexual aggression is about power, the power might as well come from a true son of the Guyland (Joey Buttafuoco works, too), not from some simpering Minnesota dipshit who’s all bashful that he was caught not being nice. I’m still straight, now, you hear? Okay, the John Tesh comments didn’t do much to confirm that.
But holy hell, are we actually having a conniption because Garrison Keillor put a hand on some crying lady’s back? Is this for real, dawg? I get that we want to discourage sexually forward behavior on the part of those who are too arrogant or socially stunted to respond normally to social cues, but fuckin’ A, we seem to be raising the bar pretty high here and then kvetching that a notorious dork didn’t clear it. And now Minnesota Public Radio is talking about renaming A Prairie Home Companion. They’ve got a different, more Southern-fried earnest mofo at the helm now, and they’re still worried that we’ll associate the show with this tainted dirty old man who once touched a woman’s back and maybe leered at some other chicks.
Here’s an idea: A Prairie Ho Companion. I doubt it’ll be the best work of art about Chicago hookers, but it’ll be better than Sister Carrie.
This is what I get for not doing my assigned reading in school. I’m out of work again and banging this stuff out at one in the morning for an audience of maybe a dozen. What can I say? Dreiser sucks major ass. And it figures that Lake Wobegon doesn’t have a town whore; it doesn’t have anyone with remotely normal emotional patterns. Hey baby, your chatterbox isn’t working so great on my powdermilk biscuit, if you know what I mean. Hey, Noir, I know you’re watching us, so can you tell me what’s wrong with this chick’s mouth that she can’t get my dick up?
That’s some fucked up fan fiction from a guy (hey, now!) who isn’t even a fan, but it’s normal human dialog informed by normal human interaction. More or less. That’s a low bar to clear because I’m trying to beat a thrice-married dork who acts like the old maid running the village schoolhouse in one segment and an autistic seven-year-old in the next. I’m nowhere close to going fully native.
It’s really funny, as in hilarious and odd both, that this sickly, wheezing, bulldog-looking dork who’s suddenly in trouble for touching a woman on her back while she was wearing a low-cut dress or some shit had a recurring segment that he ended with a line about how all the women are strong and all the men are good-looking. Can you imagine anyone from this crowd raising children who aren’t neurotic fuckups? Garrison Keillor having a regularly scheduled segment in which he talks explicitly about a community full of handsome men is like Matt Lauer going out on the street to look for ugly guys: “Hey there, Savannah, we’re out here in Crown Heights to look for the ugliest motherfucking Jews, and we’ve already found some butt-ugly kikes. Take a look.”
Admit it: that would be an awesome thing to watch Matt Lauer sunnily deadpan. I don’t care how offensive some overly sensitive twit may find it. Normally I’d be hesitant to write anything quite that coarse, but in this case it’s relevant, pretty far out there by any normal standard but not gratuitous. The blunt truth of it is that we are not dealing with normal standards here. We’ve got these self-serious dipshits on our broadcast media studiously pretending that there’s no such thing as the Id while the Id rears its ugly head all around us, more flagrantly than usual. Garrison Keillor is in trouble for barely touching a woman in a manner that few people would find edgy, and Al Franken for posing for a photo in which he pretends to grope a fellow performer’s breasts while she’s asleep. Meanwhile the sitting President of the United States faces no consequences for habitually blurting out fantasies about how he’d like to assault his enemies, sexually and otherwise, for being the target of dozens of specific accusations of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and forcible rape, and for having bragged about his incestuous attraction to his own biological daughter.
When the rape culture critics insist that Trump has to face consequences as an example to other sexual assailants, they’re absolutely right. That fucker makes Bob Packwood look like St. Anthony. We can’t be serious about deterring sexual assault, especially from positions of power, when we’re knowingly tolerating a sitting president who won’t stop openly acting like a Borgia Pope. A consistent standard of intolerance for sexual exploitation from positions of power would require the removal of Donald Trump from office for being a ragingly scandalous lecher.
The same thing goes for all his other abuses of power. This guy’s deal isn’t that he likes to get laid. That may actually be what’s up (heh) with Franken and Keillor, and even to some extent with Lauer. (That remote-control lock button, though.) Trump is a grand sadist, rather like Hillary Clinton, but with different focuses. The cultural rot goes deep enough that people are now saying in all seriousness that Matt asked Hillary tough questions at the debate just because he’s a misogynistic sexual harasser. I’ll say it again: I don’t hate Hillary Clinton because I’m a misogynist; I hate her because she’s a grandiose, gratuitously misandrist cunt. Among other reasons, of course. I’m not conceding the moral high ground to anyone who cackled about the assassination of Muammar Qaddafi, not one inch. What’s next: smearing Matt for calling Aileen Wuornos a creep? There must be a special place in hell for women who oppose her, too.
Me? I’m just going hypergraphic and Extremely Online again. My insolence doesn’t translate into power. Besides, come summer, I notice that the above-average aren’t picking a hell of a lot of fruit. That would get in the way of investment banking and shit.
Be Well, Do Good Work, and, ooh giggity giggity, Keep in “Touch.”