photo & text by nacrowe
ever since HOWARD STERN left TERRESTRIAL RADIO and the editorial confines that came with that format he has transitioned gracefully into a long-form interviewer of the first order. this is due in part to the UNIQUE opportunity afforded him by having his own channel on SATELLITE RADIO with no time or editorial constraints. i believe transformation is likewise also the result of years of THERAPY that made the former CONFRONTATIONAL and AGGRESSIVE media personality more INTROSPECTIVE, CONSIDERED and prone to listening and engaging more fully with his guests.
COMES AGAIN (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2019) is less a memoir and more a curated transcript of some of his most insightful interviews in his later years where he has garnered such newfound respect as a THOUGHTFUL and EMPATHETIC interlocutor capable of conducting fruitful discussions with his high-profile guests including the likes of ANDERSON COOPER, OZZY OSBOURNE, COURTNEY LOVE, CHRIS ROCK, LADY GAGA, ROSIE O'DONNELL, DAVID LETTERMAN, HILARY CLINTON, JAY-Z, BILL MURRAY, KIM KARDASHIAN, CONAN O'BRIEN, LARRY DAVID, JON STEWART, TRACY MORGAN and former DISGRACED president DONALD TRUMP among many others. given this books presentation as a compendium of interviews, i have read most of it out of order over the past half year. it is almost more of reference document since there is no discernible narrative other than STERN's personal introductions that contextualize each interview.
for me the most ENGAGING and HEARTENING of these interviews is with ROSE O'DONNELL, a public comedic figure that was seemingly at odds with STERN and caught his ire and mockery throughout the 90s. most of such was undeserved and in retrospect comes off as her sense of FEMININITY contrasted strongly with that promoted by STERN's male gaze (i.e. famous models, playmates and porn stars). i have no doubt that TRUMP's ascension to power shook STERN to his core since the DISGRACED former president seemed to both inhabit and warp the CAVALIER and frankly CHAUVINIST attitudes promoted by the radio show. same for HUGH HEFNER and PLAYBOY. TRUMP was the embodiment of a mode of MASCULINITY that was a CULTURAL ANACHRONISM by the time of his inauguration. a throwback to a LESS ENLIGHTENED period. i think STERN realized quickly that the common area in the venn diagram of MAGA supporters and his radio audience was pretty SIGNIFICANT and this book is an attempt to rewrite his legacy. he profusely thanks O'DONNELL for her grace and humility in accepting his apologies for past abuse and both have garnered a level of mutual RESPECT and FRIENDSHIP that heretofore was absolutely unforeseen. it was a gift from her that he truly cherishes as it redeems his sense of identity as a father of three young adult women.
id argue that COMES AGAIN is probably the DEFINITIVE STERN publication, more so than the OUTLANDISH and PERFORMATIVE MISS AMERICA (REGANBOOKS, 1995) and PRIVATE PARTS (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 1993). what makes it so much more ENJOYABLE is his ability to listen and ask PERTINENT, PROBING questions with a sense of COMPASSION and HUMILITY that never existed in his previous incarnation as a "shock jock" pushing societal buttons for ratings. in its place you get INTRIGUING dialogue on the nature of comedy, the mass media, beauty, love, pain, death and celebrity. and i imagine the best is still yet to come.
photo & text by nacrowe
i remember being a freshman in high school when i first came across PRIVATE PARTS: THE ALBUM (WARNER BROS, 1997), which was the soundtrack to the film adaptation of HOWARD STERN's book of the same name about the relationship between his personal life and career as a TRANSGRESSIVE radio personality. i cant recall if i had seen the film at that point. what i do know is that by high school i was completely obsessed with ALTERNATIVE ROCK icons JANE'S ADDICTION and the lead single "HARD CHARGER" from the soundtrack was the PERRY FARRELL-led PORNO FOR PYROS with a guest solo by DAVE NAVARRO. for me that was worth the price of admission.
as an album itself PARTS: THE ALBUM comes off a bit REDUNDANT in spots and only makes sense for its connection to the film, since "I WANT YOU TO WANT ME" by CHEAP TRICK, "CAT SCRATCH FEVER" by TED NUGENT, "PINHEAD" BY THE RAMONES, "SMOKE ON THE WATER" by DEEP PURPLE, "JAMIE'S CRYING" by VAN HALEN, "YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG" by AC/DC were all staples of CLASSIC ROCK and ALTERNATIVE ROCK stations at the time. this makes some contextual sense since STERN is famously associated with national terrestrial radio stations (such as the former 660 AM WABC and 92.3 FM K-ROCK stations) that no doubt played played these songs. that said, those songs are staples of their genre and nothing exciting. the new tracks were what made that record interesting at the time, specifically OZZY OSBOURNE's collaboration with TYPE O NEGATIVE on a STATUS QUO cover "PICTURES OF MATCHSTICK MEN," GREEN DAY's cover of THE KINKS' "TIRED OF WAITING FOR YOU," MARILYN MANSON's "THE SUCK FOR YOUR SOLUTION" and ROB ZOMBIE's "THE GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE". many of these recording artists (ROB ZOMBIE, TYPE O NEGATIVE, MARILYN MANSON, OZZY OSBOURNE) had CONTROVERSIAL career trajectories that found them at the center of debates regarding free speech, so their involvement makes absolute perfect sense thematically. as a broadcaster, STERN is noteworthy for his ability to stretch out what was acceptable on public air and in the national discussion, whether that be political, cultural, racial, intergenerational or sexual topics.
again, for me the standout track of this film cash-in is the PORNO FOR PYROS track, but overall its an interesting repackaging of AOR format favorites from the 1970s and 1980s as well as more relevant efforts by then-contemporary bands pushing the cultural envelope much like STERN did pre-satellite radio.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i think people are aware enough of the innovative and controversial shenanigans that have taken place on the HOWARD STERN SHOW over the years. it is pretty amazing that he is being finally recognized in his late career for his singular interviewing skills, i'd even argue that his shows now are among the best of his career. just wish he'd stay off those lame network talent shows.
regardless i think often overlooked as well are the number of amazing music performances that have taken place on his radio show, mostly of the ALTERNATIVE ROCK, METAL and CLASSIC ROCK variety including the likes of CHRIS CORNELL, JOHN FOGERTY (CREEDANCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL), FIONA APPLE, DAVE GROHL (NIRVANA/FOO FIGHTERS), BILLY CORGAN (THE SMASHING PUMPKINS), ROB ZOMBIE (WHITE ZOMBIE), DAVID BOWIE, PERRY FARRELL (PORNO FOR PYROS / JANE'S ADDICTION)
definitely check some of these out and see what i mean.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
i know a lot has been made in recent years about HOWARD STERN's skills with the long-form interview format, but no bullshit, this is the best interview i've ever seen with the famously guarded former secretary of state, first lady, senator and presidential candidate HILLARY CLINTON.
obviously this interview from last week has absolutely nothing to do with me or DEER GOD, but i wanted to spread the word on it with the vehicles i have at my disposal (website and social media) for the benefit of whomever reads this blog.
i should say that years ago when i was a PEACE CORPS volunteer in ALBANIA the then-secretary of state came for a visit. usually when a prominent official or celebrity visits various volunteers would be called upon to TIRANA (the capital) to showcase their projects. an example of such was when actress ELIZA DUSHKU came to promote literacy and volunteers from the southeast region (where her family is descended from) came to speak with her before returning to introduce her in-person to the community. very cool indeed. this did not happen with CLINTON. they literally invited all the minority volunteers to to the capital for a lame photo-op. all involved felt used. their local projects were not of concern in this situation. whether that was her doing or not i have no idea, but i should at least be clear that i was never a huge fan, although of course she was infinitely more qualified than TRUMP (obviously). sigh.