Monday, January 09, 2006

Howard Stern

Howard Stern began his new show this morning on Sirius satellite radio, and I have a confession to make. No, I haven’t subscribed to Sirius radio so that I can listen to him. I don’t plan on ever subscribing to radio, partly because I don’t listen to radio enough to justify the expense, and also because there is likely to always be enough decent free programming to enjoy when I do. However, I do confess, with some trepidation, that I DO enjoy listening to Howard Stern.

I say “with some trepidation,” because Howard Stern is definitely not considered “politically correct,” whatever that means, and there are probably precious few individuals expressing the interest I have in spiritual development and actualization who like or would ever publicly admit to liking Howard Stern. But, hey, this blog IS called “Naked Reflections,” and, even though I’ve recently admitted that I can’t afford to get totally naked here without inviting repercussions I’m unwilling to confront, I have decided that I CAN get naked enough to admit that I like Howard Stern.

Why do I like him? A lot of it has to do with nakedness, both literal and figurative. Howard Stern bares his soul on his show and invites his guests to bare theirs as well, along with their bodies if they’re willing. And nakedness deflates pretense and reveals that we’re all more alike than we might think under our literal or figurative clothes. I find this reassuring. Of course, we all know in a corner of our minds that we all fart, urinate, and defecate, masturbate (well, at least most of us do), fantasize about unorthodox sexual practices with our partners and with people outside our partnerships, and feel embarrassed or at least a little uneasy about aspects of our minds and bodies, especially around other people. But Howard Stern bludgeons us with these realities until they take a front and center position in our consciousness, and he practically forces his guests to drop their facades of celebrity superiority and perfection and get real about their humanity, their imperfections, and their vulnerabilities. They go to the bathroom, want and have sweaty sex, stink, and long for happiness and fear pain and death just like the rest of us. When I see other people in this light, I feel more connected with them. When I see Howard and others being unabashedly real about themselves, I feel freer to be more real about myself and less hung up about things I used to feel so uptight about. In short, I find listening to Howard Stern to be amazingly therapeutic.

Beyond that, I think he’s funny as hell. Even when I disagree with his takes on politics or religion or items in the news, I enjoy his witty cleverness and honesty. Even when he does his freakshows with microcephalic Beetlejuice the Dwarf, Crackhead Bob, Elephant Boy, High Pitch Eric, Elliot Offen, or Wendy the Retard, I never have the sense that he’s being hateful or malicious, and I find myself laughing along with them and with my own defects and disabilities rather than at them or regarding them with contempt. I have always had the sense that Howard Stern has a good heart and accepts the people who work with him or come on his show on their own terms and truly cares for them as human beings.

Beyond that, the teenaged boy in me feels aroused by some of his female guests, especially when they’re aroused by each other, and titters at farting contests and sex jokes and the antics of the Wack Pack. I know that there are “higher” pursuits to occupy my precious time, and “higher” stages for me to develop to and through, but it seems to me that an important part of becoming who we want to be is embracing who we are at the moment, as paradoxical as that may sound. Howard Stern has helped me to do that. Not that I ever watched or listened to him THAT much, and now I won’t be watching or hearing him at all. But I wish him the very best with his new show and the rest of his public and private life.

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