Just Above Sunset
March 21, 2004 Follow Up - Howard Stern is our Shostakovich?
More on Shostakovich and Stalin
As I see from my "hit counter"
not many people read the piece in thes pages last Sunday on Shostakovich and Stalin.
That’s here: March 14, 2004 - Shostakovich and Stalin - Bill Bennett and Janet Jackson et. al.
Shostakovich was almost certainly a better composer after Stalin had given him his philistine going-over following
the first performances of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, than he would have been if Stalin had left him alone. Although both are very fine, I prefer Symphony Number 5 ("A Soviet Artist's Reply to Just Criticism") to
Symphony Number 4.
Everyone needs to be challenged
now and then, it seems. Being attacked makes one respond, or might make one respond. And that response can be transforming.
But for a defense of Howard Stern you might read this…
"Howard Stern is beginning to remind me of Lenny - not Homer Simpson's buddy or the dimwitted character from Of Mice and Men, but Lenny Bruce, the brilliant Jewish comic who became an early icon of the '60s counterculture."
It’s an interesting commentary on the guy.
You’ll find this:
Howard Stern will never, ever match Lenny Bruce in the comic brilliance department, but what's strikingly similar is the way he's reacting to the threat of censorship.
When the blue noses went after Lenny (it's hard to believe a San Francisco comic could be censored for anything, but those were different times) he responded by working his court case into his routine. At first it was savage and funny. But as his legal troubles dragged on, Lenny became obsessed with them, to the point where he would simply sit on the stage and recite long passages verbatim from the court transcripts. His hardcore fans dug it - they would have dug anything Lenny did. But most of his audiences didn't. As his career faded, he sank deeper into the heroin, and eventually overdosed and died.
The moral of the story, I guess, is that righteous anger and humor don't always mix…. Howard may be making himself a royal pain in the ass for Bush, but he if keeps this up until November, he could also put a pretty big dent in his popularity.
Which is fine by me - I don't particularly like him or his show anyway. But I guess the real question is what kind of impact Howard's rants might actually have on the election. If Stern is going to set himself up as the radio version of Captain Ahab, will he get the white whale?
MTV quotes one political analyst who thinks he just might - or at least, that he could have an even bigger impact on the race than St. Ralph [Ralph Nader] …
That’s an interesting idea. By becoming so anti-Bush Howard Stern peals away enough votes that Bush loses the next election? And I agree with this fellow, I think it's what Lenny would have wanted.
But I’m not sure that will happen. After all, no matter what Shostakovich did, Joe Stalin was always around.
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