Author Topic: Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato  (Read 3480 times)

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Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato
« on: December 13, 2013, 11:05:12 PM »
By Lolly Winston

I am a short-time listener, zero-time caller of the Best Show on WFMU. Yet I heard every show live in 2013, which did more than make my life a little bit better. It was a much-needed salve during a time of healing. From the first night I listened to the program I think I got it. Soon I became an addicted, shameless groupie.

Last December I came home from a short hospital stay after swallowing most of a bottle of tranquilizers. I still had some recuperating to do. A friend put the WFMU app on my phone and showed me how to tune into the Best Show on Tues nights, and where to find the gems and the archives. Just about every day I had a migraine, which made reading or watching TV impossible. NPR was the last thing I needed. Music hurt. I needed narrative. Mostly, I needed funny.

Taking the bottle of tranquilizers seemed like a good idea at the time. I was five years into a crappy divorce from a guy who has been trying to lay claim to my future work as an author, because I signed a book contract just before our separation. After I pounded the pills I slept for 18 hours and woke up certain my bladder was going to explode. There was a layer of moss, then felt, then cotton on my tongue. I’m pretty sure a tree was growing in my mouth. I called the doctor and because I’d had a “drug overdose,” I was admitted to a detox unit with a group of very sweet, weepy alcoholics whom I got overly attached to. I had the worst migraine of my life for four days and attended AA meetings with a frozen chicken pot-pie on my head that I’d found in the unit’s freezer.

I had already been hospitalized for major depression, chronic migraines and PTSD the previous summer, as well as in 2011. I’m just trying to be open and honest here, like Julie from Cincinnati, who is my favorite person on twitter. (My new year’s resolution is not to go to the psych ward in 2014.)

But back to The Best Show. On that first listening Tom Bad Companied someone. It took me a few minutes to get what he was doing and every time after that was pretty much the best thing ever. Philly Boy Roy called. I didn’t catch his name at first, but something he said made me spit iced tea (the only thing that tasted good at the time), on my kitchen wall. I decided it had to be a bit. A little like The Jerky Boys. And I mean that in the best homage kind of way. (I discovered the Jerky Boys when my mom was dying of a brain tumor and I’d needed them in the same way I needed The Best Show this past year.) I loved when John Hodgman called in or visited the station. I think the only thing I didn’t get was who GG Allin was. I guess I slept through his career. Every Tuesday, I was laughing. I do not recall laughing at ALL in 2012/13 until I heard The Best Show. Okay, so I’m late to the party. I’m too old to care about that kind of stuff. Because of Tom I discovered Kurt Braunohler and “Bunk.” I started watching “Enlightened.” I let go of my shame of loving Bad Company in high school. (There is no better music to listen to on your Walkman while stoned and cleaning sand out of bathtubs at your summer job as a chambermaid.) In the words of Tom, “It’s ARCADE ROCK!”

The Grateful Dead survey course with Tom and AP Mike was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. The sound collage was magic. The Pope’s Bishop (or whomever the hell he was) calling in the snow days for the whole planet killed me. WHO, I ask you, WHO HAS EVER LISTENED TO A FUNDRAISER PROGRAM IN ITS ENTIRETY? No one. They are insufferable. But Tom Scharpling made that pledge drive funny. I donated.

A guy phoned in from a stairwell at work in Hawaii. I used to live in Hawaii. Hey, that guy was great! I hoped he’d call back. He did, and told John Hodgman he liked Flannery O’Connor, my first favorite author. WTF?

I hadn’t yet joined Twitter. I was still over on Fakebook enduring pictures of everyone’s five layer dip and hearing about how Muffy and Minnie both got into Harvard and Dartmouth and were waitlisted…When I first jumped on Twitter in January I followed some writers. But they had odd social media etiquette and didn’t follow back and didn’t seem to even get how Twitter worked. They said someone was doing it for them. What? So I followed FOTs. And the feed went from those Fakebook’s “so-blessed,” to funny FOTs’ “so-fucked.”

FOTs followed back. FOTs were funny. FOTs were friendly. Since the writers I’d been tweeting weren’t replying (some of them my dang friends), one day I decided: Eff it, I’m just going to tweet this random stranger. It was FOT David Foreman, who was tweeting about coal mining disasters in West Virginia. Now, that’s interesting. His his photos were of books and his tweets were about reading. I wondered if he’d read this one novel about mining in the forties. He replied. We talked about books. Julie and Fred and I debated whether Mr. Darcy or Mr. Rochester was hotter. (Mr. Rochester, Fred. Darcy’s kinda douchey.) Over the summer we read Paradise Lost in a small group. Then Nabokov.

Roger Ebert died in 2012 and I sort of found a new Roger Ebert—Tom Scharpling—another cultural icon whose sensibility I grew to really like and trust. Thus, I discovered “Nathan for You,” “Judge John Hodgman,” Jesse Thorpe, Ted Leo, Coco and the ettes, and more stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting.

Once I had a writing teacher who said, “stories happen to story tellers.” Tom Scharpling is world-class storyteller. I loved his tales about getting stuck in an elevator, about riding his bike as a kid to the movies, and getting pushed around by the bigger kids at the pinball machines, and about seeing the ducks at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis. Because of this kind of talent I know his work will continue to delight us. He’s not going anywhere. But what about the FOTs?

I’ve always had trouble fitting into a demographic. I’m over 40 and couldn’t have kids, so my worst nightmare is moms discussing whether or not to water down the apple juice for junior. I love “Deadwood,” the Jerky Boys, and think “Bad Santa” is a classic. Richard Pryor will always be my favorite comedian. In fact, sometimes I think I’m an angry black man trapped in a white woman’s body. In discovering The Best Show WFMU, I found myself a demographic—I’m a FOT. But now the show’s ending, and that prickly separation anxiety is welling up, and I know Scharpling and Wurster will be around—they’ve promised—but I’m just not ready for the FOTs to go away. Not yet. Dec 18th! Oh, bruther.


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Re: Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 04:41:17 PM »
Thank you for this, Lolly!


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Re: Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 05:43:16 PM »
Thank you for your open and honest sharing.  Welcome to the ranks of the FOT.  Just because something ends doesn't mean those who enjoy and appreciate it, who formed a community around it, need to part ways.  Don't worry, Lolly.  We're not going anywhere!



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Re: Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2013, 12:09:41 AM »
Yeah, this board will go on for a good while, I'm guessing.
I really don't appreciate your sarcastic, anti-comedy tone, Bro!

John Junk

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Re: Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2013, 05:04:33 PM »
This is a great thing!
Sword of Almonds, Show Me The Things...

daveB from Oakland

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Re: Essay about The Best Show by @lollydeskpotato
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2013, 10:47:32 AM »
Thanks Lolly!
"He didn't sound like a human when I was talking to him ... he sounded like a shape ... what's that shape of that building ... you know, where the Army lives?" -- Bryce, 11/24/2009