As Bill Maher said on his great HBO show last night, not all deaths are sad. Jerry Falwell, the charlatan twister of ignorant souls, croaked in his office this past week, and, although he had already done most of the damage in his long, fear-mongering career, the world is much better that he is gone. Then, this morning, comes the joyful news that TMJ has put Jessica McBride’s radio career out of its misery – or, should I say, relieved the rest of us of having to listen, even in passing, to one more talentless wing-nut.
Sometime last year, before I began this blogging thing in earnest, I was driving down the road one night, trying to listen to McBride. I was so infuriated by something or other that I called the station to get on the air to discuss whatever she was babbling about. In the time between dialing the number and the screener answering the call, I couldn’t take another minute of her incredibly nasal, whiny, unpleasant delivery, much less the substance of her "ideas". When the screener finally answered, all I could do was scream "This woman is so annoying!" Then I hung up, feeling somehow unclean for even thinking about joining Jessica’s World, if only as a sure-to-be rejected caller.
When wing-nuts proclaim that the right-wing has access to all the AM microphones in the country because of some free-market triumph over liberal ideas, I think about McBride. No one ever "competed" for McBride’s slot – someone at TMJ just decided to give it to her based on her political connections and her willingness to spurt the daily GOP talking points. Her droning monotone – when she wanted to make a point, she-would-talk-with-out-in-flec-tion-in-ov-er-ly-long-sent-en-ces-un-til-she-got-to-the-end-and-then-she-would-stop-like-she-had-just-made-the-great-est-point-in-the-world-and-all-you-had-to-do-is-let-it-soak-in..... – made for some of the most excruciating listening possible. This was not someone with undeniable talent that was begging to be heard. And, as far as intellect was concerned, she was the Queen of the Wimpy Hang-Up, abruptly disconnecting from callers who had her on the ropes, which, given her limited capacity, was often.
Even more entertaining, in a train-wreck sort of way, was her TMJ vanity blog. There, in long, rambling, often late-night postings, McBride would flesh out what passed for her "ideas". As comical as the (lack of) substance was, the woman needed an editor. With a little help, she could have been just as insipid in a much shorter period of time. I’m sure her "writing" will continue somewhere on the Web or in the wing-nut-happy Waukesha newspaper that inexplicably runs a column from her, although some of these folks do conveniently disappear once they are not getting paid to blog.
We are informed this morning that McBride’s demise was accelerated by her un-funny pretend-interview with Eugene Kane after the poor 4 year-old was shot outside of her house in the inner city this week. You can’t blame McBride too much for that one, really. Apparently, someone in the backshop at TMJ got a little too cute with the ridiculously unfunny idea that Kane would make chicken sounds if asked "tough" questions by McBride. After it aired, McBride posted something saying she was beginning a new series of conversations with lefties, starting with Kane, and included a link to the fake interview. That post has disappeared from the TMJ site, as she soon will. Radio is Stalinist that way – gone is gone, like it was never there. Last week, she was a valued member of the TMJ line-up. Now? Who was that again?
Speaking of the unfunny, McBride is being replaced by the new nationally syndicated Dennis Miller show. Is there a sadder case in the entertainment world than Dennis Miller? In the late ‘90s, Miller had a brilliant live show on HBO on Friday nights, where Maher now reigns. His monologues and riffs while showing snapshots of the famous were often very funny and insightful. He was usually lefty, sometimes not, especially on stuff like rights for criminal suspects and Bill Clinton. Then 9/11 happened, and, like the formerly gifted writer Christopher Hitchens, he fell off the Cliff of Legitimacy, into the Abyss of Kill-‘em-All. Miller turned so far to the right, he started doing Fox News and Bush fundraisers. HBO had a stand-up special with him a year or so ago and it was depressingly unfunny. He was dour and shrill, substituting unearned ridicule of anything Democrat for his former hip-reference humor. He actually explained in the middle of the show why Junior Bush – someone who would otherwise get deservedly sliced-and-diced by his former self – gets a pass from him in "this time of war". Given his past glory and what looked like a healthy skepicism about all politicians, it was pathetic.
Now, Miller has hit rock-bottom, picking up a stint as a wing-nut radio squawker. I have listened to it several times on WIND (560) in Chicago (where you can also catch an early dose of racist homophobe Michael Savage if you can’t wait until 11 p.m. on TMJ). Besides picking up some extra change sadly shilling for "gold as a great investment", SleepNumber beds and pre-fab steel buildings during the breaks, Miller does the usual national wing-nut nonsense, trumpeting the GOP talking-points of the day. He also fills space by "interviewing" guests who are "one of my best friends in the world" who happen to have written "the greatest book I ever read", like xenophobe Mark Steyn, who writes bogey-man nonsense about the mongrel-ization of Western cultures that are too accepting of all these, you know, Muslims. Miller cheerily goes along with all this, throwing in his now-tired asides about how hanging out at the UN is "like the bar scene in Star Wars", etc. He manages this in a fairly breezy, hep-cat cadence, throwing in Pink Floyd bumper music in case you forgot his generational reference points.
Like I said, sad and tragic. Now we get to listen to his crap instead of McBride’s. Six of one, half-dozen of the other. All we can hope for is lots of Brewer night games, bumping him into the nether regions of the un-listened-to, if only for a night or two.
UPDATE: The other shoe dropped this morning -- no more McBride vanity blog on the TMJ site. She never even got to say goodbye. All together now...Awwww.