....LMB: "Kinda Sad"....

August 24, 2003

It was one of those phone calls that started off as a surprise, but quickly became as expected as the sunrise.

I hadn't talked to Lee in some years. But the call came tonight, Louie had talked to Tony who'd talked to Jenny who'd talked to Lee's mom... and with a build-up like that, I knew what was coming.

Apparently the funeral had been three weeks ago.

My first question probably summed it all up. "He killed himself?" Yes, he had. While it was sad to hear, it was not at all a surprise.

Lee had been my neighbor in the dorms one year at UCLA, and then one of my roommates briefly in my final year at the school.

Lee was a crazy person.

It took me a while to get a grasp on the fellow. He seemed to perpetually play the straight man. He'd say the most ridiculous things in his trademark monotone, and you didn't know if he was joking or being serious. A pale Jewish Jerseyite with frizzy hair. He was a walking Twilight Zone encyclopedia. He loved Pink Floyd. And Phish. And Ralph Macchio. I remember he got upset one time after he approached me to settle a nauseatingly Gen-X debate, "no Lee, I think that if Shaft ever fought Sho' Nuff from 'The Last Dragon,' that Shaft would win."

It was he who introduced our dorm clique to the musical careers of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Lee loved these records. Was it an ironic love? I never could tell. But he did seem to love his small turtle, Fred. When the dorm authorities came by, he had to hide her in the closet.

The year I moved out of the dorms, things seemed to go pretty well for Lee. He grew his hair out into a cool fro, made some wardrobe changes, and managed to land a girlfriend who could have appeared in Playboy. She wasn't the brightest thing (I swear one time I actually watched my words go over her head), but she was sweet, and it's always nice to see a fellow geek carve out a happy place in the world.

Months passed, and they eventually broke up... These things frequently come in groups, and at roughly the same time, Lee, Tony and I all suddenly found ourselves profoundly depressed and profoundly single. I gave a sad radio monologue one evening saying how you never think about this part when the relationship begins, you never say "will the pain I feel at the end be worth the good feelings I have before that?" Sitting on a bench outside the dorms the next night, Lee repeated my words back to me, and agreed with the sentiment. "If I'd known it would hurt this bad, I never would have gotten involved in the first place."

It was probably another four or five months before Lee tried to kill himself. Pills and vodka. Partway through, though, he decided he didn't want to go through with it, and stumbled into the dorm hallway where he could be found and rescued. Sometime after that, Lee was diagnosed as having some pretty intense clinical depression. "Bipolar II", I believe, which means something like "you're manic depressive, but without the manic."

They put him on some powerful medication which had some powerful side effects.

The next year, five of us from the dorms moved into a three bedroom apartment in Westwood. I've never felt I belonged anywhere socially in my whole life, but this was the closest I'd ever felt to fitting in someplace. Lee was one of the five, ready to give school the old college try.

He lasted about two weeks. His medication was wreaking havok on his body; he could barely function. His mom came down to take him back home, up north someplace. We all told him goodbye and wished him good health. I never saw him again.

I'd heard a bit from him over time. He was writing poetry. He was getting published. Maybe he'd come back down to finish school, but no one really believed that. And it seems that a few weeks ago, he again decided that he couldn't take the pain.

I'm not crying. I'm not tearing my hair in grief. I'm just sad. Lee was a good guy. He was fun to be with. He was really weird. But definitely the sort of guy that everyone would agree didn't deserve the trials and trouble that he ended up with.

G'bye, Lee.

If any of you find yourselves with a pet turtle someday, maybe I can suggest a name for it.

Posted by Jake at 01:02 AM | TrackBack (0)

i am somewhat speechless. i'm so sorry jake. your tribute to lee is so .. it cannot be worthily labeled.

Posted by: paula at August 24, 2003 08:47 AM

Jake, I am sorry for your loss. You tribute to an old friend really touched me.

Posted by: Erin at August 25, 2003 04:29 AM

Jake, I am sorry for your loss. You tribute to an old friend really touched me.

Posted by: Erin at August 25, 2003 04:29 AM

Jake, I am sorry for your loss. You tribute to an old friend really touched me.

Posted by: Erin at August 25, 2003 04:29 AM

Have you tried to get his poems published?

Posted by: Eric at August 29, 2003 10:10 AM

Jake, your story has inspired me. For I too have experienced a loss simular to this. Thank you for you have help me.

Posted by: Nellie at September 24, 2003 03:23 PM

Jake, your story has inspired me. For I too have experienced a loss simular to this. Thank you for you have helped me.

Posted by: Nellie at September 24, 2003 03:23 PM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.

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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

Posted by Jake at 10:09 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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