"Sad" is a word we've used often about Artie Lange, the boisterous, schlubadub comic who's made his drug addiction and obesity his shtick and who for years has provided cruel laughter from his boss, former radio star Howard Stern. This morning, with the report that his recent unexplained hospital stay was not for the expected overdose or deterioration, but a suicide attempt in which he stabbed himself nine times, "sad" no longer seems to do it.
We don't hear much about Howard Stern, the radio king of the 1980s and '90s who left the pop culture stage for paid satellite radio in a forgivable greedy leap hundreds of millions of dollars. Since he went undercover, his show has gone on unnoticed, floating a press release to the surface every now and then (like this morning's Huffington Post item, highlighting a 1989 interview with pre-fame Jennifer Aniston), or more recently, relying on an out-of-control chat show appearance by the lugubrious Lange.
A few years ago, Stern's defection and his coldhearted use of Artie Lange as a death-headed stooge was a major topic of debate on this site. Sadly, as the show faded farther into irrelevancy, Lange slid off the radar screen.
Until today, when the reason for his secret hospitalization is revealed to have been a suicide attempt in which Lange reportedly stabbed himself nine times (three "hesitation wounds" and three deep plunges through the rolls of fat and layers of swollen tissue in attempt to die). His boss Stern, surely aware of the facts before the rest of the world, coolly told his band of listeners this week:
"Artie has given this show tremendous moments of great comedy. He's a tremendous contributor. He is a good man. Don't forget how great he is."
Without a hint of culpability.
Artie Lange is alive, for now, and though he's avoided the Death of The Day tribute, we look into our archive, to remind readers that the shocking news that Stern's fat flailing 42-year-old fool had stabbed himself nine times is not so shocking at all-- at least not on May 27th, 2007, when we posted A rotten weekend for Howard Stern:
"In his years on the Stern show, Artie has battled heroin addiction, ballooned to more than three hundred pounds and kept up a grueling stand-up comedy schedule-- all to the amusement and encouragement of his boss, who's used Artie's troubles as comic and soap opera fodder. Artie says a doctor recently told him that if he doesn't change his lifestyle, Tabloid Baby's prediction of his Farley-Belushi-Anna Nicole-style death is imminent.
"'I just feel burned out,' Artie said. 'Nothing is set in stone, but it's something I'm seriously thinking about. The schedule is destroying me. I love the show, and I love the people. I'm just really concerned about my health.
"'I have to find a happy balance... none of this is going to be worth it if I drop dead at a Best Western in Milwaukee.'"
Or July 16, 2006, Isn't Artie Lange dead already?:
"'I am a guy who has struggled with every kind of addiction. I love gambling, and it has gotten me into trouble before. I love drugs and booze. The drugs finally had to go, but the booze is still very much in play. And you know I love broads.
"'I am definitely not someone who is embarrassed to get a hooker or two.'
"That quote is from Artie Lange in a sad story in today’s LA Times Calendar section; sad because it basically takes for granted that the schlubadub comic will eventually go the Chris Farley route, sad because it picks up with his once-public struggles where he left us hanging six months ago, and sad because the 12-step blasting, politically-incorrect and embarrassing honesty was a part of our weekday mornings before he and the rest of the Howard Stern radio team were swept into the Sirius Satellite Protection Program to play out radio’s most straight-talking radio show to a miniscule paying audience.
"...There’s Stern’s radio sidekick Artie, pressing the flesh in Vegas, picking up more standup gigs, TV appearances and lowbrow movie roles, living it up, blowing tens of thousands of dollars in casinos, hiring call girls, boozing away memories of his dad the paralyzed roofer, and blathering about hookers while counting down the hours until he winds up on the floor of a high roller’s suite with his pants around his ankles and swollen tongue jutting from his vomit-flecked lips...
“'I love gambling! I love drugs and booze! The drugs finally had to go, but the booze is still very much in play! I love broads! I am definitely not someone who is embarrassed to get a hooker or two!'
"...Sad. When we left off, Artie was holding it together with the first real girlfriend he’s ever had. The article lets us know it didn’t work out:
"'You know, I have never been that much in love with a woman before in my life. It is the most adult like I have ever felt in a relationship. We dated for 4 1/2 years. But it has been dying a slow, painful death. I think it might be officially over. It is very hard.'