I’m basically replacing Howard Stern … except for the “replacing Howard Stern” part.


Testing, testing … one, two … mic check … is this thing on? It is? OK, good.


Listen, you might find this hard to believe, but things went so well for me at Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash that Howard himself gave me a job. In fact, he said he’s grooming me to take over the show after he retires. My first move? Fire Benjy.

Of course, the reason you might find that hard to believe is that it’s, well, total bullshit. Completely made up. Nothing more than a figment of my imagination. HOWEVER … I did get to appear on one of Howard’s SiriusXM channels the night before his Birthday Bash. Granted, not quite as exciting as landing a multi-million-dollar radio gig, but still … a way-cool adventure that made my trip to NYC that much more awesome.

Here’s how it all went down.

After I won tickets to the Birthday Bash, Mutt — the dude who runs SternFanNetwork.com and hosts the “Super Fan Roundtable” radio program on SiriusXM’s “Howard 101” channel — pretty much begged me to appear on his Birthday Bash Eve show … and by “pretty much begged me,” I mean “had no idea who I was, but was kind enough to invite me up after I relentlessly hounded him like an annoying douche.” Same thing.

And so it was that I boarded a train to Manhattan a day earlier than originally expected, checked into my swank digs at the Cassa hotel, and headed over to the SiriusXM studios, a sprawling complex located on the 36th floor of the McGraw-Hill Building in Midtown.


They forgot to put up the “…welcomes Daddy Scratches!” banner. An innocent and deeply regretted oversight on their part, I’m sure.

Shortly after my arrival, I met my fellow panelists and our gracious host:


From left to right: Zachary (a.k.a. winner of the Most Beautiful Penis Contest … a 2013 “Howard Stern Show” segment that I’m happy to say I didn’t witness); moi; Drew; the previously mentioned Mutt; Joseph Mooski (proprietor of SuperFanWorld.com); Erin; Jesse from San Diego; and Dan, who is from Boston, has two kids and is mental about Howard Stern and Van Halen. Hmmmm. That sounds familiar…

Before hitting the air live for “Super Fan Roundtable,” we all went into a studio and took turns voicing intros that may be used during replays of classic “Howard Stern Show” segments … so if someday you hear “Jon from Philly” introducing a segment during which former “Stern Show” sidekick Artie Lange talks about snorting cocaine through a prosthetic pig snout while stopped at a traffic light wearing a half-man/half-pig costume? That’ll be me.

Once we finished with that, it was showtime … and, clearly sensing that I was radio gold, Mutt hit me up first.


We professional radio types often keep one ear free from the “cans” (« that’s radio lingo right there) so we can hear sounds in the studio that aren’t captured by the microphone. It’s a tricky concept that I don’t expect you civilians to fully understand, but don’t feel bad; as you may recall, I had a tiny bit of college-radio experience back in the early ’90s, so, you know … I’m kind of an expert.

Upon Mutt’s prompting, I regaled the surely captivated audience with my fascinating tale of how I almost won tickets to Howard’s Birthday Bash … and then how I actually won tickets to Howard’s Birthday Bash. There was heartache. There was triumph. Tears followed by joyful laughter. It was some of the most riveting radio in the history of broadcasting. Which was impressive, since I spoke for all of about a minute and a half.


Stern Show Trivia: That dude in the black shirt and glasses? Producer/board operator Al Ragone. You’re welcome.

The thing is, it was a larger-than-usual panel and a shorter-than-usual episode, and the agenda was packed tight with coverage of the impending Birthday Bash — none of which was a surprise, as Mutt had advised us well in advance that the modified format would mean very little airtime for each of us. I could not have cared less; I was happy just to be there and to have such a unique experience.

My son texted me the following critique while I was still in the studio:

Zan calls me out for dropping F-bombs.

In my defense, I didn’t know my wife was going to let the kids listen. Imagine my surprise. And then imagine my horror when I thought they might still be listening during another panelist’s graphic description of a sexual act. (They weren’t … thank GAWD … which was a relief, because I’m pretty sure I don’t want my kids learning about sex from anything having to do with Ronnie the Limo Driver‘s deviant behavior. I’ll spare you the details … and you should thank me profusely for doing so.)

After the show, we took advantage of our surroundings for some unique photo ops.


I’ve been telling people I got my picture taken with Howard. This counts, right?


The cover of my forthcoming book, “When Wrinkles Attack: What to do when your 44-year-old face looks 80.” But I’m not Photoshopping it. Because I don’t care. Nope, doesn’t bother me at all. Clearly. You what? You think I’m “obsessing”? I think that’s a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you? Just because I keep talking about it and can’t seem to let it go doesn’t mean I’m … OK, I’ll stop now.

When they finally pushed us out of the building, all of us who were spending the night in New York grabbed a couple beers … but I kept it mellow and turned in early so I could rest up for the next night’s festivities — which, as previously reported, were epic. But getting to visit the SiriusXM studios and appearing on “Super Fan Roundtable” the night before? That made the trip exponentially more special and memorable than it otherwise would have been.

Hopefully, Mutt will have me up again sometime … and then I’ll land that multi-million-dollar contract. No doubt about it.

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It’s very important that one of you buy me a house on Florida’s Gulf Coast, because fuck this

And you thought I was having fun last week! Well, just look at how much fun I’m having this week!


Yes, we got positively hammered with snow this past Monday … and because I was determined to finish my “Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash” wrap-up before doing anything else, I didn’t get outside with a shovel in my hand until around 8:30 p.m. … and I didn’t finish shoveling the foot-or-so of wet, heavy snow until around 11:30 p.m.

The late-night shoveling excursion probably explains why I’m now battling a cold … an ailment that arrived in the wake of Tuesday night’s freezing-rain storm, which showered down upon the snow that already had blanked the earth. And I will readily admit that the aftermath looked kind of cool:


Visual aesthetics notwithstanding, however, this particular weather phenomenon sucked harder than a Shop Vac thanks to the massive quantities of limbs and trees it brought down … which not only further decimated the already fucked-up trees in my yard


… but also tore down power lines all over southeastern Pennsylvania. More than 715,000 customers were without power … including — you guessed it! — us.


The scene I captured above is actually the least devastating example I saw during my drive to work yesterday … but, after taking that particular photo and then pulling into an adjacent driveway so I could turn my car around, I promptly got stuck in the snow and ice. Fortunately, as I mentioned in a previous shitty-winter-weather-related entry, I’m a self-taught snow-and-ice stunt driver, so I was able to redneck my 15-year-old Ford Ice Skate back onto the road … but once I freed myself I decided to pull the plug on my storm-chaser photo essay and instead concentrated on navigating the winter war zone.

There’s nothing like a mass power outage to make you realize just how quickly society will fall apart if something more serious should happen … because, within hours of losing power, it felt like we were in an episode of “The Walking Dead.” Except, instead of surviving a life-and-death struggle in the midst of a global zombie apocalypse, we were faced with far dire horrors … like no Internet, no cell signal and no way to recharge our quickly dying gaggle of iPhones, iPads and Kindles.

We survived by fleeing to my brother-in-law’s home, where he and his family kindly took us in. Then, like the modern-day warrior I am, I braved the night in search of dinner. The traffic lights were out, the storefront lights were out and I was beginning to doubt my chances of success when, suddenly, like the Star of Christ, a lone, bright glow cut through the darkness.

All hail the mighty Wawa.

In the years that have passed since my unfortunate first encounter with the sandwich-ordering machine at southeastern Pennsylvania’s favorite convenient store, I’ve become a full-blown Wawa convert … and my fellow worshipers were out in full force on Wednesday night, thanks to what I can only assume was the divine intervention that powered the Wawa with the energy of a thousand suns while everything around it lay shrouded in darkness. Either that, or they have a generator.

At any rate, it was like Wawawoodstock in that place … and I could feel bearing down upon me the collective stares of the ever-growing line that was forming behind me while I navigated my way through the touchscreen ordering system. Thankfully, I was a sandwich-ordering ninja on this occasion, masterfully tapping out instructions for more than a half-dozen sandwiches of all shapes, sizes and varieties. The manager awarded me a Master’s of Sandwich-Ordering degree. I framed it. And put a chain on it. I’m wearing it around my neck right now. Pretty sure I get a free sandwich the next time I drop in.

By yesterday afternoon, with power still not restored to our home and power-company estimates indicating that we’d probably be waiting until Sunday, I decided to unburden my brother-in-law’s family by booking a non-refundable hotel room. My brother-in-law’s family, however, did not want to be unburdened, and subsequently invited us to spend a second night in their home … an offer the kids eagerly accepted, as they were having fun spending time with their cousins … which is how I almost ended up getting a night alone at the Sheraton Suites.


After leaving work, I decided to stop by the house to grab a photo-card reader so I could download the pictures above and do some blogging from the hotel … and discovered upon my arrival that the power was back on.

I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t hesitate for a moment or two — OK, definitely two — before calling my wife to tell her that she and the kids could return home for the night.

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A fan’s-eye view of Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash

If you’re still suffering from the heartbreak of not scoring tickets to Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash, I am warning you with peace and love to close this browser window immediately after you read the following tweet (please ignore the hashtags) … because nothing else I’m about to say is going to make you feel any better about not being there.

You’ve been warned, my friends. Proceed at your own peril.

* * *

I had braced myself for the possibility that my Howard Stern Birthday Bash experience might fall well short of all the hype and anticipation … because that’s just the kind of neurotic killjoy I am. Turns out I had nothing to fear; from beginning to end, it was everything a hardcore Stern fan could have hoped for.

For starters, this happened less than 30 seconds after my wife and I stepped out of our car in front of the Hammerstein Ballroom:

Two seconds after that, this happened:

For those of you scratching your heads: I could explain to you who those folks are with whom I’m posing, but if you need such an explanation, learning their identities would mean nothing to you. If, however, you do know who they are, then you will likely get a kick out of hearing that some of them knew who I was. (There are few things more surreal than receiving a warm and friendly greeting upon being recognized by High Pitch Erik.)

After our Wack Pack encounter, my wife and I joined the ever-growing line forming along 34th Street … and then we waited (and waited … and waited) for the gatekeepers to let us in. Fortunately, the time was broken up by various meetings and greetings with some of the new friends I made during my appearance on the previous night’s edition of “Howard Stern’s Super Fan Roundtable” (an experience deserving of it’s own separate, soon-to-come blog entry), as well as some fellow contest winners I’d “met” on Facebook in the days leading up to the event. (Hi guys!)

The previously announced 4:30 entry time came and went. The line didn’t move. Darkness began to fall on the city. My wife’s feet began to freeze (which was for the best, really, since the shoes she was wearing were torturously painful).


Seconds after receiving my tweet, Howard dropped what he was doing, came outside, found my wife and me, and personally escorted us to a table on the floor, where we were seated next to Robert Downey Jr., who asked if I’d be willing to do a cameo in “Avengers 2.” (I told him to call my people.)


OK, not so much … but the line did eventually start moving, and we were among the first folks to enter the check-in tent, whereupon we each received our golden ticket:


We also each were given one of these:


This device was a stroke of genius, and whomever at Sirius came up with the idea of giving one to every partygoer deserves a raise, because having the ability to, for example, clearly hear Howard’s interview with David Letterman over the drunken shouts of the ignoramuses in attendance who couldn’t handle having access to an open bar was a major plus.

And speaking of the open bar: There was an open bar! Several of them, in fact … so my wife and I quickly secured our first of several margaritas made with [Steve Grillo voice] “top shelve ligor” and then struck a pose in front of this amazing backdrop:

Not long after that, the show began the only proper way it could have: With Rob Zombie and his bandmates delivering a kick-ass rendition of “American Nightmare,” the studio version of which has for years signaled the start of Howard’s morning-radio program.

For every Super Fan in attendance, the message was clear: This was “The Howard Stern Show” on steroids. If the show’s average morning edition is Bruce Banner, then the program we were about to experience was the motherfucking Hulk. (Shout out to My Geektime.)

From that point on, it was like a four-hour highlight reel. I managed to do a bit of live-tweeting, during which I captured the following random moments:

Please note that I have never been a huge Maroon 5 fan … and, while I’ve always enjoyed Adam Levine’s appearances on Howard’s radio show, I wasn’t exactly pining away for him to appear at the Birthday Bash … and I certainly wasn’t pining away for him to show up and do a cover version of Prince’s “Purple Rain” … which is why it is with no small degree of surprise that I tell you Adam Levine’s rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain” was one of the night’s most unexpectedly amazing musical moments. Even if he hadn’t nailed the vocal (he did), it would have been unforgettable just for the way he positively shredded the guitar solo. (Adam Levine plays guitar? Who knew?)

That’s right, bitch: Heisenberg crashed the bash.

Two words: Dave. Grohl. ’nuff said.

* * *

Listen, no laundry list of celebrity moments I provide here will do it justice … and god knows there are more than enough write-ups floating around the Internet already (like this particularly well done piece that Andy Greene wrote for Rolling Stone). Suffice to say that this four-plus-hour show flew by, and my wife and I spent the entire time oscillating between total enjoyment and total amazement at how lucky we were to be there.

Sure, it would have been nice to be seated on the floor with the tsunami (pronounce the “t,” please) of celebrity VIPs … but, hey, not everybody got an up-close-and-personal encounter with a seemingly annihilated Tan Mom, now, did they?


My wife also had the pleasure of running into Tan Mom in the bathroom, where she overheard this scintillating conversation:

Random Woman: “Hey, Tan Mom! How’s your daughter?”

Tan Mom: “Pale!”

No, I’m not even kidding.

Shortly thereafter, we watched Tan Mom get ushered out of the venue by some of New York’s finest … which inspired this exchange on Saturday:

So, no, we didn’t exactly rub elbows with the stars … but we did experience firsthand the greatest event in Stern Show history … and came away with some great stories to boot.

The massive “Walk This Way” jam at the end of the night — complete with Steven Tyler and Train’s Pat Monahan on vocals, Slash on guitar and Dave Grohl pounding the drums like his life depended on it — was incredible, as were dozens of other moments from throughout the star-studded program … but I can say without hesitation that the best part of attending “Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash” was watching (and listening) to Howard Stern do “The Howard Stern Show.” The man is a living legend and a broadcasting pioneer who deserves every accolade that was showered upon him during Friday night’s mind-blowingly epic show … and I will be forever thankful that I was one of the lucky few who were there to see it.

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If this shit keeps up, I’m pretty sure I’ll be sleeping at Howard Stern’s place this weekend


I received this reminder in my email yesterday … and a good thing, too, because I had forgotten all about it!

That pesky illness that forced me to call out sick on my birthday earlier this month? It seems to have returned in a more potent form. This particular strain is known as the Howard Stern Birthday Bash flu … and the only known treatment was for me to get my ass on an Amtrak to New York City.


The first sign I saw upon exiting Penn Station? “Mind Your Meds.” It’s like they knew I was coming.

Originally, I had planned to work today and then head up to New York tomorrow, but my plans changed when this little Cinderella story of mine got even better.

As if winning tickets to tomorrow night’s event wasn’t enough (and believe me: it would’ve been enough), I’ve been invited to participate in tonight’s episode of “Super Fan Roundtable,” a radio program hosted by Stern-Show Super Fan Mutt (the man behind SternFanNetwork) that airs regularly on SiriusXM’s Howard 101 channel. And so, in a few hours, I’ll be heading over to SiriusXM’s headquarters to hit the air with Mutt and a half-dozen other lucky folks who also won tickets to the Howard Stern Birthday Bash. (For those of you who have Sirius: The show airs at 7 p.m.; with any luck, I’ll actually get to say a word or two.)

And the good news just keeps on coming; as I was writing this post, an email from Mutt arrived:

Anyone at the studio by 6P can be a part of Sternthology. As you know Sternthology are classic Stern Show moments that relate to that mornings Stern Show. When they need something more, they’ll use fan requests. We’ll be making those requests.

You need to think of favorite stern show moments ahead of time and we’ll record short intro when you say who you are & what your favorite moment is. It will be used to intro that segment. You can come up with several of them. Your into is about 1 minute so you need a couple sentences to say.

Seriously? I’m starting to think I’m getting Punk’d.

So, yes, I seem to be riding a fat-ass wave of good fortune right now. In fact, the only bummer in sight is that I’m flying solo today because Wonder Woman can’t join me until tomorrow. However, when she does arrive, she’ll be treated to some sweet accommodations, because the boutique hotel at which we’re staying emailed me earlier today to say that we’d received a complimentary upgrade to an Executive Room with a king-sized bed … and seeing as how most hotel rooms this close to Times Square are too small to even think about housing a king-sized bed, I’m feeling like we’ve made out quite nicely.


Oh, and the hotel representative who emailed me the good news? Her name is “Margarita.” No, I’m not even kidding.

And, hey! Speaking of “Margarita” … it’s time for me to go have one … or two. Maybe three.

I’ll let you know what Howard’s crib looks like. Clearly, the sleepover invitation is coming any moment now.

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The Week in Review: January 24, 2014 … a collection of bitching and moaning misleadingly presented as though it were part of an ongoing weekly feature that doesn’t really exist


I call this one “Winter.”
(Actually, I call this one “Random picture that I just took out the side door of my office building for the sole purpose of having a photo to stick at the beginning of this post.”)

As previously reported, I had a lovely birthday last Friday … and I am both glad and thankful for the memory of that day, because I’ve not had a particularly good one since.

Over the weekend, I … Christ, I don’t even remember. I know it largely involved trying (and, ultimately, failing in epic fashion) to not lose my shit all over my eight-and-a-half-year-old daughter, who for the past two weeks has slipped into a horrifically disconcerting, anxiety-induced regression back to age three … complete with nonstop, inconsolable crying and “No!”-ing and grunting and, most disturbingly, endless amounts of high-pitched, prolonged, banshee-like shrieking and screaming that has caused the rupturing of eardrums in both dogs and people alike in lands as far off as Reykjavik, Iceland. (And I would take the time to articulate for you just how sad and scared and upset and concerned for her this behavior has made me, but doing so will just accelerate my arrival at Camp Depression, so I will instead continue in my customary, flippant, asshole-like tone.)

Her continuous shrieking and screaming pierced my skull and skewered my brain with what felt like an electrified ice pick, and after repeated stabbings, I erupted last Sunday by non-ironically screaming


in a positively thunderous tone at a positively frightful volume. I sounded monstrous and terrifying and altogether inhuman … which, as you might imagine, was the perfect balm with which to soothe not only my already distraught daughter, but also my wife and son, both of whose nerves — much like my own — had long ago been stripped raw by Jayna’s incessant meltdowns.

In related news: Scaring the ever-loving fuck out of your entire nuclear family by turning into Godzilla is an excellent solution for those of you puzzling over how to make yourself feel like The Biggest Douche of All Time. Also? A spectacular aphrodisiac with which to arouse your spouse. No, wait: the opposite of that.

I’ve since apologized to all of them … and, to their credit, none of them have yet poisoned me or bludgeoned me to death in my sleep, which I think is a good sign.

In the wake of all that fun, Mother Nature dumped about a foot of snow on us Tuesday and, as noted in my previous entry, the blizzard transformed my usual 25-minute commute into a two-and-a-half-hour episode of “Man vs. Wild” … which sucked enough in its own right, but the magnitude of the day’s Suck Factor ballooned exponentially when, moments after returning home, I learned that my one close friend at work — the dude whom I credit with making bearable the 9-to-5 drudgery of the bleak, three-and-a-half-year detour my career has taken — is leaving next week for a new and better job.

To give you some idea as to how crucial he has been in helping me hold on to the few remaining shreds of my fluorescent-tinged, cubicle-shaped sanity: Zan, Jayna and Wonder Woman all responded to the news by hugging and consoling me.

I am, of course, happy for him … but his imminent departure is forcing me to look with renewed scrutiny and an increased sense of panic upon the massive disparity between what I’m doing for a living and what I want to be doing for a living. Still, I’m inclined to believe that his leaving ultimately is in my best interest; the less comfortable I am here, the more motivated I’ll be to finally make my escape. I hope.

Meanwhile, on a more positive note, this just arrived in my email:


Is it next Friday yet?

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Posted in Cubicle, Howard Stern, Life, Winter | 8 Responses