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"Overall, I’m amused that the bastards who threw me out in the gutter, now want to “honor” me with a fancy obit."
October 17, 2006 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Bob "Mad Dog" Lassiter, dead at 61. Bob was one of the most notorious and entertaining "confrontational radio" hosts to ever sit behind a microphone. WFMU's The Professor wrote , "every other talk host I’ve ever heard usually gets off on like-minded callers, but not Bob. In fact, he was often quite impatient with callers who agreed with him." Bob was an absolute master of baiting the listening audience, ensnaring many callers who thought that they were clever enough to outwit him. Of course, none of them were. He once played "dead air chicken" with a belligerent caller for 11 minutes straight, saying absolutely nothing until the caller finally gave up and hung up his phone. Tapes of these broadcasts have been prized by aircheck collectors for years, many of which are now available as mp3 downloads at BobLassiterAirchecks.com. Bob knew he was dying, yet he actively resisted any measures that would improve his health. He blogged nearly every moment of his last days, often in graphic detail. His last written words were posted yesterday.
posted by melorama (24 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Legend
posted by parmanparman at 6:20 AM on October 17, 2006


Oops...I forgot to link to the Dead Air Chicken aircheck (fast forward to 4:48 in the mp3)
posted by melorama at 6:22 AM on October 17, 2006


Usually I don't like this sort of thing, but there is something enormously pleasurable about the unfeigned contempt he has for the stupidity of his callers. Public discourse has been so utterly sullied by legions of people who are sure that their opinion matters, whether or not it is rooted in fact, that once in a while it's good to hear someone tell them, in no uncertain terms, that if they don't know what they're talking about, they deserve to be laughed out of the room.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:00 AM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wow. His last written words are full of both physical and emotional pain. Reading AZ's post above I wonder if he laughed everyone who was ever close to him out of the room.

"...my universe grows smaller by the day – in part because I allow it, in part beyond my control." He had only seen one of his coworkers from the station in the last seven years. That's some heavy stuff.
posted by footballrabi at 7:12 AM on October 17, 2006


Without having to weed through his entire blog, is there any place where he talks about why he was so neglectful of his own health? The Wikipedia mentions he was a heavy smoker and had diabetes. Does he address his reasoning in not trying to help himself? I'd be interested in reading that.
posted by spicynuts at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2006


Yes, AZ, he sure had contempt for his callers. And I guess it was real, because even at the end he has contempt for his co-worders. But why are his callers stupid? What made his opinion more correct or more important? Because he was on the radio?

The public discourse has been sullied by people like this who can't argue without shouting or belittling, can't articulate how they arrived at their position or why, and can't understand that other people may have rationally come to different conclusions. Yes, I realize he was an entertainer...

The saddest part is that at the end he felt his world getting smaller, rather than bigger...
posted by Pastabagel at 7:39 AM on October 17, 2006


Right, PastaBagel..he even holds grudges against those at the Florida station who are planning an obit for him. One would hope that in the face of certain death, one could let go of anger like that. Or at least I hope that I can when it's my time.
posted by spicynuts at 7:48 AM on October 17, 2006


Wow. That was depressing. The bitterness he takes with him is just sad to read. I hope that when I go, it's at least with some sense of closure and/or forgiveness.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:42 AM on October 17, 2006


Terrific post. Thanks.
posted by dobbs at 9:03 AM on October 17, 2006


Listen to his MP3s -- he only gets really mean when it turns out his callers haven't bothered doing any research, and don't know what the hell they're talking about.

Opinions are more valid if they are based in careful consideration of fact, and not just some popular party line spouted by rote.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:31 AM on October 17, 2006


He once played "dead air chicken" with a belligerent caller for 11 minutes straight, saying absolutely nothing until the caller finally gave up and hung up his phone.

That is awesome. It's damned hard to resist filling dead air.
posted by dreamsign at 10:57 AM on October 17, 2006


While he could get loud and belittling, I just can't get over how masterful Bob was at calmly disarming callers who called into his show specifically to make fun of him. The "26 minutes" call is a perfect example of his brilliance.
posted by melorama at 11:25 AM on October 17, 2006


This is the first I've ever heard of this man... I find him frightening.
posted by spiderskull at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2006


Ten years ago? I can still remember the shock of hearing "Radio for One" (mp3) when it aired. It's one of the best take-this-job-and-shove-it monologues you'll ever hear. A heartfelt defence of the virtues of local ownership of media, against corporate monopolies.

But it is wrong to call Lassiter bitter. Despairing misanthropy, heartaching nostalgia, finely honed acrimony, articulate hatred -- those were just tools of Lassiter's art. He made unique and thoughtful radio, and I listened every night, and I've missed it since his last broadcast at WFLA.

Mad props.
posted by eatitlive at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I wonder why some have posted that it was sad he died with his bitterness intact? Seriously, why not tell the truth about the jerks who claimed to be friends, but didn't want to visit him? Why let them off the hook and say, "As I die I forgive you."? Forgiving wasn't going to prolong his life or make it any more bearable. He summed it up well, "why must the world be so phony?"

Lassiter seemed to "surround" himself with the person he did care about, his wife. "There is no touch I desire, no council I value, no companionship I need more than this woman provides."
posted by ?! at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2006


The "26 minutes" call is a perfect example of his brilliance.


That's brilliance? Personally I think the caller won that round. "Snivel for me, Bob...SNIVEL!" That made laugh while everything Bob said made me think he was a douchebag. I mean the whole "Why would anyone spend 26 minutes to call me" line is disingenous crap. His entire LIFE revolves around the fact that he needs people to spend 26 minutes waiting to talk to him.
posted by spicynuts at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2006


I discovered Bob on the run up to the first Gulf War dismembering chickenhawk callers. The ching of his Zippo was very effective.
posted by wrapper at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2006


Opinions are more valid if they are based in careful consideration of fact, and not just some popular party line spouted by rote.

ditto
posted by hal9k at 1:29 PM on October 17, 2006


he sounded like reverend lovejoy.
posted by nj_subgenius at 4:03 PM on October 17, 2006


This is a wonderful post. Thank you.
posted by squidfartz at 5:38 PM on October 17, 2006


I love this one.
posted by ifranzen at 5:44 PM on October 17, 2006


He has a certain tone that I'm not sure I'll like over time, but for now I'm really enjoying digging through his stuff.

His entire LIFE revolves around the fact that he needs people to spend 26 minutes waiting to talk to him.

I think you're right -- it was disingenuous. But he wasn't acting surprised that someone would wait; he was acting surprised that someone would wait 26 minutes to then say nothing of importance. He's way, way too cynical to actually be surprised by that, but the "Is your time worth so little?" message worked, I thought.
posted by dreamsign at 6:00 PM on October 17, 2006


Bob intentionally did not enable comments on his blog, but today (I assume it was Bob's wife, Mary), comments were enabled on the blog's final post.

Yes, Bob could be really infuriating and rude, but as you can see by perusing the comments, most people seemed to have really understood his shtick, and truly appreciated his talent and liked/loved him as a human, even if they vehemently disagreed with him.
posted by melorama at 12:52 AM on October 18, 2006


"The saddest part is that at the end he felt his world getting smaller, rather than bigger..."

So says Postbagel....

Eh...what's 'bigger' about losing consciousness forever and then decomposing? Oh, I guess unless you believe...what? You're going to meet up with hundreds of sexy virgins? You're going to grow wings and eat ice cream on a cloud with Jesus? You're going to be reincarnated as a gazelle?

Which one of these absolutely ridiculous theories do you believe is 'bigger' than this life we have here now?
posted by Mrs.Doyle at 6:12 AM on October 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


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