Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me.
It hurts like a motherfucker. That's how I should actually respond when people ask "How are you doing?"
"It hurts like a motherfucker."
Yes, I know. People are just being polite. They heard you had surgery and they want to do the right thing. Get in touch, inquire. Demonstrate concern. But there's no point in telling them that - even with the Percoset - it feels like my right foot was run over by a forklift and then clamped in a vise. There's no good way to get through this, my second foot surgery inside a year. I can take some solace from that first operation on the left foot, understand that this pain will subside and I'll again begin the trip back to normalcy. I'm not permanently disabled, after all. That's what would have happened had I not gotten this problem fixed. But as I lay here, feet propped up on the bed wedge I bought on Amazon (enough with the pile of pillows that kept shifting and falling) I can only be grateful I don't have a third foot and that my doctor is a truly talented surgeon. The bulk of gratitude is reserved for my loving wife, Janet, who has been treated to the sight of me crawling up the stairs on my hands and knees, like a goddamn overgrown baby (yes, I tried the crutches, and yes, I kept losing my balance).
Speaking of bulk: if you think I haven't figured out how to turn this all into a self-attack centered on my weight, think again. In my 53 years I've become master of the self-attack. I'm always able to place the blame firmly where it belongs: on good-old relentless piece of shit me. Oh no, don't give me a pep talk, tell me how much I've achieved for someone who came from where I did and escaped the family I did, the one that ingrained that piece-of-shitness in me. I never did fully escape them. They're here with me, whispering "If you weren't so fat you're feet would be fine." I know some of you have probably said the same thing to each other:
"Did you hear about Chris?"
"Yeah. He destroyed his own FEET!"
I can hear the snickering now. But I've said the same to myself umpteen times since I faced the reality of having my feet rebuilt so I can continue to walk into my dotage (I don't want to be the guy on the fucking Rascal scooter, not that there's anything wrong with that). As I learned long ago, mean people say mean things: simple, simpering insight. Maybe I'n the meanest of them all. It is an elaborately developed self protection system: how can you hurt me when I say much worse things to myself, about myself?
During this week's interview with my podiatrist Dr. Thomas Azzolini you'll hear me ask if I found myself with two ruined feet because of my weight. Let me sum up his answer: Yes and no. You were born with a congenital defect: flat feet. Because it was probably painful for you to walk or run, you didn't move much. It becomes a vicious cycle. The heavier you got, the more painful it was to walk. I also asked him when this issue should've been addressed. Seven or eight years old. Damn. We all thought it was a joke, as in "flat feet run in the family - GET IT?" But it isn't a joke and if there's one positive thing I can say about my mother and father and their approach to my health care, at least they got that lazy eye fixed. I could've been wall-eyed AND suffering the agony of the archless.
Pardon me if I any of this makes you uncomfortable but there's a reason for my approach: it may not be too late for your kids. Take them to a podiatrist and find out just what the hell is going on down there. If you get it taken care of now chances are your kid won't end up like me, flat on my back, binge-watching television and doing a lengthy life-appraisal.
Thanks again to Dr. Azzolini for sitting down with me for this interview.
I've been watching tons of TV while laid up, because I've found - due to the pain - I don't have enough concentration for reading. Here is a collection of viewing updates I've been putting on my Facebook page:
All In The Family
Caught the episode where the Jeffersons move on up and Edith somehow ends up showing their empty house. She rents to another black family and Archie loses his racist mind. Hilarity ensues. (Antenna TV)
Becoming Mike Nichols Based around his final interview, this documentary fills in many blanks and reminded me why Nichols was such a towering figure. From his early work with Elaine May to his Broadway directing to films like The Graduate, Nichols and his legacy continue to reverberate. (HBO)
Best Of Enemies This recent documentary about the William F. Buckley Jr. / Gore Vidal debates during the '68 Republican/Democratic conventions is an utterly riveting indictment of the descent of TV news into conflict-based spectacle. Kept putting this one off for some reason but the issues raised - inequality, racism, greed, anti-intellectualism, corruption, fascism - are as relevant now as ever. The famous moment when Vidal tags Buckley a "Crypto-Nazi" on live TV only to be called "Queer" and threatened with a "plastering" is given the treatment it deserves. There's another Gore Vidal documentary I'll track down after seeing this one. And try as I might to find "Myra Breckenridge" streaming anywhere, I haven't succeeded. (Netflix)
Documentary about independent artists who emerged in the '90's, including Ed Templeton, Harmony Korine, Shepard Fairey, Margaret Kilgallen, Stephen Powers, Barry Myers and more. Not crazy about the scattershot editing job and it's apparent these are largely visual artists because some of them have a hard time articulating and a few of them can't get through a sentence without a shit-ton of "likes" and "you knows" offered up in that sing-song uptalk so it sounds like a question, not an answer. Still worth wading through for the brilliant work showcased. (Netflix)
Crips & Bloods: Made In America 2008 documentary covers the birth of LA street gangs and the state's response. Well done, informative, but over-long. (Netflix)
Daredevil I binged on the second season and enjoyed the developing Electra and Punisher storylines. The extended scene of Daredevil taking down the Dogs of Hell bikers is some of the most amazing fight choreography on this show yet. Yes, it's utterly preposterous that this blind guy is able to so relentlessly kick ass. Buy the premise, buy the show. Top-notch cast, including Jon Bernthal as the best Punisher ever (you must see his courtroom histrionics). I found the actress who played Electra to be a bit hard to understand due to her accent and tendency to whisper her lines. Kudos for actually shooting it in Hell's Kitchen. ARMIES OF NINJAS! Like New York, this show is diverse More kudos to the producers. (Netflix)
Empire The more preposterous this show gets, the more I like it. And the most recent one was a corker, setting up the season finale nicely. No spoilers, but let's just say SOMEONE GETS SHOT. (FOX)
Flaked This Will Arnett (Chip) vehicle is set in Venice, California which is what initially drew me in. Janet and I had just come back from there and wanted to extend the laid-back sunshine vibe. As a travelogue, the show looks fantastic and that's about the only way I can watch it. Luckily, Venice is the main character because I don't care at all about the incredibly privileged man-child characters at its center. Their lives in "paradise" revolve around riding bicycles, walking dogs, trips to the beach and tussling over the women on the show, who exist only for the men to conquer. This show wants to be much more profound than it actually is and would be better off with a different tone than "world-weary". One plus: Mark Boone Junior, late of Sons of Anarchy as Jerry, the eccentric pothead who holds Chip's fate in his hands. (Netflix)
Horace & Pete
Based on Mark Maron's interview with Louis C.K. about this project I paid $31 upfront for all ten episodes. I'm halfway into episode 1 and I can tell it was money well-spent. But if I had never watched a single minute, I would've been fine with helping folks Louis realize a vision like this. (louisck.net)
Judge Judy Still one of my favorite shows, Judge Judy has it all: conflict, drama, money, crime, justice and resolution. (CBS)
Last Week Tonight John Oliver and the writing staff have crafted one of the smartest shows on TV and never fail to teach me something. (HBO)
Life Itself Documentary about Roger Ebert. A bit long at over two hours, and the shots of him in the hospital were a bit hard to take, probably because I just got out of one. (Netflix)
"The Cool Kid From Beaver Falls" gets the full treatment in this 2012 NFL Films documentary. Broadway Joe and Kenny "The Snake" Stabler were my favorite quarterbacks growing up and this film was great Saturday morning viewing. (HBO)
Narcos While I'm fascinated by the subject matter, the relentless voiceover narration bugs the hell out of me and has me bailing out yet again. (Netflix)
Nashville Still hanging in there with this show but it begins to feel like a slog because no character is seemingly allowed even 24 hours of anything resembling happiness. They're all locked in endless, numbing conflict and I'd give anything for something resembling a moment of joy to burst forth here. Still, the cast is first rate and I have to support any show that employs Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale. Update: Since I wrote this, the show has been cancelled. (ABC)
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King Fascinating doc about Jimmy Ellis, AKA Orion, an Elvis sound-alike thoroughly exploited by Shelby Singleton, the most sued man in Nashville. (Netflix)
Peace Officer An examination of the expansion of SWAT teams across the US and the militarization of law enforcement driven by the disastrous "War on Drugs". The kind of thing you watch with your mouth agape and your heart breaking. Deeply disturbing. (PBS)
Special Correspondents New Ricky Gervais film. Bailed out within ten minutes. Too many cliches and an utter fantasy of radio news had me rolling my eyes early and often. (Netflix)
The Americans This is my favorite show currently on TV. Deeply layered, tense and knowing, working on so many levels at once that it provides a giddy thrill to sort through "what it all means." The writing, acting and cinematography are top-notch and the show never does the easy thing. You can't guess exactly where it's headed but you're more than willing to go on the ride. (FOX)
The End Of The Tour I haven't yet tackled Infinite Jest so I come to this not having read the book at the center of the David Foster Wallace legend. But it's not entirely necessary. This stands on it's own and is good as I heard. Jason Segel as Wallace is phenomenal and Jesse Eisenberg needs to learn how to hold a cigarette like someone who actually smokes. Movies about writers usually disappoint but this works. (Amazon Prime Video)
The Jamz This web series about a Chicago radio station found its way onto Netflix and with great trepidation I checked out the first episode. Because I work in radio it's hard for me to look at this the way I once watched WKRP or even NewsRadio. There's some talent here and the laughs are solid. But I'm not at all sure I can stomach the two achingly white dudes who are the lynchpin characters. They're trying to get off the overnight and take over the morning slot but they're schtick is kinda lame and I'm not sure I care enough to watch more. Though I may hang in there for Kathy Najimy, a long-time favorite, who plays the station manager and is an executive producer. (Netflix)
The Lone Ranger Caught an episode on some throwback channel and was struck by just how wooden Clayton Moore is as the Lone Ranger. After the first hip-replacement commercial I bailed. (Antenna TV)
Thunderbirds Are Go! A reboot of the classic 1960's puppet-enabled kid's show. I was expecting puppets and scale models but got animation instead, so I bailed. (Netflix)
Top Gear (American version) I initially was charmed by the American Top Gear but the schtick has grown stale. Bailed after ten minutes. (History)
W/Bob & Dave Watched half of the first episode and bailed. I wanted to laugh but it wasn't happening. Will revisit because I loved Mr. Show. (Netflix)
Laurent Chris T. Lombard
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Obligatory Throwback Pic
With my trusty white Ibanez Les Paul knockoff, circa 1982
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