Baba booey is celebrating 25 years, and I remember when it started. I’ve been listening to The Howard Stern Show since I was 16. The first thing that Baba booey means to me is comfort. Baba booey is like home-baked cookies are to some people – because I never got any home-baked cookies. Some of my greatest memories are Stern moments. And when I listen to the old clips – or even when I hear the cry “Baba booey” on the streets – I feel the love. The Stern Show crew is family to me, and even though they are cruel and relentless – they love each other, and their fans. And we love them.
The second thing Baba booey means to me is perseverance. It reminds me of all Gary has endured over the years – the slings and arrows he has taken. And also all of the things Howard has endured. And, finally, all the things I’ve endured and come through. I think we should make a bumper sticker: “BooeyStrong.” Baba booey teaches us that we can get through the toughest times and challenges, and we will be triumphant as long as we keep going, believing in ourselves and pursuing what matters.
The third thing that Baba booey means to me is the manifestation of man’s duality. Robert Louis Stevenson explored the idea that both good and evil exist in each man,and our lives are a struggle between the two. Baba booey is a singing example of this, for the name can be used gloriously, as when it is chanted in victory or sheer delight. But it can also be used in a derogatory manner: “Oh man, you Bababooeyed.” Baba booey is both divine and shameful. Even the songs go both ways. Some are a celebration, and some are just mean. I don’t like the mean ones, but I understand their necessity. Gary is everyman’s scapegoat, and he’s been battered for 25 years by his boss (Howard is perhaps the poster-child for duality) and millions of people he’s never even met. And yet, it has brought him unimagined fame – which he would never have achieved otherwise, because he is quite bland. Gary by himself is benign (be-noine) – in fact, there is little evidence that the duality exists in him, except for an occasional outburst (“F you, you white a-hole.”) But in the end he takes it, over and over and over – without attacking back. So I guess Baba booey is the story of a boring man who became the piñata everyone bashes. He is Mr. Cellophane. This is The Howard Stern Show at its best: a man with no depth has become the symbol of the depth (and depths) of mankind.
There is so much more I can write, but I’ll leave you with this: My Aunt Olga said that life is heaven and hell in one tough nutshell. And for me, that nutshell is Baba booey.