We watch... so you don't have to.


In this age of rampant cynicism and millennial consternation, it is often said that there are no more heroes. I, being ever the bright-eyed optimist, have always heartily disagreed.

What about Mark McGwire's and Sammy Sosa's already mythic race for the home run record? Or Michael Jordan's 38-points-while-sick-as-a-dog performance in the NBA finals a couple of years ago? Or Capt. Scott O'Grady, the bug-eating Air Force pilot shot down over Bosnia in 1997?

See, I used to retort, there are plenty of heroes.

But not any more. The truth has finally crushed the last smoldering embers of hope deep within my heart. Dennis Miller is doing long-distance commercials.

Dennis has always been a particular favorite of mine. His Off-White Album is one of the greatest uses of recordable audio media ever made. His references to Larry Storch were like messages from some angelic prophet, speaking the absolute truth, although in a rather obscure way.

There's no use mentioning his appearance in "Bordello of Blood." I've already blocked that out of my mind. Besides, if you had a chance to do a movie with Angie Everhart, would you even care what the final product looked like?

Although he never specifically mentioned them, you could tell Dennis hated the long-distance companies and their never-ending, obscenely obnoxious quest to drive people away from their television sets and back to the printed word.

Each week, as the 30-second sightings of Ed O'Neill and that guy that played Deputy Dewey increased logrhithmically, I was sure Dennis was pulling together the mother of all rants for his Dennis Miller Live show. A scorching 10-minute evisceration of AT&T, MCI and Sprint for co-opting minor celebrities into their insidious campaigns.

But how wrong I was. Dennis Miller, counter-culture icon, is now another cog in The Man's relentless long-distance machinery, trading banal witticisms with fellow movie-theater patrons or trying to capitalize on his dog's bladder-control problems.

When, oh when, will this nightmare end? Who's next? George Carlin?


George Carlin, pony-tailed '60s fanatic and point-man for mainstream rebelliousness, is also a long-distance pitchman. Famous for his "Seven Words You Can't Say on TV" routine, George has added a word anyone can say to his vocabulary: sellout.

Dammit, if you can't trust celebrities to stay above the mindless capitalistic fray, who can you trust? I used to set my moral compass by John Lithgow. Look what happened to him.

Even superheroes are cashing in. Buffy the Vampire Slayer her own self has appeared in one of those collect call campaigns. Think I don't feel strongly about this issue? Sarah Michelle Gellar and I were once engaged to be married, but after those ads came out, I had to break it off. I have my principles, you know.

She was so devastated, she fakes amnesia about the whole affair. If you ask her about our wonderful time together she'll claim to have never even heard of me. But I've got the four restraining orders to prove it.

Same thing for Paul Reiser... except for that whole part about getting hitched. Granted, he's mainly famous for Mad About You, but dammit, he was Burke in "Aliens." A bad guy in "Aliens" -- even worse than the aliens themselves. Now, if that's not cool, nothing is. Once a giant to look up to, now he's just another charred hero skeleton, his once-impenetrable armor of hipness torched by the flames of corporate dough.

And the list goes on. Christopher Lloyd, once a comedy stalwart in Taxi now shills for a long-distance company by playing a taxi driver. His former co-star Tony Danza is also cashing in on his sitcom fame. Though in Tony Danza's case, I guess that's not really a surprise.

Next thing you know, Eric Cartman will be appearing on my TV screen, saying: "Screw you guys, I'm calling home... With 1-800-COLLECT!"

What am I supposed to do, now that Dennis Miller is dead to me? Sure, I'll still watch his show, but dammit, I'm not going to laugh. I've also disconnected my voice telephone service and now communicate exclusively via e-mail and semaphore.

But my communication difficulties are nothing compared to the hole in my soul. Who am I supposed to look up to now? Doctors? Priests? Scientists? Nelson Mandela? Please.

Aren't there any celebrites out there that a lonely boy in need of guidance can turn to in these troubled times? Someone who the phone comapnies won't touch?

Ladies and gentlemen, your next generation of heroes: Charlie Sheen and Robert Downey, Jr.


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