Dave, Jon, Brian and I walk into a bar…

Dave, Jon, Brian and I walk into a bar…

Well, damn. Three of the most important men in my life are about to leave me.

It started last year when the brilliant David Letterman announced his retirement from hosting Late Night, his aptly named late night talk show. I have gone to bed with Dave almost every night for more than thirty years. Fair to say, this has been my longest, most enduring intimate relationship (unless, of course, you count peanut M&Ms.) I could list the Top Ten reasons why Dave, with his dryer-than-the-Sahara sense of humor, has held me in his broadcast grasp all these years, but there are far more reasons than just ten.

Then came Jon Stewart’s early-February shocker that he’s relinquishing the captain’s chair on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. Whether by chance or design, the stand-up satirist-turned-pundit’s immaculate conceptions changed the way millions of Americans not only get, but also interpret their news. It really doesn't matter who takes his place as host; the network might as well changed the program’s name to The Daily Show Without Jon Stewart.

Moment later, it was announced that Brian Williams had been suspended from anchoring NBC Nightly News. It seems Williams embellished his involvement in a helicopter attack when he was covering the war in Iraq a few years ago. Though the suspension is supposedly meant to last for six months, most commentators believe it’s unlikely Williams’ career as a newsman will ever fully recover.

I think I’ll miss Brian most of all. Leaving their posts is Dave and Jon’s choice, but Brian is being forced into early retirement because of a little lapse in memory. And that’s a shame, because everyone is entitled to a few slip-ups as the years progress. People can’t be expected to remember every little detail.

For example, the details are a little fuzzy, but did I ever tell you about the time Harvey Milk and I were walking through the Castro District in San Francisco? We were just chatting about cameras and whatnot, when he accidentally stepped in a pile of dog doo. Well, Harvey just went off, scraping his shoe on some old hippie in Haight-Ashbury. I told him to stop complaining and, if he didn't like walking through pooh, he should do something constructive about it. Next thing I knew, Harvey had cut off his ponytail, put on a suit, and was running for City Supervisor. Before you could say, “Hey, Twinkie!” ol’ Harvey had scooped up enough poop and votes to be the first openly gay man elected to public office in the United States. Crazy how things happens, right?

Then there was that time I was at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, back in 1969. A drag queen friend was just about to do a show, when she realized the stiletto heel on her shoe was loose. Well, I certainly didn’t want her to stumble while onstage, so I said to her, “Hey, toss me your shoe. I’ll fix it for you.” Well, bless her heart, my friend threw like a girl, but not the kind of girl you’d find on the pitcher’s mound of a softball field. She flung that shoe wildly, accidentally hitting a New York City cop in the head who had stopped by the Stonewall for a friendly drink. Well, you know what happened next.

I’ll never forget that late night — it was a Thursday, around midnight, I think — that Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel. Poor guy, he confided in me that he was so worried about missing his project deadline that he hadn’t slept in weeks. His neck was killing him. I told him to just lay down for a bit up there on his scaffold; nobody except maybe God himself would notice if Mike caught a few winks between frescos. It all worked out just fine.

And I remember that day in 600 BC that Sappho and I were sitting under an olive tree in ancient Greece. Sapph was complaining about how all the men running around all over the place, philosophizing, was interfering with her poetic muse. Try as she might, she couldn't concentrate. I suggested the only way she was going to get any peace and quiet would be if she moved to her own island somewhere. I was sure a bunch of us women would happily go with her. You know how we love to scoop up real estate anywhere near a body of water.

OK, maybe it all didn’t happen like that, exactly. But history would be pretty boring if we didn’t rewrite it once in a while. Ask FOX News.

Last modified on Tuesday, 17 March 2015 05:57