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The Reader's Eye on Television

Chasing blond flakes around a glass table with my last dollar bill in my nose wasn't "rock bottom." When a car backed over me, I was shirtless and running through an alley. That wasn't the worst either. Mugged at knifepoint in Tijuana while scoring more crystal was only the beginning. While you're flying around on any kind of upper, you'll do or say whatever it takes to get more. On downers you can stop and pass out in some anonymous hump until it's over, but speed is different. When I'm high on coke, my brain feels like a balloon, my optic nerves tether it down, and my nose does the thinking.

"Out of blow," is a heartbreaking time. A hole in my chest tells me that I'll never get more, that last hit was the last one of my life, this is as high as I'll ever be, and that is not enough. That horrid emotion has dragged me through bars, streets, bathrooms, train stations, parks, plywood shelters of bedraggled street people, angling for a fix in cities and villages around the world.

Banging my way out of a crack house in London, using a phone receiver to club the sunken-eyed skulls of the drug zombies, wasn't nearly the depth to which I would eventually sink. Banished from Singapore? A high point compared to what I did last summer in my career of excess consumption.

I was in a bar on 30th Street when I hit my lowest. My clear baggie was empty, and I tossed it into the restroom trash atop the wads of brown paper towels and jumped from the men's room to the dance floor in search of more. I scrolled through the gazes of all the club-goers, scanning for the flushed open, wide-pupil stare of a drug vampire.

When I found my mark, I followed him out of the bar and down the street to his apartment. His roommate was home. Friends from out of town were visiting. Someone was in his bed, so we locked ourselves in the bathroom and it's there that I did my worst deed.

My fair-haired angel with the largesse of Peruvian powder and soft hands, it turns out, was a fan of television. Waiting for the key loaded with a lump of chemicals to enter my nostril, I stood there, cramped beside the toilet, and made small talk about his favorite show, The King of Queens . I said I loved it, too, and rock bottom wasn't a distant concept, but the craggy crash pad where I landed, broken and scraped.

Thursday, May 31 Rachael Ray ABC 9:00 a.m. I want to put Rachael Ray on my back. Nothing dirty or sexual. More like how Luke Skywalker carried Yoda around. I will do handstands with her standing on my feet, and I will make my dinner ingredients float above the stove using my control of the force. "Mmmm...yes," she'll say in her Yoda voice. "Feel the connection. Between you, the turkey baster. The green chilies. The spatula." I will be tempted by Emeril's dark power of "Bam!" but I will remember my training and turn away from it.

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? So You Think You Can Dance? FOX 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. FOX's lineup is oddly confrontational. Except, instead of the usual physical challenges of fisticuffs or endurance races, their challenges are twisted into things only the stupid would take as a threat. Do you know the capital of Delaware? Can you "jazz hands" with these former semiprofessional cheerleaders? Well! Can you!? No, and I can't do magic, either. Stop bothering me.

Friday, June 1 The Fighting Temptations TBS 8:00 p.m. I am terrified of Beyoncé Knowles. First of all, nocturnal predators are creepy, with their vertical slits as pupils and fangs that glow in moonlight. I read in an encyclopedia that her powerful hind legs can kick a man's head off his shoulders. The fact that she crosses the country by a system of tunnels only adds to my fright. At night, sometimes, I think I can hear her claws scraping at the stucco outside my bedroom wall. I cover my head with a pillow and scream, "Leave me alone, Beyoncé Knowles! I never did nothin' to you!"

Saturday, June 2 Astro Boy XEWT 12:30 p.m. As a cartoon, I would be Liberty Boy. My red, white, and blue hair would streak back as I flew across the country, seeking out criminals to sock in the mouth. My eyes would be white stars, and if I was ever in trouble, my sidekick Bernie the Bald Eagle of Justice would screech, and his talons would cut through the ropes that bind me. LIBERTY BOY!

True Caribbean Pirates History 8:00 p.m. I hope everyone is just in love with pirates. You're going to get an assload this summer. On this night, June 2, there are no fewer than three programs about our romantic swashbucklers of the high seas. And it's going to get worse. The media won't stop until we're each in an eye patch with a rumsickle in our mouth, drooling on a billowy blouse. Now, if you were French and you looked across the Atlantic and saw our masses stumbling from Wal-Mart in Shrek T-shirts affecting a pirate accent, wouldn't you roll your eyes too?

Sunday, June 3 Mediums: We See Dead People A&E 12:30 p.m. It's all very dramatic, isn't it? People's "extraordinary gifts" all seem to deal with the dead, candles, burgundy cloaks, and that sort of thing. There are no mundane, impractical powers that handle useless day-to-day subjects. No one ever says, "I didn't ask for this ability. It was given to me by God. I never wanted to be able to smell a person's true armpit odor no matter how much deodorant has been applied, but I've got it, and I'm going to use it."

Monday, June 4 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Discovery 4:00 p.m. Desperation wafts off this show like the wavy lines of fumes from a gasoline pump. I'm sure the hostess bolts up in her bed, chased by nightmares of falling ratings and screams out, "No, please! I don't want to get a real job! This is the only thing I know how to do!"

Tuesday, June 5 America's Got Talent NBC 9:00 p.m. I love that the celebrities involved in this show -- the ones who are deciding who does and does not have talent -- have no discernible talent themselves. Sharon Osbourne's only notable aptitude seems to be wrangling drug-punchy middle-aged rock stars. Hasselhoff is now famous for being famous, and I don't even know who the hell that other guy is or what he does. I'm not being sarcastic. I really love that these people would be selling cars if they hadn't somehow stumbled into show business. It's like that asthmatic kid with the glasses and eczema picking teammates for dodgeball. It promises to be unintentionally hilarious.

Wednesday, June Suze Orman: Women and Money PBS 8:00 p.m. My father's motto is, "America started going downhill when we gave them the right to drive and vote." I try to shrug off his jaded and pessimistic teachings, to remember that their brains aren't smaller than ours, and that they weren't "put on this Earth to test our damn patience." But it's hard, oh Lord. Sometimes, it's hard.

Thursday, June 7 Getting a Ticket in America Court TV 9:00 p.m. Until Waiting in Line debuts on the DMV channel, this is it. This is the worst of the worst. Hundreds of cable stations and, congratulations Court TV, you win. I would ask how anyone who works at Court TV can sleep at night knowing they produce this crap, but all they would have to do to inspire somnolence is to flip through their own dry programming.

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Chasing blond flakes around a glass table with my last dollar bill in my nose wasn't "rock bottom." When a car backed over me, I was shirtless and running through an alley. That wasn't the worst either. Mugged at knifepoint in Tijuana while scoring more crystal was only the beginning. While you're flying around on any kind of upper, you'll do or say whatever it takes to get more. On downers you can stop and pass out in some anonymous hump until it's over, but speed is different. When I'm high on coke, my brain feels like a balloon, my optic nerves tether it down, and my nose does the thinking.

"Out of blow," is a heartbreaking time. A hole in my chest tells me that I'll never get more, that last hit was the last one of my life, this is as high as I'll ever be, and that is not enough. That horrid emotion has dragged me through bars, streets, bathrooms, train stations, parks, plywood shelters of bedraggled street people, angling for a fix in cities and villages around the world.

Banging my way out of a crack house in London, using a phone receiver to club the sunken-eyed skulls of the drug zombies, wasn't nearly the depth to which I would eventually sink. Banished from Singapore? A high point compared to what I did last summer in my career of excess consumption.

I was in a bar on 30th Street when I hit my lowest. My clear baggie was empty, and I tossed it into the restroom trash atop the wads of brown paper towels and jumped from the men's room to the dance floor in search of more. I scrolled through the gazes of all the club-goers, scanning for the flushed open, wide-pupil stare of a drug vampire.

When I found my mark, I followed him out of the bar and down the street to his apartment. His roommate was home. Friends from out of town were visiting. Someone was in his bed, so we locked ourselves in the bathroom and it's there that I did my worst deed.

My fair-haired angel with the largesse of Peruvian powder and soft hands, it turns out, was a fan of television. Waiting for the key loaded with a lump of chemicals to enter my nostril, I stood there, cramped beside the toilet, and made small talk about his favorite show, The King of Queens . I said I loved it, too, and rock bottom wasn't a distant concept, but the craggy crash pad where I landed, broken and scraped.

Thursday, May 31 Rachael Ray ABC 9:00 a.m. I want to put Rachael Ray on my back. Nothing dirty or sexual. More like how Luke Skywalker carried Yoda around. I will do handstands with her standing on my feet, and I will make my dinner ingredients float above the stove using my control of the force. "Mmmm...yes," she'll say in her Yoda voice. "Feel the connection. Between you, the turkey baster. The green chilies. The spatula." I will be tempted by Emeril's dark power of "Bam!" but I will remember my training and turn away from it.

Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader? So You Think You Can Dance? FOX 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. FOX's lineup is oddly confrontational. Except, instead of the usual physical challenges of fisticuffs or endurance races, their challenges are twisted into things only the stupid would take as a threat. Do you know the capital of Delaware? Can you "jazz hands" with these former semiprofessional cheerleaders? Well! Can you!? No, and I can't do magic, either. Stop bothering me.

Friday, June 1 The Fighting Temptations TBS 8:00 p.m. I am terrified of Beyoncé Knowles. First of all, nocturnal predators are creepy, with their vertical slits as pupils and fangs that glow in moonlight. I read in an encyclopedia that her powerful hind legs can kick a man's head off his shoulders. The fact that she crosses the country by a system of tunnels only adds to my fright. At night, sometimes, I think I can hear her claws scraping at the stucco outside my bedroom wall. I cover my head with a pillow and scream, "Leave me alone, Beyoncé Knowles! I never did nothin' to you!"

Saturday, June 2 Astro Boy XEWT 12:30 p.m. As a cartoon, I would be Liberty Boy. My red, white, and blue hair would streak back as I flew across the country, seeking out criminals to sock in the mouth. My eyes would be white stars, and if I was ever in trouble, my sidekick Bernie the Bald Eagle of Justice would screech, and his talons would cut through the ropes that bind me. LIBERTY BOY!

True Caribbean Pirates History 8:00 p.m. I hope everyone is just in love with pirates. You're going to get an assload this summer. On this night, June 2, there are no fewer than three programs about our romantic swashbucklers of the high seas. And it's going to get worse. The media won't stop until we're each in an eye patch with a rumsickle in our mouth, drooling on a billowy blouse. Now, if you were French and you looked across the Atlantic and saw our masses stumbling from Wal-Mart in Shrek T-shirts affecting a pirate accent, wouldn't you roll your eyes too?

Sunday, June 3 Mediums: We See Dead People A&E 12:30 p.m. It's all very dramatic, isn't it? People's "extraordinary gifts" all seem to deal with the dead, candles, burgundy cloaks, and that sort of thing. There are no mundane, impractical powers that handle useless day-to-day subjects. No one ever says, "I didn't ask for this ability. It was given to me by God. I never wanted to be able to smell a person's true armpit odor no matter how much deodorant has been applied, but I've got it, and I'm going to use it."

Monday, June 4 The Ellen DeGeneres Show Discovery 4:00 p.m. Desperation wafts off this show like the wavy lines of fumes from a gasoline pump. I'm sure the hostess bolts up in her bed, chased by nightmares of falling ratings and screams out, "No, please! I don't want to get a real job! This is the only thing I know how to do!"

Tuesday, June 5 America's Got Talent NBC 9:00 p.m. I love that the celebrities involved in this show -- the ones who are deciding who does and does not have talent -- have no discernible talent themselves. Sharon Osbourne's only notable aptitude seems to be wrangling drug-punchy middle-aged rock stars. Hasselhoff is now famous for being famous, and I don't even know who the hell that other guy is or what he does. I'm not being sarcastic. I really love that these people would be selling cars if they hadn't somehow stumbled into show business. It's like that asthmatic kid with the glasses and eczema picking teammates for dodgeball. It promises to be unintentionally hilarious.

Wednesday, June Suze Orman: Women and Money PBS 8:00 p.m. My father's motto is, "America started going downhill when we gave them the right to drive and vote." I try to shrug off his jaded and pessimistic teachings, to remember that their brains aren't smaller than ours, and that they weren't "put on this Earth to test our damn patience." But it's hard, oh Lord. Sometimes, it's hard.

Thursday, June 7 Getting a Ticket in America Court TV 9:00 p.m. Until Waiting in Line debuts on the DMV channel, this is it. This is the worst of the worst. Hundreds of cable stations and, congratulations Court TV, you win. I would ask how anyone who works at Court TV can sleep at night knowing they produce this crap, but all they would have to do to inspire somnolence is to flip through their own dry programming.

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