Chris Uhl, Patriot ‘s loving tribute to a managing editor.

Aquarian Weekly 12/5/01 REALITY CHECK


There is growing evidence that Britney Spears is a cyborg, Taliban leader, Mullah Omar is a cross dresser and Bobby Knight has a flesh-eating brain tumor. The entire planet is inches from cinder and there is a pending court case in northern California between two cretins who claim ownership of Barry Bonds 73rd home run ball. There have been six Jesus and Elvis sightings at the Texas/ Arkansas border since 11/1, and the word I’m getting is that my cat has made it across the Hudson and is slinking up route 287 into Westchester as I write this.

But I’m going to waste this week’s precious news space heralding the escape of this magazine’s managing editor, Chris Uhl.

I have no fucking idea who this man really is. I only met him in person once, at a Bennigan’s Restaurant in Ramsey, or some godforsaken hamlet of this maniacal state, and he seemed like a nice enough fellow. I secretly taped the entire conversation, but it revealed nothing except his love for The Simpsons and the Yankees and that I would sooner receive a champagne enema from Jerry Falwell’s agent than get another dime out of the Aquarian for my weekly grind.

It was always comforting to know that Chris Uhl could be reached at the office, for free tickets or credentials or to promise Pat Buchanan the cover for the privilege of having him slobber cocktail weenies all over me for fifteen minutes.

But there in lies the beauty of Chris Uhl. Before he even shook my hand he penned a preface for my second book, and claimed to understand most of what was in it, which was largely the ungodly pus I sent to press nearly every week for three years. And he was glad to do it. He said he liked my work, even cherished my place on the staff. Then he sent me what can only be described as a scathing attack on my person and race, something the FBI could use to derail chimp molesters and gunrunners.

Of course, I loved it, and sent it to the publisher. And why not? Uhl (I liked to call him Uhl to make sure some other Christopher wasn’t jiving me on company policy) was a patriot. He saw the danger in my eyes without peering into them. That is the talent I will miss, even if it will be easy for the rest of the staff to usher him off to Pennsylvania.

Yes, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of rotten whiskey and the lap dance. Somewhere in its borders they make chocolate and harbor freaks that pay good money for the right to attend sporting events and throw beer at icons and midgets.

Jesus, I’m running off the subject.

And that reminds me of another reason why I loved working with Uhl.

He once requested I take over this sidebar mess he was throwing together every week, which commented on current events and pop culture. I had done that gig in my weaker moments when I started humping words for this publication five years ago. But on the occasion of my filling in, I used the space to accuse him of every crime realized by modern man, including a few I made up for embarrassment purposes. And in a telling admonishment of his personality, the girls in the editorial department let it fly.

I never officially apologized for it.

And I never will.

Because Chris Uhl didn’t need apologies or money or drugs, he craved the action. And only a supreme being with a descent resume could begin to understand what kind of action he was seeing in this gig. Oh, there were rumors, but I didn’t believe them, or I did believe them, I can’t remember. They seemed likely, but what do you really know about managing editors?

The guy who hired me to work for this periodical years ago once told me that killing stable rats at Freehold Raceway was more rewarding than editing stories about New Jersey club bands. He couldn’t fathom my interest in writing a book about it. Told me to save up for a cat scan. Then a week or so before he quit to work for a national men’s magazine I called him in the middle of the night demanding expense money to chase a woman journalist who’d been kidnapped by Republican party officials in Washington. He laughed, hung up, and dumped me on Chris Uhl.

The rest is boring, and most of it was covered above.

But the reason why I still crank out this meaningless tripe every week is because the Aquarian welcomes it with open arms, and rarely questions it. And for that, I can only be eternally grateful. Having to deal with so many editors and publications and creative outlets in an infinite freelance dirge, it was always comforting to know that Chris Uhl could be reached at the office, for free tickets or credentials or to promise Pat Buchanan the cover for the privilege of having him slobber cocktail weenies all over me for fifteen minutes.

Now Chris Uhl is off to do what he recently told me was his passion in the first place, writing.

So I offer him this advice: Writing sucks. It is painful and demeaning, lonely and desperate, and feeds paranoia like no other profession. And that’s when you can earn or publish anything. When you can’t get it together, it causes pain and anguish. And the irony begins when you realize that you are better off in that state. None of your friends like you when you’re on, when you’re rolling, losing sleep and sure that what is coming out of you is the best, no, strike that, the worst garbage ever put to paper. What in the hell could I have been thinking? I am shit. I should be tortured and spat on and kicked to the gutter.

But Chris Uhl already knows he should be kicked to the gutter. He can write. I’ve seen the results. He’ll be fine.

It’s that girlfriend he keeps referring to that I worry about. What will become of her? Trapped in Pennsylvania with an ex-editor, strung out on over-the-counter amphetamines and trying to string together coherent sentences at 3:00 am for a noon deadline.

Pray for her soul.

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