Corey Smith is probably dead. We’ve all had that nightmare, we’ve all wondered what it is like to drown, cold and alone, swallowed by a salty, endlessly heavy body of water. Despite having the misfortune of being a Lion’s fan, I know literally nothing about Corey Smith. What I do know has emerged over the past several days, framed in news clippings and sound bytes. The saddened murmurs of his friends and family, the brief snippets of text and video that refer to him, simply, as a professional. In their collectivity, the stories surrounding Smith’s life paint a pedestrian but meaningful picture: he was a good man, a quiet man, a professional who worked hard and talked softly. When you’re young and strong and you’ve got most of your life in front of you, it’s a tragedy to die.
Wherever Smith is, I hope he’s doing alright.
Righteous indignation usually isn’t my thing. But Mike Valenti’s flacid attempt to inject humor into a humorless situation has left me stunned and infuriated.
If you don’t remember who Valenti is, I won’t hold that against you. For all intents and purposes, he’s a talent-barren gasbag hack of radio host who unimaginably occupies a daily time slot on metropolitan Detroit’s WXYT 97.1 FM.
And, he’s the author of this beauty:
On Monday afternoon, while Corey Smith may have still very well been fighting for his life, Valenti cracked several jokes at Smith and the Lion’s expense. The logic-in-use was astounding: Smith played football for a lackluster franchise and, subsequently, that made his looming death a reasonably acceptable basis for some one-liners.
For the sake of human decency, this blog won’t post what Valenti said in its totality. MLive ran a story recreating the disaster:
Here is a transcript from that show, beginning with Valenti interrupting himself during a discussion with a caller about Albert Haynesworth.
Foster: “What? What’s going on?”
Valenti: “These (e-mail) feedbacks are coming in again.”
Foster: “What’s up? Lay it on me, baby.”
Valenti: “I really don’t even want to read this one.”
Foster: “Yes, you do because you’re … ”
Valenti: “No, but this one is … all right, I’m going to read this but if you’re sensitive to inappropriate stuff you should probably turn the channel …”
And then Valenti told a joke about Smith being lost at sea and concluded by saying “From (listener) in Farmington Hills, thank you for that.”
A short time later, they read another e-mail, making fun of a cap-sized boat
Valenti, being a true prince of men, is perfectly willing to lose his head over (gasp) a meltdown by LOLSPARTY. He is perfectly willing to shred his voice in response to a a game played by boys. But, in the looming shadow of an emerging and heartbreaking reality, Valenti’s gut reaction is to drop some knee slappers. This is the sort of situational absurdity that even Camus couldn’t dream up.
For his part,Valenti offered the cowardly, post hoc apology expected from men of his fabric:
On Monday afternoon, very, very, very stupid decision on my part, probably the dumbest, most reprehensible decision I’ve made in my radio career.
Setting aside the fact that it’s intellectually dishonest to call Valenti’s abortion of a talkshow a “career,” I can’t and won’t accept his apology. As Michigan’s jobless ranks welter obesely under the weight of our sagging economy, a part of me hopes that Valenti gets his marching orders sooner as opposed to later.
I didn’t know Corey Smith. But the more I hear about him, the more I wish I did. Good luck, friend.