It seems crazy that They Call Me Baba Booey came out in 2010 and I’ve put off reading it until now. It’s fun to remember moments from the show where they mentioned the book, both during the writing process and after the release. They spoke about pictures, cover art, and eventually his book signings. Of course, the one consistent practice throughout all of it was Howard giving him shit about numerous details in the book. One ribbing stands out to me. When the audiobook was released, Howard hyper-focused on the lists of songs that Gary had in the book. Stern found the “Jukebox List” to be particularly annoying and ridiculous. As if Gary sandwiching random lists of his favorite songs in between chapters wasn’t enough, the “Jukebox List” was just made up of songs that Gary thought sounded best on a jukebox. This was absolutely one of the times that I thought Gary kind of deserved his role of whipping boy.
Even so, it’s hard to fault Gary too much. He obviously thought it was a good way to demonstrate just how incredibly important music is in his life. Most of the time, I don’t totally believe people who seem to love every band on the unspoken list of artists-that-a-music-lover-is-supposed-to-love. I think I have a wide range of taste in music, but there are definitely “important” groups that I just can’t seem to get into. Gary might be the only person that I believe actually loves every single artist he talks about. For that, he gets a pass for the awkward, imposing lists that are in the book.
I had some general knowledge of Gary’s childhood before reading, but I really enjoyed having the details explained without having them turned into a bit for the show. His childhood was quite chaotic, having a juvenile delinquent brother, a closeted gay brother, and a mother battling serious mental illness who abused her medicine. It becomes pretty clear that becoming a producer was his way of embracing organization and control in his life. It’s amazing that Gary seems to have always retained a constant sweetness and boyish naivety while also having, arguably, the thickest skin of any staff member on the show.
His personality shines through in his writing, just like Robin’s did in her biography. They contrast each other, though. While Robin’s writing is dramatic, intense, and indulgent, Gary’s is more of a straightforward chronicle with moments of nostalgia. Gary gives some insight into his thoughts, but he seems much more interested in telling the story rather than dwelling on his feelings.
- He devotes a lot of time to his horrible pitch in the book. The book writing and release occurred not too long after he threw the pitch, so I think the sting was still very present. He seems surprisingly upset by it considering other things that he’s dealt with in his life. This is one thing in Stern history that other people find funnier than I do. I’ve always felt bad for him as I can empathize with briefly losing your mind when it comes to something like throwing a pitch. I’ve always been a bit of headcase with sports and games. I have pretty good hand-eye coordination, but I know the feeling of helplessness when the brain gets too involved and overtakes muscle memory; It’s awful.
- He discusses his infamous “I Want You Back” videotape. I am a lot less sympathetic towards him with this one. The tape is hilarious and it’s awesome to hear him talk in-depth about the circumstances surrounding the tape.