"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

10/29/08: Michael Corbin: Loss of a Friend, and an Inspiration

Michael Corbin
Late last week, I learned that a friend, Michael Corbin, died earlier this year in Denver. Michael was the host of Paranet, a syndicated radio show in the same genre as Coast to Coast, which was very successful nationwide in the 90’s, and had hosted A Closer Look for the last severalyears.

I met him at that “infamous” Colorado Libertarian Party meeting in January ‘06. We hit it off, and when he learned of my radio background he invited me to stop by the studio to hang out while he did his show, and we quickly became good friends.

Michael was one of the most brilliant people I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Corbin was also, easily, the BEST radio personality I EVER personally worked with. His ability to personalize information, his recall of facts, his reservoir of knowledge, was phenomenal. I would sit in his guest chair during his show, and this "jaded little prick" (me) was in awe watching, and listening to him. Smooth. Concise. Informative. Smart.

More importantly, he is to this day my ultimate example of living one’s own ideals. He had an insatiable, authentic desire to find, then speak TRUTH, no matter its target; so much so, that it bordered on self- destructive. He did HIS show, HIS way. HE chose HIS topics, guests, and was always willing to do investigative work himself.

Michael was one of the few people whose personal example inspired me. He almost re-sold me on the relevance of radio!
We were lightly discussing the possibility of grooming me as a fill-in host by putting me on the air weekends, to cut my teeth in talk radio. But, I went back to work for the Rockies, and the bike tour I was planning for that fall then quickly consumed me, and I forgot all about radio again.

We abruptly lost track of each other until late in 2006 or early 2007 when I called to say hello. He called back a couple of days later, said he would get with me soon, but I never heard from him again.

Michael was always suspicious of power, and because he was outspoken, made many enemies-some quite powerful. Someone firebombed his studio; that "someone" was never found. He also spoke regularly about people ransacking his house, tapping his phone, disappearing communications, strangers threatening and following him. I was skeptical at first, but it was not the sort of brazen claim of a person who was ‘touting’ it…he was concerned. The last few times I saw him, he had just gotten his CCW permit and was always carrying a gun.

There are many people who believe that his stroke is a cover story, and I’ll be honest: after what I saw, I can understand why. However, Michael chain-smoked, was well overweight, and had extremely high blood pressure. He missed several shows due to health reasons in the short 2+ months we hung out. He was NEVER going to quit smoking, but expressed concerns, to me, about his health; and this was 2 ½ years ago.

My friendship with Michael was short. However, it was one of my most influential. He was one of the few people I have ever admired. He was not rich, and by “radio’s” definition, struggled to repeat the “success” he had achieved early in his career. Nevertheless, this was the special aspect Michael Corbin; what drew people to him and his show: He put his ideals and truth far ahead of commercial reward. He believed in something. That’s what drove him. When I learned of his death online last week, a wave of disgust and shame came over me. It forced me to reflect on his example and, of course, made me reflect upon my own; look in the mirror. That “wave” is lingering.

One of the last things Michael said to me was that if you have a message, it should be spoken “out of love.” I had no idea what he meant at the time, and it honestly rather annoyed me. I have come to realize that what he meant was that real truth and a genuine sense of purpose does not have its nexus in ego and self-interest. It springs out of an authentic concern, love, for others. The world is full of people who are solely concerned with presenting their "product" marketed as truth; a “worldview” contrived to make a buck, or in an effort to impose their will on others by putting on a dramatic, thunderous display of intellectual wit. Intellectually and verbally bullwhipping people into a compliant state. I finally understand what he was getting at.

I had not talked to him in almost two years, and he has been gone since March. I am sick that it took me seven months to learn of his death. It seems odd but I feel the loss. A loss not just for me, but there is a void “out there” now. The world is a less authentic place. I have thought over and over again that now, Michael, you have your answers. You know the ultimate truth! 

Rest well my friend.