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     As an agnostic raised my atheists, I have had very few traditions in my life. I never go to church, or synagogue. or a mosque or anywhere like that. The downside of this is that I am mostly bereft of institutions. The good side is that I am far less likely to blow up something in the name of my phony baloney deity or suppress mine or anyone else's homosexual tendencies. The point is that there are few things in this world that I adhere to with dogmatic vigor.
     Now, there is even one less.
     When it was first announced that Jerry Lewis would not return to host this years MDA Telethon, I was flabbergasted. For as long as I can remember, the one thing that you could always rely on me to do as an annual tradition was spend as much time as I possibly could watching what each and every one of us refer to as "The Jerry Lewis Telethon". Sometimes, I'd be with others, sometimes, I'd be by myself, but always, I'd be there for as much of it as I possibly could. When I've been lucky enough to  have access to both an east coast and west coast feed I would flip back and forth, often remembering the good parts to re-watching them three hours later. I think you get the idea.
     The Jerry Lewis Telethon offers a level of entertainment that no other program can even claim, let alone deliver. This show has spent the last several decades not merely being a train-wreck, it's been more like hundreds of giant trains with train conductors filled with passengers that are also smaller, anthropomorphic trains all crashing into one another at subsonic speeds on the same rocky intersection. Bad musical acts, hack comedians, mediocre magicians and unsettling interstitials held together by a aged, simultaneously ego-manical and senile ringmaster on no sleep for 24 hours straight? Clearly, if I had a church to worship at the alter of, this would be it. Every year I would contribute as much money as I could and I hope everyone else did as well. These people earned it. I especially liked when the occasional actual celebrity would stop by because the look on their face would always lead you to believe that the whole thing was every bit as surreal to experience in person as it was to watch on TV, probably more. Watch your local news tonight for comparison. It runs like a well oiled machine, does it not? Sure, you might get a missed que every so often, maybe they'll roll the wrong video clip once or twice a year, perhaps the two anchors will start to talk at the same time once or twice. If you were to give the Jerry Lewis Telethon an hour of your time, you were practically guaranteed to see all of these things, occasionally all at the same time. 


Just watch the last few minutes of last years show and marvel at it all:     

It's nothing short of a symphony. Everyone who knows me knows that I lapped all of this would-be entertainment up like Chaz Bono laps up vagina-shaped... well, from the look of it, anything.
     So much unabashed joy for so many years. And now, it's all over... and I never even got to say goodbye.
     Jerry had stated that this was going to be his last telethon and I was heartbroken, but it did give me something to look forward to. We all knew that this day would come eventually, but to have it be done in such an unceremonious way is so disheartening. Who knows how surreal and screwey his final sendoff would have been. Jerry and reality have spent the last several decades taking large chunks of time off from each other and his goodbye to we, his nation of adoring fans, may very well have proven to be the greatest  moment of entertainment in history.
     Still, perhaps it's better this way. A few years ago the coffee shop that I frequented and did most of my writing at closed down. They announced their final date about a week before it happened. For that final week I ate there every day, with dire anticipation of what the last day would be like. When that day did indeed arrive, I pulled into the lot to discover that they decided to close early that day. Instantly, all of the butterflies in my stomach died. The point is, if something can't live up to the hype, maybe it shouldn't. 
     I want the people at the MDA to know that I am never giving them money ever again. The reminders that I always get in the mail are appreciated, as are the address labels, but our time together is done. Sometimes a clean break in these situations is best. I wish all of Jerry's kids the best, especially Luke Christie, that kid cracks me up. Still, we'd just be going through the motions. It's time we see other telethons. 
Hmmm, maybe I'll give that Chabad Telethon another chance. I think they're morally bankrupt and they can be quite shrill. but hey, they're rich and I'll take what I can get.
After all, I'm on the rebound!