The Day the Danny Died

“The ones that I admire most/The Father, Son and Holy Ghost/Took the last train for the coast/The day the Danny…died.”

I feel bad for Danny because my local Fox affiliate has been eulogizing him all night.  It won’t be the same around the American Idol dinner table next week, and, a month from now, some fans will still be weeping spontaneously and insisting that the rest of us keep his room exactly as it is.  But he’s actually going to be okay…better than okay.  So cheer up, people.  It’s not like the Packers lost.

And did you know that Danny was actually competing for network viewership with another Wisconsinite last night.  On N.B.C.’s Biggest Loser, the Fox Valley’s own Kristen celebrated her 167-pound weight loss.  (She didn’t lose it all last night, although that would be an awesome show to watch.  “Tonight!  12 overweight contestants compete!  Who can lose the most weight in two hours!  By any means necessary!”  I guarantee, for $500,000, someone would saw off a leg.) 

Anyway, she didn’t win, either.

And I’m not one of those cynics that claims that “Danny Mania” was “stupid.”  Gokey Day and Idol’s coverage did a lot for Milwaukee.  Not the least of which was showing America that Milwaukee is more than beer and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Besides, I know what it is to get hooked on a reality show.  I watched Biggest Loser from the beginning and, every week, I sat riveted to the screen, watching obese, everyday people somehow find the strength to slay the dragons that made them what they are and, at the same time, slowly shed layers of self-loathing and resignation.  Meanwhile, I enjoyed a bag of Taco Bell.

It’s not like I rooted for Kristen, though.  I don’t know that I rooted for anyone.  Rooting for one person’s weight loss over another’s seems strange to me.  I guess I was rooting for everyone…like a cheerleader at a Montessori school. 

The winner was a woman named Helen.  She wasn’t from Wisconsin, but she was from Michigan; the two Midwestern states that are most often confused for one another by people from outside the Midwest.  Helen lost A LOT of weight.  She was 48 years old and lost 140 pounds.  This is Helen:

photo:  Chris Haston/NBC

photo: Chris Haston/NBC

If you’re anything like me, you winced a little.  But, watching the show, she seemed so happy that each time they showed her, I winced a little less.  And I’m genuinely happy for her.  However, on her way to a quarter of a million dollars, she appears to have sped right past her ideal weight.  I mean, she wants to be on magazine covers, not U.N.I.C.E.F. commercials, right?

But her weight loss wasn’t the most dramatic of the night.  That prize went to Jerry, a 64-year-old, who lost just under half of his starting body weight, at home, after he was eliminated in Week 2.  He’s not pictured here out of respect to you, the reader, because, to me, it appeared as if his at-home method was simply premature decomposition.  Honestly, he was a sticker on his driver’s license away from being a Body Worlds exhibit.

Like I said, I don’t begrudge anyone who participated in “Danny Mania,” but Fox Valley Kristen’s accomplishment was pretty impressive, too…albeit pitchy, Dawg.


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