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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Chez, You'll Be Missed

I posted this a week ago but it felt too soon... I'm reposting it now and I hope it's OK (Taryn, Bob, whomever, tell me if I'm wrong and I'll take it down). The timing feels right given that The Bob Cesca show goes on tomorrow -- like Chez probably would've wanted it.

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Ben Cohen at The Daily Banter has more details on Chez's passing:

Chez Pazienza died smoking heroin in his car in Los Angeles this past weekend. A neighbor discovered him in his apartment parking lot and notified the police. He died between 11.30am and 12.30pm on Saturday, February 25th.  
"He OD'ed. The asshole," Chez's fiancée Taryn told Bob Cesca.
And Chez would have wanted the world to know this. Because that is exactly how he was. He never hid anything from anyone -- his life was an open book and he used his writing as a form of therapy. He didn't give a fuck what anyone thought of him, and wrote only because he needed to (and I use the word 'fuck' because I know that is what he would have wanted). Chez wrote extensively about his struggles with drug addiction, his broken marriages, his history of infidelity, his vulnerability and the inner demons that too often controlled his life on these pages and on his personal blog. He was a damaged, brilliant, thoughtful, selfish asshole with an enormous heart. He was simultaneously the best and worst person to work with, a loyal team player who thought mostly of himself and always did the wrong thing before coming to his senses and putting things right.

I got to know Chez when he and Bob Cesca formed the Bob and Chez Show back in 2011. I'd listened to every minute of every show since their first one, and looked forward every day to when I could download the podcast.

I was lucky enough to spend an evening in Eastern Tennessee with Bob and Chez (and Comedy Fred!) back when "Chez participate[d] in panel" and really enjoyed getting to know the two of them for a few bourbon-soaked hours. I've been in touch with both frequently over the years and would do anything to support them; both amazing writers and their show was truly special.




Chez was in New York back in December and I was surprised when he spontaneously reached out to ask me if I wanted to meet for drinks one evening. He came out to my stomping grounds in Brooklyn and we both drank way too much until 2-3 AM and shot the shit about politics, food, women, movies, and his upcoming TV series. He definitely was in a dark place, but I didn't think much of it, because we all were in a dark place after 11/9 and it was just something about which to commiserate (man, every single time I walked home from Putnam's in the weeks following the election I felt like I was wandering in a strange, evil new world). I wouldn't have guessed for a minute that he was using again, though.

A couple of months prior, I'd finally gotten around to reading his memoir, Dead Star Twilight. It's a memoir that is centered around a stretch in 2000-2001 where he was using, and then finally got out of rehab in time to be by the World Trade Center on 9/11 visiting his old stomping grounds at CNN. It had always seemed courageous to me how he wore his heart and his personal history on his sleeve in his columns and on his show, but reading an entire book about his low points was something else. If nothing else, I'm glad that back in December I was able to tell him in person just how brave a person he was.

In the few weeks afterwards, he and I would be in touch via Facebook to talk about music, or how we were feeling in the age of Trump. The last time I heard from him was about two weeks ago, when we were exchanging the music we'd been listening to, and as usual, I told him to hang in there and keep up the fight. But the fight apparently affected him so deeply and he needed badly to escape. He just escaped too far, and took himself away from all of us in the process. It's exactly what he would do; I can't hold it against him because it just was what he needed to do. But we're all in deep and coping in our own ways and we need to try to make it through it, supporting each other as much as we can. It's really not a stretch to say that was a casualty of Trump, but that would be oversimplifying it... Chez had many demons and this was just one too many.

If it hasn't been apparent over the last couple of months, Ari and I both idolize Bob and Chez; we would not be writing on our own shitty site (and considering doing a shitty podcast!) if it weren't for them. We're going to continue to support Bob and Ben and the rest of the Banter and RELM crowd financially and any way else we can.

Our hearts go out to Chez's fiancée, Taryn, as well as his two daughters and his parents.

It's a cliché to say that someone who has passed away is gone but not forgotten, but there is no way in hell I'll ever forget Chez Pazienza.

So tonight, I'll be raising a solid glass of Wild Turkey and toasting his memory. With much love and a hearty "fuck you."

Miss you, man.

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