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Steven Wells’ contrarianism wasn’t just an act

My colleague Steven Wells has passed away. I won’t presume to write a heartfelt eulogy for him, because I didn’t know him that long, but I can say I will honestly miss him. And I can say that his acerbic and contrary nature wasn’t an act he played out on the pages of Philly Weekly, NME and elsewhere — what you saw on the page was really Steven.

We talked politics a lot, when we talked. He hated that I had Republican and conservative friends, saw it as a betrayal of the anti-torture, anti-imperialism and anti-warmongering feelings we both shared — but that he was so much louder and better at expressing. More than a few times we had a political conversation in which he would get the last word, a few days later, by submitting a column that (as an aside) would describe how people who held my views were, essentially, twats. (Steven was a fierce feminist, from what I could tell, but still somehow not averse to vaginally based put-downs. I think that as he marinated in his own brand of punk Englishness, he really didn’t see the contradiction.)

That’s Steven.

And this was Steven. Shortly after I arrived at PW, an editor here sent down a directive that we really shouldn’t use the word “fuck” in our copy anymore. I duly relayed the directive to Steven. This was his next column:

F-bomb you, liberal media, you f-bombing p-bombs. And while we’re at it, what’s with all this f-bombing?

F-bomb me but this is an f-bombing strange f-bombing country. (Or should that be c-bombry?) You flood the planet with gruesomely graphic hard-core pornography–and then p-bomb yourselves in terror every time someone uses, well, the f-bomb.

Earlier this year the language-loving comedian George Carlin died. And he died in vain. All over the liberal media his fans rushed to exalt his greatest monologue in which he ranted wittily about the absurdity of banning certain words.

And in every single broadcast not one of those words was spoken.

There is a puritan death grip on English as it spoken and written in America. In Australia and Britain politicians, priests and pop stars regularly f-through-z-bomb the living f-bomb out of each other. In the U.S. D-bomb Cheney drops an f-bomb in the Senate and the entire country runs around with its skirt over its head, shrieking girlishly. Sheesh, guys, it’s not like he flashed a nipple for 9/16ths of a second during the Super Bowl. Calm the f-bomb down.

Like I said: That was Steven. Tell him he couldn’t or shouldn’t do something and he’d race to do it with a righteously angry (and hilarious) glee. I can honestly say I’ve never known another writer like him. And I will miss him greatly.

  1. Kim Callahan Says: Jun 26 11:28 AM

    “Vaginally based put-downs”? Is that a fancy new phrase for “sexist remark”? Hehe

  2. Grk! Says: Jun 26 12:36 PM

    Kim: I think he means the c-bomb, as used by Derek & Clive.

  3. Grk! Says: Jun 26 12:37 PM

    And the t-bomb, of course.

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