EVERYTHING IS AWFUL and Other Observations


by Matt Bellassai

Keywords Press/Atria/Simon & Schuster
2017, 247 pages, $22

ISBN 978-1-5011-6649-5

Click here to purchase

Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” made me think of what to write about Matt’s semi-autobiography in EVERYTHING IS AWFUL.

What a great title that Matt came up with.

(However, whatever you may think, there is more flat-out observation and opinion here not related to Matt’s life than there should be).

Growing up, Matt writes a lot about how often he was dressed by his well-intentioned mother in the dingiest and tackiest Goodwill store clothing you could scrounge up. We are talking about styles, such as plaid, that came and, thank God, disappeared. I hope forever.

Regarding Johnny -- when I watch “MeTV” late at night, wondering what happened to my precious hours in the day -- in one episode, Carson was chatting with the late Burt Reynolds one evening from the mid-1970s. Johnny was wearing a blatantly bad, just plain awful, noisy-looking sports jacket that literally hurt my TV-viewing eyes. I told my wife if she dressed me in that in my coffin, I would rise from the grave and come back, zombie-like, to track down and assault whoever dressed me like that. It was awful just watching that atrocity; I couldn’t keep my eyes on the screen. I wouldn’t be caught dead in it, not to mention on screen in front of 50 million people.

My Mom, God rest her soul, also purchased a pair of plaid Navy blue/light-blue plaid slacks for me when I was a kid, about the same time Johnny was insulting well-dressed manhood, destroying his TV good looks and making me avoid television talk-show hosts for decades. Yikes! Forever down with plaid!

So Matt’s tirades about life, people and what people think about don’t end with their popular clothing styles. Against his best interests, Matt despises any physical activity. He devours junk food. Matt doesn’t like to dust his apartment. And he writes that men’s cargo shorts “are basically just the straight man’s response to purses” (from page 149).

Well, Matt got that right. And he cares very little for professional sports.

The eventual BuzzFeed expert gets hilarious, however, with his account of his being on TV for the first time -- at least, that was the plan -- as a People’s Choice Award winner. But the presentation of the award becomes so botched up (the show managers place the camera on the wrong guy during the official presentation on air), which is why I think Matt can believe sometimes that, yes, everything is awful. Just watch any amount of TV for, like, 20 seconds or so and you can figure that out, too.

If you can watch that much TV without getting indigestion, then it’s exactly the way I still feel about plaid. It insults a man’s best-dressed soul.