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Hoping Artie Lange returns safe and soon

For those of us who are fans of sports and Howard Stern, the addition of Artie Lange to the show several years ago brought the perfect sports-fan voice to the show. He was loud, he was opinionated, he loved his team and he hated yours. Artie jumped onto the national sports stage in a big way last spring when he made a scene on the Joe Buck Show: Some people hated him for it, but it just made fans like me love him more.

So it was with a heavy heart I heard Howard and Robin Quivers take to the airwaves sans-Artie this week because he was in the hospital. He's been battling so many health and drug issues for years and I've always figured he'd end up like his idol John Belushi: Dead of a drug overdose at an early age. Instead, it's been confirmed that Artie stabbed himself nine times in a suicide attempt.

Artie's well-known with the gays for some pretty anti-gay comments. Telling a listener he hopes the listener dies of AIDS isn't the best way to ingratiate yourself with the boys in Chelsea. While his homophobic comments are tough to hear sometimes, I've always felt he was the exact guy we'd all love to reach out and talk to. He's sat there and listened to another of his idols, Howard, talk positively about gay people. When Artie goes to far with it, Howard smacks him down. And Artie's developed a genuine friendship with out actor George Takei, the show's announcer, who stops by for a week on-air here and there.

Artie also designed a cupcake for Crumb's (I've had it and, for the record, it's better than the Baba Booey; and I love peanut butter) that benefitted LifeBeat, an HIV outreach group for America's youth.

Interestingly, a straight friend of mine told me a couple years ago he thought Artie was gay. I rolled my eyes until he spent 15 minutes laying out the case: And Artie fit it perfectly. The suicide attempt is just another perfect fit. I have no idea if Artie's gay, but he does fit a pattern. "I work with Artie, I love Artie. Everyone has their demons, including myself, but he's wrestling with some serious stuff," Howard said this week. I just have to wonder if this is the serious stuff.

Anyhow, I'm thankful to hear Artie's now out of the hospital. Sirius exec Tim Sabean says Artie's job on the Howard Stern Show is safe: There will be a chair for him when Artie's ready to head back to the show.