This week we celebrate America's independence. And while we can't offer you an interview with George Washington, we can offer something much better: George Takei. After all, by Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Takei was the captain of his own spaceship. The best Washington ever managed was a glorified doggy paddle across some dumb river.
In the lastest print edition of New Times, we ran a wide-ranging interview with Takei, but there was so much he had to say that we are going to be running more excerpts from that conversation all week. When the fireworks launch on Thursday, you'll know what they're really celebrating, won't you?
In this installment, Takei discusses his unlikely friendship with Artie Lange, formerly of The Howard Stern Show, and how Takei came to have eight feral cats living with him.
We had been discussing Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whom Takei had described as flawed. Naturally, the conversation turned to Artie Lange. When Takei started to become a regular guest and eventually the announcer on Stern, he and Lange bonded rather quickly.
"He's a funny guy and he's a very original guy," Takei said. "A guy who has a lot of demons. And again, he's a flawed human being. I love the guy. He's basically a very decent guy.
"He plays that New Jersey macho guy. Sports-loving, beer-swilling and yeah, other problems," Takei continued, alluding to Lange's well-documented struggle with heroin addiction. "But demons have a way of suddenly overtaking him."
In early 2010, Lange stabbed himself nine times with a 13-inch knife.
"That attempt at self mutilation," Takei remembered. "It was horrific. Blood spattered all over that apartment. I tried to get in touch with him and got no response. So finally I wrote to his sister. And his sister said he was healing. He was in a sanitarium and isolating himself."
Takei had only one message for his friend:
"I told him that we love him. We used to talk regularly but I haven't gotten any communication since [the suicide attempt]. But he has a lot of things haunting him. Maybe what he did has given him a guilt thing about it. That's why, I think, Howard's still a little skittish about it. Because Artie's so volatile and explosive."
And now, for a furry sorbet to cleanse your emotional palate, we present how the love of cats on Takei's popular Facebook page came to be.
"We used to have a dog," Takei told us, the "we" referring to he and his husband Brad. "She was called La Reine Blanche, which means 'The White Queen.' Howard used to love that name. She was a white, French breed so we gave her a French name."
George and Brad had always considered themselves dog people, until cats came to find them.
"This feral cat happened to be at our kitchen door, so we fed her," he said. "Then she brought her family with her. They're not indoor pets. They're outdoors. And their tribe has taken over the property. We now have about eight cats that live here. So we've arranged with the housekeeper to make sure they have enough to eat."
The Takeis are often traveling for George's acting and appearances.
"When that happens, my sister comes to feed them. But when we come back, they are always languishing in the driveway, waiting for us."
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There's no need for you to languish in the driveway; more from the mind of George Takei tomorrow when he shares stories of his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and getting caught sneaking into a theater to watch Star Trek VI with an audience.
George Takei will appear at the Florida Supercon held at the Miami Airport Convention Center from July 4 through 7. For tickets and schedules, visit FloridaSupercon.com.