WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS ARTICLE? AGREE? DISAGREE? I AGREE A LITTLE I DISAGREE A LITTLE WHO GIVES A SHIT? WHO GIVES A FUCK? THIS IS NOT A STERN BOARD PUPPIES AND KITTENS ................................................. 2011 was a tough year for hardcore Howard Stern fans. Members of the loyal Howard Stern army have had to deal with prodigious vacation time and the move from a four-day work week to just three days on satellite home base, Sirius/XM. And on the rare occasions when the show was live, those who have spent years (and often decades) listening became painfully aware that the self-proclaimed King of All Media, who had once been the de facto leader of disenfranchised iconoclasts everywhere, was now an excruciatingly pedestrian and middle-of-the road shell of his former self. Actually, the edge had been dull for quite awhile, but 2011 represented the death blow. Nowadays, you're more likely to hear talk about rescue cats, meditation, and charity photo shoots than comedy bits or Stern's patented rants about anything and everything. Even the Stern schtick of glorious self-promotion has become painfully real as the one-time shock jock dedicates countless minutes to playing clips of newscasters talking about his endeavors. The last show of 2011 was the perfect embodiment of what the show and Stern, himself, had become as it featured the announcement that the radio personality was going to be the newest judge on the milquetoast America's Got Talent show. Stern's angry, slightly misanthropic fan base squirmed in their seats as the last show of the year, before a two week vacation, was dedicated to America's Got Talent talk, America's Got Talent self-congratulation, and the insulting insistence from Stern that this was going to be some sort of brutal war in the tradition of past Stern Show wars. To make matters worse, the unofficial message board and virtual crying towel for the increasingly disappointed and frustrated fans, The Stern Fan Network, was being closed down at Stern's request and was going to be revamped into something more Stern-friendly. The Stern Fan Network, for the last several years, had actually been more entertaining and cutting-edge than anything in the Stern universe as fans viciously attacked the show and just about everybody involved with Stern to any degree. Frequent targets included Stern, Stern's wife, Beth Ostrosky, and various members of the Sirius/XM clan. The fans on the message board were the angry orphans of a show that no longer existed, lashing out at daddy for having abandoned them. And now, Mutt, the owner and administrator of The Stern Fan Network, was basically telling them that their negativity was no longer welcomed. The Stern Fan Network then closed it's doors for over two weeks before re-opening in the first week of January with a new look and apparent re-dedication to being a "real" fan site. But never underestimate Stern fans and their willingness to screw with anybody and everybody. Their King may have become an estrogen-heavy husk of a person, but the edge is still strong with these people. In the downtime of The Stern Fan Network, fans migrated to sites like The Stern FanS Network, which bills itself as a "cesspool of hate" and has carried on in the tradition of what the message board and show used to be. When the original Stern Fan Network re-opened, Stern's fans came back in droves and proceeded to give Mutt and Stern exactly what they wanted-- a more "friendly" fan site. In the days following it's re-opening, The New Stern Fan Network has been bombarded with sarcastic, saccharin-sweet, life-affirming posts and threads that have turned the site into one gigantic passive-aggressive joke. The forum, which was once packed with x-rated Photoshop mock-ups and slanderous insults, is now filled with pics of cuddly kitties, loving, new-age affirmations, and threads about Turkey Meatball Recipes and Rescue Kittens (mocking Stern's wife Beth and her aggressively well-publicized work with the North Shore Animal League) . "Thanks to Mutt," wrote full member, Dick Cheese, "for finally giving us a message board that reflects what our Beloved Howard Stern Show has evolved into." The mock-love and aggressive bro-fest has forced Mutt to perform some damage control by locking out several of the members, but the love fest goes on. The Stern Fan Network has become a place where too much negativity will get you banned and, now, too much positivity will also be punished. In other words, there's nowhere to go for the administrator who has been accused of trading in the increasingly disenfranchised fans for a working relationship with Stern and a hosting gig at the Stern Fan Roundtable show on Sirius/XM. Meanwhile, at the Stern FanS Network, life goes on as Stern's once-loyal legion continues mourning, in their own special way, the show they used to love. A decade ago, they would've pounced on anyone who dared to utter a negative word about their King. Now, they gleefully rip their former hero apart. The King is truly dead! Long Live....Cuddly Kittens?