“It was always going to end like this; on his terms, and in his own way. He would have hated to die in his sleep, or of old age, or slowly from cancer. Chez was a rock star Goddammit, and he was going to f------ die like one.”
— Ben Cohen, founder of The Daily Banter
There’s no mincing words when discussing Miami’s Cesaré “Chez” Pazienza. His title was editor-at-large of the online news and opinion site, The Daily Banter, and he came by the ‘at-large’ through his gift for insightful, confrontational writing and outsized persona.
Pazienza was found by a neighbor inside his BMW in the parking lot of his Los Angeles apartment on Saturday. The former WSVN 7 News writer/producer, who also had TV stints at NBC6 and WPLG-Local 10, and at CNN and MSNBC, was 47. The Daily Banter reported he died smoking heroin in the car.
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“He OD’ed. The a------,” Pazienza’s fiancée, Taryn Nesbit, reportedly told Daily Banter colleague Bob Cesca by text message, a point referenced at the top of Cohen’s tribute.
“And Chez would have wanted the world to know this,” Cohen wrote. “Because that is exactly how he was. He never hid anything from anyone — his life was an open book and he used his writing as a form of therapy. He didn't give a f--- what anyone thought of him, and wrote only because he needed to (and I use the word ‘f---’ because I know that is what he would have wanted).”
The cause of death has not been officially determined. A toxicology report has not been released.
“We have been completely in awe of the response his death has created. He touched many, many lives with his writing and podcasting,” Cohen told the Miami Herald. “God help those poor bastards who have to put up with you now. They have no idea what they’re in for,” friend and former WSVN colleague Michael Avila posted on Facebook.
Pazienza was born in Miami, on Dec. 11, 1969. His father Ralph was a former North Bay Village police officer turned WSVN investigative reporter. Pazienza graduated from Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Opa-locka in 1987. He studied film and psychology at the University of Miami, and was a DJ and host of Midweek Metal at the campus station, WVUM-90.5.
Chez was the best producer and writer I ever worked with. He had the rare gift of being able to write in the same way that he spoke — in a conversational, insightful manner.
Michael Avila, former colleague at WSVN.
“Honestly, he stayed a couple of semesters longer than he should have, but nobody really seemed to mind since he was such a unique talent and enjoyed the freedom that college radio gave him. He was pretty much the Neil Rogers of college radio in that era and everyone loved tuning in to get some inside gossip from around WVUM and WSVN,” said Fred Sowder, WVUM’s program director from 1991 to 1993. “There's no doubt that that show prepared him for what he did as of late as a writer for The Daily Banter and co-host of the Bob and Chez Show Podcast.”
The beat, and edge, of rock ‘n’ roll remained in his writing. His recent targets on Daily Banter included axed Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos in a Feb. 21 column and President Donald Trump for his use of Twitter in a Jan. 10 column.
But Pazienza, using his blog, Deus Ex Malcontent, the one that got him fired from CNN in 2008, could turn the spotlight on his own struggles — drug addiction, divorce, post-brain surgery aftereffects. “Despite my best efforts and some of the most powerful recreational chemicals created by man or nature, I'm not exactly in the ground just yet,” Pazienza wrote in an April 2016 post, My Chemical Romance.
As a writer, he was brutally honest, vulnerable and raw. He had flaws, no doubt, and when he wrote about them, he made you feel EVERYTHING he was feeling and then some.
Gina Sirico, Pazienza’s former colleague at WSVN.
When he first hit local news stations he rose fast.
“He became a really adept writer and good at being able to explain things that were difficult to tell,” said former WSVN anchor Rick Sanchez who also worked with Pazienza at CNN. “That writing skill he developed was something which most people of our time and generation don’t do well. Everybody wants that wham-bam, thank you, ma-am story rather than something more deliberate and profound and told without being overly flowery. That’s a real craft lost today. He developed as a TV news writer at Channel 7, which is the epitome of wham-bam, to recreate and remake himself into something totally different … something better, more complex …astute in storytelling.”
When Pazienza began blogging on Deus Ex Malcontent in 2006, following his brain surgery, CNN eventually fired him for writing for a non-CNN outlet without approval.
He was a guy who grew up in South Florida in a gritty environment and learned in a Hemingway-ish fashion to experience life and tell it.
Fox News contributor Rick Sanchez, former WSVN, CNN anchor.
Pazienza had worked on CNN’s former “American Morning” program and was earning $100,000, he told the Miami Herald in 2008. He has since published his memoir, “Dead Star Twilight,” won two regional Emmys in Los Angeles, and founded DXM Media, a firm specializing in television production, social media strategies and consulting. “The notoriety,” he told the Herald in 2008, “has done me wonders.”
Pazienza is survived by his daughters Inara and Madison, his parents Ralph and Mickie Pazienza and fiancée Taryn Nesbit. A Pay Pal account is accepting donations to his family at www.paypal.me/tarynandchez.
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