Archive for November, 2009
Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
CNN.com’s Top 5 daily news clips includes one with the heading, “Privacy Is Dead. Get Over It”. I say, emphatically, “How About We Don’t Get Over It?”. One private investigator interviewed spoke about how the internet and social networks have made privacy impossible, concluding with his line, “Privacy Is Dead”. Whether it was the guest himself or CNN.com who added the tag line, there it blazed as the on-screen headline: “Get Over It”. I reiterate: How about we don’t? The absence of privacy has become normalized and sold as “fact”. We are directed to accept this and think no more about it. The train has left the station. Period. How about we don’t? How about we get out of the reinforced habit of helplessness and think for ourselves!
We could get off the couch and figure out ways to bring back privacy. It’s not too late. How about dismantling systems that remove this basic right from our lives. Creating and enforcing protective devices to ensure a real comeback for privacy, anyone? BTW, the comeback of privacy could be a big money-maker. I don’t know how to accomplish this, but we can all begin by demanding the return of privacy in our personal lives. What do you think? It’s not too late.
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
Note to Carrie Prejean, whose improper behavior and infamous bitch-slapping of Larry King, where she inappropriately called him the word, “inappropriate”, was on display last week on “The Larry King Show”.
Dear Carrie, Please wipe the smirk off your face and turn to page 522, in Letitia Baldrige’s revised, Guide to Contemporary Living: The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, for the following urgent instructions under the heading, “Letters of Apology”. “A letter of apology should be sincere and rather humble, or it probably won’t accomplish its mission. Of course, if you owe someone an apology, it’s better to make it first face to face, and then reinforce it with a note. If you absolutely cannot face someone to whom you have done an injustice, take pen to paper and humbly ask forgiveness.”
Let me know how it goes.
Friday, November 13th, 2009
I’ve been thinking about how there is no escape from Jon and Kate. Who are they? What is the meaning–and the message–of their headlining presence in our lives? Sure, famous people have always served as life’s backdrop in America. Every modern American child has existed in the shadow of the big cheeses of their time. Before television, it was radio and movie stars, and Presidents. Not that I would know. I’m a television baby. In my formative years, I easily found and turned to public figures for tips and “enlightenment” on success and comportment. I am not talking about spiritual enlightenment–that’s another matter. I believe that young people still seek a silent, unconscious “guidance”/ template of being, from their own season’s famous news “stars”. This might be a natural quest to fill in for missing pieces of parenting in one’s own imperfect, if not tragic, nuclear family. I can’t help but compare my own people vs. the Jons and Kates of today. The players on stage for me and my cohorts had something called “talent”. There was a constant array in the mid-to-late 60’s of fascinating public personalities I would study as role models of the possible, who were center stage in my view. I always chose someone who moved me, usually through music, comedy, and entertainment. Do we still have people who move us? Or is celebrity not about that anymore? I know it is nourishing–and downright handy–to have at least one fascinating public figure as a “mentor”–even from afar. Over the years, the personalities I chose varied, each standing in, I am sure, for various, personal reasons, but they stood in. Ricky Nelson(the gorgeous 20-something singer from “Ozzie and Harriet fame) got me through a few very early years, Streisand got me (very enjoyably) through high school, and I am lucky enough to count a small handful of role models I admire today–some of whom I actually know! Who are today’s celebrities who are being studied by Americans, young and old? What lessons do they give us about success and how to live? In these tricky times, we sure could use the encouragement of other people’s achievements and positive lessons in living our lives. You might ask yourself, “Who do I admire?” Turning away from reality show “celebrities”, there are still accomplished and classy public figures to study. As a First Class example, I highly recommend Barbara Walters, and her memoir, “Audition”. What an intimate, enchanting, provoking read. Go buy a copy and see what I mean. I’ll explain more later.
Tuesday, November 10th, 2009
Common wisdom has historically insisted that “actions speak louder than words”. Yet in fresh American politics, words and symbols alone torpedoed the blazing trail that led to the election of our first Black President. Obama’s emphatic message of hope emblemized the euphoric words of a golden agenda to a vulnerable, cynically exhausted nation, words which now are sadly vaporizing with stunning speed. Such impassioned promise-making is, of course, the meat and potatoes of all political campaigns. However, as with the swiftly created, soullessly crafted health care bill, it is clear just how hollow his words were. Though Obama has been in office for only one year, it is (understateably) disheartening to see how far afield his significant actions are from his former declarations. How disconnected, unacknowledged–yes, even casually antithetical–his actions are to his words. The alarming news of meaningful losses in women’s health care within the proposed health care bill is so off the charts vis a vis his debut mission statements, it boggles the mind. Is someone slipping some sociopathic substance into O’s secret ciggies? As the brilliant, essential United States Congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, and I paraphrase, “Don’t ask Obama to take any position at all or to be involved in the content of the bill. His sole interest is the passing of a health bill, period, any bill, in order to be elected for a second term”. Like many before him, Obama appears to have successfully delivered, in getting elected, the classic “bait and switch” sales strategy. Yes, I know he’s only been in office one year and “the poor man’s” plate is full. Comedian Jon Stewart suggests that he start eating from that full plate. I say, let him place the plate squarely in front of him at a table for one. No bi-partisan squabbling or debate on who hates the beet-and-goat-cheese salad. It is crystal clear that we are experiencing a helpless surprise in the whirlwind of quick and heavy government enactments that impact our lives. Those of us who question and speak out are once again, as in the Bush years, accused and castigated, even if called by different names this time(absent, so far, is last season’s favorite, “unpatriotic”). Still, not good names today, and we are seeing words take on new connotations that are not very friendly. The negatively spun word, “progressives”, is an example, as if this is a marginalized group of fanatics, who dare to be interested in progress. Oh, the shame of them. It will be interesting to hear the new spin and ongoing dumbing down/wiping out of vocabulary that is only just beginning. If only the President would wake up to the injustices he is smugly supporting and adopt two words of the late Gilda Radner’s Saturday Night Live character, Emily Litella. Just the recognition of one wisely placed, “Never Mind”, would be a great relief and authenticate his very own branding, the disappointingly discarded, “YES, WE CAN”.
Friday, November 6th, 2009
There’s a new country song by the music group, Rascal Flatts, about the suicide of a friend, entitled, “Why?” The chorus asks movingly, “Was there anything I could have said or done?” As more information rolls out about the tragic killings at Fort Hood, we are told that the murder suspect is a Muslim man, a military doctor allegedly deeply disturbed about returning to fight in Iraq against fellow Muslims. When first I heard this man’s name, I felt dread in the possibility that his horrific actions may produce a fresh wave of fear and hatred against Muslims. Today’s news also includes a separate shooting incident in Orlando, with one reported death, which has been sidelined in the media by the larger number of victims and sensationalism in the military killings. Both events are significant. Side by side, we might ask, “Why?” Meanwhile, these social horrors follow a week of much television talk time about “sexual addiction” and promotion of a new reality show featuring “sexual addicts”. Believe it or not, there is a thread uniting this week’s news; it all leads to the question, “Why?” To paraphrase the song lyric, perhaps there is “something we can say and do”. In this current wind of events unimaginable and potentially destabilizing, juxtaposed against the latest addiction/reality show narratives, I wonder(simplistically) what would happen if we could as a nation, for one month, choose to become addicted to creating peace. Imagine. We are a country addicted to understanding what we don’t understand. We are addicts whose lives depend on the answer to the urgency of “Why?” when we are clueless about other people. We are addicts in search of the fix of real answers and solutions to existing nonviolently with others in order to stay alive. I am not belittling those who feel out of control with any substance, or those who proclaim themselves, “sexual addicts” or “love addicts”. There are many things to say and know about what “addiction” means and how we are lead to use and address the weight of the term. I really, however, don’t believe it’s a stretch to say that we are all, in different intensities, addicted to being and staying alive. I’m introducing “Solution Addiction” as a prescription worth a try, while we still have the chance. The side effects could be stunning.
Monday, November 2nd, 2009
Joy Behar has launched her very own talk show on the CNN affiliate, HLN. She is a delightful, frothy presence in the talk show hosting club, and what a breeze of clean air she is. For me, even if the sound were to be theoretically turned off, she is, herself, a physically welcome dribble of comfort and smiley impulses. She is, after all, a stand-up comic, and has that Joy Behar attitude of perpetual outrage that is just so, well, relaxing. Whether leading a panel through the daily recycled news, dissecting the behaviors of pretend reality-show celebrities, or gamely ploughing through the fog of Hulk Hogan’s mind with a determined Q+A, she stands in for us, positioning both face and body toward a perpetual response of “Bullshit!” She’s tough. She’s real. And she’s one terrific anti-depressant television presence. Here’s my quick homage to Joy, words to be sung to the tune of the 1960’s hit, “Don’t Mess With Bill”, originally sung by the mighty girl group, The Marvellettes.
Well I know she’s the host
who smears jam on the toast
and we’re not talkin’ coffee cup
Yeah, Joy’s our girl who likes the sit and whirl
no sponser break can shut her up
Here’s what I sa aa ay
everyday ay ay
no no no
Don’t mess with Joy
Now there’s Jay and there’s Dave and there’s Conan, too
Just to mention some fellas
Well, it may be raining boys out there
But, girls, we got the umbrellas
Here’s what we sa aa ay,
Behar “Hooraa aa ay”
oh yeah yeah
Don’t Mess With Joy(no no no no)
(The preceeding is a strictly giddy/unpaid endorsement. With thanks to songwriter extaordinaire, William(Smokey)Robinson).