Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dammit, Lindsay...

I'm not a fan. I'm certainly not any kind of celebrity hobbyist. In fact, I find the whole concept of celebrity degrading to the human spirit, a surrender of our own value to what we're seeing as someone else's higher value just because they work in some public forum. So why did a little bit of my heart break today when I saw a news item that Lindsay Lohan got picked up again, this time for both DUI and coke possession?
There's a great lesson I learned from a friend some time back, and maybe that's part of the reason I'm saddened by Lohan, and maybe a little angry at her too, the way you get angry at someone, even someone you don't know, for exercising their right to waste something precious. In the case of my friend, she took an extended trip way too far down into the depths of substance abuse, including alcohol, nearly lost her life, did lose her job, and almost her whole career too, with a hefty portion of humiliation thrown in for good measure. My friend is a lady of some means, and when she told me she'd tried all the well-known rehab programs, she was serious and was referring to the ones we've all read about. None, she said, did her any good. One day, years ago, she put aside the coddling feel-good centers and walked into the local AA meeting, and through their guidance and her own on-going hard work, has been clean and sober and wonderfully alive ever since. 
Back before he lost his show for making one too many mistakes of his own, Don Imus - himself a successfully recovering alcoholic and cocaine user - used to say that it didn't matter how long you were in recovery. You spend the rest of your life one drink away from being a drunk.
Earlier today I read a story in the local paper about a young man, an 18 year old honors student, who was killed over the weekend on a local highway when the car he was driving plowed into a concrete divider. The cause is still being investigated so no details are known, or at least none have been released. I realized while reading the story that the details of the accident don't even matter. If it turns out he was killed because he made some stupid mistake, well, 18 year olds make stupid mistakes. I sure did, many worse than whatever this young man might have done, if that's even what happened to him. The same is probably true for most people reading this. The biggest difference is our luck, yours and mine, held out, and his didn't. Hardly something I'd hoist myself up on a righteous pedestal for.  
Back to Lindsay. This is not some middle-aged booze hound, or a dumb-as-a-fox con artist (cough-cough-AnnaNicole-cough-cough). This is a 21 year old woman with a full life and brilliant career in front of her, if she lives long enough to see it. At 47 I know little enough about life now; I knew even less at 21, or 18. Among all those folks earning their livings from Lindsay Lohan, isn't there one willing to tell her the truth in terms that will get through to her?
I hope so. I really do.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here she is...

As usual, the past few days have seen several news stories coming at us over and over again. Lady Bird Johnson. The upcoming release of The Simpsons movie. (The media coverage and product placement leave me pining for the more modest, dignified coverage we had for Paris Hilton's jail time.) And Amy Palumbo.

Amy who?

Amy Palumbo, the young woman recently crowned Miss New Jersey. As you've no doubt heard, an anonymous blackmailer had threatened to release "unladylike" photos unless Palumbo gave up her crown (or tiara, or whatever it is they pin on these women's heads).

Purely as a service to my readers, I've made an extensive search of thousands of documents to locate the photos. (Ok, I googled her name.) Bottom line: no nudity. No "Girls Gone Wild" flashing. No parts of her bare body touching parts of the other person's bare body in out-of-the-ordinary ways. Not one of the photos has anything considered objectionable since the 13th century. And believe me, I looked. Hard. Purely as a service to my readers, of course.

Professionally and personally, Miss Palumbo has been put through the wringer with absolutely no justification. And do you know what?

I don't care.

I mean it. I don't care. My guiding principles - or what passes for them in polite company - have long included a complete lack of sympathy for anyone experiencing problems stemming from their participation in a beauty contest. (Claims that these pageants are about scholarship and social responsibility - nudge nudge wink wink - are nonsense. They are and will always be thinly veiled beauty contests.)

It's not personal. Nobody has had more trouble in this category than Vanessa Williams, and who doesn't like her?

The point is simple. Every time some young woman who may not be a bimbette but is willing to play one on tv is anointed the feminine ideal, it's a slap across the face. To whom? To women of any age, social position, education, ethnicity, marital status, sexual orientation, child bearing history, personal history of things overcome - you get the idea - who exemplify everyday greatness without being twenty-something, without having perfect teeth, and without having 12" hips with a bust measurement that, relative to her body size, makes her liable to topple over at any moment.

Don't get me wrong. Amy Palumbo has shown herself to be a bright, poised young woman who has handled the current crisis with grace. It's just that if we really mean what we say about selecting a woman to honor as representing all that's possible, good and admirable, we've got to realize she may be too busy keeping a real life together - hers or someone else's - to attend the ceremony.

In an unrelated item...

I just saw a magazine article from several weeks ago that said Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn are back together. WHY DOES NO ONE TELL ME THESE THINGS?



Monday, July 2, 2007

And that's the way it is...

This borrowed from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (July 2) - President Bush spared former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby from a 2 1/2-year prison term in the CIA leak case Monday, delivering a political thunderbolt in a highly charged criminal case. Bush said the sentence was just too harsh.

As rich a topic as this would be to write about, Unsaid is not a political space. At the risk of disappointing its valued readers, I will not use this journal as a vehicle for my own personal feelings about whether our president is living proof that you can be born into wealth and privilege and still be arrogant trailer trash with no sense of shame or responsibility who doesn't hold anyone in his administration accountable for anything. As an impartial reporter of the facts, I am also obligated to keep readers guessing as to whether I feel attempts to cite the trangressions of people who are no longer president as a defense would amount to little more than a smoke screen to keep attention off the current president. 

I just wanted to be clear on these points.