A lot of attention was paid this weekend to Pippa Middleton’s wedding. I suppose there would have been some attention paid to her nuptials since she’s the sister of Prince William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. Realistically, however, I’m convinced the attention would have been scant, if the comely royal sibling had not graced us with the contours of her shapely derriere as she emerged from a car, arriving at her sister’s wedding in her clingy bridesmaid’s confection. Tabloids mooned over Pippa’s apparent, and unintentional momentary eclipsing of her sister’s big day. Indeed, one was hard pressed to immediately find photos of the face of that belonged to the gluteus fabulous. It turned out the camera loved Pippa’s entire package, and compared to her attractive royal sister, she is certainly no Joanie comely lately.
Still, looking at the scores of images and videos of Pippa’s big day one cannot wonder if those online photo galleries and front page play would have existed at all had she not exited that car back in 2011, in reverse, setting off her seismic ass-cent into the public consciousness. We found out she’s a party planner, had lots of boyfriends and has plenty of quid thanks to her wealthy parents and an earnest work ethic. We even were treated to photos of her from the front..but only begrudgingly, by supermarket tabloids that earned their publisher’s megabucks by featuring photos of mega butts.
The demand for her flattering dress spiked almost immediately as well as the popularity of diet and exercise programs aimed at emulating Pippa’s curvy hindquarter geometry.
I still couldn’t tell you what Pippa’s voice sounds like since I’ve never heard it. Then again, I neither encountered nor sought any recordings of it. Nothing personal. Just not interested.
I’m hoping now that both sides of the lovely Pippa are committed in matrimony this will be pretty much the last we’ll hear of her. Considering the source of her original notoriety, it’s time the world turned the other cheek. Then again, while she seems harmless enough there are plenty of asses in D.C., who should, perhaps, never show their faces.
On this Mother’s Day, 2017 I’m reflecting back on how my late, wonderful mother affected me in my work life.
It started in the 1960’s when I had my first job folding laundry at Mel’s Laundromat on Union Turnpike in Queens, NY. It was in a strip of stores that ranged from Glen Oaks Pharmacy where Richie the owner and pharmacist kept the store guarded by a massive German Shepherd who would sometimes snuggle up to your crotch while you were shopping….to Sol and Lefty’s candy store/luncheonette that served as a lunch counter, candy stand, place to get your school supplies and bookie joint. Yes..it was always safe to shop at Sol and Lefty’s because there was always one of NYPD’s finest on site…to place a bet. In between there was Ray’s Anchorage/old man’s bar, the Cracker Barrel supermarket a dry cleaner and deli. Mel’s was closer to the north end of the strip where Sol and Lefty’s was located.
Mel was a crappy boss. He was crazy and yelled a lot and made sure half the machines didn’t work right so customers would have to toss in extra quarters. I was 8 years old and even so, the 25 cents a day he paid me seemed like a screw job. My mother gave me my first workplace advice at that point. “Edward,” she said, “try not to work for assholes.” But I was young and impetuous and I didn’t obey that sage advice, for more than 40 years.
Later, as a teenager, I worked at a day camp in tony Great Neck, Long Island where the skinflint owner paid us 25 bucks a summer plus tips, but you had to pool your tips. Mom advice number two. “Pool your tips? What? So the lazy schlemiels can get some of your money? Screw ‘em! Toss in five bucks and pocket the rest. You earned it.” Smart mommy.
When I started my career as a broadcaster it was at a truly crappy station in Fulton, New York. Fulton is about a half hour north of Syracuse, which puts it squarely in the area commonly known as “Nowhere.” The station was located in a field in a concrete block building next to the transmission tower. Occasionally, the St. Bernard that lived in the farm that surrounded the station would walk up to the door, bang it with his massive head and wait for belly rubs. We always complied. When I brought my parents to see where I worked, my mother offered work advice number 3. “Edward, make sure your next job isn’t in such a shithole.” I dutifully obeyed and moved on to another station, in Auburn, N.Y. which was located in the top floor of an office building and had the best studios and equipment.
For the benefit of time and space I’ll skip ahead to when I eventually landed a job at CNN in Atlanta. My parents were duly impressed but were not familiar with either Atlanta or Georgia. This precipitated mom job advice number 4. “Edward,” she intoned, “this is a big deal. Do whatever they say, try your hardest, show them what you’ve got and whatever you do, do NOT start saying ‘y’all.’” I did everything she said and lasted two decades at the most manic place I had ever worked.
My last fulltime job was a Chrysler. I was hired to manage and ghost write a blog on behalf of the head of PR. This was 2005. My parents just could not fathom exactly what it is I was hired to do. Despite many explanations, blogging and social media did not compute with them. They attempted to send emails via the ghastly WebTV service, which was so slow, snail mail would arrive faster. It only frustrated my father who received a lot of useless “forwards” from other alta cockers at their Florida condo community. My father would respond to each and every one with “please don’t send any more of this stupid shit.” It got him elected to the condo board of directors and captain of the shuffleboard team.
It also led to my mother’s final work advice: “Edward,” she said patiently. “I really don’t know what the hell you do or why you do it but if it pays better than the laundramat I’m happy for you.” It did, indeed, pay much better than the laundramat, and led to a nice management job, an office and free coffee…which only proves, you should always listen to your mother.
He sat in front of his locker with a towel on his head and took no questions. It was the man the Detroit Tigers depend upon to successfully seal the deal when they’re ahead in a game. The “closer.” Two nights in a row Francisco Rodriquez, K-Rod, did not seal the deal. He did not close the door. He made enough mistakes to allow the team the Tigers were beating to beat them instead. It made me think about this particular arrangement where we call on someone else to finish the job we started then allow them to suffer loathing, both self and external, when they can’t quite get it done.
Let’s say we’re writing a news story. I make the calls, do the research and start to write. I’m almost done but I’m outta gas. The words aren’t coming to me and my fingers are tired from typing. I could also use a stiff drink and a hot dog. No problem. I call in “the closer” who is tasked with finishing my story in such a way it not only the front page lead but is so amazing it goes viral and CNN employs a panel of 27 pundits to parse it and assigns it a dramatic theme song and spooky graphics.
But that’s not the way it goes down. The closer is fatigued from bailing out a half-dozen of my colleagues and depleting his hyperbole supply. By the time I call him into my game he’s got nothin’. He gamely takes the assignment anyway because closers never say “no” when their number comes up or they’re offered single malt Scotch. He taps and taps on the keyboard and I feel editorial victory is imminent. It’ll be my byline all over the paper and CNN will ask me to do a Skype interview with Anderson Cooper who will compliment my journalistic enterprise, and cuff links, while privately I will know it was the Closer who won the day for me. But that’s not the way it went down. The Closer falls short. Working on no day’s rest he coughs up three errors of fact and two blatant personal biases. I’m called on the carpet by the Managing Editor and ordered to personally write the corrections and an apology to the readers for allowing bias to breach the body of my story.
Damn Closer! It was his job to complete my assignment, make me look good and pave the way to that Pulitzer. He apologized profusely and promised to pull himself together for the next assignment. I just don’t know if I can trust him anymore. For now on I’ll have to pitch a complete game..from lead to nut graph to conclusion. But I can’t go on indefinitely like this. In a pique of frustration I stole the one thing that would get the newsroom’s attention and hit my colleagues the hardest. When one hapless scribe padded up to the kitchenette looking to fill his empty mug, he was greeted with Alec Baldwin’s greatest line. “Coffee is for Closers.”
I wasn’t invited to the White House Correspondents Association Dinner, but then again, the President wasn’t there either. So I thought I’d’ make believe I was invited to give the closing monologue. I expect the same uncomfortable silence the actual comedian usually receives.
Good evening everyone. As I stand here at the podium I can only imagine you’re thinking to yourselves, “jeez, give the poor midget a box to stand on.” That, followed by “uh…like, who the hell is he?” I’ll help you out on that one. Well, no I won’t. You’re all reporters. Figure it out yourselves. Perhaps you can file a Freedom of Infotainment request for the anti-Semitic consultants report on me when I was a weatherman at KGUN in Tucson, Arizona that complained when I used the word “spritz” on the air, it was, uh, “too Eastern.” Yeah…Eastern European. Ashkinazi.
Of course the real reason we’re here tonight is to celebrate the First Amendment and denigrate those who would impose limits on this most basic inalienable right. That would be the current occupant of the Oval Office. It’s the perfect place for him since he’s absolutely obtuse.
I won’t waste precious time and space taking repeated shots at the President although it would be somewhat satisfying seeing him bleed from his heart or his, wherever.
I would like to spend my time with you tonight to discuss the the First Amendment and how similar abuses of it are eerily similar to the way the Second Amendment is misinterpreted and bent to suit the desires of some.
The First Amendment says we’re guaranteed freedom of speech, press, assembly and religion. The Second Amendment says no law can “infringe” on the right to form a “well-regulated” militia or on the right to keep and bear arms.
OK. Both good laws. The first one guarantees the right for us to shoot off our mouths, even if we sound like incoherent or insulting idiots. The second protects our right to own weapons of crass reduction, and strict constructionists might argue it gives us the right to shoot off someone’s else’s mouth, in self-defense.
Many people who do not own guns do own mouths. In some cases, they are the more harmful since they often indiscriminately fire off volleys of invective, bigotry, lies and pervasive puns without regard as to whose ears they may land upon and cause great emotional harm. Perhaps they should not leave the house before putting on an oral safety. On the other hand, there are those who own both guns and mouths. I’m guessing the vast majority are sports men and women and use their mouths to holler, “Ah seen a buck. Bang! Deaaaaddd!” However there are others who use both the First and Second Amendments as the means to advocate putting no limits on what types of weapons can be sold, especially those with the sole purpose of hunting humans, for which there is no designated season or license you can buy at Walmart or sporting goods stores. You are permitted to wear blaze orange at will, but not really cool at a Bar Mitzvah.
I have been a journalist in TV, radio, wires, newspapers, and the web for 45 years and can honestly I never felt my First Amendment rights were being infringed upon even when an editor slaughtered what I thought was frothy word play. I’ve never owned a gun, other than a Daisy air rifle and it was pulled from my cold, muddy hands by my mother because I kept using it to shoot dirt clods at the kid next door because he had a horrible crew cut and thought he was Leslie Gore.
So I close reminding all of you we must never loosen our grip on the freedoms given to us by men with wooden teeth and steel balls. Should those rights be threatened by someone, do not hesitate to raise your Daisy air rifle, and fill their pants with dirt. Thank you.
Haven’t written for a bit. That’s because I was on vacation so I let my brain take a breather too…while marinating in various brown elixirs that generally mix well with pretzels and smoked meats.
With that in mind, I want to discuss holes in the ground. Specifically, the holes we stick people in when they draw the ultimate short straw. This macabre subject came to mind as our travels took us to Jamestown, New York. It’s where Lucille Ball was from and where she currently, and eternally, resides. We noticed the cemetery where she’s buried is right off the Interstate 86 so we decided to pay homage.
A series of red hearts helpfully painted on the cemetery road directs you to the Ball family plot. I didn’t get a photo of that because it was too silly.
If you look closely, there is humility in death. Though Lucy was a huge star, she does not warrant top billing on the family stone since she was not the first to “arrive” at this spot, preceded by her parents, grandparents and father’s brother. Indeed, when she died on April 26, 1989, she was cremated and first interred in Forest Lawn Cemetery in California, but in 2002 her kids moved her ashes to the family plot in Jamestown.
As we quietly stood by the plot and thought about how much laughter Lucy had given the world I couldn’t help wonder about this whole business of visiting graves. We use the euphemism of a person’s “final resting place,” but if they were actually “resting” does that mean when the person is refreshed they’d get up and go to dinner or take a walk? Of course not. A half-empty approach would be to quote Newton’s First Law of Motion that states “a body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.” I have a feeling there is no outside force that will reverse the effects of one’s final “rest.” Push it, pull it, cajole it, sneak up on it. Nothing’s happening.
Then I wonder what’s really down there that we’re visiting. Lucy’s ashes, someone else’s bones, worms, bugs?
I live in Michigan. My parents are both buried in Florida. Every year I travel down there and “visit” them. It makes me feel better even though I know the scientific truth of what lays below my feet. I let them know what’s happened in the family over the past year and I imagine them either smiling, frowning or asking me if I’ve eaten. It’s OK. To not visit would seem like I was abandoning them and that, I just couldn’t do. You don’t think of what’s in the box, because that would be horrible. But you know that’s as close as you’re gonna get to their last known location and somehow that’s comforting.
By visiting Lucy’s last stop, it was a way to honor a talent…someone who made the world a happy place and deliver your thanks for the laughs..in person.
I never fly United. Not because I fear a couple of guys will suddenly wrench me out of my seat, knocking out a few teeth and putting an overall damper on my traveler-as-livestock experience. I never fly United because the nearest airport to where I live is a Delta hub and I’m a sucker for hoarding that airline’s frequent flyer miles so I can be treated like a Holstein by that carrier without paying for it. I tell you this to establish the fact I have nothing personal against United Airlines, so when I comment about that airline’s recent spectacular PR fails I do so without any baggage, thereby avoiding additional exorbitant fees.
Actually, I’m not going to pick on United. I’m going to pick on the basic business model airlines operate under. They sell more tickets than seats available as insurance against no-shows. If everyone shows up they’ve got to figure out a way to placate the pissed-off passengers for whom a seat isn’t available. Their first tactic is to offer a small bribe that gradually escalates in value until they get enough volunteers. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In United’s case, they needed to make room for their employees and not paying customers. So they made the perfectly logical decision to wrench a paying customer from his seat, mashing his face and providing fodder for a hugely embarrassing video that would go viral within moments of it being posted. The passenger will most likely sue for a much larger amount than United would have had to pay to convince him to change flights.
I’d like to propose another way to reward air travelers for the regular abuse they suffer. Introducing TLS Rewards. TLS being an acronym for Treated Like Shit. Each time a passenger submits an instance of being treated like shit by an airline, they accrue a number of points that’s in proportion to the abuse. Lost bag? 100 points. Whacked in the head by a passing beverage cart? 150 points. Hoping for those yummy Biscoff cookies but all they have is peanuts with your coffee? 50 points. Grabbed from your seat by a couple of security guys and your head bashed into the armrest resulting in lost teeth? 10,000 points and first class seating for life with the firm promise that once seating you won’t be brutally un-seated. Plus unlimited Biscoff cookies. When you accrue enough TLS points you become entitled to various rewards such as the chance to chase baggage handlers with the Jetway, unlimited vouchers for that all- Slim Jim snack box, permission to use a pillow to suffocate the guy hogging both arm rests and the chance to use the plane’s PA system to entertain the other passengers with your impressions of indecipherable gate agent announcements. Perks like these would seem to be just the type of mood changers that could offset the otherwise unpleasant aspects of flying, while not compromising safety. You can still earn free flights and upgrades through existing frequent traveler programs. Under TLS Rewards, you can also earn fun opportunities for revenge…and everyone knows, that’s what we all really want.