By Heather Havrilesky from Salon
Dec. 26, 2007 | When I was in third grade in Catholic school, one of the girls in my class wrote "Fuck You" all over the stalls of the girls' bathroom in red Magic Marker. When I walked into the bathroom and saw those words, I didn't think, "Oh my God! Who would do such a thing?" I thought, "Wow, Tracy Griffin is going to be in big trouble for this one!" Among the dutiful Catholic students who suspected that God would punish them for merely talking in class, Tracy Griffin stood out like a hungry pit bull at a free-range chicken ranch.
But anonymity is never really the sociopath's goal, least of all now, when the mentally unstable have the media savvy to know how to get their message across, whether they're marching into Hillary Clinton's campaign office with fake explosives taped to their chests or mailing detailed videotaped tomes to the appropriate department at NBC News in order to clarify the nuances of their upcoming suicidal killing spree.
IWhile formerly scorned loose cannons of the celebrity magazine world like Star and InTouch -- plus newly minted rags like TMZ and Gawker -- gained massive audiences by serving up appetizing pap to feed our worst impulses, an odd group of attention-seeking celebrity sociopaths rose to the occasion with increasingly aggressive public displays of affection for themselves and no one else. These were the Tracy Griffins of the entertainment world, an unruly gaggle of whoring celebrity sea donkeys who kept the rubberneckers in their thrall by showing up half-dressed and half-conscious wherever they knew flashing cameras would be present.
But in this head-spinning year of celebrity obsession and backlash, did we gain anything by listening in on Alec Baldwin's private phone message to his daughter, or watching camera-phone footage of David Hasselhoff drunkenly scarfing down a hamburger, or reading Charlie Sheen's alleged e-mails to his ex, Denise Richards? While none of us are above snickering at a rare glimpse of a celebrity during a particularly low moment, those glimpses are so common these days that they're really not all that amusing anymore, particularly when they're followed by a slew of Op-Eds, follow-up pieces and 15 million Web posts about whether Baldwin or Hasselhoff or Richards is a good parent, talented actor, upstanding citizen, worthwhile human being, on and on and on until our minds are thoroughly scrambled. You may have clicked on Perez Hilton or Gawker out of casual curiosity, but when you woke up three hours later, your head filled with an addled jumble of unsubstantiated gossip and idle judgment plus a dizzying volume of disconcertingly passionate opinions from the unwashed masses, your worldview and your priorities were irretrievably skewed, like it or not.
From Maureen Dowd from The New York Times
"Now the melancholy days have come,” Groucho Marx wrote to pal and fellow comic Fred Allen on Dec. 23, 1953. “The department stores call it Christmas. Other than for children and elderly shut-ins, the thing has developed to such ridiculous proportions — well, I won’t go into it. This is not an original nor novel observation, and I am sure everyone in my position has similar emotions. Some of the recipients are so ungrateful.
“For example, yesterday I gave the man who cleans my swimming pool $5. This morning I found two dead fish floating in the drink. Last year I gave the mailman $5. I heard later he took the five bucks, bought two quarts of rotgut and went on a three-week bender. I didn’t get any mail from Dec. 24th to Jan. 15th. ... For Christmas, I bought the cook a cookbook. She promptly fried it, and we had it for dinner last night. It was the first decent meal we had in three weeks. From now on I am going to buy all my food at the bookstore.”
From a review of the Craig Unger book on Truthout
Unger traces the origins of Bush's foreign policy to the 1970s, when prominent bureaucrats and writers gathered around such converts to conservatism as Irving Kristol and Albert Wohlstetter. The neocons scored their first big success in 1976, when two of their allies in President Ford's administration, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, created a group outside the CIA to assess the Soviet threat. That panel, dubbed Team B, was staffed by neocon worthies and led by Richard Pipes of Harvard University. One of the group's advisers was a Wohlstetter protege named Paul Wolfowitz.
Team B concluded that the CIA had vastly underestimated Soviet power and that supporters of detente were merely assisting the Kremlin's drive for world domination. It was an imaginative assessment, given that the economy of the USSR was crippled and its military infrastructure was suffering as CIA officers pointed out. Pipes's group held, for instance, that the USSR had probably deployed a top-secret antisubmarine system, even though U.S. intelligence had found no credible evidence of such a program. As Unger writes, "The absence of evidence, [Team B] reasoned, merely proved how secretive the Soviets were!" It was a bold preemptive attack on fact and logic.
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I love Groucho's letter to Fred Allen. He wrote the best book blurb ever, for S.J. Perelman: "From the minute I picked up your book to the minute I put it down, I couldn't stop laughing. One day, I may actually read it."
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