I’m all over this week’s Perpetual Post! Catch this week’s discourse about the David Letterman scandal! Jillian and Howard’s sides can be found here.
I go to bed pretty early these days, and thus I lead an existence that is fairly sheltered from prime time and late night. But I’ve always had a soft spot for David Letterman, so when I heard that he had revealed the scandalous details of a plot to blackmail him during a broadcast of the Late Show, I was chagrined. My first response was, “Letterman! What the hell were you thinking?! ”
However, as my initial shock wore off and it became clear that Letterman’s televised confession was a brilliant, ballsy move that diffused the entire situation, my concern for his career turned to confusion. “Wait,” I thought. “Who the hell would try to blackmail David Letterman?!”
You see, even though I have a fondness for David Letterman, it’s not because he gives me the warm fuzzies. He’s a curmudgeon! He keeps his studio freezing cold and tells nasty jokes about celebrities and politicians and glares around a lot! He reminds me of my hometown of New York City. He’s brutal, he’s hilarious, you’re kind of scared of him, and he won’t be ignored.
In hindsight, it’s not much of a surprise that the blackmail attempt was a spectacular failure. Anyone who has watched more than ten minutes of the Late Show could have predicted as much—and it’s because Letterman doesn’t actually have that much to lose. He’s a celebrity, and as such, he wants to avoid scandal and negative attention as much as anyone else—but he’s not a politician. He doesn’t set himself up as a role model or a leader or an exemplary citizen. We don’t turn to him for guidance, and his career doesn’t hinge on holding the moral high ground—it hinges on being entertaining. And what’s more entertaining than a good old fashioned extortion scandal—especially one in which the audience gets to feel like they’ve got an insider perspective because the blackmail victim is confiding in them on national television?
The line between the politician and the celebrity has never been more blurred—and Letterman’s would-be extortionist miscalculated when he assumed that Letterman, like your average politician, would do anything to keep his reputation intact. If anything, Letterman’s reputation has improved thanks to this whole situation. Because he now comes across as the kind of grouch who will f— you UP if you come after him. Go Dave!
Why do you live where you live?
When I lived in Honolulu I had split ends and sunburnt shoulders and wore flip flops everywhere. When I lived in Boston I wore knee socks under my pants and walked stiffly from the cold.
Now I live in North Carolina, and this evening I was overcome with a sudden panic. I wanted desperately to see the ocean. Any ocean. I live four hours from the coast. It’s the furthest I’ve ever lived from the coast in my life. The island of Manhattan doesn’t feel much like an island, but you know it is one.
The other day I was listening to the Talking Heads while driving–an album I used to know by heart, and the song ‘The Big Country’ came on. David Byrne sings about being on a plane and looking down at the fields and houses in the middle of the country. The chorus goes:
“I say, I wouldn’t live there if you paid me.
I couldn’t live like that, no siree!
I couldn’t do the things the way those people do.
I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to.”
I realized with a shock that for the first time in my life, he was talking about a place like where I’ve chosen to live. It actually stung. I’ve loved the Talking Heads for a long time, but I’ve also always felt like we were on the same side, having both lived in New York city (I even babysat for David Byrne’s daughter once when I was 13, which is my only claim to fame). But now I winced when I heard him sing,
“It’s not even worth talking
About those people down there.”
I guess I haven’t quite figured out how I feel about my new adopted state, and my new little town. I moved here to check it out, see what it was like living further South, in a smaller city, with a different culture. But the people I’m surrounded by aren’t just living here because they thought they’d check it out. This is where their lives are; this is where they want to be.
I am not sure if it’s where I want to be yet.
Possibly this is why I am having a hard time making friends.
I Need to get a Job or Take a Class or Something!
Having spent most of my life in the Northeast, my knowledge of other regions of the country is limited. This problem is amplified by having grown up in New York City, which, I eventually learned, is unlike anywhere else in the United States, and possibly the planet. So I don’t know jack about what to expect from living in North Carolina. I will be the first to admit it. This should be fine, since I know I have a lot to learn. I am keeping an open mind and am excited to meet people and explore my new locale.
Still, I have found that I do have a few silly and romanticized notions from my heretofore limited exposure to the South. For example, yesterday I came across a name badge from our local supermarket on the sidewalk. The name on the badge said RHETT.
I got all giggly and excited.