Tuesday, June 4, 2013

No Holds Barred - EXTREMES!

By Blair Sabol

Maybe it's about where I live — in the wild wild west of Arizona. We are famous for stupid politics, ridiculous personalities, and silly visuals ... Sheriff Joe Arpaio, anyone? Now I love him for the cartoon figure that he has become.

Okay, maybe I have lived here too long. But lately I am beginning to think that our western geographic "norm" has become the world's new shocking behavior called "Extreme."

Extreme Sports.
Extreme Manicures.
Extreme Cursing.
Extreme Murder Trial.
"Extreme" is now a fashion much like haute couture. We have Extreme sports, Extreme mental disorders (simple bipolar has a new higher level called "radical bipolar"), "Extreme measures" (our judicial system and plastic surgery) "Extreme manicures" ("The Louboutin manicure" is red coated on the under side of the nail with black on top). Not to mention the OPI nail polish company issuing a hilarious "Slavic " theme of "over the top" color titles like "You're Such a Buda Pest" purple and "Eat my Keilbasa" pink; "Extreme foods "(Red Bull drinks) and of course "Extreme Heels" (now topping off at 9 inch platforms).

And here I thought my little old "Extra Strength" Excedrin was enough of a high-powered addiction.

But it's the bad behavior that has come along with this High Octane epidemic that is disturbing. Benign upset has turned into high speed rage ... and not just the regular road rage.

Recently I was followed to the Supermarket by an angry exploding 400 pound gorilla in a banged up convertible jeep. When I got out of my car he started screaming (luckily in plain sight of an entirely peopled parking lot) profanity I never even heard of before ("Extreme Cursing"). It seems I cut him off on the freeway 7 miles back. I was completely unaware and tried apologizing profusely. But he didn't want to hear me as it was all about his "in-your-face" hysterics.

Years ago this used to be handled with a dirty look and a scoff. Now there are criminal high speed chases and verbal threatening "throw-downs" to get your point across to the world. I was warned many years ago when I moved here to never give anyone the finger while driving. After all most of the western drivers are "packing heat" in the front seat. It would be nothing for anyone to roll down their window and Glock blast you in the face for merely honking your horn.

Now my fair city has become the center of an "Extreme Murder Trial" — the Jody Arias case. I didn't even bother following this four month old event till I got back to New York City, and it was all anyone was talking about. NO, I never went down to the Phoenix courthouse to see HLN TV's Nancy Grace broadcast her nightly talking points.

And believe me, Nancy Grace I would have loved to have seen, since her own visual is such an "Extreme" delight — those Cirque de Soliel eyebrows and her signature handcuffed silver necklace. At least Grace has her "Bondage Chic"down to an art form.

The actual murder has to do with Arias killing her boyfriend Travis Alexander in a "Fatal; Attraction" blood bath. She managed to stab him over 30 times, slit his throat ear to ear and topped it off with a gunshot to his forehead. Talk about overkill. This made Glenn Close's character look like Daffy Duck.

The trial was not to be outdone by another violent explosion in a nearby Scottsdale eatery that made the news the very same week as the Arias guilty verdict. It seems celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey (known for his shock mouth restaurant assessments) showed up at Amy's Cafe for his "Kitchen Nightmare" reality show to critique the scene.

The owners had such a screaming meltdown that Ramsey actually left the scene in a blown away huff. But reality shows are made of this kind of drama. Yet our entire culture is responding to this "on steroids" behavior with open arms. The Arias trials had crowds daily that were ten deep standing outside the courthouse — to see what? They settled for listening to the results on their iPhones and quick autographs of Grace and other female TV court reporters. The latter were all dressed in the latest TV journalism"Extreme" uniform of cleavage revealing, sleeveless "bandaid" tight mini cocktail dresses with 9 inch heels. And this is at 7am.
The crowd outside the courthouse cheering the guilty verdict.
Public lynchings and professional wrestling events were always crowd thrillers. But the popular temperature is rising of late. Now Bigger is Better is THE lifestyle trend. But what Life?What style? What are we enhancing?

We've come a looong way from super model Naomi Campbell throwing her cell phone at her assistant. Now we have the weekly mall, theaters and school shootouts and mad bombers. Jailed Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has now become the latest sex symbol for many young girls. It's been reported that he is getting tons of sympathetic mail from these fanzines. Who are the parents of these girls? And who is doing his PR? They say he is beating OJ and the Menendez Brothers in Big House Hotness.

Everyone loves to blame everything on our technology. In this case it may be true. Most bloggers and emailers are not known for their accuracy or journalistic skills. (Remember we are in an era where TMZ is more important than the New York Times.) They are more into "flaming out" in print. Nowadays digital "Paper Tigers" with foul mouths rule. And the more outrageous the more adored!

I thought about this after watching the recent terrific HBO special "Behind the Candelabra" about Liberace. We have gone wayyyy past Lee. After all he and Michael Jackson may have been ridiculous in their excesses (shopping, drug using and abusing), but neither one of them were physically violent or rude. Ironically both Jackson and Liberace were known to be personally soft spoken, kind and generous.

Currently the sad flip side questions to this are; texting photos of your penis ... a bit "extreme" for a politician? Turning your 32B cups into a 36DD "rack extraordinaire"? Injecting your normal lips into the likes of a platypus? In fact isn't most "anti aging" plastic surgery sliding into disfigurement? I haven’t seen one face that really looks "youthful" ... just "fixed." In our world we refuse to honor moderation (forget aging). We cant even die naturally. The medical industry has to cut you up and radiate you to the end under the label of "saving you." "Dying with dignity" has become an "Extreme race" to the end zone with high desperate attempts at longevity and no real basic human awareness.

And lets talk about the height of Extreme fads: the Detox diets ... living on "green drinks" for 30 days and high colonics and breaking this fast with gluten free doughnuts. What is gluten free and how did that become such a universal medical "issue.” Aren't we really just talking about food allergies? What is new there ... why start a whole grocery section devoted to this?

Nowadays you can't even open a bag of peanuts in a plane because a kid might die of the airborne nut fumes. Even yoga has gone off the charts with this new kind of "high intensity" Hot yoga. Imagine doing classes in a room heated to 102 degrees (and it is currently 106 degrees outside my door) with the intent to cleanse you of your toxins. You don't leave class "cleansed" you leave dehydrated and looking ravaged. So much for Om-ing yourself into "vitality." How "high/low" can we go?

And the worst of all of this is: how rudeness has become the latest in Extreme competitive sports. Cursing at strangers, butting ahead in any line, stealing cabs from one another, making scenes over nothing in hotel lobbies and restaurants, indulged children having horrible public tantrums has all become acceptable. Nobody cares or even hears since we are all too busy talking so loudly and obnoxiously into our cell phones to nobody who matters.

Face it ... everyone is screaming for attention. We have all excelled into our own private hell of "Extreme Narcissism." And trust me, there is no Customer Service big enough to handle that cultural problem.

I often think how dear Oprah Winfrey used to tell her daily 3PM TV show followers to constantly "reward yourselves ... go out and spend on your 'gotta haves.’ You deserve it." Oprah was always big on shopping till you drop as therapy. After all she did it and thrived. But now Oprah is somewhat gone from the landscape and her audience is left broke, busted and disgusted with that rewards programming and "having it all" mentality.

The dream is kind of over and extreme shopping didn't really deliver. As I said nobody wants to settle for "moderation" as the alternative. (Forget about "cutting back.") That is a hard sell and not sexy. I wonder if we can ever understand "balance" anymore. Who wants to live like that? What does "the new normal" really mean in an amped up world of triple shot Lattes and Quadruple layered eyelashes.

But one thing is for sure ... the wild wild west is no longer just a crazed locale ... Get ready because it is coming to a front door near you!
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