Monday, August 25, 2008

Lazy days

The Metropolitan Museum of Art at night.
Another beautiful August weekend in New York just past. Senator Obama chose his Vice-President, Senator Biden. Even the non-political ones were talking about it. The new drama appears to be what will happen with the Clintons at the Convention which opens today in Denver. Oh-oh, the Clintons!! The media are looking for a rumble, I can tell you that much. They already know Hillary’s next Presidential race strategy in 2012. Now they think she’s gonna upset the apple cart out in Denver. Oh-oh, here she comes! (Are you laughing, I hope?)

A lot of readers are too young (or weren’t around) to remember the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. Police attack dogs aimed for the protestors. Bobby Kennedy dead, Martin Luther King Jr. dead. The Chicago Seven. Old Mayor Daley telling the young rebellious ones, the jeering to settle down. And eat humble pie. It was too late. There was heat in the air.
Biden and Obama.
Political presidential conventions are historical events. They are not about Making Nice. Political fights have always gone on. There was a political fight going on when John Kennedy took the nomination and disappointed the Adlai Stevenson contingent which was established and powerful. Senator Kennedy had already angered Eleanor Roosevelt, the reigning Juno of the Democratic Party. That was considered quite an uncool move. (She got over it and JFK was acceding to the lady.)

Bill and Hillary.
In 1920, Warren Gamaliel Harding won the nomination on the 5th ballot. He went on to helm the most corrupt Presidential Administration before or since (well, maybe not “since.”) Poor President Harding died in office. Some think he just couldn’t take another minute of it. Or had too much to drink the night before (it was during Prohibition).

The Democrats are currently in the doldrums according to many political pundits including many of their supporters. Even Frank Rich in the Sunday New York Times has ideas about what Obama should do. Because, it seems, as much of a surprise as it is, that the McCain campaign is having success taking some pages out of Hillary’s campaign technique book, practicing them on Mr. Obama.

Many Obama fans are very put out about this and will no doubt have fresh notions of what the Clintons may like to have wrought on their man before the week is out. I think it’s exciting. There should be an edge to this matter. We are living in very edgy times confronted by multitudes of serious issues that need to be addressed by strong and imaginative and caring leadership, not only here in this country, but in the world. “If you can’t take the heat,” Harry Truman said, “then stay out of the kitchen.” The problem today is that people are so used to air-conditioning, they think they can’t live without it.
The 1968 Democratic Convention.
Mayor Daley giving it back to the rostrum at the convention.
The Rich, the Chic and the Shameless. I hear that the Girls on the “Real Housewives of New York” are a little put out by upcoming debut of Kelly Killoren Bensimon.

“Why?” I asked my source. “Because she’s so Pretttttttyyyyyy!!!” Was that a meow or a tiger by the tail?

Kelly Bensimon.
Have you seen the “Real Housewives”? You’re not the only one if you have. I hear it’s the must-see-can’t-wait TV show for the people we think of as society in New York, Southampton, Palm Beach, and all points all places. I looked at a couple episodes out of curiosity. Vulgar curiosity it used to be called. I saw one episode of a mother telling her daughter how to dress. Calling Joan Rivers!

I watched another episode where LuAnn Delesseps explains why her husband’s a “count.” Mrs. Delesseps, off-camera, is everything she appears to be on television – a goodlooking, decent, pleasant woman who is married to a European guy. I make that distinction because Europeans, i.e., Euros with “titles” appear to be more sophisticated than their American counterparts and thus so often are their wives.

LuAnn is nothing if not an all-American girl. I think she’s even of Native American descent. She may be sophisticated, married as long as she has been, but the patina of a European “countess” is not there.

I’m old enough to remember the “An American Family” series on PBS where the camera and crew moved in with a family in Southern California and video-ed their entire lives for several months, including the family squabbles, the marriage problems, the eldest boy coming out, the breakup of the marriage and the short but interesting celebrity of the Wife/Mother, Pat Loud and her gay son, Lance Loud, both of whom moved to Manhattan after the show was over.

It was fascinating eavesdropping, voyeurism, and sometimes embarrassing. The women being followed around by the camera in “The Real Housewives of New York City” are not all that different from the Louds of Santa Barbara, socio-economically speaking, although it is almost four decades later and the culture has been in transition everywhere.

These “Wives” are all “mature” women – meaning not adolescents, not 20-somethings, (maybe not 30-somethings). They are all relatively privileged financially and socially. Some of them have families.

But I don’t feel I am eavesdropping or being voyeuristic, nor am I even embarrassed. Because these girls are all camera-ready. With the Louds I felt as if I were the camera following them around.

This time I’m not the camera but the spectator being led around by the woman on camera. It’s like they’re auditioning for a remake of Mary Tyler Moore, or Lucy, or maybe The Women (as seen through the eyes of Rhoda this time).
The "Real" Housewives of New York City.
As far as the Society angle goes, these girls are not Society. An expensive apartment, a limo and a house in the Hamptons does not society make. Those accoutrement won’t hurt if that’s what you’re looking for; but they also won’t help. These girls are all spawns of the subPrime world that is now imploding around us.

They are very much women of their time, of their moment and for that reason, this funny little gawker of a show is an authentic social document of these days in New York and in America. But, do you think Marie Antoinette was better informed?

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