Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dealing with the heat

Gramercy Park. 2:20 PM. Photo: JH.
Thursday, June 9, 2011. Very hot in New York, temperatures hovering around 100 in different parts of Manhattan yesterday. Very warm but even more than that, humid last night.

Weiner. I went to lunch at Michael’s which was its regular Wednesday madhouse. The subject of the junior Congressman from New York came up at table as no doubt it did at other tables.

Have you noticed the spate of male sex stories? Arnold. Then the head of the IMF. Then Edwards Redux. Now a Congressman. I know, the charges all differ but it’s all the same: boys being boys. Bad boys too at times. Very bad boys. And worse, bad guys. I’m not talking about grownup men because that’s a biological state. I’m not excusing in any way the behavior of any of these doofuses but looking instead to put it in its proper place in the scheme of things for us.
Looking through Gramercy Park. towards the Chrysler Building.
What I find interesting about these cases (you can hardly call anything a scandal any more) is their frequency in the media. This stuff has been going on forever. But privately. And now with the internet, forever is going on forever. With no privacy. The photos that hundreds of thousands of people put of themselves for anyone and everyone to see are the kind of photos you wouldn’t ordinarily want to see of a stranger. And doing what, some guy amusing himself with himself in the bathroom. His Charles Atlas moment?

They’re funny maybe, and kinda of pathetic probably. Although, it turns out, as the internet has demonstrated, there are jillions of people who want to look at you and yours all the time, no matter what. Mr. Congressman Wiener was one of them.

Sex, remember, drives the internet to this day. Porn gone mainstream on the internet has the kind of box office even Louis B. Mayer would have felt sinful dreaming of. But like everything, the web has evolved, or rather its users have “evolved,” to use the word measuredly. People tire of looking at others. Now they want people to look at them. Everybody’s in movies; everybody’s a star. Mr. Wiener is just doing his own “Dancing with the Stars.” His specialty is a foxtrot, if you will.

Has he ruined his career? Maybe, maybe not. I don’t think his being a Congressman makes him any different from all the other guys in terms of what he’s been up to. As he pointed out, he hasn’t committed a crime. And the matter isn’t really any of our business; and if he weren’t famous or political, we wouldn’t give a damn. Nor should we.

After all, Dominique Strauss-Kahn is even older and an international statesman of enormous prestige. He was being seriously considered as a possible next President of France. Now past tense. He looks different now -- and all because of that incident in the hotel. We learned something about the man that alters the public image as a potential leader decisively.

Up until this point I never knew much about Anthony Wiener even though he’s a Congressman from New York. Now I do. Now I know he gets off on photographing himself when sexually aroused and figures other people would get off too. It’s actually funny, although certainly not for his wife.

What’s not funny is the guy shows bad judgment. It’s like the guy didn’t “get it.” I’m sure he’s not the first of his ilk to surf the web looking for fun and games, not to mention ego self-enhancement. For a Representative of the People, however, he’s proven to be a little less than, shall we say, ideal.

Should I or shouldn’t I, might the Congressman have asked himself? It’s an old-fashioned question, and an old one too; for a good reason. Good leaders make good decisions.

Meanwhile down at Michael’s his name is currently mud. The crowd today was classic Michael’s: Diane Clehane, Wednesday’s Girl Friday with Myrna Blyth; Steve Rattner; Ed Rollins with his wife Shari, Peter Grogory with his wife, Jamee; Dr. Joyce Brown, president of FIT with Jaqui Lividini; Steven Greenberg; The Imber-della Femina-Kramer-Greenfield-Bergman table; David Zinczenko; Mickey Ateyeh; Pamela Fiori: Judy Price and Amanda Haynes-Dale; Arianna Huffington with Alan Patricof; Jack Kliger; Susan Zirinsky with Joe Tacopina; Stephen Swid, Michael Fuchs with Jean Doumanian; Alan Grubman and Richard Engel; Rick Fox and Liza Dushku; Stan Shuman, Alan Mnuchin, Catherine Saxton, Barbara Cirkva; and in the bay, Gerry Byrne with Bonnie Fuller, Kate White, Countess de Lesseps, Jane Hanson et al, having a very good time.

I was lunching with Toni Goodale and Alan E. Kazdin PhD who is the director of the Yale (University) Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic.

This was our second meeting as Toni is working with Dr. Kazdin, who has developed a very successful program for “Parenting the Defiant Child.” This is a profoundly important issue in our increasingly complex society, and one that affect each and every one of us, whether we like to think so or not.

The topic at lunch was the epidemic of bullying in schools both public and private, both boys and girls. The topic is complex and while I intend to write more about it, I leave you with a video that Dr. Kazdin suggested I watch to get the picture.

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