No Holds Barred: How low can you go?

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Expressions of anguish and fear (detail), Luca Signorelli, The Damned Cast into Hell, 1499-1504, (San Brizio chapel, Orvieto Cathedral, Orvieto, Italy).

Aren’t we supposed to be back to normal by now (forget “new normal”)? After four years of lockdown and weirdness, shouldn’t we all feel older, but at the very least better? Instead, it seems more chaos is the new lifestyle baseline.

My mom used to say, “Things were better when things were worse.” She even made a bookmark of her mantra. Now I feel “things are worse because things are worse.” As one friend recently confessed to me, “Even though I feel I’m basically OK right now, there is a huge feeling that it could all blow up in my face in 15 minutes.” Clearly this is the way of our current worldly warp.

My mom’s mantra and bookmark turned on its side head.

Last week I found myself nostalgically reminiscing about Monica Lewinsky over Stormy Daniels. What a better scandal Bill and Monica were way back in 1997. I long for the blue dress, her handbag line, Bill’s post-affair purchase of pet dog Buddy. How about that famous sad picture of him walking with Hillary and Chelsea (she was in the middle) to the helicopter post confession? Now that was decent scandal material — worth following. Not like today’s dead-end complicated corporate spending receipts and boring optics of courthouse stairways.

Our country is only as good as our scandals — sexual and corporate. Clinton had one of them from an accused 1978 rape charged with Juanita Broaddrick to a Kathleen Willey fondle to the famous penis exposure to Paula Jones to an accused handsy issue with TV reporter Leslie Millwee. The list went on. Bill really got to “spread the love” and he seemed to come out better for it and our country survived.

Sharing the love with Hillary and Buddy.

Now we are in a different world clogged with social media and bipartisan frenzy. Last week the famous catfight exploded on Capitol Hill between Marjorie Taylor Greene and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Jasmine Crockett. Greene accused Crockett of having “fake eyelashes that impaired her reading” and before you knew it, Crockett accused Greene of being a “racist bleached blonde bad built butch body.” Whoa. As Bill Maher suggested, our Congress is now The Jerry Springer Show. But Jerry was better!

And as for trials and dream team’s, nobody can beat OJ. His recent death brought back all the reruns of his famous white Bronco ride. What a thrill to watch! The trial cast was stellar from Judge Ito to Chris Darden to Marcia Clark to Kato Kaelin to Johnnie Cochran.

Ryan Murphy’s Emmy Award-winning American Crime Story.

Ryan Murphy made an Emmy winning series out of it all. Now what kind of trial teams do we have today? What juicy “actor” is Michael Cohen? Porn stars are now just old news and Georgia’s Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis might not even make her real-life audition. Trump’s cases are too hard and too numerous and too complicated to follow.

The only court case of any interest is the super popular and “Webby Winner” (best webcast award 2024) “Margeaux and Jules” saga directed by jeweler Alexis Bittar. It stars Patricia Black and Julie Jay about an Upper East Side matron abusing her personal assistant. Margeaux’s press tirades on the NYC courthouse steps has 300,000 followers riveted. She is out-exploding Trump, and she has better writers. And her “dream team” consists of her clothing stylist, hair tech, eyebrow managers, turban designer, makeup artist, and shoe designer. And of course, jewels by Bittar.


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Speaking of political scandals and NYC nostalgia … I really hope NYC can find a decent mayor. I haven’t visited Manhattan in four years and have been cautioned to stay far, far away. I wondered if Anthony Weiner shouldn’t try a return run? At least he was a real politico, and online penis exposure now isn’t that bad of a crime. After all, Jeffrey Toobin is currently back on CNN.

The other day I saw a picture of Andrew Cuomo sweetly helping his mom Matilda into a car. The optic made me think, is it too soon to consider him? All we have is damaged goods of late, but who has the least criminal record? It’s pathetic that no one young and fresh wants to go into politics anymore. Who has the least scorched earth. That’s how bad global politics has fallen. Corruption rules.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo looking after mom.

It’s pathetic when scandal and poor taste become the driving force behind entertainment. Netflix’s recent Tom Brady Roast (produced by Tom Brady) was a 2-hour grill-fest of Tom’s sex life, gay jokes, and inappropriate hits on his ex-wife Gisele Bündchen and ex-girlfriend (mother of his child) Bridget Moynahan. Sure, roasts are meant to be a No Holds Barred, Full-On attack. And I used to love the Dean Martin 1980’s versions starring brilliant verbal hitman Don Rickles. Those roasts were legendary and hilarious. Oh, and the classy look of Friars Club dais.

When Roasts were tasty.

The Netflix version was glitzily and explosively art directed (lots of AI imagery and footballs on fire) and the scripts were loaded with blowjob and anal sex punchlines that were way beyond locker room gags. There was nothing creative or witty (who would expect that?) about it. Although it was nice to see Bill Belichick actually smile and deliver a somewhat amusing speech. But as Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins said, “this was just stupid, cruel and pointless.” And it was Netflix’s biggest grossing show.

Meanwhile Jerry Seinfeld is getting constantly criticized for his pro-Israel stand and Duke University students staged a walkout on his funny commencement speech. Walking out on Jerry Seinfeld? He doesn’t even work blue.

I’m all for letting it rip, but our culture is sadly too ripped apart to land a decent punch line. Now that everyone can stage their own roasts on their Instagram, we have platforms of insults. The problem is you need to be intelligent to be really funny. And we have been 0 – 0 in that department.

I have friends who are now so fed up with the latest streaming features they have returned to the old days of situational comedy reruns; “Friends,” “All About Raymond,” “The Nanny,” “Seinfeld,” “The Office,” “All in the Family.” The list is endless. It was the Norman Lear era of real writing. It was better times – maybe we had a better sense of humor.

And get this: PBS still runs “the most successful fondly remembered TV show in history” — Lawrence Welk! Now what does that say? Even Welk’s campy goofiness gives us some relief. Or are we all sinking into a happy dementia?

Lots of people are hooked on old Hollywood reels of Judy Garland and Ethel Merman singing in CBS Television City. Did they look and sound better? Maybe. Or are we just desperately seeking for the best life has to offer?

Recently I got swept up in dog Instagram videos of groomers making dogs into zebras, or dogs jumping endlessly into leaf piles. It feels meditative. Even “Bruce the cow” videos of a cow destroying picnic tables is now the hot laugh to catch.

Well, at least it beats the recent event of 100 penis shaped balloons released at the NYC courthouse by artist Scott LoBaido. Each balloon featured the face of a Trump foe; Jack Smith, Judge Merchan, and Judge Engoron. It was entitled “Dicks of Hazzard” and described as performance art. If the whole world is now performance art, does that propose the problem of …

How low can you go?

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