No Holds Barred: Seriously “unhinged”

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The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1559.

At this point we are all beyond the dog days of summer. It’s no news that the climate has ruled and wrecked many of us. My hometown of Phoenix was promised a semi-deluge with “Hurricane Hillary.” We were left with spit and sporadic showers. Summer is a long way from ending. Personally, I am really sick of our local weathermen becoming overnight national superstars with a lot of inaccurate predictions. It’s tough being an “old headline” for a month. 110 degrees is no longer a hot topic. Maui took over and then California. Weather fame is fleeting.

Recently the news is filled with reports of the rise of addiction, binge drinking, and depression. What else is new? Apparently one in 10 people have lost someone to an overdose of something. Currently HBO’s popular series Painkiller has educated many of us to the perils of oxycontin and the Sackler family’s complicity in the creation and growth of the opioid epidemic.


Actually, this jaw-dropping series made me nostalgic for the days of quaaludes and “Black Beauty” diet pills, both now off the market. But I often think I would take anything to stop looking at the “Groundhog Day” reenactment before us with the Biden and Trump election. Not to mention the return of a new vicious strand of COVID and even Britney Spears is making a pre-pandemic return with her divorce. And here I thought the mere promise of September would bring us something really new. Instead, we are sinking in the PTSD stew of our troubled past.

At least retail shopping is up. It seems we are spending right through a recession or inflation. There is one item that has become a souvenir of the summer and you can wear it with your Birkin bag. It is a “I survived” T-shirt. It comes in many catastrophic themes; “I survived a July 23 in Arizona,” “I survived the AOE July 10th crash,” “I survived Barbenheimer,” “I survived my 80th birthday” — the choice of horrors goes on. But the idea that we are all about “survive” and not “thrive”— says it all, along with “unhinged” being the state of mind of the moment.

We can’t even go back to a movie theater or a concert anymore. It seems etiquette has become harder to control post pandemic. People in theaters are using their phones constantly to take screenshots and selfies. Concerts have become rowdier than ever. We have been pent up alone for too long. But using your cell phone flashlight as a weapon and attention grabber is a bit much.

Ah, the good old days. Photograph courtesy of Alan Magayne-Roshak.

We can’t ignore the Biden and Trump disasters. Everyone is waiting for either mug shot on a T-shirt (the ultimate “I survived” item) or how about a great House Arrest tour of them in jumpsuits at a Club Fed or Mar-a-Lago/Delaware mansion. Actually, Daily Mail columnist Maureen Callahan made a great observation; maybe it is our time as a country to take a fall or at least a drastic reset.

“Other countries have had their reckonings with their elected leaders, tried them and sent them to prison. Their democracies have survived — emerged stronger, even,” writes Callahan. Maybe we are experiencing a cleanse with all this. A great purge. And we won’t need Gwyneth Paltrow’s colonic detox anymore. More importantly … bring back Court TV to cover all this so the news media can bore us with something else.

3 out of 6 ain’t bad.

And then there are off-the-cuff personalities like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg. The narcissistic toxic spectacle of an actual cage fight makes us wonder. But what do we honestly expect anymore.

My mom’s motto and her bookmark.

No wonder no one is watching the news or TV anymore. Streaming channels rule 24/7 because we need a great escape. Though Disney just raised their streaming prices as well as their park fees. Will the Mouse House survive? Even Mickey is coming undone. And CEO Bob Iger’s (once thought of as the great “Mouse House” white knight) has taken a severe hit in popularity with the slashing of Disney employees and the overall Hollywood writers/actor’s strike.

And speaking of white knights — Maui’s fire presented a whole new level of strange star turns. All well and good that Jeff Bezos and fiancée Lauren Sanchez immediately stepped up with $100 million (they are major Maui homeowners), but made their contribution while being photographed yet again in lusty bathing suit porn poses on their $500 million yacht cruising Capri.

But Oprah (also a Maui home and vast property owner) appeared at a Maui survivor’s shelter giving out supplies and taking selfies in full makeup and designer hat and sunglasses. She was concentrating on a more “Mother Teresa” hand holding. Oddly her promise of much needed cash was not forthcoming or immediate.

It reminded me of Trump and Melania tossing out toilet paper rolls to the hurricane victims. Trump eventually boarded Air Force One. No doubt Oprah arrived in her private jet with glam squad. Something feels very disconnected here. Biden finally showed up in Maui two weeks post-disaster but couldn’t remember the island’s name in a previous press conference.

I get that everyone is allowed to go “unhinged” — certainly this summer as a run up to the crash of the fall. And believe me, I get the rise in anxiety and murder and hate crimes. It seems more than half of all Americans say no one knows them well. Who would want to? And how could we know anyone when most relationships are via the cell phone and never get past a three-line text.

But I think I actually see a ray of hope coming by November (if I last that long). Last week the movie trailer of Bradley Cooper‘s Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro was released.

It looks sensational and promises to deal with the ups and downs of Bernstein’s complicated life; being a closeted gay man, composer and conductor, manic depressive, and yet he still loved and looked after his wife and kids. The trailer sparked a ridiculous “Jew face” controversy over a prosthetic nose non-Jew Bradley Cooper wears as Leonard (I thought Cooper was Jewish, but who cares). Never mind all that (and it may just be a stupid PR ploy).

At least we get to see the life and times of a seriously “unhinged” artist/genius who survived and thrived! Get me that “Lenny” T-shirt now!

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