No Holds Barred: Testing our last nerve

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Oprah and Adele. Credit: @oprah

Maybe we’ve reached a Covid critical peak. I live in a super-hot spot with 21,000 cases a day.  My state of Arizona is now “color coded” black/brown.

We are not in a lockdown but are learning how “to work with Covid” which sounds great until you notice nobody is working. Yesterday my Starbucks posted a “closed” sign, my manicurist cancelled our appointment due to her second “breakthrough” infection (she’s been thrice vaccinated); and my CVS was on a drastic slowdown since three of the five pharmacists are down with Delta.

Still, the hot item of the moment.

Meanwhile, we are all “testing, testing, testing.” But like everything else, confusion reigns. Should we test daily? Only when exposed?  Only when symptoms appear? Before or after an event?  After you hang up the gas pump and forget to sanitize? After five, or seven days of incubation? You get the mess of a picture.

The CDC and Fauci are sinking in daily mixed messaging and people have had it. We are stockpiling test kits like last year’s toilet paper.  And let’s not even address the mask mania.

We are Covid crashing. All the peaking and leveling and surging and testing is now testing our last nerve. Our pandemic patience is frayed.

With all this Covid emotional breakdown, we’ve now been exposed to even more celebrities over-sharing their own “upsets.” Oprah started this trend with her Meghan and Harry interview — and then she went on to Adele and presumably soon, Britney Spears. Come one come all to Mama Oprah and dump your Covid privileged problems in her lap!

This is also an extension of social media and reality shows. But it’s wearing thin as the public now have their own problems trying to get a shrink Zoom appointment, a job interview, and their kids to school. As writer Janet Street-Porter says about Adele’s recent tearful “diva” viral apology canceling her Vegas residence shows the night before the gig: “Yes, my life is too short to include more Adele Atkins. The tidal wave of tears that accompanies each apparition. The drama, the torment, the misery. After all, we’re talking about someone who sings for a living, not a brain surgeon, peace negotiator, or diplomat trying to stop the Russians from invading Ukraine.”

Adele’s reason for cancelling was Covid; and “delivery delays” (meaning what, her gowns weren’t finished?). How about the lackluster ticket sales? Her fans rebelled as they learned about it while landing in Vegas for that night’s performance. Ticket and hotel room refunds are still up for grabs.

Adele’s apology to her fans on Insta.

Apparently, Celine cancelled her Vegas residency last week — not due to Covid, but her “extreme muscle spasms.” She gave her fans plenty of time to change schedules and get refunds.  In the end, only dear Elton John continues to continue cross-country with his Farewell Tour. While he recently contracted Covid, it was two days of down time and only needed to cancel two appearances.  At least he hasn’t done a self-obsessed “deep sharing” with Oprah.  Elton is “still standing.”

I’m still standing (Yeah, yeah, yeah)!

Recently actress/writer Lena Dunham felt the need to “open up” about her life in the Hollywood Reporter. She expressed her need to adopt a child now at 38, her being body shamed by women, her plans to reboot “girls,” her recent marriage and complete hysterectomy at 31 … and there was a whole lot more.

A day later, comedian Kathy Griffin got a giant New York Times spread. It was another in-depth reveal of her attempt to recover from her career killing Trump “bloody head” joke in 2017.  She took us through her cancerous left lung, the death of her mother, her Adderall addiction and rehab, loss of her own New Year’s Eve show, just being a woman nowadays … blah blah blah.

But she is still worth $50 million and lives luxuriously in Malibu. She insists she needs to get her life back. Who doesn’t? And she even made a documentary of her difficult life. She says she wasn’t cancelled; she was erased. No doubt every comedian has taken a huge hit these last two years. Nothing is that funny anymore.  Face it, time has moved on and comebacks are a bitch (at least Dave Chapelle is still at it after almost getting roasted and toasted — but no complaints from him).

All these indulged female celebrities need to take some advice from the it girl — artist/writer Francoise Gilot. The former Picasso muse and mother to his children is now 100 years old and still painting and writing.

She was recently interviewed about her current painting success. No dramas, torments, or sagas were mentioned. “I am shy” she confessed. It seems barriers can be handy for her.

It girl Françoise Gilot at 100 (!) photographed by Landon Nordeman for the New York Times.

“You should not make yourself known that much to other people and keep your most intimate thoughts to yourself” — especially with a husband. And she should know. After Picasso she married Jonas Salk, the developer of the Polio vaccine. While her works are huge bestsellers, she insists, “I am not going to make a big deal of being more than what I am.”

Turning from the problem of TMIin a time we all have our own TMI — was the death of three BIG guys in one week.  Rocker Meatloaf, fashion journalist Andre Leon Talley, and comedian Louis Anderson (Covid was not mentioned in any of the initial obit reports). Nobody reveals “cause of death” anymore. Maybe that is the ultimate in TMI. Although later it was acknowledged that Meatloaf was not vaxxed and Talley had heart complications with Covid.

One gift from Covid is the apparent need to take care of ourselves. People with “pre-existing” conditions (diabetes, heart problems, obesity, and neurological issues) can get slam dunked when Covid arrives in their blood stream. This is not news.

I truly believe that the death of photojournalist Bill Cunningham in 2016 and Andre Leon Talley’s recent departure mark the end of the NYC fashion era — if not fashion in general.  Andre was about the importance of being famous and fabulously dressed. Bill was about discovering and reporting the importance of street fashion — if not the streets!  That time is already long gone.


I only met Andre once and he blew me off instantly. That was fine as I am a nobody and was having lunch with a somebody who he needed to meet and greet. But ironically, Andre always knew about bad behavior. Talley told the NYT in 2018 that “there have been some very cruel and racist moments in the world of fashion. Incidents when people were harmful and mean spirited and terrifying.”

And as NY Post columnist Maureen Callahan so aptly described in her Talley Tribute: “Talley could play that game too, buying into this ugly business of beautiful people, reveling in his role as gate keeper. He was the outsider who became an insider — as much a creator as anyone else in that realm … name dropping, issuing dictates and commands with the authority of a 5-star general.”

His greatest move came in his 2020 book “Chiffon Trenches” and his description of his Vogue boss and dear friend Anna Wintour.  Apparently, she fired him as Vogue’s official red carpet Met Gala interviewer.  She replaced him with a “20-something” YouTube star.

He would later call Wintour a “colonial broad” and “steeped in white privilege.” He was deeply hurt by her “clearly stone-cold business decision. I had suddenly become too old, too overweight, and too uncool.” Ironically Talley calling Wintour out on her toxic behavior ended both of their Vogue and big fashion reigns.  Now, fast fashion, TikTok and technology have taken over.  Timing is everything and both “queens” are “dead.”

In Anna’s words: “… it is the loss of André as my colleague and friend that I think about now; it is immeasurable. He was magnificent, erudite and wickedly funny, mercurial too …” Photo: Patrick McMullan.

It has been reported that Anna Wintour ended the Talley feud a month before he died, even though Talley said he found Wintour “ruthless and incapable of a single human kindness.” She paid tribute to him and admitted “Like many decades-long relationships, there were rocky moments, but all I want to remember today, the only thing that matters to me, is the brilliant and compassionate man who was a generous friend. and caring for me and my family for many, many years, and whom we will all miss very much.”

If that’s all true, she could do a whole Met costume wing show (like Iris Apfel) based on Talley’s amazing large and unique couture wardrobe.  It could be a perfect karma payback from Wintour and Andre could have HIS ultimate last word.

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