Sunday, April 11, 2010

When Being the ‘Ho Means Making the Dough

This week brings us the Masters golf tournament and Tiger Woods’ return to the most boring spectator sport the world has ever known – and, I’m including cricket and even gardening in that statement. Without a doubt, there’s more excitement standing in line for a Disneyland attraction. I remember one study of sports found that there were a few minutes of action in a baseball game. I’ll suggest there’re a handful of seconds of action in a typical round of golf.

No, this week, I’m much more interested in the return of Tiger to the public eye – that’s much more compelling theater, and as his past has proven, inclusive of much, much more action.

Tiger is another in a line of celebutards who have made a very public misstep. Unfortunately, he’s also one of a growing list of celebutards who seems to think redemption is as easy as pleading “addiction.” You can’t really blame him – it’s a tactic that might actually be working.

It all started on fateful night in 2006 with Mel Gibson. Fuelled with more alcohol than an NHRA dragster, Mel got pulled over for and arrested for DUI, whereupon he went on a drunken, hate-filled tirade that included anti-Semitic comments.

Mel – or rather his PR team – quickly deployed the addiction defense, as Mel apologized, proclaimed a long-standing battle with alcoholism, and checked himself into an outpatient rehabilitation clinic. Pundits thought his career was essentially over – and his next production, Apocalypto grossed only $50 million domestically, seemingly proving his critics right.

I don’t know. That film, as beautiful as the cinematography was, was long and subtitled – a double, open-mouthed kiss of death at the box office. Of course, Mel’s 2010 release, Edge of Darkness, followed with only $43 million at the box office. Still, I think that’s a good number – let’s not forget, Mel is a 54 year-old actor, 31 years removed from Mad Max, and more than 23 years past Lethal Weapon.

Tiger famously offered up the addiction excuse after his many late night escapades came to life. Right on his heels, West Coast Choppers bad boy Jesse “Mr. Bullock” James entered rehab for addiction too, this after his very own extramarital affairs came to light. Unlike Mel, Tiger and Jesse both pled addiction not to alcohol, but to another apple in the Garden of Eden, that being sex.

News flash here: All men are addicted to sex. It’s not a disease, and for that matter, it’s not even news. Thank goodness all men are addicted to sex, for our survival as a species is literally dependent on it.

Using the addiction claim as an excuse is ludicrous. As a guy who’s seen more than his share of the bottom of a bottle, Mel, let me offer you this - alcohol didn’t make you hate-filled. Rather, it simply greased the skids on your mouth, allowing you to let out what was already inside you. Tiger and Jesse, same goes for you two. Addiction to sex didn’t make you drop your pants – opportunity did.

Addiction aside, in the Tiger and Jesse stories, there’s one thing that’s got my mind running in circles. Since when has being a slutty "other woman" in an extramarital romp in the sack become a springboard to a new career?

Our celebutard-crazed society seemingly can’t get enough of the bimbos on parade outside of Tiger’s hotel room and Jesse’s office door. You don’t think so? Consider the following:

  • Jesse’s featured sleeze bag is the heavily tattooed Michelle “The Bombshell” McGee. Since this story broke, McGee has been featured on numerous television shows, magazines, and newspapers. Hell, her ex-husband has even been interviewed on TV. Not to look a gift horse career opportunity in the mouth, The Bombshell has recently launched a commerce web site, where for a monthly fee of $9.95, you can look at naughty pictures of her. Michelle, honey, I’m thinking that’s about $50 a month you can expect – you’d be better off buttering the pole down at the local Déjà Vu.

  • Tiger’s Joselyn James isn’t giving up on the chance to collect some fat coin either. Interestingly, she’s at Augusta this week too. As befitting someone of her particular skill set, she’s spinning on the pole at the Pink Pony, just down the road from the golf course, desperately seeking anyone from the media willing to stick a microphone or camera in front of her face. As a porn “actress,” this is Joselyn’s one chance for the mainstream, that is if you can call the Pink Pony mainstream. [As an aside, let it be known I fully recognize the folly of the term "porn actress," but I absolutely refuse to write "porn star."]
  • Mindy Lawton and Loredana Jolie Ferriolo are both featured prominently in a Vanity Fair article, chronicling Tiger’s “eccentric” behavior, including romps in cars, hotel suites, etc., including a story whereupon Tiger earned his "red wings." Today Vanity Fair, tomorrow a spread in Playboy (which Loredana has already done, pre-Tiger), and the day after that … perhaps a guest appearance with The Bombshell on her site?
  • Keep in mind, I can't give you the entire rundown on Tiger's and Jesse's mistresses - in total, there're over 20, and I fear the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome if I list all the sleeze-market opportunists.  But, one bears mentioning ...
  • Perhaps the queen of the hoochie momma parade up the career ladder is Tiger’s Rachel Uchitel. Pre-Tiger, Rachel was a party girl – a “VIP hostess,” whatever the hell that is. What do you have to major in college to get that job? Maybe you just have to graduate from Chico? Anyway, widespread rumor is that Rachel was paid $10 million by Tiger to keep her yap shut. Oh, but wait – there’s more. Rachel’s made a nice, soft landing by scoring a repeating gig on the TV magazine show “Extra.” No more working on your back now, Rach. Well, except, of course, if you get locked in Extra host Mario Lopez’ dressing room.

I don't begrudge these women staking their claim to their Warhol-esque 15 minutes of fame, and the varying degrees of fortune that come with it.  More power to them.  The weird part is none of this market would exist if we, the consumer, didn't create a demand for it.  Ever wonder why we give a crap? 

I know what you're thinking.  You thinking, "I don't care."  Yeah.  That's what we all say.  So, who's that leave buying subscriptions to web sites, buying papers and magazines, watching tabloid television, etc.   Ugh, I feel dirty - think I need to take a shower.

One other noticeable component to the Tiger and Jesse stories.  Notice these sex scandal stories are alway about men (see Elliot Spitzer, et. al)?  Coincidence?  Ha!  I think not.  For the love of God, for Rachel Uchitel's reported payout, I'm sure there are men out there thinking, "you know, Tiger's not a half-bad looking dude." 
Naturually, that's just this guy's opinion. 
Tweet me up @RayHartjen

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Denoting Lenten Sacrifice One Brownie at a Time

Easter Sunday brings us to the end of “Holy Week,” or rather the start of the new season of “The Great Fifty Days,” as Holy Week proper is the last week of Lent, and includes the holy “big ones” of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday, but ends on Saturday, the day before Easter. Of course, that’s just the Christians. Those of the Jewish faith just completed the celebration of Passover, commemorating the Hebrew’s escape from enslavement in Egypt. This year, we saw a coincidental overlap, which always brings good times. [Not knowing anything of substance about the Islamic calendar, I can't offer up any additional quirky scheduling conflicts]  There’s simply nothing like dueling religious headlines in the paper; some celebratory, some scandal-ridden; and all clouding the coverage of March Madness.

Lent is a peculiarly odd church season, at least in this guy’s eyes. Well, not so much the church season, but how so many of its celebrants choose to recognize it. Traditionally Lent’s purpose is the proper preparation of the believer, through prayer, penitence, almsgiving, and self-denial, and the season takes place beginning Ash Wednesday (40 days prior to Palm Sunday) and concludes either on the Ninth Hour of Holy Thursday (44 days) or on Holy Saturday (46 days).

Now, back in the day, and whenever those days were, they certainly pre-dated me, Lent was marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and accompanied by other acts of penance. Traditionally, leading up to Easter, the faithful reinvigorated their practices of prayer, justice towards God, fasting, justice towards self, and almsgiving, justice towards neighbor. That, as I said, was “then,” in the old days.

Today, of course, is the “now,” and cursory observation suggests a new traditional offering of devotion.

Today, Lent is preceded, and celebrated almost globally, regardless of religious affiliation, by Mardi Gras, the literal translation of which is “Fat Tuesday.” Well, truth be told, Mardi Gras has always preceded Lent; it’s not just today – the whole idea was to indulge yourself in the fatty foods that you’d be cutting out over the next 44 to 46 days. You know, like the fat dude who will stuff his face the day before undergoing a gastric bypass surgery. Eat, baby, eat, ‘cause those days are about to be lost forever!

For Mardi Gras now, most people don’t even know Lent follows – it’s just another excuse to get completely shit-faced and have a rollicking good time. Nothing wrong with that, as I’m sure you’re aware of my particular proclivities. What strikes me as a bit weird is the self-denial part.

Let’s think about this. For the Christian believer, Easter is the celebration of the rise of Christ from the dead, and his ascension into heaven, three days after he died for the sins of the many.

Read slowly: Jesus’ sacrifice was dying a prolonged, agonizing death staked to a cross for over 6 hours in the searing sun to atone for the sins of others.

Now, that’s a sacrifice. On the scale of things that really suck, with 0 being a cooler of free, cold beer, to 10 being sentenced to standing on your head in six inches of foamy diarrhea for an eternity in Hell, I’d rank that a solid 9.

So, with an eye toward Lenten traditions, what might constitute a sacrifice, an act of self-denial, that would be a symbolic tribute of such an unselfish act? Look, I’m hardly the poster boy for either angelic behavior or the supreme provider of social well-being, but really, does cutting out deserts from your diet for 40 days really rate?


Religious observance is up to each of us individually, and my mindful eye is always careful to distinguish between organized religion and spirituality. I’ve got nothing against organized religion – in fact, I’m grateful for it. Without religion, which has always been about humans trying to control our own self-destructive behavior, each and every day would be like a Friday night bachelor party in Las Vegas – within two generations we would devolve to a complete idiocracy.

Ever the optimist, I’m holding out hope in humankind. One of the faithful or not, we all have much more in common than we do in difference. The foundational concepts of Lent are somewhat solid – we could certainly follow much more self-destructive behaviors. Coupled with the principles of giving and providing to those in need – damn, we could really get some good done. Maybe it’s something we should try every day!

Of course, that’s a big change. I’m going to have to build up to that slowly. So, until next February, I’m going to treat every day like Fat Tuesday. That way, I can beat the rush.

Of course, that’s just this guy’s opinion.

Tweet me up @RayHartjen