Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Strange interlude 2008: The house without bling

     This post-surgery recuperation is taking longer than I expected. Two full weeks now. Apologies. It's frustrating for me too. But I have to kinda take my body's lead on this thing, and the body says, "chill." Some stretching exercises, some physical therapy, and I'm done for the day. Even posting this seems almost a bridge too far, but I think I can manage. It's hard to read much, never mind write anything. Maybe next week.
     Thank goodness there is royal scandal, although honestly, it quickly morphed, in my eyes, from some nutty British crown-watching kerfuffle, to Something Significant About Race, influenced by this revealing Afua Hirsh piece in the Sunday New York Times, and BuzzFeed's jaw-dropping comparison of press coverage of Kate Middleton v. Meghan Markle. 
     I'm tempted to just leave it at that. But this is my blog, and I should join the party. So I wondered what, if anything, I wrote about Prince Harry over the years, and found this, when the Drudge Report outed him during his military service. Frankly, the fact he served in a combat zone should buy him significant goodwill, and my prediction is that Harry & Meghan's recent pushback against the racist British press will someday be seen as among their finest hours. I left in the breakfast table conversation about bling because, well, I had to. For the record, the younger boy is the least ostentatious 22-year-old I ever met. So I guess my anti-bling pushback worked.


     See? Journalists aren't quite the scum you think we are. For 10 weeks, Britain's Prince Harry had been fighting with his unit in Afghanistan, and the normally rapacious and cut-throat British media kept the whole thing in a cone of silence, until his cover was blown by the Drudge Report (is Matt Drudge having a good week, or what? First the American media swallows his Obama-in-a-turban photo, hook, line and sinker, then he eats the British press' lunch and leaves them muttering about bad form).
     In return for not turning a blaze of publicity that might get the 23-year-old royal killed, the British media was granted access to take photos and conduct interviews with him. It seemed a win-win situation all around. Perhaps their role in hounding Harry's mother -- Princess Diana -- to her grave gave the Brits a rare sense of duty.
     Is it bad that Drudge blew his cover? Well, somebody had to feed the news to him, so if Drudge knew, it was hours away from hitting other Web sites anyway. Still, the whole episode shows that restraint is possible, even in this day and age.


     "Dad, can we get Bling Water?" asks the 12-year-old, the Sun-Times spread on the kitchen counter before him, open to news that the Trump Hotel is selling water for $25 in crystal-encrusted bottles.
     "No," I say. "We are not a household that embraces bling."
     He keeps talking, but I am lost in reverie. My boy, 15 years hence, 350 pounds, wearing a sequin baseball cap turned sideways. Bedecked in gold pendants and chains, he sits on a folding chair in a circle of large, similarly-appointed men.
     "Sure we had love, a roof over our head, food on the table," I say, out-loud to the kitchen, approximating his voice, channeling the future scene, where he brushes away a tear as sympathetic, bejeweled hands are placed on his shoulder. "But we had no bling. My father never valued bling. I hated him for that."
     My wife, the cheerleader of the status quo, jumps in.
     "We went to the opera last night," she says. True—'The Barber of Seville.' Lovely. "The opera is bling."
     "The opera is not bling," I insist.
     "We sat in Studs Terkel's seats," she continues—the guy next to us told us that Studs once sat where we were sitting. "That's bling."
     "Studs Terkel is not bling!" I spit, fiercely. "He's a literary icon but not bling. He's 95. He has red socks."
     "Studs is a fan of the Red Sox?" says my wife, puzzled.
     "No he WEARS red socks!" I retort. "Red socks are not bling."
     "I think red socks are kinda bling," she says, deflating.
     "Why can't we get the water?" my son persists. I expect the Marx Brothers to burst in at this point. Somebody has to lay down the law.
     "I am de faddah," I say, in my best Laurence Olivier in "The Jazz Singer" voice, "and I say, we hef no bling in zis household."
     I glance from boy to boy.
     "You kids . . ." I begin, my voice dripping contempt. "With your bling, and your hip, and your hop. I forbid it! I will not hef der hip und der hop."
     And I storm off to work.
                                        —Originally published in the Sun-Times, March 2, 2008


  1. Thanks for the laugh.
    For what it's worth I'm hoping you find it in you to push through and get well, sooner rather than later

  2. Did you go into inpatient rehab after surgery, or straight home? A week of full time therapy helped my sister's semi replacement after a break, but it was still a slow process. Have you tried any magic French or Italian water? People pay a premium to have water shipped here from Europe, it must be special, even without a clingy bottle.

    1. Are you sure you're not thinking of water from Lourdes?

    2. No. Somehow my Mac changed Blingy to clingy. I was mocking those who would pay for a fancy bottle or the shipping charges for Evian or Pelligrino when they couldn't tell the difference from tap water without the labels. If the waters at Lourdes or any other site had actual healing powers someone could get richer than Bill Gates selling the stuff. Instead it's just another myth to enrich the Church. Peter Popoff has based his comeback from being exposed as a charlatan on a magic water scam probably inspired by Lourdes. Listen to Penn & Teller, there is no magic, only illusions.

  3. I would never call the scum that works for the British tabloids 'journalists'! They seem to delight in destroying people.

  4. That Buzzfeed article was just jaw-dropping. My only question now is why Harry and Meghan didn't decamp for Canada months if not years before.

  5. Gotta wonder: Did Harry even realize what he was getting himself...and especially his new wife...into? The British tabloids are a pack of vicious pitbulls that put our own to shame. And there were plenty of juicy bones for them to chew on: Meghan Markle is three years older than Harry, a divorcee, an American, and an actress.

    Oh, and did I happen to mention her skintone? It was a foregone conclusion that they would trash her for that alone, never mind all the rest. Harry probably knew that, and so did Meghan. But hey, love is blind, so even if they knew, they thought that wedded bliss would triumph in the end. Big mistake. So the trashy press cut Kate a lot of slack, but crucified Meghan? Why am I neither shocked nor surprised? The British are notorious for their none-too-subtle racist attitudes. They may not be nearly as nasty as some of the folks on this side of the pond, but being black in the UK is no luncheon at the seaside, either.

    The royal couple aren't just "stepping back" from their cushy "jobs" and seeking new ones in Canada. Racism, relentless media coverage, and tabloid journalism have forced the Sussexes into giving the royal finger to the British press, even as they flee the UK for some peace, tranquility, acceptance, and tolerance.

    Another guy who wears red socks, Mr. S, is Garrison Keillor. He's the antithesis of anything "bling." And I think he sometimes wears red suspenders, too.

  6. Gosh, that was funny — I could just picture it! And I love your wife — yes, red socks are kinda bling! 😂 Please get well soon. A daily blog has GOT to be a chore when you are trying to recuperate. God bless.

  7. I believe the New York tabloids are no less sensation seeking. The Guardian offers reasonably balanced news coverage, as does the right-wing Telegraph. The Times, now a Rupert Murdock organ, has descended somewhat from the time in the 19th century, when a Prime Minister was advised of a group of journalists and the gentleman from The Times to see him.

    Trollope was particularly good on the evils of the press. As in "The Warden," which chronicles the persecution of the innocent protagonist by "The Jupiter."



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