Monday, March 30, 2015
The Fickle Finger...
So I'm still, mostly, stuck at home, and with the time not spent entertaining Rick the Physical Therapist, exercising to "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" (my current routine being conveniently the length of one episode), or catching up on old movies and new TV, I'm spending far too much time on the Interwebs. It's got me thinking.
Of course, I'm thinking about stuff from the headlines - lunacy in Indiana, for example, so brilliantly on parade this week - but more than that I'm thinking about how much what we used to call the Information Superhighway has sped up a particular cycle of, if not fame exactly, then of notoriety.
The announcement in January of the death of Bess Myerson, that Scandal Gal of '87, not surprisingly brought to mind exactly what a freak show her trial turned into, one led by that Somewhat Different Judge's Daughter, Sukhreet Gabel. That, in turn, recalled to mind any number of other once-familiar names, from the tragic (like poor Hedda Nussbaum) to the faintly comic - remember the Mayflower Madam, Sydney Biddle Barrows? In the days before the 'Net, we relied on the tabloids to keep us up to date on all their antics, part of a venerable tradition that goes back decades to now-forgotten phenomena like Ruth Snyder, "Peaches" Browning, and (admittedly still a little better known) Peggy Hopkins Joyce.
All were famous for some lurid reason or another; while they weren't conventional celebrities, famous for actual achievements, their recognition factor tended to remain high for a surprisingly long time. Today, of course, we still have plenty of people famous for no particularly good reason (that whole regrettable family whose names so often involve "K" springs to mind), and Lord knows we have an abundance of sudden sensations, but the ubiquity of information via the Internet seems, paradoxically, to be drastically shortening the shelf-life of each successive newcomer.
What's even odder, to me, is how completely some of them can disappear. That lamentable boy who hit the headlines entreating us to "leave Britney alone!" is still out there, having transmogrified himself into a kind of porn star, apparently, but others have vanished utterly - try and find anything current, for example, on the later parallel of Bess, the Scandal Boys of '07, journalist-cum-escort "Jeff Gannon" and pornstar-cum-journalist Matt Sanchez. They've vanished, not that anyone misses them much, leaving behind only a trail of abandoned blogs and defunct Twitter handles.
Then there were the writers caught up in various literary hoaxes around the same time - has anyone cared anything at all about J.T. Leroy in a very long time? True, his amanuensis, Laura Albert, hasn't vanished as utterly as Sanchez - she maintains a website of sorts, but it's pretty thin stuff. For a while, it seemed like some kind of fake writer was coming up every week - but now even the granddaddy of those heady days, James Frey, is barely a memory. In his wake came faked Holocaust autobiographies, tawdry impersonated Native American memoirs, and more - and all now as good as forgotten along with their putative creators. Remember, too, the tempest-in-an-online-teacup that was the saga of Judith Griggs, the small-town magazine editor who made it a practice to steal content for her publication, Cooks Source, from blogs? She might as well never have existed; even the extremely amusing impersonators of her distinct (and hilarious defensive) prosody have long moved on to other targets (the various Griggs spoof sites and Facebook pages made for some of the best Internet comedy I can remember).
I suppose one reason that all these bottom-feeder demi-notables have been in my mind is that, and I'm sure you won't be surprised, I've also been watching with fascination the steady and implacable unraveling of the once-golden life of the man to whom dear Princess Sparkle Pony has been referring for years as Gay Aaron Schock. Rarely has a career come tumbling down so quickly and so thoroughly, but what I've decided is that, barring the unexpected, in a few years his will be a name not all that much more memorable than, say, that of the Luggage Lifter and his christianist daddy who made us all giggle so a few years back (oh, goodness - that brings back memories of that preacher and his rentboy, which I'm sure would take me on, if I went down enough Google-holes, to a whole other pantheon of nobodies). Schock had a virtually accomplishment-free time in the House of Representatives, and while the doings of his Downton Abbey-loving Communications Director and his dishy personal photographer have been diverting, these days the tide moves quickly. I'm sure that some other brouhaha will erupt any day now, bringing us another cavalcade of freaks.
It's all enough to make me really miss Sukhreet...
Oh, the movie? The Fickle Finger of Fate looks like a real oddity, a 1967 Spanish sex farce (originally titled El Dedo del Destino or The Cups of San Sebastian) inexplicably starring the still-dishy (then and really even now) Mr. Hunter, a few years after his beach-boy sell-by date. I can find no relation whatsoever to "Laugh In," which is rather a disappointment.