By Lauren Smart
By Jane R. LeBlanc
By Lauren Smart
By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
In September I had prepped an entire series built around the premise that something is the new something, as in "Asian fusion is the new Tex-Mex" and "Writing is the new masturbating." Among the entries in this series, which had won several prestigious writing awards before publication, was the story to be headlined "Is Stupid the New Smart?" Jessica Simpson, pop star turned punch line in the time it took to forget she was ever a pop star, insists she was joking on MTV's Newlyweds when she asked whether tuna was chicken--of the sea, see? Paris Hilton, hotel heiress turned whore in the time it took to forget who she ever was, tells "reporters" at Television Critics Association convention in Los Angeles she was joking on Fox's The Simple Life when she said she didn't know what Wal-Mart is. They insist they were making themselves look stupid on purpose, to give people what they want--which is, apparently, beautiful stupid people. That makes Simpson and Hilton either brilliant or just fucking retarded. Here's where idea ran out of steam, because I remembered I just didn't care either way, and to spend any more time on subject might render me dumber than either of them. Note to self: Smart is the new smug and penniless. (Also, Paris Hilton is the new Pamela Anderson, and I am the new Tommy Lee.)
Speaking of which, is rich the new poor? The wealthy on MTV's Rich Kids embraced their money--screwed it silly, actually. Alexandria Hilfiger and Jamie Lee Gleicher spend without conscience, pity those who drive their own cars or do their own grocery shopping and live a lifestyle Caligula would have found a touch too gaudy. (And they're so stupid Paris Hilton probably thinks they're soooo stupid.) Not so the subjects of Born Rich, a documentary made by Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson, who gathered the children of the famously last-named (Bloomberg, Trump, Newhouse, etc.) to hear them bitch about being rich. (I would say whine, but that is so, like, middle-class.) I, of course, pity them all and take smug delight in knowing what I say doesn't matter to people who could buy and sell me for the meat.
On a personal note, this has been a year preoccupied by the birth of my first child, a boy (or, possibly, girl--we've yet to decide the sex despite his/her July birth). This means I have piled next to bed stack of baby books by such reputable names as Sears, Leach, Gerber and others. I read all of them, then scanned through Ann Hulbert's 2003 book Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children, which details (and often disparages) all of the books I just read in preparation for son/daughter's arrival. After pondering piece on proliferation of books containing bad advice for new parents (from Mommy, Why Are You Crying?: "Breast-feeding till he's in his early teens will strengthen immune system, raise IQ and create everlasting bond between mother and child"), the wife and I promptly disavowed having read any of said books and came to realize, far too late, that abstinence was indeed better birth control than sex without a condom. If only I had completed yearlong project of staying in locked room till I purchased every piece of property in Grand Theft Auto Vice City for PlayStation, none of this would have happened.
This was also the year in which I, like the rest of America, got my own television show--a sort of cross between Charlie Rose's chitchat joint and the celebrity infomercial starring the black guy from the old TV show Real People. What? You say you've never seen it? Well, neither has anyone who's been on the show (save Jack Black, who considers me "a genius"), because it's on Mark Cuban's nationally aired HDNet, which broadcasts in high definition and needs an expensive big-screen, HD set to be seen. Funny, but everyone who's been on the show can actually afford an HD set, except maybe David Spade, and none of them appears to have one; neither do I, but it's next on my to-buy list, just under "food" and "clothes."
Among life's most embarrassing moments is having to explain to Robert Duvall or Kevin Costner or Mark Wahlberg what high definition and HDNet is, though they seem to know who Mark Cuban is, because he bought them all within the past 13 months. I am pretty sure they all think they're being Punk'd. Next year we're thinking of adding lie detectors and human-cruelty challenges to make things more interesting; I will also conduct interviews while in a fat suit and pretending to be my cousin, which has done well for Average Joe's ratings. Speaking of, last month I did prepare a piece on how I have come to believe that my entire life is being filmed for a ratings-grabbing reality television series airing without my permission or knowledge. My editors killed it on the grounds it was "too narcissistic."