Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Is 15 Minutes of Fame So Five...
. . . .

Is 15 Minutes of Fame So Five Minutes Ago?

Nancy Sundstrom - March 18th, 2004
The book‘s title intrigued me first, but once I‘d confirmed its subject matter, I just planned on sitting down and not getting up until I‘d finished it off.
That‘s because like Eliza H., the heroine of Emmi Fredericks‘ delightfully funny and a-little-too-close-to-home novel, “Fatal Distraction: Or How I Conquered My Addiction to Celebrities and Got a Life,“ I tend to spend a tad too much time lingering at the water cooler poring over why the weekend‘s box office draw from “The Passion of the Christ“ would kick the butt of “Starsky & Hutch,“ opining about why the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake breast-baring incident is so five-minutes-ago, and arranging strategic social engagements around new episodes of “The E! True Hollywood Story“ and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.“
I‘m not proud about any of this, but I do own up to it, and truth be told, my head full of worthless knowledge makes others duke it out over me when it comes to needing a partner for Trivial Pursuit or any other game involving like sets of “skills.“ Like Eliza H., I suffer from “celebraholism“ and could readily benefit from the 12-step program prescribed in Fredericks‘ book. If you relate to any of this at all (and I know there are many of you out there who do), then you, too, are likely to find much to appreciate in this zippy, frothy concoction.
Eliza H. (just like in AA, she does not reveal her last name) is a New Yorker who works in publishing and lives vicariously through celebrities. She instantly consumes each new edition of People, Entertainment Tonight and whatever brand new special is gracing the E! Channel, much to the dismay of a number of relatives and friends.
Her obsession with celebrities and celebrity is steeped in her being raised as an only child whose dance teacher-mother left her in the company of an eclectic collection of babysitters as she pursued her career. To help pass the time, Eliza watched endless TV and movies and daydreamed about hanging out with movie stars and taking a walk down the red carpet to accept her own Academy Award. From the beginning, we know that Eliza being enamored with a world of fame, wealth and personalities comes from the deep void of loneliness that surrounded her while growing up. Despite all the yucks and inside jokes in the story, that alone serves to anchor it as a cautionary tale.
The first chapter, in fact, states as much:

“A warning to the reader. ..
This story is not for the faint of heart. While mine is ultimately a tale of triumph, it is also a harrowing chronicle of a trial of the human spirit. So, if you‘re not in the mood for peril and heartache, just put the book down. You can find enlightenment and self-awareness some other time. It‘s okay by me.
All right. Now that we‘ve sorted out the players from the poseurs, let‘s continue.
A plague is sweeping America. An addiction that afflicts the unsuspecting citizen without warning. Early symptoms are often missed. Denial leads to postponement of treatment -- or, indeed, failure to seek help at all. Inexorably, the sufferer is gripped by a state of near delusion. Relationships suffer. Isolation sets in. Normal, everyday life as most people know it becomes unbearable. Larger and larger cash outlays are required to sustain the habit.
What is the plague I speak of? The disease that enslaves and weakens millions around the globe?
Yes, you read right.
Celebraholism: a complex psychological disorder characterized by an excessive, compulsive need for exposure to celebrities.
To further illustrate the affliction of our age, I present two scenarios.
In the first scenario, you and I pass each other on the street. What happens?
Nothing. (What did you think, I was going to run up and assault you with a hammer?)
Second scenario: You and a celebrity pass each other on the street. What happens?
Your mind explodes. You think. ..
Oh My God, it‘s So-and-So! (Reader, feel free to supply the celebrity of your choice.) I can‘t believe it. So-and-So -- on the very same street that I am walking on.
You hope maybe they notice you, that your eyes meet, and they say, You. Yes, you. Come to me. Be my costar, my sperm donor, my slave...
Or you start wondering if maybe they‘ve had a little surgery since you last saw them. You sneak a look to see if the difference shows.
Or you think, Gee, he‘s shorter than I thought.
But whatever you think, however you react, these thoughts are not just passing impressions. These thoughts have far greater significance than, say, if you walked by me and thought, My God, that‘s an ugly sweater.
Skeptical? In denial? Let‘s take another look at Scenario Two. Maybe you pass a celebrity, and you don‘t think very much at all about it. But it‘s a good bet that at some point in your day you‘re going to say something like, “Hey, you know who I ran into today? So-and-so. He‘s shorter than you‘d think.“ And someone will say, “Oh, no, I knew he was short...“ And so on. You are now engaged in conversation, connecting with another human being. All because you ran into a celebrity.“

As she enters her 20s, Eliza‘s fascination with celebrity has only intensified, and pals like the spectacularly untalented Dinah, the gorgeous and gay actor Danny with whom she shares an apartment, basset hound Norm, and Ivan, an aspiring writer who wants nothing more than to have some genuine affection returned from Eliza, all play a role in the sit-comedy of errors that has become Eliza‘s life. Are her show-busy dreams to be realized at all? Will her fixations derail reality-based friendships and potentially deeper entanglements? Is there a chance that the scales will be tipped in favor of relationships with real people vs. those whom she fantasizes about in most of her waking moments?
“Fatal Distraction“ brims -- to the point of near overfill -- with quippy one-liners, celebrity trivia and, ultimately, a light-handed, but firm message about the seductive power that the infamous 15 minutes of fame holds over all of us, whether we want to admit it or not. This is a book that manages to be both funny and just a little scary, all of which gives it the heft it needs to be taken seriously. There‘s as much parody here as there is real heart, and in the final analysis, that‚s an accomplishment not to be taken lightly, while “celebrity“ is.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5