"The Buddha says not to dwell on the past, or dream of the future, but concentrate on the moment. Or maybe that was Dr. Oz..." writes my pet complainer Bill Maher.
I know. I know. I am driving you mad with quotations and references from the 100th anniversary issue of Vanity Fair magazine, but the issue is so big, that I discover new things I want to pass on every day. Especially so since I doubt the majority of you read magazines anymore, since many of you can't keep your mind on a subject unless it is printed the size of the eye of a needle and nestled in your palm.
Bill Maher, who once dropped everything and traveled to NYC and back to L.A. in one single night because I asked him for a favor -- to read for Literacy Partners -- is naturally a sexy favorite of mine and someone I frequently agree with. (He goes on to say in his sum-up of the years 2000, that he dislikes thinking of "our" time now because it is all tied up with George W. Bush whom he refers to as "a privileged Texas dry drunk with a mean streak, a staggering lack of intellectual curiosity and a Lennie-and-George relationship with something called Dick Cheney. On the bright side, God called Dick Cheney home. Unfortunately, he refused to go.")
This is pretty devastating commentary but Bill Maher is not one to mince words and I think he has plenty of detractors out there who love those big billboards of the 43rd president all over the red states asking: "Do you miss me yet?"
Bill says in the 2000s we fortunately got Daniel Craig as James Bond, but he mourns the fact that when Bush entered office there was a surplus. A year later, the budget fell to a deficit of $158 billion. The national debt had nearly doubled. We had two wars and passed the tipping point in climate change. We lost two towers, the Pentagon became a tetragon and New Orleans sank. We almost lost the banking system and General Motors. NASDAQ lost 48 percent of its value.
Maher also writes that Pluto is not a planet anymore, but that we've got Wikipedia. He says we began not listening to people while checking out our texts and white people no longer have to talk to their children on car trips. He equally knocks Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat John Edwards and claims that in the 2000s we have lost the Fourth Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, the Seventh Amendment and the Eighth, but gained "The Real Housewives of Atlanta."
There's a lot more if you want to lose your temper or die laughing.
I wrote recently that the best things in August's Vanity Fair were the article and photos of "From Coast to Toast" by William Cohan and Vanessa Grigoriadis. These show from the air the dramatic erosion of Malibu Beach and the Nantucket coasts, which have literally disappeared before our eyes in recent years. Readers responded in droves, one saying: "I can't imagine a better example of nouveau rich American wealth than a $100 million mansion built upon eroding sand." Or this one: "Mother Nature will send these homes into the ocean, not because of the owner's wealth but for building on coastal sites that should have remained nature preserves subject to the ebb and flow of the sea."
Shades of the Hamptons of Long Island and points everywhere else. And I don't think the United States and state governments should allow or repay for any rebuilding on such sites. Let those who want to live dangerously pay the price for it.
On the other hand, New York City has to shore up its defenses, its tunnels, its subways, its waterways and everything else because where will the world be without New York? But we shouldn't keep building for people to live "on the oceans and on riverbanks."
BY THE BY, on the subject of Vanity Fair, The New York Times had plenty to say about the venerable magazine the other day. According to The Times, plus a number of stars and publicists, celebrities don't care for VF's "harder edge" profiles, and "will no longer grovel to its editor, Graydon Carter." The piece quotes an e-mail from Gwyneth Paltrow to a number of friends: "Vanity Fair is threatening to put me on the cover. If you are asked for quotes or comments, please decline. Also, I recommend you all never do this magazine again."
Vanity Fair is suffering a bit from the proliferation of online gossip, just as all of us who have toiled as entertainment scribes have suffered. But the magazine still makes money, still has moguls such as Harvey Weinstein in its corner, and is still, every month, a delicious reading morsel.
I don't think Graydon Carter is rending his clothes and pouring ashes on his head because Gwyneth Paltrow -- or the equally irked Tom Cruise -- will never again be VF cover subjects. He'll survive and so will his monthly offering of entertainment.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)