Out of gas.

I keep reading today about the “failure” of the Gores’ marriage. A little pressed for time today, I’m not going to look up all the links, but surely you’ve read the same thing, in so many words. Having just celebrated their 40th anniversary, normally an occasion for letting your kids pick up the check and dandling grandchildren on arthritic (or artificial) knees, the Gores are throwing in the towel on their marriage, separating amicably. Which must mean their marriage has failed.

Hmm. They stayed together four decades, raised four children, each as glossy and gorgeous as their parents. They have grandchildren. They’ve seen one another through military service, government service, soaring success, bitter defeat, all in the pitiless stare of the public eye. They’ve come out the other side into a sort of monied, luxurious final act that most of us would give a kidney for.

Here’s how fortunate Al Gore Jr. is: David Chase gave him a top-secret advance DVD of the final episode of “The Sopranos,” because Gore was going to be on a transatlantic flight when it aired.

If that isn’t a successful marriage, I don’t know what is. Why pull the plug on it now? Have you all learned nothing along the way to 10:07 a.m. EDT, June 2, 2010? Here’s why:

1) Because no one knows what goes on in a marriage except for the people in it, and;
2) Because there is no mystery in the world as deep and unfathomable as the human heart.

Sometimes I think the problem is, we live too long. In just a generation or two, we’ve gone from the gold watch at your retirement party followed by a fatal myocardial infarction five years later to lengthy final acts marked by entrepreneurship, world travel and lots of golf. The idea of marriage as a lifelong commitment was born in a time when it was understood that men would have mistresses from time to time, when women could have an occasional non-procreative fling themselves, and besides, nobody lived all that long to begin with. The Gores could each easily see another silver anniversary with new marital partners. Kind of strange to think about, but still true.

But they got through the hard part! I can hear you saying. They are the among the lucky few whose golden years can really be golden — with plenty of money, the best medical care in the world and salon-quality hair coloring. They married young, they had their children young and now it’s time to sit in that new house in Montecito and enjoy the ocean views, picking and choosing whatever important, worthwhile work they feel like doing. (In that great office! With all those monitors!)

To which I would say, see No. 1, above. Also, No. 2.

As believers in both, I really have nothing more to say about it, except this: The marriage and partnership of Albert and Mary Elizabeth Gore was no failure. It just ran out of gas short of the finish line. Along the way, it delivered the marital goods, i.e., a family.

So, some bloggage? Sure:

Time to add Bill Maher to the list of “things that are on HBO late at night that are not a credit to the network.”

We had a tragedy here a couple of weeks ago, in which a 7-year-old girl was accidentally shot to death during a police raid. The stories say she was shot in the neck. Local attorney Geoffrey Feiger paid for a second autopsy, which showed, no, she was shot in the head. The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s office has now changed its report. To which I can only add: Sheesh. Gunshot wounds to the head — the new thing it’s easy to miss, evidently.

But hey — being wrong, and admitting it, is the latest thing. A friend keeps raving about Diane Ravitch’s new book, in which one of the architects of No Child Left Behind now says, in essence, oops. I give her lots of credit — it takes guts to admit that a social policy you advocated turned out to be a colossal failure — but I wonder who else will climb on the Strange New Respect bandwagon.

Anthony Bourdain is today’s passenger, and while he’s talking about food and culture and not social policy, it’s still not a bad lesson:

I’ve experienced that kind of wrongness a lot in the Muslim world. The idea of otherness kind of evaporated for me there. You know, sitting down in a Saudi home, observing Saudi Arabians, seeing that they, too, watch Friends, that they’re funny—you know, sense of humor often surprises me most. That, and random acts of kindness. I used to believe, deeply, that people were basically bad—that given a slight change in the our situation, we would all revert to packs of wild dogs who would devour each other and sell each other out. I took a very dim view of human nature. Travel has made me more optimistic. I believe now that for the most part, the world is filled with people doing the best they can under the circumstances.

Finally, while I despise the sort of back-and-forth ass-kissing that goes on between too many bloggers, I direct you to Roy, this morning, who by way of noting last week’s banking rant here, makes some good further points about how it applies to BP and current events in the Gulf of Mexico. I guarantee you it will be the only blog you’ll read today that will use the word pikestaff.

And now I’m outta here, but not: An epic thunderstorm is about to unfold outside my window, and I want to watch it for a while.

Posted at 10:48 am in Current events |

30 responses to “Out of gas.”

  1. Sue said on June 2, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Sigh. Every time I take a chance on a second-day comment before Nancy posts today’s entry, I end up posting just as Nancy does. So, Dorothy and Julie, go read my last comment from yesterday.

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  2. brian stouder said on June 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

    “I took a very dim view of human nature. Travel has made me more opti­mistic. I believe now that for the most part, the world is filled with peo­ple doing the best they can under the cir­cum­stances.”

    Well, I don’t share Bourdain’s pessimism, nor his optimism. What has been bothering me, lately, is the way decision makers decide to ‘spin the wheel’ and see what happens. I think this story serves as a useful metaphor for a somewhat frightening series of news stories lately, around the world.


    Three experts working to defuse a bomb dating back to World War II were killed when the device exploded, injuring six others, police said Wednesday. Some 7,000 residents from around the area in the central German town of Goettingen, where the 1100-pound (500-kilogram) heavy bomb was found, were still being evacuated when it detonated late Tuesday.

    Presumeably intelligent, trained people, making a series of decisions in a dangerous situation, end up with everything exploding in their face. The North Koreans release a torpedo against a South Korean warship, and kill 47 sailors – and what happens next? Will the other shoe fall? Does the violent part of this story end here?

    The Israelies storm ships at sea – and what comes next? Will the other shoe fall? Does the violent part of this story end here?

    Stories like this bother me a lot more than they used to, these days. Sooner or later, that other show will fall, and things will go horribly wrong. It seems that someone is always tempting fate – whether for principle (NK, Israel) or profit (BP, et al)

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  3. LAMary said on June 2, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Agreed on Bill Maher; he’s an asshole. He’s a privileged white kid from Ridgewood, NJ who hasn’t made it much past his late teens maturity-wise.
    And agreed on Anthony Bourdain. I haven’t traveled even a tiny fraction as much as he has but I know what he means when he says it makes him optimistic. I’ve had NYC bus drivers go all sweet grandpa over my kids when they were little and tough looking teenagers not only give me directions but walk me to where I was going through sketchy neighborhoods.
    Also, Anthony Bourdain is so my type. Call me, Anthony. We can practice emulsifying sauces.

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  4. nancy said on June 2, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Well then, Mary, this is for you:


    Thanks to my friend Kate L., a fellow fan of meaty bones…

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  5. MichaelG said on June 2, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I saw that earlier. He does have a nice take on BP. Nice shout out at Roy’s.

    I like your thoughts about Al and Tipper. The running out of gas and the not knowing what goes on in other peoples’ marriages. So, so true. Don’t judge, don’t over analyze, just take the situation for what it is. I experienced something very similar. I don’t want to go into it very much, it’s personal and something I’m still working through, but I can sure sympathize.

    Can’t stand Bill Maher. Never have. I’d send him off to an island with Dennis Miller. They could amuse each other.

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  6. MichaelG said on June 2, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Wow! I wrote my comments before seeing Mary’s and the pic of Bourdain. I’ve always liked him and have all his books. And I agree about travel. The little I have done has made me think differently about where I live. That picture does nothing for me. Post one of the Goddess Padma and call me back.

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  7. LAMary said on June 2, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I know people who travel and never get past being pissed off that where they are is different from (different to if you’re Sarah Palin) where they came from.

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  8. Linda said on June 2, 2010 at 11:48 am

    LAMary: I have a coworker whose desire to visit other countries is predicated on whether or not people in them speak English, or know enough English for tourists. As someone said, “Countries are created for the comfort of the people who live there, not those who visit.”

    “The Gores could each eas­ily see another sil­ver anniver­sary with new mar­i­tal part­ners.”

    Why not? If Mickey Rooney can have a silver anniversary, I guess anybody can.

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  9. 4dbirds said on June 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Doesn’t Bill Maher still make visits to the playboy mansion? That’s all I need to know about him.

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  10. Mark P. said on June 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I don’t disagree with your take on the Gore marriage (no one’s business but theirs, of course), but I would like to point out that the common idea that people didn’t live long lives back in the old days is a misconception brought about mainly by the fact that the average life span in those days was short compared to today. But that average was strongly influenced by the high death rate for infants. Add in a lot of babies that died within a few months of birth, and the overall average falls quickly. But there were actually quite a few people who lived to ages comparable to those of today. Once they got past childhood, the odds went up considerably.

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  11. LAMary said on June 2, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I can’t print out that Anthony Bourdain photo for my office. NSFW as they say. I did print out the photo of Al Gore’s office. Until yesterday my desk sort of looked like that. I cleaned it off, but I miss the stacks of files. I’ve hung Al’s photo with a red heart around it. Clearly, desk-wise we are kindred spirits and he’s going to be on the market again. He’s no Anthony Bourdain, but he did invent the internet.

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  12. Julie Robinson said on June 2, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Whoa, it’s so…big.

    Sue, I did read your comment, and I think that Laura and Rose’s relationship was full of tension. Rose hated living in Appalachia whereas Laura thought it was the garden of Eden, neither was financially secure (until the Little House books), Rose had a short and unhappy marriage to a swindler who left her. But then, I wouldn’t want my relationships laid open and puzzled over either. Kind of like the Gores–I’m not touching that one. My own folks separated after 32 years and I know a lot of people were shocked. St. Paul would say that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all have problems and our time is better spent loving than judging.

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  13. Peter said on June 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Regarding North Korea – a friend of mine thinks it’s no big deal if the North invades – they wouldn’t make it past the second McDonalds handing out free McKimchee Meals.

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  14. Mark P. said on June 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    I just watched the Maher clip. He’s an idiot on a lot of levels. For one, he doesn’t agree with the germ theory of disease (like you can vote on which scientific theory is true). But I didn’t realize what a racist he is. Oh, I’m sure some of his best friends are “black.”

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  15. LAMary said on June 2, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I think Bill is known for liking black women, specifically professional escorts. He likes black hookers. I guess they fit into his stereotype.

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  16. Sue said on June 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Ted, may I recommend joining the UCC instead of starting a church of your own? You might actually learn something if you can leave that ego at the door.

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  17. brian stouder said on June 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    On the subject of running out of gas or losing the magic while chasing the rainbow, there’s this article on iPad games.


    The tone of this woman’s article made me guffaw! She’s clearly one of you Apple people, and she seems to genuinely WANT to love her iPad – but the barely suppressed message is – “It ain’t doin’ it for me!!”

    an excerpt:

    Once you start playing games on an iPad you may never want to go back to playing games on your iPhone or iPod Touch. That’s because the iPad’s gorgeous, spacious screen finally gives many games the room they’ve been begging for. And yet, I’m still waiting to be truly wowed by an iPad game. After all, the vast majority of iPad games are simply larger, prettier iPhone games with heftier price tags. Of course, the iPad has only been around for two months and wowing seems like something that’s sure to start happening after developers have had more time to wrap their heads around this, er, magical machine.

    Two of my friends, both of whom work at a university, own iPads, and are still deeply into the honeymoon stage (wherein they bring them to lunch, and show me all the neat stuff) and they love love love them!

    By way of saying, the writer quoted above seems to be star-crossed and headed for tears, if you ask me

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  18. moe99 said on June 2, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Brian, I bet it doesn’t take 40 years.

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  19. brian stouder said on June 2, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Moe – You got that right! But you know what they say: Once you go Mac, you never go back

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  20. John said on June 2, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    I thought owning Apple products was like signing up for Scientology. It is all in the purple Kool-Aid they provide.

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  21. del said on June 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    My secret service agent friend guarded the Gores during the Clinton presidency, traveling with them on family vacations. Was tight lipped about his duty except to say that Al worked very hard. It’s odd but I can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness at the split – even though it’s none of my business.

    To me, the longing of the human heart is steady and constant. It’s the one thing in life that’s fathomable.

    Elizbeth Stuckey-French captured it in her short story “Mudlavia,” describing a child’s view of her parents’ split:

    “I did hate my father for a while, but I never could bring myself to hate my mother. Even now I’d give anything to be with her again, to sit close to her the way I did on the bus to Mudlavia, to laugh with her as we did in the dining room, to hear her breathing quietly in the bed next to mine. I long to go back in time, before everything changed, and in this, I realize, I’m no different from anyone else. Life eventually takes away everything it gives.”

    Then there’s a favorite Springsteen lyric, “Marylou loved Johnny with a love mean and true . . .”

    It’s not the heart that’s unfathomable, it’s the mind.

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  22. paddyo' said on June 2, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Actually, John, I think that purple Kool-Aid is extra, and you can only have five cups.

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  23. Deborah said on June 2, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Well said del. Having been in a bad marriage for 15 years with my ex, I know how things can finally get to the last straw which to other people seems unexpected. Some people, like I did, spend a lot of time trying to make it look like it’s working rather than work on it working. It’s coming up on my 10th anniversary with my current husband, and we lived together for 10 years before marrying. Things are good this time around.

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  24. Dexter said on June 2, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I used to think Bill Maher was all hip & cool, yeah, sure…until Shock and Awe bombed the life out of approximately 6,616 civilians because of the actions of US-led forces in Baghdad.
    Maher’s next show after that had the theme of “I gotta say, I was wrong about Bush (he previously was critical of the dust-up to the war), this is the right thing, he (Bush) knows what he’s doin’..” —this kind of shit.
    When the war’s popularity faded, Maher slowly turned away and soon was ridiculing Bush. So while protests were getting marchers arrested at the outset of the bombings, Maher was leading cheers for Bush, and when public opinion swayed, Maher decided to be hip and cool again…he’s a chameleon only out for ratings. I hate that little smartass twerp. This Obama racial thing is just so unfunny it hurts.

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  25. Dexter said on June 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Man..the travelling former chef-turned-superstar-TV Show idol needs to get some meat on those bones! He’s so slim only because he’s a chain ciggie-puffer, doncha know….

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  26. nancy said on June 2, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    We saw his Broadway show in 2003, and it wasn’t terrible. (Although it left a lot to be desired, for Broadway.) He spent some time ridiculing people whose response to 9/11 was to wear a flag T-shirt, or, worse, stick one on their SUV. “Literally, the least you can do,” he called it. That’s what I remember.

    The HIV-crackpot thing is fairly recent, and pretty horrifying. He must want to fuck Jenny McCarthy, too.

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  27. coozledad said on June 2, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    It’s thunderstorms every afternoon here. Florida weather, pretty much.
    Looks like Tony needs to give that joint a rest. It’s getting sorta raw.

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  28. MichaelG said on June 2, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    Bourdain quit smoking two or three years ago.

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  29. crinoidgirl said on June 2, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    Good grief. The Diamondbacks and Dodgers are scoreless in the top of the 14th inning.

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  30. Dexter said on June 3, 2010 at 12:50 am

    MG: musta been some old shows I was watching, then…cuz he was puffing up a storm.
    My evening was ruined all to hell when Jim Joyce the umpire took away Detroit Tiger Armando Galarraga’s perfect game. Only 20 in the history of baseball have been pitched, and I have never seen one, even on TV, and few have. This damn umpire even apologized to the pitcher and the Tiger manager Leyland for blowing the call. Oh man…it was the worst call I have ever seen in a pressure situation.

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