I hope someone here has noticed that I’ve said not word one about Ted Williams until now. I’ll admit to having passed the link along in the first day of his story, but it was in a private e-mail, to a radio person whom I thought might appreciate the essential weirdness of it back when it was fresh. But after that, I held my tongue, because I saw how many people in my Facebook network were posting the clip from the Columbus Dispatch, and I knew what would happen.
I knew Williams would be an overnight sensation. I knew someone would give him a big break. He would be taken in, cleaned up and hustled off to the Today show to warm hearts. He’d be Cinderfella for a week, a month, a… no, just a week. A week is all we can spare a story these days. A week is the new month, a month is the new year. A year is, well, who cares? These days years run forward and backward and probably into a fourth and fifth dimension.
After a week, he would fade away, but until then, I wasn’t going to say a word. Because? BECAUSE THIS GUY IS HOMELESS. DO YOU THINK HE BECAME HOMELESS BECAUSE HE FORGOT TO PAY THE RENT? Also, because even a sane, well-balanced person would go crazy under such treatment, being the week’s designated heartwarmer. Gabby Giffords’ aide, Daniel Hernandez, is this week’s. He seems like a nice young man. FOR NOW.
Williams imploded right on schedule. He turned himself in to a rehab facility — on television! — for none other than Dr. Phil. I assume it’s the standard 28-day residential program. Whew. Now I don’t have to think about him for a month.
A woman from People magazine interviewed for a journalism fellowship the year after my class, and her idea for the year was outstanding — spend it researching and writing a book about people who become accidental celebrities. Overnight sensations. At the time, the Elizabeth Smart case was in the news, and she mentioned that family as the textbook case for the total weirdness that can overtake a person thrust into the public eye with no active effort on their part. Remember how strange that case was? How many press conferences the parents called, how generously they provided hours of video footage of their home movies, how welcoming they were to any old news crew that wanted to drop in and poke around their two artfully decorated houses? They were the first people I’ve seen in a while who could outlast a crowd of reporters; it seemed they never said, “OK, one more question and we’re going to wrap it up.”
And then when Elizabeth was found, they got right back into the groove — more press conferences, no question left unanswered. It was merely strange until I read that Elizabeth had asked to audition to play herself in the TV movie about the case. At the time, a smart person could speculate pretty accurately what went on during her captivity, and it was confirmed in her recent court testimony about it: She was raped daily for nine months. And she wanted to relive it on a film set, shot by shot. Clearly, this publicity stuff is powerful medicine.
But back to Williams. He admitted to “problems with drugs and alcohol.” And yet some producer thought he’d make for a few minutes of warm hearts.
Who are these producers, and how old are they? Eighteen?
And so another week lurches to a close. I’m hoping next week will be calmer, as I don’t have too many of these in me. How about a little bloggage?
We haven’t had an OID (only in Detroit) story for a while: It’s auto-show week, and during that time all the companies have fleets of cars not just under the exhibit lights of Cobo, but out on the streets as well. One of BMW’s haulers was loading high-end Beemers onto a truck outside the Book Cadillac Hotel when he was distracted for, he estimates, 60 seconds. Oops.
We’ve all seen the best-of lists for 2010, so now it’s time for the worst-of. NYMag considers the movies. Admittedly, No. 1 was easy to predict, but it was nice to see “Black Swan” made the list, too.
Amy Chua, the crazy Chinese mother, finds the “I was drunk” excuse of the media age: It was the editing. Thanks, Moe, for digging this one up.
Whatever you do, don’t do it there: The peculiar slight of adultery conducted in [ominous chords, organ sting] the marital bed.
This weekend looks like heaven to me. Enjoy yours.