Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Things that Matter

Every morning, I get home delivery of the New York Daily News, which calls itself “NY’s Hometown Paper.” Not as sophisticated or as intellectual as the New York Times, but not as much of a tabloid as the New York Post, it falls somewhere in between. It covers local New York City news as well as national and international news. It has an incredibly comprehensive and well-written sports section so that if you’re as big a sports fan as I am, you know you’ll get the unvarnished truth about your favorite teams written by people like New York Times bestseller Bill Madden and Mike Lupica. If you want to know a little bit about a lot of different things, the Daily News is the paper for you.

Some of my friends scoff at my devotion to the paper, but I always counter with “I’ve never seen one of my books reviewed in the New York Times, but I have in the Daily News.” Just for that, the paper will always get my business.

One of the other features of this paper is a section called “Voice of the People,” in which ordinary New Yorkers sound off on a variety of topics, not limited to important current events like the BP oil spill in the Gulf and the war in Afghanistan. Instead, most days you find people spending a great deal of ink on topics like Michele Obama wearing shorts or Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. And most days, I find myself screaming at the names of the people who have written into the opinion page to “get a life!”

Seriously, do we really care that on a long plane flight, the First Lady, like any other modern-day mother and wife, donned shorts to fly in Air Force One? I can’t imagine wearing pantyhose on a short domestic flight never mind one that crossed the Atlantic. Yet, many of the people writing in thought this act was akin to treason. “Jackie Kennedy NEVER would have worn shorts on an airplane” and “Like the Queen, she should wear gloves and a hat while traveling” were just some of the comments that appeared in the paper after this apparently horrific photo surfaced. Wearing shorts to a State dinner? Bad? Wearing shorts on an airplane? Not so bad. I understand her role in putting forth a positive and glamorous face, but seriously, one can only keep that up for so long. And since we’re having the hottest summer on record here on the East Coast since something like 1869, I say, “Mrs. Obama, rock the shorts while you still can.” Have you seen that woman’s legs? If I had them, I’d wear shorts all winter.

I don’t know if you heard, but Chelsea Clinton got married this past weekend in a little sleepy town not far from where I live. I also don’t know if you heard, but the wedding cost close to three million dollars. Yes, you read that correctly: three million dollars. Know why? Well, for one, the airspace above the town of Rhinebeck had to be closed to ordinary air traffic for security reasons. That costs a lot. And they had five hundred guests. I, for one, only had two guests for dinner last night and my grocery bill was one hundred and eighty dollars. Food ain’t cheap, people. Throw in the gown, the security detail, and the bottles of wine the Clintons sent to all of the residents of Rhinebeck who might be inconvenienced by their daughter’s special day, and I can see where the bills would start to mount. This price tag brought outrage to the opinion section of the paper and for days, I have been following the “They have the money so why not spend it” people versus the “There are people starving in Third World countries; how could they spend this kind of money?” people, both camps in high dudgeon when it comes to an opinion about a young lady none of them have ever met.

It’s astounding to me that these two topics would engender such vitriol. How about we save our outrage for the young men and women who are dying every day overseas? Or the ones who live but who are stuck in some filthy hospital where the chances of dying from an infection are greater than those from an IED? How about we worry about our neighbors who don’t have jobs, or health insurance, or even food? There is far more in this section of the paper about things that don’t matter and not enough about the things that do. Let’s save our outrage for the things that matter, those that count.

Stiletto friends, what are you sick of reading about? What is the one thing you wish people would put their efforts and energies toward?
Maggie Barbieri


  1. That's one of the reasons I only read the TV, comics and sports section of the Daily News; and on Sunday the "life" section.

  2. Here in Illinois, I'm getting pretty tired of the Blago scandal/trial/freak-show.

    Like most, I'm fed up with national obsessions like Lilo's jail time and the ignorant vitriol over the Muslim center in lower Manhattan. (When did we decide that we wanted to stop living the American way and become extremists ourselves?)

    I would love to see more action on truly, fully supporting our military service members instead of treating them like chumps.

    They should be far better compensated for their service and when they finish their service they should get all the benefits our taxes can give them. And, yes, I am for any necessary tax hike that would be directed solely at providing for our military--not just for the gear, but truly for the men and women and their families who do so much so that I can sit on my hind end in Chicagoland and write and generally go blithely through my charmed life. That we can't take good care of these people who take care of us and our way of life is pathetic.

    One of my ideas: if you have served in the military (and, why not toss police and fire-fighters into the deal?) not only you but your spouse and children should get free-rides at full tuition to any school for which you qualify academically, primary or secondary, in the US.

    Oh, and that reminds me: I'd also like to see us paying a lot more attention to teachers and how we qualify and pay them. We're entrusting much of our future to these people and we ought to be choosy and then pay those we chose really well instead of always trotting out that nonsense about how they have it so great because of the "vacation" time!

    Okay, I'll stop now.

  3. I'll second Vicky's motion to have less Blago on TV. I'm so weirded out by the hair alone. ;-)

    Less celebrities and quasi-celebrities everywhere would be awesome. Like that Snooki chick. I will be happy when her 15 minutes are over.