When did everyone decide they’re all so HOT?

Posted June 10th, 2011
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I know for a fact that there are no nude pictures of me circulating anywhere . For one thing, I never had any taken. I’m just not the type to do that. I also felt that it would somehow take away from my work . By which I mean; how could I hope to make a living pointing out other peoples imperfections if mine were glaringly on display?  Which brings me to this: When did everyone everywhere decide they were so goddamn hot that they needed as many strangers as possible to see them naked? I mean, there has always been a group of people whose job definitions included naked posing. But  it didn’t used to be most of us.

Just a few years ago, when people thought about fulfilling their potential, they didn’t necessarily mean that they hoped they could one day rise to enough social prominence and popularity  to be permitted to pose for pictures with their butts sticking out . Back then,  a guy who looked like Anthony Weiner would have woken up in the morning, looked at himself in the mirror and thought “Well, I’m not the best looking guy but, know what?  I look pretty good. For me. I mean, for an average looking human who  looks a great deal like a ferret , thumbs up.  I’m doing okay.”

But then it somehow  came to pass that Paris Hilton and her pals had so much  influence on the culture at large that being “hot” became part of every job definition.  And its left me feeling nostalgic for the time when there was still a nice range of different ways to display embarrassing egomania in a public persona. There were dignified loud mouths (see: Prince Phillip).  There were substance abusing show offs (see: Rose, Axel) even in the political arena (Kennedy,Ted).  You could present yourself as a brilliant scientist or an interesting smart ass and not  also feel the need to pose unclothed holding only  a towel. Really. Its true!  I swear I’m not making this up.  In those days, politicians with bad judgment used to date strippers and put them on the payroll.(See: Mills, Wilbur.) But now they’ve fallen under the influence of  that old feminist saying:”We have become the men we wanted to marry.” Today’s politicians have finally become the strippers they wanted to put on the payroll.

I’ve heard people say that the naked picture thing is now such a common  by product of internet social networking that it’s not even worth a raised eyebrow. Yet the  problem with a sexting elected official continues to reside in the notion that where human behavior and character is concerned, the whole is the sum of its parts. Because the only reason to even have an election is to pick out a special member of the group who can best represent that group’s unified interests. On the other hand, if sending out pictures of your dick is now so ho-hum that it can no longer  even be classified as bad judgment, I guess those of us who still have it filed that way may need to  download some cultural software updates. Or move to Great Britain.

And having said that, I have to confess that I kind of count on not seeing naked lusty butt shots  of the people I most admire. I hope there are no naked pictures kicking around  of  Jane Goodall or Mark Twain or Robert Benchley or Kurt Vonnegut Jr. or Lynda Barry . I would be heartbroken to learn that David Attenborough had taken pictures of himself without his pants and sent them out to everyone who said they liked his BBC documentaries about shrews, terns and horseshoe crabs.  (And this despite the fact that I have noticed that every one of his docs includes footage of him sitting inches away from a pair of some bird, mammal or reptile who are smack  in the midst of coitus.)

So I guess I am calling for a return to a wide variety of colorful, interesting and individually chosen paths to ego-maniacal career destruction. It seems like a good idea to me to leave the naked dick and boob shot approach to those winners of the genetic crap shoot  in desperate need of some updates on their IMDB profiles.

(PS:I have a new book coming out in November. Its a book of funny essays. And its definitely my most personal set of essays ever. Years of writing novels have opened some kind of trap door that is now impossible to close. I hope its stuff that the people who like my other books will want to read.

If there’s a theme to the book, its the never ending task of coping with the crazy people who surround us all. ( I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is surrounded by crazy people. Am I? I’m not, am I?)  I have been trying to learn something, anything, from these experiences, since, as I understand it, that seems to be kind of the point. And for the sake of the book,  I’m going to go ahead and assume there is a point.

For example, the book contains  a piece about my problematic relationship with my extremely critical seemingly un-pleasable mother and the odd, thoroughly irritable travel diaries that I saw for the first time after she died.  I quote from them ver batim, which made me pretty nervous. But having gotten laughs  the few times I got up the nerve to read from them on stage, I was encouraged to turn them in to an essay that tries to add up the pieces and draw some conclusions , now that its over.

There’s  an exhaustively thorough piece I began writing as a present to some of my  girl friends, as I sit back watching them  running headlong in to the endless variations of the miseries that dating has to offer.  Its based on a lifetime of  note taking as I lived through my own version of same. Its called “How to Spot an Asshole.” and I’m pretty sure  I didn’t leave anything out.

There’s also a piece called ‘Never Again’ about the nerve wracking experience of falling in love again after swearing off love entirely. And the difference between having this experience  in the first half of life, and  in the second half.

Of course there are also a few pieces about dogs, because they are the craziest people of all.   I analyze why I love them with so much unswerving devotion, considering that they require me to tolerate behavior I will no longer tolerate from people.

I guess I’ll say more about this whole thing as it gets closer to November.

I hope its a good book . You can pre-order it already, I’m told. Its for sale on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Borders Books . The publisher is, once again, Randomhouse.