It’s always been a personal disappointment that among all the foolish presentations the Nobel Committee has made (sic, Obama Peace Prize), there was never any mention of awarding that hallmark of august achievement to Dr. Lawrence Peter, author of the Peter Principle. In an era when there’s hardly any one who does not represent the concept of being kicked up to his or her highest level of incompetence (sic, Obama Peace Prize), it’s most disappointing when that seer who labeled the phenomenon has gone virtually unrecognized.
But not here in the 3T bunker! And certainly not now! The greatness of the Peter Principle shines through with unprecedented luster at a moment when our nation is on the brink of electing one who has not only been kicked up to her highest level of incompetence, but has exhibited not one jot of class in doing it. The only argument for Hillary Clinton’s competence may be how she is able to side-step not only censure, but jail as well. Her entire career has been marked by that sneering defiance toward the law. But most upsetting is how she simply doesn’t look very good doing it.
Clinton’s consciousness has been raised, when cornered, to the level of a guilty spouse caught cheating and responds by shrieking, Let’s move on! or What difference does it make? And when she’s caught with her servers exposed, she feigns acting like the poor girl who just doesn’t know one blessed thing about all that guyish mechanical techy stuff. And that’s when she exposes her incompetence as a bad grrrl. Not only is she completely unconvincing, but on top of that she just doesn’t look good being bad.
So with President Hillary as inspiration, one of the worx titled “Bad Grrls Need Class” is offered. In it, we explore the depth, shortcomings, as well as style, of American bad grrrl behavior.
And if any one knows Dr. Lawrence Peter, tell him thanx.
BAD GRRRLS NEED CLASS
When in 1926 Aldous Huxley was sailing aboard a steamship toward the La La Land of Los Angeles, a locale Huxley himself named “the city of dreadful joy” (and we here at 3T refer to as Lululand for all the lulus therein), the author was proceeding toward what would supply the vision for his Brave New World. While visiting the ship’s communications room on that journey he received a preview of what to expect.
“It was the first morning out of Yokohama,” he wrote in a later account, Jesting Pilate, “I was handed the day’s bulletin of wireless news: ‘Mrs. X, of Los Angeles, girl wife of Dr. X, aged 79, has been arrested for driving her automobile along the railroad track, whistling like a locomotive.’ This piece of information had been transmitted through the ethereal holes between the molecules of air. From a broadcasting station more than five thousand miles away it had come to our ship in rather less time than it would have taken the sound of my voice to travel from one end of the promenade deck to the other. The labours of half a dozen men of genius, of hundreds of patient and talented investigators, had gone to creating and perfecting the means for achieving this miracle.”
It’s curious what Mr. Huxley would say today upon reviewing the behavior of women from “the city of dreadful joy” all revved up for mischief even more than Mrs. X? Or the astronomical number of tabloid chronicles and twittering tweets that celebrate them.
When a contemporary young “celebrity” took an intoxicated turn on an LA freeway not long ago, steaming the wrong way onto an entrance ramp, Nicole Ritchie joined the ranks of a millennial band of bad grrrls stretching back to Huxley’s Mrs. X whistling on the tracks. But what similarity might we find between Mrs. X and Ritchie? Only that they were two individuals out of a slew of names in the news from nowhere, another two lost particles colliding in space with no particular distinction of popularity other than being celebrated as a celebrity gone bad.
Bad grrrls announce themselves as wild wymin, suicide girls, grunge grrrls, kick-ass chicks. Granted, many are bad. That’s part of their show. Yet, if many of the players come out of the entertainment field, kicking up antics for “infotainment,” then let’s call on them to give us a real performance rather than the cheap paltry “reality show” they have so far bungled.
People calling attention to themselves should try not to be so tedious. Perhaps their act is predictably boring because those poor grrrls have already had too much reality TV pumped into them. Whatever the cause, those unfortunate bad grrls need to jazz up their image and load up on some style. They need to pick up on some class and look good while being bad.
They might pay attention to the bad boys to see how it’s done. Hollywood, as the national Id, has always been a showroom of bad boys. Robert Mitchum lived up to its tradition by getting busted in the late forties for smoking weed. Mitchum served his time nobly— if that’s the word— with ten days in county jail. No sqwaking on Mitchum’s part. No, sirree. But he didn’t have to be nice, either. When he left the jailhouse, waiting reporters asked him: “How’d you like jail, Bob?”
The bad boy replied: “I liked it just fine, boys. Just like Palm Springs— only without all the riffraff.”
So he gets off a shot at jail and at the same time rags on the snobs of Palm Springs. See, that’s looking good while being bad. Pure class.
Hollywood is not the only neighborhood for classy assholes. One bad boy of the recent past is Robert Rizzo, the flamboyant City Manager of a town with much lower rent than Hollywood: Bell, California.
Even his name is tinged by sleaze (apologies to the good Rizzos). Not only is there Dustin Hoffman’s sleazy character Rizzo “Ratso” of Midnight Cowboy, but also an actual female official with the same surname (possibly a relative?) who was involved in a corruption scandal in Cicero, Illinois– Al Capone’s old stomping grounds. Living up to his name, Robert Rizzo managed to pillage the municipal exchequer of the impoverished city of Bell. He and his cohorts “administrated” for themselves huge salaries and monstrous retirements. To show the depth of his corrupt heart, even after extorting tax payers in that poor industrial town— average income around $35,000— Rizzo maintained even after being prosecuted that he still had a right to the million-dollar annual retirement he’d carved for himself.
One might ask– and rightly so– What’s so cool about that? Well, this is where class shows through. Bad grrrls could learn from this.
An otherwise totally repugnant creep, Rizzo was discovered to own a thoroughbred horse farm in Washington state. First of all, who’d imagine a geek like that having anything to do with thoroughbreds in the first place? Furthermore, he gave his prize stallion a French name: Depense l’Argent, which translates as “Spend The Money.” Whatever else might be said about a maggot like Rizzo, naming the thoroughbred he bought with ill-got gelt Spend The Money reveals an extremely unexpected touch of class.
The bad grrls circulating at the time of this writing— Brittany, Paris, Nicole, Lindsay, etc— what do they really do to earn that title? Party on coke they do. Sweet chick drinks they do and do. Yet, when they step completely over the line and do do do, they wind up sobbing before a judge. Since they are far more prominent in the news than Huxley’s Mrs. X, who only enjoyed notoriety in local papers and an international telegraph, bad grrrls today should be inclined to show more class simply because they command a vast audience supported by a greater and speedier media. But, alas, they clearly do not display the same pizzazz. They just can’t seem to capture the rapture of a golden floozie.
Huxley’s Mrs. X was only one of a national army of flappers defying the morality of reformers righteously attired in long black dresses, who marched the streets, who tore up saloons like Cary Nation did, who wanted to mark the funeral end of intemperate living. What Mrs. Nation accomplished for the nation instead was to kick off Prohibition and all its demons. On the other hand, the doctor’s young wife whistling like a train on the tracks followed in the footsteps of a different idol, Beebe Daniels.
As a queen of silent films and bad grrrl arbiter of bad taste, Daniels set bad grrrl pace by getting arrested in 1921 as the first offender for speeding! Fifty six miles per hour in her Marmot roadster qualified her as the first speeder in Lululand history.
While defending Beebe Daniels, her attorney, W.I. Gilbert, uttered a plea which was to become the mantra of the misunderstood star echoing this sorry day down the halls of justice. Attorney Gilbert plead for “a show of mercy for this poor little girl who has been subjected to so much.”
But no, dammit, she still got ten days in the hoosegow!
And here’s the kicker. Did the idea of jail bother the 18 year-old star of such masterpieces as Pinched, She Couldn’t Help It, and Lonesome Luke’s Wild Women? Apparently not.
What Beebe Daniels did instead was to use that time (you almost want to say gracefully) by answering fan mail, enjoying the catered meals delivered to her cell from exclusive restaurants, and holding court with the crowds of fans gathered to pay homage. She even enjoyed serenades from the Abe Lyman California Ambassador Hotel Orchestra, a Rolling Stones of the twenties. Jail also afforded Daniels time to prepare for the movie based on her recent brush with the law titled The Speed Girl.
That’s what we mean by “golden floozie.”
The company film town of Lululand lives on, and has always lived off, a mass fascination with the lurid. Did it not begin with a story about a great train robbery? So when players turn bad, not only is it traditionally spicy, it’s downright obligatory. Bad boys answer the call on and off the screen— Errol Flynn, Fatty Arbuckle, etc. Bing Crosby had to start a whole new family because the first batch went so sour. But what seems to have changed is the serious lack of moxie, spirit, style. In short, the ability to look good while being bad.
Names that were floating to the top at the time of this writing were Nicole, Brittany, Lindsay, Paris, but a new batch has already supplanted them in the city of dreadful joy. We don’t keep up here in the bunker. Whoever they may be, they still vie for bad grrrl of the moment. But as soon as one of these little lambs gets busted, she plays the innocent and gets all whiny. What’s worse, since these bad grrrls form the news of the hour, the public gets to share the whining.
Lindsay Lohan was especially adept at the new mew of the bad kitten. When her attorneys pled for mercy, they echoed W.I. Gilbert’s plea for Beebe Daniels— “This poor little girl”— while representing Lohan for two drunk driving arrests in 2007. (And throw in a stint at shop lifting.) Lohan then commenced to defy court dates, fail drug tests, and show general contempt for the judge. Like Daniels, Lohan was also attended by a phalanx of fans when she showed up to do her time: a mere thirteen days reduced from a 90-day conviction. That reduction would seem like a victory to one who flouted the law so publicly, but she was still blubbering! A trial photo at sentencing shows the startled look of one who had no idea totally they could like— O my God!— like do something as totally gross as like jail a star!
No way for a bad grrrl to act. Lohan doesn’t even come close to a golden pro like Beebe Daniels, who exhausted her appeals and then did her time with no sqwaks. Daniels did, however, in true bad grrrl fashion take a little dig at her trial Judge, John Belshazzar Cox. “I suppose if you live in a small town you get like that,” she said of Judge Cox to inquiring reporters. “I bet 56.25 miles per hour sounds awfully fast if you’ve never driven anything faster than a plow.”
And it looks like today’s bad grrrls don’t even improve with age. Even older ones seem to have missed the class on class. Terribly bad form in one case after another is not difficult to find. But that of Olga and Helen is noteworthy.
In a plot straight out of a Dashiel Hammett film noir, two crusty gals, one of Romanian origins named Olga along with a Texan named Helen, decided to earn money by running over homeless guys who slept in alleys. The film noir part is how the ladies first befriended the victims. Then they proceeded to put their new “friends” up in rented digs while, out of the kindness of their scheming hearts, bought insurance policies on the gentlemen.
Never mind that the insurance writers, even though claiming to be suspicious, went ahead and issued the policies. The deeper question asks if bad grrrls have balls. Imagine the testicles required, figurative or otherwise, to go for it. Balls usually apply to men; if Jewish, they might be translated as chutzpah. But any way you put it, how Helen and Olga bluffed the insurance guys after bumping off the two set-ups was spectacular. They even sued a company for not paying fast enough on these two insured and relative strangers who were deliberately run over in alleys! So two women taking out insurance policies on virtual strangers and later running them over indicates, besides some obvious stupidity, the presence of some ballsy chutzpah.
One would then have expected the same crusty fortitude when nabbed; that is, here be two bad grrrls what’s really bad. But not so.
Right after Helen and Olga were busted, they resorted to the usual ball-less behavior and quickly sank to the same level as some whiny teen star. Some especially bad form came through when Olga claimed at her trial that “Helen made me do it.” Then they started arguing about the money all over again. So disappointing. So typical of contemporary bad grrrls getting caught— Can we say?— with their pants down.
And here’s the sad part: In the new world where women are expected to lead, whether in legitimate society or the underworld, we are losing the benefit of class. Sad, indeed, when bad grrrls are unable to lift themselves to the level of a golden floozie after calling attention to their lame act. And then they start whining because they have to learn the hard way what every dumbkopf offender in state prison knows by heart: If you can’t do the time, then don’t do the crime.
It’s a situation silly enough for your average Manichean who believes that demons actually rule, enough to pitch him into a mix of numb amazement, if not into a Democritic Seizure of laughter. Similar, perhaps, to Aldous Huxley’s state of mind when sailing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and learning via the miracle of wireless words about some crazy socialite’s behavior in the brave new world. Communications available today— a phone for every pocket, digital signals bouncing off satellites— multiply fantastically the miracle of the telegraph, as well as the paparazzi industry running alongside it, kicking out slick tonnages of public pulp and images bright enough to light up a desert. Beside that phenomenal wonder, then, resides an equally prodigious wonder: how such sophisticated science has been utilized to inform all citizens at every instant when Britany goes awol on her contract, gets a tattoo, or shows up with a shaved head.
It’s got to be close to the same mix of amazement and incredulity Huxley experienced in 1926 upon receiving “transmitted through the ethereal holes between the molecules of air” another wireless report following the one about Mrs. X’s arrest for imitating a train with her car. He learned the next day that Beebe Daniels had fallen off her horse.