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Gimme shelter

Posted by Charles P. Pierce February 5, 2009 05:59 AM

There was a time in this great land of ours when growing up to be a wealthy and successful athlete who also happened to be dating an internationally famous supermodel was an unambiguous validation of the American Dream. (Hell, it was an unambiguous validation of the Latvian Dream.) It signified a certain level of success in your chosen field. It was an indication that all your hard work was paying off. It was a foolproof measure of your having achieved The Good Life. It was also fun, or so Iím told. Iím obviously only going on uninformed speculation here.

Now, though, there seems to be some concern that our local quarterback has been photographed canoodling in the tropics with his current inamorata, who often is seen wearing expensive skivvies on the cover of very large magazines that come thumping through the door and make the whole foyer smell like a Parisian cathouse. Or so Iím told. Iím obviously only going on uninformed speculation there, too.

The local quarterback stands ó or, more accurately, lounges ó accused of insufficient dedication to ... well, to something, although Iím unclear as to what it is. The rehabilitation of his knee is reportedly ongoing, despite the setback after the initial surgery, so it canít be that. The more I listen to this, the more I think that Tom Brady stands accused most vitally of insufficient dedication to maintaining the unicorn-and-golden-puppies dreams of his most devout fans. Face it. You can be a salt-of-the-earth, overachieving self-effacing athletic superstar and still date a supermodel. It is possible. Iíd be willing to bet that you could go down the street to your local and find 15 or 20 salt-of-the-earth types who would be more than willing to give it a try, and I would win that bet.

What I think is that the problem is cameras.

It used to be that youíd know when your picture was being taken. Some guy in a fedora and a belted raincoat would show up waving something the size of a Hotpoint in your face. That gave you more than enough time to run away, duck behind a potted plant, or throw a raincoat over your head. There was a decent interval between the arrival of the photographer and the explosion of the supernova that would guarantee you a place in the next dayís tabloid newspaper. Cameras got smaller, but the principle obtained; even the paparazzi were easily spotted. They traveled in herds, like caribou come to graze on whatever was left of someone elseís dignity.

Now, though, with all due respect to this wonderful new media age in which we live, every idiot with a cellphone is also a photographer. Now, I know that these guys are famous, and that with the big paychecks comes a certain flexibility as regards personal privacy, but the wonderful new media age in which we live has rather eliminated it entirely. It was once recommended to famous people that they not do anything in public that they wouldnít do in private. Now the lesson is not to do anything in public, period. Some half-drunk dunce across the restaurant can whip out his personal telephone and, the next day, without your ever having known it, whatever it is you did is all over the Internet, which is a device of some popularity among the younger set, or so Iím told.

(A brief aside to Michael Phelps ó your apology is unnecessary. You donít owe me one. You got your picture taken blowing dope and that picture got sold, and a world full of no-life busybodies got into your business. Thatís the way it goes these days. I truly do not care that you undermined all the hard work that your sponsors and the National Broadcasting Company put into creating an artificial You. At this particular time, it might be helpful to you to realize that, generally, there are two types of people over 50 years old in this country: people who have smoked pot, and liars. And, anyway, come on up to Massachusetts, where it is a new day for this sort of stuff anyway, as can be ascertained by our new state motto: ďDude!Ē)

Nobody I know is more of a free speech/free press guy than I am. I know that people doing certain unsavory things is the price I have to be willing to pay for my right to do (marginally more) savory things. I do not wring my hands about the existence of the National Enquirer or the Weekly World News ó how else am I going to know what Bat Boyís up to? ó because their existence helps guarantee the existence of the publications for which I write, including this one. But, having said that, Iím not exactly sure what the public range of motion is for a celebrity these days. It cannot be easy to know that, for you, the entire world is a 24-hour perp walk. In the case of the local quarterback, he wasnít doing anything except canoodling ó which is a great and underutilized word ó with his girlfriend. This is something that almost everyone in his position would probably find themselves doing. This was nobodyís business except the canoodler and the canoodlee, and it certainly wasnít the business of the drooling geeks whoíve set up permanent housekeeping in the maw of the celebrity age. It was not yet illegal. Not even in Utah. Or so Iím told.

OT columnist Charles P. Pierce is a Boston Globe Magazine staff writer.

4 comments so far...
  1. Bravo. I don't care what Tom does off the field. He's human. He has alife, just like everyone else. Personally, I admire his restraint with the camera-idiots. If it were you or I, we'd probably end up doing something to the idiot in question to wind up in jail. Let Tom enjoy his life, in PRIVATE. We get to do that, why not him?

    As for Phelps, again, WHO CARES? He's 23. He smoked some dope at a college party. Stop the presses, because, you know, that NEVER happens. I know he had to save his paycheck, but it would have been refreshing if instead of apologizing, he'd said "yup. I did. Deal."

    Posted by Chris February 5, 09 08:55 AM
  1. Thanks for touching the whole Phelps melodrama, I've been disgusted with the amount of press it has received in the past week. The kid is 23. These things happen. The only true, regrettable mistake he made is that he let himself get photographed doing it, because it may cost him some $ with his sponsors. Of course, then again, maybe he can replace Rock Band with something like, say, High Times.

    Posted by AK February 5, 09 11:02 AM
  1. Gimme shelter?! Gimme a break! Brady (i.e., Namath redux) has gone full-time Hollywood and now the issue is his privacy?! C'mon Charlie - this story has as much credo as your recent diatribe "Bring Manny Back to Boston". Yet another slow day at the office, me thinks...

    Posted by Broadway Joe February 6, 09 05:03 AM
  1. Mr Pierce, I commend you the publishing of a great editorial. In 2009, it seems that so many people in this country are more concerned about what celebrities are doing, than they are about issues that should mean something to everyone. I have a co-worker, that flatly told me that American Soldiers and the war in Iraq, were not real to her. " I can't relate to that, its not real to me. Now if there is a sale at Macy's that is real to me. I wish that I could believe that she holds a rare view, but sadly I think her concerns are not far from millions of other Americans. The obsession to know what Miley Cyrus, Branjolina, Tom Brady, or Tony Romo are doing in their private lifes, is an illness that is dumbing down the citizens of the USA. I believe that we once stood as a country concerned about national issues and compassionate to the Men and Women that were protecting our liberty. Not anymore. The apathetic nature of so many in this country, prevents them from digesting anything other than the gossip and trials of the famous. Sadly, these same people vote on election day.

    Posted by Raymond Gerrity February 8, 09 04:41 PM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
Tony Massarotti is a Boston Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. He is currently spotlighted as a featured columnist on Boston.com.
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Bob Lobel was a WBZ-TV sportscaster for 29 years, anchoring more than 10,000 sports reports.
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