Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: fame

Too Small, Too Big, Just Right

bears

“Does your wife or girlfriend think you are too “big,” too “small,” or “just right” in the bedroom?” asked the dude with the glasses, trendy t-shirt, beard, and clipboard.

I had just left the 42nd Street Library and was walking down the street, passing the headquarters of a major pay-channel cable network.

“Huh?” I asked.  I’m used to tourists asking for directions to the Empire State Building, but never this.

“I’m with the show “Honest Sex Stories” and we’re interviewing people today in the street.  You can be on TV!”

I noticed a cameraman and soundman lurking in the background, in front of the “Hearty Soup” cafe.

“You want me to talk about my penis size on TV?”

He assured me that the show gets a large audience, and has been nominated for an Emmy.

I know that it is everyone’s dream of being on TV.  We all want Oprah’s job when she leaves.  I read tweets about mommybloggers on CNN.  Redneck Mommy is now on Canadian TV every week!  I would love to feel special too, but do I really want this to be my opening act on the small screen?

Twitter January 2010

@RT Neilochka – hey, gang, watch me on Honest Sex Stories tonight where I talk about my penis size!

As a professional blogger, I decided to talk to this “street interviewer” as a peer, an equal.  After all, as the master of ceremonies of the Great Interview Experiment, I know a little bit about interviewing myself, and I didn’t want him to just think of me as some dumb schlub he just picked up off the street.

“So, how many people have you interviewed already?”

“We’re just starting the process.”

I wanted to show him how sharp I was with my knowledge.

“You realize that you’re NOT going to get too many men admitting that they are “too small.”  If anything, you are going to get guys insisting that they are “too big.”

“We know that already.  That’s why we’re interviewing women too.”

“A-ha.”

I thought about this for a second.  What would I do with this footage if I was trying to be “entertaining” on some cable sex show?

“So, basically, you’re going to intercut men saying they’re too big with the women saying they’re too small?”

“Something like that.”

“So, whatever I would say right now, doesn’t really matter.  You could edit me in with some woman saying, “He has the smallest dick in the world,” and the audience will think she is talking about me.”

“That’s unlikely, but it is up to the director and video editors.  They’ll be some paperwork that you’ll need to sign before…”

“So, tell me again.  Why would I want to do this?”

“You’ll be on TV!”

“What’s your dick size?” I asked.

“What?”

“You work for a sex show.  Surely you know your own dick size.”

“Average.  A little more.  About six inches, I guess”

“Great.  Can I take a photo of you right now with my iPhone?”

“Why would you do that?”

“I run a blog called Citizen of the Month.  I’d like to write a post about you, telling my readers about your dick size.  Would that be OK with you? I get a lot of readers!  This would be a great opportunity for you!”

Hello Kitty

There is nothing as sad as seeing an old lover who has been hit by hard times.    Wasn’t it just yesterday when we first met, both of us young and naive, two individuals from different cultures, but with so much in common?

It was the summer of 1986.  You told me stories about your childhood in Tokyo.  I took you to my mother’s home for your first Passover seder.   We made love in Central Park.  You murmured like a cat as a stroked you, laughing and saying, “Hello Kitty.  Hello Kitty.”

Then, you moved back to the land of the Rising Sun, where success was waiting for you.  We knew this was your destiny.

You became a superstar, and stopped returning my calls.  I tried to forget you, but wherever I went, I saw your loving, trusting face — on lunchboxes, keychains, pencils.  Everyone loved you, but only I truly knew HOW to love you.

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A few weeks ago, a blogger went on Twitter and asked what would happen if she stopped blogging.   Most begged her not to stop.   I tried to be helpful and gave another view.  “If you quit blogging, people will be sad, but within two weeks, everyone will have moved on.  Better to focus on those who really love you — your family and friends — because they will not abandon you.  Audiences are fickle.”   Others on Twitter called me cruel and hateful towards this fellow blogger, when I was just trying to speak the truth.

The truth IS that audiences are fickle.  Every few months there is a new superstar, a new flavor of the month, and then — like Meg Ryan — you stop getting the good movie roles.  Do we all have ADHD?  Are we bored so easily with each other?   How else to explain the constant look-out for something new?  Is there any other reason for a Kim Dardashian to be talked about other than a need to have some new useless celebrity around  for a few months?

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kitty2

I was in Manhattan yesterday when I saw her again.  At first, I didn’t recognize her.  Could this have been the same lover that I had once held so closely in 1986?  The same international icon, beloved by millions, but none more than me  — now wondering the streets of midtown Manhattan, alone and unrecognized?

But I recognized her.  I recognized the look in her eyes.   She asked me to join her for lunch.   She brought me to this unpretentious fast-food “soup cafe,” so completely unlike the five star restaurants that she had once visited as she traveled the world as a good-will ambassador, dining with rock stars and diplomats.

kitty1

We talked about old times, the mistakes, the heartbreaks, the ups and the downs.  It was nice to catch up with my old friend, my passionate lover, but time becomes a wall, a barrier without a door, and after we finished our soup, it was time to go our separate ways again.

“Goodbye, Kitty,” I said.

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My Name is Ozymandias

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During the coronation of a new Pope, it is traditional for a monk to hold up a burning piece of flax.  After it burns, the monk says, “Pater sancte, sic transit gloria mundi,” which is translated as “Holy Father, thus passes the glory of the world.”  Catholics are supposed to remember that despite the power of the Pope, he is still a mortal man.

This is how we get the expression — “Fame is fleeting.”

Bookfraud was down on himself last week because so many novelists publish their first novel before they are 30:  Jonathan Safran Foer, Zadie Smith and Gary Shteyngart.   And he felt that the deadline had passed.

I can relate.  We all want to be acknowledged for our work.  It would especially cool to be famous.

But let’s think about this “fame” business a bit.  Is writing a book really going to give us what we want?

Jonathan Safran Foer?  Gary Shteyngart?  Seriously, I bet you that 95% of the American public think these are the names of the two main characters on “Two and a Half Men.”

What is fame anyway?.  American Idol has millions of viewers, but how many of the contestants will be remembered?  How many CDs have you bought that were released by any of the former contestants?  Quick — who won the runner up in season two?

From 1915-1922, the biggest female box office star in Hollywood was Mary Pickford.  From 1923-1926, it was Norma Talmadge.  Other than Danny from Jew Eat Yet?, do any of you know anything about these hugely popular actresses — the superstars of their day?

The #1 Blog on Technorati is Techcrunch.  Enough said.  No one will remember Techcrunch in 100 years.

In Junior High, I was forced to memorize this poem.  At the time, I was too young to understand it.  But now —

OZYMANDIAS by Percy Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Every single writer, politician, movie star, and celebrity will eventually be forgotten. 

But all is not hopeless.  There is one celebrity from today who will be remembered forever — Arnold Palmer.

arnold.jpg

Yes, Arnold Palmer, was once the greatest golf player of the day.  But like, Mary Pickford, a person can only be at the top of the game for so long.  Eventually a Tiger Woods comes along, and everyone starts to ask, “Arnold who?”

Arnold Palmer, however, was a marketing genius.  He instinctively knew the lesson of Ozymandias.   By creating a drink — the Arnold Palmer — half lemonade/half ice tea — he did what no other celebrity could do — made sure that his name would be famous forever.  Just today, I was eating lunch in Beverly Hills, when I saw a beautiful women calling her waiter over to order an “Arnold Palmer,” her lips smacking in anticipation.   Can you imagine what it must be like to have women all around the world wanting you like that? 

Arnold Palmer is the only media consultant who deserves to speak about “branding” at web conferences.  Arnold Palmer — the ultimate brand.  There’s even a drink named after him.

I was once misguided enough to think that this blog would give me fame and glory.   Every day, people would wake up, rub their eyes, turn on their computers , and come to Citizen of the Month, ready to be astounded.   I had this illusion that even if  flying robots from Mars were destroying the United States outside, my loyal readers would not flee for their lives until they finished writing a witty comment on my latest post. 

But is this loyalty a constant? 

Already, I’m noticing newer and more exciting blogs catching your eye, your attention spans dulled by years of MTV, video games, and prescription drugs. 

Luckily, I have a plan for when this blog loses its buzz.  The Neilochka —  1/3 Pomegranate Juice, 1/3 Cranberry Juice, and 1/3 Seltzer.

Please, start ordering it NOW at your favorite watering hole.  Remember to order it by NAME.  “I’ll have a Neilochka.”

This is the only way it will catch on, insuring that my name will live in glory forever.

The Year, 2246

Bar, Moon of Saturn Outpost #23A

Beautiful Female Cyborg:  I’ll have a Neilochka, straight up!

Bartender:  Excellent choice.  Coming up!

Beautiful Female Cyborg:  I’ve been wanting a Neilochka all day.  I’ve always wondered why this delicious drink is called a Neilochka.

Bartender:  At Harvard Bartending School, they taught us that Neilochka created this drink.  He was a famous blogger about 200 years ago. 

Beautiful Female Cyborg:  He must have been an amazing person.  No one could create this wonderful drink without having been super talented.  If I lived back then, I would have definitely f**ked him.  What else do you know about him?

Bartender:  Supposedly he was very famous.  Very popular.  Did this thing called blogging.

Beautiful Female Cyborg:  Blogging?  What the hell is that?

Bartender:  I have no idea.  But, he’s certainly remembered for this drink!  I better stop talking and get back to work before I’m dooced.

Fame!

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Jonas Salk and Paris Hilton

There is no TV show that irritates me more than 20/20, the ABC News “Magazine,” especially when John Stossel does one of his famous investigative reports. The “research” always reminds me of something I once did for my 8th grade Social Studies class.

Friday’s 20/20 was titled “Are We Addicted To Fame?”

If you could wave a magic wand and make yourself smarter, stronger, more beautiful, or famous, which would you pick? I was surprised by how many people pick fame over everything else.

The show introduces us to our culture’s sick obsession with celebrity and fame. There are showbiz kids desperate for a part in a sitcom, students who take Learning Annex-type courses to become celebrity assistants, and crazed fans who dream of just being in the same room as someone famous.

Throughout the show, you get the sense that (the famous) John Stossel looks down on these fanatics. In fact, he seems to be disappointed in MOST OF US, as if most Americans are a bunch of sick puppies. To understand our crazed obsessions better, he turns to the usual suspects — the EXPERTS!

I used to wonder where these newsmagazines always find these experts, but blogging has helped me understand how the mass media works. A few months ago, a producer from Washington Post Radio emailed me after I wrote some humorous blog post about Mel Gibson’s infamous night out.  The host wanted to interview me about my opinion of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitism, as if I had some special knowledge of the subject because I was both Jewish and had seen Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome three times.  Do I really need to say any more about how qualified these experts are? (editor’s note: Neil is available as a media “expert” on blogging, relationships, Los Angeles, New York, Redondo Beach, pizza in Flushing, and women [sorry, that one is still a mystery to him])

For all of John Stossel’s hand-wringing about our sick society, he glosses over the fact that the ONES who profit the most from this celebrity culture are the experts he interviews, such as Janice Min, editor-in-chief of “Us Weekly.”

Ms. Min on celebrities of today:

“You don’t even have to be so talented to be famous. You just have to be outrageous, well dressed, gorgeous, date the right person.”

John Stossel also interviews Leigh Hallisey, a professor who TEACHES a course on TV and Popular Culture at Boston University’s College of Communication.

“It used to be enough that you got attention from your parents. You got attention from your teachers, your peers and that sort of thing, but that is no longer enough,” said Hallisey. “We want attention from the worldwide media.”

However, the real talking head of the show is Jake Halpern, who just happened to have written a book titled “Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction, which just happens to be be published by Houghton Mifflin RIGHT NOW in January 2007 (talk about a good PR firm). I have not read the book, but I have a feeling it doesn’t contain any scathing attacks on media-obsessed magazines such as US Weekly or Entertainment Weekly. How do I know this? Because Entertainment Weekly is running a 7-Page excerpt from the book right in the magazine! (another PR coup!)

John Stossel is fascinated by Mr. Halpern’s findings, tidbits like: most teenage girls would rather grow up to be a celebrity assistant than a U.S. Senator.

Mr. Halpern theorizes that celebrity magazines like “Us Weekly,” “People” and “In Touch” are so popular because people are lonely. Halpern points out that today more young people tend to marry later in life and more can afford their own living spaces, so they spend more time alone.

Celebrities become a way to connect us to each other. It’s sad really. There’s a lot of head-shaking going on in the 20/20 episode. Our children are fame junkies. The rest of us are lonely and miserable, with no connection to real life. The worst part of our celebrity obsession is that we are all growing up to be imbeciles. To prove this, John Stossel takes to the streets and asks passerbys to identify both Paris Hilton and Jonas Salk. Much like in those Tonight Show “Jaywalking” segments, most people are idiots. Everyone knows Nicole Richie’s former partner, but only an oid fart has heard of the developer of the first polio vaccine.

For shame! For shame!

But who’s to blame? Our parents? Our schools? Modern loneliness?

If John Stossel had any cojones he would have looked over at some of the ABC News executives he works with.  A quick search on the ABC News website shows 505 pages of news stories about Paris Hilton and ONLY 22 pages about Jonas Salk. Is it any wonder we know and care more about Paris Hilton than Jonas Salk — because ABC News likes it that way!

By the way, just out of curiosity, I looked up the last ABC News story that mentioned Jonas Salk, one of the greatest men of the Twentieth Century. This is it

The same year that Jonas Salk discovered a vaccine for polio, a little-known chemist at General Foods stumbled on to what would provide a revolution in mouths across the country.

William A. Mitchell had a simple hope in 1956 — make instant soda from a tablet. The soda didn’t pan out, but he created a hit. His research led to the invention of Pop Rocks candy.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: CES, Day One

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