Now THAT's What I Call Racist

There was an article in yesterday's NYT about Calvin R. Darden, Jr., a guy who's facing felony larceny and fraud charges in NY, essentially for bilking several investment firms and famous people of their money, and lying about it. (He also faces well-deserved civil suits by the private individuals involved, among them Nelly and Latrell Sprewell.)

Now, first point, just on a personal note: how bummed would you be if you were Calvin Sr., a respected businessman who currently heads UPS and is on other well-respected public companies' boards because of his business acumen? "I called that little dumbass Junior?!?! Maaaan, that pisses me off!!!" And yet Pops put up Jr.'s million-dollar bail, so apparently blood is thicker than water. (Let me say right here that I'm not sure my folks would bail my ass out of jail if I'd bilked people of millions of dollars.... In fact, I know for a fact that my dad wouldn't, and I'm pretty sure my mom would think I'd gotten my just desserts for being a thief.) (Hermann was willing to bail me out if I'd whomped on a certain English solicitor of our acquaintance, but I think he'd draw the line at financial crimes, and I know Bryan would, too, although I expect they'd both visit me in the pokey, which is nice. Plus, they both smell good, and you need that in prison visiting rooms, as I understand it.)

But that's not my point here today. Here's what bothers me (and you should read the story in the Times online -- registration is required, but well worth it; it was in the business section of Sunday's paper; that's January 16th): this clown apparently got hired by not one, not two, not three, but four really respected and respectable investment houses (including Merrill, Smith Barney and Wachovia Securities), and got huuuuuge starting bonuses against his putative future production numbers, even though he never ever ever delivered on his targets. Even with his dad's business (UPS went public during Daddy's tenure there), and other UPS execs' business, Calvin Jr. never made the grade. What's more, he never lasted at a place longer than about a year and a half, and when he was asked for repayment of the advances, he just said he didn't have the dough.

Here's why he was hired, and hired, and hired again (he had four employers total, and I'm not counting his first hire, because he actually is well-educated and did well in the training program that the first place ran for newbies, and if he'd kept to the straight-and-narrow might actually have made something of himself, more's the pity): he promised to deliver African-American entertainers and athletes to the i-bankers, 'cause he's black, himself. So that's apparently all they needed to hear, and hired him, and hired him, and hired him. Because he is black and said he could bring blacks into the business, which is notoriously mighty pale. Never mind that he'd never even met the people he claimed were his clients (most notably Shaquille O'Neal), never mind that he couldn't even get in the door with their agents, or publicists or business managers, but hey, he was black, they were black, the people hiring him were white, and they thought he must be the shizznit, because he is black and they are not.

[I don't know if you remember Jayson Blair, but if you don't, look up his exploits. Basically, ol' Jayson was a pathological liar, who wouldn't have known the truth if it had bitten him in the ass, and he was a "journalist," and he wrote for the New York Times, except that what he wrote wasn't really factual, and it wasn't based on his own interviews, or visits to places, or actual people. It was more, well, fictional, really, and he got away with it for a long long time. And the reason he got away with it is that he worked for a bunch of white guys who didn't think to question him, largely, it seems, because he was black, and they didn't want to offend him by poking around when other people started asking questions. Like, "Hey, I didn't talk to your reporter.... How come my name's in his story?" Tough questions. But Jayson's sad story is just a prequel to Calvin Jr.'s, in my opinion, although it's part of the same knotty problem.]

Did they think Calvin Jr. couldn't have actually done the work for which he was being so very well paid? Did they think the black kid couldn't have cut it? No? Well, then, what other possible reason could there be for not calling him on the carpet the very first time his numbers didn't add up, and the very first time he didn't produce a meeting with one of his alleged clients?? They might have saved him from himself! If just one person had said, "Hey, Cal, I'm not letting you cash one more check 'til I meet Shaq or Latrell or P. Diddy or who-the-hell-ever, ok?" might it not have put the brakes on the whole operation and made the guy actually do the job he was educated and trained to do?

What a travesty. There is no earthly reason that a qualified person, whether they are a member of any race, either sex, any preferential or "diverse" group, should not be asked the tough questions that would be asked of anyone applying for or holding any job whatsoever. To treat someone differently, to hold them to a lesser or looser standard, is inherently racist, discriminatory, degrading, and reprehensible. If it's not racist to hold someone who's not white to a lower standard, I don't know what is.


Putting it in Perspective (or, It's JUST a little RAIN, people!!!)

So, you've heard by now that California is just soaking wet, right? Lots and lots and lots of rain, for about the past 4 weeks or so. Culmination was a landslide in Ventura County (that's the one between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, for you out-of-staters) that took 10 people with it. All told, about 25 people have died, either buried or drowned or frozen (they had to take to telling people what all to take in their cars if they were going to drive over any mountain passes that might never have seen snow before; you'd have had all these things in your car if you were used to any kind of inclement weather, but Californians, for the most part, are an ill-prepared bunch, it would seem, from the advice being given by every media outlet -- and it still didn't work for everyone).

Now, of course it's sad that 25 people lost their lives untimely, and the story of the 37-year old woman and her three daughters, aged 10, 6 and 2, dying in La Conchita is especially heart-rending (my father-in-law told me yesterday that the house was that of his good friend's stepson, who was also killed when the mud swept it away), but honestly, if I'd heard one more person complain about the rain around here, I might have gone totally mental.

One word: TSUNAMI. Killer wave? 9.0 earthquake? NINE POINT OH!!!!! Having surfed the 7.1 in SF 15 years ago, on the 28th floor of the Spear Street Tower, I can tell you I wouldn't want to even think about what a 9 feels like, since they say that every point is about 10x the magnitude. The devastation, horror, and tragedy of the tsunami's passage cannot even be adequately expressed in words. Close to 160,000 people have lost their lives, and you're telling me it's ok to bitch and moan about a couple of weeks' RAIN?! No, it just isn't. Or, if you do complain, do it with a smile. And then go home and hug your family, call your mom, e-mail your friends, and tell them how much you love them and how much they mean to you and all the reasons they're great, because thank God, you can. Life is precious; use it well.

On a final note about perspective, and California's reputation on the East Coast, I sent this article to my friend Rob today, who's in NY and wondering if I've had enough of this weather. I said, "I hope every single company that sells homeowners' insurance has a file of these articles and a list of people who should NOT get insurance. "Too Stupid To Insure" is what I'd call the file, myself, but I know that's a little judgmental. Still, why should the rest of us pay higher premiums because these numbskulls want to live dangerously???" It's just maddening, is what.

Oh, and lastly, with apologies because it's 3 days late, Happy Birthday Margaret!!!


Insomnia Ain't Right: Reflections on the Day before Sunrise

This morning, I woke up at 4. I'm not sure why, because I don't remember having any bad or even weird dreams, but there I was, staring at the middle of the night and listening to the somewhat-less-than-restful sounds of my whuffling slumbering darling, who very very soon is going to have someone tell him how to deal with the sleep apnea, if that's what it is, but I digress....

Anyway. Didn't want to read. Didn't want to play games. Called FedEx to get that stupid cooler sent back to Traverse City (don't ask. Ok, ask. Turns out that our house was owned (almost a year ago, forgive the double parentheticals) by a dude whose brother is a moron. Works in Traverse City; had his secretary send an empty cooler -- an empty, battered-all-to-hell-please-just-buy-a-new-damned cooler, mind you -- to his brother, who moved from this address a full 8 months ago. Close family, I guess. Or just peopled with some idiots).

Aaaaaaanyway: called FedEx; called the woman who'd sent the cooler, and left a message so they could feel silly. Watched Bewitched, which I adored as a little girl and find I still do, although my GAWD I am baffled by the casting of unattractive-Darren-number-one. Darren I is not only not handsome, or even in any way physically appealing, but he was kind of a crap actor, in that role, too. (Please note that it now occurs to me that maybe it was the role, because I thought he was just splendid in Inherit the Wind with my old hero, Spencer Tracy.) York had a sort of smarmy uneasy manner that frankly even as a three-year-old I had a hard time believing Samantha would ever have fallen for; come on, people: Elizabeth Montgomery? Uberhottie? And that dude? Nooo no no. Not plausible. Sorry. At least Darren II was passably pleasant looking, and had better reaction-time than Darren Primero.... Meanwhile, try not to imagine me as a three-year-old trying to do magic with my nose. What a goof.

Ok, so where was I? Oh, yes, 5 a.m., Pacific something Time. Embarrassing admission? I never know which is Standard and which is Daylight. I should, shouldn't I? I know a lot of other stuff, in my defense, and a lot of it is in French and Italian, even, so I think I get a pass for not knowing stupid time stuff. Hey, my phone and my car clock are always right (thank goodness for satellites and reference clocks on the computer, yo), so it's not like I don't know what time it is (FOUR THIRTY!) (please get that), just that I don't know what.... uh.... kind of time it is.

I should have journaled. I meant to; I like to; I neglect this page entirely too much, but there you go. Too busy living to log? No, actually, not really, but ok, for want of a better excuse, yes. Too busy doing whatever to write more often, even though I enjoy writing so much. Sigh. I got a really sweet e-mail from HF recently that said "It gives me such pleasure to read your words while I can internally hear your inflections." I just loved that; I always think I write like I talk, but it was incredibly warming to hear it from someone other than the voices in my head. They're such liars anyway. OW! Kidding! Geez! Take it easy!

Didn't blog (ugh. I hate that word, kinda). Went back to sleep at 6:45 instead, for an hour, and woke up all muzzy and then the day was plein d'idiots, so in fact, I've just decided to go to sleep right now and give Friday a chance in about 8 hours.

Kiss, kiss, hug, hug. Sweet dreams.


Gimme a B...gimme an I...gimme an R....gimme a T....Screw it: Happy birthday to ME!

And let me say a resounding "THANK YOU SO MUCH YOU CUTE CUTIES AND SWEET SWEETIES" who remembered muh birfday!!! You know who you are; yes, yes, you who didn't remember know who you are, too, AND I love you even though I was sad not to talk to you today or hear you sing or whatever. Kiss, kiss. Big hugs, and let me say, for a host of reasons, I have squishtacular mates. Just wanna hug 'em and squeeze 'em and feed 'em pudding.

We just got back from Ruth's Chris; mebbe it'll kill me before my time, but I do love me some filet mignon, y'all. Say you don't, and I'll call you a LIAR! Ok, well, say you don't and be Hindu, and I will leave off with the LIAR-calling. Dinner was so good, and my husband, as I've said before, is a perfect peach of a human, and my friends are gorgeous and lovable and expressive and delicious, so it has been a fine day. Here's an excerpt of just one e-mail I got, which knocked me right out: "Just thinking about you having a special day brings a smile to my face (which you would see if you were here). For all the happiness you give to me and others, please accept my thoughts of friendship for you today." Isn't that simply darling?? I do have the best people in my life, I really do (yes, yes, Sally Field-like goo, but IT'S MY BIRTHDAY AND I'LL GUSH IF I WANT TO!).

I got to talk to Tanya and Josh and Eli and Hermann and Dana and Russ and my family and my homies from work, and Audrey sang "Happy Birthday" to me (even if she did call me "Grandma" because she's only 3 and sometimes the phone is still confusing), and I got cards and e-cards and sooooooo many presents and my gosh it was just an absolute embarrassment of riches, is what. Awesome. It takes a bit of the sting out of being the only 31-year-old born in 1967. (Shup. Did I NOT say it's my damned birthday and I'll LIE if I want to?!?!)

K, more soon, but now it's time for slllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeeping. Or programming my brand-new silver mini iPod so it can go to sleep in its brand new red-and-purple leather Kate Spade case.... Spoiled? Maybe. But aren't I worth it? Aren't we all?!?!


Can it BE 2005?? How is that POSSIBLE?!

Happy new year. If you make resolutions, good luck with 'em; if you just resolve to be a better person, in whatever way, best of luck to you.