In case you are new to this column, or simply would like a refresher on what it is that is constantly getting my goat, I've put together a few items that make up the very essence of the Grrr!
Over the years, the Grrr! column has observed how the "me, me, me" culture of Hollywood, sports and politics has influenced popular American culture in negative ways.
Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are showing your daughters how to dress and act like prostitots; Michael Moore and Ann Coulter are the de facto spokespeople for liberals and conservatives, respectively; Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt have children out of wedlock with their movie-star honeys; Terrell Owens disgracefully put the "I" in team when he played for the Eagles; and Tony Danza — until mercifully cancelled — was busy giving himself mouth-to-mouth to resurrect his long-dead career.
"Tony Danza is leaving, everybody," I heard him exclaim at an Italian restaurant in Manhattan to a smattering of polite applause, after an evening that saw me subjected to the usually funny Eric Bogosian's newest show, which could have been called "Why I Hate My Country."
Danza was icing on the cake on a complete waste of a night.
Ranging from the reality show contestants whose 15 minutes are long up but still manage to show up on morning television as "correspondents," to Star Jones' abuse of her position as a TV host to get freebies, to the steroids-using, overpaid professional athletes, to the average office morons who talk too loudly on their speakerphones and the cell-phone idiots who search for a new ringtone on commuter buses and trains, these observations over the years have inspired their very own lexicon of terms.
"Oblivions" are people so oblivious to their surroundings that they are rude and inconsiderate but never know it, and "Self-Righteons" are people who know it all and aren't afraid to tell everybody just how much they know.
Other terms in The Grrr! Lexicon include "Left Lane Vigilantes," "Polignorants" and "ImporTants."
Whether you're in the mall, driving in your car, on the job or sitting at home screaming at your television because some news network or newspaper "of record" is rooting for the insurgents to defeat our men and women in the War on Terror — or some sportscaster has used the term "bling" several times during an interview with a superstar wide receiver, there's just so much to GRRR! about every day.
Hopefully the Grrr! column helps you vent in an amusing, yet bitingly accurate way. Take it or leave it, it's up to you.
You know what America needs? America needs an actor to solve all of our country's problems.
We need an actor to tell us whom to vote for and what to vote for. We need actors to tell us all about the world's poverty and how guilty we should feel about that. We need actors to whine about how tired they are of getting their picture taken by the big, bad paparazzi, especially when they lunch at The Ivy, one of those places known for lingering paparazzi.
Even my grandmother knows to avoid The Ivy on bad hair days!
We need actors to share with us "little people" the traumas of their poor, poor lives. Thank goodness for these tragic public figures, because without them and their publicists we morons would never know about alcoholism, cocaine addiction, sex addiction, sex abuse, bulimia, divorce, anorexia, plastic surgery, postpartum depression, religious cults and most importantly — we wouldn't know just how dumb we are.
Gee, thanks Hollywood.
To think that so many of us envy your giant paydays, your free clothes, free cars, free first-class transportation, giant mansions, expensive automobiles, summer homes in the south of France and gated poolyards.
Gee, if we knew just how awful it must be to be you, we might actually begin to care about more important things, rather than what Suri or Shiloh means in several ancient languages.
Thanks to Hollywood and MTV, our sons and daughters are learning about sex as soon as they can find the channels. Twelve-year-old girls are walking through malls wearing thong underwear under low-cut velour sweatsuits that read "Juicy" across their under-aged behinds, and they're busy experimenting French kissing with their best same-sex friends because hey, children's book author Madonna made out with formerly hot neophyte Britney Spears on the MTV Music Awards once.
Speaking of Britney, well, that would be too easy.
Where would we be without Paris Hilton, whose rise to fame coincided with the release of her amateur porn video? Didn't the very talented Vanessa Williams lose her Miss America crown because she once posed nude for a men's magazine, way before she was famous and when she needed the money?
How in the hell did we as a culture get to the place where starring in a poorly lit, poor audio-quality porn video will get you just as famous as Oscar-winning actors or Grammy winning recording artists?
Can you imagine if Vanessa Williams starred in a sexy commercial for fast food after her Penthouse spread?
Of course not. No company in its right mind would have ever made her a star in one of its commercials after that brouhaha, but here's Carl's Jr. putting Hilton in a commercial last summer, wearing a plastic bathing suit while washing a car, all soaped up and sexy as if that has anything to do with hamburgers.
And let's not forget the Vote or Die campaign that saw Paris Hilton in Public Service Announcements urging people to vote in the 2004 presidential campaign.
Since she reportedly DID NOT vote in the election, we're still waiting for the "or Die" part.
Where would our children be without such great role models like Lindsay Lohan to look up to? Lohan, an otherwise good actress, seems intent on being the "bad girl." She allegedly showed up at the Scores strip club in New York City, at age 19, doing pole dances with cocaine-snorting supermodels, and she's constantly spotted at one club or another, appearing to be drunk and getting into fights with Hilton and Sean Colmes over tables. Most 19 year olds who are not famous can't get into these clubs, by the way.
Do you think Lindsay Lohan has fake ID?
Whoever thought popcorn would be good movie theater fare obviously never sat in a dark room full of Oblivions munching on popcorn as if they were dying of some rare disease, and the only cure lies at the bottom of their popcorn bucket.
SHOOMP, in goes the hand — SHOOMP, out comes the hand and makes a beeline directly to the mouth — MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH — BREATHE — MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH.
The sound of people relentlessly chomping on their popcorn with bits flying out of their mouths, holding their breath while chewing so that they have to exhale simultaneously as they chew is enough to drive me up the wall.
I want to scream everytime I go to the movies, and of course, these Popcorn Oblivions always sit directly behind me so that I can hear ever bite, every breath, every reach, every salivation and every lick of the buttery popcorn off their greasy fingers.
LICK, SMACK, GRRRRR!
Cell Phone Idiots
You know what I think is a great idea? I'll tell you. I think everybody with a new cell phone should scroll through their ringtones to pick the one that suits them best — on the commuter train or bus in the morning.
I think they should wait until most people are catching flies or reading newspapers, when there's relative silence so they can concentrate on Bach, Beethoven or the Pussycat Dolls without interruption, and they should do it at the utmost volume their little Motorola can muster.
Once they've found a ringtone, I'd recommend that said idiot call his or her friends and talk as loudly as possible, because everyone knows cell phone technology is so primitive one has to yell for the person at the other end of the call to hear them.
When the bus or the train goes underground through a tunnel, this same idiot should repeat HELLO? HELLO? and look dumbfounded at their phone, trying to decipher whether or not they have any signal bars, and then murmur to themselves how pathetic cell phone service is.
Left Lane Vigilantes
No, I do not condone weaving in and out of traffic like maniacs or speeding at dangerous levels while on your way to the shore for a long weekend, but for crying out loud, get your slow-moving vehicle out of the left lane.
The left lane is for passing. It is not there so you Self-Righteons can set the pace for the traffic behind you. It is not your job to drive 55 mph in the left lane, forcing people to pass on the right, even if the speed limit is 55 mph.
Thanks for your concern, but the people driving over the speed limit will take their own chances with the ticket.
Left Lane Vigilantism is dangerous, it is not a public service. Now that we are clear on that, don't forget to move over, and honk if you're happy. And while we're on the subject of driving, to all of you speeders who slam on your brakes when you see a cop sitting on the side of the road with his radar gun hanging out the window, you're already too late.
No need to screech 100 feet.
The Grocery Store
Only in an Oblivion-filled existence like ours, where people are so oblivious to everything around them that their needs are the only things that matter, can going to the grocery store for milk turn into a teeth Grrrrinding experience.
All of the empty parking spots are usually blocked by empty shopping carts that people are too lazy to bring to the cart corral. Oh, I know, it's not YOUR job! Oh, I know, you've got a baby in the car seat and it has never occurred to you to bring your baby with you and actually carry her to your car. OK, no big deal. Used to it.
Of course, the people blocking the cereal aisle with their carts parked sideways catching up on the last five years are actually next-door neighbors who avoid each other -- except when they're in the grocery store. Do us all a favor, just hate each other to their faces. It'll save us the time of having to maneuver our carts around you morons. And note, 40 cans of dog food do not count as one item in the express lane.
Finally, please, whip out the checkbook before all of your stuff is bagged. There's nothing worse than watching $300 worth of groceries bagged, carted and ready to go, and seeing the Oblivion rummaging through the overstuffed purse.
"I know my checkbook's in here somewhere!"
Some Farewell Wishes
Bye-Bye, Star Jones. Won't be missing you on "The View."
Bye-Bye, Katie Couric. Won't be missing you on "Today," and won't be watching you at 6:30 p.m., that's for sure.
Bye-Bye, Charlie Gibson. Now that you've got your way and cleared the set for Diane Sawyer, "GMA" might actually beat "Today" in the ratings.
Bye-Bye, Dan Rather. Does anyone even get HDNet?
Bye-Bye, Andre Agassi. You've been a great tennis player and we will be missing you on the court. You'll forever be in our memories as one of the game's greats.
Bye-Bye, New York Times. We'll see you on HDNet. As soon as we get the channel.