The front page of this Saturday's Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger almost made me toss my oatmeal. Top and center, with a bold headline and a big photo added for extra intellectual value, was an article (two actually) involving someone I was until this Saturday morning completely, utterly and in hindsight blissfully unaware of.
It seems certain people at Rutgers University recently decided it would be a good idea to pay someone $32,000 to come talk to the students for two hours.
My first thought: 'I probably would have done it for half that.' But of course what could I possibly have to say that could rival the wisdom, the priceless inspiration, the sage life-altering advice of...a reality television mouth? With a self-given nickname that rhymes with a snack food?
The crux of the debate (that there even is one makes me certain I will toss my black raspberry ice-cream before I can finish this post) is, I gather, whether it is justifiable throwing a wheelbarrow of money at someone whose IQ is in all likelihood lower than the Scrabble point value of her name.
My question, on the other hand: How...why......who...........what the hell?!
What makes me feel like I just ate a clove of raw garlic (not advised)(so I hear) is not so much the amount of money involved (though sickening enough) but the much more fundamental issue of who we as a society think (based on magazine sales, facebook likes and tweets) is worthy of our attention; who we are saying we want to identify with; whose words we care to listen to, whose deeds we deem significant.
Who matters? Who cares?
On the front page of the sports section in the same Saturday newspaper (albeit at the bottom, score one point for the sports editors) one writer needed 750 words to tell us we should not be giving a certain steroid-laden home run 'king' any attention. Meanwhile Yahoo! (exclamation point added to remind us we are supposed to be excited to be here) was feeding us headlines like 'Uma Thurman steps out in a coat dress'. Seriously. Because this, according to thousands of hours and millions of dollars of research, is what we give a collective shit about.
Last summer someone very close to me posted the following: Lindsay Lohan, 24, gets her name & face all over the news because she went to jail. Justin Allen, 23, Brett Linley, 29, Matthew Weikert, 29, JustusBartett, 27, Dave Santos, 21, Chase Stanley, 21, Jesse Reed, 26, Matthew Johnson, 21, Zachary Fisher, 24, Brandon King, 23, Christopher Goeke, 23 and Sheldon Tate, 27 are all Marines that gave their lives for you this week. Please Honor THEM by reposting.
It has taken a while, but I am reposting.
Because these are people who matter.
I did, through Yahoo! (exclamation point because this did get me excited) find an article on Saturday about this guy. This is the kind of person I'd put in the spotlight, even if only briefly, if I called the shots at Rutgers or the Star-Ledger or Yahoo!!! (which is how I'd say it if I owned it). Until that happens, I'll have to go for the next best thing.
I don't know what to call it yet. I'm not sure how it's going to work. But reading that last article I decided to start a new blog, a kind of group effort in which anyone can pitch in and tell the rest of us about someone much more interesting than someone who rhymes with a cookie; someone much worthier of our attention than an athlete who needs to cheat to put up numbers to match his overblown ego; someone infinitely more admirable than any jail-bound celebrity.
There are tons of great people out there. With some help, I'd like to get to know a few of them.
If you'd like to contribute, or if you'd simply like to read about some people who have something positive to offer, please stay tuned.
Note: On the front page of today's Star-Ledger was a feature on a man who for the last 35 years has been rescuing wild animals in wild situations. Nothing earth-shattering or life-changing, perhaps, but to the Star-Ledger's credit, much more worthy of attention than someone whose $32,000 message to the students was 'Study hard, but party harder.'
Ridiculous. I used to give that advice away for free.