Do you know what I’ve discovered this week? I’ve lived two-thirds of my life in relative obscurity (first third as a poor black child, another third as a housewife/executive assistant/sometimes singer-actress-voice-over-artist), and now as my closing act, I think I’ll do the famous writer thing. I want to be rich and famous, and why not? I don’t see a down side to it. I’m too old to let the fame go to my head, and the royalties from my first book, Monsters’ Throwdown, will be just what I need to fulfill my dream of making my moniker a household name (thinks every writer, everywhere, every time). I was listing the pros and cons of becoming a famous storyteller the other day, when the phone rang and interrupted my fantasy.
It was Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s sister and Jay-Z’s sister-in-law).
Cartoonist: Mike Lukovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
ME: Hello, Baby-girl. How’s life?
SOLANGE: Hey, Mrs. T. Word is you thinkin’ of goin’ all baller status with your book. Thought I’d drop by and school you on how fame ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Spose you heard about my elevator ride?
ME: Who hasn’t? Kind of lost your temper and went all kamikaze on your in-law. What was that all about?
SOLANGE: I’m not talkin’ about it, ‘cause I don’t want strangers all up in my business. I can’t trust nobody—not even you, Mrs. T. Who knew there was a camera in that elevator, and who knew some asshole would sell the tape of me goin’ off on Jay-Z. Is there no place private anymore?
ME: Excuse me, Baby, but there’s someone on my other line. Hello?
DONALD STERLING: Is this the Dalai Mama? This is Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
ME: No, this is the creator of the Dalai Mama. How the hell did you get my phone number?
D. STERLING: From the Internet. You can find everything about everybody on the Internet. I called to talk to the Dalai Mama to see if she could advise me on how to do damage control after the leak of my very private conversation with my ho. I need to get back in good standing with the Black community or I’m gonna lose my plantation . . . oops, I mean my basketball team. You know I was set-up, right? I’ve gotten two NAACP Achievement awards for my work amongst the ni . . . I mean Colored people, and I don’t want to lose that street cred.
Used by permission: Don Sterling “Bated” by Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch
ME: Well, I think it is a little too late to worry about your street cred. Anyway, I’m not talking to you, asshole. The release of your taped racist phone conversation showed me who you really are—and to paraphrase Maya Angelou—I believe you, sucka! Wait a minute: There’s another call. What is this—Grand Central Station? My phone number is unlisted. Hello? Who is this?
MIMI FAUST: Mimi Faust.
ME: Mimi what?
DONALD STERLING: Ooh, ooh, ooh I know who she is. She’s the broad from the reality television show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. She made a sex tape with her boyfriend Nikko Smith, and it was “accidentally leaked to the public.” The things she did hanging from that shower rod would make an old man beg for mercy.
ME: Oh course you know who she is, you low-life.
SOLANGE: Oh, please Sterling, a lot of people think that the entire thing was staged and purposely leaked. Those in the know could tell by the high quality production values and the timing of its release with the beginning of her reality show. I’m not sayin’ it. I’m just sayin’ that’s what other people are sayin’.
MIMI FAUST: Oh yeah, well, I could say the same thing about your little “leaked elevator” incident, Miss Beyoncé wanna be.
ME: Hey, don’t be nasty. Don’t you have a four-year-old, Miss Thang? Why would you put something like a sex tape out there on the World Wide Web?
MIMI FAUST: Yeah, that’s why I’m here. I heard about your dialogue on privacy concerns and wanted to get in on the conversation. How do I block my sex tape from being seen by my kid in future years?
ME: Heard about my dialogue on privacy concerns from who?
MIMI FAUST: It’s trending on Twitter. #Guardyourprivacy
ME: Oh, for Pete’s sake! Is nothing secret? Oh good Lord, here comes another call. Yes? The President of the United States? Of course, I’ll hold. (Quiet everybody, it’s the Prez.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hello, ET. How’s everything? Thank you for your continued support. Heard you were having a summit on privacy concerns today from the NSA. I just wanted to let you know that we have instituted some strong guidelines regarding the NSA’s ability to invade the American public’s privacy going forward. I think you will be pleased. Also, if what I hear about Mimi is true, I hope she has private health insurance because Obamacare does not cover injuries caused by shenanigans. Doesn’t she have a four-year-old? Ask her what was she thinking when she made that tape. Anyway, I’ve gotta go run a country. Besides, it looks as if a Google rep is trying to get through to join in on the conversation.
ME: What? Mr. President, how did you know a Google rep was trying to reach me? Hello . . . hello, who is this?
GOOGLE GLASS: Hello, future users. So glad to hear such an illustrious crowd gathered here. Google heard about your convention and wanted to enlist you as beta users of our Google Glasses. Your demographic spread would give us a great overview of our technological capacity and just think of the people you could surreptitiously film and heap revenge upon (you didn’t hear that from me) as you go about your daily tasks while we collect data. Don’t worry about privacy concerns. Google Glass’ awesome technology outweighs any privacy issues that may arise. As for you ET, we can guarantee Monsters’ Throwdown fame if you wear our glasses and constantly get into altercations with people who think you’re invading their privacy. It’s a win/win situation. We get unlimited data and you get great exposure. Sell us your soul, blogger, and you’ll be on your way to glory.
Used by permission: Google Glass David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star
I am discovering the definition of privacy from Webster’s: “the state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people.” My local paper cited a story about a Mississippi Tea Party blogger who was arrested because he allegedly snuck into a private nursing home and photographed a bedridden woman suffering from dementia without her or her family’s consent. She is the wife of a candidate that the Tea-Bagger blogger opposes. The scumbag allegedly posted her picture online in a political attack ad for his own derogatory purposes. He has been arrested and his bond has been set at $100,000. As far as I’m concerned, there is no hole deep enough in Hell for this man.
Whether we serve up our private moments for misguided reasons or someone steals them from us, it is as if we’ve been raped. I think that Donald Sterling is a complete asshole, but I am horrified that something he said in a private phone call was allegedly sold to a gossip site. Where does that type of invasion stop? Can any of us stand up to the glare of the light of day when our private thoughts are exposed? None of us is perfect, although, I reiterate that I do not defend that S.O.B. Donald Sterling—he deserves to be roommates in Hell with the Tea Bagger blogger. As to the Google Email-Plus-Glass, the Facebooks, the Vines, the Twitters, et al that are demanding our personal information to stay connected or plugged in so that they can sell our info to the highest bidder, how much longer before we stand up for ourselves and for our relatives, friends, and neighbors by shutting down and tuning out the slave masters. We have the power. Or do we?
“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”—Will Rogers
“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.”—Frank A. Clark
“I’m kind of a gossip hound, but watching the media whip the small fires into giant forest fires so that they can cover the result is infuriating.”—Anne Lamott
“All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.”― Gabriel García Márquez, Gabriel García Márquez: a Life
“When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.”― David Brin
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