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Letterman, Polanski, and other icky celebrity news

1. Dirty Old Men?

On the heels of the Roman Polanski arrest comes the news that David Letterman, whose love life has always been so low-profile, has been embroiled in an extortion scandal over the fact he's had sex with some of the women who work on The Late Show , including one of the show's interns for over a year in the early 1990s, while in his current relationship with the mother of his child (they are now married).

The Zen-like believe that if you do not like a conversation or idea, you should change it. We need to forget about the old men; forget the traumatic visuals and put the young girls on blast. I saw a beautiful model the other day at Toronto's Drake Hotel, beguiling a man who looked quite a lot like Phil Spector; I saw a tall, leggy girl at Holt Renfrew leading her cotton-topped, stooped Daddy through the lingerie department and thought, really? You would rather have a man who can play hacky sack with his own genitals, because of his money? Get it together, ladies. Say no to the same men who won't look twice at you when you are their age. Say yes to any young man, yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

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2. Kids today

Waiting outside an exhibit during the all-night contemporary-art crawl, Nuit Blanche, in downtown Toronto on Saturday - where one had the opportunity, in one exhibit, after reading about a female skunk's stench glands, to crawl under a woman's enormous red skirt and see … I would rather not say. I cursed one of the volunteers, who like most para-officials appeared to be auditioning for the Marine Corps., and a guy with a kid - a soaking wet, exhausted kid about to crawl under a lady's skirt - gave me a filthy look. And I thought, where did all these kids come from?

During this adult event, kids were everywhere, throwing tinned food and screaming with obvious boredom. My local bar now has a Mommie and Baby Play Day. My bar! I cannot walk down my filthy, condom-covered street and curse the same filthy street for fear of offending someone two-feet-tall named Oliver or Ava. And the tabloids and gossip magazines, once a refuge for foul-minded adults, are filled with celebrities' kids. Take the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie herd. Two of them had ice cream the other day, in Amman, Jordan, and this was huge news. "Knox loved the mango," Ihab Fakhouri of Amman's Licky Licious shop informed People magazine, referring to one of the couple's 14-month-old twins.

Knox. Why do we know his name? Worse, why do we know their daughter Shiloh, 3, has recently lost a front tooth? Why do we call her "Shi," and talk about her like someone we know? My parents, the parents of my generation, would throw us into bed at 7 p.m., then have their friends over and play sexy jazz records and drink martinis. Now, I am sure a party is not complete without one of the resident midgets singing and dancing all night, while the dissenting few adults brood on the back porch in the rain, chain-smoking, and muttering dark imprecations.

3. Of the Dead, Say Nothing Good

Because no one understands Latin any more, we pretzel-twist even its smallest phrases, and pervert them. From this dead language emerged the notion that we should not speak ill of the dead - out of respect, and because they are incapable of defending themselves. Here's what our entertainment media does: respect the dying, in the manner of coating them with suffocating whitewash; sentimentalize their every racking cough and rattling breath; then dance on their grave the minute the earth has been tamped down. Patrick Swayze, who battled cancer as if he were Hercules, was a tabloid saint for a year. Now? He was a drunk, whose wife was going to leave him. Michael Jackson? He's "Jacko" again, speaking posthumously about his grieving family in a series of vicious telegrams, leaked by the ghostwriter of Jackson's autobiography Moonwalk , including "Tito: Grease Monkey," "Catherine: Bigmouth," "Marlon: Ugly Copycat." Yet, Teddy Kennedy dies and manages to escape this, and the whole world is all "Chappa-what?" "Mary Jo Ko-who?" Even in death, it's not who you were, but who you knew.

4. But Your Blinks Tell a Different Story.

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Appearing on Oprah to promote I Look to You , her first studio album in seven years, Whitney Houston, when asked if she was now clean said, "Yes ma'am." Now, through the National Enquirer, "body-language expert" Patti Wood has revealed that a series of blinks, hand gestures and pitch changes in Whitney's voice say otherwise. The Enquirer loves neurolinguistics because its editors' deepest conviction about stars is that they are all congenital liars who spend their free time wearing double-strawed beer hats and driving around in dirty vans abducting hitchhikers. They could be wrong. But if Houston is still an addict, what does it matter? That's her business, and the business of using melancholy and pain is part of what it is to be blazingly creative; to be an actual artist is not a happy matter. Did 1950s gossip mags rave "Chet Baker's Crazy Druggy Nights!"? Or did people then, sanely, listen to the man's music, and marvel at what lay within it; that is, his injured, radiant soul.

5. Every Ting You Want!

So says the twitchy hooker in Full Metal Jacket , speaking, in a sense, about what men are allowed to do or say about women. This week, it was reported that the "265-pound" (120-kilogram) Kirstie Alley checked into a "fat farm." Alley still looks beautiful; she is funny, and bright. She is somewhat heavy because, as Jack Black says, in School of Rock , "I like food! Do you have a problem with that?" No, we do not. But fat chicks are treated differently: They are pigs who reduce on a farm. They are constantly scrutinized, mocked and tsk-tsk'd over by a lunatic world that has mistaken thinness for virtue. The day I saw a sweaty, 400-pound man on Hell's Kitchen call a mildly chubby woman a "fat cow," I understood the rules of this Animal Farm , our culture, all too well. Still, I hope Alley comes out of this alleged "farm" shooting, and throwing back everything she wants.

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