You know what affliction never gets the attention it deserves? Fame. That’s a disease I hope never to catch.
Sure, famous people probably don’t wait 45 minutes for a table at Oregano’s. And they get treated as VIPs when they go to a U2 concert or a sporting event. Even so, despite the benefits, being famous looks awful to me.
Case in point: This week’s flap over CNN anchor Chris Cuomo flipping out when some jerk with a video camera called him “Fredo,” a reference to the dumb, traitorous Corleone son in “The Godfather.”
Lost in the altercation’s storm of f-bombs and testosterone — and Cuomo’s bizarre comparison that calling him Fredo was no different than slurring a black person with the n-word — is what touched off the incident to begin with.
A random stranger approached another human being who was out with his wife and 9-year-old daughter and saw fit to insult him.
This is only acceptable, you’ll note, because Cuomo is famous. He appears on a national television network every weeknight, reading the news from a teleprompter, interviewing newsmakers and regularly insulting the president of the United States. Thus, he’s fair game in our culture of 24/7 confrontation.
As Cuomo put it on Twitter afterward: “Appreciate all the support but — truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me. This happens all the time these days. Often in front of my family. But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose.”
Another case in point explaining the downside of fame: Last Saturday night at 11:30, Chandler police arrested a 60-year-old man for driving under the influence near Pecos Road and Arizona Avenue.
The man was observed speeding in a 2009 Chevy Tahoe. He also swerved out of his lane into the bike lane. Fortunately, no one was struck, injured or killed.
Such garden variety DUI arrests happen every Saturday night in virtually every city in the Valley. In fact, more than 26,000 Arizona drivers were busted for DUI in 2017.
So why did this DUI make the news? Because the driver was a guy named Ron Minegar.
Still don’t know who he is? Neither did I. It turns out Minegar is the executive vice president and chief operations officer for the Arizona Cardinals football team.
In 2019, such a position makes him famous enough to draw headlines for his inexcusably poor decision to combine Tito’s vodka and driving.
I should note that Minegar’s colleague Steve Keim, the team’s general manager, also was arrested for DUI in Chandler last year.
And the Cardinals recently have had a series of off-field incidents and arrests, enough for reporters to portray a team in chaos, struggling with a culture of recklessness.
Even so, had Minegar been arrested in isolation, I imagine his mugshot still would have made the news all week, along with bodycam video of his failing field sobriety tests.
That’s how fame — even low-level fame — works these days. It has a few benefits for which the famous face an additional level of public scrutiny not applied to the masses.
Do I feel sorry for Cuomo and Minegar? No. Both men could have acted differently and avoided the headlines. Cuomo could have been more graceful. Minegar could have used an ounce of common sense and four ounces less vodka.
The famous seem to be a source of endless fascination nowadays, approached ad nauseum, reported on endlessly, consumed like so many potato chips. Thoreau once wrote that the “mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
I’ll pass on desperation, but the quiet certainly has its advantages.
David Leibowitz has called the Valley home since 1995. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org