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by RIP RENSE

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No News. . .
(Jan. 5, 2004)

        Okay, it's been long enough. I haven't been able to stomach any news since shortly after the election. I've missed it every bit as much as gum surgery, so I finally picked up the paper to soak up the recent events preoccupying humankind. My choice of periodical: "The Globe."
        After all, we live in an increasingly global society.
        First story to catch my eye was "Kurt and Goldie's Nude Romp. . .Back Together Again---their wild weekend." This interested me. I haven't had nude romp outside of the bathtub in years, and my most recent "wild weekend" involved reading poetry on the radio.
        Well, there were two tantalizing pictures of Kurt and Goldie's "wild weekend," on the cover. One depicted them bestowing a mutual pursed-lip kiss (gasp), another had Goldie with green slime on her face, a shower cap, and flowery bathing suit pulled back to sun her teency breasts.(Ohmygawd!)
       Where boobies should have been, though, there were only two large red stars. For a moment, I thought this might have been the "wild" part---that Goldie had accidentally exposed the little devils before an audience, Janet Jackson-style, only to reveal two nipple-covers with serious communist implications. You know those nutball Hollywood liberals. . .
        But no. Just the Globe's artist adding some modesty.
        Still, I tried to derive vicarious pleasure from Kurt and Goldie's fabulous hijinks. I felt it was my duty as an American. No matter how much I stared, though, they just looked like a couple of puffy middle-aged relaxing people at a spa. I bit my lip. There had to be more to it---this was, after all, a cover story!  Just why were Kurt and Goldie romping naked? (Well, Kurt might have had trunks on---you really couldn't tell.) What exactly was wild about their weekend? Could it impact the stock market? Global warming?
        I turned to the promised "more photos inside!"
        On the way there, though, I encountered: a picture of Kirstie Alley bending over from behind, which reminded me I hadn't been to the zoo in a long time; a depressing page about all the nice people who died last year, like Rodney Dangerfield, Fay Wray, Jack Paar, and Captain Kangaroo; a before-and-after photo of Gary Shandling's neck liposuction, then---
       There they were---threee photos of middle-aged Goldie in that flowery bathing suit at the spa! She was standing in one, doing yoga in another, sitting in a third. Wow. The same photo of the Commie breasts was repeated, and a headline screamed: "THEY SHOULD HAVE CHARGED ADMISSION." The article informed me that Kurt and Goldie liked to walk around naked, and that Goldie's daughter, Kate, said "My mother taught us never to be ashamed of our bodies."
        I nearly fainted. Now, this was disturbing stuff. Possibly prosecutable. I turned the page in search of something a little less jarring, and. . .
        There was a photo of Medusa---er, Madonna---on all fours, which is a position I expect she enjoys a good deal. The shot was from a concert tour, and three-quarters of the stringy middle-aged woman's flour-white breasts were exposed, barely restrained by ornate fabric and black lace. The expression on her face suggested a prostate exam, but as Madonna probably doesn't have a prostate, other intrusive scenarios came  to mind. It turned out that she had merely been snapped at a less-than-graceful moment, as the caption revealed: "The pop queen more closely resembled an iguana with her odd pose and goofy expression."
        This news was easier on the nerves than Goldie and Kurt's Nude Romp, until, that is, I began to worry about how Madonna's feelings might be hurt. She is, after all, not only the chanteuse who recorded the profound "Vogue," with its poignant message, "let your body move to the music," but also one of our most important authors, what with the best-selling picture book, "Sex," and the great kiddie book (it must be at least 250 words long!) that someone else illustrated, "The English Roses."
        My stomach knotted up as I contemplated the anguish and humiliation Madonna might feel if faced with this photo. I had to look away.
        But my eyes fell on even more upsetting things: a shot of Ben Affleck scratching his testicles, Tara Reid accidentally (?) exposing an entire breast, and Natasha Richardson falling as she attempted to duck the bulbs of Papparazzi. Gee, was there no good news at all? I flipped another page: "STILL FAT!" proclaimed a headline on a picture of Monica Lewinsky, said to be up to 275 pounds. Just when I thought I would lose no more sleep worrying about Monica. . .Darn!
        There was some small relief to be had, though, in the "Ask Ivana" column, written by the woman who used to fornicate with Donald Trump. I was happy for her, even proud of her. She had gone far in life. Her divorce had qualified her to write an advice column for a major publication! My 30 years in journalism has never fetched me anything near that kind of prestige and paycheck. But then, I never slept with Donald Trump, and frankly, I think Ivana deserves quite a reward for having suffered that particular fate.
       I checked out Ivana's "letter of the week" written by a young woman, headed, "Is My Passion for Sex A Phase or an Addiction?" Ivana had answered that this was an interesting problem, "to say the least," and advised that the woman see a doctor as soon as possible or find a "women's clinic."
        I was bowled over. Here a complete stranger saddled with a crippling, monstrous psychological and physical disorder had written to another complete stranger---a woman worth (Trump's) millions---and the millionairess had answered compassionately, warmly, caringly. Mother Teresa could have done no more.
        My spirits buoyed, my faith in humanity reviving,  I turned the page with aplomb. News isn't so bad, really, when you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that such good people as Ivana Trump exist in this troubled world.
         Then I saw it:
        "BILLY CRYSTAL PLAGUED BY GUILT OVER DAD'S DEATH."
         Sigh. Yes, the beloved comic reveals in his one-man Broadway show that at age 15, he and his dad argued, and his father then died of a heart attack.
        This was terrible, terrible. I can barely function with the anguish of knowing that Billy carries around such guilt.
        That's it. I'm backing off again. No more news. I realize it's my obligation as a citizen to pay careful attention to the issues that most concern Americans, but I just can't do it. I'd rather settle back on the couch and just watch some mindless comedy on the tube, like the war in Iraq.
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