Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Gatsby Complex, part 3: The Ladies of Gatsby

Welcome back, I hope you guys are enjoying this spring time weather. The NFL draft has just been completed, and this is the perfect time for me to reveal part 3 of my Gatsby complex series. This article will focus on the ladies of The Great Gatsby: Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker and Myrtle Wilson. Let me introduce you to Gatsby’s ladies…

The narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway describes Daisy Buchanan, his second cousin once removed, as having been,
“Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth-but there was an excitement in her voice that men who cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour [. . . she was] by far the most popular of all the young girls in Louisville. The dressed in white and had a little white roadster and all day long the telephone rang in her house and exited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night, “anyways for an hour” [. . .] “She’s got an indiscreet voice,” I remarked. “It’s full of [. . .] money-that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. . . .”
Nick later describes Jordan Baker as
“She was a slender, small breasted girl with an erect carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. Her grey sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming discontented face. [. . . her face had a] pleasing contemptuous expression. [. . .] I had heard some story of her too, a critical, unpleasant story [. . .] I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity. The bored haughty face that she turned to the world concealed something [. . .] she left a borrowed car out in the rain with the top down, and then lied about it-and suddenly I remembered the story about her that had eluded me [. . .] there was a row that nearly reached the newspapers-a suggestion that she had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round. The thing approached the proportions of a scandal-then died away. A caddy retracted his statement and the only other witness admitted that he might have been mistaken [. . .] Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever shrewd men and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably honest. She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage, and given this unwillingness, I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard jaunty body.”
Nick meets Tom Buchanan’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson as being
"[. . .] in the middle thirties, and faintly stout, but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can. Her face, above a spotted dress of dark blur crepe-de-chine, contained no facet or gleam of beauty but there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering. She smiled slowly and walking through her husband as if he were a ghost [. . .] Mrs. Wilson had changed her costume some time before [. . . and] the influence of the dress her personality had also undergone a change. The intense vitality that had been so remarkable in the garage was converted into impressive hauteur. Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more violently affected moment by moment and as she expanded the room grew smaller around her until she seemed to be revolving on a noisy, creaking pivot through the smoky air.”
"Daisys" are raised to believe that they are the princesses of society. They have beauty, grace, class, and style. They are never loud or discourteous. They are polite almost to a fault. They are the golden girls in every since of the word. Always smiling, always shining. They are the ultimate bride; they speak multiple languages; they know which forks and spoons to use; they know china; they know crystal; they know design. They are prim, proper ladies. The only thing they do not truly know is themselves. The only thing they know that they need is security. These girls are not going to hold a nine-to-five. They are accustomed to the very best and will not settle for less. They are not fools; they are quite intelligent; however, they do perpetuate the ignorance is bliss stereotype. They will put up with their husbands’ infidelity to maintain their lifestyle. They live with that whole, “I have the name” ideal. They are simpering and docile, and they have fabulous, lush lives that many of us would find amazing, but instead she says, “[. . .] I think everything’s terrible anyhow [. . .] Everybody thinks so-the most advanced people. And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything [. . .] Sophisticated—God, I’m so sophisticated!” She shops; she entertains; she has children; she has nannies (who often know more about the children than she does). Outwardly, she is everything you want, but these girls are careless. They destroy things and people and leave the mess for others to clean-up.
Sixties  Chic

"Jordans" are the “Alpha” females. They are the emancipated woman. They have many of the characteristics of a “Daisy,” with one exception; they don’t need the man for security. They may come from a wealthy, a middle class, or a poor family. They have used all of their talents to their advantage. They are smart; they are beautiful; they are selfish; they are careless and reckless. Their goal is to prove they don’t need a man, but because society expects them to ultimately be brides, they will not settle for less than the best, usually a “beta male” with money (if they marry an “alpha” male, the clashes will lead to divorce, because only one can be in charge). They are at the top of their game and do not mind stepping on people to get what they feel like they deserve. They will expect no less of their husband, but leave no doubt. Jordans are about Jordans everything else is secondary, including that wealthy husband who usually is just a means to an end.

Taylor's Cleopatra

“Myrtles” are the most interesting of these ladies.
They are usually from the poorer end of the spectrum. They are the poor Daisys. They have been taught that they, too, are princesses. They, too, deserve the best. The difference is they will use their raw sexuality to get it. They feel like they deserve what Daisy has, too, even if that means they have to take what Daisy has to get it. These girls often end up being the naïve mistress to some rich man. They are easily deluded by the gifts that come with being the mistress. Some may be married, but most see that husband like a cell phone and are constantly looking to upgrade. They are often rude, crude, and not the least bit subtle. These girls may feel they are classy, but often it’s just a façade. They, like Daisy, are not going to work a regular nine-to-five. Like the “alpha” females, they will do whatever they need to to get ahead. They are often impulsive and street savvy. They want the good life, but they aren’t going to work to get there. Sadly, all you have to do to find a Myrtle these days is look in the gossip rags. They are the girls with whom Elin Nordegren and Sandra Bullock are dealing.

Rachel Uchitel, one of Tiger Woods' alleged mistresses, picks up some prescription dog food while running errands with an unidentified male

These women don’t represent every woman in the world. But, they are three types that you really want to avoid. You won’t truly find happiness with any of these women. They are above all selfish divas, who want what they want, when they want it, and they usually want it now. New millionaires, watch out for these women…

Coming soon, the final part-Gatsby.

Until just remember boys, Hall and Oates said it best,
“So many have paid to see what you think you're getting for free/The woman is wild, a she-cat tamed by the purr of a jaguar/Money's the matter, if you're in it for love, you ain't gonna get too far.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Gatsby Complex, Part 2: The Tom Buchanans

Welcome back, everybody. Last week, I decided that I was going to start my first blog series on Diana Dishes. This series is focusing on three of my favorite things: literature, sports, and entertainment. Last week, I focused on the correlation between F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Lost Generation to today’s celebrities and athletes. This week, I will begin actually looking at the novel The Great Gatsby itself. The first character I’m going to discuss is Tom Buchanan.

The narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway describes Tom Buchanan, his college classmate, as having been
“[. . .] among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven-a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy-even in college his freedom with money was a matter of reproach [. . .]. [He] drifted here and there unrestfully [. . .], but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.”
Tom Buchanans aren’t always rich, privileged students. Some actually come from poor backgrounds. They are the ones who feel entitlement. They have always been the best looking, the most popular, the most talented, the best dressed, and do not care who they have to step on to get it. Things have always come easy for the Tom Buchanans-until they had to work for it. Tom Buchanans go to Yale because of connections, but even making the Yale football team requires work. Even though, Tom is talented enough to make the team and get National recognition, the pros are not in the cards. He is rich enough that he does not have to work (even though he does), but like the narrator says, he is directionless. He has no idea what to do with himself. Tom marries Daisy, but she is not enough. He has a daughter, but she is not enough. He has polo ponies, homes all over, and a mistress, but none of these fulfill Tom. Nothing like the glory he felt on the football team.

There are many Tom Buchanans in sports and entertainment.
They have been told from a young age how great they are. So, from early youth, they have been getting privileges. They develop an air of entitlement-the belief that because they are who they are they have rights that aren’t deserved by the “peasantry.” Help in school, underage entrance into clubs, “jobs” from boosters, they are given everything except a plan.

Lindsay Lohan Gets the Most Out of Her Night by Not Sleeping

With their success comes a type of high, an adrenaline rush, it is a natural high that they chase forever, because they fail to realize that there is an expiration date on that talent.
Tom Buchanan peaked at age 21. He can’t seem to find a direction from that point. He’s a 30 year old man who can’t get past age 21. Since Tom Buchanan is a football player, let’s deal with football shall we.

There are 26,407 public and 10,693 private high schools in the United States of America.
That’s a little over 37,000 sets of seniors in the country. Let’s just make it a given that there is 1 great quarterback, 1 great WR, 1 great RB, 1 great LB/DE on each team. You are looking at about 148,000 football players looking for a position on a Division 1 football team. Here’s the bad news, there are only are 120 NCAA Division 1-A football schools and 109 Division 1-AA football schools. There about 200 Division II and 200 Division III football schools and about 75 NAIA football schools. That’s 704 schools. The NCAA only allots 85 scholarships per team (give or take a few they may have lost because of violations), but teams have on average about 125. Let’s just focus on the scholarships, because let’s face it, most want to play college football because of the scholarship. That is about 60,000 scholarships available for 148,000 students (that’s only if a school has 4 great senior players).

According to the NCAA’s website,

  • According to recent statistics, about 2 percent of high school athletes are awarded athletics scholarships to compete in college.
  • Approximately 5.8 percent, or less than one in 17 of all high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will go on to play footall at a NCAA member institution.
  • Approximately one in 50, or 1.8 percent of NCAA senior football players will get drafted by a National Football League (NFL) team.
  • Eight in 10,000, or approximately 0.08 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic football will eventually be drafted by an NFL team
BCS National Championship - Alabama v Texas
So, Tom makes it to college football, but he fails to get drafted, what next? Tom Buchanan had money to fall back on, but what about the poor Tom Buchanan’s? What do they fall back on? What other skills have they developed? Some have spent four years in college and graduated with a BS degree that’s not worth the paper it’s written on. Some will become high school coaches, some will become college coaches, and some will not. Some will be trapped at age 21. The one’s who couldn’t even make it to the college level-trapped at age 17. Could you imagine how horrible it would be to peak at 17 stuck with a coulda, woulda, shoulda? The climax of his life takes place before he can truly appreciate it, and there, he will wander directionlessly pursuing a moment that has past. You’ve seen them; the ones who come back to high school reunions bitter about the present living the Glory Days…So, what is a Tom Buchanan to do?

Well, our guy Tom floated from city to city, lived the good life, and committed adultery. Some try to find that elusive high in illicit affairs. Some try to find the high in drugs, alcohol, gambling, and hard living. Some learn from their mistakes and make a fresh start changing their lives for the better (Drew Barrymore), some make mistake after mistake (Dwight Gooden; Darryl Strawberry; Amy Winehouse), some die (Corey Haim; River Phoenix; too many musicians to name). They don’t know what to do for a second act. Some hang on long past their relevancy (Bret Michaels; Flava Flav).

The Presidents Cup - Day Two

One of the greatest Tom Buchanans is Michael Jordan.
To quote, Ouiser Boudreaux, “[He has] I have more money than God,” six rings, two gold medals, 5 NBA MVPs, beautiful kids, nice homes, a different girl every time you see him, and he has even bought his very own NBA team. Yet, he never appears to be satisfied. Don’t believe me…Check out his hall of fame speech. For some reason he seems to be unusually bitter and for no apparent reason.

Sometimes, we do these athletes a disservice when we only focus on the athletics, musical talent, or acting skills. You can place emphasis, but you should not entirely focus on anyone thing. All careers (even teaching) have an expiration date, don’t be afraid to move to act II.

Next time-The ladies of The Great Gatsby

"Glory days well they'll pass you by/Glory days in the wink of a young girl's eye/Glory days, glory days" -Bruce Springsteen sings me out until next week...

The Gatsby series was inspired by a conversation with my Twit Bro. Kimani "Deja's Daddy" Holmes. Check him and my buddy Rob Reed on their podcast the Atypical Sports Show .