Photo by TIFF.
I don’t want to loathe Louis C.K. I like to think of him as a single dad full of foibles, trying to raise two girls into strong women as he grapples with his own messed up emotional life in frantic, digitally driven, often-alienating New York City.
I like Louis. I might even love him.
The realism of his FX sitcom “Louie,” now scrubbed from the cable network, is bone-cuttingly close, which is why it’s so absurdly funny, and why I’ve watched individual episodes, on repeat, countless times. He’s my adult version of “The Brady Bunch”: tune in, mouth the lines along with Lily and Jane and Pamela and Bobby—he even gave us a Bobby!—then laugh out loud, even when the joke is as familiar as a friend. Back in the 1970s I used to run home after school as a latchkey kid to watch Marcia & co. throw footballs, cut records, and woo Davey Jones. The Bradys made me feel safe in a chaotic, sometimes lonely world of divorce and confusion. Similarly, since 2010 “Louie” has been my entertainment comfort food, a funny alternative to “alternative facts,” bickering pundits, and increasingly stomach-turning cable news reports, after I’d put my own kids to bed.
Until the recent revelations of his own version of toxic masculinity came out in The New York Times, I even considered him a hero. A hero of what, you ask? Human frailty. And excess, be it food or sex or sleeping too much to escape. Even his incessant masturbation jokes came off as a pathetic plea, one he knowingly winked at as he invited us to laugh at, and along with, him—and not a menacing power play. (With the exception, of course, of the “rape” episode, “Pamela, Part 1,” a distressing plot line that should not be overlooked, or written off.) He let us know it was OK—even normal—to be a little uncouth, vaguely depressed, sloppy, enslaved to the indignities of bodily functions, bemused and bothered by parenthood, lost in a relationship, pathetic and even a bit pervy at times. His utter bafflement about modern adulthood sent a message: Hey. I’m just like you. I might not live or act like Louie (not Louis, but his lovable alter ego on the show), yet his unflinching, open book presentation of his many flaws is undeniably reassuring in this auto-corrected, Photoshopped era of never-ending filtered selfies and promoted, if fake, perfection.
Still, reel life and real life are two very different things. Because he’s not just like me. Or any of the female comics he wielded enormous power over as he entrapped them in his own warped way of getting himself off. As he and his team of male cronies knowingly stripped them of career advancement. And that’s just gross.
"Reel life and real life are two very different things.
Because he’s not just like me—or any of the female comics
he wielded enormous power over as he entrapped them
in his own warped way of getting himself off."
So, I guess it’s over. For him, and for me. It’s a bummer, Louis. Like so many women I’m left wondering, “Why?” The man is exceedingly talented, which led to enormous fame and wealth. Why the need for him to literally rub it in our faces? What he’s accused of, and what he publicly admits to doing, is so egregiously hostile. To women and to girls. (Oh, what do his girls think of their father now? How can he face them?) The false front of using his own foibles as fodder is just that: an act.
Which means I never really loved you, Louis. Nope. Not at all.
And just like that, another hero takes a fall.
We all know losing a job is one of life's most stressful events. But were you aware long-term unemployment can negatively impact both physical and psychiatric health, and even lead to an early death? I just interviewed Dr. Robert Leahy, Clinical Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Weill-Cornell University Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital, on this subject. The research is alarming: higher rates of heart disease, depression, insomnia, and even criminal activity and mortality rates, including suicide. Leahy offers guidance to those battling high levels of stress while searching for a new opportunity. I'll post the story when it's live on WebMD.
Just interviewed comedian Jim Gaffigan and his writing partner wife, Jeannie Gaffigan, who had a six-cm. benign tumor removed from her brain stem last April. They candidly discussed her health crisis with me, from surgery to Jeannie's long recovery, plus talked about parenthood and their five children—and how the experience is now shaping their outlook on life, love, family, and Jim's standup comedy career. Look for this WebMD Magazine cover story next March! I'll post it then.
In the wakes of massively destructive hurricanes such as Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the world needs landscape architect Kate Orff, the visionary behind NYC's SCAPE Studio, more than ever. Orff balances beautiful urban design with the goal of supporting delicate and essential ecosystems as she saves coastlines—and her work has just made her a new recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant. Read my extended Q&A with her for the November issue of Coastal Living.
Meet musician and conservationist Jack Johnson's OCEAN HEROES, the inspiring change-makers I interviewed and now profile in my new feature for Coastal Living Magazine! They are:
* Scientist Marcus Eriksen and activist Anna Cummins of 5 Gyres Institute
* Urban architect (and recent MacArthur Genius Grant recipient) Kate Orff
* Scientist and whale expert Asha de Vos
* Heal the Ocean citizen activist Hillary Hauser
* Researcher and anti-plastics advocate Kristal Ambrose
* Lonely Whale Foundation founder (and actor) Adrian Grenier
* Sustainable Chef Edward Kenney
* Bye Bye Plastic Bags teenaged leaders (and sisters) Melati and Isabel Wijsen
* Legendary family and ocean protectors, Jean-Michel and Celine Cousteau
* Hawaiian seafaring wonder Nainoa Thompson
Perhaps out of anything I've ever written and published, this story feels the most important—I hope it educates as it makes an impact among everyday Americans, who might begin to ask themselves: "When I throw something away, where, exactly, is 'away'?"
How do you combat narcissistic navel-gazing in kids, who think of their smart phones as extensions of themselves? Teach them to be empathetic, author Michele Borba told me. She offers nine tips for parents in the October issue of WebMD Magazine. See pg. 29 in the digital edition.
My interview with author Adam Alter left me wondering if we're all hopelessly addicted to our devices. Turns out, that's exactly what tech titans want—and specifically engineer for—when they design their platforms. How can we unhook ourselves? See pg. 14 of the digital edition of October's WebMD Magazine to find out.
Check out my interview with Hollywood A-lister Zoe Saldana, who talks action movies set in space, raising three young boys to be good men, and protecting her health as she battles the effects of the thyroid disorder Hashimoto's disease. See pg. 66 of the digital edition of WebMD Magazine!
Come one, come all to the screening of Jack Johnson's documentary, "The Smog of the Sea," with special guest Hillary Hauser, founder and director of Heal the Ocean, who will address the audience and take questions. Plus, get a free issue of the November issue of Coastal Living Magazine, featuring my 8-page story on Jack and a dozen dedicated scientists, activists, and sea legends who work tirelessly to protect our seas from peril. Hope to see you there October 12!