Here’s a repost of a book review I wrote for the original OH blog on August 12, 2016. I’m still trying to wake up and figure out what today’s topic will be. It appears here as/is.
I wrote this morning’s blog post not realizing that I was very close to finishing Kate Coyne’s very entertaining book, I’m Your Biggest Fan: Awkward Encounters and Assorted Misadventures in Celebrity Journalism. I downloaded this book last month after its June 2016 release, thinking I’d sail right through it. It actually took some time to finish Coyne’s eye opening story about how she came to be a celebrity journalist. I have to admit really enjoying the ride.
Kate Coyne is presently working for People magazine. It’s her job to meet and mingle with celebrities. She got her start working for the NY Post’sinfamous “Page Six”, then spent several years at Good Housekeeping. But Coyne writes that she’s always been mesmerized by celebrities and she grew up in a place where she would run into stars by chance. As a child, she was an autograph hunter and her parents actually encouraged her to rub elbows with celebrities. One time, Kate Coyne’s family went on vacation in the Caribbean, where they ran into George Michael and his handsome “friend”. With a push from her mother, Coyne approached Michael and scored his signature.
In another story, as a girl on vacation, Coyne met Cameron Douglas, son of movie star Michael Douglas. Coyne writes of spending the day with him, building sandcastles and exploring. It was before Cameron Douglas’s well publicized battles with drug addiction. He was a charming and thoughtful young man and Coyne really enjoyed her time with him.
Years later, while working for the gossip section “Page Six”, Coyne ran into Michael Douglas at a bar. She struck up a conversation with him and, once he discovered she worked for “Page Six”, he rudely told her she should find another job before her soul turned black. She never forgot that encounter with Mr. Douglas and was tempted to bring it up when their paths crossed again after Coyne started working for People. Instead, she talked to Michael Douglas about playing with his son while they were on vacation. Douglas, who at that time was recovering from throat cancer, was very happy to talk about his son and Coyne was glad she hadn’t mentioned their earlier encounter.
I really enjoyed reading Kate Coyne’s book, mainly because I, too, am a bit mesmerized by celebrities. I get the sense that Coyne and I are about the same age, so some of her anecdotes about her celebrity sightings as a teenager hit close to home for me. Also, she just seems like a very likable and relatable person. I felt like she’d be fun to drink wine with, even if she does rub elbows with the rich and famous on a regular basis.
I’m Your Biggest Fan is chock full of interesting stories about Coyne’s encounters with A listers like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Neil Patrick Harris, and even Wynonna Judd. She’s not afraid to admit to being starstruck, even though her work involves meeting stars. I found Coyne’s self-deprecating wit charming and engaging. She keeps her tales light and entertaining. She also reminds readers that television is where the magazine’s real bread and butter is. For instance, she’s spent a lot of time talking to Kate Gosselin. Back before Jon and Kate split up, they were constantly profiled in People. After their divorce, interest intensified for a bit, even though Kate Gosselin is hardly an “A lister”.
Many of Coyne’s anecdotes are funny. Some are a bit mortifying. For instance, she writes about trying the L.A. diet fad involving juice. “Green juice” is apparently ubiquitous in Los Angeles. Everybody’s drinking it and eating “clean” so they can be super thin. Coyne, who admits to not being “naturally thin” and trying many different diets in an attempt to stay slim, gave green juice a go. She drank it almost exclusively for over a month, lost lots of weight, went to a party, and then… suffered the consequences of not eating real food for a month. Coyne manages to make this story funny and entertaining, even as it also serves as a warning to those who might be tempted to subsist on green juice. I can already tell that if I ever tried it, Mr. Bill would have a fit.
I think I’m Your Biggest Fan would appeal most to readers who are looking for something fun to read on the beach. It’s definitely heavy on gossip. I also enjoyed reading this book because I myself enjoy writing. Coyne gives readers a look at what being a celebrity journalist is like. Who knows? She may even inspire a new crop of journalists.
I used to have a subscription to People. I also used to pick it up in the checkout aisle. For some reason, I lost interest in People and quit following it some years ago. Maybe I’ll buy another issue, especially since Coyne writes that since 2013, People has quit using paparazzi photos of the children of stars. While I don’t know if that makes People a class act, per se, it does sort of elevate the magazine in my eyes. Maybe I’d see it as somewhat classier than Us Weekly, anyway.
Anyway, if you enjoy reading about celebrities, I’m Your Biggest Fan might be just the ticket for you. I enjoyed it. I think it rates a solid four stars.
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One last repost before I hang up my blogging efforts for the day. This is a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in October 2006. I am posting it as/is.
Having come of age in the 1980s, I have always been very familiar with Brooke Shields’ work as an actress. Brooke Shields has always appeared to be a woman who has it all… looks, brains, money, a successful and apparently fulfilling career, and at last, just a few years ago, she seemed to have found love in her second husband, Chris Henchy. The one thing that was missing was a baby.
Shields was having trouble getting pregnant. She had once had cervical surgery to remove precancerous cells and the surgery had left her cervix shortened and scarred. As a result, in order to have a child of their own, Shields and her husband had to undergo in vitro fertilization. Shields got pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage that was so emotionally painful that she almost decided to give up on her dream of being a mother.
But Brooke Shields found that she couldn’t forget about having a baby. She underwent IVF again and got pregnant, and this time it stuck. Nine months later in May 2003, Brooke Shields and her husband, Chris Henchy, became the proud parents of Rowan Francis. And then, Brooke Shields found herself holding a ticket into the hell of postpartum depression. That hell is what prompted her to write her 2004 book, Down Came The Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression.
I read this book partly because my husband, Bill, and I have been trying to have a baby. Like Brooke Shields and her husband, we have some issues that may prevent us from conceiving naturally. I also have a strong biological history of major depression, so I may be at risk of postpartum depression if I do have a baby. Also, I found this book used and dirt cheap at Fort Belvoir’s thrift shop. I doubt I would have thought to buy this book at its full price or even borrow it at a library, but I am glad I read it. It turns out Brooke Shields is a pretty good writer and her topic is both timely and relevant to a lot of new parents.
Down Came The Rain is not an autobiography of Brooke Shields’ life, although it does include some information about her family. The information is personal, but it also has something to do with Shields’ state of mind and stress level as she embarked on her quest to become a mother. First off, Shields and her first husband, Andre Agassi, were divorced after two years of marriage. Shields doesn’t write much about their time together, except to explain that they had both wanted children, but the opportunity had never presented itself. Not long after the split with Agassi, Shields met and subsequently married Chris Henchy. Then, Shields’ father became very ill with prostate cancer. He died just three weeks before Rowan Francis was born. All the while, Shields was also dealing with insecurity about her future in show business. She had taken time off for her pregnancy and Rowan’s birth.
Divorce, remarriage, fertility issues, childbirth, career issues, and the loss of a parent are all extremely stressful events on their own. With all of those issues combined together, it must have been almost impossible for Brooke Shields to function. Shields also had serious medical trouble during the birth of her daughter. The child had to be delivered by Cesarean section; the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Shields’ uterus had herniated and she almost had to have a hysterectomy. Somehow, Shields and her baby survived the birthing process intact. Shields was left to recover from major surgery as she became acquainted with her baby daughter and the huge role of being a parent.
To be sure, I could empathize a bit with Brooke Shields. She’s a human being and certainly not immune to human problems like postpartum depression. Shields initially didn’t want to go on Paxil, the antidepressant that helped her get through her ordeal with postpartum depression. She didn’t like the connotations that she needed a drug to help her with her moods. I can identify with that sentiment. When I had depression, I didn’t want to take a drug to feel better, either. I liked to think I could will myself to feel normal. Once I found the right antidepressant, it became enormously clear to me that clinical depression is a very real biological problem that affects the whole body. Brooke Shields also came to that conclusion. She started to feel better and was able to function with the help of antidepressants. Like me, she became a believer in the drugs’ efficacy, despite her very famous public feud with Tom Cruise about their usefulness.
I applaud Brooke Shields for writing this book about her very personal and painful experiences with the hell of depression and her success using antidepressants. I think it’s always helpful when people talk about personal experiences with mental illness because it helps reduce the lingering stigma. I also like the fact that Shields apparently no longer feels ashamed of her use of antidepressants. Too many people don’t seek medical help for depression because they fear becoming “hooked on happy pills”. As someone who has experienced depression and has taken antidepressants, I can affirm that the pills never made me feel “happy”. Indeed, they made me feel normal, which was a huge improvement over feeling hopeless and suicidal.
On the other hand, as I was reading Down Came The Rain, it was very clear to me that Brooke Shields has advantages that most women don’t have. For one thing, she hired a baby nurse to help her as she was getting over her postpartum depression. Although Shields makes it clear that the nurse was temporary and she had no intention of handing over the job of raising Rowan to hired help, most women don’t have the financial resources to hire baby nurses when they suffer from postpartum depression. In fact, far too many women can’t even afford to take the antidepressants that Shields took as she suffered with postpartum depression. And it also occurred to me that some who read this book may even feel somewhat bitter about the fact that Shields was able to afford several rounds of IVF, too. That’s a procedure that is well beyond the budgets of many Americans.
Clearly, with her financial resources, Brooke Shields can afford solutions that are well above the grasp of many women. I don’t mean to imply that Brooke Shields wasn’t right to use whatever means necessary to get past her postpartum depression; I just think that some women might resent the fact that they don’t have access to the resources that Shields does. Shields explains what she did to get over the depression, but she doesn’t offer solutions for ordinary women who can’t afford to hire baby nurses or seek out sophisticated medical help.
Also, it’s important to know that Down Came The Rain is not the story of Brooke Shields’ life. This is strictly an account of her experiences with postpartum depression. She explains what the depression felt like, how it affected the people around her, and what she did to get over it, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for a whole lot of insight about Brooke Shields’ life outside of her experiences with postpartum depression, you might be left disappointed. There is no photo section, although there is a small picture of Brooke Shields and Rowan on the inside of the book cover.
All in all, I think Down Came The Rain is a good personal account of the phenomenon of postpartum depression. And if after reading this book you’re left wanting to learn more about postpartum depression, Shields includes a reading list and addresses to reputable Web sites that offer information about the disorder. I think Brooke Shields has written a valuable book that will help a lot of people who are caught in the throes of postpartum depression, whether they be new mothers or the people who love them. What’s more, Shields’ story ultimately has a happy ending, since she has gone on to become a mother again. On April 18, 2006, Shields and Henchy became parents again to daughter, Grier Hammond… ironically, on the very same day, and in the same hospital, where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their baby girl, Suri.
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A few days ago, I noticed articles about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry attending the 2021 Salute to Freedom Gala in New York City. Meghan wore a bright red Carolina Herrera gown and slightly darker red Giuseppe Zanotti slingback heels. She also wore a poppy, which is customary among British people to commemorate Remembrance Day. The poppy was kind of obscured by the dress, which was the same color as the flower. Prince Harry wore a tuxedo, with four medals pinned to his jacket, and a poppy on his lapel.
I don’t know much about what this event was about, other than to recognize veterans. I’m not sure what the dress code was supposed to be, although I have been to a several military balls in my day. I’ve seen the kinds of dresses that are typically worn to them. Was this like a military ball or was it just a formal occasion? I can’t really tell, although based on the photos in the link, it looks like it was a fundraising dinner with speakers and probably a receiving line.
I will say, however, that personally, I’m not a fan of Meghan’s red dress. I mean, that color red does look good on her, and it’s a beautiful dress on its own. I even like the neckline, though not necessarily on Meghan Markle. I just think the dress was inappropriate, given the occasion. As Tom Cruise (yuck) might say, “she wasn’t wearing the dress; it was wearing her.” I read that Tom Cruise once said that to Katie Holmes when they were married, and she would choose dresses for the events they attended. In any case, I’m no fan of Cruise’s, but I think that comment makes sense in this situation.
I realize I’m kind of a hypocrite. I say this, even though I’ve certainly worn a few unflattering dresses in my day. The difference is, I don’t have access to stylists, nor do I have Meghan’s money, or even a figure even remotely like hers. I’m also not someone who is of interest to the paparazzi. Indeed, the vast majority of military spouses in the United States don’t have what Meghan has. Many of them were probably orbiting the intense red glow cast by Meghan’s red dress. She probably stood out like a beacon or maybe a traffic flare. I’m not sure that glowing like a beacon was appropriate on this occasion.
I would expect to see a gown like that at a show biz event, not a military event. If this was a “show biz” event, rather than a military event, then maybe I stand corrected. Even if it was a show biz engagement, I just don’t think that dress was the best choice for Meghan. Other people have commented on the way the dress fit, and that it looked like maybe it wasn’t the right size. I don’t know about the sizing, but the dress did seem to overwhelm her, except at the back, where she spilled over a little bit.
Many people liked the dress. A lot of other people, myself included, found it to be garish and rather tasteless, given the apparent purpose behind the event. Were they remembering fallen British military heroes, as one is supposed to do on Remembrance Day? Or were they honoring veterans who are still living, as one does on Veteran’s Day (Memorial Day is for our fallen American troops)? Either way, it seems to me the focus should have been on the veterans, not a big, red, designer dress.
That being said… I’m not here to say Meghan can’t or shouldn’t wear whatever she wants to wear. She’s free to make whatever fashion statements she wants. She’s an American, and she lives in America now, with her royal British husband, who has spent his whole life being taught about protocol. However, if the event was supposed to honor veterans, it seems to me that Meghan’s dress, with its tremendously low cut neckline, extremely bright color, massive train, and high slit up the front, was a bit unbecoming, too revealing, and overly showy, particularly for a event meant to honor veterans. Just my opinion.
Some people are wondering why Harry was asked to hand out medals in the first place. Personally, I don’t mind that Harry was at the event. He is a veteran, even if he served the United Kingdom, rather than the United States. A lot of us Americans would have been Brits if our ancestors hadn’t moved to America, like Harry has. But I can see that a lot of veterans and their families are wondering why an American veteran couldn’t have done what Harry was doing.
I find it interesting that Meghan and Harry have repeatedly complained about intrusive press, even to the point of moving out of England, and yet they constantly seem to do things that put them in the news. Meghan’s dress was definitely an eyebrow raiser, and of course people are going to talk about it, including the press. The dress got a lot of reactions, which seem to be very mixed. Some people thought it was stunning. Others thought it was a stunning disaster.
Maybe my comments seem harsh to some readers, although I’m definitely not as harsh as Jesus Enrique Rosas, the Body Language Guy, is. Check out this video…
The Body Language Guy, Jesus Enrique Rosas, did another recent video about Meghan’s fashion choices and body language. In this video, he refers to the “marshmallow on Meghan’s head.” I have to admit, that comment cracked me up a bit.
Anyway… it’s Monday, and Bill is out of town. He went to Poland for the week. I am sitting here, the day before our 19th wedding anniversary, staring at Meghan’s red dress, wishing she’d chosen something else to wear. And I say this as someone who has a large collection of knit nightgowns, which I wear most of the time, unless we’re going out somewhere. Even then, half the time I don’t wear makeup. But at least I don’t attract attention to myself… except for when I open my mouth and say something completely shocking. My days of wearing shocking clothes are mostly over now.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Facebook fashion game, Covet, has a challenge involving Meghan and her red scare gown. I’m trying to stay neutral about Meghan Markle, but I have to admit, the more I see of her, the less I like her. She makes my “high conflict person/narcissist” alarms go off. But I’m trying to reserve judgment for a bit longer… because I do think that anyone marrying a British royal will have a tough time of it. I just don’t think she tells the truth, and she seems to come off as a bit clingy. Ever since I heard her claim that she didn’t know much about Prince Harry, I’ve thought she was full of shit. I don’t believe that claim for a second.
But fortunately, it’s not my marriage, nor is it my business… it’s just an observation as a veteran’s wife, and someone who’s married to a guy who was married to a “high conflict person/narcissist”. Fortunately, everyone still has a right to have their own opinions.
I’ve been a little bit homesick, lately. It’s been years since I was last “home”. So, as I think about what fresh content I want to write today, here’s a repost from 2018.The featured photo is of me, running in my first race in April 1982. I won first place for my age and sex– which, at that time, was nine. It was a four mile race. My, how times have changed. Now, I feel great when I manage to walk a mile.
I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I grew up in Gloucester, Virginia in the 1980s. We moved there in June 1980, the day after I turned eight. I remember very clearly that in those days, Gloucester was very rural. I seem to remember just a few stoplights in the entire county and maybe a McDonald’s and a Pizza Hut.
Decades later, I see that it’s a lot more cosmopolitan than it was in my day. Areas that used to be nothing but trees are now home to big box stores and chain restaurants. Both the Pizza Hut and the McDonald’s that were there in 1980 have been torn down and moved. And there are now many stoplights in Gloucester and there have been for probably thirty years or more.
I didn’t appreciate Gloucester when I was young. In fact, I hated living there for most of my youth. When we first moved there, I was mercilessly bullied by a group of my classmates– the smart, “preppie” kids whose families had lived in Gloucester forever. Many of those kids rode the same bus I did and made my life a living hell. I didn’t get along with most of the kids who lived on my dirt road, either. They were a different group of kids. They weren’t necessarily smart. What most of them were was very “redneck”. We didn’t mesh. They probably thought I was too highfalutin’ and snobby. There’s no telling.
The one thing that saved me from succumbing to despair was my love for horses. I wasn’t especially horsey when we lived in Fairfax, Virginia, which was where we spent the first two years after my dad retired from the Air Force our of Mildenhall Air Force Base in England. My sister had taken riding lessons in England, but I wasn’t necessarily into horses myself… but then we moved to rural, country Gloucester, where many people owned horses. My neighbor, mother to one of the hoodlums who used to harass me, used to let me ride her horse every once in awhile. I will never forget the intoxicating aroma of the horses and the thrill of sitting on one for the first time. I fell deeply in love.
Within a couple of years after we moved to Gloucester, I started taking formal riding lessons. I continued riding throughout high school, finally giving it up in 1990, the year I graduated. Although Gloucester was, and probably still is, a rather provincial place, there were actually some interesting people living there. In fact, there’s a lot of old money in Gloucester and many historic plantations are located there. You could spend all day driving around the county looking at them if you wanted to.
Little me on Rusty, the pony who got me through high school still innocent. I think I was about twelve in this photo. The year was 1984.
In the 80s, the Sadovic family from France owned a big fancy plantation called Eagle Point. I don’t know what their business was, but they were very French and apparently very wealthy. Their son, Greg, was about my age. He showed horses. I believe he and the rest of his family now live in Palm Beach, Florida and he now shows horses professionally. In the 80s, he was involved in 4H, like I was, and he sometimes rode in the small shows, like I did. But his family owned beautiful horses and were very serious about the sport.
For several years in the 1980s, the Sadovics employed an expert French horseman named Francois Lemaire de Ruffieu. Francois was a bit of a “rock star” in the horse world. He first trained and graduated from the Cadre Noir, one of the oldest and most prestigious riding academies in Europe. During his six years in the cavalry at Saumur and Fontainebleau, he studied and showed extensively in dressage, stadium jumping, three-day eventing and steeplechase. He was awarded the title of Master Instructor of the American Riding Instructor Certification program in 1996. Given that he was born in 1944, Francois has been in the horse business for many years. But I knew him during his prime. In fact, I distinctly remember falling off my horse, Rusty, right in front of him back in the 80s.
In those days, Francois was in his 40s and he lived in Gloucester. He’d give riding clinics at Eagle Point. I know I attended at least one or two of them. In those days, Eagle Point had a number of events that we’d attend– horse shows, competitive trail rides, and fox hunts. It wasn’t located far from where I took lessons. My riding coach took lessons from Francois and passed on some of his techniques to us when she taught us. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but it was actually really cool that she was able to do that, especially in a place like Gloucester.
In 1988, right after Rusty and I won first place in a huge Hunter Pleasure Pony class in Richmond, Virginia.
In 1984, Francois published his first book, Handbook of Riding Essentials. It made quite a splash locally, but I believe it also sold well internationally. I see that Francois is still in business, too, giving riding clinics in places like Vermont. I see on an old Facebook page that someone who worked with Francois in the 80s mentions having known him in Virginia. He evidently also worked at Beau Shane (which I think is now defunct), which was an amazing farm in next door Mathews County. I knew it because the woman who used to run our 4H horse judging group was a horse trainer there, and we used to visit Beau Shane to study conformation. They had gorgeous Swedish Warmbloods. Mathews County was even more rural than Gloucester, but there were some really high caliber horses at Beau Shane.
This topic comes up because last night, I was noticing all the boat pictures and videos posted by some of my Gloucester friends and I felt a little bit homesick. Gloucester is also home to several rivers and many people who live there own boats. I joked that maybe it was time to move back to Gloucester. My old riding coach mentioned that mosquitos are a thing there and maybe I’d forgotten that. I was being a bit facetious. I can’t see myself moving to Gloucester again. It wouldn’t be the same as it was when I was growing up. But another friend, a guy who lived there in the 70s, started talking about the plantations and mentioned Warner Hall… He said it’s for sale.
Warner Hall is located right next to Eagle Point and, in the 80s, one could board their horses there. It is now a five star B&B, but in the 80s, we rode our horses through the property while participating in events put on by Eagle Point. I didn’t know it back in the 80s, but George Washington’s grandparents lived in Gloucester. Actually, Gloucester is a very historic place. It’s also where Pocahontas was born. And Dr. Walter Reed, a U.S. Army physician who led the team that postulated and confirmed the theory that yellow fever is transmitted by a particular mosquito species, rather than by direct contact, was also born in Gloucester, Virginia. Gloucester was also used in a couple of films, notably Zelly & Me starring Isabella Rosselini, and Minority Report, starring Tom Cruise. And John Lennon once owned a plantation in neighboring Mathews County called Poplar Grove.
When I was about eleven, I also used to occasionally visit Lisburne, another plantation that was restored by the Peebles family. Their daughter, Laurie, showed horses on the A rated circuit and a church friend, also wealthy, hooked me up with her. I remember I used to visit this marvelous home in Ordinary and play with Laurie’s horses. This was before my mom got me into lessons with the woman who taught me all through high school.
I think about all the places I could have grown up… places not as interesting or historic as Gloucester County is. When I was a child, I thought it was a boring place. Now I realize that Gloucester is pretty fascinating. I still don’t know that I want to move back there, but it was a cool place to grow up. There’s an interesting mix of old money, old redneck, and military transients in that county. I still have a lot of friends there, although my family has moved on. If it weren’t for horses, I don’t know that I would have had so many opportunities to see some of these wonderful old homes.
Of course, I also got to see a few of them thanks to being a Presbyterian. I think in Gloucester, a lot of Presbyterians were somewhat well-heeled and connected to old money. But I see now, even the church I grew up in has changed. I remember when that sanctuary was built, back in 1980, 100 years after the church was founded. And now, it’s no longer First Presbyterian Church. Now it’s Grace Covenant Church, affiliated with the new ECO branch of Presbyterianism because apparently, the minister didn’t want to have to marry gay couples, and disagreed with some of the other changing views of the PCUSA branch.
Anyway… I just heard the chimes go off, signifying that it’s time to move the laundry to the dryer. I guess I’ve rambled on long enough this morning.
Here’s a link to Francois’ book… I see it’s significantly more expensive these days! But it is very well-regarded… Maybe I should buy a copy for old time’s sake.
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Dave Ramsey… that’s a name I’ve heard bandied about in fundie Christian circles. Before this morning, I didn’t know much about him. I’d heard a little about what he does. He’s a Christian financial guru. I probably first heard about him from the Duggar family– Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, specifically– who used to tout their theories on how to stay out of debt and raise a humongous “quiver full” of children who would grow up to be God fearing, tithe paying Christians.
While religion is not supposed to be tied to politics, it often is. Fundie Christians have huge families, in part, so that they can make more voters who have been trained to vote for political candidates that champion their religious beliefs and make laws that favor Christianity. Dave Ramsey appears to be one of those people. He’s made a career out of courting Christians and recruiting them into his financial programs.
I don’t actually know too much about the quality of Dave Ramsey’s financial advice. I have read that some people like his budget plans. However, after reading an article about him this morning, I’m reminded an awful lot of another famous person who was recently in the news… Tom Cruise. Cruise, as we all know, is famously devoted to the Church of Scientology. He’s also quite narcissistic and abusive, as evidenced by his recent verbal tirade that put him in the news a couple of months ago. I’ll get to why Dave Ramsey reminds me of Tom Cruise in a minute.
Dave Ramsey is in the news this morning because he has said that he doesn’t agree with giving people stimulus checks to help them through the pandemic. Dave Ramsey said on Fox News, “If $600 or $1400 changes your life, you were pretty much screwed already.” He continues, saying “That’s not talking down to folks. I’ve been bankrupt. I’ve been broke. I work with people every day who are hurting. I love people. I want people to be lifted up, but this is, again, it is just political rhetoric,”
Probably because of Ramsey’s comment on Fox News, someone in the Duggar Family News group shared an illuminating article about people who have worked for Dave Ramsey’s company, Ramsey Solutions. It’s said that the company is run more like a church than a company, and being employed there means giving up a lot of privacy. Ramsey reportedly has a lot of dictates about his employees’ personal lives. People have been fired, for instance, because of things their spouses post on social media. In fact, according to the article, when a person is considered for a job working for Dave Ramsey, their spouses are also interviewed. Why? Because Dave wants to make sure no one is “married to crazy”. He says being married to crazy means that employees won’t be at their best. According to Ramsey’s Web site:
“When hiring someone, you are employing more than just the person… You’re taking on the whole family. And when they are married to someone who is domineering, unstable or simply full of drama, you’ll end up with a team member who can’t be creative, productive or excellent.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be judged for jobs that my husband takes. It was bad enough being an Army wife, which has really affected my life a lot. When my mom was an Air Force wife, back in the 60s and 70s, she was often judged as much as my dad was, when it came to promotion decisions. I remember hearing that my dad was once passed over for a job because the leadership didn’t think my mom was a good enough hostess. Thankfully, those days are mostly over in the military community. I think that nowadays, maybe the only people whose spouses might be judged are those who are going to be Generals. Ramsey’s running a private company, so I guess if his employees don’t have a problem with him running their private lives, it’s perfectly legal. But it sure doesn’t seem right.
Ramsey is being sued by a former employee after she was fired for having premarital sex, which is against company policy. Ramsey, angry about being sued, yelled at his remaining employees at a company meeting:
“I am sick of dealing with all this stuff,” Ramsey bellowed, according to a recording obtained by Religion News Service. “I’m so tired of being falsely accused of being a jerk when all I’m doing is trying to help people stay in line.”
Right… but who appointed Dave Ramsey as the person who has to “help people stay in line” in their private lives? Reading that quote by Dave Ramsey reminded me a lot of Tom Cruise, both when he screamed at his employees back in December… and back in 2008, when he famously said this:
“Being a Scientologist, when you drive past an accident it’s not like anyone else. As you drive past you know you have to do something about it because you know you’re the only one who can help,”
It sounds to me like Dave Ramsey and Tom Cruise are similar in their beliefs that they’re the ones who ought to be in charge. However, unlike Cruise, Ramsey isn’t taking the pandemic seriously. He thinks people who would rather work at home to avoid getting sick are “wusses”. While Tom Cruise screamed this to his employees about COVID-19:
“They’re back there in Hollywood making movies right now because of us. We are creating thousands of jobs, you motherfuckers,”
“I don’t ever want to see it again! Ever!,” he rages. “If I see you do it again, you’re fucking gone.”
“And if anyone on this crew does it, that’s it — and you too and you too. And you, don’t you ever fucking do it again.”
Dave Ramsey says this to his customers and employees:
“You would think that the black plague was coming through the U.S., listening to people whine,” he told his audience. “You guys have lost your mind out there.”
“We have people calling in, they are wanting to cancel stuff for a live event in May — let me tell you how much of your money I am going to give you back if you don’t come for the coronavirus in May,” he said. “ZERO. I am keeping your money. You are a wuss.”
The messages are different, but the disrespectful, snarky, directive tone is very much the same. It’s abusive and mean-spirited. And again, even though Ramsey isn’t giving a paycheck to the spouses of his employees, the spouses are expected to toe the line as much as the employees are. They aren’t supposed to have credit cards, and their social media posts are monitored. One former employee’s wife who suffers from asthma and worries about COVID-19 posted this on Facebook:
“Jon’s company [Ramsey Solutions] wants to bring all 900 employees back asap when a majority can do their work from home… I do *not* understand how people don’t see we are setting ourselves up for a huge second wave. Ugh, people make me so angry.”
“Jon” was soon called by a supervisor, who chastised him for his wife’s Facebook comment. The wife of a co-worker had screenshot the comment and sent it to their boss. And yes, Jon was fired for it. On his way out, he was offered $18,000 in severance pay if he and his wife would sign a nondisclosure agreement and promise not to ever say anything derogatory about the company. To their credit, the couple chose not to sign the agreement. They have had to rely on the generosity of friends and family members to help them survive during the unemployment. Meanwhile, Ramsey’s legal goons are still trying to silence them by sending cease-and-desist letters.
When an anonymous employee sent a letter of complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for Ramsey’s failure to take precautions against COVID-19, Ramsey’s response was to berate his entire staff, calling them “morons”. First, he complained that the pandemic was ruining his golf game, then he reportedly said:
“So whoever you are, you moron, you did absolutely no good, except piss me off,” he told his staff. “You are not welcome here if you are willing to do stuff like that. If you are really scared and you really think that leadership is trying to kill you … please, we love you. Just leave. We really don’t want you here.”
After warning his employees not to complain to anyone outside the company about the working conditions, he continued:
“If you really think the people here are evil, bad people and you think that you can effect change by reaching outside of here, you are wrong… And you are not welcome.”
Then, against the advice of his board not to speak about the OSHA investigation, Ramsey went on:
“I love this place and I really don’t want any morons here.” If he found out the person’s identity, he threatened, “I will fire you instantaneously for your lack of loyalty, your lack of class, and the fact that you are a moron and you snuck through our hiring process,” And then he reiterated that he “loves” his employees and Ramsey Solutions is the “best” place to work in the entire world. It’s also a place where your boss tells you he loves you as he calls you a “moron” and threatens you.
Ramsey supposedly “loves” his employees. But he calls them “morons” and tells them they aren’t welcome if they have a legitimate complaint or concern about workplace safety. Seems strange to me… but also familiar. Because after Tom Cruise screamed at his employees in December, he said something rather similar:
“That’s what I’m thinking about. That’s what I’m doing today. I’m talking to Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. Movies are going because of us. We shut down, it’s going to cost people their fucking jobs, their homes, their family—that’s what’s happening. All the way down the line. And I care about you guys. But if you’re not going to help me, you’re gone. OK? Do you see that stick? How many meters is that? When people are standing around a fucking computer and hanging out around here, what are you doing?“
Now… it’s not that I don’t think Cruise had a right to insist on proper COVID-19 protocol. My issue is with the extremely disrespectful way he addressed his staff. He called them names. He swore at them. He threatened them. That is verbal abuse. Dave Ramsey does the same thing, for the opposite cause. But they’re very much the same in terms of how they deal with people. They treat them very much as if they’re objects who don’t deserve the most basic of respect. That’s what narcissists do, and I speak from experience when I say that being in an environment like that will take its toll. I definitely wouldn’t consider a fear based workplace where people are pressured to shut up and color the “best” workplace in the world. Far from it.
Ramsey’s company also has a policy against gossip. Gossip is defined by Ramsey as “when you discuss a negative with anyone who can’t solve the problem.” He fires people who “gossip”. Below is a famous Ramsey rant about gossip. Just listening to this, and Ramsey’s mocking tone, is kind of triggering for me.
Many employees supposedly love the culture of Ramsey’s company. People are reportedly helpful and kind… until someone has a criticism. And then, Ramsey reportedly goes on a rampage to find out who is complaining. He even goes as far as to offer “bounties” to those who are willing to snitch. It sounds a little culty and East German-ish.
Ramsey also preaches a lot about Judeo-Christian values. He reportedly goes as far as to fire people for adultery and being pregnant outside of marriage, claiming that people have violated the company’s “righteous living” code. And yet, I see him writing and hear him saying things like “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” and “I’ve got a right to tell my employees whatever I want to tell them. They freaking work for me.” That doesn’t sound very “Christlike” to me. It sounds controlling and abusive.
Unfortunately, Tennessee, where Ramsey Solutions is based, is an “at will” employment state. So Ramsey is within his legal rights to fire people for almost any reason. He has a lot of fans, too. Like Tom Cruise and Donald Trump, Ramsey has charisma and people are drawn to that, even if that magnetism includes a helping of narcissistic abuse.
Well… before this morning, I didn’t really have much of an opinion about Dave Ramsey one way or another. Maybe his plans do help people get control of their finances. But I don’t find him to be a likable person, and I think I would hate working for him. I sympathize with those who are trying to take action against his policies. He seems to delight in being the “boss” of his employees, telling them what they can and can’t do, even when they’re off the clock. It’s hard to escape such an environment, particularly when there’s a pandemic going on and jobs are scarce. And so, people who are legitimately frightened of getting COVID-19 have to suck it up and drive on, maskless, because wearing a face mask indicates that God isn’t in control. It doesn’t matter that the virus has spread through the company and people, in general, are getting sick and dying of the virus.
If you try to use your own free will to protect yourself, Dave Ramsey doesn’t want you to work for him. Working for him apparently means your ass is his, on or off the clock. No thanks. I’m an adult and can make my own decisions. And… as Bill and I found out, I can even get us out of debt without Dave’s financial plan. So I don’t have to buy what he’s selling.
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