A few quick thoughts on the Tommy Gilbert Jr. rich-boy-behaving-badly thing:
1) This story is psychosocial gold for any bottomfeeder looking to capitalize on the resentment of the wealthy without criticizing capitalism. They have nice apartments. They pay the rent for their ne’er-do-well grown children. They put their ne’er-do-well grown children on allowances. They have summer places in the Hamptons. They’re so lazy that they when they go surfing, they use longboards, not the less stable shorties, because only a privileged brat would choose to use the most seaworthy equipment of its kind available for the navigation of twelve-foot surf when crappier equipment that will cause frequent wipeouts is available. Their kids are so spoiled and depraved that they’ll commit patricide over reductions in their allowances.
2) Junior’s parents seem to have been living beyond their means: an apartment on the Upper East Side, a vacation mansion in the Hamptons worth over ten million dollars, private club memberships, and yet Tom Gilbert Sr. left an estate worth a bit over a million and a half dollars. By the standards of their neighborhoods and their social set, they were poors. Junior seems to have taken this lesson to heart.
3) Senior and Mrs. Gilbert seem not to have noticed that their son, who they knew to be troubled, was carrying a pistol in their apartment the afternoon that he shot Senior. These are posh New Yorkers, not the oh-I-was-just-out-shootin’-gators-n-nutria crowd. Mrs. Gilbert also fell for Junior’s ruse to get her out of the apartment by sending her on an errand to buy him a sandwich. Because this is what one does when one stops by one’s parents’ place for an afternoon visit.
The parents weren’t really paying attention.
4) Tommy Gilbert’s sister is an “aspiring writer” who publishes a third-rate literary blog, linked to by the Grey Lady herself, so at least she’s getting extra traffic from this family tragedy. I might as well muscle in for some exposure of my own. Shit, I may get a dozen Tommy Gilbert search engine referrals, which, because we’re a country too stupid for our own good, is more than I’ll get in Tommy Douglas referrals.
Anyway, Clare Gilbert is not going places with her literary career. This may seem like a wrongheaded and insensitive thing to say, but it’s relevant to the socioeconomic context in which her brother is accused of killing her father. There’s no good reason for her to make any money from the kind of crap that she’s been publishing under her own auspices. She uses clickbait titles for her own self-published essays. Her writing is mediocre. I regularly follow maybe a dozen free blogs that are better written and more thoughtful than Good Book Scents (WTF), so if she somehow gets a literary contract, I’m not about to pay for shitty navelgazing of a sort that I can’t be bothered to read for free.
I’m a writer. I’ve never been paid for it, but the words fall out, just like Sara Bareilles said they should. This “aspiring writer” meme seems to be a socially acceptable way for the adrift and marginally employable to justify their existences on the basis that they’re working towards something. It’s probably something of purely masturbatory value, but it sounds good. Or at least it’s considered gauche to raise the perfectly valid counterpoint that it’s more bullshit from the affluent and poseurs who would like to be considered affluent.
If this Gilbert chick is an aspiring writer, I’m a former aspiring NYPD and SDPD officer and current aspiring masseur, gigolo to women who aren’t totally crazy, bus driver, low-level environmental consulting/mining/petroleum geology something-or-other (depending on who’s rehiring industry washouts), pilot, and small grower of olives, wine grapes, and greenhouse crops. These are all things that I’m kinda maybe gonna do someday when I’m not staying with my parents to save on lodging costs during periods of unemployment. Just like these self-promoters who are going to be “writers.”
4a) The point to the previous snark is that the Gilberts and their circle have probably been encouraging Clare to pursue “writer” status in a way that they weren’t encouraging Tommy Jr. to keep pursuing his dream of being a low-rent Laird Hamilton. Combined with his being a fuckup surrounded by successful Ivy League preppies, this probably contributed to his feelings of congenital worthlessness.
4b) This is a bit off-topic, but that fuckhead in Oregon who got totally baked and spent hours berating me for being a professional ne’er-do-well knows Laird Hamilton. It’s at once a small world and an all too big world, since it’s not like this dipshit helped me network with Laird, or with anyone else. At least my mutual acquaintances with Dana Rohrabacher never pulled shit like that, nor have they been involved in sleazy marketing pitches and 1099 wage theft scams in Hawaii.
5) Junior’s ex-girlfriend, Anna Rothschild, is a crass piece of work, although she seems to have been a more edifying influence on him than on either of her ex-husbands, the ones who wouldn’t buy her big enough diamonds.
This is why gigolo comes to mind tonight as a career option worth exploring. If you have a problem with that, feel free to offer me a payroll farm job starting as soon as I can relocate from Upstate New York and lasting until I get hired back at the vineyard. I’m not saying that I will or won’t be a gigolo, just that it’s on the table. Also on the table is food, which I’ll be eating. I have to maintain my figure, you know. So ultimately, the impediments to my entering that lifestyle are not being acquainted with the Rothschilds and not looking the least bit like I could make the cover of a dime store romance novel, not some kind of highminded moral compunction.
A blessed and holy Lent to you and yours, too.
6) Cutting off people like Tommy Gilbert Jr. and letting them sink or swim doesn’t work. It just isn’t realistic. Junior couldn’t just get a job. He was troubled, apparently mentally ill, and he had no work history. It’s hard to imagine him doing well at an interview. He wasn’t about to Horatio Alger his way into a career. Telling people like that to “just get a job” is a lot less productive than telling them to just get a spot under an overpass on the Cross-Bronx Expressway, and also to just get some warm blankets. If you have to choose between the overpass space and the blankets, go for the blankets; there’s a community-managed waiting list for the overpass. It’s full of other Americans who couldn’t just “get a job.”
7) Junior was a downwardly mobile loser surrounded by successful people and people pretending to be successful. It’s a safe bet that he could tell that he was getting a raw deal compared to the privilege of his truly wealthy peers.
Condescendingly intoning to people like him that life isn’t fair is of no use. It won’t stop them from lashing out. It wouldn’t have stopped Junior from burning down that old friend’s house in the Hamptons and its three and a half centuries’ worth of history dating back to Dutch Colonial times. It wouldn’t have stopped Elliot Rodger. The whole fucking American political process is the continuous insurrection of loud, enfranchised, politically influential constituencies who scream bloody murder until they get what they want. The same is true to some extent of most self-governing countries. The disenfranchised in these arrangements sometimes resort to violence. The solution is to give them a meaningful enough stake that they don’t want to throw it all away, but this involves not being a total asshat to one’s inferiors all the time. It’s a tall order in the Hamptons.
8) SVU will make bank by ripping this story off and sexualizing it, and Mariska Hargitay will remain much sexier than Anna Rothschild, although not as sexy as she was in that episode where she pretended to be a madam, put on a tasteful but sexy blue silk top, and dropped the vice squad dominatrix act for a few minutes. Unfortunately, Olivia Benson is a make-believe New Yorker, and Tommy Gilbert Jr. is a real New Yorker.
Hot mess in the city.