Yankee go home
What is it about Canadians that we are so smitten with American celebrities we will sit agog, listening to their canned remarks?
When David Gergen came to town last week much was made of Gerry Schwartz, Chairman and CEO of Onex Corp., arriving late and having no seat – such was the drawing power of Gergen, advisor to four American presidents. A chair was found for Gerry, just another rapt member of an audience who could have known all of Gergen’s profundities simply by watching CNN where he appears on late-night panels so often that he must have a cot in the studio.
When we’re not listening to them, we’re reading their books. Gerry’s wife, Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books & Music, features so many books by Big Name Americans that she might as well be running Barnes & Noble. Current Heather’s Pick is the Barbara Walters autobiography, replete with tear-jerking stories about her abysmal upbringing that somehow managed to make her the successful woman she is today.
A while back, I attended one of those day-long events with motivational speakers geared to hype sales types to new heights. I forget who was supposed to speak at lunch, but they cancelled. The last-minute replacement was Larry King, who removed his jacket to reveal his suspenders and began by rattling off a few Yogi Berra lines.
You know the ones, “No one goes to that restaurant anymore, it’s too crowded.” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” The bromides evoked such hearty laughter he didn’t even bother delivering his usual patter, he just regaled the group with Berra bon mots and one anecdote about another time he gave a speech. The audience lapped it up and then Larry got back on his jet for Washington, D.C.
Bill Clinton, who I used to think was a great president until the South Carolina primary when he showed his mean side, is another favorite. He has become unavoidable. Hardly a week goes by that he isn’t entertaining some Canadian audience with his tired tapdance and collecting another $150,000 toll gate payment for his services.