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Nina In New York: Top 5 Public Acts of Self-Destruction

A young professional's take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.

In continuing to educate my new nephew, O, I've decided to recap 2011's most fascinating self-destructive moments among celebrities (of any nature).

O, right now I know all grown-ups look pretty imposing, a little fuzzy, and basically all alike. When you're a little older, you'll see that certain among us cut a higher profile than others, and have been designated as being Particularly Important Personages. Some of them are politicians, some of them are celebrities known for their acting or musical ability. Some are famous simply because there just can't ever be too much chum in the waters. These people receive a certain elevated level of respect from the public, deserved or not, and you'll get on board with that. But as you grow and mature, and your cynicism hormone kicks in, you will realize that the powerful and popular people are not always the best and good people. And that when the mighty fall (typically by tripping over themselves), they do it spectacularly well.

Really, O, you can't make this stuff up.

5. The Kardashian wedding. One time, when love was still real and Kim and Kris were still happily wed, I tried to watch the E! Kardashian Wedding Special. Seven hours later, I think they were all still arguing about how many crystals are too many (none) and how much money they should spend on the monogrammed tampons in the ladies room courtesy basket (all of it). Listen, I can understand how a couple of crazy kids might rush into a marriage without thinking it through, but if you're going to spend like a dictator's wife and surround your nuptials with a media circus that would make Kate Middleton blush, you invite a certain amount of insanely judgmental scrutiny on yourself. And when the whole thing goes kaplooey, there's simply no hiding.

4. Herman Cain. First he was a "who?" Then he was "that pizza guy." Then he was a presidential candidate. Then he was that guy who harassed that woman (but he didn't). Um, and that woman (again, didn't). Oh wait, and that woman? And maybe that woman, except she's lying just like the others. In fact, he'd never even heard of these allegations. Except oh. Yes. He did. Oh those allegations? Why didn't you say so? Well anyway it's all a load of crap so what's the diff? Uh oh, then he was the guy who got busted for a 13-year affair and we all found out about their "friendship" at the same time his wife did. And now he's back to being a who? Thank goodness you can't get fired from the position of "CEO of Self."

3. Charlie Sheen. I have to hand it to Charlie for kicking off 2011 with a bang and some warlock tiger monkey blood or whatever. Sheen suffered perhaps the most glorious public meltdown Hollywood has ever seen, sending a giant middle finger to his industry and the public in a blaze of ninja winningness. He acquired a couple of porn stars/strippers/models/goddesses, he named his house the "Sober Valley Ranch," he went on a yacht, he lost his kids, he fought with people on the Internet, and through it all he never lost his unique sense of humor and extreme omnipotence. And now he's cool. Way to go, Charlie. Show 'em all how it's done.

2. Michele Bachman. She's had some adorable doozies this year, like suggesting that God sent us an earthquake and a hurricane to send the White House a message about government spending, and commending our founding fathers for working tirelessly to abolish slavery (uh, they didn't). My personal favorite was when she conflated John Wayne, legendary movie star, and John Wayne Gacy, terrifying psychopathic clown serial killer. She's like the Dan Quayle of the new millenium, and I'm grateful for her.

1. Anthony Weiner. Could anyone deny former Rep. Weiner's number one spot on this list? His downfall was truly spectacular. From the initial revelation of the photo (What photo? Who sent that? Not us! We don't even know what it is! What's a photo? That's not the congressman's junk! We didn't even see it, so we don't know it's a photo of junk, but if it is, it's not his), to the lame blame game on some anonymous Twitter hacker, to the ultimate admission of guilt (and junk-ownership), to the revelation of yet more photos, this was tragicomedy at its finest. Not since the Larry Craig glory hole fiasco has a politician entertained us so.

Honorable Mention goes to Eric Massa, another former New York congressman who resigned in ignominy this year after being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for sexual misconduct. But you see, the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding. He wasn't inappropriately groping staffers! No, no, no. What, is that what you thought? Oh, jeez, what a mix-up. How silly. It was just a tickle fight! You know, just an older guy in a position of authority tickle-tickle-tickling his subordinate until he can't breathe. Hooray! Just dudes being dudes.

Thanks, everybody. It's been a great year.


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I'm always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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