Navy Fliers Discuss Gossip Girl on Recon Flight

Navy ReconWhen you are aircrew on reconnaissance flights, you have long stretches of time between “events.” Our Navy flights took up to thirteen hours and I was always thankful that we were not able to refuel. Call me lazy, but a thirteen hour flight with no real toilet sometimes grew old. I usually was in comms with my mission Supervisor (Supe), a motivated 2nd Class Petty Officer, a 1st Class, a Chief, or a Senior Chief. And invariably our talk would turn to the mundane with a slight relaxing of military courtesy. This one occurred between a female First Class Supe and myself, somewhere over Iraq:

Hey sir, what didja do on your down day?

I worked out, did my laundry, caught a college football game. And watched some tv.

Anything good?


Define “good,” Petty Officer, I said with a weary smile. I did watch some crazy Aussie rules football. Which looked like Calvinball* to me. You know, where they make up the rules. And I saw about ten seconds of the world’s worst tv show.

Which one is that?

It was something dreadful called Gossip Girl.


Um, Petty Officer, you still up in comms?

Sir, that is my favorite show.


Um sir, you still there?

Ah, sorry Petty Officer. (Gulp.) Maybe Gossip Girl is a female thing. . .

Gossip Girl, Blake Lively, Chuck Bass, Ed Westwick, Serena van der Woodsen, Blair Waldorf, Leighton Meester, Dan Humphrey, Penn Badgley
Gossip Girl with Blake Lively, Ed Westwick, Leighton Meester, and Penn Badgley

The funny thing is that I always brought up Gossip Girl with that Supe when I flew with her after that. And she forgave me for bagging on her favorite show. She left the Navy to go to college and to work at a bar she and her brother were opening. The bar’s theme was going to be superheroes. She stayed in the Reserves and I ran into a LCDR, probably her Department Head, who spoke highly of her. Mention Gossip Girl to her next time you see her, I told him. It is her favorite show, I used to raze her about it. 

For those of you who follow it, you surely know Gossip Girl was cancelled and the actual “secret” blogger was revealed:

Leighton Meester, Ed Westwick, Wallace Shawn
Leighton Meester, Ed Westwick, Wallace Shawn

“Gossip Girl” delivered its big reveal, but not an especially big audience in its final show Monday night.

To the surprise of even many devoted fans, Dan Humphrey (Penn Badgley) turned out to be the long-elusive Gossip Girl herself. Or himself.

It made sense in a way. Dan is the writer in the group and he came to the show’s rich, entitled scene in the beginning as an outsider, though he integrated well over the years.

“Gossip Girl” launched in September 2007 with a blizzard of buzz, becoming one of the first shows that trafficked as much in social media as it did from its actual TV broadcasts.

The doings of Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester) and their very well-to-do friends became the currency of conversation in countless high school corridors.

The soap-opera romance of Blair and Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick) ended at the altar, with the two getting married in affluent style.

Calvin Ball
Calvin Ball III

While Dan and Serena were just supportive friends for that event, a flash-forward told us that they too would be getting married in the future.

* Whatever you do, please don’t confuse Calvinball with the Maryland Democrat politician by the name of Calvin Ball, despite the many general similarities between the sport and politics.

The Accidents of a Navy Pilot, a Fashion Model, a Tennessee Family, and an NFL Player

Aviation related accidents are particularly nasty due to a host of reasons: moving parts, speed, high/low temperatures, expense, altitude, and stupidity among others.

We were once pre-flighting our EP-3 and I was testing my communication gear at my seat. The 3P (the co-co-pilot) sat in the cockpit, twenty feet away from me, checking the flaps. He did not do a visual glance outside (as the pubs – publications – prescribed) and he punched a hole in a flap on the port wing. A ladder stood in the way and it produced an air vent where one was not before.

The Flight Engineer (FE) stormed past me muttering: “I really wish you had not done that, sir.” And less than five feet behind him trailed an ashen-faced LTJG, the co-co-pilot. Outside they went to inspect the damage.

It delayed us for hours while we fueled and pre-flighted another bird. An investigation was launched and the co-co was even drug-tested.

Sadly, another type of aviation accident occurred when a fashion blogger (whose blog was called lolo) walked into a propeller:

Lauren Scruggs of   

The parents of model and fashion blogger Lauren Scruggs said today that their daughter is responsive and making a slow recovery after she suffered severe injuries from accidentally walking into the propeller of a small plane.

Scruggs, from Plano, Texas, edits an online fashion magazine and had also worked in the wardrobe department of the TV show “Gossip Girl.” The 23-year-old suffered horrific injuries including the loss of her hand Saturday night after had just finished riding in a single-engine plane to get an aerial view of Christmas lights with a friend.

The pilot had landed at a private airport north of Dallas when Scruggs exited the plane and walked directly into its propeller. The blades sliced the left side of her face and shoulder and severed her left hand. She is now stable at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

Where was the pilot? Safety should be his/her priority. Please say a prayer for Lauren if you are so inclined. . .

Our second accident involves fire. A Tennessee family watched their house burn to the ground after an accidental fire erupted:

Bell Family, South Fulton, Obion County, Tennessee

A Tennessee couple helplessly watched their home burn to the ground, along with all of their possessions, because they did not pay a $75 annual fee to the local fire department.

Vicky Bell told the NBC affiliate WPSD-TV that she called 911 when her mobile home in Obion County caught fire. Firefighters arrived on the scene but as the fire raged, they simply stood by and did nothing.

I have great respect for policemen and fire-fighters. They serve their communities, often in harm’s way. This troubles me:

South Fulton Mayor David Crocker defended the fire department, saying that if firefighters responded to non-subscribers, no one would have an incentive to pay the fee. Residents in the city of South Fulton receive the service automatically, but it is not extended to those living in the greater county-wide area.

Can’t they come up with a monumental penalty, say $5,000, to put out fires for folks who did not pay the $175 fee?

The third accident is not a traditional accident, but one done out of gametime exuberance. Cam Newton is a rookie star in the NFL. An Auburn grad, he has rushed for 13 touchdowns, a rookie record. And on the last of his three rumbles into the endzone, he gave the prize gameball to a fan. Why not, the Panthers were rolling to a 38-19 victory against the buck-toothed Bucs (4-8, 4th in the NFC South.) Still the team wanted the football back:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

When Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newtonscored his third touchdown in Sunday’s game, he made a beeline to the 16-year-old girl in the back of the end zone wearing a shirt that said “Mrs. Newton” on the back.

Katie Brown had spent the previous night designing the T-shirt and, with the help of some fans sitting around her, had attracted the attention of the rookie superstar earlier in the game. Newton acknowledged her with a smile and a laugh. Now, he was running over to give her the ball he had just carried across the goal line.

But the team asked Katie to return the ball for historical reasons. For Cam’s “accidental” gift, the Panthers gave her a kicking tee, a game ball and four hats. And they also promised to send her a gift in the mail. Tickets, probably.

I would take an errant gameball over a house fire or a plane propeller accident. Practice safety, folks.

Febrezing Wall Street

An Occupy Wall Street’er sniffs a nostrilful of Febreze, courtesy of Mrs. Jensen. She sprays her husband’s police uniform with a spritz of perfumey heaven every morning, right before work. 

By guest poser poster Armin von Schenliech III, Occupy Any Town Protestor

I am a petulant baby. I must get my way. Nevermind that I do not want to work. You will forgive my college loans. I am the 99%. We are an elite club, most of you are not in it.

I stand in solidarity with Ben and Jerry’s Ice-Cream.

Likewise, I do not stand in solidarity with fake eyebrows.

Kanye West at Occupy Wall Street with Bodyguards and gold chains

As for our protest, you say Kanye West was there?

 I’ll download his albums on iTunes because he is one of us.

He appeared with the Deaf Def Jam mogul, Russell Simmons? He the man too.

(Russell Simmons’ tweet: “I love how sweet and tolerant [Kanye] was to the crowd.”)

I don’t care that:

Critics have cited that West ranked No. 3 on Forbes’ list of top earners in hip-hop. The rapper didn’t make a speech when he attended the protests but simply walked through the throngs, who warmly greeted him.

I wonder if anyone (who is anyone) else appeared, to show support for all us law-abiding citizens and all:

Kanye West and Russell Simmons followed visits from documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, actress Susan Sarandon, actor Mark Ruffalo, comedian Roseanne Barr, actor Tim Robbins, rapper Talib Kweli and “Gossip Girl” actor Penn Badgley.

Blake Lively and Penn Badgley (Tool)

Wait, you say Penn Bedgley is a hypocrite because he stars in Gossip Girl? And attends glitzy award shows and had the paparazzi following him and his then-girlfriend Blake Lively on their expensive vacations? Oh, and he drives a sporty Audi? I don’t mind. . .

When Badgley attended the demonstration last week, he acknowledged some awkwardness in his celebrity status as a sign-carrying protester.

“I mean, listen, it’s cheesy … but I want to do whatever I can,” Badgley told the website Capital New York. “Let’s be honest: I’m on … ‘Gossip Girl.’ … It’s absurd that celebrity power is what it is, but, like, use any tool you have, you know?”

Hmm, what sort of merchandise is available at the protest? How about some condoms:

Meantime, a lesser-known merchandiser, New York City-based Condomania, is selling “Occupy Condoms.” They sport the slogan: “We won’t be screwed!” But doesn’t this bold declaration essentially negate the need for a condom?

Is it hypocritical, you ask, for millionaires who do advertisements for credit card companies to support the protest? I don’t think so:

Others have pointed out the corporations some of the supportive celebrities endorse.

Yoko Ono, Alec Baldwin and Jane Fonda have voiced support for the protests. Baldwin is a pitchman for Capital One Bank.

Capital One Bank, adding more chins to Alec Baldwin, while he supports protests against them

Baldwin has used his Twitter account to rebut criticism.

Responding to claims that he was hypocritical for being anti-capitalist and a wealthy actor, Baldwin wrote, “No. They just want regulated capitalism.”

Ono tweeted:

“I love OccupyWallStreet. As John said, ‘One hero cannot do it. Each one of us have to be heroes.’ And you are. Thank you.”

In the meantime, I will wear my Occupy Wall Street T-shirt.

Ideas are bulletproof. Unless, of course, they are not. Only one way (sarc) to find out.