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Blog Archive/June 2008

June 23, 2008

Mommy Nature Dearest

Sometimes Nature is the most beautiful of gifts. The comforting warmth of summer. The first crispness of fall. The fragrance of lilacs. The serene beauty of the fields and lakes. The cry of a newborn baby. The wonder of a starry night.

But sometimes Nature isn't so nice. All those floods, and tsunamis, and earthquakes, and wild fires. The nasty tantrums of winter. The spring frosts that kill crops. Humidity. Mosquitoes. Hungry bears in the backyard.

And cats that kill bunnies.

Continue reading Mary Beth Crain's Confessions of a Serial Killer's Mother.

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

June 7, 2008

Ed McMahon: TV Icon or Hardworking, Debt-Burdened American in Need of Your Prayers?

The big news of the hour, next to Barack and Hillary's secret summit and Hulk Hogan's dysfunctional family, is Ed McMahon's foreclosure. It seems the venerable TV icon, whose congenial face has been a fixture on everything from "The Tonight Show" and "Star Search" to the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol, is some $644,000 in arrears on his $4.8 million mortgage.

This has led to an outpouring of sympathy from the public. Many concerned fans want to donate to a fund to bail McMahon out. Has the time come for telethons to raise money for wiped-out celebs? To their credit, the McMahons say no way. They're not taking handouts. But they are appealing to the Almighty. Thursday evening, Pamela McMahon choked back tears on "Larry King Live" as she said, "I pray all the time. All the time." Of course, she's praying that God will let them keep their home. But what she should be praying for is the greatest gift of all--good old common sense. If she and Ed had had any to begin with, none of this would have happened.

When King politely asked the McMahons how somebody with so much money could get caught in the foreclosure trap, he got a vague answer. "If you spend more money than you make, you know what happens," McMahon said. "A couple of divorces thrown in, a few things like that." There was a list of other explanations too. McMahon broke his neck and hasn't been able to work for the last 18 months. The $7.2 million settlement he received from a lawsuit involving invasive mold in the house "didn't go far" after attorney's fees and reconstructions costs.

At one point in the interview, Pamela made an amazing observation. "We are in the same situation as hundreds of thousands of other hard-working Americans, and our hearts go out to them."

Whoa--back up a minute here. How many hard working Americans do you personally know who made, through the years, millions upon millions of bucks, bought a Beverly Hills mansion, and are now trying to unload it at the bargain price of $6.25 million?

But heck, foreclosure can happen to anybody, right? "Over the years, it's a combination of maybe Ed working so hard and not looking at proper management," Pamela admitted. "We didn't keep our eye on the ball. We made mistakes."

I'll say. And the biggest mistake---which no one has mentioned in all of the coverage of the McMahon Meltdown--was buying a multi-million dollar home you couldn't afford in the first place. Excuse me, home? Let's rephrase that. The McMahons do not live in a home. They live in an estate. That's substantially different from most of the one million other Americans currently facing foreclosure. The vast majority of their homes are valued in the $100 to $500,000 range. Their foreclosures were, by and large, not a result of mismanagement, but a result of insidious sub prime lending tactics, the plummeting economy, and other factors above and beyond their control. While the McMahons attribute their misfortune to the "perfect storm" of bad health, bad economy and bad neighbors--the girl next door happens to be none other than Britney Spears, who attracts swarms of paparazzi that are driving away potential buyers--bad judgment seems to be the primary reason things went wrong.

First of all, who the hell makes mortgage payments on a $5 million home?  Don't most people in that rarified market just plunk down cash? Secondly, who the hell buys a 7,000 sq. ft. BH estate on a payment plan when they're past retirement age? McMahon was 67 when he bought the property in 1990. That's the age at which most people have their homes paid for and start to downsize. And third, whaddya mean, Ed's in foreclosure because he hasn't been able to work for the last 18 months? What 85-year-old is still dependent upon his job in order to make his house payments?

Let me make something clear. I don't wish the McMahons ill. They're undoubtedly good people, and foreclosure is no fun, no matter how rich you are, or were. All I'm asking for is a little perspective. As uncomfortable as this situation is for them, they still aren't standing shoulder to shoulder with most of their fellow Americans in the same boat--except for Evander Holyfield, whose 54,000 sq. ft. palace also happens to be in foreclosure. But we don't even want to go there.

--Mary Beth Crain

Posted By John D. Spalding | Email

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