Long before he finally won the Emmy for best comedy actor last year or before 30 Rock was nominated for a record 22 Emmys this year or he became the Huffington poster child, I had a little thing for the bad boy of American television. Probably not wise for a man of my station in life to admit publicly but it's unfortunately true. I just can't help myself.
A dirty little secret: I have a copy of Mr. Baldwin's book about fatherhood, A Promise to Ourselves, and it's inscribed: "Tom, keep fighting. Alec." I first admitted my man-crush as part of The Good Men Project, something of an oxymoron, my love for Alec and for a foundation whose mission is to spark a national discussion on what it means to be a good man, but that's only if you take an simplistic view of manhood.
It may be politically incorrect to admit that the plump star is my higher power, but ever since he appeared on a SNL cooking show skit talking about holiday balls and using a string of adjectives that started with sugary and sweet and ended with "schweddy," I have been in love. I know he's had his struggles. So have I. I know he was taped saying nasty things on his adolescent daughter's voicemail, but what father of an adolescent girl hasn't spoken sharply to her once in a while harboring homicidal thoughts?
The May issue of The Atlantic features a story about my man and his book. The story's author, Caitlin Flanagan, suggests that A Promise to Ourselves is really a love letter to Baldwin's daughter. I may be in the minority, but I agree with this view, however convoluted the man may be.
Alec is the poster boy for our humanity as men, guys struggling--despite our many problems--to do the right thing. He wrote the book ostensibly to help other guys navigate family court, where, as fathers, we get screwed. He isn't anti-women (just anti-that-one-movie-star-woman); he's pro-guy. He describes the lengths to which he has had to go to protect his relationship with his daughter, including facing his own many shortcomings. What father, married or divorced, can't relate to that? As a divorced and remarried father with three kids spread across two moms I sure can.
Then there's the matter of his cranky approach to fame. He is both amazingly arrogant and self-hating at the same time. He dislikes the people he works for ("network scumbags who are always trying to fuck me") while openly admitting his own inadequacy ("I really don't have a talent for movie acting"). Whether you are a rocket scientist or collect garbage for a living, can't you relate to the instinct to point fingers as a way of breaking the boredom of self doubt?
One gets the sense that like most of us Alec is hardest on himself.
There has been much written about my hero, but my favorite profile of my Alec (actually my favorite profile, period) is the New Yorker's "Why Me? Alec Baldwin's disappointment, undimmed by success," by Ian Parker.
Read it, love it, and learn from it. Alec is the man. Okay, he's a guy just trying to get by, just like me and you.
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