Louise’s Beefs

Forget resolutions. The Countess sees the start of a new year as the perfect time to kvetch.


In these bleak times, we have to be positive. We have to believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel—and, no, it isn’t an oncoming train.

How do we get through the tunnel? Well, the way I’m doing it is by complaining about everything. You may say that isn’t being very positive, but I disagree. It makes me feel better, and what can be more positive than that?

So here we go again with the annual Gripe List of the Countess Louise J. Esterhazy. After all, I have a right to gripe—I have royal blood and an orchestra with my name on it, and I am a household name in Austria. But no one in the U.S. has ever heard of me, and that’s gripe No. 1. I’ve always adored being the center of attention, ever since my family spoiled their little liebchen rotten and let me sing “On the Good Ship Lolli­pop,” like Shirley Temple, for all our guests.

But what else do I have to complain about? Plenty! Here goes:

• Change, change, change. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to say bills, bills, bills—trillions of them?

• Why don’t all those bankers and auto company bosses be put to work as tellers or assembly line workers? Or, if they don’t like that idea, be sent to the farm in a horse and buggy, rather than by private jet, to learn about real life?

• The color red. Our new first lady loves it and so do I, but when she went to the White House to meet Laura Bush for the first time, it was too Campbell’s. Mix it up a bit.

• Speaking of Michelle Obama, American designers are desperate to dress her. Why can’t she wear foreign designers, too? Wouldn’t that be good for international relations? After all, Jacqueline Kennedy wore French ones. And besides, Hillary Clinton can defend the U.S. angle in her Oscar de la Renta pantsuits.

• Speaking of Hillary, aren’t we all tired of Bill? Wouldn’t it be interesting if our secretary of state designate had a real soft spot for our new president? Oh, I’d love that. Like a true gentleman, President-elect Barack Obama put his arm around Hillary when they left the room after he appointed her. A little tenderness goes a long way these days.

• The presidential strut. Is it a requirement of the office? Now Obama appears to be walking exactly like President Bush—like a puffed-up rooster. Just relax.

• Brian Williams of NBC. Can he please stop complimenting, in his gentlemanly way, every correspondent after they complete their reports by saying, “As always, thanks”? To me, he’s become Brian “As Always” Williams.

• Speaking of NBC, the stentorian tones of Tom Brokaw make me think of an all-American Boy Scout. Bring on David Gregory—fast—though when he shakes his hair, he looks like a sheepdog. And, really, is succession at Meet the Press that big of a deal? I like the program, but NBC and other media treated Gregory’s appoint­ment as if there were a new pope.

• PBS. Not because I don’t like it, but shame on it for not doing more promotion of the excellent news program Worldfocus with Martin Savidge.

• The self-importance of The New York Times. Rupert Murdoch’s campy headlines in the New York Post are more entertaining, while his Wall Street Journal looks better, reads better and is filled with more scoops. And do any of the ink-stained wretches read Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, which warns that newspapers will just fade away? Remember General MacArthur’s old saw about old soldiers.

• Hotels and the latest modern conveniences. I recently stayed at a luxury hotel and couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lights. Even worse, neither could the manager. The hotel also had a special menu just for dogs. I opened it and thought, I’d like to have this myself. But those pampering days are long gone in these times.

• Teenagers’ BlackBerrys should be impounded. It’s as if they don’t want to talk to their parents.

Of course, I could go on and on, but I wanted to leave some things for you, dear reader, to gripe about. And, to be honest, do I really have the right to complain? Do you? Oh, just grit your teeth and smile.