At a time when it’s cool to blame victims and defend victimizers, Bill Cosby has played masterfully to the new sensibility. A year ago it would have sounded ridiculous if the comedian proposed hosting town meetings on how to avoid rape charges in response to a mistrial in his sexual assault case. Never mind that there are at least 60 other women who have accused him of more or less the same thing.
Yet these days the strategy makes perfect sense. Blatant hypocrisy isn’t just acceptable. It’s a statement of defiance and personal indomitability. I contradict myself, therefore I am.
To experience our changing national mores firsthand, all you need to do is attend one or more of these celebrity appearances in Central New York this summer:
Tom Cruise. June 30, 6 a.m. Palace Theatre. “How to Identify, Defy and Defeat Groupthink”
The Hollywood megastar and Church of Scientology poster boy returns to his native Syracuse for a one-day engagement. In a 14-hour lecture, Tom will focus on the importance of a strong sense of self and being skeptical of all authority as protection against insidious forms of mass manipulation. Admission: $1,500 (cash only). All attendees must sign mandatory non-disclosure form.
Tiger Woods. July 1, 3 a.m. Carrier Circle. Defensive Driving Course
Leave the golf clubs at home, and bring your crash helmet as Tiger reviews basic motor safety tips. That stubby red thing on the side of the road? That’s a fire hydrant. And that raised edge that forms the border between the sidewalk and the road? That’s called a “curb.” Stay off it. Tiger will discuss these and other hazards of the road, including improper tire inflation, substance abuse and driver fatigue. “Never hesitate to take a nap in your car if you feel groggy,” Tiger advises. “For added safety, come to a complete stop first.” Admission: $1
Sergey Kislyak. July 4, 5 p.m.
Lakeview Amphitheater. Independence Day Concert
The outgoing Russian ambassador to the United Stated will lead a Fourth of July Songfest featuring such patriotic classics as “Russkie March,” “The Volga Boatman” and Mikhail Glinka’s “Finale From Life for the Tsar.” An all-American barbecue of sorrel soup, dressed herring and fried pancake topped with cottage cheese will follow.
Jim Boeheim. July 19, 10 a.m. Varsity Pizza. “Ten Keys to a Smothering Man-to-Man Defense”
No basketball coach in history better understands the nuances of man-to-man defense than Jim Boeheim. The Hall of Fame-bound legend shares his secrets in a 90-second seminar. Admission: $200.
Paul Morgan. Aug. 6, 1 p.m. Yellow Brick Road Casino. “You, Too, Can Lead a Successful Nonprofit Organization!”
In a webinar from state prison, the former executive director of the SPCA will review basic accounting rules, organizational transparency and the importance of having a diverse, engaged board of directors to ensure the best possible outcomes for your nonprofit.
Bill O’Reilly. Aug. 8, 11 a.m. Adult World. “How to Respect the Broads in the Workplace”
The former host of The O’Reilly Factor has long advocated zero tolerance for workplace sexual harassment. He’ll be at Adult World on Erie Boulevard discussing ways to stop abuse before it starts and signing copies of his new book, Shattering the Crass Ceiling, co-authored with Kim Kardashian. Admission: Two-lap-dance minimum.
Michael Flynn. Aug. 16, 8 p.m. American Legion, Manlius. “Cold War II: Standing Up to the New Russian Bully”
The Russian bear has awakened again. How should the West respond? Retired national security adviser and patriotic “good guy” Michael Flynn argues that if the Kremlin isn’t made to pay for its aggressions, we risk a wider conflict with the resurgent superpower. Admission: 500 Turkish lira.
Steve Maksin. Aug. 22, 7 p.m. DeWitt Community Library. “An American Success Story: How I Re-Vitalized Shoppingtown”
Ten years ago, few would have foreseen the struggling Shoppingtown mall as a nationally acclaimed center for self-actualization through meditation, contemplation and solitude. Maksin, CEO of Moonbeam Capitol Inc., owner of Shoppingtown, will discuss how he worked his magic, and what it means for global retail. Admission is free. Robe and sandals available for rent.
Congressman Greg Gianforte. Aug. 14, 9 a.m. Baltimore Woods Nature Center. “Zen and the Art of Anger Management”
When a reporter had the audacity to ask him a question about pending health care legislation, Gianforte, at the time a Montana candidate for Congress, could have shot his harasser on the spot. Instead, Gianforte summoned remarkable self-control and merely choke-slammed the journalist. Gianforte will share secrets for staying centered when the heat is on. Admission: $100 to his re-election fund. There most definitely will NOT be a question-and-answer period after.
Stephanie Miner and John Katko. Originally scheduled for Aug. 26, 7 p.m. Clinton Square. “Ballroom Dance for Beginners”
This class has been postponed until further notice.