Scotto's Hard-Knock Life?

On the Scott Brown - Elizabeth Warren dust-up, I'll point you to Glen Johnson's take over at the little paper/web site across town; I pretty much agree with what he says there.

I do want to add the context of Scotto's story. I'm not trying to make much of this, but think it's worth noting in line with Johnson's thoughts about the apparent attempt to play hard-knock Brown vs. Harvard elitist Warren.

Contrary to what some are assuming, Brown was not at Tufts University when he posed for Cosmopolitan. (BTW, I worked at campus dining services to help pay my way through Tufts!) As he relates it in his memoir, Against All Odds, he entered the Cosmo contest after graduating, when he had begun law school at Boston College in 1981-'82.

I had joined ROTC and spent part of my summer training and catching up on my classes, as well as painting houses and doing whatever I could to make some extra money. Boston College Law School started in the fall. I took my first-year courses at BC and first thing in the mornings headed to Northeastern University for ROTC courses... I got up at 5:30 a.m. and went to Northeastern, several miles away, to train from 6 to 9 a.m., then headed back to law school, and studied at night. And I was dating Ruth. For the first time, my life was balanced. Every piece of the puzzle fit. It was like that perfect stillness, that calm, bright blue sky that surfaces after a raging thunderstorm. And then there came a magazine.

In other words, his "hard-knock life" -- compellingly related in earlier chapters -- was behind him; as he tells it, his sister essentially talked him into entering the Cosmo contest, which offered a $1000 prize.

What happens next is fascinating, and in my opinion not a reason to think badly of him, but it sure ain't "hard knock." He gets picked as the Cosmo winner in April 1982, poses, and becomes an instant top model and a celebrity reveling in early-'80s New York night life: ushered past long lines into trendy clubs; teased by Calvin Klein at Studio 54; watching Rick James snorting cocaine. He takes a reprieve from the National Guard and a leave of absence from BC Law School (taking classes at Cardazo in NYC). Ruth, neglected back in Boston, leaves him.

By "right around the start of 1983" Brown has a $20,000 contract with Jordache, and is living in a hotel suite at 58th and Park. He is taking acting lessons and running around "so that I could be seen at the same clubs as Christie Brinkley and Linda Evangelista." He is on the verge of being tossed out of the National Guard and BC Law School.

He ends up pulling himself together and returning to both. But there was no "hard-knock life" from that point; he continued to make money modeling, drove "a nice car, a gold Dodge Daytona," and had money for Jamaica vacations and regular weekend flights to Montreal, where his girlfriend lived. In Spring 1985 he meets the fabulous Gail Huff (at the Paradise!) and a year later the supercouple are wed, Huff is working at WLNE Providence, they own a home in Wrentham, and it's happily ever after.

Personally, I don't begrudge Brown any of this -- frankly, I'd say he handled all of it a helluva lot better than I would have. Good for him.

But to me at least, it's an awful big stretch to suggest that Brown's nude modeling stint is the tale of an underprivileged guy scraping to get through college. It was a guy doing fine, who hit the jackpot. And as Johnson suggests, the comparison with Warren's history is unlikely to yield much political gold for Scotto.

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