I didn’t watch this episode until Tuesday and now I’m sorry I watched it at all. Given the title, I expected more drunken antics from the magnificent six, seven if you want to count Mom Babs. There was drinking and lap dances, which have become a couple of the main themes for this program. Ashlee went on a shopping trip, calling Daddy Hal to pick up the tab for $5,800 worth of shoes. Those of us who suffered through this show were witnesses to an attempt at an intervention for Erica’s excessive drinking run by Casey and Chanel, which looked more like Romy and Michelle in a scene from “Clueless” – Bravolebrity Rehab.
None of this really bothered me, just more of the same, and I thought I was going to do a recap in which I could just poke fun at the girls who do nothing. Then there was a scene where Amanda went off to do a photo shoot for her beverage holders, the Drink Hanky, something she designed because Heaven knows what the world needs is another koozie – in a material and color of your choice. Amanda, a friend/model and a ridiculous photographer chose a street in Great Neck, Long Island where some construction workers and a statue became props in the photographs. It was at that point where I stopped the DVR and rewound to make sure that I had really seen things right.
The statue is a memorial to New York Firefighter Jonathan Ielpi who had perished on 9/11. Amanda and her friend didn’t just pose for picture with the statue. Oh no, they posed while kissing the carved image of the firefighter and pretending that he was drinking from a bottle of beer covered in one of those stupid hankies. The moronic trio giggled their way through the pictures, encouraging each other’s outrageous behavior.
After watching the episode, I noticed that Amanda Bertoncini had taken to social media to issue what was supposed to be an apology and an explanation for this blatant and unforgivable act of insensitivity. This is what she had to say:
“I would like to take this time and apologize to the community of Great Neck and fellow Long Islanders, as well as anyone who was affected by 9/11. I would especially like to extend my sincere apologies to the family of Jonathan Ielpi… I never meant to hurt/ offend anyone when I was doing my photo shoot for The Drink Hanky. I hope you all can find it in your hearts to forgive me and understand that it was a spontaneous photo shoot without being aware that that statue was of sentimental value.”
Are you buying it? His family certainly isn’t and they’ve expressed their outrage and dismay in no uncertain terms. I can understand how offended they must be and this is why. It doesn’t matter whether you didn’t mean to hurt or offend anyone, especially the Ielpi family. Human kindness and common sense should dictate that you just don’t do things like this. This is a statue of a firefighter and memorials such as this one are off-limits for the type of self-promotion and disrespect that it received. The fact that it’s dedicated to and bears the likeness of one of New York’s Bravest who died during one of the most horrific events in the history of our country only compounds the hurt inflicted. She claims that she was unaware of the meaning of the statue and its’ “sentimental value” – an unfortunate choice of words in my opinion. Can anyone really be that ignorant? Apparently so.
Now, I’m not going to place the onus for this fiasco entirely on Amanda. Bravo and their production team had to know that this was no ordinary statue. We’ve seen Bravo portray their cast members as awful people in staged and equally awful situations, and most of the time we don’t care. They signed on for the gig, and for whatever ridicule they sow, they also reap the resulting commentary – good and bad. They can damage their own reputations, look like complete fools and ruin their own families. It’s part of the cost of the fame they chased. What Bravo and the cast members don’t get to do is to sully the name or legacy of anyone else for the sake of their programming. They certainly chose the wrong storyline and the wrong subject matter this time. I really wonder what’s next – Bravo sends the girls to Washington D.C. and they do lap dances at the Lincoln Memorial?
Bravo offered their own half-baked apology:
“We are extremely sorry for any distress we caused the family of Jonathan Ielpi. Bravo has removed the footage from any future airings.”
Hardly enough. Perhaps, if Bravo and the Hanky Napkin queen really want to begin making amends, they could start by making some donations to the families of fallen firefighters. Nineteen good and brave men died fighting the wildfires in Arizona this week. This episode of Princesses looks all the more pathetic in the face of this tragedy.
I thought that I’d add the biography of Jonathan Ielpi so that we could appreciate the work he did, the family who loved him and what all of us lost. He and his brother firefighters deserve our respect and gratitude, even if Bravo and Ms. Bertoncini can’t grasp that very simple notion.
About Jonathan Ielpi
Jonathan Lee Ielpi, 29, of Great Neck, was a New York City firefighter assigned to Squad 288 in Maspeth, Queens. He phoned his parents to let them know that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. “Jon, please be careful,” his father told him. His body was recovered in the stairwell of the south tower on Dec. 11, 2001.
Jonathan Ielpi’s youngest son, Austin, was just 3 years old when his father was killed.
Through stories he heard about his father over the years, Austin has begun to know the man who gave him life, said Ielpi’s mother, Anne Ielpi of Great Neck. “We’d go through a scrap book and he’d ask what was he like at 5, at 7, and at my age,” she said.
Austin is now 13 and living with his mother, Yesenia Ielpi Major, and brother, Andrew, now 19, in Putney, Vt. The family moved there in 2002 and his mother later remarried. She and her new husband have a 4-year-old daughter.
Anne Ielpi and her husband, Lee Ielpi, a retired FDNY firefighter and co-founder of the Tribute WTC Visitor Center, used to sit with Austin and talk to him about his father. Now, they chat on the phone.
Jonathan Ielpi loved to fish. He loved to hunt. His dream was to purchase a tract of land so he could go hunting, his mother said. And, most of all, he loved the FDNY.
These days, Ielpi’s parents, his three siblings and their children, continue to go camping, something they did since he was a child. His mother goes to his favorite spot at Mongaup Pond in Sullivan County and watches the bald eagles. She returned to the campground for the first time a few years after 9/11.
“I was down by the beach. I said, ‘If you’re really here with us, you have to show me,’ ” his mother recalled. “A few minutes later an eagle flew down, right in front of me. That’s my way of knowing that he’s here with us.”
Thank you Jonathan.
As for Bravo and Amanda, well, shame on you.