Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Rare Celebrity Freakout Moment: Preet Bharara

I'm generally nonplussed about pop culture celebrities, I really don't care. I saw plenty in Paris, particularly during Fashion Week, and a few days ago, I saw Kate Hudson and Katie Holmes in Tribeca.  Didn't faze me one bit even though I like their movies. **Disclosure: now I remember that in grad school, I once saw Clint Eastwood in his car at a stop-light.  I rolled down my window, pressed my horn and yelled, I love Million Dollar Baby!!  He looked over at me and waved his hand and drove off...very fast.**

But there are some people who if I were to see them in the streets, I would run towards them screaming like a crazed Elvis fan, hysterically pulling my hair.  They are generally male, cerebrally brilliant & the king of whatever realm in which their brilliance is known.  One of them is this man, who I saw yesterday walking towards the courthouse for the Southern District of New York (near where I live):

The genius regulator of the most powerful federal district in the United States:  Preet Bharara.
Isn't he gorgeous???  Could he be any more handsome?? Just looking at this photo and remembering my sighting of him makes my heart beat out of my body like in the cartoons.  

I've seen him before in person in the courtroom.  I was an extern to Judge Denny Chin of the Southern District of New York during law school (Judge Chin is now on the Second Circuit, nominated by Obama).  Once when I was in Judge Chin's courtroom, Preet Bharara came in to argue against a motion brought by a group of Asian gang members accused of conspiracy to commit numerous serious crimes including murder, extortion and witness tampering.  Preet came into the glossy courtroom - you can be sure that the courtrooms in the Southern District NY are plush and...expensive...reflecting all the prestige of the district - and even though at that time he was an Assistant United States Attorney, he stood out from all the rest.  

He has presence.  He has charisma.  He was extremely well-prepared and did not refer to his notes even once.  He exudes quiet authority and confidence, and speaks very softly and naturally in court; he's the type where you know the softer he speaks, the more angry and dangerous he is (I've learnt after years at law firms that nobody respects or is scared of screamers and blowhards).  Even back then, Judge Chin had ENORMOUS respect for him.  Preet Bharara is so sexy!!! Yes, I have such a mad crush on him!!

What is there not to love?  Harvard undergrad, Columbia Law School, Columbia Law Review, nominated as the United States Attorney to the most prestigious federal district in the country by Obama and since then, on a crusade to fearlessly prosecute Wall Street thugs in complex financial cases (he's often dubbed the "Enforcer of Wall Street") and corrupt Senators.  Preet Bharara is one of the most highest-profile US Attorneys and arguably one of the most powerful.  See this article he wrote on why it's so important to visibly enforce ethical boundaries on corporate actors - it has a deterrent effect on the rest of the demographic (a demographic that is, to a certain extent, risk averse) and it creates and reinforces public confidence in our markets.  He could easily be making millions in the private sector and yet he has dedicated his life to public service.  

Financial Genius + Incredible Ethics + Batman = Preet.
And then his private life.  Bharara has often noted that he loves his family's diversity:    Bharara's parents are Sikh and Hindu, his wife's parents are Muslim and Jewish.  Can this guy be any more wonderful??  Can I please marry someone as diverse and brilliant as he is so we can all be photographed in our diversity and everyone will love us too??! 

As soon as I saw him from my spot at Starbucks, I grabbed my friend and screamed said:

me:   Do you know who that is? oh my gosh oh my gosh oh my gosh it's Preet Bharara!!  
her:  Who's that?
me:  Umm, hellooo, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he's one of the most powerful men in the city!  Quick, let's follow him.  
her: I don't like this.  You've got crazy eyes. 

I drag her outside, my Starbucks coffee sloshing dangerously and already spilling over my hands...I am in a Preet Bharara trance and oblivious:

me:  okay, work with me here...do you think it would be okay if I told him he's perfect and asked him to sign my face with this sharpie?  Would he be flattered or scared if I jumped on his back?
her:  I'm going to do you a huge favor and hold you back.  

She makes me stop, I momentarily fight her.  Then rationality steps in.  I shake my head and I come out of my Preet Bharara daze.  We stop following him and head to Chipotle.  

And that, my friends, was my first ever celebrity freakout moment. 

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