Too Pretty In the Daylight

Johnny’s gunning the engine.

Driving in this state is like riding in a miniature Day of the Dead parade. The highways, even my little country road, are littered with votivos, little crosses, usually white plastic, with gaily colored plastic flowers, commemorating the death in an automobile accident of this person or that person, usually Spanish-surnamed persons. Every onramp. Every offramp. Every mile. And you can’t look away, because you have to keep an eye out for dogs and coyotes and roadrunners, and animals you may die if you hit, like elk and cows. Driving as fast as I do requires a grim determination in the face of certain death, albeit someone else’s. I always found that a beer in the beverage holder helped steady my nerves. An alcohol-free beer isn’t quite the same, although it does have a certain totemic power. And I have less to worry about if I get pulled over for speeding. I hope, anyway. My worst case scenario is that a cop bags me for speeding while drinking a near beer and figures out what I’m doing, that it’s a replacement for the real beer I’ve been drinking all the times he didn’t pull me over, and makes an executive decision to punish me retroactively by blowing into the breathalyzer himself, which will probably render a pretty high reading. These are real concerns. It’s, uh, sobering.

I had to read that a few times because like most Americans born after 1949, when I read the words “coyotes and roadrunners” my brain says, “Meep! Meep!”

I mean this, thank you for putting my rants in your blog, it’s the treat of my day, I really enjoy reading them up on the screen like they’re real writing. I read in Slate or the Smoking Gun about that fool and his million pieces. Not having teevee I missed the whole controversy, but is anyone talking about the fact that the guy is a simply awful writer? This seems to have been skipped over, I assume on the assumption that you Americans wouldn’t know the difference. I’m surprised only because I’ve read some of those Oprah choices and they’re not bad, although they’re of course no Amateur Hour.* She should have known better, even though she’s black.

He’s teasing me, so don’t you go crazy. For one thing, though Johnny’s lived in Europe he’s from Boston, which has been an American city for a couple of centuries. I used to visit him. We were a two-person riot when he lived in the Fenway. He said we were the only two straight men in the whole neighborhood, which was mirth-inducing since from Johnny’s apartment I used to literally follow the trail of sausage and peppers to my car.

For another, he mentions Oprah’s complexion because it leads to a little ritual between us:

Tata: I love you! Shut up!
Johnny: For a polock, you’re only mildly stupid.
Tata: Zip it, Nancy.
Johnny: Hey dago, got any soap?
Tata: Hush, fool!
Johnny: What, are you going to call a dumb mick flatfoot?
Tata: Hear that? It’s the sound of your knuckles dragging.
Johnny: Okay, Princess.

When I first moved away from the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm), I was completely lost. Miss Sasha stayed where she was and went to the same schools, which was simply our best option. I didn’t know how to function as a single person. Many nights, I sat up with Johnny in Boston without any idea what we were doing or talking about. One night, I saw rage in his eyes.

Johnny: What’re you looking at?
Tata: I…don’t know.
Johnny: The answer is, “Nothing,” and you look away.
Tata: What do you mean? Why are you angry?
Johnny: When someone says, “What are you looking at?” the answer is “Nothing,” and you look away slowly.

This lesson, which I long resisted learning, has served me well for the most part. I had never had to fight my own battles before and I was lousy at it. It took me a long time to learn the difference between the words and what was being said. For instance, despite the thunk-on-the-noggin transparency of the above conversation, the feeling I walked away with was that Johnny was having mood swings – not that I was a little soft for real life.

At Shakespeare’s Sister, Toast posted Your Media: Objectively Pro-GOP and I agree with most of what Toast posted. Except there’s a problem with the basic assumption that the media works for the people and not corporate masters. The vast majority of journalists work for the interests of the people who pay them. Do not expect objectivity and certainly don’t assume it exists. No one should be surprised that we have a Fox News problem when we have a profit motive, Rupert Murdoch and a desire on the part of any mob to take up pitchforks and storm a castle.

It is important to watch the news – though not Fox News – and to listen carefully to what is not being said. Even more important: listen to what is moving in the background. Feel the presence and movement of money. Though I am a terrible judge of whom I should date, I have never believed a word George W. Bush said. If you can’t feel the presence and movement of money as a backdrop for everything he says you’re listening to the words.

Stop listening to his words, and stop expecting people who are paid to tell you your opinion to help you think for yourself. Toast:

I feel like the dude in They Live who puts on the specially-treated sunglasses and suddenly sees that aliens are walking among us. Creepy, malign, right-wing aliens, bereft of humanity and intent on world-wide domination. Any day now, I expect the Post to reveal their new masthead complete with the GOP elephant, the Times to disclose that it was acquired in 2001 by the American Enterprise Institute, and Chris Matthews to show up on the air doing shots of Dubya juice through which he will gargle the notes of “Hail To The Chief”.

I’d feel like Roddy Piper every day, except I hate plaid and I’m allergic to wool.

Get over your desire to have the media on your side. Unless you write the checks, you don’t own the message. And the media has every right to lie to you, distort facts and try to convince you to act against your own best interest. You have every right to dismiss reporters as charlatans, liars and idiots. Call them on their factual errors but don’t expect them to take your side, as Katie Couric’s flawed interview with Howard Dean this morning demonstrated. Separate the words from what is being said. Do not absorb the language your enemy has chosen to manipulate you.

Let’s try it again: What are you looking at?

*Johnny’s novel; in progress. I’m reading it, too.

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