The Unswung Bat

Thursday, November 02, 2006
Stuck on a Bus
Always look on the bright side

Concentrate and focus power. I won't be revising like my normal writing. Stet.

There aren't too many things I often refuse outright to do. I think such things fall into general categories of being evil or stupid, gross, or sucking away too much of my will to live. Beyond those, I'm game. I once fought a rocket dune sled duel. I bet a man I could talk him into eating his own beard (and won). I spent a week in a nest of Malagasy Inferno Beetles and installed myself as their king. Shortly afterwards I conquered Madagascar.

If you were unaware of these accomplishments, you, like me, refuse to follow the news. I swore it off after the—I believe the technical term is clusterfuck—of media abuse that followed Sept. 11 (might've been, Sept. 11, depending on who you are). On tv, on paper, news pisses me off and is spotty with lies and meaningless shiny objects, and those that aren't are just shoddy. OK, that isn't entirely true, except for CNN and FOX.

Maybe not that much happens in the world. I understand there's pressure to pad the nightly news out to 22 minutes, and the newspapers need a certain heft to be considered papers of record, but 90 per cent of it is buzz. I've just discovered the word "islamic" had a meaning before 9/11, only it was a cultural word, as in "the Barnes collection contains many examples of early islamic art," instead of a political euphemism for "evil, murderous, and ingn'nt." I fume.

Why I hate the news: Even without the buzz of Islamic and minorities and settlement and military action and election year and lame-duck and insurgent and unemployment and equality and Western and terrorists and security and consensus and roadmaps and victims and losses and international outcry . . . without power words, it's still a situation I wish to god I could ignore, because if I pay attention to it, it wraps around my head and closes off my senses and mouth.

You heard me, the news is a situation of its own, that gets in the way.

Notwithstanding, I do work for a newspaper, and plan to continue pulling such crazy stunts. I am a hypocrite with a heart of some sort of electroconductive metal. I also exaggerate a little. I skim newspapers as much as any regular person. But I don't dig, or follow stories. Because when there isn't misrepresentation and other lousy reporting to get angry about, there's the news itself. I get tired, dear. So tired I don't even bother articulating it. I drop it and as it falls, it is.

I get almost everything by word of mouth, and I know smart people, so word of mouth is good. Good enough. As long as I don't think about it. God damn it.

In fact, goddammit to Milton's favorite hell, now I have to really try. Why? Two things settin' me off, both of them near the top of my list of situations to make people sad and furious. Bastards making me read the news.

There's France, and there's Israel, or rather the (pretty much) entire Middle East, with Israel as the sand at the core of this pearl of madness. I'd love to ignore both of those problems to death, but that tack has never worked, except for my mom, who let our pet hermit crab bake in the sun while we were at school.

You know what's really fabulous about these stories? They're the same story, and both countries at their centre pretend the problem doesn't exist. Well, Israel is complicated and quietly disenfranchises Palestinians. France is much, much stupider. In égalité-flaky France, minorities don't legally exist. This means that the (rampant) discrimination and targetting of one minor segment of a (legally) homogenous population doesn't exist, either. Some people have jobs, good apartments, and don't get yelled at, others not so much—who knows why?

If you accept this premise, there can be no explanation for the riots of a year ago (which explains why their cause was never officially investigated), whose resurrgence on their anniversary has given 26 year-old woman taking the bus to school horrific gasoline burns over 70 per cent of her body. Why am I linking to that story and not the hideous swarm of one from the other place? Your brain shuts down.

Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here.

I am going blind. I can't tell what's inside the lines and what's out. Aphasia is setting in.

And motherfuckers are making me read deep into the news. What is there to even say about Israel? More than anything I can think of, I think that question is what there is to say. At least of France I can say "France, people of my people, you are so retarded I want to put you in a special school and give you plastic sporks at lunch so you can't fight."

But . . . Should Israel be "wiped off the map?" Hell no. Should it be a country? Hell, maybe. Should Israeli jews be tacitly supported in setting up caravan towns infringing on privately-owned land outside Israel's borders, because, like, God promised them land around there? How many things are wrong with that question? Would these problems exist if there was much consensus on social justice there? If yes to that last, the world is a terrible place and we should all be looking for escape hatches. I'm just banging on the walls.

In Romania I got trapped on a bus, too. It was incredibly crowded. There were two vertical layers of people, and it was not a double-decker bus. Folk perched on the backs of seats, stood on tiptoes against the rear window, were held against the walls without their feet even touching the floor. I was impressed, but I could deal. I even got to the front door of the bus in time to get off at my stop—go me. But when the door of a Bucuresti bus opens, it swings back and inward, sweeping away the feet of anyone standing in front of it and pinning them hard against the wall of the bus, while simultaneously tripping them. Every Romanian takes this for granted. I am not Romanian, as a bruised calf and torn pair of jeans can attest.

I've been compiling that list for 5 hours now, reading and adding and digging for more. It was real easy. I finally had to stop because I'd run out of spare time, and only then did I count up what I thought was a woefully small list, and found it was 55 items long. Those 55 "here's" there? I'm sure I could do one just for Hizbollah, one for Hamas—I'd have to watch out not to put too many Haaretz articles in—I could leave the IDF out of it and just do the Israeli government, private organizations, or settlers.

And you know what this means? If I'm going to be paying attention to that, I have to pay attention to both of my own idiot governments, both of them doing bad things. I have to look at goddamned Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan and, acknowledging a vested interest in it, follow the Maher Arar case! To say nothing of native Canadian land fights! FUCK!

I'm not allowed to put Darfur out of my mind, either. Hell, I've had "We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families" since grade 12, and now I'll have to get more. of. the same. And apparently the Mexican army is shooting at university students in Oaxaca, though no one is giving straight news on that, least of all the Independent Media Center whose news service seem to mark each of their own journalists' murders by giving some chickenshit call to "bring the revolution." Never work for them.

I'm reasonably certain I'll die before I'm quite ready to. And there's better shit I could be doing than thinking about all this. If human beings had a responsibility to use their brains and conscience, then wouldn't someone influential have said so at some point?

These are not pleasant or redeeming things. Motherfuckers making me read the news. When there's a hell of a good universe next door.

Darfur, for fuck's sake. All because something got its foot in the door.

Right now, a cloud in the sky looks exactly like vertebrae, 5 of them with spinous processes pointing at the ground, the lumbar spine of an invisible, supine body. What plane or breeze did that? Is it reaching to say it reminds me of strange fruit . . . in the sky . . . from airplanes? Is that cogent? Should I even be looking for cogence? Is there additional value in having a complete picture, or are 5 vertebrae enough?

More questions. Is "Knesset" as much of an obscenity, used in its modern context, as Hizbollah spelled with an automatic rifle in the name of god? H-z-b-gun-l-a-h. I have a problem with that. I have lots of problems with the name of Knesset, but does either of these even matter?

I gotta pick up a copy of Yalla, a student publication at U of T about Jewish and Muslim reactions to the hell in the Middle East. "Yalla" is one of my grampa's favorite words—in fact, I think it's taken hold all along my mom's side of the family, including me. Loosely translated, it means "get your ass in gear." I hope there's something in it about France, and something about newspapers, because they all have the same problem. Disenfrachnisement is the problem, and invisibility, and, I dunno, looking at five bones instead of a body, you know where I'm going with this. Are there excuses? Who the fuck do I think I am?

There's a burning bus. It's not God talking to us. Or it is. Or it's a sick joke. So is the fact that "liberal news-media" is an oxymoron. It should be redundant. What's the response? Is it black humor, "Mr. Gorbachev, shore up this wall."? This isn't the best I can do.

- - - -

If you're not itching to sign my guestbook, I will sneak through your window and sprinkle sand in your bedsheets. You'll know I was just there because of the warm ghost on your pillow. But don't use the old guestbook. It was getting spam of a kind so despicable I even did something about it. Use the new one: the Emergency Disaster Backup Gästbuch. It's efficiently German, and the closest thing to spam in it are my own comments. And Lucas, who's 80 per cent constituted of pork matter.

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