Fringe Gone Crazy
Warning, contains language, graphic depictions and tautological syllogism
In our neck of the woods the snow come so fast and thick that
a slow dog would suffocate. The Fringe fought snow and froze toes and fretted about winter, still a month off. The labors of fall, and night tremors over problems that might be minor compared to plague but still have left the Fringe dour and dull.
We know this because the other day someone said, “hey, your writing is becoming dour and dull. If that’s what I wanted I’d read the other papers in the county.” That hit me like a boot point at the end of my zipper (much respect to my colleagues in local media, of course).
But, I knew this was true, and worse, the last two editions were so thin your finger poked through.
It’s no good complaining that there isn’t much news, or that the county is in hibernation until the Chili Cook Off in February. A good newsperson doesn’t need news. They can take rumor and half heard conversations and by sprinkling in the words “allegedly” and “reportedly” spin a story of gossamer that will stick in the reader’s mind long after truth has been forgotten. I can do that, somewhere I have a business card that says “call us with the news so we don’t have to prevaricate.” I'm just not in the mood for poetry.
We could, of course, do stories about our cousins having hard times and heartache. That isn’t news for two reasons.
First, because it isn’t news. Misfortune and public bad judgment are not new, they are as common and predictable as yellow leaves in Fall and colorful butts on bicycles in Spring. Life is a walk in a dangerous wood, it’s easy to slip from the path or take a wrong turn.
Then, what is the point in reporting a story about the misfortune of our cousins? “Don’t drink and drive”? “Don’t be careless with guns”? “It sucks to be you”?
The last is the least objectionable, at least it’s simply schadenfreude . The others imply there is a moral to the misery of our lives, that we made stupid mistakes.
But in truth stupid mistakes come from days and weeks and months and sometimes years of cuts and jabs and scratches and rips until stupid mistakes seem no more damaging than intelligent, well meaning mistakes, and they’re easier to make.
Besides, no one lives in the world alone, we are all created by the people around us; even those who are isolated are isolated by the way other people treat them.
The moral questions also imply we can learn something from the lives of others. But, probably, we can’t. Probably we each have our own lives, our own epic walk through a savage wilderness.
Most likely the only things we can learn are very general and self-evident: Wear your seatbelt. Don’t smoke tobacco, unless you’re sure it’s a trade you want to make. Don’t get too high or high too often on whatever you use. Get some heart pounding exercise every day. Eat something that makes you crap once in a while. Care for your junk, polish it lovingly or have someone polish it for you. Very important, be honest with your self and the other people who love you. Finally, God, or Chance, or Complex Self-Organization or whatever you credit with authorship of the world is too big. You can’t figure it out and you can’t second-guess it and you can name it but your names don’t pin it down.
That’s eight lessons, if there’d been ten I’d have bulleted them.
Anyway, that’s why we generally don’t report personal misery as news, even though most media make money from stuff you can’t look away from, like car wrecks and neighbors with hostages and little kids in terrifying circumstances.
What does the Prospect make money from? Bitching about the government. That’s become the only useful purpose of government, it gives us things to be incredulous and angry over. At the state and national levels the only thing that keeps voters going to the polls is the terror that the impotent dipwads now in power will be replaced by malevolent neo-fascists. All of this is the product of an electorate that seems bent on proving that democracy simply can’t work.
It can work, if you inform yourself; vote with your brain instead of your wallet or the fear in your gut; and then hold your representatives accountable not by casting an angry vote against them years down the road, but by talking about them and bitching to them and becoming a headache to the local paper with your letters to the editor, and keep bitching until you look like a crank, a crackpot, or fringe.
That’s three things, they could have been bulleted:
- Inform yourself about the issues and social underpinnings
- Vote from a critical perspective, being pragmatic instead of emotional, taking into account what the unintended consequences might likely be
- Follow up on your candidate with feedback and public discussion until you seem like a nutcase
Meh, not the same.
Local government: what the hell? The California Constitution actually empowers counties, even though it seems like we’re the bitches of Sultan Sacramento. We have broad powers to pass local taxes. Our local representatives have to be bold. The current economic situation isn’t going to get “over”. It will get better, but it isn’t ever going to be like it was in the glory days of the 1970s, and probably not even as rich as the cheap ice cream days of the 80s. Local politicos can’t stand around waiting for the state to nipple up like a little kid waitin’ for mama. Your mama can’t help you! She’s fixin’ to go to rehab! You boys and girls got to do for your selves.
Man, it's great when it works. It's also sweet when babies do it.
From Little Baby Guide
Our elected officials have the responsibility of looking for a realistic future. It’s great to be nice to old people, but honey, they aren’t where the future lies, unless you’re a care home provider or a mortician. Kids, families, that’s what matters. Figure the past ain’t coming back, you have to provide for the reality that comes next. Shipping everyone out of the county to work or go to school someplace else simply doesn’t count as keeping the future alive.
Interesting story: when Rome fell and the Romans went home, many places in Europe simply waited for them to come back. They maintained things as best they could, always looking for Rome to return. As blood-thirsty a mama as Rome was, it brought order to a people who could no longer live without it. That period in history between the time the blood-thirsty mama went to rehab and the time when people fully got over it and moved on is known as “The Dark Ages”. There, there’s ya some news of someone else’s misery maybe you can learn from.
Well, it’s time to check antifreeze in everything that still runs. I have enough equipment that’s been converted to rat habitat, I don’t want to bust a block. It might be rusty but it’s still trusty. My equipment, you see.
Bring in your brass monkeys!