Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun With the New York Times.

Normally I don't read newspapers. I pick up a crossword puzzle from time to time, but I don't read any of the articles because they disturb me; I don't like feeling disturbed. I realize this is a ridiculous way to go through adult life, but seriously, one more story from the Star Tribune's Metro/State section would have literally pushed me over the edge. I cannot know about these things (child abuse, sexual child abuse, severe beatings of toddlers, drunk driving accidents killing toddlers, child pornography rings, etc.) I just refuse.

So I made the mistake of picking up a Sunday Times last night at work as I was carrying some of them to be recycled, thinking, hey, why not just see what's going on in the world? I hesitated but then I rationalized: It can't be that terrible, and I'm sure all the articles will be eloquently written and dripping with intellect, being ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT and everything.

Yeah.

First story, cover story, shanties in Haiti, families living in tents in the middle of the streets where occasionally motorists just plow into them and kill them. No one cares about this, no one there, no one here. And if Americans do care about it, what can they do? Not a damned thing. The page 10 continuation of this story was really special, too. We get a photo of a grandmother bathing her granddaughter in dirty (probably diseased) water SIDE BY SIDE with a resort ad, enticing us all to get away to Los Cabos, Mexico, or Paradise Island, Bahamas ($200 in resort credits! Two $50 Spa Certificates! Two Rounds of Golf for the price of one!)

Great placement. I was very strongly reminded of the 93X banter the day Paul Wellstone was killed: "And very sad news here, just now, we've gotten confirmation that the plane that crashed over Evelyth was indeed carrying Senator Paul Wellstone and his family; just a terrible tragedy. Yeah. But COMING UP NEXT ON 93X, WE'VE GOT YOUR MARILYN MANSON TICKETS THIS WEEKEND. . ."

I don't like it. The ad on the next page was for platinum coverage for one's Jaguar. I mean, I'm not a communist or anything, but really? Come on.

Is this high intellect? Because it's shockingly low in sensitivity, which shouldn't surprise me really, because it seems that most highly celebrated intellectuals seem to be low in the emotional awareness department. I grabbed the book review next, thinking it was guaranteed to be a safe choice. . . Not one bit, actually. I started reading one review and remembered why I quit reading it years ago, despite how much I love books (talking about books, properties of books). These people, the people who write reviews for the New York Times book section are not nice, usually. Even if they write a positive review of something, they still end up describing it as though they hate it, hate life, and hate the very essence of creativity. They can't say one positive thing without dogging fifty other things first, in words or literary references. God forbid anyone just say what they fucking MEAN. I get annoyed by this and I get scared by it. I envision what some reviewer would say about my stuff. . . and I end up doing something drastic in response, like selling all my writing books or consider becoming a health professional.

But now that I'm (much) older, I can at least be honest and realistic about what it is that I'm trying to do, and how much or how little I care about what others think of it. I write my shit because I want to, and honestly, I write it for myself. If I ever became even a tiny bit like any of the writers for this newspaper, I would know that I've completely abandoned everything meaningful and everything I've ever held sacred in my life. The poor mama's boy who didn't get enough out of his daughter's birth experience because his wife delivered herself in the family bathroom? Gross. Alterna-dad, taking off when his son was an infant because he needed to tour with some ridiculous fake band he was in? Grosser. Countless women, professionals who obviously hate their children and can find REAMS of pages to describe how trapped and burdened they feel by motherhood? Grossest. I don't care how brilliant you are, if I can't sense at least a little humanity inside you, I don't want to know you or what you do.

I tried hard to find humanity in the New York Times, but I don't think there was any.

*And to Will whats-your-tree who did the first book review: do not insult LOST fans, it was NOT a botched rune of a show. I hate you.

Yes, this was completely reactionary and personal. And I won't make this mistake again.

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