My friend goes back to work today.
Feel rather blank about that. She made this a happy holiday. I fell way behind in my self assigned chores but had nothing but memorable fun.
I think the dogs will miss her being about even more than I will.
Predicted horrid weather did not really materialize. No ice storm. So she’ll go in and I’ll take the dogs for a long walk and everything will settle back into place. The dogs will have the hardest time getting back onto the non-holiday schedule.
I know its been a good holiday because I have a morbid fear of taking out the garbage tomorrow.
We watched an interesting movie the other day, “Wendy and Lucy”. I don’t think I liked it much.
Its about a girl who is traveling by car from Muncie, Indiana; going to Alaska to find a new frontier, a new life with just her and her dog, Lucy. Wendy’s plans are vague. She takes employment advice from a drunken reprobate who dances around a bonfire while exhorting the other reprobates with stories of past drunkenness and destruction.
She sleeps in her car that night after calculating her meager finances. She’s awakened by the store security guard who tells her that she has to move her car. It won’t start. She grinds it. It sounds like a blown head gasket, but no one seems to know this.
She eats and waits for a garage to open. When she goes to feed the dog she discovers she’s out of dog food. She goes to the local grocery store, ties Lucy to the bike rack while she goes inside. Wendy gets busted by some nerdo high school kid for shoplifting two cans of dog food. The kid insists that they call the cops. The cops take her away ignoring her pleas about her dog, who is still tied up in front.
Several hours later she’s released. She has to pay a fifty dollar fine. Cops being the jerks they like to be let her take a bus back to find her dog. Lucy’s gone.
The rest of the film plot is about Wendy trying to find Lucy and to get her car running. This is probably enough plot for a movie. What’s frightening is that the theme of the movie is the intense vulnerability of twenty-ish Wendy. One person is modestly kind to her, the security guard who made her move on. His kindness is manifested in directions to the dog pound and then by letting her use his mobile to call the pound even going so far as to let her give them his number if there’s word on Lucy.
The rest of the world, her family, the people on the street, the sun, the moon and the star, the garage mechanic could care less about her devastating plight. They all have their own lives and there is the pervading ill feeling that they are all just an unforeseen incident away from joining Wendy in her fall from stability.
Vulnerability, lack of stability and the lack of a caring world, where victims can only victimize each other and dreams are gambles and well meaning promises that cannot be kept.
Its a sad film. Well done for the budget. Slow but interesting enough to keep watching. Nothing dramatically tragic happens in the movie which makes it sadder still. Its a movie that’s too easy. Its like watching the legacy of George W Bush, the train wrecks of the lives of the common man.
Somehow that movie made me think of the greatest tragedy of the 21st Century. The loss of our free press. A very systematic destruction caused by the freedom of the press being exploited by the rich. The constant dumbing down of America and the world.
Journalism used to be nobel. Reporters used to work on stories. The people trusted the press to blandly report staggering facts. We all knew the press was manipulated. One of the few scenes I liked in “Citizen Kane: was when he had the two headlines prepared for election day. One read, “KANE WINS” while the other read “FRAUD AT POLLS”. We were trained to look past that, to interpret and refine. Only the “other guy” was stupid enough to fall for the obvious ploys.
In the 60’s guys like Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe and Hunter Thompson raised journalism to an art form.
They worked with unflagging energy, visiting the places, interviewing the people, assembling the facts from the phantasmagoria of conflicting views and distilled it to a vivid narrative that had the power and purity of fiction. But it was real. Almost too real to bear.
Capote’s “In Cold Blood” showed the power of the “true crime” novel. All the facts and the words were real. The emotions, the words, the actions, the emotions were all real, verified and accurate.
At about the same time Tom Wolfe was also working on the “new” journalism. He produced some interesting work. (Although I’m still trying to understand what the surfers in his South Bay surf story were actually saying when they used the slang term “panthers” to describe non-surfers. It a word I’ve never heard used. I don’t know if he misheard them or if they were having some one day joke, perhaps at Wolfe’s expense.)
It culminated with the brilliant “Electric Kool Aid Acid Test” describing the life of Ken Kesey and Jack Cassidy, two giants of fiction. One a writer of not insignificant talent and the other a character transformed by Jack Kerouac into one of the great fictional characters of all time. Wolfe lived with them, reported on them and wrote a non-fiction book that burst with drama, reality and perception.
While Capote’s book left him an emotional wreck unable to follow it up Wolfe’s no less interesting but emotionally safer work enabled him to continue to the present day.
The west coast had another journalist – Hunter Thompson wrote “Hell’s Angels”. He realized his job was not to create characters but to divine and then to define the character, conveying them with a clarity that infected the milieu. He worked not with boring stats and charts but with a vivid present that made the people even more real than they actually were.
Thompson then went on to create Gonzo Journalism with his serialized masterwork, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”.
The success of these new journalists didn’t go unnoticed by other aspiring reporters. But their work was too hard. Not only was it necessary to find the story but then you had to meet all those people, distill the facts, report the facts (which used to be the usual reporters job) but then you had to build these facts into a narrative, adding drama and imagery. and somehow avoiding those moments were real life is not as exciting as drama.
It was a lot easier simply to create the whole story under the old justification that “someplace out there there really is somebody like this”. Not only was this a tidier mode of reporting and story telling, it was quicker and much less stressful. Things could progress the way they should go instead of the way they might.
So we had all the scandals of award winning reporters actually just writing pure fiction. It created some scandals but it still is going on today.
So reporters got lazier. They saw the ambitious caught in their own scandal, they saw hacks get TV shows that replaced facts with opinion. They saw guys doing less work and getting more money while their employers refused to publish the big real stories for fear of offending advertisers and because it didn’t fit the way the rich thought the world should be.
Now we have the internet. Which seems to be nothing but personal bias. Its easy to find a news source that fits your personal prejudices and easier still to find sites to revile. The reporting is sloppy most of the time. No one investigates or digs through to truth. They seem to start out with a concept they want to prove and look for the facts that prove it while ignoring any facts that might disprove.
The insanity of this was bred in the law. OJ Simpson is an easy example. We all “know” he is guilty. It used to be that only an idiot would dispute the verdict of judge and jury. But California passed a law that said it didn’t matter if you were found innocent, we could apply a new standard for the civil courts that ignored the criminal courts decision to redefine the truth.
Now we weren’t idiots we were people who were capable of deciding the truth because we were told there were several black and white truths that were ours for the choosing. News became nothing more than entertainment to feed us the different truths we wanted. Pick one.
The free press gave way to entertainment and laziness that was rewarded more handsomely than those fools who put themselves at risk, who dug and fought to find the one truth.
Sad stuff for us. The end result is that a movie gets made about a nice girl who loves her dog and discovers that the world is nothing but an uncaring place where what we are no longer matters and love has to be discarded for dollars and pence.
I think its just the end result of a press that ignores that our leaders have turned us all into war criminals who torture and violate all the principals that used to make us the good guys. They bow to the pressure instead of standing tough armed only with the truth and an unquenched desire to reveal that truth to us all.
So we suffer and we suddenly can only notice our own suffering and not the anguish of the man next to us.
The sun is out. Its time to take the dogs for a long walk. They don’t like the fact that the world changes on human whims. They’ll still laugh, are laughing now.
So am I.
Its just harder to notice when I do it.