Saturday, January 15, 2011

Looking California, feeling Arizona

"Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. Such a fine sight to see."
- Take it Easy, by The Eagles

OK, I had to get that face off the page. I haven't had much to stir the juices lately, and every time I open the blog I see that jackass looking at me. It's more than a little creepy.
I did read something about Arizonans being a little worried that the rest of the country will think that the state is a strange place, what with the illegal immigration issue they have been fighting over the past couple of years, and now a shooting.
Then I thought about the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and remembered that it was Arizona that had a hard time with it. They still may not have come to grips with it, but I remember John McCain and some of the state's so-called leaders fighting the "legal holiday" status. I don't particularly care, since I don't live there, but it made me think that maybe there is something to the idea that the state is a little wacky.
I used to work with a guy who spent a lot of time in the state and for some reason we got to talking about that Eagles song. He asked me if I had ever been to Winslow, and said that "there ain't no fine sights to see in that place." He wasn't sure where Jackson Browne was when he wrote that line, but it probably just sounded good and had nothing to do with actually being in Winslow, Arizona.
A friend just came back from a business trip to Tuscon and she told me that the city is "nothing but pawn shops, strip malls and desert." Then she told me about the blimp constantly flying overhead, and how she got stopped a couple of times by the Border Patrol. We reasoned that a blimp made a lot less noise than a helicopter and the Border Patrol probably doesn't want to bring a lot of attention to itself - although a blimp flying overhead is a much more unique sight than it was in the 1940s, so maybe the Mexicans are hip to it?
I suggested she visit Sedona, which seems to be one of the few colorful spots in the state, apart from the Grand Canyon, lovingly referred to as The World's Biggest Hole in the Ground.
So maybe those Arizonans are onto something? Whatever, it provided me an outlet to get that creepy face off the page, so they have that going for them - which is nice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The harsh realities.

Every so often, big media gets their teeth in a story. You can tell, because they come up with an alliterative term for it. It's generally accompanied by a screen-filling graphic and some dramatic music. The latest one is being called "Tragedy in Tuscon."
It's generally a tragedy or giant oil spill of some sort that grabs their attention. I don't recall any fancy names being given to something good that happens. It's always "The Storm of the Century," a fire, flood or oil spill that gets a graphic and a catchy title.
This latest one is interesting on several levels. It involves a young, attractive female politician and a child - two things that the media eats for lunch. Add to it that the child is the granddaughter of a Phillies executive (and former manager) and you have the makings of a huge story.
Since television news struggles against the Internet on the best of days, they have dispatched hordes of reporters to Arizona to ferret-out every gory detail of the people involved.
The shooter has a high-powered attorney on his side. It's the same attorney who represented Ted Kaczynski, who became known as the "Unabomber." I suppose business has been slow for the past 15 years, and it must be nice to have a fresh crazy-ass to defend. That's why I could never be a defense attorney. Having an almost-unlimited supply of crazy bastards, I couldn't bring myself to summon-up an argument over why they shouldn't be taken out of society.
One thing of which you can be certain, as the media disseminates this story: Every photo of the shooter will make him look like a crazy-ass and every photo of the people he killed will make them look attractive. It's how the news is doled out, as though we need to be reminded that the shooter is a crazy bastard and the people he killed were innocent victims.
We haven't heard much about the other 17 people involved, partly because the story isn't that old and partly because they probably aren't children or federal employees. The things he is charged with are highlighted by "attempted assassination of a member of Congress" and the term "federal employee." So much for all men being created equal. When anything federal is involved, you're pretty much screwed, and held without bail.
To add to the mess, Giffords' brother-in-law is the commander of the International Space Station, and said that "these days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict on one another." No kidding. Things like this are supposed to make us think and reflect. They do, for about a month, then we forget and go about our destructive business.
It didn't take long after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks for us to go back to calling athletes and actors "heroes" and making them out to be more than they are, which is glorified entertainers who suck a lot of money out of society. Now, we're supposed to reflect on "an unspeakable act," partly because of its impact and partly because of who was involved, and we're supposed to change our evil ways - or at least think about it.
But, it ain't gonna happen, and it's just a matter of time before the next tragedy that can be made into a catch phrase and we can be reminded of how despicable life can be sometimes, and how our own self-indulgent lifestyle and strange concept of freedom feeds into the very things we often find horrifying.
Or - we'll get a lot of snow and the TV news will struggle over which story is the lead.