There was a time I paid absolutely zero attention to the news. None. And I’m not talking about the time I spent in NYC as a struggling musician although the only thing I watched on tv in those days were the syndicated re-runs of “The Odd Couple.” The local stations ran back-to-back episodes at 6-7 pm and 11-midnight. My bass playing room-mate, John K, and I never missed it. Unless we had a gig but I can recall many evenings we’d be standing at a bar at 10:30, glance around at the far-to-familiar faces and surroundings and give each other the nod. No words needed be exchanged. We knew there was just enough time to get back to the apt in time for the late double feature.
It wasn’t that this show was new to us. We’d seen all the episodes. Multiple times. So many in fact, we could recite the dialogue verbatim for most of them. The idea, the hope , was that there was one we hadn’t seen. That somehow we’d missed an episode. That tonight might the night we find the great lost Odd Couple episode.
But every evening without fail, we’d discover much to our dismay that “oh fuck, this is the one where Felix falls asleep on the subway and they steal his shoes…” or “Murray the Cop gets kicked out of his house and moves in…” or “Oscar gets the Pigeon Sisters over for a double date…”
Nothing new. But believe me it was the only thing worth watching on television aside from Saturday Night Live.
The news? Never. Not in those days. I didn’t need to be reminded how bad things were by a bunch of talking heads on television. I lived in NYC before it turned into Disneyland. All I had to do was walk out my Hell’s Kitchen apt door to see it all first hand. And truly, the only Talking Heads & Television I was interested in were playing at CBGB’s.
That was news I could use.
Being “informed” of some bus full of kids going off a bridge in Kentucky. Or a flood in India. Or a gunmen letting loose with an assault rifle on a busy McDonald’s in Scotland?
I decided I wanted none of that in my head. Not that I didn’t feel terrible about the tragedies befalling these unfortunate people. Quite the opposite. It made me despair for humanity to such a great degree and fed my already depressive nature so much that I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.
So I turned it off. Just cut the news feeds that existed in those days out of my life. Never read the paper. Other than glancing at headlines. Got most of my current events from the Weekend Update segment on SNL. Never, ever listened to the radio. In all the years I ran advertising for Guitar Center and wrote those “classic” radio ads myself, I never listened to the radio. Much to the consternation of my boss.
It made zero difference to what I was doing. None. The added information was a distraction and just clogged my brain, totally fucking with my focus.
Over the past couple of years, because my world, like so many of ours, has become centralized around the computer – for work, entertainment and social networking, and the news has crept back onto my windshield.
I’ve gotten outraged and angered about “issues,” posted my thoughts and ended up pulled into political debates that go absolutely nowhere. My child-of-the-60‘s-we-can-change-the-world-again radical bent got me into lively exchanges, threads that went on for days.
All for nothing.
I don’t change my beliefs. The people I debate with do not change theirs. We end up “agreeing to disagree” and go about our business.
A waste of fucking time. I now choose to get my brain exercise and further hone my forensic skills elsewhere.
And it’s how I view the political landscape at the moment. I voted for the current President. I hoped, not just for change, but payback. Serious Ain’t Payback A Bitch Payback. For all the crimes and blatant disregard for my rights, my well-being and my family’s future. For turning us into an emerging Third World nation.
But I guess vengeance is not mine, or my elected officials it seems now, to hand out.
In looking back, through all the various administrations I have lived through – and there are eleven of them – Democrats & Republicans – I realized one thing. Whether I voted or not, whether my “side” won, controlled the Senate & House or not – very little went the way I wanted or hoped or needed it to go. Laws were made, bills were passed in a land far away beyond my eyes and done within a system that was nothing like what I was taught or told.
And the effect on my life? What I decided to do, dreams I chased, the meals I cooked for my family, the jobs I had?
It’s all beyond my control. Beyond my influence. And now, once again, beyond my concern.
I’ve now decided to listen to my own voice. I have tried to teach one lesson to the kids who have worked for me over the years, who railed against the “unfairness” & “callous cruelty” of the corporate system they had become part of since entering the work force.
This is like playing in the NFL. These are the rules of the game. You want to play pro football? This is how the game is played. Accept it or find another game. You want to fight to change it? Good luck and better bring some muscle and a shit ton of money. In the meantime, take a look at who signs your paycheck and make your peace with the devil.
For the time being, I choose to live in the Untied States. My experience and my reality is the system is beyond my influence. I enjoy the paychecks I have gotten and the lifestyle I’ve lived here, regardless of who was in the White House. I have decided to no longer play the game as I’d rather just watch the wheels go ‘round. The fact that I’m not a captain of industry or part of the billionaire boy’s club or the hollywood elite is my choice.
Nothing I do will change the fact this country was bought and sold ages ago. That a very tiny percentage of the population controls the vast majority of the wealth and that imbalance will only get worse.
Change, for individuals or systems, comes in two ways. One is through a lot of hard work and a dedicated effort built on the realization a change is needed and desired.
Do you think the folks who have that bank & power believe there’s any reason to change anything other than for their continued benefit?
The other path to change is through trauma. Some event that brings on a revelation that change is not only needed in one’s life/system but absolutely necessary for survival. A near-death car accident or overdose. Obviously something more traumatic than an economic melt-down and depression re-branded as a severe recession.
Like a revolution.
But you can count me out.