This week offers a real grab bag of topics that could easily be slotted into tonight’s post. There are rioters who the media insists we call protestors, there are those who want us to fall all over ourselves apologizing for the long history of the United States, there are people who refuse to follow simple, lawful instructions, there are local governments all over the country that are failing to provide the most basic services of government – the safety and security of their citizens, and there are those from every corner who are working all possible angles to find advantage in the chaos – whether that’s through committing acts of violence, theft, or injecting outside agitation into already unstable situations.
Like I said, there’s almost no limit to what I could have written on this Thursday. The problem is, I don’t want to. The only goal I’ve had for the last five years or so, really, is to be left in peace on the side of this hill… and that litany of topics brings me anything but peace.
I spent some time at the office this week. I spent some time at home. I did a little work. I’ve done a lot of reading. I’ve laid down on the floor and let myself become a human chew toy. I’ve worked through a not insignificant volume of gin. None of those things led me towards burning down a car dealership or taking pot shots at someone in the street. It leads me to wonder if we wouldn’t collectively be better off if we all just stayed in our damned lane, take a breather, and give the moment a chance to unfuck itself since continually ratcheting up the pressure doesn’t appear to be getting us anywhere productive.
Since that doesn’t seem likely to happen, I suppose I’ll just stay here on the hillside, rolling my eyes ferociously and muttering to myself.
1. Having no room for subtlety. If the internet wants to agree that all cops are bastards, then by extension we should also agree that it’s ok to define other populations based on a small percentage of the total. Based on this kind of bizarre internet logic, we can also accept, without further discussion, that all whites are racist, all blacks are lazy, all Jews are greedy or whatever your favorite stereotype happens to be. I just don’t have the time or energy to pretend that the world’s great complexities can be distilled down to snappy sound bites or funny, funny memes. The world is too damned complicated for that abject fuckery.
2. The moment before. I can tell the “big thing” is getting close. The phone has mostly stopped ringing. The torrent of email has turned into a trickle. A year’s effort is poised at the edge of the precipice that we must surely tumble down in just a few more ticks of the clock. I love this part because it means the big thing is almost over. I hate this part because there’s virtually nothing to be done now to change the direction we’re headed or the outcomes we’ll experience.
3. Reduced page count. Being back in the office this week has noticeably reduced my daily page count. Losing that hour in the morning and hour in the afternoon that are the daily commute is drastically cutting into my reading time and honestly I’m not a fan. I can’t help but think getting my nose into a book is, frankly, a better use of the constrained resources that is available time. Going back to doing this every day for real until the next plague comes along is just depressing.
Having lived in Memphis, I though I’d seen some of the worst behavior I could expect out of a city. But no, Baltimore has gone and set the bar far, far higher (lower?) than anything I experienced on the banks of the Big Muddy.
Senior city leaders appear to be absent. The Baltimore Police Department has clearly been instructed to be non-confrontational and do as little as possible to protect life and property – I’m assuming the powers that be have some misguided notion that the rioters will just wear themselves down, everyone will go home, and tomorrow will be sunshine and puppy dogs. The fact that those officers are resisting the urge to bang heads while bricks and bottles fly at their heads is a huge statement about their professionalism. Under the same circumstances I wouldn’t be so disciplined.
After four hours of mob rule, the governor did finally declare a state of emergency and activate the National Guard, but that’s not an “instant on” solution. It’s too little, too late and now night is falling.
I love Maryland. I sacrificed to get back to my home state to build a life with my feet firmly planted on my native soil. Tonight though, I am embarrassed that the Old Line is being seen around the world as a state that let its major city burn. I’m embarrassed at the behavior of my fellow citizens. I’m embarrassed by our elected leaders who wanted to “give the protestors room” to destroy things. And I’m embarrassed that we don’t have the fortitude or political will to put down these rioters using every tool in our arsenal. If they’re not going to respect the rule of law, at least let the bastards fear the consequences of that disrespect.
We Americans have a problem with obsessions. I’m not talking about the good kind of obsessions like washing your hands three times an hour or making sure you have on clean underwear before leaving the house. I’m talking mostly about the kind of “news” and current events that we obsess over. Since one of the major news channels is almost constantly running as background noise at the Rental Casa de Jeff, I feel that I’m completely justified in wondering WTF our national obsession is with the currently unfolding trial of George Zimmerman.
It’s not like homicide is particularly unusual in our society. I don’t want to imply that homicide is common, but with major cities regularly racking up triple digit body counts every year I’m having a bit of a problem figuring out why we decided to single out just once of them for the magnifying glass treatment. The incident involving Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin wasn’t the most deadly, it certainly wasn’t the most unique, or even the most dramatic or high profile. All I’m saying is George is no OJ.
Still, to see the minute by minute coverage on ever news channel seemingly all the time leaves me wondering why anyone other than those immediately impacted by the case really care? Why don’t we collectively show that same level of concern or outrage about every homicide? Why aren’t we more concerned about the ones that took place within 20 miles of our own homes that we’ll probably never hear about? It’s obviously selling advertising for the networks, so maybe I’m the one that just doesn’t get the “so what” of Zimmerman’s trial.
With Egypt imploding, NSA listening in on your calls and reading your email, a national debt continuing to pile higher and deeper, and the regular ephemera of everyday life, I have enough to obsess over without including a trial taking place 921 miles away that impacts my life in no actual way.
P.S. If there’s anyone out there reading this who happens to thinks a jury verdict is a reason to hold a riot in the streets, stop reading this blog now. Seriously. Go away. There is no room for you here.
If you’re reading this, it’s because the epic snowstorm of doom somehow managed not to result mass extinction or cause catastrophic damage to the state’s electric grid. Well done, and congratulations for riding out the storm unscathed.
In the future, I hope you’ll remember that just because a winter storm is given a fancy-pants name by The Weather Channel, that doesn’t mean it’s going to leave untold mayhem and chaos in its wake. In general, it means that they’re doing their level best to build hype and improve their advertising take. I hope you’ll join me in saying “Well played, weather forecasters. Well played indeed.”
In conclusion, let’s try not to let over-exaggerated reports of impending doom effect our behavior too much in the future. If today has taught us nothing else, it’s that we can all somehow manage to survive a mediocre rain/snow storm without turning to cannibalism, riots, or looting. Good work and carry on.
P.S. I told you so.