Can You Yell Fire in a Crowded Farragut Square?

I haven’t thought about the Riddle Building in years.

I worked in 1993 for my hometown newspaper in Ravenna, Ohio, and one morning, the Riddle Building caught on fire. We sent every staffer on duty out that day to do some story or other. I think I recall that my job was to call the Red Cross and see what was needed or something. I don’t know.

I just remember how it smelled, how smoke permeated all the air, how you couldn’t escape it.

That’s what it smelled like this morning, when the OEB caught fire. I just walked to werk from Farragut West over to north, watched the fire trucks go, and smelled, and sort of remembered the Riddle fire and sort of missed for a moment being a news reporter. It was fun, sort of, but I know I don’t have the constitution for it. I shoulda been a copyeditor. Sorry, Bill Walsh. Copy editor.

Or a Webmonkey. Whatever.

And Like, Wasn’t The Cold War In Like, Antarctica?

From The Washington Post:

“Appearing on National Public Radio’s light-hearted quiz show ‘Wait, Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me,’ which aired over the weekend, [White House Press Secretary Dana] Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis—and she didn’t know what it was.”


“‘I was panicked a bit because I really don’t know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis,’ said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown.”

Yeah. That’s so not an excuse.

“‘It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I’m pretty sure.’”

A White House Secretary who doesn’t know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was should be fired, as should a White House who would hire such an individual, as should every teacher in every school district in which Perino came up. There is no reason not to be at least vaguely familiar. The average American certainly should be, but certainly the White House Press Secretary should be, should be considerably more literate and intellectually curious than the average American. I understand that Perino offered it as a cute little anecdote for an NPR game show, but it is further proof that the current president has more contempt and disrespect for the press than has any other.

A Mixed Day

Yesterday was mixed. I managed to wrangle the vendor to help me finally fix the WYSIWYG editor so I don’t have to write EVERYTHING in HTML all the damned time anymore as I have been doing for months. That was good. I did figure out a better way to archive a certain section of our Web site. That was good. I did finally find the sweet spot in the office where I can put my XM Repeater to get flawless reception and am now listening to Supreme Court arguments on the SPAN while I werk. That was good.

Taking out the side view mirror in the parking garage was not so good. Ouch. Poor Esther.

1200 Nappy Headed Hos to Go

I have lately altered my radio listening schedule, mainly to avoid the feast-or-famine phenomena I was experiencing. Try to listen to the full Stern show, followed by the Rachel Maddow Show, Countdown, and woman-and-a-doctor type programs, all in one day. Then try realizing that, for most of the weekend, you’re pretty much bored with nothing on the TV machine and no decent radio. Inspired by the practice I began to get me through the commute to Gonfalon Farm, I am now banking Stern shows for the weekend and taking Dr. Maddow on the train with me each morning. You can almost get through four Stern shows in a weekend while you’re doing your laundries and your cleaning and your cooking and your yardworks, and I often find myself uninspired to take on such chores unless my mind is occupied with spoken prattle.

The disadvantage is it does ruin somewhat the timeliness of the Stern show. For instance, this week I am certain Mr. Stern will be discussing the reemergence of the croc-faced cowboy, the nutsy honky himself, Don Imus. Howard was doing some major hating on the I-Man last week, especially regarding the stunning predictability of the move confirmed by his broadcast today: Imus has recruited a team of two African-Americans to join him in the studio. It is precisely the wrong move, condescending, patronizing, transparent, and still unbelievably missing the damned point. It is the radio personnel equivalent of “I have a lot of black friends,” but it will probably somehow save Imus’ skin, which I’m not so sure it’s clear why he’s so on fire about doing anyway.

Interestingly and somewhat ashamedly enough, it is Imus’ brand of radio that first got me listening to the radio to some extent. Imus apparently was at one point a jock at WGAR in Cleveland, home also of the fella Stern dubbed the “one-eyed cyclops,” John Lannigan. I notice this kernel of buckeye radio humor in Imus’ schtick, the Big Chuck and Little John element of it. My theory is that he took this obvious, blunt, and “wacky” sensibility with him to NYC, where he decided he had to put a mean bastard hat on it to make it funny. The result is not funny. Not at all.

Let me be clear. Don Imus is not funny. Don Imus never has been funny. And the real reason he ran into his trouble this year isn’t because he was mean, or racist, or mysogynist, though he was certainly all of those. He wasn’t funny, and that’s why he was chased off the radio there for a minute, and it’s why he’s patronizing the hell out of his listeners by casting black sidekicks while keeping the inflammatory McGuirk. You shouldn’t be listening to Don Imus. You should be listening to Howard A. Stern, the best and only and actually funny. Riiiiiight?

Worship This

In 1995, my Dad’s second wife gave birth to a son. Later that year, in a job interview, the following exchange actually occurred between me and the interviewer/potential employer:

The Potential Employer: So, do you have any brothers or sisters?

Me: No.

The Potential Employer: Ah.

Me: No, wait. Yes. Yes, I do.

Despite this weird answer and the resulting convuluted explanation, I got the job. But this is what life is when you spend 28 years as an only child and then life hands you a sibling. Thus it is that, at 39, I have a 12-year-old kid brother.

One of my goals over Thanksgiving was to plant the seeds so that he might worship properly.

You see, both he and I have been reared with the same basic religious background: None. I remember the first time I went to Sunday School with my childhood chums, who were Christian Scientists, and the lady was telling the story of Noah, which was familiar to them but for me it was the first time I’d ever heard of it, and I could not figure out why this old bat was gibbering to me about this Noah character. No, I grew to worship another deity—music. Now, like me, my young brother was born tapping his toe. But once you start into the pooberty, music becomes an altar, at least, it did for me. And don’t get me wrong, he’s doing pretty well for his age. He can bang out the “Iron Man” riff on his guitar and he’s already uttering the names of obscure bands that nobody else gives a crap about, which is essential. He’ll spend hours watching guitar acrobats on the YouTube, and he can quote line and verse from the most important rock movie ever made. Unfortunately, he has yet to come to the front of the church.

I hope to guide him there. I kept the SkyFi2 set to XM59 all weekend. And let’s just say he’s going to git a little something in his stocking this year. Hey, man. This shit is important.

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It Can't All Be Boiled Away

The problem with Spoon’s “The Underdog” is that you can’t get it out of your damned fool head, not even with soap and water. It’s a good song, though I wish these groups these days if they’re going to bother to use horns would really USE them. Make them wail. Write them some charts. Do something with them besides “dah dah dah dah dah dah” or “dah dah dah.”

I watched a cute documentary called “Rock School” that I’m going to have to make everyone watch over the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s about this fella what teaches kids how to play the rock and roll music. It’s very impressive because the kids end up playing Zappa’s “Inca Roads” at a Zappa festival in Germany.

I’m in some agony this week because I’m on a self-imposed Howard restriction. I know the man’s going to be on vacation and in reruns next week when I’ll be in an automobile for ten hours wanting to listen, so I’m having my trusty Stiletto record the shows and saving them for the trip. But it sucks having to listen to Cenk Uygur in the morning instead.

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Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Sky Is Falling. Whatever.

I was invited today to sit in on a webinar regarding crisis management for the trade association. It was very informative.

I don’t know if my co-webinar-participants felt the way I did about it. I just couldn’t help but feel ironically immortal somehow. I just wanted to grab my balls and say “nine eleven this, emm-effer” and walk out. It’s sort of like this: Since I was a zygote, there’s been this thing called the “emergency broadcast system,” which interrupts your television viewing and annoys you with a weirdly extraterrestrial “boop” for a minute and then goes away, followed by a reassurance that it’s “only a test,” and that, “had this been a real emergency, it would not have been a test,” or some such pulled pork. You know what I’m talking about. The Emergency Broadcast System. You’re familiar with it. Right?

Was it utilized on September Eleventh?

Did you turn on your radios or teevees that day and hear that annoying booooooooooop followed by the announcer coming on and telling you that it was NOT a test, and that, oops, I just crapped my pants, excuse me?

No. All those years and years and years of preparation and baiting by the Emergency Broadcast System, and we had a real live emergency and it was as useful as a cowpie in a 400-meter relay. I arrived at my office, I learned of the attacks, I left my office and walked over the Roosevelt Bridge to Arlington and was able to see the Pentagon Smoke to my left. And I was not motivated to do so by some weird extraterrestrial boop I’d been hearing all my life. I was motivated by someone saying they’d lit the Mall on fire somehow.

So it was like that. I can have flashlights in my desk. I can re-certify in CPR. I can store a private parachute in my file drawer. But I was here and witnessed and survived the September Eleventh attack on Washington with no prior training. I couldn’t help but giggle and make a few jokes through the presentation…

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Live From New York

It is a shame but seems to be true that the Saturday Night Live requires the right guest host to be good. The last truly sublime episode I can remember until last night featured Hugh Laurie of House. Last night’s episode, featuring NBC Anchor Brian Williams, was terrific. Key moment: Williams in a room explaining to many of the Democratic candidates that the media had already decided that Hillary was the nominee. Incidentally—following his bang-up interview with George Suckamuckagus this morning, it’s official: I’m a John Edwards guy.