Archive for March, 2009

Woke up this morning in a foul mood. Back pain. Crappy weather. Horrible headlines. It’s a bitching kind of day.

After a quick hit of lovely weather, we’re back to gray and damp. I hate March. It’s worse than February. March is like a lot of guys I know, all blustery and puffed out with self-importance and vague promises of nicer times ahead – promises it has no intention of keeping.

God, the news is awful, even leaving aside the ongoing crises in the rest of the world. Poor Natasha Richardson, dead after falling on a beginner’s slope. Oh sure, the fickle Fates take the talented ones young, leaving the crazy, less-talented wanna-bes around to pollute whatever art form they touch. And the coverage ; bordering on (no, scratch that, crossing over into) ghoulish speculation and details about her accident. It can’t possibly be as horrible as the media that followed John Travolta’s son’s death but still!  Are we, the readers, really getting what we want? What we deserve? Oh ugh.

What else? We’ve replaced Bernie Madoff  as villain of the week with the scoundrels who took bonuses at AIG.  Jeeze, shut up about the bonuses. Look, in a fair world, no one would get bonuses or golden parachutes in order to exit the company with enough for several lifetimes as the stock goes down in flames. Bonuses are supposed to be tied to performance, which ought to mean making money for your team without shafting the world economy. Well, it’s been years since that’s happened and where has the outrage been? Corporations went from rewarding the front office guys for bringing in the business to rewarding the front-office guys simply for being front-office guys. My husband was a back-office guy whose department saved his company a lot of money; he got one tiny bonus in fifteen years. Who cared back when the 401K plans were fat and happy?

Speaking of outrage, we’re being played, people. I mean, there’s a lot to be pissed off about but keep in mind the media, particularly the radio shock jocks and their cable alternates are lapping it up because anger is their stock and trade. Nothing like a little fire and brimstone to bring up the ratings. Over in Congress, the blowhards, including those who were never shy about accepting contributions from Wall Street types, are falling all over themselves to express righteous indignation. Frankly, I don’t buy their “heads must roll” routine. With all the speechifying, you wonder if anyone is actually working.

BTW, American people, I share yours fear, concerns and anxieties. But the mob mentality is a real backward step in our supposed evolution. Are we returning to the days of pitchforks and torches?  I mean, finger-pointing and people-bashing are already out of hand , but death threats and demands for the names of the bonus-holders (the better to garrot the family members with piano wire?) and what’s with the heavy artillary aimed at AIG CEO Edward Liddy, who came out of retirement at a buck a year to take this sh-t? A little venting may be in order and we may all have questions for Treasury Secretary Geithner and Senate banking Chairman Dodd (lots of questions), but we’re over the line. This is America at its worst.  Pull back, people.

So I’m thinking I have enough for a column (whoops, sorry, a blog post; I get delusions of grandeur at times) but then I turn to the back of my paper and read Gail Collins’ piece on how pissed off everyone is. As usual, it’s clever, it’s timely, it’s well-research. As usual, she’s written on the very topic I was going to explore. She’s scooped me. Again! What the hell! Fine, Gail has millions of readers and I have maybe sixty-four unique visitors a day but still. She’s always one step ahead of me – always. It’s so unfair. Whaaa! I’d stamp my foot but – ow! – I can’t: my piriformis hurts too much. Serves me right.

(Please note:  I will be back to my regularly scheduled, fair and balanced, voice-of-reason postings next week.  Thank you for your indulgence.)

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Okay, I’ve had a rotten couple of weeks; who hasn’t? Yes, I’ve been tempted to access my inner Lewis Black. But except for some venti-sized venting to trusted family and friends (you know who you are and I’m really sorry), I’ve tried to keep my crabbiness to myself or at least not extend it outward towards others. Sure I’m ticked off about the state of affairs, but unlike apparently many, many others, I’m trying to avoid trash talking.

There’s a whole lot of anger streaming through my inbox, passed along from friends to the left and right of me. Some of it is amusing; lots of it is just rank. Unless my friends have been injected with a mean virus, they’re probably expressing their mass anxiety by spewing venom in the form of very personalized jokes about people in the news. Okay, kids: stop it. It may feel good but it solves nothing.

I’ve obviously joined the ranks of the insane when I expect or at least hope my Representatives will stop pontificating and “serious” journalists will stick to serious reporting and analyzing instead of high drama and not-so-subtle low blows. I grant you a little snarkiness can be fun, especially when it rises to the level of clever satire (which, as we all know, it rarely does). But doomsday business reporting laced with panic or political grandstanding masquerading as faux populism by our Congresspeople is poisoning our collective spirit, especially in concert with the ever-present talk radio bloviators, whose sole mission in life seems to be to get everyone worked up. Finger-pointing is not a form of exercise, except as an exercise in futility.

In the manner of another favorite humorist of mine, John Cleese, I am going to issue a proclamation. I expect you few loyal minions who visit my blog regularly to pass the word throughout the land: a moratorium on trash talk for a period of one week on the following subjects:  Bank of America, Citibank, any bank, GM, GE, Wall Street, Wall Street-types, anyone who works in finance, people who give out mortgages, people who can’t pay their mortgages, socialists, economists, Democrats, Republicans, including but not limited to: Barak Obama, Michell Obama, Michelle Obama’s arms, George Bush (either one), Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, Karl Rove, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Bobby Jindal, Alan Keyes (I know – who?), Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, evangelicals, Jim Cramer or any other business news anchor (it’s jsut for a week), members of old media, new media or amateur media, global warming, Octo-mom, Chris Brown, Rhianna, Oprah, Britney, Siegfried and Roy, gay people, anti-gay people, A-Rod, Jews, Christians, Muslims, spiritual not religious, atheists, secularists, and anyone living in California, as if they don’t have enough trouble already. I realize I’ve left out a few topics and I welcome your input, dear readers. Please note I’m giving a pass to reality TV-bashing because I’ve had it up to here with reality TV but no trash talking about individual contestants or judges. I’m exempting all comedians – they’re paid to trash talk. Finally, I didn’t include Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Madonna because, unfairly or not, these people are going to have to put up with trash talk for the rest of their lives, through good economies and bad and even if we suddenly become more civilized, an unlikely occurrence.

For further enlightenment on the subject of incivility, please read: “Uncivil Society”  and don’t forget: add your verboten subjects in the comments section. Sky’s the limit; we can dream, can’t we?

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