Thursday, June 14, 2012


I had one of those soul squeezing moments this morning.  In fact, am still in the midst of one.   A soul squeeze is when something BIG doesn’t quite compute.  There’s something wrong with the equation, with the moment.  Something on the spiritual plane is out of wack, out of sorts, the scale’s broken.

This is often the case when I’m reading the newspaper.

By newspaper, I mean the real thing.  Real as in ink and paper, something you spread out on the table as you sip strong coffee.   And living where I do, in Southern California, the paper of choice is the LA Times.  It isn’t a bad paper.   It covers the world, the region.  It has a very enthusiastic sports section.  The arts section – the “Calendar” – being totally Hollywood-centric, is questionable.   You wouldn’t compare it to the New York Times.  However the NY Times doesn’t have Doonesbury or Non Sequitar – in fact, it doesn’t have a comics page at all, never has.

So here’s what got me all agitated. 

On the front page today was a photo.   A man,  soaking wet in the falling rain, is weeping.  His eyes are shut tight and his hands are held in front of him as if he praying.  Behind him in an open wooden boat is his family.  Exhausted looking women.  Half naked children.   A fully naked toddler – an exquisite child - who is either sleeping or unconscious.  A sibling holds a ragged umbrella over him/her trying to provide some shelter.   He might as well try to hold back the wind.

They are Rohingya Muslims fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar – meaning slaughter – and they are pleading with Bangladeshi border guards for asylum.  They will be refused.   They will be left to the rain.   Boat loads of them will be.

The Beatles’ George Harrison once sang songs asking for assistance for Bangla Desh.    Wondering how he’s feeling. 

Also on the front page is a story detailing how our presidential candidates are “running in place as they duke it out”.  Which means they’re going nowhere.   Maybe they should do it in an open boat.

On the third page is a story detailing how bombings in Iraq have left scores dead.   What else is new?    Oh, but add this – Said a spectator: “I saw pieces of torn clothes, blood, scarves, shoes.” And then, as an afterthought, “I think our politicians are responsible.” 

Maybe they’re running in place, duking it out as well.   Maybe they should do it in an open boat.

And speaking of SyriaRussia denies supplying Syria with attack helicopters.  Good to know.  Good to know that Russia’s military contracts with Syria – meaning weapons sales – is for self-defense.   Maybe they should be selling their weapons in an open boat.  Maybe we should too.

But other than the fact, that while one man was praying helplessly for the life of his family and another was giving testimony to the human tragedy of an explosion, and I was sitting on the couch on my fat ass drinking coffee, here’s what really got me this morning. 

The Emmys

The Emmys celebrate excellence in national primetime programming, awarding top honors at the annual creative arts and primetime awards ceremonies  It says so on their website.

The Envelope.   

The Envelope is a special section in The LA Times giving us information for our Emmy consideration.   It says so on the cover.   The Envelope is an advertisement – it says so on the cover.  

On said cover, two young men in dark suits, who bring a dominating and commanding presence to their performances, stare at us as if they’re fledgling politicians, standing in place before they duke it out.

For your Emmy consideration – Drama!!! 

Cliffhanging, nail-biting and action-packed Drama!!!

Really smart, hard-to-describe, wonderfully nuanced Drama!!!

Dangerous.  Powerful.  Unstoppable.  Intoxicating.  Drama!!!

No.  Sorry.

Dangerous.  Powerful.  Unstoppable.  Intoxicating.  Unbearable.  Embarrassing.  Idiotic.  Posturing.  Self-aggrandizing.  For profit.  Brain-embalming.  BULLSHIT!!!

When reality dukes it out with fantasy, fantasy loses big time 

Or does it?

This is finally what really gets me.   Eventually the photo on the front page of the newspaper will grow dim.   My soul will stop squeezing.   And fuck me, I might even watch the Emmys.

You’d think the death of even one human being would be enough to change the world.  But it doesn’t, does it.  And so I no longer pay attention to the world.  I live in a world of my own.

The U.S. Open – golf – is being played on the TV behind me.  

As protest to the day’s events, I’m going to turn it off and spend the rest of the day thinking of open boats


(If you enjoy the essays at The Desperate Man please share, post and pass on to others.   I'd appreciate it.  SM)

1 comment:

  1. Well said. Fortunately, I hate golf. But the NBA shouts for attention - mine, anyway. And the mindless entertainment allows me to sidestep the crucial question -- how can I make it better?

    The boat I row is not empty. It is full of excuses.