News of the American Dream

I listened to NPR News while on my way to work, every weekday morning, through the late ‘80s and then the ‘90s − before the internet became convenient and accessible. I listened convinced I was hearing an alternate viewpoint to the propaganda and drama-laced news being offered through most other channels.  I paid particular attention to national, political, and US war news − always searching for signs of progress, believing that more and more people were becoming aware of the world’s problems and its causes, and were ready to support the right solutions.

In 2001 I quit my regular job and, since then, have rarely driven to work. No more NPR. I turned to the internet to feed my news habit. I started with Yahoo News, but quickly realized it was just a bunch of recycled, waffling BS with misspelled headlines and tons of consumerist plugs. Oh, no… How will this influence consumer confidence? Will it spook the stock market? Will energy prices rise on the fear of energy prices rising? Which famous brand names are likely to be hurt by this? Which famous movie star wore the same dress best?

Notice too how the political articles sound neutral, but then the photo of the politician who the article is about is often selected with a biased intent. Does the politician look stupid? angry? clueless? sad? happy? strong? sickly? handsome? ugly? brave? cowardly? conniving? honest? bigoted? compassionate? This, as I later realized, is a trick used by most other news outlets as well. So slick. The pictures often make a statement which is left out of the text. A lot of people get their news from the picture alone.

I then discovered Huffington Post, and thought, ‘Cool! Here’s reporting with a truly independent view of national news and politics. Well, maybe not ‘truly’ independent, but at least it had a more liberal spin than the heavily right-winged (or left, depending on where you stand in regard to the moral issues) mainstream media news.  Perhaps Huffington was giving me the same cleverly disguised left-over garbage that Yahoo offered. OMG! What happened to the American Dream? …the sacred fantasy of the three car family.

Huffington, in time, started looking like FOX News for liberals. Bought and paid for… the same as FOX.

I explored Alternet, Thinkprogress, Common Dreams, NPR, RT, ABC, CBS, CNN, Mother Jones, Truthout, The Guardian, and so on.  Most news sources are similar to the Republican and Democratic parties. Behind their thin, morally and righteously opinionated outer shell, they are really the same thing. They’re all owned by the same big banks, oil companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and possibly Walmart. We have a two party system that is really one party.  Fox News and Huffington post are giving us the same BS propaganda, covered over with opposing positions on the moral issues, while peddling fear and selling us the same shit (ipods, TVs, cars, health insurance, life insurance, cosmetics, and crappy food), distracting us from the massive corporate swindles, the greedy exploitation of our resources, and the snipping away of our human rights – all this, happening right under our noses.

The American Dream is a high credit rating, a fistful of plastic, a $75K job (which we look forward to retiring from), SECURITY and freedom… the freedom to buy the stuff we’re conditioned to want. The American Dream is a carrot dangling before us on a stick of phony campaign promises.

The blob

How old am I?

My grandson, Jory, celebrated his tenth birthday in June. He talked about nothing else for weeks prior to the momentous day − a recipe for disappointment, I believe – though, if that’s what it was, he seemed to take it in stride.

“What’s your favorite day of the year?” I asked, a week before the anticipated day.

“My birthday.”

Today, one month after his birthday, I ask him what he remembers about it. He thinks long and hard, then says:

“I went to Golden Corral.”

I ask, “How about your ninth birthday? Do you remember it?”

He searches his mind, then: “No.”

“Your eighth?”

More searching. “No.”

ect…

I can’t remember my tenth birthday. Are birthdays occasions one should remember? I know that while growing up, most every birthday was acknowledged with a special cake spiked with candles, and then ice cream, cards, a gift, and a song. I’m sure those occasions were enjoyable, and stood out from the days before and after, so shouldn’t I remember them?

Do you remember your tenth birthday? Your fifth? Fifteenth? Twentieth? Thirtieth? I don’t.

It doesn’t really matter to me that I don’t remember my birthdays. They come and go − no big deal. But this day (your birthday) comes once a year. It could potentially act as a marker, like those on a ruler, to provide you with a clearer sense of whom you are, where you came from, what happened when.

My life is one big blob, starting near the end of 1953, and extending to the present. I often find myself wrestling with a particular memory, trying to fit it into its proper chronological place. I want my past to be divided into neat, uniform increments that I can glance at and know where everything is and how it all fits together.  Birthdays should do this, but they don’t. They’re forgettable because they’re too predictable. If I don’t get a handle on this thing soon, it’ll become hopeless. It’s time to start living less predictably.

Wherever you go

I took the day off yesterday to be with family. My nephew, Derek, and his beautiful daughter, Leila, were visiting from Boston. And my grand-kids, Emele and Jory, had just arrived home after a few weeks of visiting their grandmother in Panama City. Unless I’m overlooking someone, thirteen of us (including my new buddy, Miles − not yet born, but giving it serious consideration), had caravanned to Conner Prairie, just north of Indianapolis, yesterday evening.

We had tables near the stage, thanks to my sister, Cindy, and her husband, Andy. Everyone had a blast, grooving to the ISO with Brody Dolyniuk singing Freddie Mercury’s parts, performing the music of Queen, cranked up to proper, rock-concert volume.

The massive crowd was civil and very well-behaved until a riot broke out toward the middle of the show.

FOOD FIGHT!

Fortunately the rebel-rousing was confined to just two tables − ours. There were no injuries (other than my niece, Kiley, being hit in the eye by a red seedless grape), and no arrests were made.

I’m pleading guilty anyway − of ignoring Queen for the last half-century. Not that I didn’t like them, more like I wasn’t paying attention. I have a perfect vinyl copy of A Night at the Opera in my collection, which I acquired at a garage sale in Buffalo, NY, back in 1996.

I’ve never once listened to it, until this past week. I put it on the turntable, cranked it up (to proper, rock-concert volume,) and was amazed at how varied and interesting the music was − not a dud on the LP. So, now I’ve added Queen to my list of favorites.