OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB
AH, BUT I WAS ONLY A PAWN IN THEIR GAME
Some People I Met, And The Things We Did On The Way Over Here . . .
Having navigated the belly of the politico-media-corporate-military beast more than once, beginning in the 60's . . .
...radical kid in a 1967 NET (proto-PBS) talk show with Newark Mafioso Anthony Imperiale (the Tony Soprano of his time); Rep. Millicent Fenwick, the spacey model for Doonesbury's Lacey Davenport; a young John Kerry, anti-war Vietnam vet, representing the Winter Soldier Investigation and VVAW; and some old lefty who prob'ly schtupped Ethel Rosenberg, or tried to, back in the day...
...after the half hour was up, they started another episode, and I stood and watched with the director as he moved the cameras from one talking head to another, based not on the content of their character, orations, or arguments, but on the color of their clothes, faces, gestures, speech: no flash, move on to the more colorful character, n'importe quoi he or she had to say...
... later, when the show aired, I realized I was the colorful character: a smart-assed 15-year-old kid in telegenic blue with red hair & beard, stealing camera time from the important stuff from the Viet vet...
...even on public television, they didn't care what we were saying. only how we said it. so i learned that it doesn't matter what you say, babe; it's how you fuckin' say it, cha-cha-cha...
...in the 70s, we bullshitted our way into Variety and the NY Times for putting on an 18-hour rock horror show, complete with a demonic flame-throwing Ozzie magician, at the old Elgin repetory cinema (later the Joyce dance theater) featuring 24 punk & "New-Wave" bands including then-unknowns The Cramps and Blondie, for which we got rave reviews from both publications not because the bands were so great, or the show itself, but because we didn't annoy the reviewers with long set-ups between all those acts (as stage-manager, I made them all use the same amps & drums)...
...so, again, it ain't the content, or the quality, the message or the meaning, it's how you appeal to the mediacracy (don't bore them, rule one)
... then, in San Francisco, in the go-go 80's, I interviewed (for Western Public Radio) a local news anchor who had recently fallen from grace as a big-time network foreign correspondent. he'd been banging the wrong girl, a fellow Nicaragua/ El Salvador war correspondent, who then moved onward and upward into the Net stratosphere, without him, thanks to her new boyfriend, an haut news exec, who exiled the former beau to Frisco local news...
...he told me all this, and lots more, cuz he noticed i was using a really shitty mike & tape recorder, which would never produce broadcast-quality audio, as i discovered later, to my chagrin. he also told me that there was nothing he could do in local news, cuz there was no budget. he made a six-figure income, he boasted modestly, a come-down from net-pay. i suggested that there were hundreds of hard-working drones in the Bay Area already digging up the dirt for choice bone fragments, all kinds of juicy stories that needed telling, who'd work for a pittance. like me, par exemple. he wasn't interested. and so i learned, once again that the news biz is about business. not news. the money goes where the money wants to go.
...then there was the night, in the 90's, that i saw a paunchy, middle-aged latino bookie shoot and kill a tough young black golden-gloves bouncer who'd punched him in the head for no reason, right in front of a crowded LA restaurant, in full view of all through the big picture windows. but nobody saw anything, including me, when the detectives questioned us. the incident was never mentioned in any media outlet: latino-on-black murder in a public place, a hundred witnesses, no arrests. no news coverage. just another shine killing. its only chinatown, jake. and the media can't be bothered with that demographic, really. unless it's good at golf, tennis, basketball or some other beer-able attraction.
...finally, in our deadly 00's, i got a local tv news reporter to expose a slumlord who had men, women and children living on scaffolding. not even good scaffolding. exposed to the elements but for a few tarps. suspended above a stream prone to flooding. the report aired, but nothing happened. it was a bit of grit between the puff-pieces. nobody paid the slightest attention. the kids are still hanging from those scaffolds today. the slumlord may run again for governor, or senator, next time. on with the show. who cares what it's about? panem et circenses, pomp and circumstances, what's britney up to today?
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