Like love & cherry blossoms in spring, talk of getting rich is in the air these days!
Yet it’s not spring in America. It’s still the dead of winter. [Note: this post was mostly written December 30, 2017 & is being published in the first gleam of March. Not much has changed. Trees are starting to bloom. It rains as I write this.]
If that sounds a bit Dostoevskian (whose novels I haven’t yet read) maybe it’s because I’d been watching waaay too much TV news the past couple years. The shark-jump point was those pre-election phone interviews the former host of NBC’s Today Show did with one presidential candidate on weekday mornings. Not with Clinton, or the one who cycles, or the one whose podium the bird landed on. The reality TV show character who bragged about assaulting women. I can’t even bring myself to type his name.
Apparently there’s at least one good reason I didn’t see such interviews on CBS. Those were the days Charlie was still “lovable Charlie,” and CBS—partly because of those interviews’ absence—was my TV news channel of choice. I’ve never bought cable. But every time I’m at a hotel I turn it on, just to see if I’m missing anything.
It’s still unclear why other candidates didn’t “call in” to news outlets more. And it still seems unfair to hand only one candidate the mic. The phone interviews rambled on, then hung in the broadcast skies overhead like bad fluorescent lighting, or the smell of burnt coffee pot, or a drone. The metaphorical door to escape the morning’s gloom was locked. Odd, because it was always wide open on the way in, & the metaphorical “man at the desk” never got up to lock it. [Update: I hear some office doors can be locked remotely from the desk.]
I felt about those phone interviews the way some say they feel about walking into stores that play Christmas songs all-day-all-the-time, starting soon after Halloween; or how the cut-fruit clerk tying her apron at the start of her 4AM shift feels, “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” echoing post-apocalyptically through the dark, empty store as she steers herself to the produce section in slip-resistant Shoes For Crews, well before the army of break room fruit flies is awake for duty.
There’s no choice: the store is America, and you have nowhere else to buy groceries. You could wear earplugs. But then you can’t hear the loss prevention clerk standing by the automatic doors saying, “Have a nice day!” on your way out.
So maybe more than usual, cold cash is a theme in the country: Who’s getting it. Who’s not. Corporations. Our stolen internet. Cars & Mars. Oil & cobalt. It’s all a big blur.
I’m not one of the blessed corporation owners or lucky potential recipients of the new, higher stock dividend some filthy rich drug company CEO will begrudgingly pay me after he buys up shares; nor am I someone playing golf instead of solving or creating the world’s problems. I’m one of billions who’d do well to keep calm & carry on with lowered expectations. Party like it’s 1980 again. Pop a Trading Places cassette in the VCR & throw your hands in the air like you just don’t care. Don’t worry, be happy. Whoop. Whoop. This is your brain on trickle-down economics. Any questions?
Let’s face it, Garfield. We won’t be doing our taxes on a postcard.
Sometimes it really can seem like “the economy working” is just the luck of walking along where someone who went before you dropped all their cash. Since everyone else is driving a car, that pile of money sits & waits just for you. I once found forty dollars that way, bills skirting the bike lane curb in the breeze.
One possible moral of that story is, frugal & attentive living can enrich you. I also like to think the things one does for “free,” but in service to community, or our environment, or our kids’ future climate—are priceless. Like going vegan, or giving up driving a car.
I wish I knew an appropriate Taoist quote to share right here. If you know the one I’m seeking, please share it in the comments. In the meantime, Brainyquote.com tells me Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “A novel is a work of poetry. In order to write it, one must have tranquility of spirit and of impression.” Ah. Aha.
I think I’ve experienced that tranquility, a kind of freedom, in frugality. I use a bicycle as daily transportation instead of a “mostly empty 5-8 person metal box,” the sort that was advertised every few minutes during those network news phone interviews. Which brings me to my 2018 New Year’s Resolution: No broadcast TV in 2018. I’m going on a television fast, starting January 1st.
There are two reasons behind this decision, plus one potentially productive outcome:
- I don’t want to see one particular man’s face on a daily basis or hear his voice.
- I’ve begun to hate the massive amount of car advertising that happens on TV. Ever notice how much there is? Cars don’t care about my environment, safety, love, or even freedom. Hating = bad for me. The logic is obvious. I don’t need a car. Car commercials trigger stress. I choose not to see any more TV car commercials.
- Hoped-for Outcome: More reading & writing, including about the TV fast itself. I’ll be the Lewis & Clark of TV fast exploration. What? Lots of people already know & are settled in TV fast-land? Let me say it like this: I’ll talk about my own experience of it.
To keep it interesting, I will be watching one show per week, which I’ll reveal in a future blog post. I selected the program for research purposes, for a writing project I have in the hopper, as well as to give the TV fast journaling a dash of tension. “Research” is probably 75% (90%?) why I do anything I do these days. You may relate.
You also might argue: “Won’t you still see that man on Twitter?”
Yes, but <snicker snicker> I blocked him! Ha, yeah. On both my two active Twitter accounts. I didn’t expect it to feel so good!
By the way, he’s not allowed to block us. Or at least, he shouldn’t be allowed to. Blocking means that whenever I see a post like the one to the right, with the blocked person’s twitter name, I don’t have to see the blocked account’s tweets, unless I choose to. They also can’t see mine if they’re logged in as themselves. It’s true if they have 100s or even 1000s of other Twitter accounts, they could use one of those to see my tweets. But they can’t share their views with me from the account I’ve blocked. You see the first amendment trouble with a government account blocking dissenting constituents.
You can also mute people, though to me that seems an odd choice if what you want is to have nothing to do with the person you’re talking to or about. I suppose ‘muting’ would be attractive to legislators who want to use Twitter to promote themselves to their base, & funders, but don’t want to listen to their constituents who may disagree on key issues.
So, at least on the internet—or, how it’s been on the internet up to this point—I have some control over seeing various propaganda. I do realize that after writing the word “car” in this blog post, WordPress.com algorithms will undoubtedly show car ads down below the post. That’s why ‘Develop my wordpress.org skills’ & ‘Build my own website’ is also on the 2018 To-Do list. Let tranquility be the goal. Bicycle. Show me an ad for a bicycle, WordPress, or a lovely public bus. I see enough cars when I’m out biking to America. I mean—to the grocery.
With that, it’s goodbye, broadcast TV, till 2019. Goodbye Jan & all your car commercials. Our ice caps are going places all right, no thanks to you.
March update: Since January 1st, I’ve kept smashingly to my TV fast. I’ve deliberately missed lots & lots of television watching, including the Olympics and the Oscars & probably several horrific hours of Special Reports (I do read the Washington Post).
One thing I noticed when I watched the one allowed broadcast TV show this week, was that I still can’t stand car commercials. They feel like… white lies.
P.S. I hope more commercials like this one come down the turnpike; let me know if you see more like this in 2018. I like it because it could just as easily be titled: “What’s a car?” Between climate & school safety, young people have a rough, but bikeable, road ahead #parklandstrong