Thursday, August 24, 2017
I can smell the smoke days after it happened.
I didn’t see the fire; I wish I had.
I always miss the good things when they happen even thought Uncle Harry says it isn’t good.
He also tells me to stay away from Dave; he just won’t tell me why.
Someone says Dave down by the school when the fire started, is all Harry says.
Nobody sets fire to school on the last day, not even Dave, bitter as he is at being left back in the sixth grade again.
The fire didn’t gut the school the way neighbors say, but could have it the janitor hadn’t seen smoke and called the police.
Newspapers are always betting stuff like that wrong; it’s why I read them; it’s why Harry always curses when he first gets up; he believes what he reads and it pisses him off.
Kids in the neighborhood think Dave did it, too.
What was he doing there if he didn’t start it, my other friend, Ralph asks, then asks me what I think, since I’m Dave’s best friend.
I’m Dave’s only friend. But that doesn’t mean I know what makes him tick; I don’t.
I don’t think he set the fire; that’s something I might do.
Still, I think back to that time on the Parkway bridge when I thought I light the match and sent it down onto the top of the cars driving below.
Now I wonder.
Maybe he ticks like a time bomb.
Maybe getting left back set him off; his younger brother, Dennis, egging him on, since Harry says someone said they saw Dennis down there, too.
My other friends, Ralph and Bill, Bob and Louie, all want me to go ask Dave: “He’ll talk to you,” they say.
“How can I talk to him when he’s in jail?” I say.
They say he’s not. The police took him home
I think if they think he did it why did they take him home.
“Stay away from him,” Harry tells me.
So I have to sneak out of the house when I decide to go, easing out the kitchen door while my uncles are watching V in the living room, out onto the porch and across the yard, knowing I can’t go across the boatyard or down the front stairs without risk that one uncle or another might look out the window and see me.
They’re in a mood; they might call the police.
I climb the rear fence into Mrs. Gunya’s garden and cross the manicured lawn to the flower bed near the First Street fence and climb over that one, too. She used to have a dog that kept people like me from doing this like this. But now she doesn’t. Someone poisoned the dog. I swear it wasn’t me.
I don’t go to Dave’s house first; I go down the hill to where the school is; the fire trucks are gone; so are all the police cars, except one with a bored maybe sleepy cop behind the wheel.
They left plenty of yellow tape for me to look at, duck under, get closer to the part where the fire happened.
To me, fire smells sweet, just the way blood does.
This isn’t sweet; it’s sour like melted plastic or burnt rubber.
I don’t gag; I just hold my breath until I stop feeling like I want to puke.
The fire didn’t burn down the school; it painted some of the windows black, and some of the bricks, and melted the banner that floated between the two wings that celebrates the city’s 50th anniversary.
This is all wrong.
Nobody burns down a school on the last day, even I know better – you wait until school is ready to open that way it stays closed longer. Burn it now, people will spend all summer getting it read and the fire stops meaning anything.
The newspaper made a big deal about it; how kids could have gotten hurt, how the dastardly act might have killed someone if not for the heroic efforts of the janitor who called the cops in time.
The papers get everything wrong; the only one in the school at the time was the janitor; and even he shouldn’t have been there.
The Dave I know I don’t know wouldn’t hurt anybody, no matter how many times they left him back.
Blaming me makes more sense. I don’t think. I do things then regret them, then still do them again like the old lady near the factory lot that called the cops when she saw me cutting through her yard like I did in Mrs. Gunya’s.
I cut through everybody’s yard. It’s no big deal. It’s no reason to call the cops on me. She did; it made me angry. I made Dave come with me when I decided to get even with her, one more mission for the Dynamic Duo, only this time it’s not imaginary, I told him, as we rolled out bicycles out his downstairs doorway to the street, peddling as fast as we could to get to her house where I lit the fuses to the ash cans I set by her door.
It didn’t go off for so long Dave didn’t think it would go off just the way he thought the rocket wouldn’t go off on the Fourth of July, when it did, and he wanted me to go check to see what went wrong, and I told him I had no intention of having the ash cans blow up in my face.
Maybe that’s what Dave wanted; he hated the ash can idea, scared that the old lady might keel over and die from the shock. I told him old ladies like that don’t die like that, someone poisons them like someone did Mrs. Gunya’s dog or runs them over in a car.
She’s so tough the mailman’s more scared of her than he is her dog.
Some people are born like that, too tough for anything to phase them.
All I wanted was to scare her enough for her to know not everybody is scared of her.
So we put the ahs cans inside her front door; she leaves it open so the paper boy won’t leave the paper on the stop where it always gets wet.
Then we ran, hid behind a parked car on the street and waited.
Then we waited some more.
And when we couldn’t wait after that, I refused to go back.
Then I did get scared. I thought she’d call the cops again and the cops would find us and know we wee the ones who put it there, and think like Dave thinks that I tried to kill her.
So we jumped on our bikes again and peddled as fast as we could to get as far from that house as we could, so if the cops caught us, they couldn’t prove we’d come anywhere near the place.
We peddled so hard I thought if anyone died of a heart attack that night, it would be me.
When the bang came, it sounded big – bigger even than when we threw ash cans in Emerald’s Cave to scare the gang there, bigger even than when the rocket demolished the old tree trunk in my back yard on the Fourth of July.
And me being me, I insisted we go back and look, even thought I thought the cops might see us and add two with two and come up with us at the culprits
I just can’t help wanting to see my own handiwork.
And so I dragged Dave back on the street full of cops and fire engineers and someone who must have been the fire chief scratching his head, mumbling about the old lady being right about there being a gas leak, and how lucky she was she wasn’t at home.
And Dave and me, we just stared at the flames consumed the house.
That smoke hadn’t smelled sweet either.
So when I get sick of stair at the blackened windows of the school, I head up to Dave’s house to ask him what’s what.
Since his mother already thinks I get Dave into too much trouble, I know better than to ring the bell. I pick up stones and throw them at the third floor window where I know he and Dennis share a room. I miss twice before I hit glass.
Nobody answers, so I do it again, and again, until somebody does, and this turns out to be Dennis.
“I need to talk to Dave,” I say, trying to sound loud enough without sounding too loud to alert Dave’s mom who is watching TV on the second floor.
“He doesn’t want to talk to you,” Dennis says.
“Nor until I get an answer,” I say, staring at Dennis’s round face in the dim light. He looks a lot like a Jack-o-lantern.
“I’ll right the bell,” I say, “and ask your mother.”
“Don’t do that!” Dennis squeals “You’ll get him in even more trouble.”
“What do you mean – more trouble?”
“Dave thinks you set the fire at school.”
“Me? Why would I do that?”
“Why do you do anything?” Dennis asks. “Just go away.”
Monday, August 21, 2017
Dave comes over to roll the box with me only because I promise real fireworks later.
He doesn’t like my pretend games of space ship and submarine inside the large box that the outboard motors come in for my uncle’s boat store next door to my house, and neither doe my uncle, Harry, who is upstairs trying to sleep after his second shift job out at the airport.
I make Dave stay.
We both hear the scrap of wood as Harry yanks open the second floor window. I peer out the handhold in the box and see his head sticking out the window upstairs. He can’t see us – except maybe where Dave’s feet stick out one end of the box. But he knows we’re inside and yells for us to stop making such a racket.
I try to wait him out, the way I sometimes do, hoping he’ll get bored or tired and head back to bed. But he’s in a mood, refusing to leave the window until I show myself, so I do, easing out the wide mouth of the box, standing at the slate walk that runs around the house from the front porch along the side to the back porch and then into the boat yard next door, Harry’s head framed by one of the two windows of his bedroom on the boat store side of the house.
Harry looks and sounds old, his eyes wrapped in weariness churned up by annoyance, sweat glistening on his forehead exaggerating the hairline his baldness creates, the frown crinkling his face to make him look much older than he really is.
“How many times do I have to tell you to be quiet?” he asks.
“I’m sorry, Uncle Harry. “I didn’t think the box would make that much noise.”
“It’s not the box; it’s you. I can sleep a wink for you’re your giggling. Why aren’t you at school?”
“It’s Fourth of July,” I tell him.
I want to see it’s a holiday and if we weren’t out of school for the summer, we’d had the day off anyway.
“We’re just playing space ship,” I tell him.”
“Space ships don’t giggle,” Harry says. “Why don’t you place space ship in a park somewhere?”
“We’re gonna,” I say. “Later, Uncle Ed promised to take us to Garret Mountain to watch the fireworks.”
“Fireworks are all we need,” Harry mumbles. He always mumbles when he’s talking to himself. “Who do you have in that box with you?”
“It’s only Big Dave. You know the kid from down the street near the liquor store?”
“Tell him to get out of that damned box. If he gets hurt, I’ll have a hell of a lawsuit on my hands.”
I kick Dave’s big feet sticking out the end of the box. His feet jerk. He does not yet get out until I kick him again harder, then he moves, crawling out on his back, crab-like, so large he must be a lobster. He has to roll over to stand, and once standing, he looks smaller than he is, slumped shoulders, head down, looking the way I should look whenever my uncle scolds me; I never do.
My uncle sighs.
“Okay. Now put the box by the trash where it belongs.”
When my uncle goes, shutting the window with a definitive creak, Dave asks: “What now?”
“I guess we’re going to have to play with the real rocket ship,” I say.
“You said you wanted to save that for later.”
“Well, now I don’t,” I say.
I’m not good at saving things, good or even bad. I get things over with so I don’t have to think about them all the time, worry over them, whether they will happen or not. If I’m going to get ice cream, I get it, and eat it, and forget it when I’m done. When I’m going to be punished, I want to get the pain over with so I can get on with whatever I need to get on with.
Frankly, I’m surprised I waited as long as I have with the rocket ship. It’s different somehow. It took me a long time to make and I guess I don’t want it all to go up in smoke so quick, or forget about it after it happens.
I don’t tell Dave any of this.
I just tell him to come with me and I head around to the other side of the house, and the cellar door that used to be metal and slanted, a storm door like Dorothy needed before she wasn’t in Kansas any more. Now it is wood and straight, with a door lock I picked open as soon as my grandfather installed it to keep me from getting hurt after I fell out the kitchen window and through the open door to hit my head on the stone steps. He couldn’t fix the stone, so he fixed the door so that the next time I fall out a window I don’t land so hard.
I keep looking for the blood on the stone stairs I know is not there and feel the bump on the back of my head that always is.
Down the steps, then left, into a dark room of stone floors, and walls and brick beams holding up a wooden ceiling, walls lined with trusted and dented metal shelves on which my uncle and my grandfather store everything they think they might need some time; then never do, each thing covered in dust and layers of grease or oil: machine parts, boxes of nails or screws, tiles and brackets, cans of paint so old they won’t open, and when they do the paint has turned to rubber.
A lot of stuff sits on wooden planets along the floor, packed up outboard motor parts, and tools grandpa hasn’t used since he stopped building houses, as covered with dust as the stuff on the shelves, yet somehow more desirable, spirits of some former life grandpa still regrets giving up.
An old washing machine sits in the midst of this, complete with ringing, a gift grandpa bought grandma after moving into the new house after the war, a modern piece of contemporary convenience, out of date a decade later, and replaced by a separate washer and dryer, though grandma continues to hang the clean laundry on a line strung across the back yard from the back porch.
Dave, who has to bow his head to get down the stairs, tells me the cellar stinks, and it does. It stinks of mold and coal and oil, of grease and paint and soil, the dark concrete seeped in it, everything curved in or out, or sunk-in with rain water or the bugs. I can smell the wood, aged now, yet once new, and the sweat of the men who labored to build it, and the sweat of the servants who rushed up and down its stairs, a stair case abandoned by grandpa when his youngest son fell down it, the way I fell out the window, and unable to fix the stone upon which his son landed, he fixed the house so that the staircase ceased to exist, with only the pale newer wood of the repair showing on the ceiling where the staircase once descended.
The boiler, massive and black, sat in back like a very fat cat, mum now with warm weather, filling the space it has always filled, before Grandpa converted it from coal to oil, though in winter, both smells rose through the heat grates, bathed me and the room above.
The coal bin remains, too, like a black tooth along the front wall, through a shoot to a door on the outside, and then a door on the inside, a metal door mostly rusted difficult to open, only nobody opened it except for me, and then forcing the old metal to move, causing bits of rust to flicker off, revealing brighter metal beneath like evidence to my crime.
I open it again, and reach inside, fingers feeling the grit of coal from before my grandfather’s time, filled with memory and despair of all those who dug up the coal and brought it here, black death left to die in a cellar that no longer needed it, then my fingers finding what they needed to find, cool metal against my flesh, sift and long, I drag it out.
“Is that it?” Dave asked; I saw it is.
“It doesn’t look like much,” Dave says.”
“It does to me,” I saw, holding it in one hand, heavy like the metal crucifix I sometimes get to hold in church, smooth and potent from the powder I stuffed into it from my uncle’s shotgun shells, too many to count since this pipe is so long and so heavy it needs a lot of gunpowder for it to get off the ground.
“Are you sure it’s safe?” Dave asks.
It is not safe; it would not be fun if it was; I can’t tell him that. I need him to feel about this the way I feel about it, the potency of it, before we set it off and it all goes up in smoke.
“Come on,” I tell him. “We’ll do it outside.”
So we go out the way we came; Dave bowing his head at the stairs, me not needing to, still looking for the blood I spilled here and still not finding it.
I take the rocket to the stump on the side of the house, a stump that once was a dead tree when my uncles and aunt were my age, old yellowed photographs showing them sitting on its dead branches, a tree that accepted them as if its children, embracing them, until time fractured each and my grandfather cut it down, leaving only the stump for me to explore, and a place for the armies of ants to build colonies and for the decay that created sawdust and memories, leaving, too, a hole on top into which I fit my rocket, before I light the fuse, hissing as it burns, the heavy meal sputtering smoke and the stench of burning, and I stare at it, watching weeks worth of work coming to an end, I think maybe I should stop it, and save it, I just stare, though about when the fuse burns half way, I wake up and shout: “Run!” and we run, back around the porch along the slate path, passed the trash and the large box that is not a real rocket, and to a space under the window here my uncle sleeps, and into the boatyard, a grave yard on this holiday in summer that is not a holiday from school, and down a narrow alley between the board yard and the gas station, where we once hid from the man we hit in the face with peas from our pea shooter, and then we stop, hiding behind the thick metal bodies of old oil drums now filled with green rain water, and we wait.
“It’s not going off,” Dave says.
“Wait,” I say
“Something’s wrong,” Dave says.
Again, I say, “Wait,” in my head seeing the fuse slowly burning down, its scent burning in my nostrils mingling with the smell of oil, coal, grease and my own sweat.
“We ought to go back and see,” Dave says.
Before I can say, “Wait” again, it happens: a sound like the crack of a whip, louder, rumbling, like the sound of the box, louder, like the fall of a branch in a rain storm, louder, like the sound of an earthquake I have never heard, only imagined, louder, like the collapse of something deep inside me, beyond what I even thought I could hear, the fire works we expect, magnified, louder,
Then, it starts to rain, not water, bits of wood, splinters and dust, sweeping down in one gush of breath, not loud now, like a sigh accompanied by a wave of smoke, gray, black, filled not with coal or oil the way the vents send smells into the house on a cold morning, or fire, a burning, wood and earth singed.
Then comes the silence.
Quieter than any – the land having sucked up all sound even the chatter of squirrels and the drone of traffic from the street.
Then comes the creak of a window opening in my uncle’s bedroom
“Run!” I shout, and we run.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
We see a pool of blood and think: someone got murdered.
The track runs in back of old factories nearly the whole way from Paterson to Passaic, isolated, dark, overgrown with weeds in the places the trains don’t reach.
Dave shivers and not from cold, says maybe a train his someone.
Trains don’t haul off the bodies they hit, I say, trying to make my stride match the rail ties, and never can, they always just out of kilter with the stride I take, so I have to hop a little to reach the next or slow down a little.
Dennis, who stages along with us this time, says maybe someone just cut himself on something; broken bottles litter the sides of the tracks, a jewel collection in the rush of train lights when we come here at night.
Too much blood for just a cut, I say. If the person crawled away, he didn’t get far.
Dennis says we should go look for him.
Dave says we should go home.
This is a dance we dance each time we find something bad on the tracks, Dave always wanting to go home or hide under his bed, like the time we saw gang of kids beat up someone we knew from school, or day we heard gunshots, Me and Dennis always go towards trouble, Dave runs away.
Maybe it’s not blood this time, Dave says.
I kneel beside the pool, my face painted red in its reflection – not like the red of the dye we painted that kid once down by the brook. This red smells sweet the way blood does, and feels sticky.
“Don’t touch it!” Dave howls.
Dennis asks if he can touch it too, but Dave grabs his shoulder and says, “Don’t you dare.”
Drips of blood dripped on the rail and down the side of it, and then a smudge of someone else who is not us touching it, maybe the person who bled, who fell here, and then rose again.
“This way,” I say, and follow the trail down the rail, one painful drip after another, not a lot, not often, but stead except where it gets smeared.
Then, we see a food print in the mud, and then more, bent, as if pushing a great weight after a hard fall.
Dave says we need to go back down the tracks and find a cop.
I say a cop will only think we did something wrong.
“What if he’s dead? The cops’ll think we’re in on it if we don’t tell,” Dave says.
I won’t go back, and follow the blood spots to the next smear, and the next, until I find more spears than drops, more of both, not just a pool now, but a stream.
Dennis pants beside me, an excited puppy sniffing out the trail in the dying light.
The tracks grow more dangerous with dark, haunted with voices and lights, sweet scents that are not blood or fire, more exotic, intoxicating, the ghosts of this place filled with intensity I can feel as well as hear.
I almost miss seeing the knife for the dark, glitter a little with the angle of the sinking sun, but it isn’t sun light that makes it look red.
“I’m going back,” Dave says, finally when he sees the knife, too, his shrill voice rising a little too loudly even for me.
I tell him to keep quiet. I tell him we’re not safe. I tell him we need to be careful.
We don’t want our blood in a pool like this guy’s blood is – whoever this guy is and where even he crawled off to.
Our lives swing on a pendulum between two dangerous cities, we drawn from one to the other across the safer ground of the city where we live, a city Dave’s mother desperately sought refuge in, a city rejecting all strangers of her kind, the vagabond gypsies that land like autumn leaves in this pile or that, taking up residences in whatever place they can afford with Dave’s mom pleading with landlords when her son came of age so that they might be on the right side of the boundary so he would not have to go to the wrong school where his face was the wrong color, she convinced his gentle spirit would get crushed in the violence clash of characters who he would meet over there, not tough enough to even toughen up at each beating, finding finally refuge on the lip of the right side where they could watch the violence from the front window of their second and third floor walkup but not be involved in it, with me leading Dave and Dennis to seek out the very violence she sought to protect him from, leading him to this pool of blood on the tracks we walked and he relying on me to lead him back to safety when safety is the last thing I seek.
I hold the knife in my hand feeling the warmth of blood that is no longer there.
In the darkness, howls rise, not of wolves, not of beasts we think of as beasts, yet terrifying still, filling the air with a child, and a lingering sense of hopelessness we all feel, me, Dave, Dennis, and even those who do the howling.
“Do they know we’re here?” Dave asks.
“I don’t know,” I say.
“Can we get back home?” Dennis asks.
“I don’t know,” I say again, knowing how little I know, even not knowing why I come here, and why I come back when I do know I will come across if not pools of blood like this then something equally bad.
“I want to go back – NOW!” Dave says.
I shake my head. Someone is hurt ahead of us, leaving a trail of blood the dark won’t let us see. He maybe dead even. But he may need us to help him. And I tell Dave this.
“We’ll call the cops when we get to the sweet shop,” Dave says. “The cops can help him.”
I shake my head; then stumble on blind, sniffing the sweetness I know is blood, no longer pausing over the places where the man fell; he has fallen too many times for that.
Why is he here? Is he someone we know?
In her madness, my other used to talk about people’s crosses, the burdens they carry on their backs the way Christ carried his cross, that bitter path life sometimes forced them to follow when they seek to go other places, and I wonder, if my footsteps stumble along a path I don’t intend to follow, and I also carry a cross I cannot see.
“I want to go back,” Dave says again.
I ignore him and stumble on.
Dennis agrees with his big brother.
I ignore him, too, sniffing the air, catching the scent of sweetness that is not fire, stronger, more potent, a fresh scene stirring up in me some primitive ability school and life in the city has hidden in me.
“It’s not far now,” I tell them, knowing they are too scared to care, the howling in the night, louder, too, nearer, somewhere ahead, or behind us on the tracks – perhaps both.
We find the feet first, old man’s shoes, thick with mud, curled slight up at the toes, wilting in the heat that has long expired, the man came next, work paints stained with black from the mud along the tracks. The red stains don’t show until we see his chest, and his hand splayed over the region of his heart.
“Is he dead?” Dennis asks, fear and curiosity mingling in his voice.
“I don’t know,” I say, afraid to touch him, my hand clinging to a knife I do know I should not have, yet cannot release.
The man’s pale face shows his age, not homeless or as ancient as I first thought, more like the men I see when I go to fetch my uncle out of Lee’s Tavern on Crooks Avenue, grim face stained with the relentless assault of hard sunlight, a truck driver maybe, or a man working on some loading dock.
Or perhaps a worker in one of the many factories or warehouses that boarder these tracks.
He doesn’t move; he doesn’t breathe. We do all the treating for all of us, heavy, quick breaths we cannot slow down, each needing to get as much air before we like him, can’t take in air at all.
“Now can we go home?” Dave asks.
I nod. He can’t see my nod in the dark and so asks again.
“Yes,” I tell him, hearing the howls that I now know come from one direction, not both, yet in the direction we need to take if we really want to reach home.
There are other ways, of course, long ways, wrong ways, that eventually lead back to where we want to go, ways our footsteps never sought to travel with crosses on our backs we never meant to carry.
And I lead them along one of them, they trusting me once more to get them back from where I’ve lead them in the first place, my cross to bear I guess.
I let the knife drop.
Later, I think about it, about the stain of someone else’s blood left on my fingers, about the finger prints I left on the knife, and how maybe the police will come knocking at my uncles’ door and ask me about the murder.
But I’m not Dave; I lose only a few nights sleep, so like the pool of blood slowing making its way into the earth, the fear subsides, and I move on, down some new path, perhaps a path I do not intend to take, yet a part of some place other than the fearful one I am on.
We don’t talk about the man or the pool of blood. Dave won’t even call the police. We just let it lie, like sleeping downs and making sure when we travel the tracks again we hurry passed the spot where the pool was.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
The New York Slimes
All the news that’s bullshit
You have to love The Washington Post. In an attempt to bring down President Donald Trump on behalf of the Democrats and Hillary Clinton, the once great publication that gave us Watergate has abandoned every once of journalistic ethics in an attempt to relive its glory days.
One theory behind the Kennedy Assassination is that elements of the
CIA – peeved about JFK pulling the
plug on their attempt to overthrow the Cuban government under Castro – got
together with the Mafia – peeved at RFK for coming after them as attorney
general. The mob, after all, had helped rig the election for the Democrats by
swinging Chicago in JFK’s favor,
and they felt betrayed.
This theory holds water largely because of the players involved. It was more or less a successful overthrow of the American Government.
What we’re seeing here is a similar political coup by elements of American Intel still loyal to Obama, who have been feeding The Washington Post questionable bits of information in an attempt to undo the election that allowed Trump to beat
This is a Democratic wet dream since without a scandal to do for them what Watergate did in the 1970s Democrats are likely to lose not just the 2018 congressional elections, but also the White House again in 2020.
The fact that the Russian conspiracy claiming the Russians influence the election is a democratic fabrication from the start – helped with Obama appointed Clapper – really is less important than the fact that the only source for most of these Russian stories comes from The Washington Post – which is still trying to get even with Trump for his insulting them on the campaign trail.
CNN, the New York Times and other so called objective news outlets simply repeat whatever questionable information the Post prints, not bothering to check whether there are other sources that might verify this information.
The Post with a clear anti-Trump agenda becomes to sole source of information being fed to it by anti-Trump members of the intel, who are doing the Democrat’s dirty work – no doubt in pathetic loyalty to Obama, who let them get away literally with murder while he was president.
As much as the Post and the Democrats try to steer public opinion into the belief that the Russians influenced the election, the outcome of the Presidential election had almost nothing to do with the Russians, and all to do with the Democrats waging a bad campaign, hoping to win on the backs of liberal voters.
assumed blacks, women and Latinos would vote in massive numbers because she and
media painting Trump as a racist. These numbers didn’t emerge because Clinton
was largely the candidate of elite liberals, not people on the street. She also
had a bad opinion of white working class, and these people did turn out –
He cheating against Sanders did play a role in her losing the election. She arrogantly assumed Sanders votes had no place to go as she and media pumped up the anti-trump rhetoric. Many of these voters also stayed home.
This stupid idea that leaked emails about
would push her voters to support Trump makes no sense, but it is a desperate
effort to discredit voters who flat out rejected Democrats in the last
election. Like Clinton, the Washington Post (along with NPR, CNN, The New York
Times and the pathetic New Yorker – have become elitist in their view of who a
The fact that the Washington Post is engaged in overthrowing the government is no big surprise. Their ego has been dented because they only people who actually take the Post seriously are those who already believe what they right, scared politicians and other media – this last the most horrible of all First Amendment issues since media refuses to take the Post to task for gross unethical behavior.
If there is any truth behind Post reports, it will come out in an investigation. But the Post isn’t looking for justice, it is looking for ego gratification, trying to prove it is still relevant even after it has abandoned it journalistic integrity.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
The New York Slimes
All the news that’s bullshit
Back in the late 1980s when I started my career in mainstream media (after nearly two decades being involved in underground press,) I went back to college to brush up on my reporting skills and journalistic ethics.
My professor and old school journalist from
Rochester turned off the spell-check on our
classroom computers, telling us that reporters needed to know how to spell.
While I never completely got the hang of spelling, some of the ethics sank in – which is a lesson as lost to contemporary mainstream journalism as the ability to spell is with me.
Some news organizations are worse than others. National Propaganda Radio makes no pretense at being fair – which explains why President Obama gave them a medal for bushwhacking Nancy Reagan years ago.
Crap News Network is so distorted that it could easily service as one of those trick circus mirrors or a lyric for the Rolling Stones song in which cops are criminals and sinners are saints – almost everything it reports is largely the opposite of what it seems, with its news copy crafted by some low level intern from the National Democratic Party. Diogenes would have burned his lamp out long ago seeking anything honest in their broadcasts.
The Washington Puke is even worse, if only because its publishers are seeking to recover old glories they briefly found while investigating Watergate in the early 1970s. Their whole purpose in life is to search under every rock for some possible Republican scandal they can uncover the way they did in the pace, and so desperate are they, they are not above creating a conspiracy where none exists.
Many people have higher hopes for the New York Slimes, because it’s hype always painted it as “America’s newspaper” when most of us in the alternative press knew just how inaccurate a perception this is, and how opportunistic Slimes has been, much like the recently fired FBI director, who played all sides in an effort to retain a position of power, its editorial content leaning towards whatever power broker that promised to give them clout, a conservative paper in the 1960s when most of us were against the war, and now a proponent for giving President Obama sainthood while giving the GOP a much hotter place to reside in its slanted reporting. While Slimes still prints an occasional brilliant piece from time to time, you often need a magnifying glass to find it and a lot of toilet paper to deal with open prejudice behind its eloquent purples prose that quickly fades into yellow journalism.
Yellow journalism has always been with us. Even Ben Franklin has a touch of hepatitis. But these days, jaundice appears to be epidemic among mainstream media where in the past it was generally on the fringe or the invention of some ego maniac with ambitions to be so powerful he could start a war with a bottle of ink, though even then this was considered a shameful abuse of power in the eyes of his peers.
The big difference is that nearly all of mainstream media wants to become Citizen Kane, and there is nobody left to hold them accountable for their abuses.
President Donald Trump claimed media is biased and unfair.
He’s right. It is. Nearly every news outlet in the county has taken sides in what is largely political theater, creating conspiracies, spreading misinformation or innuendo with no shame or apologies. But it is not up to The President or any elected official to hold media accountable, it is up to media, and we are not doing it.
Press associations are so consumed with protecting the First Amendment they left these outrageous media outlets get away with murder, and still blame cops and others for their blue wall, when media has a wall many times thicker and more dangerous than any Trump could build along the Mexican border.
Part of the problem is the concept of The Fourth Estate, which lets loose on the world brainwashed college kids who have all the clout of elected officials but none of the safeguards, nor any checks and balances except for greedy publishers consumed with internet clicks and equally biased editors who learned to spell but learned nothing about ethics.
The high and low point of contemporary journalism came at the exact same moment in time: Watergate.
Two men along with a host of other brave and dedicated journalists stood up against one of the most oppressive and corrupt regimes in American history, and brought it to its knees, an act unparallel in contemporary journalist history – but one which came with unfortunate consequences, inflating the ego of the Fourth Estate so that we mistakenly believed we had a place on Mount Olympus along with the political gods actually elected by the people. Instead of being guardians and watchers over the public good, we came to assume that we were a political power ourselves, and so as a result of years of inflated ego, we have out of control media outlets such as CNN, The Washington Puke and the New York Slimes all seeing to repeat what honest hardworking journalists accomplished when they did their jobs the way they were supposed to in the 1970s.
Watergate also changed the rules of journalism. The reporters that investigated Nixon used relatively new tools that later – and continue to be today – became abused by reporters and editors with far fewer ethics and far less talent.
What made the Watergate investigation work were the internal rules set by a remarkable publisher and an outstanding editor of the Washington Puke at that time, which were designed to uphold ethical standards and to limit mistakes. While mistakes were made, and innocent people’s careers suffered as collateral damager, on the whole, those reporters performed admirably.
But the Washington Puke has since resorted to all the bad habits typical of yellow journalism, not seeking truth so much as a repeat of its former glory, looking for dirt first, not objectivity.
Worse can be said of Crap National Network which has set itself up as some kind of moral barometer and truth-sayer when it lacks morality or truth or even the basic ethics my old professor expected from the most novice student reporter. It is difficult to know if CNN is deluded or corrupt, but its reporting certainly implies both.
Since National Propaganda Radio has little credibility when it comes to objectivity, I am not surprised or disappointed at its continued bias. Whereas the New York Slimes like the Washington Puke, demonstrates just how far our noble profession has fallen, and since they are both arrogant and unabashed in their prejudice, I can’t see their recovery any time soon – especially because we all know power corrupts and absolute unregulated power corrupts absolutely – because there is nothing for them to be accountable to except a sales chart.
Friday, May 12, 2017
The New York Slimes
All the news that bullshit
Right wing media is filled with paranoia over how slanted the so-called mainstream media has become – possibly because with outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN slanted their news coverage, Fox can no longer take credit as the “bad boys” of Journalism, and by comparison, Fox even looks and sounds reasonable. This is a remarkable accomplishment that should be mainstream media some comfort since they have ranted and raved for years about how slanted Fox was.
Perhaps we ought to award the mainstream media a Pulitzer Prize for this, except in accomplishing this feat, mainstream media has completed gutted journalistic integrity and violated every possible principle of journalistic ethics.
News reporters working for these organizations should go back to college and get their money back. They obviously learned nothing while at school, except out to use a thesaurus to help manipulate the general public into believing a skewed point of view. Any weekend edition of The New York Times becomes a lesson in how not to be an objective journalist.
You can’t blame NPR or any of its affiliates since they never pretended to be objective, and has also been something of a minor league of news where second rate reporters go to earn a living or washed up mainstream reporters go to die. NPR has been so unobjective over the years, some of its reporters even earned citizenship medals from President Obama for slanting their news to the left – such as the medal awarded to the host of Fresh Air, whose claim to fame was bushwhacking Mrs. Reagan in the 1980s.
NPR hasn’t improved; mainstream media, envious of NPR’s ability to slant stories, has moved to the left as well, largely becoming the propaganda arm for the Democratic Party.
Why is this happening, you might ask?
There are a number of theories, among which is that media has become full of itself, believing its role is not to merely report the news (well or not) but to influence public opinion, elevating itself as the Fourth Estate to a role that historically required an election and oversight, and a balance of power among those who govern.
Media has no oversight. It operates on its own rules. Attack it, and it bands together like a pack of rats, much the way the American Medical Association does anytime anyone criticizes a bad doctor or the way members of a mob family might when one of its own is threatened.
Editors no longer demand objectivity. In fact, they seemed determine to interject personal opinion into news pages, making frequent use of yellow prose that will not-so-subtly force readers to accept as truth their opinions. Any accurate study of a Sunday Times will show this abuse as the purple prose proliferates every section from real estate to entertainment in a non-stop attack on the current administration. Since The New York Times is considered the bible of journalism by many, far lesser news organizations such as CNN and The Washington Post become poster children of outrageous violations of journalistic ethics – partly as a Harpers Magazine article recently noted – the reporters and editors see themselves on social par with the people they are covering – a ludicrous idea at best, and a dangerous one at worst.
Corrupt reporters have always been a fact of life, reporters that are on the take from one party or even the mob (as made clear in the movie The Godfather), but in the past, there were internal checks and balances, responsible editors and publishers, some who still remembered the ethical boundaries that keep the news industry honest.
This is the big change – partly due to the sometimes brilliant and yet clearly flawed reporting that brought down President Nixon in the aftermath of Watergate.
Now, every news agency thinks it has the power to bring down a government it does not like – and so leaps into each edition with both feet.
Even that would not be horrible if it was done innocently and fairly, attacking all leaders regardless of party affiliation.
Some right wing radio hosts believe the real cause of this shift to the left comes from how news organization recruits journalists. New journalists do not learn their craft in the newsroom so much as in a class room, and so some people feel, they get indoctrinated by a largely left corps of left wing professors long before they actually put pen to paper (a lost concept) in a news room.
There may be some truth to this since we see a similar left wing propaganda infecting other graduates such as the proliferation of those with Masters of Fine Arts that parade the world without any real vision of reality and no sense of social purpose other than the one injected into their naïve heads while in the classroom.
But empty-headed artists are far less dangerous than a similar breed of journalist who comes into the newsroom with preconceived notions and no notion of objectivity. This would not be as serious even were the newsrooms occupied with a better breed of editor, whose world experience might temper these misguided newbies. The problem is that editors are of the same ethic-illiterate breed, and publishers – seeking to supply fodder for a particular audience – allow news to be distorted to fit the preconceived opinions of their target audience.
So we get an invasion of gonzo journalists, combined with unethical editors and unscrupulous publishers in a perfect storm of bad journalism – paving the way for a kind of propaganda even Stalin might have envied, unchecked by any other real power, attacking anybody who dares call their journalism unfair.
On top of all this is the idea that media organizations believe it is their duty to take political positions – outside the editorial pages – blurring the line between fact and opinion in an effort to steer the public in a particular direction – checked by nobody, not even journalism organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists who should be but won’t criticize their own or hold them accountable for the gross misconduct that we now see as main stream media news.
And God help anyone who is not a journalist who dares to tell these news dilatants that they are wrong.
Never mess with anybody who buys ink by the barrel.