April 02, 2003

A Recap Of Banality, And

A Recap Of Banality, And Tearing Jill Nelson A New One

Hapkido last night. I know, I know, no one cares. Well, I care damnit! I care a whole bunch. I have a renewed hapkido enthusiasm following the news that I'm only a few months away from my black belt. Except. . .

I found out yesterday that, before I can become a black belt, I have be certified in CPR/First Aid. Apparently, if I eventually have to beat someone senseless, I have to be able to bandage my opponent's wounds, set their broken bones and, Heaven forbid, get their heart going again. As if the pressure of preserving my own life isn't bad enough, now I have to ensure the longevity of the person who tries to slit my throat? It's a crazy world we live in. Anyway, I have to sign up for an April 26 CPR training seminar. Should be entertaining.

I had errands to run last night after hapkido, including gassing up the Cadillac. Does anyone else find it odd that, if a pump isn't working, or if a great unseen underground tank of petrol is empty, the gas station alerts the patrons by wrapping a plastic bag over the pump handle? It strikes me as some sort of gasoline haz mat suit. "Don't touch this, you fool! Can't you see the plastic bag?!"

I then went to Subway for my dinner, and I was waited on by one of those auto-pilot "sandwich artists" who obviously hate their job. She was a thin blonde unit, cute I suppose, in an anorexic sunken eyes sort of way, and she fired out all the standard Subway questions without any inflection or heart whatsoever.

SANDWICH ARTIST: What can I get you tonight, sir?

ME: Not sure yet (could you at least let the door close behind me before you ask? I don't normally enter an eating establishment desiring any specific meal. That's what menus are for, so please let me look at your's first. I SO should have said that to her!)

SANDWICH ARTIST: Okay sir. *yawns*

ME: I'll take a chicken breast foot long on. . .

SANDWICH ARTIST: What type of bread, sir?

ME: Wheat.

SANDWICH ARTIST: What kind of cheese would you like on that, sir?

ME: Pepper jack.

SANDWICH ARTIST: What else would you like on that, sir?

ME: Lettuce, tomato, onion, green pepper and jalepenos.

SANDWICH ARTIST: Any sauces or oils?

ME: No.

SANDWICH ARTIST: Chips or pop tonight, sir?

ME: Chips.

SANDWICH ARTIST: That will be $6.53. Thank you sir and have a nice night. *disappears into strange back room*

Now, I understand that being a "sandwich artist" probably isn't as glamorous as it sounds, and chances are this highschooler has aspirations that far exceed the Subway walls, but I don't think it's too much to ask to to expect an occasional smile, or some sign that the person handling my dinner has personality characteristics other than simply bored and irritated out of her skull. I'm not expecting Robin Williams or anything like that. Just a smile. Maybe a nipple flash. You know, just something extra.

I played The Sims last night. Now, before you roll your eyes and say "but isn't that game for girls?" let me just assure you that, yes, it is for girls, but sometimes I'm in the mood for a computer game free of the stresses of a first person shooter or real-time strategy game. I mean, I love Command & Conquer: Generals, but it's disconcerting to rush to build a base only to have it leveled by a Chinese nuke or a terrorist Scud attack. There's no stress to The Sims, and the plentiful cheat codes make it actually relaxing to play.

Just before I went to bed, feeling totally relaxed and at peace thanks to The Sims, I quickly went online to catch up on war news. Out of curiosity, I checked out the MSNBC.com opinions section and I was surprised to see an article by the ever-annoying Jill Nelson. She's been strangely quiet ever since the war broke out. Well, she's back, and she's making up for lost time by wallowing in hyperbole. This woman takes whining to a level that surpasses even that of Michael Moore. I'm convinced that, if Jill were to whine just a little louder, and at a slightly higher pitch, whales the world over would feel compelled to beach themselves.

Some excerpts from her latest bit of chilled literary vomit:

Spare me network anchors on location arrayed in multi-pocketed flak jackets and combat helmets, reporting from positions embedded with the troops or striding across maps in a safe studio, explaining the battlefield as if it is a diorama at the Museum of Natural History. Spare me the stories of Arnett and Geraldo and the ceaseless, obscene competition for ratings.

In other words, spare her the war coverage. I'm not sure what that leaves to report on. Maybe if we scooped up Jill's rickety bones and plopped her in the middle of a war zone, she could offer up an unbiased account of the situation, but I highly doubt it. She's more content to whine from her vantage point in the cheap seats.

Despite my disgust, I am not completely detached. I still scan the headlines, sometimes have the radio on in the background, watch snippets of televised news. Mostly, I learn little news and I am not interested in the grim details. I never believed the Iraqis would lie down and surrender their country in the face of America's "shock and awe" military strategy, so I am not surprised at the rising death toll on both sides and difficult battles.

Difficult battles? As opposed to what, exactly? Hug and kiss assaults? Battles, by definition are difficult, or at least that's how I understand battles to be. And a rising death toll? Is there anybody out there who honestly believes a death toll is supposed to go down during a war?

ANNOUNCER: In an unprecedented development today, soldiers from both sides of the conflict rose from their graves remarkably unscathed and renewed their fighting. This new Lazarus development actually caused the military to adjust their casualty numbers, bringing the death toll down by about 24.

Nor am I shocked or surprised by the emergence of Iraqi suicide bombers (bomber, Jill. Singular. There's only been one so far) and civilian resistance, or by Iraq's guerilla warfare strategies as they fight off the U.S.-led coalition forces. It can be only racism, arrogance and simple stupidity that made any one think they wouldn't.

For some people, it always seems to come back to racism. "I know why you pulled me over, officer. It's because I'm black! I know why I didn't get that job. It's because I'm black! I know why they're burning that cross in my yard. It's because I'm black!" Sometimes, as hard as it is to believe, it's not actually about racism. U.S. military planners expected resistance. They expected suicide attack(s). They expected guerilla warfare tactics. They expected all of this. Sure, it would be nice if the Iraqis just put down their AK-47s and showered us with kisses on our feet, but we certainly weren't counting on that to happen. I'm not sure where the racism comes in here, or arrogance, or simple stupidity for that matter. But, it wouldn't be a Jill Nelson column if she didn't play the race card at least once.

And sometimes I think the arrogance of George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and all the rest of them so bent on this war for oil is itself simply a posture — a cloak to convince Americans to go along with a war that would be quick and virtually painless, with few casualties and over in a few days. If so, it was a lie that only the United States, Tony Blair, Spain and Bulgaria believed.

Er, AND Afghanistan, AND Albania, AND Australia, AND Azerbaijan, AND Colombia, AND the Czech Republic, AND Denmark, AND El Salvador, AND Eritrea, AND Estonia, AND Ethiopia, AND Georgia, AND Hungary, AND Italy, AND Japan, AND South Korea, AND Latvia, AND Lithuania, AND Macedonia, AND the Netherlands, AND Nicaragua, AND the Philippines, AND Poland, AND Romania, AND Slovakia, AND Turkey, AND Uzbekistan. But who's keeping track?

And enough of the whole "war for oil" mantra. I didn't believe that months ago, and I don't believe it now. If this were truly about oil, we would have simply secured all the oil fields and would be pumping that fresh sweet crude into our SUVs by now.

I can tell by the expressions on the faces of people I pass on the street that they are, like me, both angry and broken-hearted by the violence being done in our name. I know that they, too, live every day now with that clenched feeling in the stomach, waiting, always waiting, for the next worst thing to happen. Wishing it won't, but certain that it will.

It's nice to know that she's so obviously psychic, able to see into the minds and souls of people passing by. Maybe they're angry and broken hearted because they just got dumped. Maybe they simply have to take a shit, what with the perpetual clenched feeling in their stomachs and all. Give me a break. Alison. Alison. Angel. Alison. Angel. Alison. And the next worst thing to happen? To hear Jill tell it, you'd think we're massively losing this war rather than being 25 miles from the Baghdad doorstep.

In my neighborhood, I cannot find anyone who supports the war. In the bodega on the corner, the woman behind the counter cannot tell me in English how much a head of lettuce costs, but when I say "war" she immediately frowns. "Is very, very bad. Bush very bad," she declares as she hands me my change.

"I don't even want to talk about it, it's terrible," says the young guy grinding my coffee beans at the supermarket. "What can you say? It's all about oil," he adds, shaking his head.

"Those poor young people, American and Iraqi, it's a shame and a waste," an elderly woman murmurs sadly as we stand on a corner waiting for the light to turn green. And so it goes.

What the hell neighborhood does this woman live in? Sounds like a warped version of Sesame Street.

Jill Nelson. My choice for five star whiner of the week award. *****

UPDATE: I just read this headline from my local paper: Couple Say War Truth Is Somewhere Between CNN, Al-Jazeera

No crap.

Posted by Ryan at April 2, 2003 11:58 AM
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