Thursday, June 27, 2002

News I Can Lose

So. Do any of you people out there read this paper? How about a show of hands?

OK then, what have you thought of that graphic at the top of page four, the News You Can Use graphic? What's been up with those guys? Why have they been reading the Dallas News all this time? What do you think they're up to? I think the guy on our right has been showing the other guy a personal ad he wrote about him. I think they're a hip, swinging, Texan couple. But we're in Seattle, which is nowhere near Texas, so why has the caption below them always said "Close to Home?"

Being on the editorial board of this august rag, I am part of the very body of individuals who has decided each two weeks to continue using the graphic of the hip, swinging Texan guys. I would in fact be the individual who insists most loudly that we keep it. I think the hip, swinging, Texan guys are cool. But the voice of Dissent grows ever louder with each issue we print. The voice of Dissent will eventually get her way, if not in this issue, then in the next, she'll get so loud. So consider those guys history.

All of this must be a metaphor for my mood. After all, all events everywhere and at all times are metaphors for the moods of me, Copyright Dr. Wes Browning. This particular event, the change of the News You Can Use graphic, is specifically a metaphor for my specifically current mood. I know this, because I am a Poet, and that's how we Poets are. This is one of the things I have learned from many valuable conversations with Cindy, Muse of Other, my Muse of Few Words.

I would be sitting around, just like now, with a deadline in two hours, whining that I didn't feel like writing. And Cindy would ask me what's going on and I'd tell her the first thing that would come to mind. Like right now I'd say that the graphic for News You Can Use is changing, and she'd say "Ah." And I'd say, "What do you mean, 'Ah'?" And she'd say, "So you've been reading News You Can Use." And she'd be right. What a smart Muse.

Of COURSE I don't want to write with all that depressing news tumbling down around me. Especially lately since we've been printing news from all around the US and Canada. Yeah, that's it. I don't want to write because the news reports I have to work from are getting too disgusting. I mean, I'm supposed to be lightening things up, that's my job, but how do you lighten up a fleet of Sherman tanks, you know? (I'm speaking metaphorically again. Get it? Sherman tanks are really heavy.)

Just to pick one example: last issue we carried a story dealing with the video "Bumfights: a cause for concern." The video is said to depict actual homeless people, "bums", engaging in drunken fights among other things, in return for such things as food and clothing. How do I lighten this up? Now you know why I'd rather go on about the Texan couple.

What we ran in the story was only a hint of how disgusting the video is. According to a report by the BBC, in addition to showing homeless people fighting each other, there are scenes of people induced to injure themselves, scenes of people pulling their own teeth out with pliers, others of a man ramming his head against walls.

Other homeless advocates have been condemning the video on the grounds that it exploits the people depicted. As an ex cab driver and former teacher, I know from personal experience that you don't have to be homeless to be exploited on this planet, and I worry a lot less about the condition of the "stars" of "Bumfights" than I do about the part of the public that considers such garbage entertaining. It's the ignorant, bored, brain dead audience that's most being exploited.

Well, that wasn't very lightening of me, was it? Still, I feel lighter for having raised the subject. I've gotten a Sherman tank off my chest.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

Don't Step In That Stupidity

We've decided that it's time that we here at Adventures in Poetry take stock of where we are, sniff the air, and then go out on some different limbs and take some hard stands on the controversial issues of the day, courageously facing any mixed metaphors that we might encounter on those limbs, staring them down the narrow ends until they lose their grips, while we miraculously keep all of ours.

For example we are opposed to homelessness, in general. But we are not completely opposed to yurts. We are reserving judgment on yurts until we have actually lived in one. We are leaning in favor of them, though, ever since we saw Julia Roberts sleep in one on TV.

We are opposed to rape. Yes, I know that may surprise some of you, because we have gone on record as being pro-sex. But we assumed at the time that everyone would understand that we meant consensual sex. I mean, we've been raped ourselves, so we know it's not nice. Rape very very bad. Consensual sex very very good.

We are opposed to unfettered capitalism. We are not communists, quite, but we think that if dogs that have once snapped at babies should have to wear muzzles in public from then on, then capitalism should be fettered. Capitalism has done a lot worse than snap at babies in its day.

However, there are good fetters and there are bad fetters. The drug war, for example, is a bad fetter on capitalism. It needs to be replaced with non-martial fetters, like drug regulation and taxation along with drug abuse treatment and education.

We are in favor of global warming only in those instances in which it can be shown necessary to counteract global cooling that might have otherwise occurred. We do not consider this to be one of those instances. There should not be ice-bergs the size of Rhode Island breaking off the Antarctic ice shelf every southern summer, in our considered opinion, until someone can figure out how to put them back.

As far as the environment in general is concerned, we are for it. We believe everyone should have an environment, not just rich people. In fact, we believe that non-humans should be allowed to have environments too, and we don't just mean whatever environments are left over on the bottom shelves, but decent quality environments comparable to the ones they had before people started taking them all.

We are opposed to police practices that result in the deaths of people who wouldn't have warranted the death penalty for their crimes, if any. In saying this, we are not in any way expressing an opposition to the police themselves, only an opposition to the practices we don't like. We could not not like the police, they have guns.

We are opposed to stupidity. But we do not believe that stupidity should be rooted out and lined up against the wall and slaughtered. In our experience, the slaughtering of stupidity only fertilizes the next crop.

It is in fact in the nature of human beings to be stupid at all times and in all places. The object can't therefore be to eliminate stupidity, because that would require the mass annihilation of human beings, and we are against that. The object must be instead to support universal education, to expose as much as possible of the stupidity to the light of day, so that our fellow humans will know how to walk around all of it, without any of it sticking to their feet.

Well, that wasn't our best batch of metaphor, but we feel like we are improving overall.

Speaking of metaphors, this whole India-Pakistan nuclear war scareis a real downer, isn't it? We are, by the way, opposed to nuclear wars.