Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fits and pieces.

I'm angry.

Lately I've been in one of those periods where my time has largely been spent writing and editing for a number of BIG projects, which means that my radio listening has been more music than talk. 

Today, however, I let NPR news and talk run in the background. This was not a good idea because, as the day draws to a close, I find myself ridiculously angry. I'm angry at Congress. I'm angry at my state's governor. I'm angry at President Obama and the sideshow exhibit that is the GOP line-up. 

I'm angry at the economy and the Tea Party and those people whose only contribution to the country's educational system is telling people who actually work in classrooms all they're doing wrong. I'm angry at the idea of "useless degrees", as though the problems that we face is because there's an excess of intellectualism. I'm angry at a political party that is letting Newt Gingrich lead in the polls while, out the other side of their mouths, they trumpet family values and a return to morality.

I'm angry at bullies that cause kids to take their own lives. I'm angry at the parents of bullies who have failed not just their own child but someone else's.

I'm angry at church leaders who use faith as a bludgeon and not a candle in the darkness.

I'm angry at world leaders who are letting our air and water be poisoned and short-sighted corporate leaders who care more about the bottom line than the burned out horizon they are leaving for those who will come after us. 

I'm angry at people who mock the Occupy movement because that's easier than trying to understand why it's happening. I'm angry at people who have forgotten where they've come from. 

I'm angry.

And here's the thing. I actually have one of those jobs where I am working to try to make a difference. In fact, I've spent my entire life working places where the rule of the day is to make a difference, to make things better. I'm not ashamed to say that today is one of those days where I get to the end of things and ask myself, why? 

No answer right now. No tidy little bow.

I think sometimes you just have to let yourself be angry.

Monday, December 5, 2011


Years ago, when I had started, without really realizing it, actually being a writer for a living, I attempted to open a particular piece by referencing The Buggles "Video Killed the Radio Star".

"I heard you on the wireless back in '52, lying awake intent on tuning in on you, if I was young it didn't stop you coming through..."

You know the one.

Well, as it turns out, my boss at the time did not and he insisted, perhaps rightly, that no one would ever understand the reference.

And as you might be wondering how that was possible, that he was unaware of a song with lyrics like, " we meet in an abandoned studio, we hear the playback and it seems so long ago, and you remember where the jingle used to go...", I will say I do not know. I don't think it was his age. He was a journalist so it wasn't that he was holed up in a physics lab somewhere or, as is sometimes the case with Leopold, a practice studio where it is always the early Baroque era. But he had never heard of the song so the intro paragraph I loved vanished.

I've been thinking about the song lately (1) and all the times that video, also known as technology, has been going to kill something.

Or, more accurately, the times when technology has been going to kill something and, instead, winds up creating the kind of shift in thinking necessary to open a given form up to become something different.

That was one of the realizations that was strong and forward in my head when I came back from the writers' workshop I attended over the summer. People there were doing things that I never would have considered doing on my own. Things like short narrative poems that seemed more like a chunk of short story more than what I would have thought of as poetry. Novels made up of one page intervals. Short stories that read like a single sentence. Now, Lou Beach's collection of stories that took their word count from the original restrictions from The Facebook. It's one of the many reasons why the only universal rule I know of when it comes to writing is that you need to read a lot. You need to constantly be investigating what's out there to see and learn from.

A friend recently took a trip to South America and declared it a sabbatical to recharge his creative juices. That's not really an option for me, but I'm going to see what might be out there for the desk-bound among us.

Because, really, if The Buggles were wrong about video killing the radio star, maybe they were also wrong about our being able to rewind.

Or, at least, recharge.

1. And perhaps playing it a bit too much.