Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Bat Boy Retires to Florida

The print version of the Weekly World News has been abducted by aliens and will no longer be found in the checkout lane of your favorite grocery store. In reality, the sensationalist tabloid succumbed to overwhelming financial problems, but who cares about reality? Certainly not the writers and editors of WWN, who entertained millions of bored shoppers in check-out lines with stories of secret meetings between presidents and aliens, Elvis sightings, and, of course, the most widely recognized icon of trash tabloid news, Bat Boy, a pre-Photoshop masterpiece of image manipulation.

What can we learn (or unlearn) from the demise of WWN, which dubbed itself, “The World’s Only Reliable Newspaper”? Of course, like others, I’ve always wondered how many readers of WWN took it seriously. Nothing in its placement in the tabloid rack next to the National Enquirer, Cosmopolitan, and Better Homes and Gardens gave perusers a clue to the rags subversive nature. Sure, the headlines and photos were always over the top, but, like a Venus Fly Trap in a garden, it blended in with its environment extremely well.

You never saw MAD magazine or National Lampoon in the impulse aisle, but the tacky, design-challenged WWN was our checkout buddy for nearly thirty years, screaming apocalyptic warnings in the midst of Hollywood break ups and home improvement tips.

Is there a segment of the population out there who believes a 500-foot tall Jesus visited the U.N.? I wish it weren’t so (especially with an election year approaching), but the irony is, with more channels of communications and information than ever before in history, the lines between fact, fiction, news and opinion have been growing less and less distinguishable. Perhaps it’s not ironic but inevitable that we cling to an uncomplicated reality (or non-reality) in a sea of conflicting messages.

Don’t get me wrong. I love (and also write) satire and I think we need more publications like WWN, not fewer. I’m sorry to see the world’s only reliable newspaper fold. The one thing I wonder about is whether we were laughing at it or it was laughing at us. I’m sure it was probably a little of both.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Zombie Fisherman

Welcome to the inaugural column of The Zombie Fisherman, a weekly reflection on the elegant sport of fishing. Why a fishing column for zombies? Let’s start by being honest. Feeding on human flesh—every zombie’s meal of choice—often has unpleasant repercussions. The enraged living routinely attack us, hack us up, set us on fire, and shoot at us. Who hasn’t lost a limb from a close-range shotgun blast?

So if not human flesh, whither comest our sustenance? Being the slow, plodding creatures we are, catching animals such as deer or rabbits is virtually impossible. Farm animals are an occasional treat, but are too often enclosed in pens or by fences, which, alas, we cannot climb. There is an alternative, however: The multitude of water creatures in the world’s lakes, rivers and oceans.

Fishing is an ideal activity for zombies. The pace is glacial; it is an activity that does not require a partner (let’s face it, we are not team players); it is not necessary to be around the living; and, if the fishing isn’t good, you can eat the bait.

Tip #1: If you run out of bait on a good day, a small bit of your rotting flesh is an excellent substitute.

So in future columns of Zombie Fisherman we will discuss all things fishing related: Lures, bait, tackle, local hot spots, and for the truly motivated, fly fishing techniques.

Sure, you’re dead, but you still need to feed. A raw carp may not be as tasty as a fat woman, but it’s a whole lot easier, and safer, to catch. Remember, when the fish are biting, so are you. See you next week.

The Zombie Fisherman.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

An open letter to all Democratic senators and representatives

We asked you for results. We get words in return.

We asked you for courage. We get timidity.

We asked you for leadership. We get capitulation.

We asked you to fight for us. We get cowards who hide behind procedure and protocol.

We asked you to save the Constitution. We get a President who continues to savage it.

We asked you to do the bidding of the majority of Americans. We get excuses.

We asked you to represent us. We get nothing.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Who are these people?

We exist on the same planet, but we live in different worlds. Even though Bush, Cheney, Rove, et. al, grew up in the same country as I did, watched the same TV shows, learned basically the same things in school, our world views turned out to be as different as night and day. How did that happen?

Like an anthropologist struggling to fathom the culture of a “lost tribe,” my mind is continuously trying to find points of connection between the world I know and the behavior of those individuals who make up the Bush administration.

What is it like to live in a culture where lying to yourself and others is as normal as breathing? How does one’s head not explode when facts constantly refute your belief system? How much willpower must it take to deny the reality that stands directly in front of you?

Like a tribe cut off from the rest of society for centuries, Bushites missed some evolutionary steps along the path to humanness. They definitely played hooky the day empathy was discussed. Governor Bush mocked a woman soon to be executed. Rove surrogates attacked a paraplegic war veteran during an election. The whole gang supports economic policies that reward the wealthy at the expense of the poor.

And Bush and his boys must have been lurking in some alley pulling the wings off of flies or mugging kids for lunch money during the lessons of the Enlightenment, the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, the 1960’s, and every other progressive event in modern history, because they missed them all. The “good old days” for these guys is the Inquisition.

Their God is punitive and angry, their rules are for everyone except themselves, and their convictions are for sale to the highest bidder. Some will say they represent the values of the wealthy elite, which is true to an extent, but there are too many rabid believers who came from humble backgrounds to blame it all on the caste system.

All I can say is that I feel like this country has been taken over by ugly, inbred distant relatives who come for a visit, trash your house, and complain about what a lousy host you are.