Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps

So, there was a horrible train accident in Los Angeles this morning. It’s on every channel right now. I don’t have cable, so that means that I get to watch emergency response personnel swarm a bunch of crashed railroad cars all morning.

It happened this morning right after 6:00. Of course, the news agencies arrived on the scene almost immediately. Of course, they had no idea what exactly had happened or was happening.

Of course, it didn’t stop them from guessing, and reporting it as news.

It turns out that there was an SUV parked on the railroad tracks which was hit by a Union Pacific freight train. The freight train derailed and then was hit by a Metrolink commuter train. That train also derailed and hit another Metrolink commuter train going in the opposite direction.

In all, three trains were involved…and one dumbass SUV.

It also turns out that the asshole SUV driver wasn’t actually in his SUV. He had other places to be evidently. He’s in custody at the moment.

I have to say that I’m a little glad about that. I’m glad that this guy was an obvious jerk-ass. Not just some idiot trying to beat a train. Why? Well, because if he were just some idiot trying to beat a train then we would have to hear about railway crossing safety for the next few months or so.

“A car was hit by a train trying to cross the tracks before the flashing gate dropped. We need to get out there and educate the public about train safety!”

No. We don’t need no education. I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone that crossing the railroad tracks while a train is coming could prove dangerous to your car’s paint job. If not jeopardizing your head’s ability to stay on your shoulders.

Look, if you don’t want your new Escalade to be referred to as “debris” then don’t screw with the goddamned train. If the thought of cadaver dogs poking their noses in your backseat to find your nose puts you off…then don’t screw with the goddamned train.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was on the news in a tizzy. The dude was pissed. A couple of his own men were killed on those trains (so far a total of nine people have been found dead). It was all the guy could do not to jump through the TV screen and personally strangle anyone who’s ever even looked funny at a railroad crossing.

I don’t blame him. There seems to be about a tragic Metro train accident a year around this place. And 90% of them are caused by assholes parking or crossing the railroad tracks.

As I said before, I was on a train that killed a man in Montana. The same thing happened there. Man, I guess I’m just lucky that the train never left the tracks.

But, believe it or not, I’m not here to talk about the horrible train accident. My biggest issue is with the news people. Since 6:00 this morning they’ve been filling my head with dubious information. They think that they’re saving their journalistic integrity by saying every 10 minutes or so, “now none of this is confirmed…” But that’s not what we hear. We hear, “as many as 20 people could have been killed in…”

They just don’t know. But we really like to see train wrecks on television. Train wrecks, traffic pileups, fires… And the news people really like it if we watch their station. So they tread water until the authorities decide to release information. And they poke their cameras into survivors’ faces to get the “real” story. Survivors who have just suffered through a train accident. Survivors whose hearts are racing so fast that they can barely remember their own names, much less the number of people in their car and the exact velocity their train was moving.

But they poke their cameras around anyway until they land on something that may be a clue. A rusty car axle. A license plate. The Watergate tapes (what were they doing there?!)

“We take it back down to the scene and Buck Knowitall…Buck?”

“Hey guys, our cameras have just picked up what appears to be a dead skunk. Now, exactly what this skunk is doing here next to the train tracks is unsure. But we can be sure that it’s dead. Whether the skunk
caused the collision or was just an innocent bystander who tragically lost it’s life, we don’t know…all we know for sure is that it’s a skunk and it’s dead…actually it may be a large rat…no…it’s a skunk…I think…I hope it’s loved ones aren’t watching right now…what a tragedy….back to you in Hollywood…”

Of course, I’m exaggerating – a little. But I get tired of the misinformation. The news people aren’t trying to misinform, but they do a good job of it anyway. Little tiny speculations that add up after a couple hours. Remember the World Trade Center Attack? “20,000 people dead?”

If the news people insist on making up details, why don’t they go ahead and make them interesting.

“Aliens have attacked two commuter trains this morning! Of course this is unconfirmed, but one thing we can maybe be sure of is that over a hundred commuters have been taken aboard the mother ship to be taught how to speak Spanish. No word on how many people on board may have already known how to speak Spanish…back to you in Hollywood…”

But whoever said “no news is good news” has never watched “The Insider” with Pat “toothpick” O’Brien. Yes, I’ve changed subjects, so sue me.

I had the 7:30 episode of the Simpsons on DVD, so I decided to get the latest poop on Hollywood. The other channels were fuzzy. I had to watch the toothpick. I hate Pat O’Brien. He’s an ass. But he’s been in the damned business so long that other people have to put up with him.

The Insider was teasing a story throughout the first twenty minutes of the broadcast, “go inside Johnny Carson’s last will and testament. See how the king of late night will split up his immense estate! Only ‘The Insider’ gives you the real story!”

Wow, Johnny Carson’s will?! His body’s not even cold yet. But who knows, maybe they’ve got a friend who works for Johnny’s lawyer or something. Who knows. I’m into will stuff. I want to know how much money Johnny had. It’s interesting. I enjoy living vicariously through those lucky enough to have been related to rich people.

So I wait. I sit through all the other stories about the Oscar nominations and stuff. I watch Jamie Foxx tickle the ivories and sing.

“Tickle the ivories” = playing the piano. Not something else. It’s not a dirty euphemism. I don’t think that Jamie has a touch so gentle that he makes himself sing.

And why are they ivory?


Anyway, I’m sitting through the entire craptastic show just to see how Johnny’s going to divvy up his cash. And the story comes on.


Some guy talks about how much Johnny’s third wife got in the divorce and then says “I think his kids will get most of it.”

What the hell kind of story is that? That’s not even misinformation. That’s nothing! Hell, I could have gone on TV and freakin’ guessed! I understand that entertainment “news” is fluff journalism. But this wasn’t even that. “Fluff” is what turns a tiny bit of sugar and gelatin into a marshmallow.

Where was the sugar? Where was the gelatin?

Why, as consumers, do we demand to have news instantly? We know that we’re not really getting news! We don’t even really pay attention to the truth anymore. We just want someone to come on TV and say something, anything, about the current to-do.

It’s stupid.

If this is supposed to be the “Information Age” why do we seem to care so little about information?

Fun Fact: My pants could be on fire. Perhaps because they were manufactured at some top secret nuclear technology center. All I know is that the flames seem to be invisible…

and heatless…

back to you in Hollywood.

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