Truth. Justice. Elegant prose.
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Essay in Unruly Catholic Women Writers, Vol. 2. New York University
Brief Grislys. Two pieces of short fiction in the new horror anthology, though I am not a horror writer. I’d say these are more exercises in wiseassery, with a bit of the supernatural sprinkled on top.
I have reached an age where I’m called upon to write obituaries for friends. How lucky I was to work with the great Donna Diers. From Yale Alumni Magazine.
About cancer, white privilege and dancing stoned. In Gawker.
It’s my website so I get to say …
Why liberals love Jack Bauer
I always look forward to spring, a time to plant my organic garden and picket a Wal-Mart without getting chilly. This year, I’m especially looking forward to the scheduled return of the television series 24. This apparently makes me an outlier.
Pollster Amy Zegert recently discovered that people who watch spy-themed television and movies are more likely to approve of the National Security Agency. In fact, 58 percent of people who watched spy movies six times or more in the past year had favorable views of NSA. Only 34 percent of infrequent spy moviegoers approved of the agency. Her earlier work showed that consumers of “spytainment” were more likely to endorse waterboarding.
I am here to tell you that you can love James Bond and revile Dick Cheney. And you can have a small obsession with Agent Jack Bauer while writing regular checks to the ACLU.
For years of Monday nights, I was not convincing friends to boycott polluters or writing governments to urge the release of political prisoners. I watched 24 on, if you’ll pardon the expression, Fox. It was my favorite television show.
I remember trying to reconcile this as I watched the final double episode. It helped that Jack didn’t actually kill anyone in the series’ last two hours, even when he had the men responsible for his lover’s murder in the sights of his sniper rifle. He chose, instead, to gather and reveal evidence of a government conspiracy. In the end Jack risked his life and accepted exile in the relentless pursuit of the truth. When you get down to it, the relentless pursuit of truth was his core mission for all of the show’s eight seasons.
He had less in common with your standard shoot-em-up protagonists than with the heroes of the first grown-up movie I saw in the theater, All The President’s Men. Mom deputized my older sister to take me, despite the usual family ban on mature language, because I so idolized Woodward and Bernstein. They were not the ones who inspired me to be a reporter when I grew up, though. That honor goes to Geraldo Rivera. I was nine when he, as a young reporter on our local ABC affiliate, exposed the mistreatment of mentally retarded residents of a state institution. Willowbrook eventually closed down, partly as a result of Rivera’s investigation.
I realized then that I could find out the truth, tell it, and change the world. And so that’s what I did, to the extent I could anyway. But as the years passed, I found that my paper’s news hole was shrinking and that trivial stories were getting a larger chunk of it. Things ended for me when an editor told me, “No more stories about poor people. That stuff kills us in the suburbs.”
Anyone who talks about “the liberal media” has clearly never worked in it.
Since that initial disillusionment, I’d seen the New York Times playing footsie with Scooter Libby and various Pulitzer prizes awarded for journalism that subsequently turned out to be fiction. And, of course, Geraldo had long ago grown sleazy enough to match his moustache. Most of my friends who were still in the business of shining lights in dark places had either been laid off or were waiting for the axe to fall.
If you retained that old fashioned yearning for relentless pursuit of the truth, the only place you could find it was on Fox (on Mondays at 9 p.m. EST). The show was unconscionably violent. But I’ve always believed that lying is the worst form of violence.
It’s the murder of reality itself. Once upon a time, we liberals could rely on a vibrant press to shine the light in the dark places and drive out such violence. We don’t have that anymore.
For eight seasons, I had Jack: More dogged than most reporters; and now to my amazement I find — more restrained than most spies.
Jack Bauer would never have wasted his frantic days compiling my phone records just in case. He focused on real, immediate threats to American citizens. Though I’m not big on a casual attitude toward the rule of law, Jack at least recognized that the liberties he took were significant and reserved them for desperate situations. And he never covered up his actions — in fact, he was a great exposer of the cloak-and-dagger crowd — friend and foe.
Jack would have disdain for the folks at the NSA.
But I’m guessing he would have loved Edward Snowden.
11.12.13 » things I said
“A Doggie Sound”
Shakespeare spoke nothing like his modern interpreters. Here's a sampling of what the Bard meant his plays to sound like.