I don’t honestly believe any one community can corner the market on crazy. It’s true that, as a kid growing up, I would enjoy Johnny Carson’s opening monologues about weird events that seemed to always take place in California.
Carson would gently jibe odd news items involving pot brownies accidentally ingested by pets or rock concerts that had been powered by some sort of hallucinogenic fruit punch.
But with our sickening awareness of senseless gun events being possible in Anytown, USA it’s become irrational to think of any one geographic area as a host for more inexplicable behavior than another.
And yet … just last week it seemed Santa Monica was in the running for that very honor. A naked man challenged a cab driver to a fight in the middle of a Santa Monica intersection.
A few days later, a car suddenly went out of control and smashed into the back of two restaurants on Montana Ave., dangerously clipping a natural gas line.
A woman in one of the buildings was injured by falling debris. The fire, caused by the sheared gas line, damaged both eateries. Blessedly, there were no deaths or critical injury.
Now The Mirror has struggled on and off with presenting local news of goofy crimes and strange accidents as kind of tongue-in-cheek “feature” pieces for the paper. The problem is, as in both of the above examples, there are always plenty of reasons to ultimately take these situations seriously.
Yet The Mirror is to be forgiven, if set alongside the example being set right now by national news media. Because we’re all suffering through one of the biggest April Fools jokes in American journalism history: the non-stop agitation predicated on the notion that we would somehow knowingly elect a total a– clown to be President of the United States. Not that we weren’t warmed-up by the opening act of Sarah Palin and her illiterate stab at posturing as a leader of some sort. That was our last painful episode of nationally promoted stupidity, even if as Palin claimed she read “all the newspapers” while waving at Russia from her front porch.
But back to the naked guy. One problem with reporting or not reporting a story about a naked man getting hostile in the middle of an intersection is… Come on! He’s naked! If The Mirror does not let you know about it, then you’ll hear the story from a friend or neighbor and wonder, “Where was The Mirror when some naked weirdness was going down?” Were they out covering some other lead about encroaching development? Perhaps they were profiling a Santa Monica citizen who has made enormous contributions to our community? Why? Just because that citizen kept his or her clothes on during all that civic-minded duty?
But if The Mirror does report it, have we given too much attention to something that might essentially boil down to a person failing to take their meds or succumbing to the hot weather? Have we possibly embarrassed ourselves by conscientiously covering a very trifling disturbance or tantrum?
Again, it helps to put the story alongside exactly what our national corporate media is doing right now. If Trump uses his not inconsiderable (although grossly exaggerated) personal resources to gather crowds, and the media decides not to take him seriously in the same way they ignored Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the first month, are they being responsible or irresponsible? I mean, come on, aren’t you at the point where you wish they could just go to a story about a dentist killing something?
The thinking appears to be that Trump is a moving train wreck, and media responsibly reports train wrecks. That’s what passes as a justification for what the planet’s most powerful news gathering resources are really doing, which is sustaining themselves off a writhing (and shouting) cadaver before all the meat and bizarre hair is torn off. For alas poor Trump, or at least his dream, is already dead.
More than one op-ed piece has posited that Trump is the summation or distillation of all of the ugliness the Republican have been using as bait over the last decade or so. I agree, although there’s a big part of this phenomenon that is pure narcissistic “I love me” from the Kardashian playbook.
But, back to our wrestling match over the naked guy. If Trump comes to Santa Monica and gets naked and stands in an intersection haranguing a cab driver, should The Mirror go front page with that story? What if that’s the same week a lifeguard saves a kid from a shark? Or do you want us to make a choice to turn away, and put that lifeguard story on page one? What about you? Do you want to turn away, but feel powerless to do so? If you think you’re powerless, consider your humble columnist. I could not stop myself from writing this piece. Because of Palin, because of Ted Cruz, because of Scott Walker and the rest … I felt a responsibility to write about a man who is naked, but believes he is currently wearing the Emperor’s new clothes.