Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Scout found by volunteers after 4 days

Scout found by volunteers after 4 days: "The 11-year-old boy missing for four days in rugged terrain of northeast Utah was found today -- cold and thirsty, but alive -- by two volunteer searchers on horseback. 'A little dehydrated, a little weak, but other than that, he's currently in very good health,' Summit County Sheriff David Edmunds told reporters."

This is not the last of this story. Read the article. This is what you'll see highlighted in the coming days and weeks:

"As soon as they got there, he ate all the food they had on them," including granola bars, Edmunds said, adding that the boy was found five miles west of where he was last seen, not far off a trail.

Four days they searched for him, and he was only five miles away? Close to a Trail? You would think a community effort as large as this would have searched at least a 5-mile radius around the last-seen spot to begin with, not to mention along trail lines.

The most brilliant take on the King of Pop

The most brilliant take on the King of Pop: "

Alas, it's not my own but my old friend Greg Tate wrote this for Newsday.

It's easy for us to distance ourselves from MJ as a freak and pretend that he has nothing to do with ourselves, our values, or our little sisters who used to scratch 'I love Michael Jackson' in chalk on the driveway. The truth, however, is that he's as American as a Chevy ad so maybe trying to understand his perversions will help us understand ourselves."

The depth of this story runs longer and deeper than my piece - still, it's flattering that I "scooped" the Michael Jackson Icon.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Jackson jury ends third day without verdict

Jackson jury ends third day without verdict: "SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) - The jury in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial on Wednesday completed a third full day without reaching a verdict as aides to the pop star urged supporters to be patient."

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, is as American as McDonald's. Most of us grew up watching his career mature like the boys and girls on our block. We all have one of his albums among our CD collections. We all dreamed of being cool enough to pull off the one, sequined glove and the moonwalk. Why, then, are Americans not following this case like they did the OJ Simpson murder trial of the 90s?

More Americans identify with Michael Jackson on at least some small role that represented our adolescence. Maybe he was the kid that the "cool kids" in our high school and junior highs emulated. Maybe he was their inspiration on how to be cool. He did, after all, bring the word "bad" into our lexicon. Why do we not care as much about this case?

On some small level, his indiscretions, whether true or not, are our embarrassments. Even if this jury returns a verdict of not guilty, his reputation will be lost, and our teenage years soiled because of the simple question: "did he or didn't he." OJ Simpson was a football player, an icon of strength and athletic prowess for men, and a symbol of what's wrong with athletes and why children should not idolize them. Removing the race card that was played as much as the fifth ace at a poker table, the case was about celebrity drama and the every day power struggle between men and women. People cared more for the outcome than the accused and the victims.

The intercourse between crime and trial birthed the reality television era. The brutal murders were something straight out of an episode of Law & Order; the trial, People's Court at the federal level. There was that sense of entertainment detachment between audience and programming that isn't evident in the Michael Jackson case.

What Jackson is accused of is something that no individual could rationalize into acceptability. If OJ really did kill his wife and her friend/lover, there would be some that could claim to understand his anger and sense of rejection. 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'...at least women have cunning ways of destroying without killing, men know the best solution to a problem is to erase it completely. There's a mental understanding of what some people - maybe not the average person working behind a cubicle in a stained tie and cheap suit - would do because of love. As beautiful as love is, it can also drive men and women, alike, to do terrible things...even a flower casts a dark shadow.

It's because Americans cannot justify Jackson's acts that they turn their heads. Shame, maybe, but more probable, Americans live like ostriches when confronted with an idea that they cannot explain away. If they never hear the verdict, they could go living their lives in the shadow of possibility - the hope that he does turn out to be innocent. But, the truth is, people will know the verdict within minutes of its release and whatever it is, their Michael Jackson albums, memories, and adolescent dreams of fame will have to be put away for some time. The burden of living with that embarassment is too much for us to identify with.

Friday, June 03, 2005

High school politics: All you need to know.

High school politics: All you need to know.: "It's amazing how high school social rules can go on to dictate political rhetoric."

Maybe those Republic of Texas guys aren't so crazy afterall.

I remember the cliques - the jocks, the band-nerds, the punks, the thugs, and the nerds. I knew everyone of them. I talked to them in the hallways. Life was just that way at my small high school. We seperated at lunch, but before the high school segregation, we grew up together. At some point, we were all just alike.

I remember middle school - when the cliques were still just starting to form - competing with everyone for the best grades. Imagine that, an entire class that cared about their grades. In those times, smart kids were cool. It was 7th grade that all that changed. Band and athletics were added to the curriculum, but in a small school, kids could do both. It was all about just participating - doing something other than going home after school and watching television until the parents came home and forced us to do our homework, which we didn't mind because it allowed us to go to our room and avoid our families until dinner.

In high school, what changed was who we hung out with on the weekends and what we did after school. This is what seperated us during high school. If you were involved in any extra-curricular activities - which most people were - then you were 'cool.' There was the jocks v band nerds rivalry, but when a quarter of the band participates in some sport, it was more a running joke between the two. Everyone had a "live and let live" policy regarding everyone else. And, really, we were all joined together by our disregard for authority. We all laughed at and made-fun of teachers and principals.

We were a group of kids that hated expectation. We clung together in this battle of us versus them. We didn't like being controlled and threatened; those acts of authority only fueled our rebellion. We weren't bad kids. That's what high school was about to us. There was the drama, but most of us were either drawn into it or volunteered for it - that's what we talked about while we sat around parent-less houses and drank and smoked. And most of the time, we always laughed at it. Tolerance was offering a beer, and respect was not taking someone's last cigarette. It didn't matter what clique you ate lunch with, those were the rules on Friday and Saturday night.

Maybe if politicians would learn lessons like these from small-town life, we wouldn't be so partisan these days. But everything now is I'm right and you're wrong and it doesn't matter if I don't have a stake in any of your concerns or not. In many ways, I was more grown-up then, than I am now. I stand for issues that don't affect me because they matter to others - it's respectful, but it shouldn't be necessary. If only politicians and their constituents would learn that any beer and smoke they offer, now, is going to come back around later.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Spelling bee morphs into media darling

Spelling bee morphs into media darling: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Spelling Bee, that ultimate anxiety fest for brainy schoolkids, has morphed into a media darling, inspiring a novel, a documentary, a feature film and a Broadway musical."

I remember spelling bees - I remember hating them. I remember standing in front of my middle school English teacher, my friends, and the girl I thought I'd marry and I remember my fingers making figure-eights in my sweaty palms behind my back and waiting for my word. I remember everyone else got the easy words.

As I sit here trying to unlock those suppressed memories, I think spelling bees created my fear of public speaking. It's supposed to be easier to speak in front of your friends and family - bullshit; you have to see and talk to these people afterwards. A kid - too young to appreciate envisioning everyone in the room naked - watching and listening as your friends spell and misspell word after word. You see their struggles, you see how they ignore everyone in the room as they ask the teacher to repeat the word, and then you see them stare at the floor, ceiling, and the room's back wall where his backpack hangs from a hook, anything to avoid looking at everyone else. You see disappointment after your friend misspells a word and then a look of orgasmic peace as he/she walks back to his seat, out of the spotlight. The line in front of the class gets smaller; less faces for the audience to juggle. The audience growing larger with every misspelled word. Your name is called, you step forward and for the next month, you try to spell a single word in front of your friends, scared you won't spell it right and scared you will.

Years after these experiences, I think I should I talk to a shrink. It traumatized me. Standing up there time after time, misspelling these words in front of the only friends I would have for the next half-decade or so, it's no wonder I'm scared to death of being laughed-off stage. I tremble now just at the thought of it while giving some future, random eulogy.

At least during my spelling bee days in elementary and middle school, the teacher's "no, you spelled it wrong" was immediate. There was no pity silence, no forced enjoyment just to last through the remaining speech. At least the ridicule was instantaneous to avoid further embarassment.

Watching the NBA Western Conference finals games on ESPN, I've seen the advertisements for this year's spelling bee. Even those made me uncomfortably nervous, and those were just cut-and-pasted clips from previous competitions. No wonder America has such a fascination with these events - it's a trainwreck. The winner deserves the national attention probably moreso than any other competitor; the losers deserve free therapy.