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Month: March 2014

How far we haven’t come

Recently, my wife and I visited the Newseum. I revisited the Berlin Wall exhibit. Going through it, I also watched the video about the reporters responding to the 9/11 attacks. Seeing the antenna from the top of the World Trade Center and parts of the debris brought it home.

Our history is not that old. The Civil Rights movement is only 50 years old. And still ongoing. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The September 11th Attacks were in 2001. Our country’s pain is not old.

There was an extensive photo exhibit from John F. Kennedy’s photographer and a great video montage of his brief presidency. He was before my time. But he was not in the distant past.

Our history is real and living. It affects us today. We do not live in a bubble. We are influenced by our past. We get to build our future into what we’d like it to be. It’s a future that will have many amazing events and people. It will be filled with terrible times and people. It will mirror our past.

History doesn’t feel real from the pages of history books or television programs. History feels real when I can reach out and touch the Berlin Wall. I can imagine myself living beneath the watchful, murderous eye of the tower guards. To live apart from family and friends. To not see loved ones for decades. What would that feel like?

The Civil Rights Movement. It’s not a done deal. It’s the start to a long, hard road. A road being walked by those who want to love who they want. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Everyone wants to be loved and to love. Everyone wants to live inside their own house and their own lives.

There are lessons the past has to teach us. But instead, we insist on re-learning the same
painful lessons. We’ve done a pretty terrible job of allowing everyone to share the rights of straight, white men. I don’t remember anyone voting for my right to marry. Rights are not a finite resource.

Women have to fight for equal rights.
African-Americans have to fight for equal rights.
Gays have to fight for equal rights.

Our history is not a collection of old, dead stories from books. Our history is now. Our history is yesterday. And tomorrow is a new chance to write it.

Why I’m not renewing my Washington Post Sunday-Only Subscription

I was really enjoying the paper for a while. It had a lot of good coupons and the paper itself helped when making paper logs and camp fires.

I saved money. I started fires. I covered the floor when working on painting or projects that would get messy. It was a perfect typeset drop cloth. The newspaper served its purpose and served it well. I even read it periodically to see what the Internet hadn’t talked about days earlier.

But eventually, I realized no one reads the newspaper anymore. It’s not hip. My friends aren’t posting shout-outs in the classifieds section. It’s all news and events in DC. I can get that elsewhere, including the online version of the same paper. I don’t need it in print.

After Jeff Bezos bought the paper last year, I don’t know if I know where the paper’s priorities are anymore. I don’t know if it’s the same thing I bought into when I originally subscribed.

I don’t use the paper for anything anymore. And I have plenty of access to the archives in a pile in a closet so I’m more than ready for camping season.

I hope it continues to do well. I’ll check in on it from time to time. They still have an old Linotype machine in front of the building.

Hero Worship

I don’t understand the draw of celebrity. I have never wanted to meet someone famous because they’re famous. They’re just people like me who happen to have public jobs.

The closest thing I would have to a celebrity hero is Trent Reznor. His music has been the soundtrack to my life for two decades. I have seen Nine Inch Nails play live six times and How to Destroy Angela once.

But if I were to meet Trent in a cafe what would I say to him? Would I even interrupt his day? I may go up to him very briefly and say thank you. Perhaps as he was leaving.

But he doesn’t need me to bother him. He’s a guy who makes music. He writes songs. He plays concerts. He writes soundtracks. He’s a guy who writes music a lot of people listen to and enjoy.

What right does that give me to interrupt his life? I don’t care about him as a person. I don’t need to talk to him. I don’t have a connection with him. We are not friends.

He’s a guy. Doing a job. That a lot of people get to watch him do.

This extends to professional athletes, actors, authors and musicians. They do great work. But I don’t need to meet them or be in their life at all.