I’ve been curious about Haiti since reading, some years back, Graham Greene’s “The Comedians,” and Madison Smartt Bell’s “All Souls’ Rising.” I’ve known people who traveled there on missionary work and came back with the sort of haunted look that comes when one has acclimated to seeing children walking around with cleft palates and physical evidence of malnutrition a short plane ride from the richest nation on earth. There was a group who went there from a small Christian college not far from Fort Wayne, who stumbled across a voodoo ceremony in progress. The reporter’s account of the innocent Christian youth beholding, with their very own eyes, what they considered to be a summoning of demons, was a bracing read.
The last scene in “Silence of the Lambs,” where Dr. Lecter calls Clah-reece during her FBI graduation party? And he walks off down the strange tropical road, silently stalking his nemesis from the asylum? That was Haiti, and even though it was never identified, one look at the place told you that if a psychopath on the lam could find a place to eat a man in relative peace and quiet, this was the place. At least in the western hemisphere.
Which is not to say Haiti’s problems are entirely self-created. The French and the slavers and the Duvaliers all have blood on their hands. And when a place is as poor as Haiti, an earthquake of that magnitude will have a multiplier effect it wouldn’t have in, say, Los Angeles. Or even San Francisco.
My curiosity about the country didn’t extend to plate tectonics. I didn’t even know Haiti was on a fault. Shows what I know. (Nothing.)
Sorry for the late start today. High-level negotiations this morning resulted in me evidently agreeing to eat a horse between now and spring, i.e., a big project. How do you eat a horse? One bite at a time. Expect distractions. Less time for web-surfing, and so on. Which is fine, because it’s giving me ADD, and I don’t need to see any more photos like this, evidence of when Brad Pitt morphed from the Sexiest Man Alive to the guy who twists his beard into beardy dreads. Ew. Brad and his common-law spouse issued a statement about recent events:
“We are devastated by the news from Haiti. We will work closely with our good friend Wyclef Jean to support the humanitarian efforts on the island and help those who have been injured and left without homes and shelter.”
Beautiful. Not to take anything away from the couple, who at least attempt to walk the walk, but that sentence is a sterling example of contemporary press-agentry, ain’a? The second-most overused word on the planet (“devastated”), followed by a name-drop with oak-leaf clusters (“our good friend Wyclef Jean”), a gratuitous adverb (“closely”), a squishy verb (“support”) and a redundancy (“homes and shelter”). Someday I want to see a celebrity statement that reads: “Why does God punish Haiti so? We can’t know the answer, but in the meantime, I’m going to sign checks until I get writer’s cramp.”
Someone is always devastated by something. It’s the awesome of transitive concern-verbs. Another reason to love the Google: You can look up the phrase “is devastated by” and see how it’s being used:
Woman linked to Jon Gosselin says she’s devastated by the lies, says People magazine’s headline. (Lie! Lie! In the copy, she’s merely “sickened.”)
Paris Hilton, devastated. Barry Gibb, devastated. It’s the nervous breakdown of our age. A secret reader of my grandmother’s Photoplay magazines, I always wondered about that mysterious phrase. Also, “collapsed from exhaustion.” My nana never told me what I later learned: It’s a euphemism for “too drunk to work.”
Not much bloggage today, but this:
Sarah Palin: Gettin’ paid, yo.
Time to start eatin’ that horse!