Honors.

Yeesh, another late one. Senior Honors Night down to the high school. We heard some names over and over, our child’s name once, but hey — she got a cord to wear around her shoulders at commencement, a medal around her neck, and she was made late to the Tame Impala show I’d given her permission to attend. The students sat on stage, and as the names piled up and the five-second claps stretched to two hours, I could see her dying up there. Oh, well. Tame Impala is lame, anyway.

Anyway, highlights: Most of these kids I hadn’t given a second thought to since grade school, when the Girl Scout troops were still intact, and Kate would occasionally tell a story from the classroom over dinner. And so I watched one girl walk and thought of the time I was driving a field trip, and heard her small voice in the back seat, saying, “My mom goes to a doctor who gives her shots in her face so she’ll be pretty.”

I thought, in 15 years, someone from this class who isn’t on the stage will be richer than all of you. Someone who is on the stage will be taking heavy meds for serious mental illness. Someone sitting here is going away and won’t go to a single reunion. Someone hates everybody else. Someone secretly loves somebody else.

What can I say? It was an astonishingly boring evening.

Tomorrow I have to get up early and head to Dearborn. I was there today, in fact. I saw no sign of sharia law. In fact, it was delightful, as it almost always is. Every time I go there, I’m plied with the most delicious hummus in the land, and fresh — really fresh — pita bread. You can win me over with a lot less.

As I was out of pocket all day, I didn’t get much bloggage material. I continue to be fascinated/astounded by the biker-shootout story:

On Sunday, witnesses described seeing a mass shootout that involved dozens of of guns being fired inside the restaurant and in the parking lot along Interstate 35, according to CBS affiliate KWTX. The station reported that panicked patrons and employees sought refuge from the mayhem in the restaurant freezer.

Hours later, authorities from multiple law enforcement agencies — including local and state police, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — were still trying to secure the area and survey the large crime scene, which was littered with more than 100 weapons.

“In 34 years of law enforcement, this is the most violent crime scene I have ever been involved in,” Swanton said, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. “There is blood everywhere. We will probably approach the number of 100 weapons.”

Unbelievable, except all too believable.

Still sifting through “Mad Men” mop-ups, but right now — off to bed.

Posted at 12:28 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 74 Comments
 

Another milestone, marked by food.

The Derringers had an anniversary Friday — 22 years. Someday we’ll have to come up with a new idea for celebrating other than the usual, i.e., going out to dinner. Maybe we should play miniature golf, or volunteer at a homeless shelter, or do improv on open-mic night. I think our first anniversary we went to Hartley’s in Fort Wayne. There must have been many others in 22 years, but I don’t remember most of them.

This year’s was Republic, here in Detroit, a small-plates place — is there any other variety of new-hot-now restaurant, these days? — with a certain modernist take on things, which is to say there were items like pickled shallots on cheese thingies, and marrow fritters and beef-tallow fries with salt (which you’d expect) but also sugar (which you probably wouldn’t) and lamb sausage with pea smash. At least, I think the waitress said smash, but I couldn’t be sure, because it was very loud in there.

Can you tell I’m growing tired of loud restaurants? The food was very good, the drinks ditto, but I’m sort of done with loud. In the course of our marriage, we’ve gone from an entree that protein/starch/green to marrow fritters.

Anyway, 22 years. I’ll have another!

Alas, we didn’t see the new Mad Max movie yet. It was a beautiful weekend packed with activities, and it didn’t seem right to spend a few hours or even an evening indoors, watching a post-apocalytic story unfold. Maybe next weekend. But! The yard is shaped up and off to a good start, the laundry is done, the groceries bought for another week. Apocalypse whenever.

Besides, you never know when you’ll be caught in the crossfire of a multi-gang-plus-police shootout, and be one of nine cooling corpses. AMERICA.

I expect all of you want to talk about “Mad Men,” anyway, so do so. I’m off to a work week that will proceed at a gallop. Good thing the yard’s in good shape, because I don’t think we will be by Wednesday

Posted at 12:10 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol', Television | 36 Comments
 

Sleepless nights, Part 7 zillion.

Sorry for the no-show Thursday. Had a late Wednesday meeting with my posse, which is a fancy way of saying I went out for the evening with two guys who never need to worry about getting up early in the morning after a weeknight evening of tippling, at least not until they get a decade older. I was home by 10, anyway, but slept badly, which I guess a BLT and three Rolling Rocks will do. But I got up at 6 anyway, and swam my laps, and basically felt like crap all day.

Although I do enjoy swimming. Anyone else here a lap swimmer? The line passing by, lap after lap, the splashy turn at the end, the endless failure to master the frog kick. That’s my experience, anyway, although I’m fairly good at the dolphin kick. Lousy butterfly, though. And that’s about as exciting as swimming for exercise gets.

I did pedal two miles down the road to check out a new boxing gym for the ladies. (Closed.) Rode home, ran into one of Kate’s friend’s dad, and we had a little chat. These first warm days are like coming out of hibernation.

And Friday is Bike to Work Day. I’m-a try to do it, but all will depend on what the weather is doing in the morning. Forty percent chance of showers.

Have I bored the crap out of you yet? Let’s skip to the bloggage, then:

Remove all hanging ropes, razors, sleeping pills (send those to me) and other tools of suicide before you click through this slide show on the human effect on our fragile planet. Mesmerizing pictures that will make you want to die like one of those plastic-stuffed birds.

The train conductor sped up before the crash? Please don’t tell me we have another one on our hands.

I think I first saw a Mad Max movie with our own Jeff Borden. I cannot WAIT to see the latest one. But Jeff is many miles away. He will be there in spirit.

Have a great weekend, all.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 87 Comments
 

You’re going out in that?

If it’s prom season, it must be time for the annual what’s-with-these-girls-and-their-hoochie-mama-dresses story, here in the New York Times and here on Gothamist, which has the distinct advantage of an array of photos showing a range of hoochie-mama dresses so we can all judge them.

Frankly, they’re pretty hoochie, but I think we all know that’s the trend. Right, Bey? Kim? Jenny? Or, to summon a role model closer to high-school age, Mylie. Can’t forget Rihanna, the OG of the naked dress.

So you can’t blame girls for wanting to dress like the famous ladies, and given that most of them don’t have Donatella Versace on speed-dial, they have to find these styles at far lower price points, which means they’re even hoochier than usual.

All I have to say is this: Thank GOD my daughter has no interest in going to the prom. Not that she’d be caught dead in these ghastly frocks; she’s way too modest.

Of course, the story is about whether schools should be imposing vague dress codes for prom, then deciding, after the money’s been spent on dresses and alterations, that a particular specimen won’t fly. Here’s the guideline for Kate’s prom: “The dress code will be strictly enforced: formal attire, NO TWO PIECES DRESSES, no plunging neck lines, sides or backs, if we deem too low etc you will be given a t-shirt to wear over your dress. Please feel free to bring a picture if you have concerns, PLEASE be sure to tell your guest this information, no exceptions.”

I was mystified by the no-two-pieces (sic) rule, until I figured it out: That’s how you show off your belly.

So, I’m watching Celebrity Jeopardy right now, thinking what I always do: Man, celebrities iz dumb. When an NFL player (Aaron Rodgers) is the runaway winner, you know…something, anyway.

Bloggage: Too stubborn to buy health insurance, he’s now going blind. Who should save his eyesight? WHO SHOULD SAVE YOUR EYESIGHT, DUMMY?

A lawsuit follows the Rolling Stone false rape story. One of many, I expect.

Now I think I’m gonna shoe-shop online. I don’t need shoes, but hey — everybody can window-shop at Zappo’s.

Be good, and happy Wednesday.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Popculch | 65 Comments
 

Abandon all effort.

The school year is waning here. As I’ve mentioned here before, the sole political achievement of one of my former legislators (term limits!) was to ram through a bill forbidding Michigan school districts from starting until after Labor Day. The idea was to give the tourism industry one last chance to squeeze a few dimes out of the summer, and in theory I don’t really think school should start in August, but it’s still a stupid law. (Although it always makes for a pleasant interlude to visit Cedar Point, the amusement park. It’s only about a quarter full, and everyone is wearing Michigan T-shirts.)

What it means for kids like Kate, who take advanced-placement classes, is that the tests are held in mid-May to accommodate the southern U.S. districts that will dismiss for the year in a few days. So what do kids up here do for the last three weeks of the year?

Not much. In one of her AP classes, they watched “Wall-E” last week.

Of course, this is just fine with the kids, although Kate would just as soon be shut of the whole damn place. She hasn’t liked high school pretty much from the beginning. I hope she likes college better.

So today we were promised overcast skies and rain, but it didn’t arrive until I was getting off the bus. I crossed the street in the downpour and, with two blocks to go, knew I’d be soaked by the time I got there. I ducked under the first street awning, a title company, thinking, “Right now I need just one person in the world to cut me a break.” And guess what happened? A Realtor and a client were saying their goodbyes under the awning, and the space was tight enough that I felt the need to announce I wasn’t going in, just waiting out the shower. The Realtor said, “I’ll take you home,” and she did, in a nice Cadillac. Then she announced my house was going to be worth its weight in gold, yes gold I say, in another three years.

You have to be an optimist to be a Realtor, but that was something I needed to hear.

The day also included a lunch. A lunch with a long wait for all to arrive, and then another long wait for the food, and I was ravenous enough to be borderline hangry, and my eyeline was on a TV turned to HLN, CNN’s dumber sibling. The show was something called “The Daily Share,” and even with the sound off I could see exactly what it was: A TV version of your Facebook feed, assuming that like everyone else, you have a few idiots in your network. So: Stupid viral video, a kid someone tried to smuggle onto a plane in a suitcase, another viral video, a nod to Serious News with the Sy Hersh/OBL thing, some Kardashian crap, and so on. The world’s dumbest newspaper, on TV, with anchors who bring to the table all the intelligence and insight of morning radio hosts, and I’m not talking NPR. Field reports were with aggregators — yes, the Daily Mail — via Skype, so the picture was pixelated and crappy and no one cared.

In other words, the future of news in Idiot Nation. I sat there with my smart, experienced colleagues thinking I’d better keep this job, because this is the alternative.

So yeah, it was sort of a Monday.

Bloggage? I want to catch up with “Veep.”

I used to be more of a pedant about the language, but I’m trying to become more flexible in my dotage. Gene Weingarten offers some cautionary tales of those who cannot let go, i.e., grammar and language rules of yesteryear:

“ ‘She married a man named Brown,’ is incorrect. … A woman, when she weds, is married to a man, but the clergyman or magistrate marries her.” — Josephine Turck Baker, 1899

“Moon here means month, so it is incorrect to say, ‘a week’s honeymoon.’ ” — Ambrose Bierce, 1909

“There is no such word as ‘balding.’ Why not ‘baldish’?” — Theodore Bernstein, 1958

I read Ruben Navarette’s column about Mark Halperin’s interview with Ted Cruz and could scarcely believe it happened. Evidently it did:

He told Cruz that people are curious about his “identity.” Then, the host asked a series of questions intended to establish his guest’s Hispanic bona fides. What kind of Cuban food did Cruz like to eat growing up? And what sort of Cuban music does Cruz listen to even now?

I’ve known Ted for more than a decade and I could tell he was uncomfortable. But he played along, listing various kinds of Cuban food and saying that his musical taste veers more toward country.

I kept waiting for Halperin to ask Cruz to play the conga drums like Desi Arnaz while dancing salsa and sipping cafe con leche — all to prove the Republican is really Cuban.

It gets worse, too.

Finally, an OID story with the sort of headline you can’t help but love: Police report: Naked Sen. Smith confronted ex before shooting. Her car, that is. He shot her car, 10 times, with a shotgun Rifle. BECAUSE, THAT’S WHY.

I know just how he felt. Some cars just won’t die.

Happy Tuesday, all.

Posted at 12:18 am in Current events, Media, Same ol' same ol' | 57 Comments
 

Summer is here.

Kind of a lazy day today — a drive to Ann Arbor, radio thing*, lunch at the Korean barbecue joint, back to the A2 office, phone calls, emails and the fallow period between stories when you sow your seeds and hope something sprouts.

Fortunately, it was warm and sunny. Oh, summer, come to mommy. I’ve been waiting so long.

*Someone asked in the comments for a heads-up on radio things when they happen. I’ll do that from now on, but I’m not sure when this one will air yet.

In the meantime, tomorrow will be a repeat of today. Driving to Lansing. Sunroof open, I expect.

So how about some bloggage to lead us into Mother’s Day weekend?

Not exactly a …maternal story, but a good one just the same: Riding along with a woman on her long, long way to get an abortion. (She lives in Wyoming. The clinic is in Montana. Wide open spaces.) A sad story, well-told.

This happens all the time in Grosse Pointe: The police being called for “suspicious activity” that boils down to “I saw a black person.”

A nice photo essay, with an introduction by Roy Edroso, aka alicublog. “Hyper gentrification” — a new one on me.

Friday, I hug you and kiss you.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' | 45 Comments
 

Some clippings.

Boy, did Proposal 1 ever go down hard. They may have to invent a new word for it; how can you call a ballot prop that went down in two counties by 90 percent merely “defeated?” It was loathed across the spectrum, and that doesn’t happen often. Historic!

But now it’s in the rearview, I think I’m finally done writing about it, and it’s time to look at some excellent bloggage I stumbled across. First, a heartbreaker about the HIV outbreak in southern Indiana, the one that prompted the right-wing governor to allow an experimental, 30-day needle exchange program. The 30 days is up and some would like to allow exchanges in other communities, but they best get schooled, because not only are the prosecutors against it, it’s not working so well:

Officials here say the need for education is urgent and deep; even local health workers are learning as they go. Brittany Combs, the public health nurse for Scott County, said she was stunned to discover from talking to addicts that many were using the same needle up to 300 times, until it broke off in their arms. Some were in the habit of using nail polish to mark syringes as their own, but with needles scarce and houses full of people frequently shooting up together, efforts to avoid sharing often failed.

Ms. Combs also learned that many addicts were uncomfortable visiting a needle distribution center that opened April 4 on the outskirts of town. So she started taking needles directly to users in their neighborhoods.

At the same time, H.I.V. specialists from Indianapolis — who have evaluated about 50 people with the virus here so far and started about 20 of them on antiretroviral drugs — are fighting a barrage of misinformation about the virus in Scott County, where almost all residents are white, few go to college and one in five live in poverty, according to the census.

As I said on social media earlier today, what the hell are we going to do with these people, living in these hollowed-out parts of rural America? What is there to do in Scott County, Ind., if you can’t get a job and you’ve got a bad back and a doctor willing to write scripts for painkillers? What are we going to do with these people?

Sigh. Moving on:

I wasn’t paying full attention to the news this weekend, and missed that the shooting in Texas was wrapped around the loathsome Pamela Geller. I’m glad Neil Steinberg did, and wrote this blog about it.

“This incident shows how much needed our event really was,” she told the New York Times. “Freedom of speech is under violent assault here in our nation. The question now before us is: Will we stand and defend it, or bow to violence, thuggery, and savagery?”

And how do we defend free speech? Oh right, by insulting Islam. An oddly selective defense. If Geller’s show was a general collection of sacrilegious art, I might be tempted to buy her ruse. But it isn’t, it’s a stiletto designed to stab at Muslims. To prove how free we are.

Actually, Muhammad shows up in the “Inferno,” receiving a particularly gruesome punishment, split from chin to anus, his entrails hanging out, as contrapasso for his splitting of his world by forming a new religion. Muslims do not, to my knowledge, attack those reading the 700-year-old work of literature because, unlike Geller’s stunts, the “Inferno” isn’t a hate carnival designed to stigmatize and marginalize a certain group (Well, it is, but that group is Florentines, and they’ve adjusted themselves to it by now).

The comments are pretty good, too.

Finally, circling back to the NYT, a look at the differences between Baltimore and Muskogee, Okla. It turns out they have a lot more in common than you might think!

In Muskogee County and in Baltimore, the percentage of households composed of married couples with children dropped from 2000 to 2010 for both whites and blacks.

The violent crime rate in both cities has fallen over the past decade, just as it has nationwide, although the 22.3 percent drop in Baltimore is four times as large as the 5.6 percent decline in Muskogee.

Over time, Lesthaeghe foresees a convergence in the marital and reproductive behavior of whites and blacks — and of red and blue states — with low marriage rates, dipping fertility, and rising cohabitation rates for both races.

It’s a sad story. I’m not gloating.

Tomorrow there’s a radio interview for me, lap swimming and, whaddaya know –the downslope of the week.

Posted at 12:36 am in Current events | 32 Comments
 

No cold pizza here.

Did I just say I had some breathing room at work? I don’t have it Tuesday night. There was an election today, there was but one question on the ballot, but it was the one I’ve been writing about for a month, so I have to handle the follow-up. (Or, as we journalists like to put it in our internal memos: the “folo.”)

I’m writing this about an hour after the polls closed, and this question is going down like (insert fast-falling imagery here). Like a rock in a pond. Like a plane with one wing. Like a whore at a bachel– never mind. I haven’t seen a margin slimmer than 75-25 percent yet. Well, anyone could see it coming. I’ve never seen internet comments quite like the ones on this issue, seething rage from left to right, all of it directed at a legislature that simply couldn’t get anything done, even in a lame-duck session (important in Michigan, because of our term limits).

They got this thing done at 5 a.m. on the last day of the session. And this is what happened. Back to the old drawing board, boys and girls.

One quick note before I get on this conference call with the Democratic leadership: You “Mad Men” fans who’re watching the final episodes may have an opinion on the sexual-harassment plot line in the latest one. Hanna Rosin did:

…this episode depended on some pretty crudely-drawn enemies. The bros at McCann were like guys you usually encounter only on workplace training videos about sexual harassment.

You want to know how much things have changed since the c-1970 period depicted there? Look at that observation by Rosin, who almost certainly was an infant at the time. I had a friend whose boss literally chased her around the desk, and when she complained, she was transferred, but the boss, deemed too valuable to the company, was left in place, a new assistant dropped in to amuse him. So was it bad then? I was years away from entering the workforce, but it was bad when I did a decade later, so I have no problem believing what Joan Harris was fictionally enduring up on the screen.

Many of you readers went through this. Tell some stories. Me, I gotta hoover up some quotes.

Posted at 12:24 am in Current events, Popculch, Television | 43 Comments
 

The new new thing.

What a whirl of news lately, at a time when I’ve been up to my neck in my own work, so I feel like a periscope. Every so often I stick my head up, look around, try to scan Twitter and then pull it back down, overwhelmed.

On the other hand, this might be the best way to absorb a breaking story. Every so often I turn on CNN, seeking news of Baltimore. The last time I did, Ben Carson (I refuse to call him Dr. when he’s not actually talking about pediatric neurosurgery) was praising some woman who smacked her son in the head. And wasn’t that story peak weirdness? I watched it the first time wondering how the hell do we even know who this woman is to this ninja-looking man? But I guess there was some direct observation of the encounter, and OK — it was his mother. And she’s chasing him, smacking his head, telling him to get his ass home, and of course the rest of America went nuts. MOTHER OF THE YEAR!

I guess there’s a time to smack your kid upside the head, but that was a very uncomfortable piece of video to watch. On the other hand, it was a great excuse to turn off CNN. It’s like they scan Twitter, no, Facebook all day and count the stupidest posts possible, then pitch their coverage directly at that demographic.

On the other hand…

I did find two interesting things in all of this.

This lengthy Q-and-A with David Simon is absolutely worth your time, as it dives deep into the dysfunction of the Baltimore police department, i.e., all urban police departments, and its relationship with the politicians and cities it’s entwined with. To wit:

It used to be said — correctly — that the patrolman on the beat on any American police force was the last perfect tyranny. Absent a herd of reliable witnesses, there were things he could do to deny you your freedom or kick your ass that were between him, you, and the street. The smartphone with its small, digital camera, is a revolution in civil liberties.

And if there’s still some residual code, if there’s still some attempt at precision in the street-level enforcement, then maybe you duck most of the outrage. Maybe you’re just cutting the procedural corners with the known players on your post – assuming you actually know the corner players, that you know your business as a street cop. But at some point, when there was no code, no precision, then they didn’t know. Why would they? In these drug-saturated neighborhoods, they weren’t policing their post anymore, they weren’t policing real estate that they were protecting from crime. They weren’t nurturing informants, or learning how to properly investigate anything. There’s a real skill set to good police work. But no, they were just dragging the sidewalks, hunting stats, and these inner-city neighborhoods — which were indeed drug-saturated because that’s the only industry left — become just hunting grounds. They weren’t protecting anything. They weren’t serving anyone. They were collecting bodies, treating corner folk and citizens alike as an Israeli patrol would treat the West Bank, or as the Afrikaners would have treated Soweto back in the day. They’re an army of occupation. And once it’s that, then everybody’s the enemy. The police aren’t looking to make friends, or informants, or learning how to write clean warrants or how to testify in court without perjuring themselves unnecessarily. There’s no incentive to get better as investigators, as cops. There’s no reason to solve crime. In the years they were behaving this way, locking up the entire world, the clearance rate for murder dove by 30 percent. The clearance rate for aggravated assault — every felony arrest rate – took a significant hit. Think about that. If crime is going down, and crime is going down, and if we have less murders than ever before and we have more homicide detectives assigned, and better evidentiary technologies to employ how is the clearance rate for homicide now 48 percent when it used to be 70 percent, or 75 percent?

I was glad to see that bit about cameras. I think there’s a PhD dissertation on the role of cheap-but-excellent cameras we all now carry in our pockets in this story, and in many stories. Anyway, a long piece but recommended.

Here was the other smart thing I read, about Periscope, just one of the amazing live-video apps that will transform stories like this and make Wolf Blitzer’s gaping fish mouth that much more stupid and irrelevant:

In photography, the golden hour is all about timing. It’s when the subjects in an image are depicted under warm, natural light. It’s when shadows are the least visible, and the details of a scene are enhanced. Likewise, there is a window when journalists can capture the richest part of a breaking news story.

On April 27th, with nightfall approaching, several journalists, armed only with their iPhones, wandered out in Baltimore. Through a sequence of expertly-documented live footage, including on-the-ground interviews, Guardian US correspondent Paul Lewis used Periscope to “observe a community making sense of the destruction and chaos” in real-time.

In one of his first Periscope feeds, Lewis speaks with a local in front of a neighborhood corner store. The shop is being looted as they talk on camera. After a minute of conversation, he is threatened by a bystander to stop recording.

“I’m gettin’ ready to beat you” is heard in the background.

Lewis’ live Periscope feed ends abruptly. For nearly five minutes, several hundred users remain active on his feed, exchanging messages and posting shell-shocked reactions about his fate.

P.S. He was OK. It’s a fascinating thing to consider. The 40th anniversary of the Detroit riots is approaching, and I’m looking through archival material. It’s truly an archeological process that makes you wonder why any of us journalists bother — all we’re making is core samples, snapshots, Vines, whatever, and nothing close to reality.

Off to bed for now. Follow those links — you’ll be glad you did.

Posted at 12:17 am in Current events | 57 Comments
 

TV explains it all.

I expect we’re heading for cord-cutting within the next few months. (When “Mad Men” wraps, and then “Ray Donovan,” and then “the Knick” and oh, it’s just gotta go.) But we’ll be doing the HBO Now when we do, and in part because of shows like “Silicon Valley,” which in its most recent episode introduced a character who explained digital-economy finance better than anyone or anything else I’ve heard or read. Mike Judge really has a great sense of satire. I can’t reproduce the dialogue, but this recap nails it:

As usual, “Silicon Valley” is gleeful about ripping off real-life story lines of the Valley. So you have Hanneman espousing one of the tech businesses’ happy secrets, which is that for young companies, making any money can actually be detrimental to its prospects. “If you show revenue, people will ask how much, and it will never be enough,” he advises Richard, who’d foolishly believed that the point of starting a company is to make money. “It’s not about how much you earn but what you’re worth,” Hanneman says. “And who’s worth the most? Companies that lose money.”

Hanneman’s analysis is largely correct. Google bought the home-device company Nest last year for $3.2 billion, a relatively small sum for a company that actually sold products that people were willing to pay for. Meanwhile companies that had, at the time, spent little time trying to make any money at all — like Snapchat and Pinterest — were valued at many billions more.

Thank you, fictional Hanneman guy. This has baffled me forever. How can Instagram be worth $1 billion? There are no ads and it’s free. ‘Splain this. No one can.

Much good to read today, so let’s get to it.

On the Baltimore situation, here’s Hank on CNN:

On a night like Monday, no one involved — Baltimoreans, city officials, CNN reporters, and, indeed, all journalists doing live TV or filing dispatches tweet by tweet and photo by photo — had the time to parse their own words. Words such as “riot,” words such as “thug,” combinations of words that are mostly metaphorical exaggerations, such as “the city is burning.” You can only be so careful with the sting of smoke in your eyes and the taste of pepper spray in your mouth.

Likewise, CNN doesn’t always have the time to think deeply about the images it beams live back to the rest of the country. One assumes there are a lot of people calling the shots at CNN, but it’s hard to see the power of a guiding hand or principle. It is CNN’s nature to jump into the fray and seek out the most dramatic events it can capture on camera and then summarize them as they occur, while queueing up a long line of experts to weigh in.

The strongest visual will always win. CNN would be shirking its duty if it declined to show such events to appease some nobler effort to accentuate the positive, which, in this case, included the many people who chose peaceful protest. TV news frequently finds itself explaining why non-burning buildings and people standing still (or staying home) don’t make the cut.

I’ve really come to despise live cable news in a breaking story, even while I freely acknowledge that it’s the first place I turn when news is breaking (plus, y’know, Twitter). Sometimes I hate myself as a news consumer.

Also, from the WashPost: The burning of Baltimore and “The Wire.” Some smart stuff, some dumb stuff, but if you were a fan and you were watching CNN Monday night, you had to think it: Is that the street where Kima was shot? It looks so familiar.

Time to return to Twitter.

Posted at 12:39 am in Current events, Television | 45 Comments