Friday, November 20, 2009

A Little Late

So I'm reading the Dallas Observer, which is a free publication available offline at every other street corner or eating establishment in downtown. Online, you can go to for five seconds, shrug and say I'm right, then surf on. So anyway, I'm reading Jim Schutze's latest article, "The Power of the Table" which is yet another tired attempt by Schutze to be as cool about demonizing local politics as Laura Miller was fifteen years ago. She used to be in the D.O. as often as he is now, and she used to shake her fists at City Hall and tell the people of Dallas why we should be outraged this week. Then she became a member of City Council and later Mayor herself and completely failed to exorcise the demons out of the Dallas City Council. Some might argue that she became a demon herself, but I digress. What I just did there may appear mildly ironic to you later on. I think I'm using that word right.

Whatever. Laura Miller used to write for the Dallas Observer, then she put her money where her mouth is and ran for Mayor, she came and went and according to Jim Schutze, City Hall is still just as evil as it ever was. I guess this is why they give the Dallas Observer away. I wouldn't pay to be told this. I already know. In fact, I find it amusing that I'm currently criticizing the D.O. in much the same way the D.O. criticizes City Hall, Belo Corp, DART, state government, and pretty much everything in Texas that's not hot & spicy or fried. Frankly, the D.O. food critics are not critical enough in my not so humble opinion, but this is why they get paid the big bucks and I can't even give my words away. Who would pay to be told this?

Anyway, so I'm reading Jim Schutze's article as I said before, and he's plodding along eloquently about how some guy I don't know who is named Don Hill has the power to postpone deals between land developers and "buzzing people" who are "friends" of Hill. I'm reading along for the ride, wondering when Schutze is going to get to the point of why I should give a shit about any of this, and for the record I don't. I quit voting some time after Nine Eleven and before Sarah Palin. My voice is less effective than Laura Miller was at fighting City Hall. Schutze makes a good case but at this point I'm reading to pass the time and not be enlightened. It's either this or flip to the back of the Dallas Observer and read the classifieds where lonely desperate people try to shack up with each other. That's always good for a laugh. In his plodding eloquency, Schutze begins illustrating why whatever he's talking about matters by tellling me a story about something that happened five years ago. Newspapers usually stick to things that happened within the past week or so, but the Dallas Observer is, well, let's say "special."

Schutze introduces a character in this true-life narrative drama as "The Late Lynn Flint Shaw." That's curious of him. So okay, not only did this story he's weaving happen before 'teabag' stopped being a euphemism for lewdness & turned into a nomenclature for nonsense, but one of the key players in his drama is already dead. I hate it when stories do this. You already know how it's going to end. In death. How tragic.

Am I suddenly intrigued? Well, yes, but not for the reasons Schutze has been trying to manipulate me into caring about, because he continues on talking about Don Hill and some other guy completely named John Tatum. A couple paragraphs later, Schutze happens to mention while continuing to detail something about John Tatum trying to turn DART property into a museum, that The Late Lynn Flint Shaw "died in March of last year in an apparent murder-suicide with her husband."

Erk! SLAM ON THE BRAKES! Schutze keeps right on going but I feel like I just hit a speed bump the size of a DART bus. I get whiplash looking back at that previous statement as Schutze continues pressing onward about This Other Thing. Something I don't care about. At all. Even though I ride DART every day, the property that was supposed to be a museum by now is on Corinth Street. I've lived in Dallas since before Mississippi ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, but I don't know where Corinth Street is.

This dead lady interests me though. A dead lady who 'apparently' died by killing herself and her husband, or maybe her husband killed her and then himself - I DON'T KNOW - why don't I know? CUZ JIM SCHUTZE JUST SKIPS THAT as unimportant to the point he's trying to make and continues putting Dallas to sleep w/politicians who use their power to put off developers until they cave to whims of special interests.

That's politics as usual. How is this news? That's NOT news. That's dog bites man. The Late Lynn Flint Shaw isn't quite man bites dog because as I find out later it's also old news, but it's slightly more interesting than Schutze moaning about how the Don Hills of the world generate red tape to wrap up the John Tatums of the world because they won't hire friends of The Late Lynn Flint Shaws of the world. Anyone, and I MEAN anyone, who tries to be a politician does so with alterior motives. I KNOW this to be true. This is why I stopped voting.

You may have looked at John McCain and Barack Obama and seen two dramatically different choices. I saw Coke & Pepsi. You may look at Rick Perry and Kay Bailey Hutchison who are both currently running for governor of Texas and see two dramatically different choices. I see The New Coke & Coke Classic, only both have been left out in the sun opened and have gone warm and flat. I don't wanna drink any of that. Most recently I've turned to V-8 even tho it's too salty, cuz I'm too lazy to ride a bus to the Farmer's Market every day and get something that might actually be good for me. ...weren't we talking about politics? Well, the metaphor still works so I went with it.

Why did I stop voting? ALL politicians are corrupt. Even and especially the ones who claim not to be. Even and especially the ones who put themselves into a position where they have friends buzzing around developers who want to get something from the gov't. If we really wanted uncorrupt people in office who would get things done, gov't positions would be a random draft, like jury duty. People who didn't want the job would be dragged to an appointed office, given crap to get done, and they'd get it done as fast as possible so they could say they did their duty and go back home to watch Oprah. We don't do that. We like our politicians dirty and corrupt and greedy little bastards. Otherwise, we'd do something about it. Or, like me, we'd give up because the only way to stop this corruption at this point is through a major revolution, and I'm allergic to bullets, so I ain't gonna start one.

But this, right here, is why the media has a problem with its audience. Jim Schutze wants to talk about political corruption. Again. And he thinks he's taken this tired and worn out topic and dressed it up with a new paint job and some decals and he's gonna try to sell it to his audience again. What pops off the page for my eyes? A lady offing herself and her hubby for no immediately forseeable reason whatsoever. That's a mystery to me. That's actually almost interesting. Not political corruption, which I've heard before. How many times can you see the same old card trick over and over? But if Penn & Teller threaten to shoot each other with bullets that are written on by people in the audience, hell that just never gets old does it?

This is why conventional media (unlike unconventional media like the D.O. which as I said before is "special") puts death and destruction front and center in news reports. They tally the dead in headlines where people can see them, and throw out the boring details that make us change the channel. Jim Schutze does what I believe Kevin Pollak might refer to as "burying the lead." He focuses on what he finds interesting, and hides what his audience might actually find interesting.

I went ahead and read the rest of the article. Yes of course this is a terrible thing for a politician to do. People in power positions have friends who want things from the businesses that want politicians to just do their damn jobs without all this wheel greasing and project tabling. It's disgusting and unethical and amoral and horrendous and I'm sure they'll all be smited by their respective deities and burn in whatever hell they deem to believe exists. More importantly this all leads to expensive litigation that the taxpayer will no doubt end up footing the bill for, and is the real reason why everything from potholes to skyscrapers take forever to get done, unless some troll who is blocking the proverbial bridge gets paid to step aside.

The Late Lynn Flint Shaw is only mentioned once more, to remind us that she was one of the trolls. Shaw wanted John Tatum to 'hire' one of her people as a 'consultant' on his project. Tatum didn't do that, so Shaw, then chairman of DART, stopped him cold.

Then, for some reason Schutze fails to explain, Shaw and her husband killed each other a couple years after this happened. Apparently the two events are completely unrelated, which is why Schutze didn't bother spending precious copy inches explaining to me why. Besides, it happened so long ago. Why even mention it?

I've thought about Googling The Late Lynn Flint Shaw and putting the pieces of her sordid drama together for my own edification, but I wrote this instead and now that I'm almost done, I really don't think I care about some complete stranger offing herself and her husband. I mean, why does it matter to me? Why should it? Why do I want to get my facts straight when it serves me no personal satisfaction at all, and won't put food on my table or help me brave the bus line to work tomorrow. Sure, she was the chairman of DART before I started using it, but maybe I should find out how insane and corrupt the current DART chairman is. Maybe that would be slightly more useful to my current situation, given that I'm at DART's mercy when it comes to getting around in this city. Frankly, I don't even know the names of my favorite bus drivers. So why would I bother to figure out who's running the gig?

Fox News keeps their audiences glued to the boob toob with constant reports of dirty dealings and carnage and mayhem. Anything that might make their audiences feel superior to complete strangers of questionable morals and character. Anything that will keep their audiences glued to that screen through the next set of commercials. This isn't news. This is catering to the lowest common denominator. This is giving the people what they want and not what they need. This is unethical and wrong and all kinds of shit. Know what I do to combat that? I don't watch Fox News. Not much more I could do than that. Vote? Rebel? I might as well start praying again, like that ever did any good.

I watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That's how I like my news. Maybe Jim Schutze should try to be more like Jon Stewart and less like Laura Miller.

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