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May 27, 2008

Summary of My Discontent: Turn off, tune out

I
recently spent 12 spectacular days off the tele-info-tainment-torial
grid. My time away included a festive prohibition on TV, radio,
newspapers, the web, e-mail, blogs, politics, deodorant, conditioner
and sarcasm. It was like dying and going to heaven — with bonus
weekend-excursion packages to hell — and I highly recommend it to
you. In fact, why not stop reading now, go outside, close your eyes
and plunge your toes deep into the lawn? (Unless you spray your lawn
with chemicals, in which case never mind. I’d hate for you get toe
cancer.)

It
was a minor thrill just leaving my cell phone at home. Quite possibly
the most insidious invention of all time (not counting Crisco), the
cell phone’s gadgetary shackledom is an assault on freedom al-Qaeda
masterminds could only dream of. And ignoring the news, I was
blissfully ignorant of Louisville’s invasion by throngs of the
superstitious and frightened when the NRA and Joel Osteen brought
their twin horror shows to town. I had no need to roll my eyes when
Dubya made a fool of himself in Israel. And I didn’t waste any
energy wondering whether the “multi-sensory” KentuckyShow!’s
HDTV screen would be wide enough to accurately portray our state’s
obesity epidemic.

But
all good things must come to an end. When I got back home, I had
voice messages from my close friends Hillary Clinton and Kris
Kristofferson. Kristofferson wanted me to vote for Barack Obama
because of Obama’s youthful promise to bring change and hope to
youths who hope for change. Kristofferson sounded like he might keel
over at any moment, which I suppose was meant to balance Obama’s
youthful exuberance. The next message was from an incredibly perky
Hillary Clinton supporter, whose vivaciousness must have been
intended to balance Hillary’s hawkish manliness.

It
was great to hear from my celebrity friends, but it was a surprise to
turn on the TV and find out that the whole world was talking about
how racist Kentucky is. TV commentators, bloggers and even normally
stolid NPR wankers were characterizing Kentucky as a backwater full
of hicks and hillbillies who would never vote for a black president.
But I disagree. I prefer to think of Kentucky as a backwater full of
hicks and hillbillies who overwhelmingly voted for a woman for
president. See? Glass half-full.

And
consider this: While a handful of states have enough xenophobes to
vote based on race, isn’t it refreshing that they’re not voting
solely based on homophobia for a change? It might not be progress,
but at least it’s a different flavor of bigotry. While racist
Kentucky voters might be an embarrassment to us all, Obama’s entire
campaign has been a breathtaking reminder that the entire nation
voted like rural Kentucky just one generation ago. Things are getting
better, no matter what Chris Matthews tells you.* Besides, who can
blame crackers for identifying with Hillary? She married one! I’m
grateful to Hillary for hanging in there and making the race
interesting. If she’d quit running like everybody wanted her to, we
wouldn’t have been able to show the world how quaintly antebellum
life is here in Kentucky.

But
taking some time away from the info onslaught is something I highly
recommend for everyone. It’s refreshing to take a breather from
pondering questions like: “When Senate President David Williams and
House Speaker Jody Richards watch an Al Jazeera video of Kentuckians
auctioning cans of Manwich (see it on Phillip Bailey’s blog at
http://the-soulution.blogspot.com/), do they consider stepping aside
so someone with integrity and courage can lead?” Once you clear
your mind of such mysteries, you’re free to ponder questions like:
“Does this Che Guevara bandanna make me look like I’m
overcompensating for my country’s history of repression and
imperialism?”
But
it’s also great to be back in the United States, where patient
reasoning and fairness prevail. I mean, it’s not like some
corporate publishing warlords are going to swoop in and haul away my
editor. Er, um … right? Right?!

*Offer
void in Kentucky and West Virginia

Contact
the writer at jimwelp@gmail.com