Back, more or less

Sadly, I haven’t been on the vacation many of you imagined — just had too much on my plate, needed to take a break from the blog. Next week’s looking hectic too, so posting will probably be sporadic, unless it’s not. Who can say what the future will bring?

But while hunkered down in the Fortress of Solitude, I have continued to sporadically monitor Fox News broadcasts — oh! the things I do for you people — and as a consequence of this regrettable habit of mine, I am compelled to break radio silence.

Hannity & Colmes had a story last night about a high school teacher in Brick Township, New Jersey, who lost his cool and yelled at some students who would not stand when the National Anthem was — for reasons which were never made clear — played in his class. H&C have apparently featured this story for two nights running, which might lead you to ask, reasonably enough…”why, exactly?” Well, because they have video, of course — one of the students surreptitiously caught the whole thing on some mobile device. Actually what the video mostly consists of is a shot of the ceiling, but you can hear the teacher yelling in the background, and he is very upset that his students will not stand up.

So, what expert do you think the fair & balanced bookers at Fox News brought in to help their audience fully grasp the subtleties of the controversy?

(a) a noted child psychologist;
(b) an anger management specialist;
(c) an expert in constitutional law; or
(d) a right wing radio talk show host.

Unless you are a time traveller, fresh in from the nineteenth century and gaining your first knowledge of the brave new world in which you find yourself by reading this website — in which case, let me congratulate you on your quick mastery of computer technology, and welcome you to the site (don’t forget to check out the store!) — you certainly understand that the correct answer is (d). Our guest pontificator on the subject was one Bill Cunningham, a second- or third-tier radio guy out of Cincinnatti who would mostly not be worth the pixels required to acknowledge his existence — except for one throwaway line, used to set up a contrast between our sinful modern era and the conservatively correct paradise of his youth:

“In the good old days, back when AIDS was an appetite suppressant and “gay” meant you were happy…”

Now, understand, this was a totally gratuitous remark. The story they were discussing had nothing whatsoever to do with AIDS or gay issues. This was just shorthand, the way Bill Cunningham indicates the deliniation between his ideal world and the cesspool of sin and liberal corruption and disrespectful high school students in which he finds himself today: you didn’t have any gay people, or any of their nasty diseases.

Mostly, conservatives have learned to keep this sort of dialogue out of the public sphere. They’ve learned to put a happy face on their bigotry, to paint themselves as open and inclusive. But if you think this kind of mentality has gone away, you’re only kidding yourself. (Well, yourself, and maybe Andrew Sullivan.)

The remark went unnoticed, a small bit of flotsam in a sea of blather. Colmes sparred mildly with the man — and is it just me, or does Colmes look more and more like someone who really can’t stand what he does for a living? And then it was over to Hannity, who proceeded to chide Bill Cunningham for his gratutious homophobia and explain that there’s no place for that sort of attitude in the modern day Republican party —

Ha, ha. I kid, of course. This is how Hannity and Cunningham actually greeted each other:

HANNITY: Mr. Cunningham, you’re a great American. Thanks for giving us the full report, we love having you back.

CUNNINGHAM: Sean, you’re a great American.

And there you have it.

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(It occurs to me that the appetite suppressant remark might be a complete non sequitur for some of you. He’s referring to a diet pill called “Ayds”, which ran unintentionally cringe-inducing radio ads about how “Ayds will help you lose weight” well into the eighties.)

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Switching gears — if you get a chance, don’t miss the rebroadcast of last night’s Daily Show. Rob Corddry takes a look at New Media — Jeff Gannon, blogs, etc. He also interviews NYU Journalism Professor and blogger Jay Rosen, and maybe it was just the editing, but for a purported New Media guy, Rosen appeared quite befuddled by the experience, as if he’s never actually seen the Daily Show before, and had no idea what to expect. (Of course, one of Time Magazine’s Bloggers of the Year has never heard of Chris Rock. “New Media” does not appear to be synonymous with “cultural literacy.”)

Also — the guest bloggers at Pandagon are really — well, phrases like “blogging up a storm!” really make my teeth hurt, but they are, in fact, blogging up a storm. Head over, scroll down — this is what blogs should aspire to be.

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…one more thing — if you have the time and/or inclination, filling out this blog survey might help me lure some more advertisers in. And then I’d feel guilty and I’d start posting more frequently. It’s a win/win for everybody, except maybe my family. Anyway, be sure to list this site as the referring blog.

UPDATE: never mind, survey over.