Walking north up 69th on the way to Montavilla for an afternoon coffee, in the street at first, around my neighbor’s sidewalk repair project, barricades up while the newly poured cement dries. Then a short hello to the next neighbor out trying, with some difficulty, apparently, to start his gas lawnmower, yard work project of mid-December in progress. Next I came upon a five gallon bucket half full of water placed in the walkway to secure what appeared to be a tiny cement patch job. At the corner of 69th and Stark, I noticed the city fire hydrant replacement work is now complete, tools and materials cleared, the new hydrant standing like a shiny orange Christmas ornament, moved around the corner. Against the curb, a large steel plate remains to be picked up. I had just set out, the day cold but partially clear, with no wind to speak of, and already I had enough news to fill a paragraph.
What is news? Most of what passes for news these days is tabloid sensationalism, entertainment, ratings and sponsor influenced selections from a worldwide reservoir of orality and photographs depicting and commenting on current events, the more current, the better, the higher the octane the more promise the trending and the more seen the ads. Today’s news is a kind of pornography, never enough to truly satisfy, and therefore an addictive substance. Originally, pornography was simply writing about prostitutes, while news was simply new things previously unknown to an audience. Today’s news is a new pornography, stories about the risks of public exposure of joyless addictions, risky setups for personal attention and gain.
An important accoutrement used in today’s news is the public opinion poll. But how can the public have any kind of informed opinion if its only source of information is the news? Yet the news is saturated with what the latest polls show. Even the public broadcasting stations seem addicted to polls, in spite of how poorly polls used at the time had predicted the 2016 election results. And the current polls, acknowledged generally to have meaningful margins of error, don’t seem to be moving anywhere, plus or minus. Impotent, still, polls are the new foreplay of stories to come.
Down in Montavilla and now discover the food carts on Stark in front of the old Beets parking lot have vanished. Now that’s news. Story at eleven.