Friday, December 29, 2006

The Death of a Dictator

Saddam Hussein is dead. That news came down just about a half hour ago, and as it did, in our typical news way, media outlets began using fancy graphics and a new name – “The Death of a Dictator.”

Typical me – once I found out that the execution was evident, I became my usual junkie. MSNBC kept me wide-eyed with a biography as the world awaited the news that Saddam was dead. Fox News and CNN propped up the usual collection of “experts.” On the broadcast side, to the best of my knowledge, NBC and CBS still have not reported it – with the exception of a possible “crawl” or a local news tease (as I believe channel four in New York did). ABC finally broke in around 10:40 or so, which seemed logical since the alphabet network was in the middle of “20/20”, of course their news magazine. The peacock and the eye both had popular Friday night programs. God forbid NBC bail out of “Law and Order.”

I’m currently monitoring WCBS (880) radio, just for the heck of it. It’s business as usual – sports reports, other news stories and, of course, traffic and weather together on the “8’s.” For some reason, I though this story would be viewed as a bigger deal. Then again, things have changed quite a bit. “Back in the day”, as we say, WGCH’s newsroom, for instance, wouldn’t be silent. Somebody would probably be there, bringing either a national network feed, or providing local reports. Heck, it was just under a decade ago, when I was at ‘GCH hosting the studio portions of our coverage of high school basketball and hockey, that a newsman was in the building with me, sometimes until long after I left for the night.

Moving away from the media angle, my question is: why am I so paranoid? Not to make it about me, but OK, for a minute. Heck, I can remember the fuss during the famed “Summer of Sam” in 1977, when David Berkowitz was running wild in New York City. My fascination with the news made me nervous, as I would go into my own darkened basement. I was eight; a skinny white kid in the suburbs (hardly the Son of Sam’s demographic), but still paranoid. I normally send myself into “freak zone” during these moments, where some image will give me metaphoric chills that stay with me if and when I finally try to go to bed. Doesn’t matter what – it always happens.

“Paranoia will destroy you” – so said The Kinks. It is true. The other day, Ricky Fritsch told me that an envelope had shown up from the New London Day. Immediately, I assumed the worst: I wrote something that offended them on the blog. I said something that they didn’t like on the air. Of course, maybe they like the blog and want me to contribute to the paper. Maybe – this was The Wife’s suspicion – it was a subscription offer. So what was it? A media invite to an event at Mohegan Sun. I’ll consider going to it, but why the heck was I so paranoid?

Back to our old friend Saddam, and the reason for my paranoia du jour. As I study the news coming out of Baghdad, various outlets are reporting that there is celebratory gunfire, and in Dearborn, Michigan, they’re basically dancing around the Maypole. I don’t get it. Yes, he’s dead, but don’t you think that something bad is coming? Maybe not now (we’ve just hit 11:00 PM) as I’m typing, maybe not even tomorrow, but perhaps oh, I don’t know…SUNDAY?????? I know, that seems too obvious (who could have really predicted September 11?), but don’t we have to be vigilant, certainly on a higher terror alert?

Maybe the bottom line is this – what did we really prove tonight? Since the U.S. had to play a part in it, didn’t we just set ourselves up for more trouble with the Middle East? Believe me when I say that I’m no bleeding-heart. I’m a fine moderate, I suppose, but I’m all for executing criminals. If that means Susan Sarandon and I aren’t going to be dining together, then so be it (Tim Robbins wouldn’t like me anyway – he’s a Mets fan). So with all that said, Saddam Hussein had to die, but did he really have to? Couldn’t he have just rotted away?

All of this heavy stuff makes me think of the simpler moments of the day, like being at the Jefferson Valley Mall today and seeing The Son, as we ran into a school friend of his. The two of them played on this “silly floor” – a screen on the floor of the mall that shows images from a suspended projector overhead. The thing is that the images move if your shadow hits them. It’s pretty cool, but it’s a pain if you’re trying to make a hasty escape from the mall. We had nowhere to be, so it was fun to let him have a few minutes to do that, and even better since his “buddy” was there.

I knew the news of Bobby Murcer’s brain tumor wouldn’t pass without my hearing from somebody. The one friend of mine who I thought I would hear from is so busy these days that I’m not surprised. He has his favorite athlete – the equivalent of Murcer to me, though, frankly, his guy is closer to being a hall of famer (in hockey) than Bobby Ray could ever be in baseball. I did, however, hear from both my mother and my sister. I’m not surprised that I didn’t hear from my brother because that’s not his style. That being said, he’s the one who first introduced me to the guy who was our favorite player.

As I finish writing tonight, all I know is that Bobby Murcer emerged from the surgery as well as could be expected, and was cracking jokes. The hopeful sign was that he said he’d see everybody at Spring Training. I’m still nervous.

That’s all the news for tonight. I want to write a final line here, but I’m too paranoid…OK, I’ll finish up this way. I hope to write again before the end of 2006. I was thinking about doing some final thoughts for the year, including things like “best CD” and so on (I know, how pedestrian). Just in case I don’t, I’m sure by now you’ve read my thoughts on the idiocy of the celebration of a new year. I’m still wise enough to wish you all best – particularly health, happiness, and most of all, peace. This past year has been a mixed-blessing. We bought a house, but I got laid off. Money became a lot tighter, but we’re still alive. The job situation and the growth of our son put a stress on our marriage, but we’ve never worked harder and perhaps never been closer. See what I mean? When you get right down to it, isn’t every year like that? So let us simply move along into 2007, hoping for better days. Still, those better days could start tomorrow – December 30th (a mere 40 minutes away). I don’t need a new year for the change to occur.

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