So all the fuss over Irene being a totally devastating experience ended up like most nights with overhyped women… A blue-balled dry humping. Granted, there was serious flooding, but hardly the wetness predicted for the over-zealous maelstrom.
There were some ludicrous highlights during the epic non-event. On location weathermen standing in waders in dead calm water, describing with cliché expletives why we shouldn’t even think about leaving the house, while locals kite boarded in the background, twelve hours ahead of the storm.
What took the piñata was the palpable disappointment Sunday morning as CNN reporters live on scene had nothing to report besides a few downed trees and power outages. The network was so dead set on realizing their apocalyptic narrative that they hadn’t prepared a back-up for what to say if the bitch was a bust. Their they were, speaking with the same high tension emergency tone, trying to push the storyline forward. “We haven’t gaged the negative consequences yet,” was the warning as the sun peaked through the clouds.
Better safe than sorry, was the mantra but it didn’t feel sincere. The 48 hours prior to Irene should be played back to all network heads, like NFL head coaches reviewing last week’s blunders with their intercepted quarterbacks. And the stations should be penalized on a sliding scale for the certitude with which their anchormen and women confabulated.
What was most unnerving of all though, was the pattern most networks found in claiming that New Yorkers were ignorant in how to prepare for a hurricane. People in South Carolina, well, now, they know how to deal with this sort of thing. See how they board up their windows and shop at Home Depot? New Yorkers, though, they have NO idea how to do that.
Top prize for stupid shit said on the air goes to KTLA in Los Angles, who said New Yorker don’t know how to handle hurricanes like Los Angelinos know how to handle earthquakes. Huh? Earthquakes occur without warning, so the preparation comparison doesn’t fit; no one hunkers down for an earthquake. And in terms aftermaths, Los Angelinos can’t handle a light rain, much less the moving of two giant fault-lines. What both coasts share is their resilience in picking up the pieces after a disaster. We’ve seen it several times.
We know that CNN and FOX have not been news stations for some time. They’re actually closer to Reality TV now. Story lines are set in advance and carried out with little regard for actual events, and both “productions” fight tooth and nail each week for ratings.
A finale on a reality show, where you know some kind of conflict will explode in a dazzling dramatic climax, results in a ratings spike, which brings viewers back. Irene was a dud on that front. No disaster for highly populated areas? What’s our third act going to be?
The news may be worse than reality TV. Reality shows don’t use tweets during their broadcasts. Is there any less reliable source of information a 130 characters of unverified reactionism? Noting like hearing CNN’s Mike Galanos, perhaps the most ill suited, least spontaneous newcaster in this new format of casual-information-giver ever, saying “A tweet just in from…” like it’s vital information. Poor schmuck.
What would honest broadcasting have looked like? We’d have see advertisements sold on the storm itself. “This hurricane build-up was brought to you by The Home Depot. Shop here after things get all fucked up.”
Somewhere in the 1990’s, probably around the time of the first World Trade Center bombing, the news became, “Shit you should be afraid of!” It’s a shame we’re already numb to the swirling hurricane logos and Wagnerian competitions bringing us in and out of the breaks.. You can hear a producer saying, “Darker on that. Let’s go for straight Hitchcock here!”
What bums me out most is all the money New York just wasted. It was not as much as it would have cost the city if the storm had hit, but a goodly sum was spent shutting things down and evacuating people that didn’t need to move. At worst, the storm was supposed to be a category one. We’ve been threw that before, several times. And we survived it without all the apoplexy.
But New Yorker’s have been worn down over the years. One too many friends in the city went to Costco to buy water and the Home Depot to get masking tape and batteries, and even more than I expected evacuated. When did we become such pussies? When did a few inches of snow require days of warnings? When didn’t the 24-hour bodega on your corner, which stocks every single supply you could ever possibly need or want, NOT stay open? The biggest tragedy seemed to be that there was no good coffee to be had. All the Starbucks had closed, and since they’ve taken over, everyone else has given up trying to make a buck off coffee.
I will never forget my first day of 4th grade at Edgewood school in the 1970’s. It was some kind of wicked Nor’easter with downed power lines and wind gust and thunder and lighting. But class started on time and every single kid and teacher and janitor was there. Today, everyone would be in a shelter, in another state, with Home Depot water, and a Duracell powered mini TV, to watch the unevents unfold.