Hot Air: Picture Imperfect

We risk being the first people in history to have been able to make their illusions so vivid, so persuasive, so “realistic” that they can live in them. We are the most illusioned people on Earth.

— Daniel Boorstin

Boorstin, an historian and contemporary culture observer, wrote these words in his 1961 book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. They’re are true now as they were back then, almost 60 years ago. The only thing I’d change today would be his use of the present imperfect, “we risk being.” In this year of somebody’s lord 2017, the proper wordage is “we are.”

Still, in ’61 Boorstin observed that we’d already fallen into a fantasy world. He shared this possibly apocryphal anecdote:

ADMIRING FRIEND: “My, that’s a beautiful baby you have there.”

MOTHER: “Oh, that’s nothing — you should see his photograph!”

And we wonder why we can’t convince President Gag’s fans that he’s a fraud, a trickster, a con-artist, a used-car salesman, the spiritual brother of Professor Harold Hill, Elmer Gantry, and Charles Ponzi.

We can’t because he is their fraud, trickster, con-artist, used-car salesman, and spiritual brother of Professor Harold Hill, Elmer Gantry, and Charles Ponzi. And how dare we try to rob them of their precious photograph?

For the umpteenth time, let’s hope with fingers and toes crossed they only comprise 35 percent of the voting public in this holy land.

A Big Goodbye To A Cool Guy

Tune in tonight for a celebration of the first year anniversary of Big Talk. I mash up clips from some of my favorite interviews (see the slideshow).

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The whole shebang is dedicated to a very cool and professional guy, Joe Crawford, who’s leaving his position as WFHB’s news director. His last day at the station is tomorrow. When I call him cool, I mean it on a couple of levels. He’s a guitarist for a band called Ray Creature (it’s been called “pretty cool” by his sister). Even more importantly, nothing rattles Joe. He’s one of the most unflappable human beings I’ve ever met. During live broadcasts, when a piece of equipment goes haywire or a soundbite is misplaced and the rest of us are going into fibrillation, he’s as calm as a Tibetan monk contemplating a leaf on a tree. Then he presses a button or moves a slider and everything’s fine again. Don’t ask me how he does it.

He’s Even Cool In An IHOP

Anyway, Joe gave me the go-ahead to produce Big Talk some three years ago. After a few fits and starts we went weekly in July, 2016. I thank him from the bottom of my defib-ed heart for the opportunity and I dedicate today’s episode to him. Tune in at 5:00pm on WFHB, 91.3FM. Or, catch my links to the podcasts here, tomorrow.


Hearing the news that Senator John McCain has a particularly pernicious form of brain cancer immediately made me think someone, somewhere, on one form of social media or another, is going to either rejoice in the news that he’s dying or use this malady to explain how he could have held his shockingly stupid positions.

[Image: CNN]

The democratization of mass media means even the troglodytes among us get to air their belchings to a wide audience.

Not that meanness or stupidity is anything new, of course. The revelation of McCain’s glioblastoma reminds me of a similar story back when I was a holy terror in the mid-sixties. At the time, my beloved hometown Chicago was undergoing the upheaval of integration. Civil rights activists were calling for some way — any way — to bring the education of the black kids from the slums up to par with that of middle-class white kids. If busing was the way to do it, then so be it. White Chicago had apoplexy.

The city’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Albert Cardinal Meyer, known as an intellectual among America’s archbishops, long had condemned racism and even gave a speech or two on the same dais as Martin Luther King. None of this endeared him to his white ethnic flock.

(L to R) Meyer, King, And Oklahoma City Bishop Victor Reed In 1963

Then one day in 1965 it was announced Cardinal Meyer had brain cancer. He would soon die during surgery to remove the tumor. A sad end for a decent guy — only an alarming number of white ethnic Chicagoans neither considered him decent nor his end sad.

Over the next couple of years as the fight over busing and desegregation grew uglier, lots of whites huffed at other whites who seemed sympathetic to those causes, “Cardinal Meyer had brain cancer; what’s your excuse?”

Of course, back in those days people who’d dare to say something like that were considered, among polite society, assholes. Today they may be lining up to be considered for positions in Li’l Duce‘s Cabinet.


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