I rarely watch TV news unless I'm in a mood for graphic car-wreck details or scrolling histrionics or superficial coverage of complex topics, but there is one instance in which TV news is the best: during a natural disaster. Something about seeing Anderson Cooper hanging sideways from a phone pole during a hurricane just makes me smile.
So I have been watching Hurricane coverage during this, The Year of Our Lord Using Weather To Express His Disapproval Of The People Of The US Gulf Coast. One day I tuned in just in time to hear a handsome yet frighteningly cold woman advising me to turn off the TV. It seemed like good advice, but I stayed with her long enough to hear her out. She spoke of the danger of watching too much disaster coverage and warned against a condition known as "compassion fatigue." While I doubt TV viewing alone can cause compassion fatigue, it is a real malady (it googles, so it must be true) and I salute anybody's effort to promote turning off the TV. Especially via TV. Kudos.
But I do not suffer from compassion fatigue.
I do suffer from other kinds of fatigue.
For instance, even though I don't listen to AM radio, I'm tired of Terry Meiners. As a TV and billboard pitchman, Terry Meiners makes Denny Crum look like George Clooney. Terry: stick to radio. AM. Where I can easily avoid you. Not because you're fugly. Because you haven't said anything even in the same time zone as funny since 1980.
I have Support Our Troops Fatigue. "Support Our Troops" is the "Baby On Board" of this decade. I didn't drive differently because you had a "Baby on Board" sign in 1985 and I'm not going to support our troops just because your bumper magnet tells me to in 2005. It's a holier-than-thou pantload and, if you really want to support our troops, take off your ribbon and join the peace movement.
Here's another condition I'm suffering from: Articulate-Foreigners-Making-Us-Look-Stupid Fatigue. I'm really tired of watching the BBC or other international news and hearing really smart, average citizens from other countries interviewed in the streets. Watch a news story from Europe and you're liable to hear a cab driver say, "…his steadfast intent on unjust war is as full of holes as Hobbes' social contract theory…" or "…that reprobate's cowboy demeanor is burnt into my memory as sure as the pimps and panderers of Malabolgia." Watch a news story from America and you'll more likely hear, "Support our troops, dag, yo!" or "Dag, yo! Is 'Survivor' on tonight?" Whenever this happens I think: "HOW did we become a superpower?"
Oh, here's a fatigue: The over Jesus-ification of America. Faux Christianity is everywhere you look nowadays: on bumper stickers, yard signs, t-shirts, billboards, retail signs, milk cartons, office walls, TV, radio, condoms (OK not condoms -- faux Christians hate condoms), and every politician's self-righteous lips. And yet, most of these Christaficionados wouldn't know Jesus if he came up and blessed them up the ass. Jesus was about feeding the hungry, making peace, and loving everybody; not tricking out your SUV, fighting a war for oil, and tax cuts for the rich. Although it's not looking very much like it these days, this is still America, where there's freedom both of and from religion. So how's about backing off with all the Jesus paraphernalia, you Thessalonian wannabees? Peel him off your bumper and put him in your heart, huh? (Or shove him up your ass. The main thing is: off the bumper. And I thank you.)
And while we're on the topic, here are some more fatigues that are really wearing me out: Pro-Life-People-Supporting-The-Death-Penalty Fatigue. Pro-Life-People-Supporting-The-War Fatigue. Pro-Life-People-Opposing-Birth-Control Fatigue. And Pro-Life-People Fatigue. Hey Pro-life people: You know who's in favor of life? Everybody. You aren't special because you call yourself pro-life. You're sanctimonious, that's what you are.
Here's one of my most exhausting fatigues: our butt-ugly license plates. Can't we find one single Kentuckian who can design a license plate? I mean it's THIS big! There's only ONE SIDE. How hard can it be?
Here's another one: University-Sports-Attire Fatigue. Newsflash: Unless you're suiting up to play for the squad, you look like a total wadclot if you're wearing A) a jersey; B) more than one item with a sports insignia; or C) athletic shoes that cost more than $70. And if you're simultaneously wearing the UK shirt, shoes, socks, shorts, sweatpants, hat, jewelry, and boxers? Might as well go all-in for the bed sheets, shower curtain, and toilet seat, because you, my friend, are a fashion Katrina.
People-Blindly-Accepting-Conventional-Wisdom Fatigue is another one. I'm really tired of that. Was Jesus the Son of God? Did God create the universe in seven days? Did God create man or did man create God? Was the conception immaculate? Is Bounty the quicker picker upper? Do bubbles scrub? Does buying an SUV ribbon magnet count as supporting our troops? Does democracy equal freedom? Do we define money or does money define us? Is growth always good? Is war a family value? How about pollution? Bigotry? Do chickens have fingers? Do they have nuggets? Tenders? Is that "Hollaback Girl" song not the worst piece of seasick shit ever foisted on human ears?
Here's another one that really wears me out: Reporting-Business-"Good-News"-Like-It's-Not-Immoral Fatigue. OK, I know what you're thinking: This is Merka, get over it. But see? I can't get over it. When I read a headline like, "Screwtech Posts 10% Profit Rise in 2nd Quarter," I just KNOW if I read the rest of the story I'm going to come upon a sentence like, "Most of the gains were attributed to a sharp reduction in employee benefits and salaries," or "The profits came after massive layoffs after the 1st quarter merger with "Gypco," or "Revenue began pouring in after the 1st quarter shipments of toxic, baby-pinching, tree-uprooting, transfat-isotope brain implants," or "Top executives were rewarded with $10 million bonuses while employees got Mariah Carey CDs." Try it some time. Read the whole business good-news story instead of just reading the headline. If somewhere in there there's not a major swindle for the workers or a rape of the environment or a con for the consumer, I'll kiss Milton Friedman's wrinkly 'tocks.
I guess I'm suffering from Fatigue Fatigue. I'm tired of being tired of our lame society and our culture of superstition and aggression and shallow thinking and sports-dumbness and religious malevolence and vapid close-mindedness and conniving cruelty. "Fatigue Fatigue." Maybe if I whine enough I can promote it to a disorder and then a syndrome and finally a full-blown pandemic that will get enough attention that the media will cover it and then I'll end up with Fatigue Fatigue Fatigue.