Live, Local, Meaningless

First posted here 10 years ago, but even more true today.

Nearly 50 years ago in Tucson NewMexiKen lived across the street from a small supermarket. At the rear of the store they parked a large, flatbed trailer with a wire cage on it. As they stocked the store’s shelves they’d toss the empty cardboard boxes into the cage. Once-in-awhile someone would come by, drop off a new trailer and haul the full one away.

One afternoon around three the boxes caught fire. It was a pretty spectacular bonfire for about five minutes and during that brief time a local news guy happened by (he must have had a scanner to hear the fire call). He took a few seconds of film. We laughed, but sure enough that night on the news there was film of cardboard boxes in flame. If I remember right, it was the lead story.

It wouldn’t happen that way anymore. Oh, TV news would still cover a cardboard box fire, but here’s what we’d see.

A news crew would show up, more than likely after the fire was out. They’d videotape a few seconds of fire engine lights flashing, a firehose leaking, and a soggy, charred mess of cardboard. They’d interview a guy in a tank top, who’d say it was the biggest box fire he’d ever seen.

Then, at 10PM, they wouldn’t just use the video like Channel 13 in Tucson did all those years ago. No, they’d send a reporter and van out to the now deserted store, hours after the fire. The reporter would stand in front of a now even soggier mess and introduce the seven hour old video.

Live, local, late breaking.

If you don’t believe me, I just saw a live shot of an empty trash container tipped over by flooding earlier today.

Washington Burns

The invading British burned the public buildings of Washington 202 years ago today.

On August 24, 1814, as the War of 1812 raged on, invading British troops marched into Washington and set fire to the U.S. Capitol, the President’s Mansion, and other local landmarks. The ensuring fire reduced all but one of the capital city’s major public buildings to smoking rubble, and only a torrential rainstorm saved the Capitol from complete destruction. The blaze particularly devastated the Capitol’s Senate wing, the oldest part of the building, which was honeycombed with vulnerable wooden floors and housed the valuable but combustible collection of books and manuscripts of the Library of Congress, then located in the Capitol building. Heat from the intense fire reduced the Senate chamber’s marble columns to lime, leaving the room, in one description, “a most magnificent ruin.”

Source: U.S. Senate Art & History

After 26 hours in Washington, the British moved toward Baltimore, where they met with resistance and the Star-spangled banner still waved.


August 24, 2016 Update: President Obama has designated 89,261 acres of land donated by Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. and located within the proposed national park and recreation area as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument!”

Today President Obama designated Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument -- our nation’s newest national monument and the 413th site in the national park system.
Today President Obama designated Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument — our nation’s newest national monument and the 413th site in the national park system.

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior Instagram

Best Line of the Day

“I read omnivorously, I always have, my entire life. I would rather be dead than not read. So, there’s always time for that. I read while I eat, and our whole family did. We all had very bad manners at the table. All of our books are stained with spaghetti sauce, and that sort of thing.”

Annie Proulx, who turns 81 today.

Quotation found at The Writer’s Almanac (2010).

Cedar Breaks National Monument (Utah)

… was proclaimed as such 83 years ago today (1933). This from the National Park Service:

A huge natural amphitheater has been eroded out of the variegated Pink Cliffs (Claron Formation) near Cedar City, Utah. Millions of years of sedimentation, uplift and erosion have created a deep canyon of rock walls, fins, spires and columns, that spans some three miles, and is over 2,000 feet deep. The rim of the canyon is over 10,000 feet above sea level, and is forested with islands of Englemann spruce, subalpine fir and aspen; separated by broad meadows of brilliant summertime wild flowers.

NewMexiKen photos 2005. Click any image for larger versions.

Big Spender

Just bought a song on iTunes by mistake. Inadvertent click of the mouse. It’s Charlie Puth with Selena Gomez, “We Don’t Talk Anymore.”

I thought about trying to get a refund but then noticed it had cost only 69¢. I’m going to play it enough to get my 69¢ worth. It is catchy. 😏

Last month I bought Puth’s track with Meghan Trainor, “Marvin Gaye.” I did buy that one on purpose.