Under the Microscope –
By Glynn Wilson –
SILVER SPRING, Md. – Delicate fingers on the tinkling keys of an electric piano on public radio. That is the music that runs through my life like the persistent rain drops of March in Silver Spring, Maryland, just a few miles north of Washington, D.C. It could as easily be October Uptown in New Orleans, or January in Birmingham, Alabama, or August in Timbuktu.
As Robert Blake told the press in L.A., after the jury acquitted him of viciously murdering his wife, when the jackals had the temerity to ask what he would do next: I am “cowboying” too, in spite of the rain, in a 1998 Chevy Venture. It’s not exactly The Shark. Only in some ways it is better, a more practical vehicle for an even more dangerous time.
If you do not know what “cowboying” is, I won’t explain it like Blake did. Google the transcript yourself.
What draws me to it is not just the freedom of the road or the wind in my hair or the promise of a poolhall filled with regular guys in the real world.
It is the story.
And it is the fleeting notion that freedom can survive — if only more crazed hippies would hit the road and take a chance and stand up to the bastards in a way Hunter Thompson could only dream of in his drug-addled state. The people of Kyrgyzstan know this, as Americans and the French used to, in another era. Run them out of town and sit in their desk chairs and gloat. That is what revolution looks like in the twenty-first century.
Calling Nixon a cheap crook was easy compared to trying to gain access to the Bush White House and ask one pertinent question without being “ghosted” and landing anonymously in a Cuban jail.
I have caught and missed many a great story in my life. There was the ignoble death of the EMPRESS II in the Gulf of Mexico and the Guiliani appearance at the Southern Governor’s Association conference in New Orleans when I ended up the only reporter in the room. I never got to cover a hurricane in Gulf Shores, or the Big One in the Big Easy, or a bona fide shooting war, at least not yet.
But, what still drives me like Ahab to the sea is the power of another story, one bigger than before. A story that saves the world somehow, or even for one day makes the lives of the little people better in some small way.
So for now I will range from New Orleans to Washington in that chase, hoping one day to make it back to New York — if the dirty bombers don’t get there first. One of these days I would like to see Paris, but this is not the time.
For now it is hard to tip the homeless man at the seven-eleven, working hard for his dimes in the rain. No matter. I know deep down the battle is here, where the power flows outward around the world like the smoke at a Texas barbecue. This is where the fight has to be if any of this is to survive — our experiment in democracy, that is.
Iraq is a backwater story, in large measure because it was already written down and mapped out in the smoke-free rooms of today’s modern think-tanks.
You can’t even count the dead and dying anymore on that side of the world. While the political, pious crowd fights for every diminished life in places such as Florida, where the most important commodity image-wise is orange juice — manufactured not just to mix with vodka.
Try reading all in one day the entire print edition of the Sunday New York Times, the Washington Post and the special edition of Rolling Stone dedicated to Hunter S. Thompson. I doubt there is a blogger who could do it, especially on a rainy Sunday after staying up late Saturday night drinking strong beer and listening to the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours at the Half Moon Barbecue.
Do that and then tell me you know what you’re talking about when you talk to me about objectivity or ethics. I am here to tell you that there is a such thing as objectivity and ethics, but they don’t look anything like what you think they look like, if you haven’t read what I have read and seen what I have seen.
The Locust Fork is a new blog dedicated to not only creating another “New Journalism.” This thing called a blog will either save the world in this century as the newspapers did in he last — or this is where we will chronicle its demise.
As long as it is still possible to cowboy in a van with a laptop and blog, there is hope for us all.
A great historian once said, “There is nothing more Southern than going down to ignoble defeat before overwhelming odds.”
The battle is joined, as Lee thought at Gettysburg. It may take a foolish man from Alabama to charge against today’s PR ramparts with wet powder and no ammunition.
Perhaps that is what the world needs — a man willing to charge against overwhelming odds, to spill some tea in the harbor of power.
Wish us well, dear Hobbits, and let us hear from you.
© 2005 – 2014, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.