Monday, January 30, 2006
So, the shit show continues. There has been a glitch in the plan to get myself back to Montreal sometime in 2006. I thought I’d barely survive the harrowing journey of two city transit systems, two flights and a brief affair with the Greyhound people. It turns out that surviving that was the least that would be asked of me today.
I write this blog to you from the fourth city in my journey. After San Francisco, there was Oakland. After Oakland there was New York. We tried to get to Burlington, Vermont. Yes, we tried our best. The cloud cover in the city stopped that plan and here I sat, attached to a Shell jet fuel truck at some random airport in Syracuse New York. I didn’t even know that you could re-fuel a plane with the passengers still on it.
Now the plane is full of some very tired people, we can’t get out and this discount airline carries no food. I am currently trying to keep down a Zone Bar. Make no mistake those things taste like shit. The temperature on the plane is going up and the flight is near sold out. The smell of other’s perfume and cologne is getting to me.
How could it all have gone so wrong so quickly? While we circled Burlington I tried to convince the flight attendant to tell the pilot to land in Montreal. I think the plane could have made it there in about 30 minutes, but, I’m not a pilot nor do I know anything about airspace between Canada and the US. So, my suggestion fell on deaf ears.
Only disco can make me feel better.
So, it’s 6:27 AM and I am sitting in the wireless hot spot zone in the Jet Blue terminal at JFK airport. I have been here since 5:45AM. I am waiting for a flight to Burlington Vermont. Can someone tell me that why is it that this airport is packed and cell phones have been ringing off the hook since I arrived here? Also, can someone explain why it is that the Jet Blue terminal, which I am sure is above ground, is lit like a sub basement? Where are the windows? My flight leaves in three hours. So I have got three more hours in this cell phone infested sub basement. It is terrible here.
Or perhaps I am in a miserable mood. I am very tired. I think I am loosing an entire day in travel. I don’t know how I will keep my head straight after today. Why? Because my co-worker found the cheapest flight imaginable to San Francisco, $59.00. Seriously, I got to San Francisco for $59.00 US dollars each way. That is practically free. Here’s the rub. The flight leaves from Burlington, Vermont. So we had to get to Burlington to get flights that connect through JFK. Then, at the last minute, my co-worker decided to spend an extra week in Los Angeles. She drove to the airport in Burlington, so I will be taking the bus back to Montreal for two and a half hours. Yes, folks it is a bit of a shit show.
After the trip I had, I just really need to rest. The conference was interesting (see below for a description of what the conference was actually about). But, I think that the members of American media who were there (the vast majority of the attendees) think us Canadians are functional booze-hounds. Especially since some of our publications got a lot of attention at the conference, yet we were always hung-over.
For me, all the damage happened on Friday night. A friend of mine who actually lives in San Francisco took me to a German restaurant where they pour beer down your throat and sit you with people you don’t know. The people we sat with took one look at us and said “Hey, the beer is on us, don’t you worry about a thing.” After dinner, they took us to a bar where they insisted on buying more beer. They went home and we went to another bar where a couple we had met earlier bought us cocktails because what I needed at that point was a drink called “afternoon delight.” I literally fell into my hotel room after 3:00AM.
I was better behaved the last night (which is actually two nights ago as I have been in transit since 9:00PM Sunday night and I haven’t slept so I have had an extra long day. A day that is actually two days), which wasn’t too difficult considering how much I had to drink the night before. I did have enough to drink, but thankfully, I was sober enough to refrain from proposing a perfect storm with the two waiters at the taco restaurant on Polk Street. Next time, boys!
I got back to the hotel at about 12:30AM – very respectable. But, I woke up during what I thought was an earthquake. It was a reasonable thought as I was in San Francisco, and the clock radio was slowly moving across the night table getting dangerously close to the edge. I was wrong, as I soon found out. My neighbours were having a great time and the sheer force of their bed ramming against the hotel wall pulled me out of my slumber and endangered the life of simple hotel electronics.
Speaking of sex, here at JFK airport a lot of people take advantage of the wireless internet. Those of us with a MAC utilize our iTunes while dicking around on the internet to drown out the cell phones and Kenny G collection. So, now, in my shared music there are two collections “Kayla is Hot’ and “Yo Mamma’s Music.” I haven’t looked at Kayla’s selection as yet, but Yo Mamma has a special list just titled “Sex.” Sadly there are only eight songs. Tragically, that short list of songs includes “Heaven in a Place on Earth” and “Danger Zone.” Now that is special.
So, the other day in my San Francisco hotel room, I sat and watched “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” So, yeah, I was watching the “news.” Wrapping up the show was a seven-minute segment on Oprah’s denouncing James Frey, author of “A Million Little Pieces” as a lot of his “memoir” is actually fiction. Seven minutes they dedicated to this. The Bush administration has been illegally wire-tapping it’s own citizens, but I had to watch a seven minute re-cap of an Oprah Winfrey show.
The whole “Million Little Pieces” saga is a hilarious one. Yes, the guy and his publisher sold it as a memoir and it is mostly fiction (mind you I am about 98% sure that his publisher knew it was fiction, but a memoir tugs those heart strings. The book company will get over the rub, as a million more books are flying off the shelves. You should see the stacks of it in the airport stores, which is shocking considering shelf space for books – especially at airports – is precious. The orgy of order fulfillment between the chain owner, store manager, publishing company, wear house and distributor astounds me. All this bad press is great for the bottom line!). Audiences will always want more lies.
I guess it is important that the whole world knew that Oprah is real upset. She doesn’t like being lied to. The woman was mad. So, she dragged this guy on her show again to give him a good talking to in front of the whole nation. I wonder if Oprah has ever considered interviewing politicians. For the sake of Oprah, I am just going to pretend that “truth” really is at the heart of most American media and that most Americans actually rely on the media for it.
I’m just leaving San Francisco tonight after a conference that while interesting was not as relevant to my business as I had hoped. The conference was for the Independent Press. Really, it is best for the American independent press, but there were about 10 Canadians there. Surrounded by a political bunch, I was shocked when most of the attendees asked me to explain how Canadians could possible elect Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. In an effort to console us they said “Don’t worry, we are all accustomed to apologizing for our government. You’ll survive it.”
I was really surprised at the level of interest in this segment of the American media. I was even more surprised to see their obvious disappointment. Then I noticed how political they were. In the United States, the Independent press prefer to be called the “progressive” press, and so they should. Mainstream American media would call them a bunch of ‘liberals’ the way Americans do when describing people who dare not to be socially and politically conservative, but these are especially vocal and active ones.
This conference is exceedingly political, far more political than I could have ever imagined. Political talk dominated almost every session in this convention as the independents…the progressives look to galvanize their movements, voices and messages in an effort to offer Americans an alternative perspective on current events, government, and politics. Small magazines and newspapers from New York City, Austin, Kansas City, Boulder, Chicago, you name the American city, came together to discuss strategy and make plans. How are they going to survive when media ownership is more and more concentrated? To them, this is an emergency.
The conference was really interesting. But, the highlight was a talk by Amy Goodman of Democracynow.org. She is an excellent speaker and has had an amazing career as a journalist. She told a story about witnessing a massacre in East Timor. I can’t even imagine seeing what she has seen. Anyway, that’s all I got right now.