Summary of My Discontent: Turn off, tune out

May 28, 2008 at 2:08 am

I recently spent 12 spectacular days off the tele-info-tainment-torial grid. My time away included a festive prohibition on TV, radio, newspapers, the web, e-mail, blogs, politics, deodorant, conditioner and sarcasm. It was like dying and going to heaven — with bonus weekend-excursion packages to hell — and I highly recommend it to you. In fact, why not stop reading now, go outside, close your eyes and plunge your toes deep into the lawn? (Unless you spray your lawn with chemicals, in which case never mind. I’d hate for you get toe cancer.)

It was a minor thrill just leaving my cell phone at home. Quite possibly the most insidious invention of all time (not counting Crisco), the cell phone’s gadgetary shackledom is an assault on freedom al-Qaeda masterminds could only dream of. And ignoring the news, I was blissfully ignorant of Louisville’s invasion by throngs of the superstitious and frightened when the NRA and Joel Osteen brought their twin horror shows to town. I had no need to roll my eyes when Dubya made a fool of himself in Israel. And I didn’t waste any energy wondering whether the “multi-sensory” KentuckyShow!’s HDTV screen would be wide enough to accurately portray our state’s obesity epidemic.

But all good things must come to an end. When I got back home, I had voice messages from my close friends Hillary Clinton and Kris Kristofferson. Kristofferson wanted me to vote for Barack Obama because of Obama’s youthful promise to bring change and hope to youths who hope for change. Kristofferson sounded like he might keel over at any moment, which I suppose was meant to balance Obama’s youthful exuberance. The next message was from an incredibly perky Hillary Clinton supporter, whose vivaciousness must have been intended to balance Hillary’s hawkish manliness.

It was great to hear from my celebrity friends, but it was a surprise to turn on the TV and find out that the whole world was talking about how racist Kentucky is. TV commentators, bloggers and even normally stolid NPR wankers were characterizing Kentucky as a backwater full of hicks and hillbillies who would never vote for a black president. But I disagree. I prefer to think of Kentucky as a backwater full of hicks and hillbillies who overwhelmingly voted for a woman for president. See? Glass half-full.

And consider this: While a handful of states have enough xenophobes to vote based on race, isn’t it refreshing that they’re not voting solely based on homophobia for a change? It might not be progress, but at least it’s a different flavor of bigotry. While racist Kentucky voters might be an embarrassment to us all, Obama’s entire campaign has been a breathtaking reminder that the entire nation voted like rural Kentucky just one generation ago. Things are getting better, no matter what Chris Matthews tells you.* Besides, who can blame crackers for identifying with Hillary? She married one! I’m grateful to Hillary for hanging in there and making the race interesting. If she’d quit running like everybody wanted her to, we wouldn’t have been able to show the world how quaintly antebellum life is here in Kentucky.

But taking some time away from the info onslaught is something I highly recommend for everyone. It’s refreshing to take a breather from pondering questions like: “When Senate President David Williams and House Speaker Jody Richards watch an Al Jazeera video of Kentuckians auctioning cans of Manwich (see it on Phillip Bailey’s blog at, do they consider stepping aside so someone with integrity and courage can lead?” Once you clear your mind of such mysteries, you’re free to ponder questions like: “Does this Che Guevara bandanna make me look like I’m overcompensating for my country’s history of repression and imperialism?”

But it’s also great to be back in the United States, where patient reasoning and fairness prevail. I mean, it’s not like some corporate publishing warlords are going to swoop in and haul away my editor. Er, um … right? Right?!

*Offer void in Kentucky and West Virginia

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