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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

WE GET LETTERS

Only through use of the oxymoron is it possible to capture the impression made by reading certain sections of the Naples (Florida) Daily News. Horrified hilarity? Dithering directness? Random rationality?

The Daily News is essentially a solid, worthy product of the E.W.Scripps Company, but as with all media, tabloid influences figure. These are predictably evident on the Police Report page, made up mostly of DUIs. By naming names, the brief descriptions are intended to shame those whose approach to Happy Hour runs deep into dinner time, and beyond. Sometimes, the drivers hurt others, and sometimes they are found fast asleep in cars parked at odd angles on the median.

The Police Report page also offers up nasty stories of domestic abuse, with both male and female victims, as well as stories about “grow houses.” These include architectural descriptions of mini-mansions whose interiors, devoid of furniture, have been given over to cannabis agri-business. And of course there are also stark true-crime horror stories involving shotguns and chain saws, gasoline, tongs, duct tape, impalement, etc. These stories you read between the fingers of the hand held over your eyes.

But oxymora are most often needed to capture the essence of the letters to the editor. Naples is a community with lots of retirees, people with ample time to write if not to proofread. Unlike us, many Neapolitans are wealthy, and—again, unlike us—they are almost all Republicans.

Barbara and I sometimes speculate on what causes such people to be so angry. They are well off, have great health care and beautiful golf courses, not to mention ideal weather, along with some of the best deals on wine to be found in the country. Modern medicine aside, we will all die soon enough, so why all the ranting?

True, like salmon battling their way upstream to spawn, a few thoughtfully reasoned or upbeat letters slip through the torrent of anger to make it into print. But by and large, those writing to the editor are venting frustration:

At Democrats in general, and the President in particular (pure, concentrated NazicommieMuslim evil), at intersections where photos are taken of people not stopping for red lights (Big Brother Is Watching You), at dog and cat owners (spreading filth and disease), at people who water their lawns too often or not often enough (risking mold, or causing unsightly brown patches that reflect poorly on the neighborhood), at the color puce (a disgusting choice for use in public lavatories), at the annual infestation of snowbirds who make it hard to secure dinner reservations (seasonal vermin), at snowbirds again, for causing traffic congestion (making me late for my hair appointment), at Global Warming (corrupt science used by liberals for the sole purpose of hurting business), at the woman who spoke rudely to my husband last Tuesday when he was talking in line at the post office on his cell phone to his mother about his sick father who is on dialysis (we know our rights)—and so much more.

From time to time, DBD will do what it can to shed light on this black hole. We will do it because we know our rights, we're tired of being pushed around, we know our rights and we... we... should not have to settle for over-cooked end pieces of prime rib, just because some really awful person left a golf cart in the last parking space on karaoke night!

3 comments:

  1. When we complete our next migration cycle back to Myrtle Beach, I'll be tempted to re-subscribe to The Sun News just so I can contribute to the feature you advertise. I do miss those letters to the editor. What fun!

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  2. Nance,
    You must do it. You're retired now, and as a rational person you have a certain obligation. Think of it in simple quantitative terms: the more column inches you take up with letters published in The Sun News, the fewer there will be for all those who write to point out how falling snow is clear evidence that there is no climate change, that Al Gore has no birth certificate, and that this explains why he advocates single-payer global-warming insurance for everyone on welfare.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I lived in Scotia, NY (a bit upstate) for a couple of years, and one of my pleasures of life was reading the local weakly on Saturday morning. Yes, the Police report...the hash opinionating on those businesses that failed to cleaned the ice from their sidewalk. But my special interest was for The Wrinkled Club, a little organization of elderly women that always had speakers stop by. The news wasn't so much the speeches but the reactions to the speech and speaker. It was delightful.

    What you wrote made me think of that.

    ReplyDelete

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