waiting for the cat

It’s a little after 5:00 on a Thursday afternoon. And I’m waiting for the cat.

Here’s the story: My good friends Scott and Lauren are out of town this weekend on Big Family Vacation 2005 and I’m in charge of making sure their many many animals and plants are properly watered and fed. Meanwhile, in addition to free access to the swanky Acura sedan, they’re having their roof fixed or something which is making a terrible mess I don’t mind telling you. And it’s scaring the shit out of their cat.

Said cat has vanished and I’m waiting for it to return. It’s all quiet here, the roofers are gone, and it’s only a matter of time before the cat shows up. But I’ve got nothing to do. So I’m sitting in their living room and on the coffee table are a couple issues of Vanity Fair.

Let me back up. I love Scott and Lauren to death. They are two of the most real and genuine people I know. They work. They have a beautiful house. They are taking extremely good care of their now three-year-old daughter (later this year she’ll be doing both Aikido and ballet and I’m happy to report that in her play room she’s got a toy oven and a toy work bench complete with toy power tools). And they are, for all intents and purposes, incredibly normal. They represent that vast majority of Americans who work and raise their kids and vote (on the progressive side) and go about their business and love that they have a friend like me who’s nutty enough to blow off work and join protesters in downtown San Francisco because an unjust war has broken out. I don’t doubt that they take a certain amount of comfort in the fact that there are people in the world like me so they don’t have to be a person like me in the world.

And apparently they subscribe to Vanity Fair.

Now, I don’t think it needs to be said that I don’t pay too much attention to the mainstream media. The only time I watch TV is when the Simpsons are on and then I usually record it and watch it at my leisure so I can skip the commercials. I give money to my local NPR station, so I got a free subscription to Newsweek which, every week, goes from my mailbox right to the recycling bin under my mailbox. I do get the New Yorker, but, c’mon now. That’s hardly “news.” It’s almost all opinion during any given month the most I have time to actually read are the cartoons, a movie review by Anthony Lane and the occasional story that has nothing to do with current events. So mainstream media (the fabled “liberal media”) is something totally foreign to me.

And I had no idea how foreign till I opened up this copy of Vanity Fair. I landed first on the “Letter from the Editor” or whatever it was. Which was nice. It was a little bit about how we, as Americans, have forgotten all about the war in Iraq and are somehow more interested in how one woman in Florida is dying than we are about the hundred or so U.S. service men who died in Iraq during the same period. But the deeper I got into the magazine, the more amazed I was at what passed for “liberal media” these days.

My God. Are you actually reading this tripe!

So this is a message to liberals out there. Or anyone who finds themselves even a little bit to the left of center. “Liberal media” really is a myth. Vanity Fair, which I suspect is a self-styled bit of liberalism, is full of all the trappings of consumer, glamour, media-obsessed, clap-trap that one would expect to find during an episode of the latest Paris Hilton reality show. Page after page of glossy ads that made me feel like I’m somehow not nearly as cool as I thought I was (maybe all my problems will be solved if I can just get this watch/car/TV/diomand bracelet) broken up by celebrity gossip about who’s sleeping with who (or isn’t) while, at the same time, decrying American’s obsession with celebrity gossip. Pot, this my good friend kettle.

And how many times do I have to read a piece in the “liberal media” about how depressed “liberals” are before I break out the nun-chucks and go on kung-fu, Matrix-style killing rampage? “Dear ‘Liberal Media,’ as a Liberal, I need to inform you that I am not depressed. Outraged from time to time, working tirelessly in my own way to effect positive, progressive change in our country, yes. Depressed, glum, circling the wagons, unclear on what I’m going to do next? Not in the least. Perhaps you’d realize that if you actually left the office once in a while and talked to a liberal rather than just pandering to the media conglomerate that signs your paycheck. Sincerely, A Real and True American Liberal Who Hasn’t Given Up All Hope that the Current Tyranny Will Indeed End Because We All Know that All Empires Fail, Stop Being So Goddamn Down on Yourself, You’re Really Not Fooling Anybody.”

So that’s my rant for the day. If you haven’t read Vanity Fair, good.