Soul cancer

Half a dozen crumpets for breakfast, and the other half for dinner. Bought a newspaper (two quarters don’t count as spending) and I was tempted by the movie section, but nope. I’m serious about going a week without money.

Wrote a few more letters I’d been putting off, tidied up the apartment, read some zines, and rode around on public transit (I have a pass, so it was free) just for the view out the window.

♦ ♦ ♦

Home again, I turned on the tube and clicked to Channel 9, the local non-commercial station. After two commercials for other commercial-free programs and seven corporate sponsorship announcements, Ken Burns's new documentary on baseball started. It's cleverly titled Baseball.

I like baseball. Hey, batta batta batta. Baseball is my favorite sport, but Baseball kinda sucks.

Why is Billy Crystal starring in this documentary about baseball? In movies he's funny sometimes, sometimes not, and I have no grudge against the guy, but I get nothing from watching Billy Crystal talk about baseball.

And next up, Mario Cuomo talks about baseball? Just — why?

Talk to a peanut vendor at Fenway Park. Talk to someone who chalks the lines. Talk to a retired flange salesman who played second-string second base on his high school team. There are many thousands, maybe millions of people who'd have more interesting insights to baseball than Billy Crystal and Mario Cuomo.

At intermission, when more commercials came on and the seven corporate sponsors got their logos and ads again, I clicked it off. There are eight more episodes of Baseball, but I won’t be watching. Guess I’ll miss the interviews where Jami Gertz and Pauly Shore talk about baseball.

♦ ♦ ♦

I’ve been watching TV less often, since starting this zine. Instead of unwinding after work with back-to-back episodes of Roseanne and Star Trek: The Next Generation, now I come home and write. 

Watching TV, even watching a good show, tends to feel like a fog descending on my brain. Anything creative is better than staring at a box designed to transmit ads into my eyeballs.

Commercial television — ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox — is the leading cause of soul cancer. PBS is “TV worth watching,” or so they say in their endless ads, and sometimes (not tonight) it is worth watching. Even public TV is powered by commercials, though — and worse, by pledge drives. 

Pardon me if this sounds all huffy and puffy, but after turning off Baseball, I unplugged the TV set and put it in the closet. I can take it out and plug it in again if I need it, but for now I'm liking the extra shelf space on my ex-TV stand.

From Pathetic Life #4
Sunday, September 18, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.


Pathetic Life 

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  1. Captain HampocketsJuly 18, 2021 at 6:04 AM

    Your comments on Baseball reminded me of the Studs Terkel books - you ever read his stuff? Hard Times, Working, and Division Street : America are fantastic.

    1. I read Working a long while back. Terkel is good, mos def.

    2. Captain HampocketsJuly 18, 2021 at 1:00 PM

      I found this, but haven't explored it yet


    3. Thanks, Captain. I didn't know Studs Terkel had a radio show, and these archives go deep. Ear treats!

  2. Captain HampocketsJuly 18, 2021 at 6:07 AM

    I think I told you this story in person. I was in a hotel room alone at night while at a board game convention. Decided to watch a little TV. We have a TV, but haven't had cable in 5 years, and never really watched it. I used to be a TV guy, but Virginia hates it.

    Anyway, I turned on the TV, and was just stunned at how awful everything is. The content is absolutely lowest common denominator dreck (I know, there is good stuff too). The ads are *offensive* - loud, dumb, patronizing. I HATED it.

  3. Yup, you told me that, and I remembered it when I made my final decision about television.


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