Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sketch Standing at the Great Democrat’s Funeral Motorcade

The first time I found Mission Hill it was because I got lost. The portal my car flew by was the bodega ‘Casa Cris’ - owner Cris was later killed by robbers - that day I skedaddled. Why are the signs in Spanish? But I returned. First to Eldora, later Calumet. And it’s been home. And church bells are always ringing.

Quite a day for Mission Hill – ‘the biggest day ever.’ Rain picking up Hurricane Dan’s edge. Bomb sniffing German Sheperds. Security high. As Sen. Ted Kennedy makes his last motorcade ride. Four presidents come to Mission Hill to see the end of the great Kennedy. Pres. Obama at Mission Church will be front and center. Said Ted: He didn’t mind not being president; it just bothered him that someone else was. He followed the summon of service. And we are on the map.

Corner of Tremont and Parker. Saturday morning rain. The neighborhood that devil may care forgot. Black SUV after black SUV roll in sad parade. Sen. Dodd rolls down his window, the pol inside him alive alive. The little Kennedy girls in black dresses in big front bus windows too waving. The police snipers remarkable for their pupils piercing. In neighborhood that came to me my home. The guest were full-form famous and powerful – but little Rosie from the hill in knock-out dress of black got in I think.

Less centered around the Mission Church of Irish immigrants is the neighborhood now than 30 years ago. Now it is Ted Kennedy’s entrance to the portal of the veil of the vale. The rich man who’s been going through the eye of the needle – trying to get to heaven in time. Mission Church I know your Italian marble, electric red votives, tall bouquets of crutches. Greatest sermonist Father Manion on the radio. Cecelia will watch on TV til sun is going down and Ted is buried at Arlington with only the light of the flame on his brother’s grave.
We line up finally across from the Tobin Gym – Tobin being greatest son of Mission Hill, a mayor in his 20s in the 40s; bridge namee – gym where Cousy and Celts would practice in the days before Gatorade. Where we go in the basement with the machines to vote. In front of resurrected Boston Clutch home of wire driers and drive wheels, where you still get hand written receipts.
Saw many of the mighty: Sen Dodd, Doris Kearn Goodwin and Richard Goodwin [he of the crazy hair].Short Emily Rooney. Barney Frank out of Duncan Donuts [‘I love you Barney. You speak the truth,’ says I]. Serious Bob Woodward got his companion to hold the umbrella as they walked and he thunk.

The patter builds. The chatter subdues. Here they come. The ruddy cyclist police micks lights strobe metal and blue.

Here’s the picture, sketch in my mind:

Futura the lettering ‘Maurice J. Tobin Building’ signed in aluminum.
Built with yellow bricks. Stubborn maples sprout in front.
US, Mass.flags draped windless at half mast.
The asphalt black and shiny wet with rain with two fresh yellow stripes up the median. Cast metal barricades gray.
Black ponchoed, black hatted Swat team members – many of them black men – in sidewalk line array back turned to Ted.
Eyes darting, darting. My view slightly occluded by woman’s umbrella.
Then a shadow of a casket in a long Black Cadillac driving slow.

Then it’s over the hill and down to Flan OBriens. For the TV mass. The priest drank the wine at 11.59. The Mission church altar was crying. Angels with horns blowing away. Placido Domingo did Panis Angelicus. The flaming golden tears wobbled in the ceiling. All this on TV. In the bar a few wept.

Pres. Obama called Ted: “The Soul of the Democratic Party.” “We must live out our lives the best we can with purpose.” I am interviewed by a writer for the Washington Times for an article entitled ‘Thousands Bid Kennedy Farewell.’ After the mass a few black-sports-coated Cape tanned captains of America and their better halves came in - in Irish spirit and tipped a few.

This story is told over and over here these days. Here by my friend Chris H. Years ago when his wife was diagnosed with MS just before Clinton came in and there was a health care initiative going on, he and mate wrote their senators. Kennedy’s letter came back quickly. He responded in a week.

The letter itself as it was phrased in a way indicative that the senator understood this effected somebody’s life. (The junior senator’s response came two weeks later, and was long and not very readable.) Ted’s letter was bing-boom-direct. We are fighting for this, for you.

“Ted’s letter was relevant. It was full of ‘goddam it, yes we can!’ Direct and to the point. It was hand signed.” This story is told often: “What he said meant the word to me.” As the stories pile high, they seem like acts of charity.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Web must be an afterthought

Involved with the Web since the very early days and credit it has been a magical extension of the mind, of the universal mind, even. But, while it breaks down established media – a pointed example for me is the way it obliterated the computer trade press, the Web must be an afterthought. There is a lot of talk about this of late, and I find Gladwell’s critique of Anderson’s Free manifesto the most compelling digest view of said. Yet Anderson discovered something not easily apparent.

Basically, a band shouldn’t expect even ‘gas money’ out of record sales. It should just get out there and play bars and sell t-shirts. Disruptive new medium has closed the book on the music business as it was known. Yet there were fixable elements of the record business – things could have been done differently – the descent could have been different, even forestalled.

Marshall McLuhan hypothesized that each new medium encapsulates former mediums. This may have been less obvious for TV, which fed on Newspapers and movies, than for the Web, which fed on all of the above. The form the encapsulation took hid the encapsulation from most people. People with a certain level of expertise were very aware that the Newspapers set the agenda for the news that the TV covered, but the effect wasn’t widely felt.

With the Web, which very boldly encapsulates the news from the Newspapers, people are very aware that they can get their news in a different format, “free,” in ready chunks, and stripped of physical outfit, on the Web. When you tally up the expenses of being online, the price isn’t much different than the subscription to the Newspaper, but you were going to be online anyway, right?

McLuhan specified the disruptive effect of encapsulating new media. He saw the computer as an extension of the human nervous system. As such it had special power to upset the apple cart. It was a question of timing, really.

The place the Newspaper takes up in the 21st Century is different than the one it took up in the mid-20th Century, when TV came to the fore. The effect of the Web is quite different - and more disruptive, actually - than the effect of TV on print. How far duplication has come from the days of the monks! How easy it is to pirate things – and if things are easy to pirate, pirating them doesn’t seem so terrible.

How educated is the audience and how little do they value the product of the Media over what they can do themselves [see this and most other any blog]? How the notion of audience has broken down as the means of Media have evolved! Sophistication is an inexpensive commodity now. The experience is what counts, and the mass model has broken. The Web must be an afterthought.

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