If It Bleeds, It Leads (& then runs weeping to the bathroom to change its tampon)
it’s 3:19AM, DECEMBER (aHEM) 6th.
i’m staying up late tonight and packing to go spend a week with my moxy, mr. neil, and do some serious practicing for the pops and catching up.
(my inbox is approaching a record 1,000 unanswered emails. i’m trying to be zen about it. if you haven’t heard from me, you’re not alone).
in the face of that, i just spent the last few hours catching up on the comments from the (actual) news blog.
i feel responsible, when i ask a question, to really read and consider what you guys write.
then i realize that actually reading what you write will take me hours and hours…and hours and hours.
i do it anyway….though i do wind up reading some and skimming some.
over 500 people commented/emailed (over the various blog sites and on theshadowbox.net – which i also check).
….all i can hope to do is put together a new collage of thoughts with what you’ve given me, and there’s too much.
(a link to the blog and its comments is HERE.)
someone suggested i hire a minister of information.
sounds good, but i want a clone.
she will live in the recesses of nowhere, impossible to find but omnipresent; she will occasionally fly under an assumed name, harriet-the-spy style, to places of political unrest to expand her views and opinions, she will hate music, she never talk on the phone, never have sex, never exercise, and never eat.
eating would be a waste of her fucking time.
she will simply lounge in a placeless, pale, warm room with a couch & coffee table from IKEA, wrapped in a colorful throw-blanket made in a third-world country.
she will linger there, sipping fair-trade coffee with soy, wearing handmade knitted sweaters and clogs, she will don thick dykey glasses and maybe have an angry pet cat named “cuyahoga” or “basquiat” that she will stroke thoughtfully as she considers her take on the conflict in the middle east.
once a week or so, she will appear in my life and give me a download complete with my own clever opinion.
she will also write confrontational letters on my behalf to the editors of the new york times, the economist, and salon.com.
she will also phone my representatives in congress. daily. she will also phone my mother for me when i don’t have time.
i’ll secretly want to fuck her brains out but i’ll never tell her that lest it ruin our working relationship.
the comments on this last blog were some of the most intelligent and profound i’ve seen. so many people took the time and energy to write such well-articulated ideas.
seriously, fuck me, you guys are a intelligent bunch.
it made me hope that you guys are also reading the comments as they come in – in cases like this i feel like i’m just the topic-starter and the real meat is in the spaces below.
as i read thorough, my head spanned at the expanse of comments from people with family in military, the (many of you, weirdly) who grew up in households with news/reporter/media parents, you ladies who have gone through menopause and assure me that you don’t bawl at the news anymore (thank god for that, can’t wait), parents who’ve given up, journalists who don’t read newspapers, lots of students who are trying to make sense of their educations, someone with palestinian parents who forced them to digest news that didn’t become real until later, the woman whose doctor PRESCRIBED her a news moratorium…..
there seem to be three really resonant main categories:
1) the self-proclaimed “news junkies” who gather LOTS from LOTS of sources, direct and editorial
2) the casual news-gatherers, who skim papers on weekends and check headlines and pick up news from friends and shopkeepers
3) the fuck-it-all-it’s-just-way-too-depressing-to-deal-with bunch.
-not many of you still read touchable, burnable, crinkly, old-school news papers, and
-many admitted to doing what i do: stealing the arts and style sections and only scanning the rest.
-many of you seem to go through phases, just like i do, and you’ll read the news when you have time.
-most of you get your news from online sources….
-a vast majority of you get your news updates and links from twitter.
now, this probably has plenty to do with the fact that i linked to this blog from my twitter feed and that skews the numbers, but still. it’s incredible how quickly that happened. i had barely HEARD of twitter a year ago. now it’s dominating our minds. amazing.
so many of you made such eloquent cases for WHY it’s important to stay tuned in.
at the same time, so many of you made good arguments in favor of tuning out.
i remember my british grandfather, when i was a little girl, would listen religiously to the BBC on the radio.
he was legally blind and almost as deaf. he’d sit in the kitchen of my grandparents house and during news hour (this was in the states – he emigrated when he was a teenager) everybody had to fuck off.
he would sit there at the kitchen table, at 82, his head engulfed in those giant headphones. every day. i used to think “what’s the point, old man?”
one day, while my grandmother and grandfather were just quietly piddering around at home (both in their 80s), a group of armed crackheads broke into their house.
they tied my grandmother to her bed at knifepoint, and stole her wedding ring from off her finger, took everything of value in her room, and left her there.
my grandfather missed the whole episode. he was in the kitchen, two rooms away, with his headphones on; the BBC world service blaring away.
they were probably talking about the genocide in rwanda while my grandmother was getting tied to a bed.
find poetic meaning where you may, but either way, there’s a song in there.
i did notice an interesting trend.
a good handful of people brought up 9/11.
what’s interesting is that half of you said “after that, i couldn’t deal anymore and i just switched off” and the other half said “after that, i decided to plug in and care more”.
obviously polarizing, that event. i wonder what it means, and what this ALL means, for a generation of teenagers.
i hope you caught the comment/story somebody posted about their grandfather dying in his sleep the night before 9/11.
the personal, the personal, the personal will almost always win over the political.
that image of the twisted south tower antenna now haunts me as a symbol.
that antenna was used to transmit most of the major TV signals in new york city.
when the tower went down, so did the signals.
we feel safest when we can communicate, no matter what.
i guess that twisted tower falling to the ground scrambled some people’s signals, for good.
a few comments….
my friend andrew anselmo:
The reason I keep abreast of the news, even news where I can’t affect the outcome, is that this news eventually affects me and my loved ones. The financial crisis is a classic case; keeping abreast of the business world over the years made me think that I should change where I keep my money (i.e. prepare for a drastic drop in the dollar). The Peak Oil issue is something I surely can’t fix or change, but it is something I can prepare for.
TERESA JUSINO wrote:
None of us can save the whole world. But I think that it everyone picked the ONE thing that mattered most to them, and chipped away at it, we’d have the whole world covered.
news is the key to democracy
….And finally, for what it’s worth, I don’t think “the news makes me depressed” is much of an excuse for metaphorically staying in bed all day. As you say, “It’s so depressing when people die in real life.” Sure. But a person can either sit in a useless puddle of angst and whine about how they can’t stand that other people’s suffering makes them depressed, or they can do something about it. My mother often says that if you see suffering, you own it. To me that means that if something in the news really affects you that strongly, see what you can do about it. Turning away and doing nothing in the face of suffering is tantamount to accepting its inevitability and even more important, your own utter powerlessness to affect any kind of positive change whatsoever. I can’t and don’t accept that, so I won’t turn away and hide.
kendrick hugh wrote:
personally, as a Buddhist, I take time to recognize the suffering of beings all over the world. I try to find out something about all beings lost in war or violence, because at least their existence is remembered by one more person. I wouldn’t suggest this course for anyone – without meditation, I wouldn’t survive it.
and Owen wrote:
“does it matter if i don’t know that that people in DC were getting gunned down by a couple of crazies from the trunk of a car?”
I think it maters a lot more that people don’t know that 100,000 people were killed in East Timor by the Indonesian government with tacit American support during our life time.
Midnight Oil coined it Compassion Fatigue. It’s a real affliction.
i feel that. (amazing band, btw).
we all have such different tolerance levels.
we all have limits, and sometimes i think it’s wise to remember how we’re built.
we all have different needs.
i used to feel so guilty for not having a real job.
i used to feel so confused about my purpose, and so futile in the face of people who built real bridges. bridges for cars.
every year i get a little closer to realizing that both the music and bridges are the connective tissue of life – without one, the other is pointless.
we need to get around and survive, and we need to feel like we’re getting around and surviving for a reason.
i used to be obsessively fascinated by the idea that EVERY generation seems to have produced people who like designing bridges.
and singing songs. and talking politics. and … you name it. how does it work out that way?
what if an entire generation of people decided they all wanted to build bridges and nobody wanted to make any art or run the country?
once i realized my little hole in the cosmic balance, i didn’t mind filling it so much.
here’s what i think:
we take so much for granted, and we do, because we can.
this conversation would look positively disgusting in the context of a regime in which we had to battle bloody battle for our RIGHT to share news, share the truth, converse freely.
anyone who grew up in a repressive country with stasi/secret police/government ban on the free press could look at these “i’ll find out if it’s important because someone will tell me” comments and see sheer ignorance and arrogance. but i don’t think that’s quite it.
i think different times call for different measures.
a lot of people are tuning out because they FEEL they can. they’re american, those around them are picking up the slack. i feel like that to some extent.
does the president read the paper cover-to-cover, or does he rely on his aides to do that and brief him?
do you see where i’m going with this?
in today’s world, when things are rapidly changing and people are being fucked around and fleeced by the politicians and powers that be at every turn….the decision not to be informed…needs to be an informed decision.
that’s well said.
we rely on each other for all sorts of different things.
as long as our decision to Not Tune In is informed, and as long as we feel like we have trusted lifelines to the news, we feel safe (…does a family/household of 6 all have to sit around reading the entire sunday paper, or can they designate? likewise, are you satisfied to rely on your news-junkie friend at the water cooler for breaking news while you spend your fuck-off time at work on wikipedia researching balinese dance traditions/obscure david bowie bootlegs? seems like many of you are.)
the interesting thing about connection and community is that you need LOTS of PEOPLE to cover LOTS of areas, and news is one of them.
i know that if/when the shit hits the fan post-apocalypse style, i won’t be able to feed myself, but i’ll sure as hell know a lot of people. maybe that’ll save me.
In the age of globalisation and in an era when technology is rapidly advancing and becomming more accessible, I find it interesting that so many of us only pay attention to that which directly affects us – like in your village metaphor. I’m even quite often like that. And I think most of my guilt around not following the news stems for this issue. I feel that as someone in the developed world who has been afforded many opportunities and who has access to many resources and much information, that it is almost a duty (of sorts) of mine to be well informed so that I can give back. I’m an activist and I often feel that I’m a bad activist for not being more informed and not having a depth of knowledge about what is going on around the world and affecting other human beings. It’s almost like globalisation and technological advancements have opened up the world but, because it is so demanding on people, so in your face, it has made many people revert back to the local sphere.
i find this most fascinating because like it or not, that’s where we’re heading as the oil runs out. etc.
we will HAVE to become more localized to survive. it’s all lining up quite nicely, isn’t it…
….I just kind of got sick of the news, especially because the news I had to keep up with was student news. Not reeeeal news….
…and so interesting that what we consider the “real” news is so relative.
what’s more important news: the single tragedy in your family or the death of an entire village you’ve never heard of?
we have to deal with it all.
it’s funny that i titled my blog post “the (actual) news”. it’s all bullshit semantics, mang.
you actually have me confused. You talk about being overstuffed with information and need – and you are right. For our survival we don’t need to know what is going on anywhere except our immediate surroundings. so I guess I should ‘unfollow’ your twitter… you post like 100 tweets a day and I’m just overstuffed with information about your day, your period or PMS & wine drinking.
i often wonder about that. sometimes i feel like i’m adding to the noise instead of using my time more wisely. i dunno, dude.
sometimes i feel like i’m actually making an impact by being so honest about myself and my life when other artists aren’t.
sometimes i play games with myself, and with my audience, to see just how far i can share myself. i actually deleted a twitter right before sending it this morning about a MOUNTAIN-SIZED zit i had coming in on my left ass-cheek. the epic kind of zit you get once every few years that you can actually feel when you sit down. a literal pain in the fucking ass. i had a whole little relationship with this little guy before starting my day, finding a flashlight, positioning myself in front of a full-length mirror to better get a look at what the hell was going on with this guy.
and i was so tempted to put it out there. i was so tempted to see the reactions of “oh my god, i hate ass zits” on the one hand and “too much information, i’m unfollowing your ass” on the other.
i deleted it when i realized that i was about to commit a cartoon crime of senseless overindulgence.
in a way; it’s not. i know for a fact that I’M inspired when i read super-intimate tweets by friends and other artists, when i read interviews with diamanda galas talking about her extreme personal details and habits. i feel less alone, more human, more brave, more real. in the end, it’s not about the ass-pimple. in the end, it’s about the humanity, about people willing to share their imperfections and strange little habits so that we don’t feel alone.
those who are disgusted and must turn away in horror are not enemies; they’re just not in tune with me. which is fine.
very often, hearing one little anonymous voice in the dead of night saying “me too” somewhere out there in the universe makes me so, so happy.
i think this is why we all love twitter so much: if you have enough connections, then somewhere, somebody will be out there when you need to feel connected (which for certain types, like me, is often).
Anthony goreilly wrote:
“Dude, WE WENT TO THE MOON. Seriously, we can pretty much do anything, once we stop talking ourselves out of it.”
@John C Welsh wrote, in response:
Amen to that man. THE FUCKING MOON.
i double-amen that.
i mean, THE FUCKING MOON, right?
what the hell are we doing?
i was driving yesterday and listening to NPR and heard this little segment from “On the Media” called “talk is cheap”
it discussed how big conferences on the “future of news” were FUCKING STUPID because they were attended by old white guys TALKING ABOUT doing shit,
while young people (like many of us) are simply logging on, creating sites and DOING SHIT….not organizing endless “future of news” conferences to TALK ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING.
agreed. if it RSS feeds, it leads, motherfuckers.
the outlets, sites, papers that were mentioned most were cnn, bbc, the times, the guardian. lots of google news/facebook/yahoo news.
lots of you mentioned rachel maddow. i had never heard of her. i’ll check her out:
lots of you defended your right to get your news straight from john stewart and the colbert report.
whatever it takes, man. humor FTW. i agree.
i grabbed these at random, & i kept it to the english-language ones.
i haven’t checked these all out. proceed at your own risk:
i DO have a minister of information.
it’s the internet stream that i have created & fashioned for myself,
and it’s YOU – it’s this collection of people.
and we ALL share ALL of us, here.
i’m only gradually (especially as i tour) starting to feel the deep, profound impact of ten years of service in the entertainment armed services, dresden dolls platoon.
i’ve earned my medals and they’ve come in the form of an umbrella which is large and weather-proof enough to house my own tribe, and here we are, new and old, trusted comrades.
coincidentally – or maybe not – i did a webcast last night.
it was a typically unplanned fuckshow…around 3 hours of me, beth, kayla and an assortment of random housemates and friends messing about with some music thrown in, some “lady gaga: friend or foe?” roundtable discussion (jury, STILL OUT – i think that’s a whole nother blog).
we got a lot of irritated viewers bored by our endless discussion which not only went nowhere but was also interrupted by some incoming french dancer houseguests of pope’s (they’d barely heard of the gaga) and by my landlord lee waving a comic at the camera trying to discuss the significance of international art and the language barrier…oi vey, it’s fucking wild kingdom at my house sometime. we made some dough by selling signed christmas cards and redeemed our souls by gifting away lots of fun things, including a copy of neil’s new book (“the absolute death”), some tickets to the slutcracker that my friend katrina galore brought over and some t-shirts donated by blake. [quick sidenote: we’re giving away another copy of “the absolute death” and all you have to do is make sure you’re signed up for my mailing list. we’re going to announce a winner (via mailer) in the next week or so, so SIGN UP and stay tuned. good luck!]
the tickets and shirts were given, respectively, to the best twit-pic’d slut-holiday costume and the best improvised jellyfish hat…which blake determined were THESE (we have to agree):
(by the way….if you guys are reading this and we didn’t get in touch with you, there was some confusion about the winners. tweet @electroblake and maybe he’ll show you some mercy).
it all got me thinking. over 10,000 people came over to see the webcast at one point or another. on average it was being viewed by about 1,000+ folks.
at one point we were playing ukulele…kayla had hers tuned and ready and she threw in a random tegan & sara cover of “hell”, which we sang together, fucking up most of the lyrics.
this prompted an unexpected text message from sara (yes, of tegan and sara) to remind us that “practicing is for squares”.
that made our life. it also made me realize that at a certain point i’m going to have to get my shit together and start making my webcasts GOOD, because people are starting to actually watch them.
i’m also starting to feel like the Future of Amanda Fucking Palmer might be in webcasting. there’s so much you can do. any ideas, hit me.
here we are, post-webcast.
HOLIDAYbelly, fo shizzle dizzle, check out the snowflake pyjamas, homes.
(left to right: beth, kayla, katrina galore, e stephen).
….and some of you have really dirty minds, i’ll tell you.
the hand-written cards are still available until december 10th with a dresden dolls/AFP merch purchase of $75 or over. it was only available “a la carte” on the webcast.
they’re beautiful…it’s a folded-card with a photo (by nicholas vargelis, taken of me illicitly in a masonic lodge, for realz) from the WKAP book, and it comes in a fancy envelope with red-foil lining and a gramophone stamp. that $75 can include anything…the amanda/neil book, the new DVD, the new tour merch, AND and and…the dolls section has a special in which you can buy all CDs/DVDs we’ve ever put out for a really low bundle cost….go to: http://www.jsrdirect.com/webstores/afp&dresdendolls/
– time lapse –
i’m on a plane now.
i just flipped through an issue of interview magazine.
the models all looked lonely and unloved to me in their amazing sunglasses.
i also have amazing sunglasses.
i feel loved and not too lonely.
i wonder what is going to happen next.
a note on the blog format: as you can see on my myspace…i am going to change the format of the blog so that the text is no longer white on black (fixes coming up on amandapalmer.net asap). i can’t stand it anymore, and lots of folks were complaining of sore eyes.
any feedback, send it in to sean or leave a comment here.