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With A Big Red Bow

May 2, 2011

The magnolia tree next to my house in Mount Carroll is in full bloom; I’ve loved magnolia blossoms ever since I lived in New Orleans. I’ve been waiting for it to bloom because that tells me it’s finally Spring. One of the things I’ve had to remember since moving to the Midwest is that just because the calender says it’s supposed to be Spring doesn’t make it so. Just because you have a day or two of warm weather doesn’t mean it’s Spring, either. Around here in corn and god country, there’s one other indicator of the seasonal change that actually predates the magnolia bloom… the farmers. They’ve been out for a few weeks now, getting the fields ready for crops. But for me, it’s the magnolia tree and the slight change in the hue of the sunset. (Have you ever noticed how even the colors of a Spring sunset are a warmer color?)

I also know it’s Spring because I finally had to break out the fucking lawn mower… but that is another topic for another day.

Last night while I was working on my deadline articles for the paper, the President broke into programming — into Celebrity Apprentice, no doubt, which makes me wonder just how intentional the timing actually was — to announce that Osama bin Laden is dead, shot in the head during a U.S. Operation in Pakistan. The NBC talking head broke the news to me first; and even before President Obama gave another of what some people are calling a Historic Speech, the multiple talking heads were doing what the talking do best… which is to say, they do very little exceptionally well, but the one they do with some degree of finesse (No, it’s not reporting the news) is to put current events into an easily digestible framework that in no way contradicts the previously framed pieces of events that most kids my daughter’s age learn as history.

The talking head on the ground in Libya was speaking to the regular talking head via telephone and said something about how the death of Osama bin Laden was the end of an era… an era he defined quite neatly in terms of decades. The last ten years, he maintained, have been defined by The War on Terror. This decade packaging is nothing new, of course. The people who like to sell us stuff have been packaging time that way for years. Since hearing that the ring leader of the 9/11 attacks has gone the way of worm food, I’ve been wondering what the Time Life DVD Collection recounting the first decade of the 21st century will look like… because that’s how we remember things. Time Life Books, Time Life Music, Time Life Video. Of course, no one reads books anymore and no one listens to full music albums anymore; so what we’ll end up with is a Time Life DVD box set (that will, in all likelihood, be available for download on iTunes) that will tell those of us who lived through it what it was REALLY about, what it all meant, and what we are supposed to remember. It will be conveniently packaged and discounted for educators so that the children who were either too young to remember or who aren’t yet born will be able look back at the tumult that was the first decade of the 21st century and consider themselves lucky… just like we count ourselves blessed to have avoided the Black Death.

The problem is, of course, that in spite of the way we package time, time operates according to it’s own methods and druthers. I might prefer to think that Spring starts in March, but it never really arrives until the magnolia tree begins to bloom.

I’m not going to pretend that I understand what the death of a terrorist – a terrorist who had financial ties to two former Presidents and who, prior to being at the top of the U.S. Most Wanted Hit List, was trained and armed by the CIA to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan – will mean for the future. I assume that after all the chest thumping is over, the corporate owned news will go back to not reporting real news and focus on some other bit of fluff to keep the American people preoccupied and not paying attention between commercials for vacations no one can afford, new toys no one understands, and clothes that look suspiciously like the shit my classmates wore during the Reagan years.

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