I love to complain. Who doesn’t? One of the great guilty pleasures of society is to voice our disgust towards anything or anyone who doesn’t quite live up to our unachievable standards or just plain annoys us.
You know what bothers me? The uneven pavement on sidewalks around here. There’s nothing more annoying than a casual stroll abruptly interrupted by a trip over a chunk of concrete that’s been “uprooted” by a tree planted in too small an area. What were they thinking when they figured the rootball of a 15-foot-tree would fit nicely in a 3x3-foot dirt square? And brick intersections? Give me a break. Who really thought that floating individual bricks in loose sand could withstand the constant abuse of cars, trucks and pedestrians without sinking into ruts? Someone should be fired for ruining those perfectly good crosswalks. But why bother?
What do I have to look forward to on the other side of the street? Twenty-something college graduates pretending to be homeless. They’re dressed in rags, backpacks on, trying to grow dreadlocks, dog on a rope leash, covered in dirt from head to toe. In fact, because of their consistent shade of filth—coupled with their youth—I’ve nicknamed them “brownies.” It really floors me when they pull out their iPhones or I see them getting money out of the ATM. I guess “homeless” in their case simply means they aren’t home at the moment.
I like to pick up the newspaper when I’m out dodging uneven pavement and ragamuffins. The Times Free Press is our local daily. Flipping to the Metro section, I notice there must not be a lot going on here in the ‘Noog. There are always a couple of intriguing stories on the front page that jump to pages further back in the section. However, when I turn the cover page, in curious anticipation, I’m greeted on Page Two with the obituaries. Makes me think there are a lot of people starting to do great things around here—but more people dying before they can achieve them.
Two subjects I read a lot about in the local newspaper are Lauren Alaina and Chuck Fleischmann. Lauren Alaina, a former American Idol contestant, is adored by most everyone in the tri-state area, mainly because she hails from the tri-state area. I think if it’d been any of the other “Idol” contestants who grew up within a 30-mile radius of Chattanooga, we’d love them instead. But she’s the lucky girl-next-door whose face was present each and every week on the most watched show on television, so she’s a star in our eyes. Good for her.
Representative Chuck Fleischmann, on the other hand, has been forced to put a lot more effort into launching his own career as a rock star. Unlike Lauren Alaina, he’s not cute, perky, young and singing. Instead, Fleischmann is a wide-eyed conservative kicking up dust about tax breaks he doesn’t consciously consider himself benefiting from and about how poorly President Obama is performing in office (mainly because he’s not a Republican). I’m sure former President Bush did a perfect job in Chuck’s politically-clouded judgment. Regardless, more locals voted for Lauren Alaina to win American Idol than will ever vote for Chuck Fleischmann during his entire political career—and I’m sure that bothers him as much as it does me.
As an advertising writer, I pay special close attention to ads. Many local business owners find it necessary to deliver ad messages themselves, or worse, enlist their kids rather than good-looking, articulate professional actors. I guess they feel their presence adds a “folksy,” neighborly spin to the sales pitch. But I feel it makes their ego-driven business pursuits look small-time and exploits their children, all in the name of tugging a few heartstrings. Plus, I can never understand what those kids are yelling anyway.
It’s harder to take those obnoxious ads when our local TV stations can’t seem to level out the difference in volume between the quiet regular programming and loud commercial breaks. I don’t know if that’s a difficult request or just a task over the heads of the slackies running the equipment. I do know that we put a man on the moon more than 40 years ago, so it can’t be a lack of technology.
I also don’t know who is responsible for the anchorperson’s lapel microphone on our local Fox News, but it sounds like they’re talking into their sports jackets. This annoying shortcoming did make the story of Andy Rooney’s passing inaudible, which is fine with me because I didn’t wanna hear it anyway. I just wanted to write this column in his honor. RIP to an inspiration.