Shelter in Place

photoIt’s been a crazy week, hasn’t it? It’s hard to think about posting the type of banal stuff that usually goes on here, what with national events in Boston and Texas, and I figured the last thing the world needs is another person trying to say something profound about something that pretty much all of us feel the same way about anyway. So I’ve avoided that.

Still, it was surreal to wake up this morning, pick up my phone, and see all the news alerts that had accumulated over the last few hours related to the shootout, pursuit, and manhunt in Boston. It’s eery to see a city of that size shut down as it has been, and the cynical side of me finds that very unnerving. I also wonder at the stress of the various departments of law enforcement involved in tracking down this suspect, especially when practically every person they encounter has a camera or phone held up to shoot pictures and video. It only takes one shaky instant for a soldier to mistake that as a gun, and then the shit really hits the fan. Tense, tense hours, no doubt.

I turned the TV on when I got up to see what was going on. I had pointed out earlier this week to Julia that this is the first time we’ve actually had a television during one of these huge events. I tuned to CNN but only lasted about 15 minutes before shutting it off. The coverage was horrible. Tons of speculation, copious talking heads flapping their lips just to fill air time. No wonder people are stressed out and fearful — this kind of media blitz can’t be good for anyone. Hell, even no less a personage than God said via his twitter account, “When CNN says they’re ‘breaking news’ they are, in a sense, right.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 1.08.51 PM

Julia had it right, surfing the ‘net from her perch in bed, coffee at her elbow. “Until they have more actual facts to give me, I’m just going to keep reading about the proper way to wear leggings in class,” she said.

Speaking of God and his twitter page. As it relates to all this and religion, I don’t mind too much the people that feel compelled to announce to the world that they are praying for whoever or wherever. Some overdue it, sure, but a lot of people feel compelled to announce to the world every time they get a sniffle or feel a little doughy, so it’s no surprise. But the people urging me to pray for anyone are about to compel me into full-on atheism. That drives me insane. And I wonder how many of the folks so urgently and vociferously praying and urging to prayer actually even pray? All that feels like just another version of a stupid yellow ribbon magnet on the back of your car. Don’t tell me how to deal with my concerns, thank you very much.

Twitter has been very interesting to follow. Yeah, there is a lot of bullshit there; not so bad as Facebook, but it’s there. But find one or two legit journalists or magazines that are getting it right and it can be a fantastic source of info. The tweets and retweets coming from the likes of David Grann (who wrote one of my favorite books a couple years ago) and Mother Jones have been all I need to keep up to pace. Television pretty much sucks. It may be a new world, but smart, professional journalists are still where it’s at. Let’s hope we can continue to find a way to keep them employed.

Some things don’t change. Remember when this happened on this date in 1995? There was no concept of social media back then, but that didn’t stop people from wildly disseminating false info as to who had done the deed. I remember the plant manager where I was working at the time telling everyone she had just heard on the news that “two cars with men in turbans were seen speeding away from the scene!” Whether she’d actually heard that or was just pulling it out of her ass, who knows, but stuff like this tends to bring out both the best, and the worst, in all of us.

Here’s to hoping it gets sorted out quickly, with no more deaths, and that the actions of a few loonies don’t further constrict the liberties of the rest of us.

 

Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

4 thoughts on “Shelter in Place”

  1. In 1995 we were in England for the year. ALthough that will always feel like a void in my memory, I am grateful to have missed that one. The coverage today has been awful. So much speculation, so few facts.

  2. It’s been a surreal week, and today was definitely the “cherry on top” so to speak. I woke up at 6:30 this morning to automated phone calls telling us to stay inside, and that the MBTA was shut down. My workplace was closed down, and it became quickly apparent that the entire city was going to button up and wait this out.

    As best as I’ve been able to tell, the city has really come together to do the right thing – I haven’t heard of people exploiting this for miscellaneous criminal or hooligan activity. I’m sure there’s been some, but it feels like even the idiots in town understand the seriousness of the situation. Looking out my window here in Brookline periodically, the city seemed more of a ghost town than it did during the big blizzard earlier this winter.

    Being several miles away, my neighborhood isn’t in any danger, and today’s mostly been a day of watching episodes of breaking Bad on Netflix. But I’ve got a lot of friends and coworkers in Somerville and Watertown, and they have been genuinely terrified of a running gun battle or explosive standoff happening on their stoop. I can’t imagine the second suspect can lay hidden indefinitely, but the city is definitely holding it’s breath…

Leave a Reply