This old porch is just a long time of waiting and forgetting
Remembering the coming back, not crying about the leaving
And remembering the falling down and the laughter of the curse of luck
From all those son’s of bitches who said, “We’d never get back up” ‘
-Robert Earl Keen
I’m a late bloomer. Here I am about to move away from DC and I finally realize the cause of all my problems over the years. The secret is that I gave a fuck to many times.
Not giving a fuck doesn’t mean you don’t care. It just means that you don’t let things like ideology and purpose dominate and overwhelm you. In other words, only give a fuck when it’s truly needed.
Take care of business and put on your sailing shoes and glide away. Don’t give away too many fucks and the rest will take care of itself. *
I had it half right. I was never a true believer. Of course when I was a TV journalist devotion to a set of ideals was never a factor. I just got the story done as soon as possible, infused as many negatives and pissed of as many people as I could. Mark Twain once had this to say about journalism, “Gather the facts as fast as you can and distort them at your leisure.”
The idea of being a true believer in TV news is laughable. Journalism is just about dead, it’s barely breathing. That’s true especially in local TV news. In the immortal words of genius photographer and all around wise man Mike “Pierre’ Plews, who was once forced to butcher a pretty nice spot. He shrugged his shoulders and said in resignation, “When you work for the pound you have to gas a few puppies.”
In the second half of my career I worked in advocacy communications and PR. Ardor is required for most organizations involved in lobbying and advocacy. Not me. Oh sure there are a lot of things I care about: the federal government should confiscate weapons from everyone who is not a member of the military or in law enforcement; Healthcare for all; Immediate and enforced reductions in carbon emissions; and re-training camps for all those who still don’t understand that the Rebel flag and Confederacy were about slavery, and slavery alone.
I once worked for a Washington, D.C. association representing litigious professionals nationwide. In one of the weekly lobby meetings a Republican proposal was being discussed. The measure would have granted immunity to volunteers who help their communities and people in need, but had caused or were negligent in mishaps causing injury or death. The head lobbyist cut off discussion immediately saying, “No immunity. Never. Nuns driving crippled children in a bus off a bridge into a muddy flooding river below. Never.”
Overall I had a successful career in communications and PR. I was a solid media trainer, excellent on message and OK on strategury. I probably should have marketed myself as a “big brain,” more strategy and less actual work.
I was once working with a friend who was and is a total big brain. He would often have to tell me that I should get up out of the trench once in a while and wipe the shit of my goggles, so I could make sure I was on the right track. Oh well.
I’ve lived and worked in the Washington, DC area since the early 1970s. Now Sue, Jeremy and I are packing up to move to Wilmington, NC. There are a lot of people I will miss, but not the town.
One thing I won’t miss is how when you meet someone in DC the first thing they want to know is where you work. In other words what is your connection to power and what can you do for me. I went to a party once when I was out of work. I had just finished my one and only political campaign and was job hunting. When I would introduce myself to someone the conversation lasted about 30 seconds, right after I said I was unemployed.
Then I remembered some writing I had done, and had also posed for a photographer friend who was working on a cover for a local magazine. So then when asked where I worked I said, oh I do a little writing and a bit of modeling. That got me at least another 45 seconds.
The rhythms of life and the city used to be calmer. People worked hard but they were nicer in those days. It didn’t matter what your politics were, if you were talented there was a job for you in government, politics or advocacy. It used to be fun to work here. Everyone worked like crazy you won some and lost some and couldn’t wait to get back to it tomorrow.
And as for Washington’s main enterprise and obligation, working to solve today’s problems and creating new solutions for a rapidly changing world, the town is an abysmal failure. It’s just a nasty place to be. Why else would House of Cards be so popular?
It’s hard to say when it began to go so sour. Joe Klein wrote about it in the New Yorker in a piece called, “The Town that Ate Itself.” He wrote the turning point came when Tip O’Neill lost his temper and slammed Newt Gingrich on the House floor by name. You don’t do that. House rules. But the worst part was he elevated Gingrich, gave him power within his own caucus. It was the political equivalent of giving him a flame thrower which he used to burn down the house. Pyrrhic victories are just fine with Mr. G.
Klein attributes the beginning of the endless campaign to Democrats killing John Tower’s nomination to be Secretary of Defense under Daddy Bush. Then the Republicans took Speaker Jim Wright’s scalp and the war was on. In the coverage back then one source said Tower lost because he was a prick and didn’t have any friends. I get that. Friends are hard to come by in Washington.
My family and I are heading to a small and wonderful town, just 15 minutes from the ocean. Thankfully the sharks are in the water and not wearing a suits sitting across the table from me in a meeting. Sharks in the ocean are easier to spot and you know what they’re up to.
I’ll write and hope that I can land a few acting roles. But mainly we’ll work as absolutely hard as we can to feel good every day.