February 13, 2006
Pondering paranoia in paradise
As I sit writing this, the east coast is bracing for a mid-winter
storm of significant proportions. From Washington, D.C. to
the top of Vermont, there are snow warnings out for somewhere
between one and eighteen inches.
While the east is bracing for snow, I am by the pool of friends
in Rancho Mirage, having successfully navigating the sea of
traffic that flowed from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, a torrent
of multi-colored metal consuming unfathomable amounts of oil.
Having been in L.A. for a few days of non-stop meetings,
all scattered over every part of the metropolitan area, I
have spent a great deal of time in my rental car, with whom
I have been developing a relationship: we have been getting
to know each others quirks.
I am directionally challenged and thus perpetually lost;
I rent cars with navigation systems, Gods gift to individuals
such as myself. So while plying the highways and byways of
the Los Angeles Basin, I have had a car that talked to me
while I have been listening to every kind of radio station.
In these days I have consumed NPR and drunk in the all news
stations, which offer, thankfully, traffic updates every seven
minutes. [This navigation system cannot interface with traffic
reports; they already have or are developing ones that do.
YES!] As a result, I have been submersed in a sea of audio
information, all of which has led me to feeling quite
Off in England, a man is not fighting extradition over the
charge of having murdered his wife and child in Massachusetts.
He is being called the east coast answer to Scott Petersen.
[We dont need one, thank you!] English by birth, he
returned there after his spouse and child were found dead
in the bed in which they cuddling.
Off in Iraq, the free lance journalist Jill Carroll is warning
us her captors mean business and if their demands are not
met, she will meet her maker. In Gitmo, American forces are
force feeding detainees who are on hunger strikes in a manner
which seem more torture than nurture.
On my way to Anaheim last night, I listened for hours to
a long and depressing discussion on global warming, a conversation
precipitated by the days announcement that the northern
hemisphere is warmer than its been for twelve HUNDRED
The result was that I arrived at a restaurant for dinner
with a long time friend from business feeling very depressed
and wondering if his grandchildren would have a world in which
to grow up [or for me to grow old in]. It did not, though,
stop me from enjoying a very fine meal.
I listened to the fall out from and the burning downs which
have resulted from the printing in European newspapers of
a cartoon of Muhammad with a turban fashioned from bombs.
The Danish started this in their newspapers and have had embassies
and consulates burned as a result.
A town manager somewhere in America flew a Danish flag is
support of freedom of the press which resulted in a full town
meeting debating the appropriateness of doing that. While
possibly inappropriate in his unilateral decision to do so,
the conversation surrounding the action was more about fear
of retaliation than the appropriateness of action.
Sitting in this sunny paradise of sunny southern
California, I found my self pondering my paranoia.
Retreating from the audio avalanche of troubling news, I
sought refuge in perusing the L.A. Weekly. For a giggle, I
looked at the personals and found one that said: SOUKMATE
NEEDED FOR SUICIDE PACT
MUST BE WILLING TO PULL TRIGGER
No giggles here but a moment of unspoken paranoia. I mentioned
it to another friend with whom I was having dinner. Souk is
the word for the market in an Arabian town. Was this a typo
or a terrorist recruiter? She spoke my paranoia.
Against the backdrop of the President announcing a broken
terror plot on the tallest building in Los Angeles, it seemed
possible this was a demented terrorist looking for a soul
mate for a terror act.
Of my moments in Los Angeles, that was the defining moment:
sitting in a tony Westwood restaurant, sipping a really wonderful
pinot while realizing I was living in a world going mad
or was I the mad one, succumbing to paranoia in paradise?