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rant is where the heart is
entry for 2000-10-21 (23:38:46)
In which our plucky young hero admires a tinfoil hat.
Talking today about crazy people, folks.
Yesterday, I got a new book: Inconspicuous Consumption by Paul Lukas. It's a book about all the little things that you take for granted, or never think about, or just don't know exist - it talks about Brannock Devices, Band-Aids, and mortuary supply companies.
One of the entries has to do with Dear Dotti, the advice column that runs every week once a week in the Weekly World News, which is your source for all the news that the mainstream media dare not print. Now, I'm not talking about your average right-wing-conspiracy-chatroom unprinted news ("Hillary Clinton killed Vince Foster and drank his blood!"), no sir. I'm talking news you couldn't find on CNN, Fox News, or the Drudge Report in a million zillion billion years.
Bat Boy, for instance.
Bat Boy, who is sort of the Weekly World News's mascot, is a half-bat, half-boy carnivorous feral thing what does prowl across the heartland of America eating livestock and occasionally happens to get photographed and interviewed by plucky WWN stringers. A low-grade Bigfoot, a slightly smarter chupacabra, a king among cryptozoological beasts.
(Oh, and since you're asking, of course the News has a web site.)
Now, most people I know who are aware of this tabloid at all treat it as an object of hipster irony. It's kind of the ne plus ultra of tabs, free of celebrity stories and even the most remotely plausible fact ("Chinese man undergoes head transplant!"). It is potato vodka to the weak American lite beer of the Enquirer or Globe. You read the WWN for the irony, dammit, and you can't help but feel they're snickering along with you.
Still, however, there's always at least one person somewhere who takes this stuff seriously. Who takes everything seriously. They use the Weekly World News and CNN and the Bible and Entertainment Weekly and old TV Guides with ALF on the cover as the elements of a Grand Unified Theory of Everything, a total explanation of all the mysteries of the earth. When I first arrived here in Saskatoon, there was indeed just such a person in town, and their carefully-researched notes about the Dolphin Angels and the Astronaut Angels and the Heroic Dog Angel were glued to transformers, mailboxes, and phone poles all over the city. Meticulously messy handwriting described the way that God loved us so much he sent his only begotten dolphin to save us (or something), oh, and the Rapture was coming.
I never bothered to read this stuff, although it fascinated me. I came from a town where this sort of high-octane kookery just wasn't done. It was a total mystery to me how a mind could so utterly snap. But I was around friends who never glanced even twice at these things, and really, I would have felt like quite the loser asking them to stop so I could study this stuff.
Of course, now that we have the mass-cultural Web, these sorts of things are pretty much a buyer's market. But you have to admire (in a way) the people who would handwrite these screeds, some of which run as much as twenty or thirty scrawled pages, then pay to photocopy them and glue them up all over town. Anyone can type, but it takes genuine dedication to cut and paste and write write write until your hand is cramped and your fingertips are white from clutching the pen, and then pay for the privilege of having ironical young hipsters not even bother to read what you have to say, until the city tears the stuff down from the transformers.
I now regret that I never did take the time to read what this anonymous person had to say, because who knows? Maybe they're right. Maybe dolphins are angels. Maybe astronauts are too, and even Heroic Dogs.
After all, in a world where Bat Boy can endorse Al Gore for president, anything can happen.(Browse: previous or next. Notes: post or read.)
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