GateHouse — Back when I lived in the city and took the train to work on a route that visited some reasonably shady neighborhoods, I developed a near-flawless method for dealing with any disreputable characters who might, say, visit my car to shout colorful monologues or ask for any spare all-of-the-money-in-my-wallet: I’d put on my headphones and sunglasses, which afforded me a plausible, airtight reason for ignoring them completely, because if I can’t see or hear you, how can you possibly rob me, or shout loudly at me regarding the voices in your head?
My reasoning was that if I was going to get mugged or stared down by, for instance, someone traveling with a live rooster, it would at least be by someone with some pluck and gumption; the casual criminal wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to snare the easily fragmented attention of an iPod addict: “MAN, I TOLD YOU, TURN THAT THING DOWN, STUDIES HAVE PROVEN THEY CAUSE PERMANENT COCHLEAL DAMAGE AND ALSO I AM TRYING TO BURGLE YOU.” Luckily, I never did once find myself in such a situation, although that might also have something to do with the green lizard-eyes I had tattooed on my eyelids. (Great for riding the subway, TERRIBLE for going to the orchestra.)
It sounds ridiculous and childish to write about it — mostly because it’s ridiculous and childish. I know now, with a few years of practical, real-world life experience behind me, that I could have achieved the same effect by either shrieking like a pregnant moose who’s been poked in the nostrils with a pool stick (been there, am I right, ladies?) or, failing that, waving my lightsaber around. Oh come on, tell me that if you saw a skinny twerp on the Green Line with sunglasses and a lightsaber and shrieking like a moose, that’d be the guy you’d light up for drug money or as a prospective audience for you your unhinged conspiracy theories.
I bring this up because — and I don’t know if you’ve heard about this guy Terry Jones or not, you might not have, because the teevee has been thoughtfully subtle if not overly scholastic on the subject — but there’s this mumblemouthed nimrod in some tin-roof town in oh hey this is weird the middle of Florida, and he and his 1856 prospector mustache convinced his 16 followers that they needed to burn the Quran on 9/11 to make a point about Jesus’ tolerance and everybody on television lost their minds.
Within minutes, obviously, Pickins Yokelwitz and his marginal house band of overhumidified nitwits, whose numbers are basically near the Labor Day barbecue I had at the house, have become, predictably, scorchingly, cashingly famous, because in America when you are dumb and you go on TV and you scream dumb things dumb people will cover you and ensure that your dumb message is megaphoned to the masses for something like a thousand dumb years.
Now yes I realize that in decrying the coverage about Terry Jones I’m essentially covering Terry Jones, but that’s fine with me, because if there’s one way to make your SEO go bonkers right now it’s to write about Terry Jones, because everyone
with a blog and a power cord is writing about Terry Jones (his Text From Last Night is GOLD), and frankly I’d be lying if I didn’t keep typing this dingletwit’ name in order to scrape out a few extra drops of bandwidth juice on the Internets. Terry Jones Terry Jones Terry Jones, and hello to all the various watch lists, Google Alerts and no-fly directories I’ve just ended up on, whatever, I wasn’t really dying to go to Mexico anyway.
The good news is that hopefully I’ll be one of the last hypocrites on earth writing about Hillbilly Jim Dinglebritches, and we can all rest comfortably until the next pudding-brained crazy person comes out of Florida, which will be, I’m thinking, Tuesday. The left side of Jones’ mustache said last weekend on NBC’s “Today” that he will not be burning the Quran “ever,” though he did reserve the right to burn some Duran Duran, of which I deeply approve.
But you can’t help but wonder, when someone is ranting and irrationally yelling and pleading so very pleadingly for attention like an underloved child, why in the hell don’t people just turn up their headphones?