I know I'm an alien here.
I know there's something wrong with the world.
I know I must have followed Dujour and her white rabbit tat down and down, running out of Ubik or chewing too much Chew-Z along the way, picking a fight with the bouncer at the Magic Theater and ending up trapped in a exhausting, pointless, eternal argument with some asshole named "Glaroon".
I know this because every now and then I can still make out the faint murmur of music from over in the Better Universe as it seeps through the heating ducts. And when this happens I can sit there quietly with my ear pressed against the grate and momentarily remember what it was like not to live in a madhouse. To live, instead, in a place where thin-skinned, talent-deficient, babbling hacks are not showered with unearned money and privilege, are not insulated from the consequences of their ruinous folly by a Praetorian Guard of groveling colleagues, and are not spoon-fed an obsequious pudding of fawning goo disguised as "questions" every time they decide to plop down in front of a friendly microphone to pimp their awful ideas.
In October of 2011 (in an interview I had never heard before, so big h/t to commenter HitandMiss)**, America's own Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Bad Ideas, Mr. Thomas R. Friedman, somehow collided with an operative from the Better Universe -- Ms. Kim Hill of Radio New Zealand ("one of New Zealand's finest current affairs interviewers") -- who had the temerity to use her hour of Mr. Friedman's happy-chat book tour to ask the Mustache of Understanding real, journalisty-type questions.
The whole thing is a treasure, but the bit at the 42:50 mark where Mr. Friedman completely shits himself after being blindsided by the question, "You're a rich person, right?" perfectly illustrates how completely decadent and unmoored from reality and consequence our elite media has become.
Over in the Better Universe, no one would think twice about asking a media billionaire who has the ear of kings and presidents and who is frantically working to influence American tax, monetary, foreign and social policy about how his vast personal fortune and circle of powerful friends might color his opinions.
In this Universe, no American reporter who had even dreamed of asking such an impertinent question would be ever be allowed within microphone distance of Mr. Friedman's august presence.
This is what makes the music that whispers in from the Better Universe so bittersweet.
* (Title shamelessly lifted from Robert Olen Butler's terrific 1992 short story collection.)
UPDATE: Here is a link to the the interview.