Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain*

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.)

** (Done!)

UPDATE:  Here is a link to the the interview.


RossK said...

"It's all in finding the right balance," the Moustache kept saying over and over again when the contradictions of many, many different flights of fancy were pointed out over and over and over again.


Could the 'right balance' be the new centrism?


runst said...

Everybody take a drink!

Speaking as a furrener, I have to say that the US media does seem uniquely awful by the standards of most democratic countries. Even British tabloid journalists, for all their despicable methods, don't shy away from asking tough questions of the rich and powerful (when they're not busy writing about celebrity nipple slips, of course). No wonder Andrew Sullivan fled the country of his birth.

Anonymous said...

Last time I heard Kim Hill she got pwned by John Pilger, but this one redeems her in my eyes. Nice one. I wish I could earn as much as Mr. Friedman for waffling and contradicting myself repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

Behold the contrast when a real journalist collides with a corporatist PR bullshit machine.

HitandMiss said...

Can I trade my H/T in for the correct version of my name?


Anonymous said...

Love this Mustachism at about 17:30. Interviewer points out that we are being asked to save, save, save, but if we all save it will only further depress our economy, which is based on consumer spending.

TF: It's a matter of balance. Maybe if we all saved, the banks would have more money to lend.

(Quick, someone call the Nobel Economics prize committee!)

Lush Rimbaud said...

"Why are you so defensive about being rich?" Good questions and follow-ups from Ms. Hill. So refreshing when compared to mainstream media in the U.S.

Noticed an annoying verbal tic from Tommy. He drops the word "OK?" often, mid-sentence, when his brains needs a moment to collect itself. And he goes Romney-breathless once in a while, too. Fun!

Anonymous said...

This woman clearly doesn't know her place. She made it sound as if he didn't have slightest idea what he was talking about. She needs to learn from Charlie Rose how to conduct a proper interview.


For those who are stuck with stone age technology like me, the mp3 is available here:

n1ck said...

Tom Friedman is a very well-paid shill.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

23 minute mark:
"It's not a term i use so I don't even know what it is. Neoliberalism is not a term i use, so I don't even really know what you're talking about"

Kind of sums up Tommy boy right there. If it's not something he made up as part of his fantasy world, he has no understanding of it and cannot acknowledge it.

blackdaug said...

"We", "Okay?", "Values"....Why cant you people get it?
Let me put it this way...Okay? "We" "Okay?", "Values"
...understand now?
I guess that was a phone interview, or I would have expected that women to just start choking him at some point....

Anonymous said...

My, my it's against the rules, per T.F., to point out that he's rich--"that's personal"--never mind the fact that his wealth might have something to do with the policies of "sacrifice" he's trying to foist off on us, the Littlepeople.

Amazing how feudal this supposed democracy has become--one is not supposed to point that out our betters-the rich--might be acting in their own interests when they demand a shredding of the safety net. The consequences of which they'll never feel, of course.

Tengrain said...

I know it was only 40-something minutes, but it felt like a Friedman Unit.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing - that was a thing of beauty. And totally worth sitting through it all, to the beshitting near the end.

Tengrain: You rock.

(..side Q: Was it just me, or did anyone else picture Judy Dench doing that interview? That was her voice, I would swear.)

-Mike from CA

RockDots said...

Wow, I need a cigarette after that! And, I have never smoked. "Smoking" is not even in my vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

Freaky. Kim Hill does look almost exactly like Judy Dench. Clones!

marindenver said...

Haha! He just craps all over the place over how much tax he should pay and then "why do you think that discussing what you've written is an attack on you?"

And "why are you so defensive about being rich?"

Gawd I so want to adopt her.

KJG52 said...

Thank you for this delightful trimming of the "Moustache of proper values," listening to this interview was a delight. It is clear that Friedman isn't up to the task of debating someone who has actually read his book in a global context that doesn't conform to "the Moustache's" utopian nonsense. Policy created "globalism," not technology, and the neoliberal politics and economics that Friedman has and continues to advocate. His polemics are showing eg your either with him or you're advocating North Korean style command economics and totalitarian "communism," it is absurd.

As the world burns, here stands the "Moustache" astride the halls of power and wealth, spritzing us with his seltzer bottle filled with the cooling water of "balance" and "values." I am so relieved....

dara said...

i'm an idiot, but i can't see a link to the interview. enlighten me?

Mr. Wonderful said...

I haven't read his books, but listening to the interview, I keep thinking, "This is the same old Popular Mechanics-for-English-majors 'futurism' we got in Future Shock and Megatrends." I.e., glib gee-whiz descriptions of new technology coupled with thumb-sucking platitudes about "us."

"People can trade stocks on their cell phones!" Uh-huh. And soon an unemployed twenty-four year old in Sao Paulo (or St. Paul) will be able to use a 3-D printer to create his own sneakers! So he won't NEED a minimum wage!