03
Jul
08

Hostage

One of Jeff’s hobbies, when he comes home from work, is pointing out all the news I missed that day, which usually is a lot. Actually, it’s not something he likes to do. He’s usually exasperated that I don’t know, he being a journalist, the news being his life. But I always feel like an uninformed idiot around him.

Sometimes he tries to trick me. “Oh, Madonna had a heart attack today!” he’ll say.

“No she didn’t,” I’ll calmly reply. “And the reason I know is that I did happen to read earlier that she and Guy are denying the divorce rumors. There was nothing about a heart attack.”

Sometimes it’s feasible, and he’ll get me.

“Another pope dead? Already?”

“Oh my god! How many planes can crash in one day?”

“Why would they put a military base so close to a dog pound?”

It makes me panic. Can I really know so little about the world?

Fifteen people were rescued from six years of captivity in Colombia yesterday. It’s a huge deal. One was a Colombian presidential candidate six years ago. Three are American. You can forgive me for not knowing the particulars; a lot of people have been kidnapped in Colombia. But their release is something I should have caught.

Of course, the ridiculousness that I knew more about Madonna’s marital status was not lost on me.

I used to be a news junkie. I listened to public radio all day long, and on weekends, like it was my job. (In fact public radio was my job at one time, but that’s not what I mean.) I would read a few stories on BBC News online every day. I was never much for daily newspapers, but I would read the Sunday New York Times every week.

Now I hardly ever listen to public radio. It’s too distracting at work, and I don’t like WNYC’s evening or weekend schedule (the good shows come on too early). So thank god for podcasts.

The Sunday Times still stacks up week after week. Sometimes I make a pretense of removing the blue plastic bag. But usually it just sits there, where I’ve kicked it out of the way the previous week.

I can’t say why I lost my enthusiasm, or how, or even when. But I wish I had it back.

One saving grace: I read The Economist now. The economic analysis is a bit over my head, but it’s great to get a non-American perspective on American politics. Its international news coverage is excellent and digestible. And sometimes my favorite stories are from its science and technology section. My favorite thing about The Economist is that it is clearly a magazine, but it refers to itself as a newspaper. Very cute.

On the way home from the subway last night, I saw a lot of men crowding around storefronts and bodegas and the front widows of bars. Each time I passed I could see they were staring up at a soccer game on TV. Don’t ask me who was playing, but I live in a very South American neighborhood, and soccer is a big deal here.

Many if not most of those men were Columbian. I wonder how many of them knew about the hostage news.

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