Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lurid Normality

So what am I supposed to write about today? I’ve been told by some of my fellow bloggers that blogging is supposed to be a pleasure – something we do for the love of it. Maybe it is for them, but for me writing is a constant struggle – at least until the words start flowing. (After the editor screen is no longer empty, the words do flow, a little; but then comes the dreaded moment when I’ve got to go back and read all that I’ve written. Horrors! Typos! Clumsy phrasing! Split infinitives! Yuck!) But my public awaits – all seventeen of them – and so write I must. So what am I supposed to write about today? Iranian nukes? Bit of a gloomy topic, that, not to mention that everyone else is writing about it already. Worse, it’s all about the future: will they, won’t they, will we, won’t we, what if, when? – which means that I’d be forced to hedge shamelessly, or else I’d probably get my predictions wrong and then feel honor-bound to issue a groveling apology from the smoking crater left after the Iranians nuked my office despite my prediction that they really just wanted to help reduce global carbon dioxide levels so the Twelfth Imam wouldn’t get all sweaty when he returned from wherever he’s been for 1100 years. Israeli Politics? Yeah, right, like you really want to read yet another essay on Israeli politics. Sure, I could write one; I’ve even got some ideas in mind. Like the one about how ironic it is when Israeli politicians (whose names I won’t mention, but whose initials are Binyamin Netanyahu) try to get us all hysterical about the prospect that ARIEL SHARON WILL DIVIDE JERUSALEM, presumably by jettisoning neighborhoods that the aforementioned nameless Bibis would never enter without a whole passel of even more anonymous security guards. Next time, maybe. Terrorism? Fairly decent topic, except that every time I write about why we haven’t had a lot of attacks lately some maniac carries out an attack just to make me look bad. So far we’ve had “only” 52 or so Israelis killed by terrorists this year, compared to over 450 Israelis killed in traffic accidents; I strongly suspect that this is because I haven’t written more than a couple of optimistic blog posts on the subject. So what am I supposed to write about today? I know – I’ll check the “papers” and see what looks interesting… I’ve got it! I’ll write about dead bodies! There are at least three or four stories today about deaths due to stuff other than terrorism and traffic. I’m not sure if that qualifies as a plethora (the standards for which have never, to my knowledge, been precisely defined); but it surely qualifies as a plethorette at the very least. First, we’ve got Yonatan Alzam (or Elzam, depending on which paper you read): a 22-year-old star prosecution witness in an underworld murder trial, being held in solitary confinement for his own part in the murder (and for his own protection) who suddenly began gurgling, twisting, and choking just after midnight and was pronounced dead an hour or so later. There were no signs of violence, and Alzam was not known to use drugs; on the other hand, he was evidently feeling a great deal of pressure and fear about testifying. His family tried to prevent having an autopsy performed, but the courts have sided with the police; after all, 22-year-olds don’t normally die in a closed prison cell the night before they’re due on the witness stand. This one’s going to be interesting: we may have a classic locked-room murder on our hands. Of course, it may be that Yoni just choked in the clutch. * * * The next story (in the Jerusalem Post) has a headline that I simply love: “Police: Bodies found are train wreck survivors”. Stop for a second. Read the headline again. Think about it. It’s almost a shame to read the article and find out what it’s all about, isn’t it? After reading the accounts in the Post – and in another English-language Israeli newspaper which my Post-masters wouldn’t want me to mention by name – I’m not sure that I’m all that much smarter than I was before. An 82-year-old woman was seriously injured when a train ran into a car that had been deliberately left on the tracks; two other people – her son and daughter, according to That Other Newspaper – climbed an electric pole 150 meters away, and either fell, jumped, or were electrocuted. Perhaps it was a triple suicide attempt, or perhaps it was a murder-suicide attempt. More details will no doubt become available, but I don’t expect anything to measure up to that headline. * * * There were some additional stories of stabbings and such – nothing all that interesting, really, just grubby and fatal stuff combined with a little grubby and not-quite-fatal stuff. What’s the point of writing about such grim events? These stories are certainly a bit (or more than a bit) lurid; although, now that I think of it, so are Israeli politics and the prospects of a nuclear Iran. Still, there’s something vaguely reassuring about seeing stories like these on the front page – perhaps because of what isn’t on the front page instead. If life has gotten close enough to normal in Israel that sordid stories like these are big news, I suppose things here aren’t too awfully bad. Or maybe I’m just an old New Yorker who doesn’t feel completely comfortable without a few murders in the neighborhood.


At Wed Dec 14, 07:10:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Neo said...

Don -Don't take it all so seriously. It's only life after all, right? Let your mind flow, and the words will follow.


- Neo

At Wed Dec 14, 07:13:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Don Radlauer said...

I dunno, Neo - when I let my mind flow, strange things come out... like this post!

At Fri Dec 16, 01:36:00 PM GMT+2, Blogger Imshin said...

Did you notice the family in the train track suicide thing were actually Olim from the US?


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