The Casualness of Fearmongering

Carr Fire ravaging the town of Old Shasta. [Formatted]

Hey local-, state- and nation-level newsmedia fucks, Redding doesn’t “look like a warzone,” it looks like a small Northern California city that is somehow being singed (rather severely) by the typical summer fire in these parts. This is what a fire looks like—more specifically, this is what a forest fire looks like when it has been horribly mishandled.

It is certainly not okay to transmute the surprise and shock at ineffective response into increased hopelessness, confusion and disorientation. The most crucial aspect of a media outlet is to report the facts and inform the public so that they may make effective decisions to protect themselves and their families in times of crisis and otherwise. It is certainly not to release information piecemeal and maintain uncertainty; this creates a dangerous void that is filled by rampant speculation and misinformation through social media, such as Facebook.

People need to be equipped with accurate details—that which is known and that which is not known—so that they can support and protect themselves when no other support or protection exists. For these reasons and others, media must always serve the people, like the government, but function independently and even be distrustful of the government.

My hometowns are on fire and some amount of this destruction could have been prevented. To add insult to injury, many people have unnecessarily lost important possessions and pets in addition to their homes, and at least five people are now burnt to a crisp. Information that could have been available was missing at critical times, and this has resulted in more needless grief and loss.

The Truth Is Out There… Maybe!

I rarely use Craigslist, particularly the version of it that is focused on this wacky little city of Redding that I live in. There are a lot of weirdos in the world, and many of them gravitate towards community services and resources such as Craigslist. Therefore, it’s not unreasonable to expect that if you spend time on the site then you’re going to have a higher frequency of encounters with the types of people you would never choose to have anything to do with in real life.

That said, every once in a while I will find a need to purchase something off Craigslist, despite my preference not to use the site. There are times when eBay “Buy It Now” prices are too unreasonable and the classified ads in the local newspaper are not exhaustive enough, and this is when I find myself saying “Well hello again, Craigslist!” with a sarcastic grin on my face. This happened two months ago when I decided to buy a vintage piece of music equipment called a Marshall JCM800 amplifier. I actually didn’t find the version of the amplifier that I wanted, but instead found and purchased two guitars—Ol’ Betsies 04 and 05 —from gentlemen in Hercules and Burney, respectively. Both experiences were quite pleasant, so I found myself wondering if maybe Craigslist isn’t as bad as it used to be.

My optimism was short-lived, however, as today I was reminded about one of the special types of “weird” that exists in Redding.

While looking for a place to post an ad for my baseball team, one of the first headlines I found was “Bigfoot Reports Wanted.” Aha! This is the Craigslist I remember so well! The entire ad read as follows:

If you have seen anything that you believe might be a Sasquatch or Bigfoot,or if you have heard strange noises or had a strange experience. I would love to hear your story. Please email to bigfoot-reports at hotmail dot com.

Will be kept confidential

Hey… now that you mention it, I have heard strange noises before! I have also had two or three totally fucking strange experiences in my life! How is it that I never considered Bigfoot was behind it all??!

Oh yeah… that’s because Bigfoot doesn’t exist! People who believe in Bigfoot are at least silly, and possibly crazy. If we can map our galaxy without leaving the solar system and order pizza from our cell phones while hiking trails in the wilderness, surely we would have found Bigfoot by now and put him in a zoo where he belongs.

(Somewhat of a tangent here, but they should put questions like “Do you believe in Bigfoot?” on voter registration forms alongside questions like “Who was the second President of the USA?” When a person answers the former “yes” after getting the latter wrong, he or she is automatically disqualified from participating in all elections for at least four years.)

Also, I love the faux-official email address I’m now imagining some other irrational and slightly irritated guy in Oregon posting his own Bigfoot Craigslist ad with the email address (because the email address was already taken by this asshole in California). Then there would of course be the even more irritated Washington counterpart having to settle with because the two better email addresses were taken already by the assholes in California and Washington, and so on, and so forth.

As an old pal from Texas used to remind me, Northern California is Bigfoot country, and wherever Sasquatch is expected to be, people with tinfoil hats can’t be too far away!

Docile Expressions of Love, Adoration and Rebellion

This is a drawing made on butcher paper, carefully and conspicuously placed to produce an illusion of graffiti in a town that is nearly without color.