Three Things

Three Things

Three Things. A short little shared meditation about three very different moments in the week that have a similar resonance.

Monday : Breaking News

We were in the car listening to the kids favorite podcast, when Brontë shouted, “Mom! I’ve never seen a newspaper for real life!” 

I nearly tapped my foot on the brake when I realized she was right. Our newspaper subscriptions are all digital. She understands newspapers as props in tv shows, not something that exists in her life. She’s never had the newspaper ink smudge on her fingers. She’s never dropped the middle out of a newspaper, then tried to piece it back together. She’s never laid on her stomach as she tried to decipher the meaning of workplace comics.

When I was a kid, I went to a traveling exhibit about the Titanic. Towards the end of the exhibit, there was a collection of newspapers with front page stories about the sinking of the ship. Looking at the yellowing newsprint under glass felt like looking at pages of a historical record that kept moving forward. After the exhibit, I started collecting front pages of newspapers on days I thought held some significance, placing each neatly in a box in my closet. The Northridge Earthquake. The O.J. Simpson verdict. Election results. Clinton’s impeachment. The newspaper that came out the day after 9/11. I was just doing my part in helping to keep the record safe. Someday a museum curator would be grateful.

I stopped collecting newspapers before I left high school. Maybe because I could find everything on the internet. But I think mostly it had to do with something harder for me to define at the time. I had a box full of front page news, but nothing ever seemed to progress. It didn’t feel like a record worth keeping. 

Wednesday: Run Mad As Often As You Choose, But Do Not Cheat

I made a playlist with the help of homeculture’s paid subscribers. These collaborative projects are becoming one of my favorite parts of this space. This time we pooled our knowledge of cheating songs. It turned into the best darn cheating playlist this side of the Mississippi. The playlist was a soundtrack for this week’s newsletter, Sex, Lies and Wife Guys. It was pretty raw to write. I know for lots of readers it’s been a fairly raw read. Including music felt like a balm. I included the Apple version playlist in the piece. Here’s a Spotify version. 

76 songs from the 20th and 21st century. Over four hours of music. Every single song is about the same thing, but every single one hits a different chord. Maybe the human condition is supposed to play on repeat until there’s no song left unwritten. 

Saturday : A Bridge Too Far

War has been blowing up and dismantling bridges for as long as we’ve been able to build them. On Saturday, Ukrainian forces bombed the Kerch Strait Bridge. The bridge was built after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014. It was supposed to be an artery connecting an unwilling Crimea to Russia’s beating heart. In The Atlantic, Eliot Cohen wrote the attack,

“…struck a prime symbol of the project of Russian imperial restoration, an expensive structure designed to link a Crimea reincorporated into Russia with the motherland. It damaged a crucial supply route. It showed that Ukraine could reach deep behind Russian lines to hit, with exquisite precision, a key and extremely well-defended target. It was, above all, a personal as well as a national humiliation: This was Vladimir Putin’s pet construction project, and it was the most unwelcome gift possible on his 70th birthday.”

I watched Bridge Over the River Kwai once when I was in middle school. It’s based on Pierre Boulle’s novel. He wrote the book after enduring two years of forced labor on the Death Railway, a Japanese WWII project that killed at least 100,000 of the people forced to build it. The movie is about prisoners of war building a bridge for a fictionalized version of that railroad. It was made in 1957. I am sure it shows its age now. I haven’t been able to watch it since that first viewing because it was so upsetting. The bridge is blown up at the end, but only after the depravity of so many men has been methodically unspooled. 

We talk about bridge building like it’s a good thing, but maybe it’s bridge burning that’s the virtue.