So, you've finally had it with TV News and big media empire newspapers that exist mainly to satisfy the egos of rich plutocrats and give car dealers and real estate salesmen a place to hawk their wares.
Talk radio either puts you to sleep ("Sure, it's January Canada and your yard has two feet of snow in it, but we're going to spend the next four hours with our gardening expert, taking your calls - hello Gordie from Kapuskasing, you're on the air!") or makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with some people ("Welcome to the red, white, and blue patriot hour , I'm your host - the greatest living American - Lush Bimbo! Liebrals are stooooopid! Hurrah for Freedom! Eeeek, dusky islamomarxianarchists! I am NOT a racist, now let me tell you some "jokes" about Obama, fried chicken and watermelon! Blar-har-har! Let's take America back! Fluoridation is a homosexual plot to take America off the gold standard again and make us all have abortions and speak French! Buy my "book"! Hurrah for anyone in uniform, even the UPS guys! USA! USA!").
You are pretty much fed up with most of the editorial page gang of mealy mouthed equivocators, gasbags, faux curmudgeons, half-bright contrarians and the publisher's schoolchums telling you that "both sides do it, sure there's a problem but it's too complicated to fix and ooooh! look shiny object! Shiny Object!!!"
Yeah, I know what you mean. And I work in that industry.
There is an antidote to the inane and insane. Think of it as Our Media Not Theirs.
Look over on the sidebar, under the radio. What, you may ask, is that doohickey? What the heck is Virtually Speaking?
That doohickey is the your ticket out of the commentary ghetto of mass media bloviations.
Once upon a time, a bunch of people who went through what you are going through now, decided that since it would be very bad form and probably illegal to actually fill the Meet the Press studio from floor to ceiling with real horse manure during a broadcast, no matter how good it might feel, and so they really wanted an alternative. They wanted a talk show, just like the ones on the TV networks, but with smart, funny, interesting people willing to express an actual opinion and take part in a discussion about ideas instead of meat puppets burping up sound bites at each other. Where would they find these smart, funny, interesting people? It was a puzzlement. Then, one day, a couple of smart, funny, interesting people were doing what they usually did - reading blogs - and it dawned on them that there were lots of other smart, funny, interesting people reading and writing blogs and doing journalism on the internet or even in traditional media outside the Washington Beltway Village and hey, wouldn't it be great if you could get a few of them together to be smart, funny and interesting in real time instead of having them type everything and crosspost and link and html the life out of the discussion. Besides which, most bloggers are
attention whores who will do anything if they think it means people will listen to them always willing to work for free for a good cause.
And thus Virtually Speaking was born.
A live audience in the Second Life cartoon universe sits and watches the aforementioned smart, funny, interesting people talk to each other over the Internet, while chatting among themselves and sending in questions. Other people listen to the show broadcast live over the Internet on Blogtalk Radio and some of them call in with questions or comments on the telephone. Still more people download the recorded shows as podcasts or listen to them on the Virtually Speaking webpage. And it doesn't cost anything and Rupert Murdoch, Conrad Black, Pierre Karl Peladeau and Richard Melon Scaife don't make a single cent off of it.
And those smart, funny, interesting people - just who are they anyways? Well, a partial list would include:
And it was good. Everybody had fun, issues were discussed and snark was shared. The Second Life thing is admittedly a bit geeky, but so what? As some of you may know, my secret shame is that I am one of "those people" who spend perfectly good free time I could be spending shopping, golfing, reading Ayn Rand, or hammering roofing nails into my forehead hanging out with a bunch of weirdos from around the world in cartoon form in my little virtual tree fort, known to the hip comrades and cool cadres of the Second Life Marxist-Lennonist Party as the Red Zeppelin.
In fact, the Red Zeppelin has been the official home of the post shop wrap party on Sundays for the better part of a year now, which means that list of smart, funny, interesting people sometimes even come by and hang out after the show and see what the cartooniverse is all about. I play music, blather a tiny bit and then we all go catch a movie off YouTube and generally make a night of it. We have fun and I've made lots of friends -- but I digress.
Why am I carrying on so about Virtually Speaking? I mean, sure, it's a great, free, progressive forum where smart people talk about important stuff in insightful ways and all, but so what, right? They are mostly Americans, talking about American politics, which, while it is my favorite spectator sport and has a huge influence on us over here on the mouse's side of the bed, doesn't have the same immediate influence on our lives as our own politics has. We muddle along with the CBC and Globe and Mail and Power & Politics and The House and our own little corner of the blogosphere and we do okay, right?
But, as with Wayne Gretzky, William Shatner, socialized medicine and the Quebec Nordique, those demon Yankees couldn't just let us have anything nice for ourselves without taking it and getting their filthy paws all over it. Eventually, the brain trust at Virtually Speaking turned its collective gaze northward and decided that Canadians are really just liberal-ish Americans or something and maybe they could learn something from a country that was a lot like theirs, but with government health care and a lot fewer handguns. And so they decided they needed a Canadian edition in the burgeoning line up of Virtually Speaking shows.
Remember those smart, funny, interesting people? Well, I guess they ran out of them. Everyone always said I had a great face for radio, so they've asked me to host a show.
To which I could only respond "Vive la revolution de sirop d'erable!" which confused them considerably since they want the show done in "American, not whatever they speak in Europe"
The first episode of Virtually Speaking Sundays:Maple Syrup Edition will be Feb. 20. Stay tuned for further details.
I know, I know...but by the time they figure it out it will be too late. I figure the first episode will be about whether to ban the polar bear hunt in Toronto.