watching the horror in Boston

April 15 came around and I had already taken care of my tax burden, so I determined to tend to long neglected house keeping and to cobble some order on my financial records. But the dreary light of a day  that drizzled on and off, and nothing of interest in my kitchen, gave me the overwhelming excuse I hoped for to grab the sketchbook and head to a local eatery and bar. I began the drawing by trying to quickly capture two young women eating with impatient mission and surround them with some scale references before they scurried back to whatever was hurrying them through the meal I was trying my best to prolong.

I had just finished the pony-tailed woman in baseball cap and was working on the row of beer taps when events on the TV over the bar took our attention as the city of Boston repeatedly exploded knocking an old runner to the ground with each rising forkful of food. The Fox News commentary pouring out of the screen exhausted my patience, as well as the bartender’s, but a switch to the speculation and repeated decking of the same old man on MSNBC was hardly an improvement. I knew my desire to know the who,whats and why in Hell would have to wait till a lot more info came in. In the meantime I’d had it with the pundits ratings push with what my friend Tony calls the Media’s pornography of grief, and their clumsy attempts to try and make real time horror into a who done it game show.

I left and went to a coffee shop where I knew there wouldn’t be a TV. But sitting there, a joint frequented by cops & loads of students from the college just down the block, there was the erie lack of discussion about the fresh mayhem. There was still conversation about sports. But no fatal  explosions. I knew those coming and going had to be aware of it. As I’ve been documenting for years, damn near everybody is wired up to something frequently interrupted by text, e-message, Facebook feed, links, or cell phone calls. The Police in major cities went on the alert right after it happened and they share the what’s up with the barristas, keeping each other in touch with the neighborhood pulse and personal dramas. I knew they had to know. But it was as if after the events from the last time their country got rocked, they knew to wait for the other shoe to drop and the unforeseen turn of events that could balloon beyond anyone’s wildest speculation. That even after all this time and all the coverage since 9-11, the nagging suspicion hangs that we didn’t get it all. The flood of coverage overlooked something. We saw that man’s head in that convertible limo snap from the impact of something. We saw that over and over too. But the questions won’t get put to bed. This age of information has yet to lift The Veil of Maya.

sketching together

It’s now the 19th, and after a crazy 24 hours where events in Boston just went haywire, the second of the 2 principle, if only 2, suspects has been captured alive after a shoot out in a Watertown back yard where he had taken refuge in a recreational boat. Earlier in the day, I was having lunch and watching the news of the pursuit of the remaining suspect, his brother having been killed in a shoot out the previous night. The large format flat-screen TV on the wall was frantically trying to send as much info to the viewer as possible. The screen was subdivided to show the police stake out and search of Watertown, the interviewed reporter on the scene, image on the suspect from surveillance video, one panel just announcing “Breaking News…”, while streaming 3 different bars at the top and bottom of the screen covering stock market figures from the NASDAC and NYSE and the Dow Jones Ave, plus, the time, and logo for the network. I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, that they didn’t manage a panel with a rotating array of commercials. Or in lieu of that, they could have done some product placement by having the on scene reporter and whom ever they were interviewing hold bottles of pop, or detergent, or a bag of potato chips, a Gecko, some sneakers, a couple cans of beer, well, alright then, an energy drink instead of the brew. And I guess to provide the human element, the network correspondents had to repeatedly tell the audience how they were holding up, or what a frightening start they received upon hearing some bangs go off 3-4 blocks away. Well you could hear them if you didn’t have your earpiece in and you listened closely. After all, the sound did get a little muffled by the 1,500 police officers between them and the cornered suspect.

But just below all this, was the scene I drew above, of a table of diners, two youngish adult women and a trio of kids. One of the women, a cool and peppy gal sporting an enhanced and lustrous blond do, robin’s egg blue sneakers, and quite an assortment of tats, was drawing with the young lad to her right. During the entire lunch, and for the rest of the afternoon, the massive search party had temporarily lost track of the suspect. It would be another few hours before they picked up his whereabouts, outside their cordon,  thanks to an observant and inquisitive citizen. The news organizations just couldn’t cut away till some new, significant development occurred. But neither could they let go of the day trading. And the assortment of stale updates, and all the other messages such as “Updates” and “Breaking” and “Live Coverage” simultaneously crowding the screen. The experience was akin to driving down those horrible, congested strips of car dealerships, gas stations, fast food joints, and bargain furniture outlets all bristling with billboards, neon and painted signs, traffic lights, flapping pendants, large commercial sculptures of rearing cowboys and golden palominos or some cutely chubby fellow in checkered cover-alls hoisting an enormous burger.  The lazy PBS version was to just leave the camera on, no commentary, pointed in the direction of the nucleus of activity.Which, for all anyone could tell, was a three block long parking lot brimming with police, SWAT, and emergency vehicles and a display of flashing lights that would have been the envy of any major metropolitan mayor who wanted to pull out all the stops on next year’s downtown Christmas decorations. I dunno, maybe the hope is, some eagle eyed homebody glued to the tube and nervously working their way thru box after box of Cheez Puffs and pack after pack of cigarettes, would notice something of importance that the thousands present had overlooked. I mean, the bombers had just sauntered thru the crowd at the Boston Marathon but days before, right?

Watching the horror in Boston

  • April 16th, 2013
  • Posted in Drawings
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