What’s On Now

The other morning, we were talking about the election, and our son Tom brought up the testimony of Richard Clarke, the former anti-terrorism czar (why not tsar, by the way?), before the 9/11 Commission. Specifically, he mentioned how Clarke had testified that during the Clinton administration, he had a direct line to the national security advisor (Sandy Berger) and other senior officials; under Bush, he said, his communications were put in a channel through subordinates that often meant it took months for him to get a meeting with the national security chief (Condoleeza Rice) on urgent matters. So, of course I like the fact Tom, who’s a senior in high school and getting more and more engaged with the world, has the specifics of Clare’s testimony at hand. It’s interesting where he got it. The 9/11 Commission hearings are offered free on Apple’s iTunes; Tom downloaded the Clarke testimony because he likes to listen to “spoken-word stuff” when he goes to bed. Interesting. When we were kids, we listened to stuff on records and the radio when we went to bed, too; but not so much “spoken-word stuff,” and not anything like the 9/11 Commission hearings (I guess the equivalent for us would have been a recording of Daniel Ellsberg reading The Pentagon Papers.

(And while I’m talking about iTunes, just let me comment on one of their TV ads. Bono, from U2, is on screen, and he counts off the start of a song in Spanish. “Uno, dos, tres, catorce.” Yeah, that’s “one, two, three, fourteen.” Nice. Listeners have picked up on this and are discussing what it means online. One forum I found includes theories that this is a reference to a character on the old ABC series “Three’s Company”; another is that this refers to passages in the New Testament. )

2 Replies to “What’s On Now”

  1. I too preferred the spoken word when settling in for my youthful slumber. The little clock radio was tuned to KCBS — “all news, all the time.” My brother Phil went along with this because at quarter past and quarter of the hour we’d get the “Sportsline,” with all the scores. The was pre-ESPN and pre-Internet, of course, so there wasn’t really any other way to get the scores, not until the 11 o’clock news came on, and that was way past the hour when any Danko kid was up. Anyway, I was into the scores as much as Phil was, but I also found the whole thing soothing. News radio during the day can be jittery, but the nighttime show was a very relaxed and, I don’t know, personal presentation. I can’t remember the anchor’s name, but he had a deep, gentle voice and he made a lot of mistakes, none of which ever seemed to bother him. It was like having a kindly uncle tell you about what happened that day. You got the feeling it was just him, the producer (who he credited three or four times an hour, but I can’t remember his/her name either), and you. And then there were the periodic bits from the McDonald Observatory, with that really mellow reader and the tinkling star music in the background. And weather reports (how many times did I hear, “fog along the coast extending inland night and mornings, then clearing…”?) — but not so many traffic reports. I don’t think we needed traffic every 27 seconds back then. The roads were pretty quiet come 10 p.m. Spoken-word stuff. Man, that takes me back.

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