Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Man, A Plane, Valparaiso

From Wikipedia

"Valparaiso is Don DeLillo's second play, in which a man suddenly becomes famous following a mistake in the itinerary of an ordinary business trip which takes him toValparaíso, Chile, instead of Valparaiso, Indiana.... The central character, Michael Majeski, tries desperately to establish his own identity by throwing himself under the spotlight of celebrity. The piece is composed entirely of interviews, for a range of different media, and culminates in the protagonist committing assisted suicide with a microphone lead on a TV talk show."

From CNN today:

"Imagine boarding your next flight and having the entire           cabin to yourself.
In this age of overstuffed planes, where we squeeze our bodies into cramped seats and jockey for overhead bin space, it sounds like a dream -- one that would never happen.
But it did -- sort of -- on Monday for a man who boarded a long-delayed Delta Airlines flight from Cleveland to New York to find that all his fellow passengers had been rebooked on other flights.
The man, Chris O'Leary of New York City, did what most of us would probably do. He chose an aisle seat near the front of the plane and stretched out. He chuckled at the absurdity of his situation. And he got a flight attendant to snap pictures of him, with rows of empty seats in the background.
Then he began tweeting.
    "They rebooked everyone but me on another flight to LGA, so I am literally the only person on this plane," he posted.
    "No, I'm not joking," he tweeted a few minutes later. "I'm the only one on this plane."
    "It was definitely the most memorable flight I've been on in recent memory if only for the sheer lack of passengers to become bothersome," he told ABC News. "There were no screaming babies, no one listening to loud lyrics or reclining their seats or taking off their shoes."

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Hammer and Sickle

    So in DeLillo's 2010 story, "Hammer and Sickle," white-collar inmates regularly sit around the prison TV to watch a surreal news broadcast in which little girls report in sky-is-falling fashion on the financial meltdown:

    “All of Europe is looking south. What do they see?”

    “They see Greece.”

    “They see fiscal instability, enormous debt burden, possible default.”

    “Crisis is a Greek word.”

    “Is Greece hiding its public debt?”

    “Is the crisis spreading at lightning speed to the rest of the southern tier, to the eurozone in general, to emerging markets everywhere?”

    “Does Greece need a bailout?”

    “Will Greece abandon the euro?”

    “Did Greece hide the nature of its debt?”

    “What is Wall Street’s role in this critical matter?”

    “What is a credit-default swap? What is a sovereign default? What is a special-purpose entity?”

    “We don’t know. Do you know? Do you care?”

    “What is Wall Street? Who is Wall Street?”

    Tense laughter from pockets in the audience.

    “Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy.”

    “Stocks plunge worldwide.”

    “The Dow, the NASDAQ, the euro, the pound.”

    “But where are the walkouts, the work stoppages, the job actions?”

    “Look at Greece. Look in the streets.”

    “Riots, strikes, protests, pickets.”

    “All of Europe is looking at Greece.”

    “Chaos is a Greek word.”

    “Canceled flights, burning flags, stones flying this way, tear gas sailing that way.”

    “Workers are angry. Workers are marching.”

    “Blame the worker. Bury the worker.”

    “Freeze their pay. Increase their tax.”

    “Steal from the worker. Screw the worker.”

    “Any day now, wait and see.”

    “New flags, new banners.”

    “Hammer and sickle.”

    “Hammer and sickle.”

    In the real world in 2011, we find a popular television ad campaign made up of commercials like this one:

    Friday, March 11, 2011

    Swanee, Rhine, Same Difference

    In Running Dog, rare and valuable footage of Hitler ultimately shows the Führer doing a Charlie Chaplin impression. In the real world we get this.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Emergency simulation in R.I.

    The Providence Journal on a simulated catastrophe scheduled for this past Saturday:

    "They’re going to have a train in the yard to act as the actual incident,” said Peter T. Gaynor, director of the Providence Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security.

    The scenario calls for 130 volunteers to manage the activities and to serve as “victims” — 85 injured and 15 dead — who will appear with realistic wounds and as relatives of “victims” seeking their loved ones. Officials will set off at least one smoke bomb to simulate a fire in the “wreck” that was caused when a train struck a piece of Amtrak maintenance equipment and was “derailed.”

    “We want to make it as real as possible,” Gaynor said.

    Sunday, September 20, 2009

    Agneta, Berit, and the busker

    Found this one in the AP a while back:

    Outside the New York Stock Exchange hundreds of tourists joined police, TV crews, school children, hot dog vendors, and a white-bearded busker playing "Amazing Grace" on the flute.

    Swedish visitor Agneta Blomgren, 43, photographed her mother Berit outside the exchange. An electronic board displaying plunging share prices provided the backdrop.

    "We wanted to come and see it," Blomgren said. "The Americans aren't world leaders any more. It's time for a shift and this is the symptom of that. Power is shifting away -- perhaps to China."

    The Chinese were there too.

    "lucrative radioactive disposal scheme"

    So should this blog be so inside that I don't have to explicitly spell out the DeLillo references? I'll weigh all comments on this. Here goes post number 1:

    Italian mafia 'sunk toxic waste'

    Italian authorities have begun investigating a shipwreck allegedly containing toxic waste off the Calabrian coast, after claims it was deliberately sunk by the mafia.

    A former member of the criminal organisation says the vessel and its cargo were blown up in a lucrative radioactive disposal scheme and that the ship contained "nuclear" material.

    Investigators have obtained pictures from a robot submarine with a video camera taken at the scene and are now examining samples taken from the wreck.

    The Cunsky ship may be one of 32 vessels with toxic material on the Italian seabed, prosecutors said.

    Mafia informant

    Officials said Francesco Fonti, a former member of Calabria's 'Ndrangheta crime group, had disclosed the location of the ship to authorities.

    Fonti said he used explosives to sink the vessel, along with two others.

    Silvestro Greco, the head of Calabria's environment agency, said: "If the turncoat who admits sinking this ship also says that he personally has sunk another two ships, even without taking into account other investigations that suggest more than 20 ships were sunk, the government must find these other two ships."

    Al Jazeera's Claudio Lavanga said investigators believe the mafia began sinking ships when the European Union introduced wider restrictions on toxic waste disposal.

    Lavanga said the restrictions have made the process of waste disposal expensive and lengthy.

    Sebastiano Venneri, vice president of the environmental group Legambiente, said former members of the 'Ndrangheta mafia have said that the crime syndicate had been paid to sink ships with radioactive material for the last 20 years.

    Somehow "Cunsky" works, too.