mystery snows of April
Saturday, April 23 2011
It seemed as if it rained all night. I'd wake up and hear it and then go back to sleep, only to wake up and hear it again. This morning I saw an odd pile of snow on the ground below the "mouth" of one of the house's roof valleys and thought, "Where could all that have come from." For a few minutes I entertained the idea of an exploding comet or perhaps of deicing airplane. But then I saw a similar pile of snow under the bushes below another of the house's valleys. Evidently it had snow last night and left enough of an accumulation to subsequently avalanche off the roof and persist in a soggy pile despite the rain.
Desperate for new television programming to passively consume (and television watching is sometimes the only activity I have the energy to do), I've begun watching a "reality" cinéma verité show entitled Parking Wars, which peers into the stressful lives of meter maids, the teams that put boots on cars, and the people staffing impound lots. You would think that such work would be soul crushing, what without all the displeasure hurled at people in those professions, but the show is actually surprisingly uplifting. These people like their jobs and none of them seem to be assholes. Best of all, it's really just an excuse to tool around in random urban neighborhoods (so far, only in Detroit and Philadelphia). I'd thought it would be television equivalent of cheese doodles, but it's more substantial than that. My main complaint with the show is the dorky nature of the production, which leans heavily on dubbed-in sound effects and goofy graphics to accent things that are either said or done. A ticket writer leers a little too long at an attractive woman, and romantic music swells. Someone cleans something and sparkles are graphically layered over the footage.
Two additional observations about Parking Wars: what did booting crews do before ubiquitous urban wireless digital communications and license plate OCR? You see large central databases being queried in real time to find scofflaws and you realize how far we've come as a Big Brother society in the last, say, ten years.
The other observation is about something I'll call bureaucratic porn. In the scenes focusing on the travails of "customers" at the impound lots, the camera seems to revel in the sheer baroqueness of Kafkaesque experiences. The more hurdles to jump, the better. It's hell for those on the television, but somehow it makes for compelling television because of how happy we are that it's not us. Perhaps this alone is what makes Kafka himself so compelling.
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