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Stateside with Rosalea: Panic Stations

Stateside with Rosalea

Panic Stations

In class the other night, we were given two sheets of coloured paper, plus black and white, and asked to illustrate "a bird or birds attacking a victim." When we put our work on the wall later, it turned out the unspoken keyword assumed by the teacher and everyone else in the class was "scary."

The word that had leapt into my mind was "pointy." Not having any scissors, I had torn the paper around the corners of the two coloured sheets and created a flock of birds in a delta formation zooming towards a little white figure transfixed to the spot by being anchored to a small black square. It looked for all the world like The Attack of the Mauve and Pink Gingko Leaves.

On the other hand, I later realised that person on the small black square could equally have been someone in a wheelchair. You want scary? There was probably nothing scarier than that news at the beginning of the week, and the threat of reprisals against the United States. Unless it is the continuing broadcast of the 9/11 testimony, with its litany of terror and error.

The 9/11 hearings won't, of course, damage the Bush administration any more than the publication of Dick Clarke's book will. Like anything else in the news, they can be given a snazzy caption and made into a nightly feature . "Blame game" is a popular tag for them, which pretty much sucks out any power they might have to effect change, relegating the hearings to just another political sideshow.

Which isn't to say they don't serve a purpose. There is nothing more corrosive to a society than the ever-present whiff of something nasty in the offing, especially if you've already had the experience of it happening. And the thought that it might manifest itself as you go about the mundane tasks of daily life makes it all the more oppressive. Keep those twin tower graphics in front of us every night, why don't you!

A local bank has captured the atmosphere here perfectly in a radio ad they've started playing. A voice reminiscent of those that advertise anti-depressants comes on and asks if you're suffering from feelings of paranoia. If anything good happens to you, do you feel you'll have to pay a price for it later? Well, this bank has free cheque accounts and no hidden fees.

It's a bit of welcome light relief in a stressful world, where the only fun news of the week was that flesh-tearing zombies toppled flesh-tearing zombies at the box office.


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