The News

1970, my father’s absence and the news. That made me who I am. My little brother and I we watched the news. Sesame Street was fine for other kids. But our dad was in Vietnam so we watched the news. Everything I’ve ever done since that time came out of that. Fascination with other people, other places, with history, which is just news about what happened 1,000 years ago instead of yesterday or 10 minutes ago, learning foreign languages, the journeys to Europe and Latin America. I’ve been in Wales, Scotland, England, Latvia, Guatemala. I’ve crossed the English Chanel to Oostende, I’ve seen the canals in Bruges, the radio tower in The Hague, the Prado, a divided Berlin, crossing guards, lived with Gypsies, junkies and anarchists. I didn’t do any of that for “experience.” I never traveled for pleasure. I didn’t read for the sake of imagination. In 1970 I watched the news to try to keep track of my father. My life, the life of this little seven year old kid, even then I knew that my life was dependent on what happened Out There. If I didn’t keep track of it I’d be lost, my father would be killed, he’d come home in a casket. It was a way of minimizing how much of my life I let others live. My personal life was not separate from the life of my nation, not separate from what was going on in the world. What evil fools did in DC and incomprehensible enemies in black pajamas did in jungles halfway around the world – these things and my new shoes and learning the alphabet and going camping, these things were all the same thing.

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