We at the Orlando Weekly have a commitment to this community.
Wait, let me try that again. And this time, I promise I won't laugh so hard that the gum falls out of my mouth. Take two.
We at the Orlando Weekly have a commitment to using our press credentials to get free things. But we're not such jaded creeps that we keep the fun stuff to ourselves. That's why we urge you to drop whatever you're doing and watch News Channel 13, 24-hour local news. If surprise and laughter are healthful, this thing is an enema from Lourdes.
Fox was running one of those "America's Funniest Lethal Car Chases," things which I watch like someone in the day room in "Cuckoo's Nest." But then Larry called. I was used to his calls urging me to "turn to Channel 13." Larry is obsessed with local news. It's not that his life's empty. He's just so out to lunch that for him, new is escapist.
I was, however, not prepared for this call. It did not say, "They voted the penny tax down, and now they're going to use the homes of 'Ax the Tax' people for classrooms." This one said, "You have to turn on Channel 13. They just showed a baby pooping on TV." I said, "Why?" and he said, "Because it was green."
Now, Larry is given to embellishment. He swears there is a reporter on this channel called Ted Nipple who does restaurant reviews of McDonald's. But it he was telling the truth, I thought, this would be better than a live public execution. Could it be true that Central Florida is so bereft of events newsworthy and cultural that they had stooped to an on-camera diaper inspection in only their fifth day on the air? So I watched, waiting to see if Larry was a liar, and getting acquainted with news that's all local, all the time.
The story about the Terry Nichols trail negated the "All local" premise right at the starting gate, but no matter. I'm not picky; I hang around with Larry. We watched coverage of a kidnapping, a bank robbery and two little girls who won the Oscar Mayer talent search. Most people would have switched back to "Swarms!," but I was promised a stinking baby, so I kept watching. Then came a story about roaches. Apparently they are a problem here in Florida. We were treated to close-ups and told that if we cleaned the house, it would help. Move over, Ted Koppel. This non-story has appeared every single time I've flipped on Channel 13 in the past 24 hours.
None of the stories on Channel 13 were what you'd call ground-breaking -- home-schooling, massage therapy for dogs -- just vanilla stuff and nothing that moved or engaged me as a local resident. But then, as we are forever reminded, this is a product of The Orlando Sentinel, which you can count on for a good read each time the Hale-Bopp comet makes an appearance. (They do have some good writers, but apparently they pay them not to write anything good, kind of like how the government pays farmers in Kansas not to grow wheat. I know. I don't get it either.) When Channel 13 did have an interesting story, about whether banks or credit unions were a better deal, a worthy consumer topic, who did the interview? Give up? Employees of the Sentinel credit union. Well, you don't really want to reach so far into the community that you get it on your elbows, right?
Finally, after several hours of checking in on the broadcast, the moment arrived. Larry did not lie. Channel 13 did air a story about breast-feeding, how it's good for babies, that breast milk goes right through them and as we got to see in living color, ends up in their diapers looking a lot like pesto sauce.
As far as I'm concerned, all newborns look like something that Renny Harlin thought up. They're jittery and underdone and they freak me out. So newborn footage was more than enough for me. But then they had to go and display whatever creamed spinach the poor little snoochie had deposited in its didy. You know, you should probably turn that channel on right now, because there's probably another baby in town soiling itself and you want to be part of it. Don't you?
Yeah, me neither, Why don't they really get to the heart of the community issues and show someone changing an old person's diaper, or how those Early Bird specials affect your flow? Now that's a Central Florida story. And if they're going to show the clean asses of some attractive grownups, shouldn't they? How did the dirty butts of infants come to be more "natural" and therefore acceptable than, say, sex, and why not show some of the latter on the news? That's edutainment.
Well, as Larry put it, "I can't believe I'm paying Time-Warner cable $51 a month to see this crap on TV." Many people have uttered this same phrase, but until now no one has meant it literally.