October 31, 2012

-image-13 years

Egypt Air 990, October 31, 1999.

RIP Aunt Mary and Uncle Bob.

Evil does exist. No one can convince me otherwise.

October 31, 2010

-image-11 years

Since Eg*pt Air 990.

Rest in peace, Aunt M and Uncle B.

October 31, 2009

-image-ten years

Since they were killed.

Rest in peace, Aunt M and Uncle B.

Eg*pt Air 990, October 31, 1999.

June 28, 2009

-image-michael jackson and appropriation

So Michael Jackson has died and that’s all very sad, of course, but now the circus has begun in earnest. The frenzy of mourning. The collective “falling over ourselves to get all of the misery right,” to quote “Evita.”

I mean, random people are now posting YouTube videos of themselves weeping over Jackson’s death while his music plays in the background, for God’s sake.

Honestly, I find it ridiculous, the narcissism there, the appropriation involved, strangers making Jackson’s death about them.

When it’s not. It’s just not.

I remember the day of my aunt and uncle’s memorial, a week after they were killed on Egypt Air 990 in 1999. Family and friends gathered at a nearby church — along with reporters and cameramen from every TV station in town, big, small, and medium. It was titillating, oh, yes, it was, this “local connection to the Egypt Air crash.” And it was total mayhem. A circus. My cousins were sobbing and frightened by the reporters. Cameras were set up across every inch of the back of that church. There was crazy jostling for position, for the best shot. MB, shooting footage for the family with his own professional video camera, was bombarded by media who thought he was “one of them.” Once they saw him talking to us, it began in earnest:

“Hey man, do you know the family?”

“Can you get me close to the family?”

“Can we talk to the family?”

Literally, there were more of them than there were of us. A mob of media. Just a tad menacing, you know? And God bless him, MB stood a stubborn sentinel for the rest of us, his shattered family. NO ONE got past that man. There we were, this broken little clan, huddled in a corner trying to keep our wits about us, trying not to be ripped apart, at the memorial service of our OWN family members. The media basically chased us into the shadows and forced us into hiding, before the service had even started. Our private grief was cheapened because the public insisted on sharing. It was total insanity and a violation of something sacred.

And, no, it wasn’t the same kind of situation that Jackson’s death is. It wasn’t the death of a worldwide icon — no, it was an unacknowledged terrorist action, you know, whatevs — but, still, some of it echoes with me right now, watching the current feeding frenzy.

Every story of public tragedy becomes an act of appropriation to some extent. People crave a piece of it, there must be “a local connection,” however flimsy, the insatiable beast of curiosity must be fed. And in the process, precious private things are wrangled away from their rightful owners and tossed to the crowd, who gobble them up unthinking.

People seem to forget a basic lesson from childhood:

There’s what belongs to you and what doesn’t.

For me, as a member of the general public, feeling sadness and shock over Jackson’s death is appropriate, I suppose. That level of reaction “belongs” to us, all strangers to Michael Jackson. (And, honestly, I’m more sad than shocked. I mean, did anyone envision that man living to a ripe old adulthood? Really?) So I’m “sad,” yes, but in an oblique, distant sense.

I didn’t know Michael Jackson.

These other public reactions I’m seeing, the weeping, the wailing, the sobbing — are, I’m sorry, inappropriate. Weeping and wailing belong to his family and friends. People who actually knew him. Because, let’s be honest, how much of Michael Jackson have any of us really lost? Nothing. I have no less Michael Jackson in my life than I had four days ago and neither does anyone else in the general public. We had his music when he was alive — I worked out to it, as a matter of fact, the day before he died — and we still have his music. We’ve lost nothing more of Michael Jackson than we ever had to begin with. Our personal lives are not affected by his loss. I’m not trying to be callous; I just wish the great sobbing masses could have a more measured response. (Which is a really stupid, Trace. I laugh at you.) What have you lost? What have you lost? The hope of meeting him someday? Not likely. The man was a recluse. A chance to see him in his final concert tour this summer? Well, I guess that’s a loss, but it’s not a weeping-and-wailing loss. Get your money back. Enough with the wailing. Please.

Don’t appropriate grief that doesn’t belong to you.

Again, there’s what belongs to you and what doesn’t and shrieking grief over Michael Jackson’s death does not belong to you.

I’d rather people be honest enough to name what the maudlin spectacle is really all about: Fear. Fear for yourself. If an untouchable icon — a megastar — can fall so suddenly, what does that mean for me, a mere earthbound mortal?

Honestly, I don’t think people are crying for Michael Jackson — at the core of this. No, at the core of this we all feel a little more vulnerable. When might our number be up? We freak out when our icons die because we feel small compared to them so why, we wonder, have we so far been spared?

Well, why, indeed? I’m pretty sure it’s not so you can sob into your hands on YouTube while “Man in the Mirror” plays in the background.

So stop it.

I know I sound irritated and I guess I am. It’s bringing back things I’d rather not think about right now.

Honestly, there’s what belongs to you and what doesn’t belong to you and, oh, how I wish more people understood the difference.

Genuine grief belongs to the people who have truly lost Michael Jackson, family, friends, whose personal lives will forever be altered.

Leave it to them.

May 1, 2009

-image-courtesy still counts

This is an ongoing problem that I have on this blog, sadly. A lack of courtesy. Never from my regular peeps, never you guys, but frequently from new readers who demand this or that password to a password-protected post. I don’t get it. I don’t understand emailing me — for the very first time, now — and abandoning all basic societal niceties like “please” and “thank you” and “you’re obviously a genius, Tracey” and acting as if you’re entitled to a given password.

To the man who emailed me demanding the password for this Eg*pt Air 990 post saying you “NEEDED more details about what really happened to the people on that flight” and that you “NEEDED to hear about it all from a family member’s point of view”: Uhm, I don’t think so. Not unless you apologize for being rude and insensitive. I don’t understand approaching me that way, just from a courtesy standpoint, and, beyond that, I really don’t understand approaching me that way on this particular subject. I’m a funny, old-fashioned girl that way, I guess. I like men to be gentlemanly. Be decent. Think about how you’re coming across. That’s all I’m saying here. And not even a please or a thank you? Methinks no. Really really NO. This is all the response you’ll get from me. Sorry to make you a public example, but your behavior demands it.

The post is password-protected for very good reasons that my regular readers are well aware of. I’m not opposed to giving passwords to people — as long as they’re not family or people I know in “real” life — but being rude and callous in the way you ask doesn’t exactly make me want to give it up. The post is highly personal. Vulnerable. If you’re interested in the post just to be a voyeur, just to be titillated by the horror of it all, you can forget it.

I had loved ones murdered on that flight — I’m touchy about it — so acting all cavalier when asking me for the password doesn’t exactly bewitch me. Okay, Slappy?

“What really happened to the people on that flight”? Uhm, they were terrorized and terrified and then they died horrible deaths.

They were murdered.

That’s what happened, all right?

Avail yourself of Google if you need more information.

October 31, 2006

-image-Protected: howl and hush

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November 4, 2005

-image-I know I keep saying this

but my E*ypt Air post has ahold of me like some snarling pit bull and won’t let me go. It’s going to be very long and very personal and I’m not going to look very good in parts of it. I’m exorcising some demons with this one and, well, didn’t Joey say I needed deliverance?

But I’m almost afraid to post it when it’s finally done — mostly because people may read it and say “Is that all? Is that what she was freaking out about? THIS is exorcising demons? Wow.” My words for this post are so puny and my memories have been so carefully repressed and it’s just so damn frustrating.

But it won’t let me NOT write it. For WHATEVER it’s worth. I have no idea.

I’m sorry that I have nothing else right now — if anybody’s still there!

October 31, 2005

-image-october 31st, 1999

E*ypt Air 990.

Rest in Peace, Aunt M and Uncle B.

October 21, 2005

-image-the thing that’s buried

It’s awful and surreal, really, to hear on the radio something having to do with my life, my family.

It’s happened more than a few times in the 6 years since my aunt and uncle were murdered on E*ypt Air Flight 990. I’ll be flipping the dial around, absentmindedly, and something will catch my ear and the host will be talking about IT.

Well, it happened again today.

And I’m always angry and irrational when I hear it. And I’m always sure, for a split second, that the host is not talking about it. Then my hearing focuses and the breath goes out of me and I want to pick up the phone and call that host and tell him to “shut up, SHUT UP!”

It doesn’t matter what is being said, really; my reaction is the same, every time.

Just don’t talk about it. Don’t talk about it in that blithe, passing sort of way. You don’t know. YOU DON’T KNOW. YOU HAVEN’T EARNED THE RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT IT IN THAT BLITHE, PASSING SORT OF WAY!

Because, I’d tell him, my family doesn’t even talk about it.

No. It is the thing that is not discussed. It is the thing that is buried and frozen and silent and ruinous. My dad cannot speak of his sister, not anymore. Still, there is that lingering shadow of terror. Still.

So when I hear random radio voices casually analyze the thing that makes my family horrified and mute, I admit, I become a little unhinged. Still.

I’m sorry this is a rambling mess. I just really do get unhinged.

October 27, 2004

-image-Protected: a personal story of terrorism — and election 2004

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