Saturday, October 3, 2009

Regrets I've Had a Few....

It wasn't a front page story, by any means, and as it turned out when it came across the news wires, it wasn't even all that new. A pamphlet drop from a helicopter in support of the then-upcoming elections in Afghanistan went horribly wrong and a box that failed to open plummeted like a stone and killed a child. I've found no account that tells me the name of the young girl or really enough about the deceased to have any sense of who she was.

She probably wasn't the only child to die that day in Afghanistan, and as grotesquely unusual as the manner of death was, I suspect it wasn't even the oddest way anyone died on that given day. The part that sticks with me is what, for me as an American, is the almost quintessential British turn of phrase, "highly regrettable" used by the Royal Air Force to describe it.

I remember the term because of other pseudo-news stories that floated around this week and got so much front lobe attention that you could be forgiven for believing they were actually news.

The cancellation of the Kanye West and Lady Gaga "Fame Kills" Tour is "highly regrettable." If they make self-aggrandizement an Olympic event (speaking of which, you know Peter Allen, wherever he is, is smiling today) Kanye will be at the medals podium probably disrupting the presentation. As for Lady Gaga, I'm just too old to get her.

As for not "getting" AND "highly regrettable", I'd have to go some to top Jon Gosselin. I started to type 'beat' and then realized that was more of a tell than was healthy. We've created a separate race within our culture, with its insatiable demand for titillation, of people who are famous but haven't done anything. Celebrities make headlines while heroes make a difference.

Hundreds of millions of us lead lives not so much of quiet desperation as non-dramatic competence and never get our mugs in People, Us, OK or any of the other magazines who take innuendo and elevate it to an art form. Peter Zenger, I suspect, isn't smiling as much as Peter A and it's actually more of a grimace. But no matter, let's dish.

I just typed "odd news stories" into the search window on Google and in 0.25 seconds it returned 18.8 million results. As for "highly regrettable", well, not so much, though this one is quite a beauty. We are, say some, the Crown of Creation but for others we are walk-ons in Trivial Pursuit forced to believe in reincarnation in the hopes that the next time around we'll land a speaking part. Now, that's "highly regrettable."
-bill kenny

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