I was killing time waiting for lunch.
I needed cash, so I went into the bank, which has been turned into an investment center, with armchairs and couches, so I decided to sit down and read the newspaper.
Now if you’re reading the “New York Times,” you know they’ve got this new feature, where they ask their writers about their jobs, and the tech they’re using. And speaking of the “New York Times,” you should read the weekly Q&A with their former employee, Frank Rich, who was excoriated as a theatre critic but has incredible insight. This week he took the “Times” to task for ignoring the local story until it happened, i.e. 28 year old Alexandria Ocasio Cortez beating 56 year old established player Joseph Crowley in the local Democratic primary, and focusing on Trump voters and missing the future. Ain’t that the “Times,” when it gets it wrong it self-flagellates. The Trump win was two years ago, what about now? So read Rich here:
Anyway, the writer they were profiling in the “Times” on Thursday was Steve Lohr, who instantly gained cred with me for reading on a Kindle, but he also listens to the podcast “Caliphate,” he said to “do yourself a favor” and check it out.
So I did.
Now most projects don’t hook me. That’s Netflix’s criterion re renewal, not how many people watch a program, but whether they stick with it! Many podcasts are amateurish. If you’ve got my attention, speak, be dynamic, or I’ll tune out. And to be honest, I was half-listening to “Caliphate” until Rukmini said she made contact with ISIS via Instagram and LinkedIn.
You don’t want to be left behind. You’ve got to forget about satiating those in the rearview mirror and focus on those in the headlights. Then again, the carmakers finally got the message, including Bluetooth and getting rid of CD players, even though the music industry is still manufacturing discs. But even more this reminded me of Netflix, which is pushing the envelope while film studios still haven’t gone to day and date.
And that’s Rukmini Callimachi. She’s the ISIS reporter for the “Times.” Of Romanian heritage, she went to Dartmouth, then Asia and she ended up here. She’s middle class, she makes that point, in a world wherein everybody wants to be rich. But…
She likes to pick up the trash.
You’ve got to be on the ground, otherwise you don’t really know what’s going on. All the bloviators on cable news, they’re familiar with the studio, they do no reporting. But Rukmini follows the artillery and scours the landscape for what’s been left behind after ISIS retreats. She picks up hard drives, lists, and she rationalizes it by saying how much you learn, that if someone came to her apartment they’d see her Bank of America statement, see she likes rice milk, would get a pretty good idea of who she is, which she labels middle class.
And then she makes contact with that ISIS member online, he agrees to meet, she flies to Canada, where he’s working a day gig, and…
As if that’s not horrifying enough.
She’s waiting for him and she tells a story.
About fear. About the FBI coming to her office.
They told her her life was in danger.
That’s right, ISIS knows who she is. They badmouth her online, fat-shame her, impersonate her. And one night at ten o’clock there’s a buzz at the door. A persistent one. Her husband is at work. She turns off the light and…
Worries that this is it.
And the FBI said to dial 911 if she was in trouble, immediately, she was on a list. So she does, and it’s not like the lady who picks up is in-the-know, on guard, but she says she’ll send the police to the door and…
I’ll let you listen to find out what happens.
In any event, Rukmini says ISIS wins. Because we’re afraid, of what might happen.
And Rukmini could get killed. I don’t want to get killed. Hell, this does not only happen in the Middle East, go deep into the rap world and…
The government won’t protect you or can’t protect you.
And I’m wondering why Rukmini does this.
And that’s when it dawns on me, it’s the cause.
We all need a cause.
Our country’s values are so screwed up that we think a cause is getting rich. Now I don’t think you should aspire to starve, but is that gig really gonna fulfill you? As humans we need to be fulfilled. Which is why lottery winners lead a lousy life, if they even survive. Whereas Rukmini doesn’t have time to think about the little things, she’s caught up in the big things.
Think about this.
I certainly am.
And check out “Caliphate.” The production is not stellar, but the story is. And Rukmini is too. She’s not holier-than-thou, like not only our entertainers, but our CEOs, if you’re rich you think you earned it, you deserved it, that you’re better than the rest. And everybody else is so interested in getting wealthy that they pay fealty. But back before Reagan legitimized greed, when CEOs earned a salary closer to that of the rank and file, your life was about adventure and fulfillment, not your bank account.
But you get to be who you want to be. If you don’t like what I have to say, go your own way.
But I’m telling you, listening to Rukmini on “Caliphate” was INSPIRING!
P.S. You can skip the “Prologue” and dive right into “Chapter One: The Reporter,” it doesn’t start strong, but then wow! Give it the twenty four minutes and then decide. I’m in.