It is indisputably true that I watch too much of the wrong kind of television. I am constantly accused, by my personal improvement guru who resents my monopolizing the remote, of being a news and political junkie willing to watch anything except commercials and reality shows, and making her endure the blatherings of every talking head that pops up on the screen.
She’s right, of course. I wish I had a good defense to the charge. Truth is I get trapped between the desperation of a blocked writer looking for any excuse to avoid putting words on paper and the nearly irresistible lure of watching the ballyhooed whoop-whoop of rapidly approaching disaster from the diseases of Africa to the murderous thugs of the mid-East to the latest land grab from Vladimer Putin.
When I clicked on Wolf Blitzer and the yap-yappers on MSNBC one time too many, she put her foot down. Being an independent, strong-willed macho man and acting on the silent advice of General Beauregard, our telepathic beagle, who was telling me if I wanted dinner it would be smart to knuckle under, I switched immediately to “This Old House”.
Within minutes my blood pressure dropped, Beau fell asleep, and the steaming fragrance of her ravioli and meatballs drifted through the house. Meanwhile the guys on television were going right at it, ripping out walls, replacing pipes and windows and flooring and generally having a high old time. I don’t do that sort of stuff anymore, having had my share of the do-it-yourself life. But it’s always great fun to watch somebody else work, especially when you can doze off while they dig up the basement and wake up just in time to watch them gently ease the perfectly-measured cabinets into the perfectly-measured space between the stove and the sink.
Being the kind of television philosopher whose most profound insights come easiest when my favorite chair is in the fully-inclined position, it suddenly hit me that what the country needs is for the “This Old House” gang to take over the government, maybe helped by the “House and Garden” crew for the yards and finished off by Martha Stewart’s decorating touches.
The idea was so good it almost woke me up. What a joy it would be to have Norm Abrams and his buddies rip out the rotted committees of the House and put in lots of new windows all over Congress; not to mention putting in a brand new cabinet at the White House.
The secret those guys have is they don’t believe in negativity. They don’t debate much, and delay isn’t in their toolkit. They see a problem and reach for their hammers, saws and crowbars and before you know it they’re putting in the new countertops. Even the commercials are better on those shows. They don’t waste time telling you what worthless scum the other builders are.
The best of it is they appreciate the importance of saving the good features. You can trust them to preserve the designs that came out of Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia centuries ago while shoring up the sagging floors and brightening the dim corridors of colonial times with unobtrusive new lighting.
Then there’s the specialists; the guys who can replace a scratchy, balky old Speaker system with better fidelity, so what the people want comes cleanly through the system.
What a happy development it would be to watch the negativity of the talking heads and the tear-down politicians of personal destruction replaced by guys who really enjoy making things both beautiful and functional! Maybe we should recruit congressional candidates from the small-town contractors and do-it-yourselfers shopping at Home Depot and Lowe’s. At least they’d know how to do the job on schedule and within the bid.
© 2014 Joseph T. Wilkins