Revamped Wasteland

Since cord cutting, I’ve been doing a lot more finagling with my digital over the air antennae. Stream to watch TV as I often do, the nature of the beast still leaves viewers vulnerable to blank screens.

Wonder if the cable system goes down? More likely, when comes the inevitable next instance of Las Vegas area OTA stations unwilling to pay higher re-transmission fees to cable or satellite providers?

Viewers everywhere still ought to receive minus fees what has always been free. That we must now pay tribute to some third-party entity to catch signals transmitted over public airwaves is senseless.

Therefore reliance on high-tech rabbit ears as backups. Because who doesn’t know networks that balk on paying the tithes cable/satellite providers demand are one day closer to another collision course that blacks out NFL games on CBS, NBC or Fox?

If you’ve managed to reach a certain age, didn’t you once think with the advent of cable, then dishes, none of us would ever again deal with adjusting rooftop or indoor antennae? Didn’t you put those receptors in the same closet as rotary telephones?

Indeed, doesn’t the advanced apparatus award better video clarity and fuller audio ranges? Don’t believe me? Try envisioning early MTV – when the cultural innovator still focused on music – being shown over the air. Even watching Soul Train or Midnight Special clips through technologically superior methods yields improved reliving of decades-ago enjoyed tunes.

The only thing I haven’t done with today’s antennae is flag their tops with aluminum foil. Yet I just may resort to it because my front room TV receives several more channels than my bedroom set. The one similarity between analog and digital signals? Both don’t mind bedeviling viewers.

Unlike analog signals, OTA digital transmissions permit splitting the bandwidth. Instead of one station hogging a whole channel, broadcasters can now maximize offerings by slicing the conduit into slivers. Akin to the sort of narrowcasting cable introduced, the main channel’s excess capacities can now support programming from neglected, tightly specific, or just plain eclectic viewership.

Fiddling around with the antennae has proven revelatory. Not that newly discovered OTA shows are any sweeter smelling garbage than the mind-numbing content shoveled on cable and dishes, though the recent crap generally appears less sophisticated and polished. At least less professionally produced.

There’s something hokily appealing about amateurism even if its intent remains snatching money from suckers or persuading the poorly informed to act against their interests. Destructive as both can be, the phony sincerity and treacly honesty demand recognition nonetheless.

Aside from showing Golden Age TV reruns, the black & white kind that babysat my portion of Baby Boomers through our adolescence, westerns when oaters dominated American viewing habits because an anxious Nuclear Age society probably lived vicariously through frontier virtues, current OTA gives inexpensive outlets to obscure viewership.

Be assured Urdu and Tagalog, among other tongue-twisters, provide entertainment as well as inform those substantial populations here in the Mojave. Again, the stations’ production standards may be just a step above those of community access studios.

I assume the profusion of foreign language offerings must infuriate nativists who mistakenly believe “Only English should be spoken in ‘Murrica!” While English predominates across our nation, and speaking it fluently increases prospects, multitudes of Spanish and French speakers – our fellow Americans all – can justly dispute the intolerants’ linguistic insistence.

Channel flipping, it was nice uncovering get-rich-quick schemes, unimaginable real estate bargains, and fantastic investment opportunities also beckoned just as feverishly in other languages as in English. Certainly confirms that sucker bait is universal no matter what tongue spoken.

The most unexpected OTA find? France 24. One of the European nation’s premiere news providers, France 24 has secured a channel here in the Mojave to distribute its English langue service.

I might’ve thought BBC would’ve occupied that spot.

Instead throughout the day, France 24 English, anchored in Paris with correspondents worldwide, reports globally, albeit admittedly through a French lens. And that’s fine. I’ve noticed overseas news services are less parochial than our broadcasters. Even American glimpses abroad navel gaze from our perspective. Ideal reportage should present the subject covered objectively, not in manners making it palatable for audiences’ tastes.

Palatable is not truly comprehensive. There’s way too much of that seen in American news’ overseas coverage. Which answers why so many Americans are ignorant of the greater world.

Over the past four weeks of watching France 24 sometime during the day, half an hour of news often followed by nearly 30 minutes of roundtable discussion – unlike Fox News, the French broadcaster clearly respects lines between news and opinion – viewers are informed and, depending on the topic debated, the speakers, perhaps also engaged.

Past the lowbrow diversions available on expanded OTA, invariably there are corrosive attractions as well.

Who is unfamiliar with reactionary radio? Dial settings whose programs are conveyor belts of bile spewed by acidic barking heads. Bad enough this verbal offal pollutes radio ether. Having its remorseless messages abetted with images injects poison farther into the bloodstreams of those willingly susceptible.

Leave Las Vegas and quickly the Mojave erases notions of civilization and culture. Just out of sight on the dark sides of sawtooth ridges exist sites where any wishing can fairly live unobtrusively off the grid. These days, instead of powering appliances through diesel generators or cables attached to car batteries, modern-day Oliver and Lisa Douglases doubtlessly power their conveniences through solar panels.

Sometimes when needs arise and I must drive into settlements city dwelling tenderfoots would prettify by calling “exurbia,” peripheral glimpses award sneak peeks of less dynamic America.

I consider these domains where forward-looking 21st century types don’t want the sun setting on them there or “hills have eyes” territories.

Dirt roads lead off into who knows what inhabited by who knows who but who doesn’t know the path will terminate at a gate with at least one sign reading “No Trespassing”? Out there, “No Trespassing” could extend Nevada Regulatory Statute 207.200 into “Trespassers Will Be Shot.”

Who’d know the difference?

The inhabitants of these contrarian hermitages disdain a modern world that increasingly refuses adhering to the old societal notions of everybody has his or her place and should remain this slotted. Don’t they detest a world that sheds its constricting skin, emerging from its narrow confines to blossom? They despise that hate has weaker appeal than before.

The most removed exurban residents are probably the target audience for those OTA stations flinging caste dissatisfaction and class dissent. Underlining every sentence, insurrection the sole cure to what’s betrayed them.

I find the constant theme to all the harangues this: at one time their class, their creed, possessed the undeniable superiority which allowed unquestioning rule over those deemed inferior. Better than Gospel, it was regarded as the “natural order.”

In the repetitious telling, somehow turncoats always elevate those beneath them and allowed the formerly repressed to vault past their betters. How else could it have happened?

Isn’t that the gist of every utterance by any firebreathing right-wing radio host? From what I’ve seen, the same venal verbal hammers have made smooth visual transitions to jagged television.

Naturally by avoiding the truth, that the one-time Untermenschen have raised themselves through dint of self-effort and focus, inconvenient facts never troubles the diatribes. Nor does mentioning those who once monopolized the advantages had lazed on others’ achievements for the longest until life lapped them.

When has capitalizing on anxieties, thereby feeding resentment – especially the self-perpetuated kind – ever lost supporters? Once an audience is tightly grasped, what performer wants to lose it?