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Driving Cross Country, Katie Couric, Randi Rhodes and Family

For the past eight days, I have been doing a mini-cross country drive, visiting friends and, as I noted previously celebrating the PatriotFatherWest’s birthday. It has been a great trip and I’ve not had as much access to the Internet as I would have liked — and that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Today, I woke up at my cousin’s house in Denver, then spent the day with the most wonderful PatriotAuntWest (that cousin’s mother) in Colorado Springs. When I left here, I headed south, beginning the return journey to Los Angeles. A bit sad to be leaving the family behind and regretting that I cannot travel further and explore much of this great country.

Here I sit at a hotel with wireless in New Mexico and instead of getting sleep so I can get an early start tomorrow, I’ve been checking my e-mail and the web. An idea came to me while reading about the Mexican elections and soon I found myself tapping out a post, then I read an e-mail from my friend Rick Sincere and wanted to alert our readers to Judge Wilkinson’s most excellent Op-ed on constitutions and gay marriage.

I had some thoughts on Katie Couric’s debut as anchor for the CBS Evening news (a debut about which I heard radio talk show hosts blab endlessly on Tuesday). Rush Limbaugh was defending himself for taping an opinion piece to appear on the CBS broadcast while a female caller to Air America referred to Couric’s (then-impending) newscast as FoxNews in disguise. I guess that female caller heard Rush was appearing and thought that any news forum which provided an outlet for conservative views (even when presented alongside liberal ones) was diabolical by definition.

Here are my thoughts on Ms. Couric’s debut: I’ve seen her a few times on the Today and found her perky, uninteresting and mildly annoying. She reminded me a lot of Doris Day, a star to whom I never really warmed, but was a big box office draw in the ’50s (even appearing twice on screen with the Gipper in Storm Warning and The Winning Team). Perhaps the American people will warm to Katie Couric as they once warmed to Doris Day.

But, I doubt it. The fora are entirely different. Couric is not entertaining us as Day once did. She doesn’t have the presence (or gravitas) we expect from our news anchors. I expect Ms. Couric to enjoy the same success with the CBS Evening News as Geena Davis enjoyed with Commander in Chief. All the hype about the show will give her great initial ratings which will gradually decline as the buzz wears off.

I really enjoy driving across this great land of ours. (I would also like to drive across Australia . . . ) I love the natural beauty, the open spaces, sometimes prefer taking smaller roads than the Interstate so I can get a better feel for the country. If it weren’t for my graduate work, I would have taken a longer trip, perhaps going as far as Chicago and maybe to somewhere I’ve never been.

Usually when I drive, I listen to books on tape or just drive in silence, letting my thoughts wander, occasionally pulling over at a Rest Area (or just by the side of the road) to scribble down an idea for an essay, a scene in a screenplay or a chapter in the Fantasy Epic that has been in my head now for about three years. Two years ago, I returned from my brother’s wedding in Cincinnati by driving across North Dakota where the sparsely-settled landscape seemed to open my mind and I barely turned on the radio or listened to a cassette. (Yes, I realize that that is not the direct route from Cincinnati to Los Angeles.)

This time, I listened to Derek Jacobi‘s wonderful reading of the Iliad (which I have listened to before) and then to Rob Inglis’ reading of The Fellowship of the Ring (which I have also heard before).

My cassette player, however, decided to conk out on me (I believe my car was was on the last models to be built without a CD player). In the mountains east of Denver, I could only pick up an Air America station. So, I listened to Randi Rhodes’ show for about an hour and a half. Because I was stuck in traffic, I was able to scribble some notes on her uniformed rants and expect to blog about this later. Suffice it to say that while she accused conservatives of being narrow-minded and bigoted, her own show proved how narrow-minded and mean-spirited she is. Another example of just how ill-informed are many of the “spokespeople” for the angry left.

Yet, perhaps she is a good sister, aunt or cousin to a conservative for I spent the better part of the last six days with my family which includes many liberal women. And despite their politics, they are all wonderful people, good mothers and sisters, with many interests besides their politics.

I hope other gay people have learned to value their families as have I. Too often all too many of us reject our families (or at least distance ourselves from them) when we come out, sometimes for good reason, other times merely because they do not treat us as we expect them to treat us — or because they don’t treat us as gay activists tell us our families should respond to our sexuality.

Anyway, it’s late here in Raton, New Mexico. While driving across the beautiful landscape of southern Colorado a number of ideas came to me, spurring me to do this post (initially to focus on my love of driving cross countyr). I had expected to say something profound about family, these kinds of drives and about the kindness of people you meet on such trips, even in upscale shops in Aspen. Maybe I’ll do that later.

But, the ideas seem to have drifted away like clouds across a desert landscape, leaving only a shadow and a memory as they disappear beyond the horizon. Maybe it’s that I’m tired, fading after a long day. Or maybe it’s that I’ve said what I wanted to say and it doesn’t seem as profound in pixels on a screen as it did when the notion first crossed my mind.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):



  1. I just wanted to leave a quick note to say that I love your writing and though I don’t always agree with you, I always look forward to your posts.

    Comment by Blowhard — September 6, 2006 @ 8:41 am - September 6, 2006

  2. can only take about 3 seconds of that screaming banshee rhodes than my ears start to bleed……….. its so sad that she shares a name with one of the all time great guitar players

    Comment by nuyorker — September 6, 2006 @ 12:00 pm - September 6, 2006

  3. I have driven in all fifty states (as well as all thirteen Canadian provinces and territories), and couldn’t agree more about the beauty of this country. Just to reiterate your point, unless time is a dire issue, it is much better to stay off the interstates and drive the rural routes. It’s a much more enjoyable experience.

    Comment by Marc W — September 6, 2006 @ 2:10 pm - September 6, 2006

  4. You don’t like Doris Day? Turn in your gay card and toaster oven at once!

    I love cross country trips too. I was fortunate enough to have parents that would travel all over the country every summer. I drove from Indiana to Seattle Washington and back a few years ago. I’d love to take a trip like that again.

    Comment by Don — September 6, 2006 @ 2:56 pm - September 6, 2006

  5. I would love to drive more across the good ole USA…

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — September 6, 2006 @ 3:07 pm - September 6, 2006

  6. I am predicting that when Couric’s ratings begin to go south –as they will– she will again put on the widow vest, beat her breasts about colon cancer and use her dead hubbie’s memory to gain sympathy with escaping viewers as she did on the TodayShow.

    Then, it’ll be time to go on the road to tough locales and do the tear-jerking, pseudo-journalism of AndieCooper… and then, how long before the CBS suits invoke all the old news stars to reinforce the “seriousness” of KatieC?

    Katie will be the EvaBraun of ratings… mess with her, she’ll cut your legs off and send you to ConcentrationKampClass. But not before playing the widow card, the serious journalist card, the grand CBS news tradition card… and God knows what else.

    Comment by Michigan-Matt — September 7, 2006 @ 9:20 am - September 7, 2006

  7. #5 Peter Hughes — September 6, 2006 @ 3:07 pm – September 6, 2006

    I would love to drive more across the good ole USA…

    To channel Dinah Shore, See the USA in your (assembled-in-Mexico) Chevrolet…

    I’m sure that you are too young to remember her advertisements.

    Comment by raj — September 9, 2006 @ 11:21 pm - September 9, 2006

  8. #6 Michigan-Matt — September 7, 2006 @ 9:20 am – September 7, 2006

    I am predicting that when Couric’s ratings begin to go south –as they will– …

    Maybe. But the ratings–the actual numbers of viewers–matter less than the ratings regarding viewers that the programs are being pitched to. You can always tell what demographic a program is being pitched to by the advertising–American media exists to present eyeballs (or ears) to advertisers. As long as Perky Katie can get enough eyeballs to view ads for Nexium–the purple pill–or its lot, she’ll stay.

    American media doesn’t exist to provide content to viewers. It exists to provide eyeballs and ears to advertisers. My goodness, the WSJ told me that 20 years ago.

    Comment by raj — September 9, 2006 @ 11:25 pm - September 9, 2006

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