Casualties of “Trauma”

I’ve been thinking of how to blog about this for the past week. NBC’s new primetime drama, “Trauma,” debuted last week. In the hopes that I would finally see an accurate portrayal of my profession on a major network, I watched it. I was not merely disappointed.

I was absolutely outraged.

The opening scenes were some of the worst I’ve ever seen. The female lead, a gorgeous blonde woman, isn’t wearing anything remotely resembling a uniform. She was wearing hot pants, a shirt tailored more for a stripper than a paramedic, and had the shirt unbuttoned far enough to show more cleavage than Pamela Anderson in her Baywatch days. Of course, every male character in the scene–which is every other character on the screen–is staring at her with their mouths hanging open. The very next scene shows this female lead having sex with her medic partner…in the back of their ambulance.

Lemme tell you folks something: anybody found wearing what this character was wearing while on duty would be fired on the spot. And sex in the back of a rescue? Please! I would not even want to eat my grub in the back of my rig! Completely aside from that, though, it’s unethical, leaves body substances in an area that is supposed to be kept sparkling clean for the safety of patients, and it’s so easy to be discovered with windows all over the stupid thing. Nothing says “please revoke my certification” like having sex in the back of your ambulance.

The medics get called to a rooftop rescue next, where the helicopter shows up and the pilot makes jokes to them over his intercom. Again, that doesn’t happen, especially not in a big city during a major rescue effort on the roof of a highrise. Predictably, the chopper collides with another chopper (both of them were flying WAY too close to the building) and crash with the medic crews still on the rooftop.

The pilot who survived, apparently the only survivor, comes back a year later to the job, hot-dogging and displaying behavior that would instantly have grounded him again. Nobody behaving the way this guy was would have been cleared to return to work. Our blonde female lead is still wearing the hot pants and stripper shirt, and every time she bends over a patient her mammaries all but fall out.

Then comes the finale: the big crash. A driver trying to text and speed causes a massive wreck that ends up involving a tanker truck carrying gasoline. Who’s the first there? The medics. What do they do? Not what they’re supposed to do according to the guidelines of the National Registry of EMT’s.

Every EMT is taught the two most important things in our profession on the first day of school–BSI and scene safety. BSI is body substance isolation (gloves, mask, goggles, that sort of thing). Scene safety is paramount to us. If we get hurt, we can’t help anybody else. We just become more victims that need to be rescued and the incident becomes an even bigger mess.

Not one of those medics would have been allowed on the scene until the firefighters on the hazmat crew had taken care of the ruptured tanker spilling gasoline everywhere. And that pilot? He wouldn’t have landed anywhere near that scene. He sure as hell wouldn’t have been marching around burning vehicles without a care in the world. Also, once a victim has been pronounced deceased, the medics don’t transport the body to a hospital. It stays right where it is until the medical examiner comes to investigate–and the ME takes the body for possible autopsy.

Some people say, “it’s just TV.” Do we ever expect TV or the movies to be realistic? Not completely. This show, however, is an insult to every Fire and EMS professional who worked hard at their education to become public safety officials. I and those I know realize that it’s unrealistic, but a large portion of the public at large doesn’t. Just because a teenage boy would be more likely to watch a show with a hot blonde dressed like a floozy doesn’t mean you should create that role for a show about paramedics. It’s an embarrassment.

Truth, decency, and professional ethics are the main casualties of “Trauma.”

Give Peace A Chance

“I think everybody should like everybody.” –Andy Warhol

During his “Bed-in for peace,” John Lennon gave several interviews; in one of them, a journalist asked what message he and Yoko Ono were trying to convey. “All we’re saying is give peace a chance,” he replied. Lennon liked the phrase so much that he made a song out of it. It rapidly became the theme song for anti-war demonstrations all over America.

Today it’s still sung by anti-war protesters. I’ve seen video clips of many different groups singing the same old “all that we’re saying…is give peace a chance” chorus line many times over the past few years. It’s sung by people carrying all manner of signs, most of which–sarcastically or otherwise–basically say that there’s never any reason for war. War is never the answer. And if you support the war, you’re a murderer.

I take serious offense to that song. Why?

It suggests that war is something I like. That I’m violent by nature. That I didn’t try first to solve an issue by talking before putting my dukes up. It suggests that I enjoyed writing to my brother in Iraq and Afghanistan and that I want him to go back. Those words are sung by people who have already decided that because I support both the troops AND their mission, I’d rather go to war and give up on peace.

What makes so many people believe that war is never the answer? It has actually been the answer to a great many things. The American Revolution created our country and threw off the chains of England. The Barbary Wars stopped Muslims from raiding American towns on the coast and taking whatever (and whomever) they pleased; it also stopped the Pashah of Tripoli from demanding hush money. The Civil War ended slavery and kept our nation together. World War I helped our European allies stave off takeover by the Germans; World War II stopped the Nazi takeover from getting any worse.

Sure, we’ve fought wars that were either unnecessary or poorly-planned. But that doesn’t mean that war is never the answer. Yes, people die. War is hell. Nothing in life is ever perfect. If we’re unwilling to fight for the right thing, though, the end result can and will be far worse.

“Give Peace a Chance” is written from the point of view that Andy Warhol said the words I quoted at the open of this post. Humans are inherently good, so there should be no reason to fight. Everybody should like everybody. We’re all people, right? Why can’t we all just get along?

Have you ever noticed that you don’t have to teach a child to do something bad? You have to raise a kid and teach them how to do what’s right, because they’ll naturally do what they’re not supposed to do. Human nature is, in fact, NOT inherently good. Look at the Nazis. Tribal warfare has brought starvation, disease, and mass murder to many African nations–Mogadishu and Darfur are perfect examples. Palestinians raise their sons to believe that martyrdom is the highest form of honor and train them to achieve it by blowing themselves up in crowded Israeli civilian areas to kill as many Jews as they can. And slavery was ended, but it gave way to segregation in America–and it lasted how long?

How can we look at the reality of human nature and sing songs about how human beings are really good and we all just need to hug and hold hands? What makes us believe that refusing to fight is going to do us any good?

I’m perfectly capable of giving peace a chance. Most people would say they are. But as long as we have issues with admitting when we’re wrong, talking about things that are uncomfortable, and accepting that we’re not perfect, peace will never be perfect.

So when someone figures out how to cure those ills, we can talk about how we can all just get along.

Revolution

“Inferiors revolt so that they may be equal; and equals that they may be superior. Such is the state of mind which creates revolutions.” –Aristotle

It never ceases to amaze me how many people in our free society are absolutely clueless about the realities outside of our freedom. Our contry is governed by a Constitution that acknowledges our inalienable rights, and while many have attempted to alter them precious few of those attempts have succeeded so far. Today, however, we face more threats to our freedom than ever before and we’re smiling as it happens.

Che Guevara has become a cultural icon. A lying, thieving mass murderer has been elevated to a hero’s status by a generation that has absolutely no clue what he did and what his ideals caused. Che has been plastered on shirts, mugs, bikinis, jackets–one guy I know has the bastard tattooed on his arm. A movie has recently been made starring Benicio Del Toro as Che–and Del Toro said that playing Che was like “playing Jesus Christ, except Che doesn’t turn the other cheek.”

How did we get here?

How did we get to the point that our lawmakers will exalt Che as a hero of the Cuban revolution who kicked out the wealthy (Rep. Diane Waters)? How did we come to a point where supposed ministers of the Christian faith will engage in race-baiting while quoting Che? How, somebody please tell me, did we come to a point where we would elect a president who holds a murdering terrorist like Bill Ayers–who regularly quotes Che as well when he teaches–in high regard?

On September 11, 2001, the New York Times unwittingly ran an interview with Ayers in which he bemoaned not having done enough and actually said he wouldn’t rule out getting involved in his revolutionary antics again. He should have been arrested as soon as those words escaped his lips, but in today’s America, there’s no such thing as treason. There’s no such thing as sedition. We get indignant as all hell when 19 jihadists hijack four planes and kill nearly three thousand people, but when we do have a chance to stop terrorism before it kills, we sit back, fold our arms and say, “oh, he doesn’t really mean it.”

My generation’s love affair with Che chic is a ticking time bomb and Ayers is the living, breathing proof of it. He only runs free today because of a small technicality; his “civil rights” were violated while he waited for trial. Today, Ayers advocates teachers pushing his agenda: that teachers should organize their students to “provoke resistance to American racism and oppression.” It’s this attitude that has led so many young people, some I have even taught in martial arts and church, to believe that America owes the whole wide world.

We owe more than an apology, though. If you listen to these “enlightened” kids, they’ll tell you that it’s all America’s fault that so much of the rest of the world lives in poverty. We haven’t done anything to stop it, so it must be our fault, right? That’s similar to Che’s teachings: that the rich are at fault for all of the world’s ills.

I’ve met plenty of rich people that I didn’t like. I’m not, however, willing to spend one second blaming them for everyone else’s problems today. Che helped Casto wrest control of Cuba through a revolution that many in my generation right here in America believe was a long time coming. We needed change, they say. The rich had too much. The problems of the poor were their fault.

Horsehockey.

Fidel Castro and Ernesto “Che” Guevara were not members of the poor as many would have you believe today. They were both from priveleged families; Castro was an attorney and Che quit medical school to take part in the great revolution. What they were is far more simple: power-hungry. They saw an opportunity to have more and they took it. Their bloody revolution had nothing to do with making others equal–they sure as hell weren’t equal to those they claimed to be fighting for. It was all about being superior. If it weren’t, Cuba would be far more free today, and thousands of those who survived that revolution and now live in America wouldn’t balk at the droves of American brats who don Che t-shirts emblazoned with “viva la revolucion” on them because it’s cool.

Without freedom to temper it, revolution is a lie. The American Revolution created a free country because those who fought were willing to step down and give the people the right to decide–without holding a gun to their heads, the way Che did.

A Legend Passes

I’m a guitar player. I started at age 10, when I didn’t even have one. For my 13th birthday, my parents bought me my first acoustic. By the time I became an adult I’d hardly put it down.

Today, the music world lost a legendary guitar player. Les Paul, just four years after releasing his latest rock album, passed away due to complications of pneumonia.

Paul invented the solidbody electric guitar. Just after Fender released the Broadcaster, Gibson Guitars enlisted Paul’s help and the Gibson Les Paul was introduced to the world in 1952 (he first began tinkering with electrifying guitars as a much younger man; 1929 was the year he first managed to create a fully-amplified electric guitar).

Paul also created overdubbing, a style of recording that layers tracks to give the impression of multiple vocalists or instrumentalists. Today’s pop and rock artists owe their sound, at least in part, to Les Paul. Pete Townshend, Steve Howe, Al DiMeola, Ace Frehley and Jimmy Page all adopted their own personalized versions of Gibson’s Les Paul guitar as their signature axes.

I have a guitar tattooed on my right arm. It’s the image of a Gibson Les Paul series III that I once owned (and mourn regularly that I had to sell). Paul was born on July 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. He passed just two months after his 94th birthday.

Godspeed, buddy.

Marilyn Manson’s Threat

I just read something that strikes me as absolutely hilarious. FOX News reports that shock rocker Marilyn Manson has made a direct threat: “If one more ‘journalist’ makes a cavalier statement about me and my band, I will personally or with my fans’ help, greet them at their home and discover just how much they believe in their freedom of speech. I dare you all to write one more thing that you won’t say to my face. Because I will make you say it. In that manner. That is a threat.”

I’m not sure what’s funnier…saying he’ll do it himself or that he’ll get his fans to do it. Can you possibly be serious?

Now, I’ll admit that there have been songs I found myself enjoying that turned out to be Manson songs. I listen to grunge and heavy metal. But the bands that I like actually have talent; they don’t rely solely on their shock value to gain a following. That is the only driving force behind Marilyn Manson’s popularity: the shock factor. Every time I see a group of “disenfranchised youth” waiting for a Manson concert, they all look the same. Black clothes(layered, of course, and torn to shreds), neon hair, and makeup, all done to make them look like freaks.

We ARE freaks, they say. We’re the ones nobody wants. We’re the castaways, the ones with no talent, the unpopular ones, and YOU religious nuts, YOU MADE US THIS WAY!!!

Oh, please. Gag me.

You know what? I was bullied all the time as a kid. There are times when it still affects me, but I do not let it rule my life. Some of you guys have no idea what it’s like to be beaten to a pulp in the locker room because one of your junior-high classmates told the popular girl that you liked her. A person largely becomes an outcast because they allow it to happen. You cannot blame it on religion, your parents, your teachers or your classmates. You’re an asshole because you want to be that way.

I’m almost completely sleeved out. I have piercings. Sometimes, I even let them show. I do not wear a chip on my shoulder and beg people to knock it off. You can express yourself without needing to go to the extreme, and that’s all Manson knows how to do. His fans have followed suit.

Manson, don’t send your fans, because that will have all the ambiance of a traditional lynching. Spend your own money and have the balls to go completely on your own. Don’t hide behind your army of fans who’d kill for you because you don’t have the balls to take someone else on intelligently.

And for Chrissakes, grow up. All of you.

Operating in a Moral Vacuum

Even with all of the things in my own life considered, I’ve often wondered why it is so difficult for so many to do what each of us knows to be right. It’s as if we have begun to stop caring about doing the right thing. In some cases it’s almost understandable; clamming up and failing to take action can be a selfish thing, saving one’s own career or hide. In most cases, though, there’s little excuse for doing the exact opposite of what’s right.

Ever notice how you don’t have to teach a child to do what’s wrong? When I was a kid, I regularly did the exact opposite of what I was told. “Don’t touch the grill, Mel, you’ll burn yourself,” my father said. I planted both hands on the bottom of that shiny black kettle grill. “Don’t open the medicine cabinet, Mel, what’s in there can make you sick,” said my mother. Not only did I eat an entire box of chocolate-covered Ex-Lax, I took the box to my dad and smiled as I told him that I’d eaten it. “Don’t play with the electrical outlets, Mel, you’ll hurt yourself!” My parents sat me down to explain this to me. I’m not sure what the bigger mistake was: telling me not to play with them or showing me how they put the plastic covers on them so I could later figure out how to pry the little bastards off with the car key that I immediately inserted into one of the slots.

(So if any of you ever wondered what was wrong with me…)

A child knows full well what they’re NOT supposed to do because in normal homes, mom and dad say “no, you can’t do that.” At school, there are boundaries, rules, places you can’t go and certain times you have to be in certain places. But a child will naturally push those rules and do things they know to be wrong, partially out of rebellion but mostly out of curiosity.

A kid needs to learn those lessons. What’s an adult’s excuse?

I didn’t like being a corrections officer. I didn’t like what I became. I was an instant asshole–just add uniform and gear, only $17.99 an hour! I became that way because I had no patience for listening to grown men whine about being forced to obey the rules. I’ve never understood how a human being can terrorize other human beings at will for their own pleasure. And I’ve certainly never understood how, after doing such a thing, they can whine about paying for it. Many of my fellow officers felt the same way I did but they realized they’d never change the way life is, so they–in a way–accepted it.

Something that I think is a little more insidious than the evil that our prisons are always teeming with, however, is the wrongs we commit against each other on a daily basis. Have you ever made fun of someone at work, school or church? Did you ever feel guilty about it? Most liberals I know wouldn’t because their sense of right and wrong is barely there (at least until they’re made the victim). When the “friends” I thought I could trust made fun of another person nearby, then acted like sweetness and light when this person was around, I never realized how wrong it was. Then they turned it on me. I overheard them one day making fun of me–my weight, my geeky personality, my muscular build, my more masculine qualities, and the fact that I had a little crush on someone who wouldn’t have given me the time of day.

Suffice to say, it hurt.

It didn’t take me long to remember just kind of chuckling at some of the horrible things I’d heard them say about another person. I not only didn’t speak up and tell them it was wrong, I went along with it. Laughing at what they were saying was just as bad as taking part in it and saying those things myself. I will certainly not allow those people to get to close to me anymore, but I also won’t forget that I am capable of being just as harsh. It took being hurt the same way to see that.

I’ve never really been afraid of death. I know what’s going to happen. I’ll get to go home. I’ll get to see all the people I’ve lost in this life again in a place where I’ll never be hurt, I’ll never have to struggle anymore, and I’ll never be alone again. Sometimes I wonder if my lack of fear is the reason why God has allowed me to remain here, enshrined in this weakness that we call skin. Then I learn lessons like these–simple but nonetheless important–and my eyes are opened a little more.

A doctor brought up an important point with me today. Most human beings don’t have much concept of right and wrong until it directly affects them. The only creatures on this planet that are truly solitary are tigers; humans, like every other being, operate in a social milieu and naturally conform to the group they’re in for the sake of survival. If that means being humble, being cruel, or being criminal, people will do whatever it takes to be accepted. Acceptance is something I’ve wanted my whole life, but now I wonder if it’s really what I need.

I hope I never operate in the moral vacuum I’ve seen in others around me. If I ever cease to feel guilty about the things I fail to get right, I will be lost.

Rest In Peace At Last, MJ

I was browsing the news online today when it hit me that we were one of maybe 10 sites online who hadn’t mentioned the passing of Michael Jackson.  So here is my personal tribute.

Michael influenced a lot of people now in their 20s all the way to folks in their 40s and 50s.  Though his last few years were tainted by his odd behavior and scandal, there is no denying that Michael Jackson was an incredible talent.  That voice was just off the charts.  I was saddened to see the sorry state that he had entered over the last decade.  We may never know if he did the things he was accused of.  Personally, I just think he was an innocent soul who cracked under the pressures of fame.  We have all seen what has become of so many child stars in the realm of TV and movies.  So many committed suicide, ended up in jail or became destitute outcasts.  Michael eventually became a victim of those same circumstances fueled by his father’s abusiveness and by the pressures of fame at an early age.

But with his passing, I will reserve all judgment and celebrate a very influential and incredibly talented musician.  I am a child of the 80s and the 90s.  And MJ was a pivotal character in the pop culture of my childhood and teen years.  I wasn’t into parachute pants, break dancing, or moonwalking.  In fact, I wasn’t a major fan of Michael Jackson’s music although I did like it.  I was stuck on the new wave syntho-pop thing back then.  But I do appreciate his music from all eras whether it’s ABC, Billie Jean or Man In The Mirror.  He really didn’t ever sing a bad song.  It was all incredible.

My favorite song, though, is one I had forgotten until just today from his early years.  “Ben” was an incredible, beautiful song.  And for a pet lover like myself, it was very touching (even though it was about a rat).  Here’s a vid from the Sonny & Cher show in 1972 (before I was born…haha)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSqo17o2a1w]

On another note, I found a version of Ben sung by child star Billy Gillman at a tribute for Michael Jackson several years ago.  I really thought it was awesome – very beautiful.  Michael was present and evidently approved.  I thought I would post this one too.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdOzEGPYJ88]