I recently drove a Cadillac Brougham from Oklahoma to Florida. Impressed?  Did I mention it had no AC.  Now you’re impressed and confused and some of you may be hot and perturbed even thinking about traversing the stifling Bible Belt sans AC.   A picnic it was not.

I use the term stifling to describe the weather conditions although I think the adjective would hold even in cool weather.  A bathroom/snack break in Alabama introduced me to perhaps the best and worst thing I’ve seen this year.  On the counter was a newspaper that reports on who’s been arrested that week.  The paper has no articles. Just mug shots with the crime they’re charged with as captions.

The back of the “newspaper” had a full page of a before and after picture of a woman titled: “The Faces of Meth.”  Needless to say the after picture looked like Gollum after an all night bender.  I guess…Meth is her precious… As a tool to discourage meth use I would give it an ‘A’.  On the drawing pleasure from horrific sights that should be treated with a modicum of reverence lest open the reader up to bad vibes, I give it an ‘F’.

Now I can enjoy a Hot Mess from time to time like everyone else.  Train wrecks have high entertainment value.  But they are also high on negative energy.  A balance must be struck between pretending the ugly things in the world don’t exist and reducing all misfortune and pain to trivial entertainment.  My observation is that doing either extreme results in the wrong thing being perpetuated.  Either because people, having had no exposure don’t respect its power or, because overexposure and trivializing it makes people forget its power.

Arrest records are public information so this paper gets a free report, adds sensational graphics and makes money off it.  I bought one to sift through and make sure it was what I thought it was.  That will be the 1st and last one that I purchase.  How about innocent until proven guilty?  Does this paper plaster all the people who are found innocent on future issues?  Not likely.  With over a thousand cable stations and the entire web do people need this form of entertainment?  I say it’s entertainment because who really needs to know everyone in their county who was arrested the week prior?  They have a right to produce the paper though. I hope we exercise our right to not buy it.

Saddest thing: One of the mug shots is of a woman who seems made up.  Like she was taking a head shot instead of a mug shot.  I hope people aren’t calling up their friends bragging about such a dubious distinction.  I hope those arrested aren’t making bail and buying 8 copies of the paper on the way home to show their friends.  But nothing surprises me anymore.

I have deliberately left out the name of the newspaper.