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Tomarken.com > Daniel P. Beckmann > A Journalist’s journal on reporting in Washington DC on behalf of Montana… (03-27-02)
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Daniel Paul Beckmann, Moderator of Letters

A Journalist’s journal on reporting in Washington DC on behalf of Montana…

3/26/02-”Just off the boat”
Flt. 571, somewhere between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Bozeman, MT

Yea, I had been to DC a number of times-there was the trip during high school when we came here in November of 1995 when Clinton shut down the government and I got sick after eating some bad sushi and exposed my insides out all over the bathroom at the Pizzeria UNOin Georgetown, now located within walking distance of where I live now. Yes, I had even been to DC even more recently when I stayed with a college friend and attended one of his politically charged social functions. But this time I was going to be a sort of temporary resident in this town-this town which appears to be made up of people from everywhere, which leaves the question as to what actually makes up a person who is from here.

I also come to DC with a fortunate, but unusual mission of reporting the things that effect Montanans from our nation’s capital for several stations in Montana. This allows that I would be reporting on stories of Montanan magnitude, but I wouldn’t have to live there since I am going to be stationed in DC. This gig is unusual in some of the following ways: 1) there must be an artificial force of some kind between me and the Montana stations in order to pull this one off because as I remember from actually working at one of them, they do not have very much extra money to throw around, 2) Why the hell would Montana stations really need to have ‘their own guy in DC’>? 3) It is my opinion right now as I am on my way back to Montana to seek guidance in my mission, that Montana and DC are not only geographically far from one another they are also incredibly distant culturally…Montana is generally regarded for its clean and undisturbed air in its nicest regions, where as DC has this reputation for heating itself on its retorick alone. If DC is the capital of the country and the US right now is arguably the country for the history books, then it could be seen that DC might be one of the pinnacles of our civilization. With the exception of those rich and fortunate who are sitting beside me on this plane and who have been asked 3 times to turn off their cell phones as they may interfere with the aircraft’s navigational equipment(and they sure as hell don’t have sprint PCS if they are getting calls up here)…Montana’s population is generally made up of people who weren’t scared to leave the East Coast behind, but also they were not sacred about venturing out past the midwest, yet they didn’t quite make it to the goodness of Seattle. Yea, you still could probably get eatin’ bya bear in Montana-if you are one of those fortunate enough to live in one of those pristine areas where the toxic mining won’t kill you first.

So, I was only in DC for about 14 hours…but during my time I tried carefully not to make any swift jugedments about the place as I am certain most of my initial opinions will change either as I become more assimilated into the culture, or they vote for my exile or somewhere in between those two. I did however believe that after my 14 hour drive through a straight monsoon the whole way to get there, that I was coming to the Hill with some pretty idealistic notions about my place amongst these people.

I entered into my neighborhood in Georgetown and the most striking difference between these modern day colonial types and your average squeshed face Chicagoan (Reference F.N.Michaels), and boy is the grass greener…(maybe in DC you can at least see the grass and in most cases its green instead of Chicago’s famous brown, black or the scandalously white grass,)…which, is that they care a great deal about their outward appearance in the District. Another note: apparently the ‘cloth version’ of the black jacket has taken precedent here over the black leather-a lotta gel and this jacket and the ladies may forget that I’m a toolbag jacket sported throughout post-graduate the fraternal and sororital neighborhoods on Chicago’s northside.

People here feel the need, whomever they are, whether it be for political or diplomatic, or maybe just to fit in, to give Presidential Style speeches-you know those flatulently long-winded speeches that try to strike at your fetish for the sensualness of bureaucracy-but in DC it doesn’t stop at that sound bite on the six o’clock news…And don’t these speeches make ya’ feel proud to beyaan American? So well formulated and carefully structured-it almost makes you want to giz Red, White and Blue! But what I have generally found at the root of all of these “persausive arguments for patriotic assimilation” is essentially that they do a fair job of taking up a great deal of your time and then after its over and you look back and think about what they just told you, and you realize that in the interest of your pursuit for efficiency; for whatever they were trying to say, it should have been stated in only a matter of words…and now, not just the prez, but everybody’s doing it. They are always trying to spin you here-as I now spin you by my use of this buzz-word.

At about 1:39 AM as I was leaving my ‘complex’ to get some groceries at a store that would later be closed I was stopped by the security guard for my parking facility. He took about 10 minutes of my time to give me a small ‘briefing’ in which he utilized C-SPAN’s showstoper supreme. After explaining to me specifically about all of the problemed apartments, known for housing Georgetown students that tend to party a little bit too much-and I didn’t quite understand why he was telling me all this since I am myself college-aged and since he obviously heard my car making horrific bongy-bongy sounds when ever I go over a bump or turn-I think that he could have saved us both some time and put it much more simply that he’d be watching me, and I would be trying my best to avoid him for the duration of my two month stay.

Seriously, not only do things not get done efficiently in DC, the people who live here who are the most prominent these days are generally those with the ability to hide their true opinion-and when I say this I mean what they actually think that they think. While I haven’t uncovered anything incredibly shocking here-I feel that it is actually quite important to remember this as I take on my job as a journalist. My fellow colleagues working for other small market stations have been feed stories about how powerful this place actually is and how they are so lucky to work here and I actually had been offered those statements too, but I will cover this place just like any Butte-Silver County, MT Council of Comssioner’s Meeting.

And then there’s the senior press core and those who make up the prominent American media, who, for example, at this time are essentially covering the ‘war in Afganistan’ from DC despite, whatever confusing pile of information their generally culturally inept journalists in the field may be sending back. The bottom line of all of this, is that any information coming out of DC on a war being fought several continents away you had better believe has been processed with the same opinion making none-sense that Sonny the security guard was peddling me at 1:39 in the morning-I will be the first to let you know right here if you need run for the hills.


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