A world of dogs
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Have you guys ever wondered why I chose to be a journalist? Don’t ask further, luckily for you, I’m in a rather chatty mood, so sit back, relax, grab a cup of coffee and your favorite cake slice and just cue the dramatic pause before we begin.

-EHEM-

It all began when I was just a lil’ boy, fresh out of the egg and even more fresh out of the womb.

At work, I’m constantly eavesdropping on complaints done to my own persona. Comments about how I am, I quote, ‘interesting in a bad way, childish, reckless and even prone to parentless behavior’. Speaking of parentless behavior, I remark that last one in particular since yes, it has to do with my own story. Hell, many of you readers could even relate!

For starters. Big family, around seven children including myself…Or was it six? Not that it really matters, with all those hungry mouths pestering for flies and mosquitoes at once, one can never really have enough of a parent’s love, so that was my case: momma enjoyed being around children, especially babies. She loved taking care of the youngest siblings. So much, to the point that she neglected the grown-ups as she was too busy tending to the little ones. A caring woman, but once you learned how to flick your tongue by yourself? She grew distant to you, and sooner or later you went from a precious little thing to a nuisance. And what about dada, all families need a mommy and a daddy right? Let’s say he was more of a womanizer than a role model for his youth.
A hell of a family, is it not? I hope this description helped you, dearest readers, make sense of why I am like this.

Anyhow, as I said, my passion for journalism began in my earliest childhood. Having a family like mine, one could imagine, as well as pity, the physical exhaustion and damage this might have caused to a wee and innocent little soul. Let’s say…viewing the world was my way to escape reality and cope with all the abandonment going on. The earliest memory I can recall, about a favorite leisure activity of mine, is just sitting my scaley ass there, or hanging from a branch as tight as I could if the sofa was occupied, and just…observing everything around me. I could spend hours and hours doing that, often not showing up when lunch was ready or past my bedtime, with my mind blank yet full of thoughts at the same time, processing information, asking how’s or why’s for even the tiniest little details. And as a grown-up, I finally snapped and went ‘Hey Duke, remember that childhood hobby of yours? Why don’t you use this as a way of telling everyone about the world the way you see it? You are clearly mentally ill my dude, what’s the best way to make a quick buck than to exploit and profit the ramblings of a madman?’

So I did. Following my peculiar intellect and my cold-blooded heart, I began writing, scribbling and posting pieces rather than keeping the thoughts to myself. Little by little, like an ant taking pieces of a giant and moldy bread crumb to its hill, I began crafting my career. First as somewhat of a hobby, childhood habits never die as one can say. Then, as something more closely related to a half-time career, my articles were somewhat liked by a growing public. Soon, what I wrote and how I did it began to appear in the mouths and remarks of pretty much everyone around me. And finally, the bread crumb had finally disappeared, as I became a renowned, loved and hated 50/50 journalist, specialized in Gonzo documentaries, for the Planasthai newspa- SIKE, YOU BITCH.

Now, excuse the cheap usage of dots like this, one needs to build tension somewhat.

Heh, caught you good, didn’t I? Or was it too apparent for a keen-eyed smartass like yourself? Actually, don’t answer that. For once I don’t care for your reaction.

Now, now, I know what one has to do to become a good writer. Learn to entrance their readers with what they create, isn't it? Why, as a keyboard typing, ink smearing connoisseur myself, I’m going to do that just now. You know, for you to keep reading this rather than roll your eyes and search for a different tab or story. I am going to tell you the real reason why I chose this profession.

Because I fucking hate it.

Come on, don’t squint your eyes nor wrinkle your nose or whatever olfactory device you might have like that, I know, I know what you might be thinking, trust me, just imagine this with your voice: ‘Aw shucks Duke, you silly goose, choosing a career you hate? That is nonsense! No one does that, right? Oh, yeah, I know what is going on. Why tell us Duke, what is it this time? The rhododendron honey toasts with jam you took for breakfast? The angel’s trumpet tea with pastries for dessert? The fire ants? The bombardier beetles?’
Pretty good impression, was it not? Like talking to a mirror. But, as always, you cannot be more mistaken. No, I am as sober as myself can be. This is motherfucking Duke Gathers, pure and raw, I need no drugs to spew up sandpaper for your brains. If you find me dead under a bridge twenty minutes after you’re done reading, drool and vomit covering my lips, just write ‘Here lies that one weirdo, he fucking hated current journalism’ on my headstone.

No matter what, guessing this might be my very last column here after the fiasco that was the Merchants at SoHo story, I suppose I owe you, my colleagues, my bosses and everyone else an explanation, consider this a treat for good behavior and stubbornness. And the answer is written here. Remember the third to fourth paragraphs in this article? Bingo, amigo.

Let me explain: I suppose the person reading this is what folk around could describe as someone normal. And like any normal, well-functioning individual of society or any hivemind-like structure, you have the emotion commonly known as ‘compassion’. Now, for once, I’m not mocking you or anything. No, the opposite, it is good to have compassion. It is good for yourself, good for your close ones, good for your family, your job, and especially good for my superiors.
People love heart-churning stories, this is a fact. They see a story of a child being mistreated or abandoned by their parents, and they feel angry, they feel sad, they awe, point at it and say ‘What a poor thing, such a malfunctioning family, how could someone have suffered this much?!’ They want to hold that child close, tell them that everything will be fine. Maybe letting them borrow their phone to play some games as a distraction, maybe buying them an ice-cream. Maybe even take revenge on their behalf, or maybe they excuse the fact they beat another kid to a comatose state in their school’s playground just because their daddy beats them with a wooden spoon. They immerse themselves as the hero in this story. They see themselves helping the kid get justice and evolve into a brand-new someone, all because of their mentorship.

Stories like these make people feel like a hero, like a good person. They make them remember their compassion. That’s why it is such a profitable emotion.

Take a look, for example, at one of my newer articles here. Yes, I’m talking about the asteroid one. A wild one, is it not? Wild, and a goldmine of shock value for the average kind-hearted reader and the average greedy writer. Just think about it: a concert taking place on a meteorite about to crash on a planet. Now I have covered even weirder stuff, but that one in particular, man, it tickles someone’s fancy does it not? Hold on, I’m yet again picturing yourself. I know how you feel, that sensation of anger and disgust for all the concert dwellers and the musicians, intoxicated to the brim and with sore throats, ready to accept their final judgement. The extreme pity you feel for all the people that used to live in that city it destroyed and charred into a crater of ash and concrete, the hopelessness for the ones that lost their homes, or the ones that couldn’t escape the flames in time…yes, you feel it, right? What you are feeling is nothing but less money in your pockets after you purchased the newspaper this story was described in. You saw it in headlines and you couldn’t help it, you had to get it. Why? It triggered your compassion, that one feeling of your head that goes ‘What kinda sick fuck could agree to this? It could never be me’ and reminds you that no matter what goes on in your life, you are still normal.

Weaponizing compassion has always been a staple of journalism. It’s neither a bad nor a good thing, everyone needs to live off something, right? Hell, you can go ahead and point out my hypocrisy as well and how I thrived on the chemicals that night much like the others, you’re more than welcome to do so. But the reason why I’m so filled with disgust, and why my faith in modern journalism has plummeted to the ground below, is not the sheer fact people use compassion, it’s how people use it.
I wanted to use this story as an example. I took a look at other printed and digital media outside of the Library’s confinements, places on the outside world under the so called ‘Veil of Normalcy’ like Three Portlands, where these can thrive. Most if not all newspapers available had the same story in their front pages. All of them follow the same objective format a journalist should follow, maybe a more subjective column or summary here and there in the last pages. The repulse I felt at how they were written was even worse than the hangover I felt the next morning after the event.

That bullshit, that excuse of paper and ink is not true journalism, and it will never be.

Why? Because the ones writing and reading are too coddled. Current journalists weaponize compassion, sure, but they do it in a way people are never truly uncomfortable. One can write this or read that, get shocked for the sheer disaster that happened, share it with a friend only to continue with their lives ten minutes later, while they are being spoon-fed the exact same story with the exact same format over and over again until they become numb and shrug it off, waiting for the next one. No matter how much of an empath they claim to be, they will never live what went on there the way I or the others did. As for the people behind the scenes? The ones responsible for pouring their blood, sweat and tears in constructing the story? Even worse. I know for a fact people that covered the tale knew what really went on. They just refused to type it. No, why write a description of the passed-out bodies at the alien floor, of the mass of people screaming and crying, desperate to crawl away from their doom after realization hit in, the sweat and other body fluids covering the main singer and bassist, or the consensual and not so consensual touching that went on there? That never sells, no one wants to read something and go beyond disgust, they just want a shocking story but just the fair amount of detail, they do not want to live it nor experience the true drawback of their humanity, better keep sucking on the comfort of the great tit that is your average press outlet. Your average journalist knows this, and that conformism and fear of inducing extreme compassion has been the reason why this art has done nothing but decline.

The goons I call my acquaintances at best and my work buddies at worst have relentlessly looked down on my columns from their ivory towers and criticized me. All for a good reason: as I’ve mentioned, they know, but they are just afraid of admitting I’m right. To look no further, take a look at the companion I had to work with under the threat of losing my job for example. An individual so full of himself his stomach is going to digest itself at any given moment, versed in rusty silver-tongued sensationalist articles so sugar coated they make even the most glazed cake look sour in comparison. You would have thought a male mantis would be way more pessimist and aware of life not being all rainbows, wouldn’t you? Given the nature of his rose-colored, or more accurately, crimson-colored goggles view of the world, this is shockingly not the case. Maybe this joke and irony of destiny was the reason why even if our views clashed, I tried to be somewhat…approachable for the guy out of curiosity for his fabricated personality, only just the right amount to keep my decency and his sanity. But at the end of the day, he and the rest will always be bricks on the wall of self-absorbed, fake positivism the foundations of this career are built in.
And much like this brick wall they built, they refuse to come out, not wanting the wolf to blow their house down once they realize how screwed they are. They are too pampered with the sweet web of lies they spin, trapping the poor fools with the fabrication of an idealized story and the promise of comfort and humanity after five minutes of ‘dark’ content. This is what journalism has come to. And Gonzo is what it should be about.

Gonzo is the wolf snarling its teeth against the overfed piglets hiding in the barn. Is the scissor that cuts the web of comfort society is trapped within. Is human nature without any filters, is the final test to know whether you, the person reading this, is normal. Unfiltered, unedited, Gonzo is journalism for people who hate journalism. And that is why, my friend, I chose to partake in it despite my clear disliking for the system established.

People need to be uncomfortable; they need to be shocked to learn the truth about the world and themselves. And what better way to show how bad things can be than making someone that despises his job write them out for everyone?

Criticizing capitalism has become the cheapest and most overdone test of morality one can make. You really want to condemn it? Forget about your morality. Go to an auction house. But not to protest at the entrance, oh no. Go to one and bet your life savings if you need it in the sales. Go and scream your lungs out carelessly as your wallet and brain become lighter and lighter. Become the person you hate the most. Let the gluttony of wanting more and more consume your very own marrow, to the point of despising yourself so much you want to break every reflecting surface you see. Then go home and write about how much you hate yourself and the people around you because of what you have done.

Or you can just take mushrooms, break into a Merchant’s house, and tape yourself shooting them in the head while referencing king Midas or Mammon somewhat. Not as legal but hey, who said life experiences had to be ethical to learn valuable life lessons?

Oh well, I’m not your mom. Why would you need to listen to an old Jackson’s chameleon writing nonsense in a newspaper I might or might not be fired from such as myself?

But if you really want me to be your mom…well, hello sweetie, how was school?

Did you talk to the girl you like?

Come on, sit with me on the couch, let’s watch TV together, at the comfort of our bitter almond tasting bubble. Just you, me…away from the wild dogs lurking within.

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