This guy.

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Plane crashes, ship sinkings, World Trade Center attacks … if it makes the news big time, people will come crawling out of the woodwork claiming that but for oversleeping or a traffic jam they would’ve been in seat 33B or in an upper-deck stateroom or at an appointment on the 85th floor of the North Tower. It’s some kind of human compulsion, I guess, a way to grab some of the attention for yourself. I’ve heard some whoppers in my life, and I’m sure you have too. Forgive them, for they cannot help themselves.

As for diving on the Titanic, I’m a member of Team Hell No. In the 1980s, a friend and squadron mate hitched a ride on a Navy submersible sent to find and recover an F-15 that crashed into the Yellow Sea off the coast of South Korea. They found the wreckage field under 500 feet of water but in the end didn’t retrieve any parts. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had the courage to go along on that dive, let alone one all the way down to 12,500 feet. I was a high school junior in 1963 when the USS Thresher was lost in the Atlantic. The doings of the U.S. Navy were far from my concerns at that age, but that disaster worked its way into my imagination, horrifying me and giving me nightmares, and I’ve never forgotten it (it was later estimated the Thresher was crushed at a depth of between 1,300 and 2,000 feet).

But the other thing about it is all the pious shaming over the attention given to five rich guys crushed during a dive on the Titanic while the media and the public ignore the hundreds of would-be migrants who drowned when their overloaded ship sank in the Mediterranean. A typical headline: 5 Deaths at Sea Gripped the World. Hundreds of Others Got a Shrug (paywalled, sorry).

Actually, the tragedy in the Med has been, and continues to be, covered intensively. It likely dominated the news in Greece, Italy, and Spain. Less so here, but that’s to be expected. The Med isn’t our southern Border.

Humanitarian groups in southern Europe have for years joined governments in efforts to rescue migrants drifting in the Med (although certain governments would rather tow them back to northern Africa, or simply let them drown). Here in the States, when wave after wave of Cubans took to sea in leaky boats and rafts in desperate attempts to reach Florida during the Mariel boatlift of 1980, Americans were on the edge of their seats following the story in the news and on TV, and humanitarian groups of our own joined the Navy and Coast Guard in rescue efforts.

What I’m saying is if last week’s migrants had gone down in the Gulf of Mexico instead of the Med, they’d have gotten way more than a shrug from the American media, and hundreds, maybe thousands of Americans would have rushed to help in any way they could.

I quit watching Better Call Saul on network TV after sitting through ad breaks in earlier seasons, and getting pissed off over AMC’s sneaky way of tricking viewers who DVR’d it from fast-forwarding through them. As a result, I had to wait nearly three years before the fifth season became available on Netflix. Happily, the delay for the sixth and last season was only one year, and I finally finished the series last night.

If, through some Gibsonesque miracle of data transfer through time, à la The Peripheral, TV viewers of the 1980s and 1990s had been able to see even a ten-minute segment of The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, or Better Call Saul (let alone The Peripheral), they probably would have fainted dead away. Or possibly gone insane. I know I would have. Bitch all you want about modern times, premium cable and streaming TV have given us some truly quality entertainment.

And here’s an odd thought that hit me last night while watching the latest episode of Joe Pickett on Paramount+: not to disrespect in any way the actor who brilliantly plays Missy, Mary Beth’s mother, what if that role had instead gone to Sarah Michelle Gellar? Not the young SMG who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the 46-year-old SMG of today. She’d (oh god shoot me now) slay!

This is a new direction of thought for me, imagining different actors in roles played by others, and a disturbing one. Clearly I’m watching way too much TV.

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