Writing Assignment 4
Roy Peter Clark tells us he’s “more interested in the dog’s name than the villain’s name […], the name of the dog makes the real story.” The Washington Times article about a fire in New York’s Chinatown gave me a similar itch for more trivial, yet frivolous information. I’m more interested in what street the apartment building is located on so I can determine if I’ve had noodles nearby, or not. And, if the answer is no, I’d likely google the locale and decide whether I’d consider it an option. There is this almost sick thought-by-association process some of us have—let’s see, oh, someone died in a fire in Chinatown, hey I’ve been there, they have outstanding sweet and sour pork. We interpret a lot of what we read in the news based upon prior observations and we take this intelligence and attach new meaning to it.
The article doesn’t fail to mention that “eight of those hurt are firefighters.” Why do we automatically devise a hierarchical system of concern regarding fire-related injuries? It really shouldn’t matter if they were firefighters or renting here illegally straight out of Beijing; human beings were hurt. What made this article real was the indication that “people jumped from windows on the fifth and sixth floors.” That’s steep. It’s difficult not to envision loads of Chinese dropping out of windows, landing in garbage receptacles overflowing with Peking Duck, avoiding brushes with sidewalk trauma.