Sunday, July 10, 2011

Damn You, Ken Burns

Damn it, Ken. Why’d you have to do this to me? Why, of all the slow contemplative subjects in the American pantheon, did you have to pick the National Parks to document? And why did you have to show all 6 episodes of said documentary, not counting the multiple reruns between new installments, in stunning HD? Life for me was good, Ken. I had a dog, a decent job, and Hebrew School to look forward to twice a week. I had never considered making pilgrimages to any of these “sacred” parks, the way so many of the contributors to your program had. Why’d you have to go and screw that up?

You see, Ken, after 12 hours of gorgeous HD establishing shots of the most scenic places in the country, as well as repeated assertions that “all this belongs to you,” you managed to convince me that it was time to see some of this stuff for myself. It started with the idea that, since it had been fun to drive to the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire last fall, it was time to kick it up a notch and head to the top of Pike’s Peak. Then, since I would already be out there, why not continue out to California to see the giant sequoias up close?

Now here’s the part where you really get involved, Ken. You spent nearly 4 hours of programming focused exclusively on Yosemite Valley. Alright, alright, no need to twist my arm. If I was going to be that far west anyway, I should probably swing by Yosemite too. But then you upped the ante yet again. Someone in your documentary said that the Grand Canyon is something that every American should see (that might be a bit too dismissive… the “someone” might have been Theodore Roosevelt). So, OK, I’ll add that to the list. I’ve always liked volcanoes too, so I should really visit Mt. St. Helens while it’s still a barren wasteland. And if I’m going that far north, I might as well stop at Yellowstone (despite your constant reassurances that it’s a God-forsaken hell hole).

So, Mr. Burns, I must thank you for what you have dragged me into. If it wasn’t for you, I’d be spending this summer growing tomatoes and peppers instead of broccoli and lettuce, and I’d be checking Facebook and finding new TV shows to become obsessed with. Doesn’t that sound so much better than seeing the most scenic landscapes in America at my own pace, the way I want to?
Well, OK, maybe not.


  1. Happy travels! My name is Sandee and I know your mom thru our temple (Anshe Emeth) where she was my son's very favorite Hebrew School teacher. Our family, too, will be driving cross-country for the first time, to Montana, next month. Debbie and Joe Cohen at our temple will be one week behind us. So I'll probably check in. Have a fun and safe trip!

  2. Happy Trails! Aunt Ellen