The pandemic has got me doing a lot of walking -- and a little of what I used to call running, although now even the word "jogging" would be generous. I have gotten more familiar than ever with my extended neighborhood as I do my old-man shuffle.
For the last five or six evenings, the peace and quiet of my little inner northeast Portland domain has been wrecked by an infernal helicopter, which seems to be operated by a broadcast television station. The thing shows up around 7:00 and hovers for hours. As in, well after dark. Noisy as hell. Some of the protesters march from Revolution Hall to Irving Park, and the copter tends to hang out over the park. Then it goes downtown for a while. Then it comes back. Thwacketa thwacketa thwacketa.
What is gained by having that apparatus up there all evening? Do the TV ratings really improve because they show a helicopter feed of the demonstrators for a minute or two? Doesn't it look the same every night?
I understand, it's a historic moment. But the protests have been going on for a couple of weeks. Is the news value really so intense at this point that ground coverage is insufficient?
And isn't it expensive?
That thing has to be amping up the stress that everybody's feeling these days, for various reasons. It's probably particularly harmful if there's a tense standoff going on between cops and protesters. It's bad enough wondering what's going to hit you next, without the obnoxious, relentless din making you feel like you're in a scene from "Apocalypse Now."
One observer at the protests tells me it's sometimes hard to hear the person speaking because the helicopter racket is drowning them out.
I don't watch the local news on TV these days -- somehow it's lost its zest for me -- and so I don't know for sure which station may be to blame for the annoying chopper. Somebody said it was KGW, but that may not be right.
Whoever it is ought to drop a few hundred bucks on a nice, quiet drone. I know some high schoolers who can hook them up. Then the TV people can leave their obsolete contraption out at the airport, or wherever it goes when it shuts the heck up.
UPDATE, 3:57 PM: I'm informed by a Tweet from Mike Benner of KGW (whose work I have always liked) that the helicopter is shared by his station and two others.