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Friday, October 14, 2011

#FridayFlash: On the Georgia Road 4

If you missed any of the others in this irregular serial, they’re here:

#1: the commuter
#2: interstate patrol
#3: lake property house-sitters

“And now for your ‘Viewer Feedback.’ We’ve received a lot of email concerning Sean McKinzie’s ‘On the Georgia Road’ series. Most of the responses have been positive, and Keri B. of Decatur is typical:”

Cut to: mail animation. Paper springs from letter, text fades in. Marcia voiceover: “Please give my thanks to Sean McKinzie for such an informative series. We’ve been putting off our annual camping trip in the North Georgia mountains, since we’ve been concerned about safety, but it looks like there’s really nothing to worry about. Thanks again!”

Cut to: Marcia. “Those who gave our coverage a thumbs-down fell into two camps. Steve L. of Norcross is one example:”

Cut to: mail animation. Marcia voiceover: “This drivel is typical of the happy-babble that TV news has been for decades. Shame on you for trivializing the very real hardships that people in Unincorporated areas have to face every day! If you want to know the real story, you could talk to my brother. He and his family escaped, and are living with me now.”

Cut to: Marcia. “Bobby J. of Marietta was also negative, but for a very different reason:”

Cut to: mail animation. Marcia voiceover: “Count on the media to exaggerate problems. No government interference, and you get a $5000 tax credit on top of that? If someone in Unincorpated [sic] territory wants to trade places, get in touch!”

Cut to: Marcia. Ironic smile. “It’s good to know we haven’t lost our knack for simultaneously trivializing and exaggerating the issues. And now, doing two opposite things at once, it’s Sean McKinzie, ‘On the Georgia Road’ in Milledgeville. Sean?”

Cut to: Sean, exterior, trailer park. “Thanks, Marcia. Rather than venturing into Unincorporated Georgia, today we’re in Milledgeville, in the heart of the Georgia Quadrangle. Milledgeville is a boom town these days, due to the number of people relocating from Unincorporated areas.”

Cut to: view of trailers. Sean voiceover: “The Baldwin County Fairgrounds is now home to the largest Relocation Center in the state. Many people leaving Unincorporated areas move in with friends and relatives while looking for work, whether in Atlanta or any of the other metro areas along the corners of the Quadrangle. Those who don’t have that option often come either here or to a similar Center in Statesboro.”

Cut to: interior, office. Title: Kwame Grammer, FEMA Director, Milledgeville Relocation Center. “People choose to relocate for many reasons, but most of them boil down to either health or economics. People with chronic health issues need to be near stocked and staffed medical facilities. Others need work.”

“Understood. But why FEMA?”

“The federal government considers chronic energy shortages to be an extended emergency. After a natural disaster, like an earthquake or hurricane, resources are often unavailable — and in the Unincorporated areas, resources are nearly always unavailable.”

Cut to: stock shot, office workers. Sean voiceover: “Upon arrival at a Relocation Center, people’s skill sets are entered into a database and matched with open jobs. Most, of course, don’t find a match right away. But some skills, such as healthcare, have more positions open than people. In general, people with college educations can find work in their field while lower-skilled positions have plenty of people to fill them. But for some, jobs aren’t the primary issue.”

Cut to: interior, elderly woman. Title: Janice Pernal / relocated from Rome GA. “Even if there was gas, I haven’t been able to drive for a long time now. My church brought me groceries and took me places, and made sure I had firewood for the winter. But I got sick about when they stopped bringing fuel, and it got harder for them to look after me like they did just when I needed to see a doctor. The preacher-man talked me into coming here, and they brought me to Atlanta. The gov’mint folks carried me down here from there.

“I get to missin’ my old home, though. They tell me I won’t live too long without healthcare, but I might just find a way home anyway. If I can pass away in my old place, amongst the memories I have there, I don’t think that would be so bad.”

Cut to: exterior, young man talking. Sean voiceover. “For most, relocating comes down to one thing: economics.”

Title: Ray Beckwith, electrician / relocated from Hiawassee GA. “Even with the tax credit, I wasn’t gettin’ enough work where I could drive around to the jobs. Some of us were pooling our money and takin’ a truck down to Gainesville once every coupla weeks for groceries, but the gas started costin’ more than the groceries. Then someone siphoned the gas outta the truck, and we were SOL. I got lucky, FEMA hired me on to take care of wiring here in the trailer park. The kids are catchin’ up with their schoolwork, and we got lights. You don’t know how big a deal that is until you don’t have ‘em for a while. The trailer’s about the same size as the one we lived in up in Hiawassee, so we got room at least.”

Cut to: exterior, middle-aged couple, Sean voiceover. “Rarely, some who leave their Unincorporated homes behind decide they were better off where they were.”

Title: Frankin and Sarah Burke, Toccoa GA. “Sure, it’s rough up there. Don’t hardly get no power, can’t find work, so we thought we’d come give this a try. Yeah, the lights come on and all, but we’re crowded in with a bunch of folks we don’t know and we still can’t find work. People in town look at you like you’re a bleep. The FEMA people helped get us a loan against our tax credit so we can get some solar things to run our lights. We got a good garden at home, we’ll get by.”

Cut to: exterior, trailer park, Sean. “The Burkes tell us they’ll invite us up some time, to see how they’re doing. Until then, in Milledgeville, I’m Sean McKinzie.”


  1. "It’s good to know we haven’t lost our knack for simultaneously trivializing and exaggerating the issues." What a great line. This series hits close to home.

  2. This series still makes me think of the possibility of it all, quite unsettling in its way.

  3. I'm really enjoying this series Larry. This instalment had a Sunday evening news report feel to it.

    And like Steve said, your story is most probably not far from what the future might old.

  4. I always enjoy these, Far. Another great episode. I love the trivialization and exaggeration bit. :)

  5. You capture the sense of a newscast well with these segments. This segment is a real winner capturing the sadness of the people relocating and some happiness.

  6. Hello all!

    Tim, thanks — I just saw the anchorwoman speaking that line in my mind & had to add it.

    Steve, even future history rhymes with history. Just keep that in mind. ;-)

    Thanks, Craig. My problem is, it's likely one of the more optimistic outcomes.

    Thanks, Danielle!

    Aiden, the format was an experiment, but it seems to be well-received (which makes me happy). I think our intrepid reporters are reacting to the criticism (just a little!) with this segment.

  7. This felt very much like a news report to me, those people have to relocate.

    I think you could turn this whole series into a documentary ^_^

  8. I still enjoy the cut-to gimmick, Larry. FAR. LARRy. Err. It allows you to go with the punchyness of newscasts without much in the way of filler.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I'm still really enjoying this series, but I loved that line about simultaneously trivialised and exaggerating the issues - the media just can't win, can they?

  11. Hi all!

    Helen, it's growing little by little… it might become a novella with some "glue."

    Thanks John!

    ATOS, sorry you felt like you had to delete your comment… come back later?

    Icy, that's about how it goes! At least they're having a little fun with it.

  12. Too real in language, too close to real in the world you created. It's disquieting and yet it never occurred to me to stop reading. It is perhaps twisted to say I was delighted by it, though perhaps it makes more sense to say it was the creativity and style which delighted.

    Take care,

  13. Thanks Much, JC! Someone once said that near-future stories are the hardest to write because events obsolete them quickly. However, they do allow creating a world by extrapolating from our current time…

  14. "It’s good to know we haven’t lost our knack for simultaneously trivializing and exaggerating the issues." - Loved this line, sounds so true.

    Another great episode!

  15. Thanks, Sonia! People seem to like that line… I'm glad, because I liked it too.


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