Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Adventure 10


I got rejected by The New Yorker Magazine. Yeah. They sent me the rejection roughly four months after I sent them my story. Anyway, I have decided to put it up where I call the shots. The text below is an exact copy of their rejection mail, and my story, complete wth the screwed-up formatting (whenever you see text enclosed by two funny characters like 'Š' it means the text was to be in bold or italics.
We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material.
Thank you for
giving us the opportunity to consider it.

The Editors

On 6/23/05 1:28 PM, "Prithwiraj Mukherjee" wrote:

> By Prithwiraj Mukherjee
> "You can't do this!" she screamed, but her voice could
> barely be heard over the hum of the chainsaw. However,
> her face was coming just perfectŠmy new camera was
> serving its purpose well. "Hi, this is Michael Das
> reporting for TV 42. We are transmitting live from a
> shed somewhere near New York, where the chainsaw
> murderer who calls himself Manson-II is about to
> perform his third gory actŠ" It was a pity I had to
> blur out his face, but the victim was pretty. A
> small-time model in her mid-twenties, she had no
> future, thanks to those broad shoulders. At least now,
> she would be famous. In the background the chainsaw
> made contact with skin, and a few red droplets
> appeared on the lens too. A small price to pay for
> those TRPs, as the world looked on in horror.
> TV 42 used the catch phrase "making news", and had
> recently grabbed a lot of eyeballs by airing a lot of
> shocking live footage over the past year. The three
> massacres of Manson-II, the bombing of Planet
> Hollywood, and the impassioned pleas of Senator
> Johnson as his captor dissected him limb by limb. What
> nobody knew was that the catch phrase was literally
> true. Seems confusing? Let me explain.
> In the summer of 1995, Albert Karinski, the son of
> Czech immigrants and a controversial reporter with Fox
> News, decided to part ways with his employers and
> start his own news channel. He was apparently
> disgusted with Fox's policy of censoring and editing
> its content for prime time viewing. A veteran of the
> Iraq War, Karinski had to face many a humiliation,
> when his footage, often taken at great personal risk
> was consigned to the dustbin on account of
> 'unsuitability'. Images of US soldiers being branded,
> or Iraqi civilians clutching their entrails had no
> place in Fox's reports of heroic America and those
> magnificent aerial bombings which made the average
> Joe's heart swell with pride.
> To cut a long story short, Albert Karinski, along with
> a few like minded persons - Sarah Callaghan of NBC,
> Peter Schmidt and Alfred Benigni of CNN - started TV
> 42; a channel that would broadcast nothing but the
> truth - the whole shocking unedited truth. A year
> later they realised what the truth was, and it was
> even more shocking than they expected. Nobody cared
> about Channel 42. The terrorist groups still preferred
> CNN for their warnings. CBS reporters were kidnapped
> by anarchists looking for attention. TV 42 was just
> another news channel that people turned to for
> baseball scores or stock market figures that appeared
> as a continuous scroll at the bottom. Karinski had
> almost given up hope, till in walked Michael Das, that
> is I.
> My story is even more interesting than that of TV 42.
> I was born in a small village in the beautiful state
> of Kerala, India. My father was a devout Catholic, and
> determined that his youngest son, that is I, become a
> priest. So, at the age of sixteen, after completing my
> elementary school education, I was bundled off to a
> monastery. They could not keep me for long. In a
> couple of months, I had run away to Bangalore. There,
> I waited tables at a fast food joint, and
> simultaneously pursued a degree in mass communication
> via correspondence. I managed to secure a job with
> Asianet, a leading Malayalam Channel, and was soon
> posted in Saudi Arabia, where the channel's largest
> overseas viewer base was situated. It was there that I
> met Albert Karinski. We shared similar views on a lot
> of things, and I totally agreed with his views on
> censorship. We kept in touch. In 1998, I got a call
> from him, asking me whether I would like to work as
> the Middle East correspondent for TV 42. I readily
> agreed. That was seven years ago. Now I am one of the
> top people in the network, and a star.
> It all started a year ago. Our share prices were rock
> bottom. Advertisers gave us the cold shoulder. We were
> reduced to wannabe status. In short, TV 42 was one
> step away from total bankruptcy. One night, after an
> especially frustrating day - three reporters had
> deserted ship - I lay in bed, thinking of my dream;
> the dream of being that sensational guy who broke the
> story that shook the world. Let alone breaking
> stories, we even had to buy BBC and CNN footage these
> days due to lack of money and contacts. "Making news,"
> our catchphrase went. Somehow those bold flashing
> letters refused to go away from my eyesŠand then it
> hit me! Why not make news? If we were the one to make
> news, we could be the ones to break it. Serial
> Killers, terrorists, bombers, extortionists, spy-cams,
> all we had to do was decide the crime we wanted to
> cover! We would soon be number one!
> "You must be joking" Karinski said, his voice almost
> inaudible.
> Susan was just laughing hysterically.
> Alfred Benigni was the only guy without any expression
> on his face. He looked me in the eye. "You know,
> Mike," he said "what you have said is not only
> extremely far fetched, but also a sign of total moral
> bankruptcy. But having said that, I must admit that it
> could just work our way. But, we need to be extremely
> careful, not only our reputations are at stake, but we
> could even get convicted if these crimes are traced
> back to us."
> Susan wasn't laughing any more. "What do you plan to
> do?" she asked.
> "I don't knowŠI think we should start small, some sort
> of minor felony," I offered.
> And that¹s how it all began.
> The decapitation of Senator Oswald Johnson was our
> first major coup. Oswald had been a classmate of
> Alfred Benigni during the late Sixties. He had
> reportedly been the school bully. Even in those days,
> Oswald had used muscle tactics to upstage Alfred -
> till then the favorite for the post of school
> president. Alfred had never forgiven him. One more
> thing. Alfred was a racist and made fun of a lot of
> ethnic minorities, especially the Italian community.
> Even in his political career, Oswald had not spared
> the Blacks and Hispanics, winning the White Catholic
> vote bank over with his promises of stricter
> immigration laws and the abolition of Evolution in the
> elementary school curriculum.
> Our idea was to get Senator Johnson kidnapped and
> tortured. Not many would shed tears for him, we
> figured. For this purpose, we hired Pablo Mendez, a
> professional kidnapper and hit-man from the Bronx
> area. Pablo would be one of our most reliable men in
> the coming months. Pablo and three others traveled to
> Washington DC by road. My cameraman, Sidney Lawrence
> and I took the flight. They took him as he stepped out
> at night to buy a few beers before the Superbowl game
> began. All very professionally done - not even a
> scream was heard. By the time his wife came to know,
> Pablo was miles away. Not that she cared too much,
> anyway.
> To keep up the charade, Pablo had Lawrence and me
> blindfolded and gagged when we were brought in front
> of Senator Johnson. This was our first time, in the
> later stories we didn't bother. "One finger at a
> time," was what Bengni and Karinski had ordered. And
> so it was. Had I made a mistake? The bile rose up my
> throat as the blade touched his left thumb, but by the
> time his ring finger was taken, I actually enjoyed it.
> Oswald's screams meant only one thing - our fortunes
> had reversed. E were very lucky - the police found the
> hideout three days later, but TV 42 did not suffer.
> Nobody knew that we were actually "making news". The
> Oswald Johnson videos made history - every channel
> paid through its nose for telecast rights. It became
> one of the most searched items on the Internet. We
> made millions in licensing deals. Why, I even had
> offers from Playboy and Time for a no-holds-barred
> account of my adventures!
> TV 42 soon became the channel to watch. We even formed
> a secret team to script the crimes to perfection. We
> decided what crime was the best for the particular
> time of the year, and areas where it would make
> maximum impact. So it was no surprise, when a secret
> 'informant' told us about the bomb planted in Planet
> Hollywood, Los Angeles. The only thing secret about
> her was the number of boyfriends she had had. Wynona
> was the most creative of them all!
> This one was easy. A pizza delivery truck loaded with
> fertilizer would just be parked outside and detonated
> at eight thirty in the night. Around thirty deaths
> would occur. As part of our 'social responsibility',
> we would call 911 just five minutes before the event,
> with news of the bomb scare. We would break the news
> to the world. It cost us less than fifteen thousand
> dollars to set it up.
> As usual, this event catapulted TV 42 to the top of
> the ratings as usual. Nobody even suspected our
> involvement in the damn thing! Planet Hollywood was
> big. A few of the casualties were even high-society
> Bel-Air residents. The tragedy caused a nationwide
> uproar.
> At this juncture, let me confess that I am completely
> morally bankrupt, even as my taxes have doubled over
> the past year. I am a murderer; so are all the others
> in the 'core group' of TV 42. Surprisingly, not a
> single person has ever voiced a concern over our
> perverse strategy to garner eyeballs. Our website is
> today the most visited news site in the world. Not
> surprisingly, we never poach reporters from competing
> networks. Neither can we hire new reporters for the
> fear of being exposed. TV 42 is a dead channel with no
> future. Its staff shall grow old together. Our
> children will never know the crimes we have committed.
> We cannot sleep in peace any more, haunted by the
> countless souls we have killed, in the name of "making
> news". The third massacre of Manson-II is my last
> assignment. But I know I cannot quit until I die.
> Karinski and friends would never let me live. Hadn't
> he had Susan run over when she had mentioned
> retirement. We could not trust even each other with
> our dark secret any more. Most probably I will be
> found hanging from the fan in my apartment a couple of
> days after I quit. Forging my handwriting on a suicide
> not is no big deal. I was the one who had found master
> forger Edward Russel - there was not a signature he
> couldn't forge. He was the one who had written young
> and beautiful banker Dorothy Greer's suicide note
> after she 'jumped' off the Sears Tower at midnight,
> after she had filed for bankruptcy. Conveniently, she
> had called TV 42 before she had done itŠ
> No, I cannot quit. However, I shall quit being on the
> field, breaking news. Instead, I shall confine my self
> to the boardrooms, planning and handling the finances,
> or editing content. I want to live, that¹s allŠmy
> conscience has died a gruesome death long long ago.

1 comment:

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