I was intrigued when I first read about The Bridge, adapted from a 2011 Scandinavian series of the same name. Although the drama would have been a very different one if located on the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Canada, (which was first suggested) I was pleased it was half in El Paso, Texas, and then on the other side of the bridge and border Juárez, Mexico.

The show follows two detectives—Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) of the El Paso Police Department and Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir), a Mexican homicide detective from Juárez—as they search for the killer of a body spanning both sides the border on the bridge.

I was especially pleased to see that when events took place in Mexico, Spanish would be used with English subtitles—something the movie Traffic pulled off with great success. Something that implies everything isn’t all white USA, all the time.

The other detail that caught my attention, though never explicitly stated, was the knowledge that critics had almost universally accepted that the U.S. detective, Sonia Cross, has Asperger’s Disorder, a condition that interferes with social interaction and non-verbal communication.

In Law & Order: Criminal Intent actor Vincent D’Onofrio played a detective that many people believed had Asperger’s, though the show or major television critics never mentioned it. So the notion that The Bridge would deal with this a bit more directly piqued my interest.

Thanks to cable’s “On Demand,” I’ve been able to binge on the first season for the past two weeks and, at first, was pretty disappointed. The plot seemed clichéd, albeit with occasionally a bit more subtlety. We discover, for example, that Marco Ruiz, the Mexican detective, slept with one of the other major characters because she returns his forgotten wallet to Sonia instead of watching them writhe around in a bed. But high ranking Mexican police officials are portrayed as completely indifferent to the multitude of missing woman in Juárez, only interested in closing the book and getting rid of the U.S. detective.

How many television shows have that one good detective up against an uncaring bureaucracy? Women as bloody victims are, in and of itself, a major cliché.  Even the oddly complicated shotgun partnership between Sonia and Marco learning to work together is something we’ve seen before. Many times.

Furthermore, at first, Sonia’s “Asperger” character was so over the top it defied belief—not that someone on the spectrum would behave as she did, but that she could have managed to become a detective. As a mitigating factor, the police chief was also her rabbi, so to speak. As time goes on, we realize that the gentle coaching he gives as supervisor and mentor is the result of some mutual history.

Perhaps, though, my biggest annoyance was what I was initially most interested in: the use of the Tex/Mex border town as the locale. Rather than allowing viewers the opportunity to actually experience and realize the changing demographics of our country, I wondered if the show permitted people to write off the socio-economics and changing demographics as limited to only where the rubber meets the road. That is, just the towns directly on each side of the line.

But I was caught up in my binge so I kept watching. And ended up very, very pleased that I did.

The second half of the season turned The Bridge around. The writers softened Sonia’s symptoms to a place where it was actually possible to imagine her as working her way up the ranks while still struggling to solve both the mystery at hand along with the mystery of human interactions. At the same time, Marco’s easygoing, but virtuous cop became more complex in the face of his imploding marriage and family. Despite a few missteps, Demián Bichir’s acting and compelling face has jumped from the screen and has been superb.

Even more importantly, for me anyway, I’ve come to see the real value in using the Tex/Mex border towns. Imagine if you will two giant funnels, each located in one country and tubed together with the other. Mexico’s funnel gives the viewer a realistic look at those who have gone through the torturous travel of crawling toward its skinny pipeline—defying dessert heat and unscrupulous bribed “transporters,” only to arrive in a town that cares nothing for their well-being. We all know the sentiments and attitudes that waft through our funnel, even though we try to block it as best we can. And woe to those who manage to squeeze through the tube. I find it passing strange that we diligently work to jail or deport people who risk everything imaginable and survive hell to simply better their lives and those of their children while, at the same time, we barely slap the wrists of those who have actually crippled our economy and the day-to-day lives of millions of our fellow citizens. Really, who are the “illegals” living here?

Bottom line: I’ve re-learned a lesson that I should have remembered. Sometimes it takes more than a show or two, or even a season or two, for an ambitious attempt at a series to find its legs. Art ain’t art with one stroke of a brush. (Unless you’re already really, really famous.)

I recently read that FX (the show’s network) has signed up for a second season of 13 episodes. If The Bridge continues its creative development and doesn’t regress into stereotypes or overly traditional plot lines, the view has the potential to be really special.

Nothing is more dangerous than a dogmatic worldview – nothing more constraining, more blinding to innovation, more destructive of openness to novelty. Stephen Jay Gould




There is, but frankly it’s pretty unappealing. I’d rather interview the dead than be one. I hate returning to my regular Monday posts on a down note, but see no other way. It’s not that my off time was unproductive–got the major revision of TIES THAT BLIND finished and will begin the second revision after my publishing work partner re-reads the book and we review her comments. So, as far as writing goes, I’m pretty pleased. And, in fact, I had a much cheerier post planned for my return.

So why the down?

I read the newspaper every morning. And every morning I read about another fifty dead Iraqis. Another car bomb in Afghanistan. Obama ready to drone Syria—which most of Congress and even more of our population oppose. And then he catches hell from talking heads and those same opposing congressmen for agreeing to a negotiation rather than a bombing.

Ah-h-h, bombing—and they call baseball the “national pastime.” Since the Korean War we have bombed the following countries AND a city in the United States:

  • Guatemala 1954, 1960, 1967-69
  • Indonesia 1958
  • Cuba 1959-1961
  • Congo 1964
  • Laos 1964-73
  • Vietnam 1961-73
  • Cambodia 1969-70
  • Grenada 1983
  • Lebanon 1983, 1984 (both Lebanese and Syrian targets)
  • Libya 1986. 2011
  • El Salvador 1980s
  • Nicaragua 1980s
  • Iran 1987
  • Panama 1989
  • Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
  • Kuwait 1991
  • Somalia 1993
  • Bosnia 1994, 1995
  • Sudan 1998
  • Afghanistan 1998, 2001-present
  • Yugoslavia 1999
  • Yemen 2002, , 2009, 2011
  • Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
  • Iraq 2003-present
  • Pakistan 2007-present
  • Somalia 2007-8, 2011


Iran April 2003 – hit by US missiles during bombing of Iraq, killing at least one person.

Pakistan 2002-03 – bombed by US planes several times as part of combat against the Taliban and other opponents of the US occupation of Afghanistan.

China 1999 – – Its heavily bombed embassy in Belgrade is legally Chinese territory, and it appears the bombing was no accident.

France 1986 – After the French government refused the use of its air space to US warplanes headed for a bombing raid on Libya, the planes were forced to take another, longer route and, when they reached Libya they bombed so close to the French embassy that the building was damaged and all communication links were knocked out.

Philadelphia May 13, 1985 – A bomb dropped by a police helicopter burned down an entire block, some 60 homes destroyed, 11 dead, including several small children. The police, mayor’s office, and FBI were colluded  to “evict” a black organization called MOVE from one house and the effort got out of hand


Do the math. In the fifty-four years since we stopped dropping bombs in the Korean War, we spent 36 of them dropping bombs on someone else. Or, if you want to reduce the fraction, it comes down to a very disturbing super-majority of two-thirds. I thought about researching the number of civilian casualties now simply known as “collateral damage”, but frankly, I was afraid I’d throw up. And I really hate to puke.

I imagine there are people who might be able to find rationalizations for some—or even all the above. And I say go for it because it sure doesn’t look like anything is about to change. We might as well have “reasons” for slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people. We ought to have “reasons” for a military force greater than that of damn near every other country combined. Let alone, “reasons” for not spending that unconscionable amount of money on giving our kids great schooling and healthcare.

Bottom line; we’re still taking scalps.

Some of my disgust probably comes because of age. I’m getting closer and closer to “the way out of here” and the older I get, the more violence sickens me. To have my homeland be a serial killer on steroids is excruciating. I’ve been alive through all the above and shudder to think how much more “collateral damage” I’ll live through during the rest of my life.

It would be easy to simply blame politicians, generals, national security councils. Too easy. We the people allow, encourage these mass murders. And I see nothing on the horizon that gives me much hope for change. Hell, the Socialist French President was extolling the virtues of bombing Syria.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to live in a country where bombs rain down day after day. Or even the threat of it. I have a Palestinian friend who once told me the first word he ever learned was “bomba.” The very idea of spending every day and night literally waiting for the bomb to drop is almost unfathomable. But in a country where every car’s backfire sends people scrambling for shelter, it’s a whole different experience. Those of us who are old enough to remember “duck and cover” probably remember the apprehension that came with the drill—and that was merely practice. As tragic, frightening, and painful as 9/11 was, it doesn’t equal the slaughter and fear we’ve inflicted upon innocents throughout the past fifty-four years. So many others have awakened every morning wondering how many of their family members are still alive. Not something our own children are forced to cope with.

Although I know a lot of people who feel the way I do, I still experience myself as A STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. I go about my daily life, worrying about my relatively insignificant problems, then each morning coffee get jolted back to crazy. Only it’s apparently not crazy. It’s our country and the world in which we live and this is why I felt compelled to write this post.

I am, however, pleased to be writing my Just sayin’ column again. I missed doing it and missed the comments from people I know and those I don’t. And while I do feel intensely about politics and the United States’s role in this insanity, my column will once again tackle a variety of subjects, ideas, art, entertainment–as well as more INTERVIEWS WITH THE DEAD. Just sayin’ will not be an every week political rant–but I gotta tell you, thems there some low hanging fruit.

The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life-Jane Addams