Fiction from Nowhere: Televised Atlas

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Televised Atlas follows one man’s travels across the globe as he hosts a TV series by the same name.


Season 8, Episodes 67 and 68

In colder states kids call the cops a number and letter but few trace the name to Hawaii Five-O, a title that says last in The Union but certainly not least. “Imagine,” you say, “a show besides Cops taking place in Montana. Montana Four-One, where the mountains are pretty and the women are rough.” This is your schtick, nasty words in beautiful places, talking pop culture as you travel the world. You don’t mention that Hawaii, like New York, is both the name of a state and portion of it. Similarly, The Island of Hawaii is distinguished by the name The Big Island, the way The Big Apple extends from New York. Though the State of Hawaii contains hundreds of islands, you name only eight and visit just five.

When you get to its peak, Mauna Kea is covered with snow. You’d hoped, against logic, a little lava might plume. Only 13,000 feet above sea-level, its base underwater is 33,000 down, more than double the peak-to-base distance Mount Everest covers. It would be a million times tougher to find Mauna Kea’s base than Everest’s peak but you know, after a few undeserved Emmys, triumph is mostly a game of perspective.

If you could plummet toward Mauna Kea’s base underwater, down through the core and cannon back out, you’d see The Big Island is antipodal to Botswana, Hawaii being the only state in The Union with livable land a straight shot through Earth. Though Alaska sits opposite a chunk of Antarctica, no one will live there for at least fifty years.

So here you are hosting your last season before you turn truly decrepit. The Arab Spring tanks a shoot set for Syria, forcing producers to weigh alternate locales against repackaging leftovers, and the latter wins out as a week in the archipelago becomes an extra hour of snark. How about it, you think, the average tourist is right: A week in Hawaii really does feel too short. And when commercials and placements weave through your footage, a hundred-twenty-minutes shrink down to seventy. No matter the size of the Earth or the distance you travel, lifespan and money make a map all their own.

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