Coming clean about ‘Dirty Jobs’

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What makes consumption so easy is its focus on what makes it to the shelf; capitalism’s byproducts are hidden away, necessary consequences best left unseen.

Mike Rowe, who hosts the Discovery Channel immersion show ‘Dirty Jobs’ (9 p.m. Tuesdays), has spent the last several years not only shining light into the dark corners of industry but also on the people who live and work there: ‘Hardworking men and women,’ he said in last week’s episode, ‘who do the kinds of jobs that make civilized life possible for the rest of us.’


Rowe has salvaged a truck from the bottom of a lake, farmed maggots, tested shark-repellent suits, recycled tires and tried out plenty more unforgiving professions. (This week, ‘Dirty Jobs’ will air a retrospective episode.) And dirty though they may be, these are jobs. In this brutal economy, noses cannot be thumbed at them, especially because, more often than not, this work at the beginning of the food and product chain is probably more reliable than other categories of employment. Someone will always have to do the scut work.

‘We’ve had our hands on the country’s infrastructure,’ Rowe said, echoing Barack Obama’s New Deal-esque ideas about job creation. ‘The kinda work that just might get this country back on track.’

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--Jon Caramanica