Try again

April 12, 2013

Did Karl Rove suggest that to get some dirt out on a potential opponent without giving the impression that they were trying to launch a smear campaign, some top Republicans could supply a “clandestinely recorded” tape to a member of the liberal media and then accuse the Democrats of stealing the material . . . or . . . did the Democrats hire some crafty old burglars (are any of the old JM Wave team still alive?) to come out of retirement and pull off a new version of the Watergate caper?  Will a full, complete, and impartial investigation of this “outrage” be any more successful than the attempts to look into the short sales of airline stock before 9-11, the anthrax attacks via the Post Office, or possible vulnerability of the unhackable electronic voting machines?  Such a cover story for delivering a tape full of smears, jeers, and leers could not only avert attention from the source of the news story, but would also help divert attention away from the mean spirit of the Republicans.  For a big payoff what would prevent the McConnell team from making the recording themselves and engineering a stealth handoff of the item that was sure to stir up news coverage of the potential opponents mental health history?

 

A columnist with a cynical attitude might just as well do the keystrokes for a totally innocuous effort as try to make sensible points about the contemporary political atmosphere in a country that is mired in a stalemated debate and so we will take the path of least resistance (and effort) this week.

 

How old is disappointment in America’s free press?  Upton Sinclair’s attack on the newspaper industry, titled “Brass Check,” was first printed in 1920.  Over the past weekend, the reference library at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory obtained a copy of George Seldes’ “Lords of the Press,” which was copyrighted in 1938.

 

A month ago, we had never seen the word “privishing,” but since then we obtained a copy of “History as Mystery,” by Berkeley based writer Michael Parenti, and “Into the Buzzsaw,” edited by Kristina Borjesson, which both explained that the word can be used to refer to a book that is published but then essentially quashed or left to languish unpublicized by book companies that want to extend some “interline courtesy” to some capitalist entities that would prefer folks don’t learn what those books have to say.

 

Did you know that up until Harry Truman ran for re-election the Depression was called “the Republican Depression,” but that in 1948, the conservative spin masters decided that the phrase “Great Depression,” sounded less partisan?

 

We had never heard the expression “hobo nickel,” until we ran across a young troubadour in a local Laundromat recently who hipped us to the topic of that collectable item.  We did a Google image search and were astounded to see what a fascinating item we had missed.  The young musician also was carrying an example of moldovite and was showing what makes it collectable.  It is a semi-transparent rock.

 

In the last week we also got a news tip that fans of Jim Lehrer might like to know that he has contributed a blurb to help Roy Zimmer draw attention to his political humor available on Youtube.  (What ever happened to Vaughn Meter?)

 

Recently we were delighted to stumble upon the book, “Hell above Earth,” by Stephen Frater, which tells the story of Herman Goering’s nephew, who became a B-17 pilot flying bombing missions over Germany in WWII.

 

The challenge of including unique bits of political commentary has become much easier than it used to be since America’s “Free Press” has become Fox-ified.  (See the “The Fox, the Hounds, and the Sacred Cows” chapter starting on page 37 in the book “Into the Buzzsaw.”) 

 

For example, has any pundit pointed out the chilling potential for the hypothetical possibility that if North Korea makes an aggressive move against South Korea, a response by the United States might be a strategic time for hackers in China or Iran to cripple the American Military’s computer network.  If (subjunctive mood) that were to happen, would that, in turn, have a deleterious effect on America’s assertion that “all options are on the table” regarding a move to cripple or delay Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear device? 

 

Most of the American based commentary we have encountered regarding Kim Jung Un is rather immature name calling and not at all like a calm evaluation of the possible repercussions of a new military adventure in Asia.  If Americans can handle very convoluted and intricate speculation about the rules and game strategy used in football, why do networks tend to resort to little or no expert analysis regarding International Politics?  Could that be an example of Fox-ified thinking at the headquarters of CBS and/or NBC?

 

Spending time and money inspecting bookstores to purchase obscure items such as Thomas Byrne and Tom Cassidy’s 2009 book titled “The Electric Toilet Virgin Death Lottery . . . and other outrageous Logic problems” may seem a tad foolish to most folks, but to someone who gets to feel like they “belong” when April 18 rolls around and National Columnists’ Day is celebrated, it makes sense.

 

Getting up early and turning on the computer, at 0600, to write about finding Stephen Clarke’s book, “ A Year in the Merde,” can be a bit of an ego-boost for someone who is aware that Hemingway urged wannabes to “write at first light.”

 

Would anyone else except a columnist enjoy learning (on page 161 of the book Time Capsule 1941 [A history of the year condensed from the pages of Time]) that Hitler’s Irish born sister-in-law, Bridget Elizabeth Hitler, was, before Pearl Harbor was bombed, working in New York City for British War Relief?

 

Only a columnist could use the fact that the Rolling Stones are about to start their new tour of “the colonies” in Oakland and that Willie Neslson is going to celebrate his 80th birthday later this month, to urge the two singers (who are both known for a vast array of duet recordings) to join together for a new example of their dueting abilities.  What song should they sing?  How about Bob Marley’s “Legalize it!”?  As the Stones tour begins, who wouldn’t want to hear Mick help Willie sing “On the Road Again!”?  Could those two rascals get away with a bawdy version of the WWII hit “Love them all”?  Would this be an appropriate time and place to plug John Costello’s book “Love, Sex, and War 1939 – 1945”?

 

Tim Osman got a warm welcome to the USA by the CIA.  Who was he, really?

http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/binladen_cia.html

 

Will the anchor desks at the network news programs finally notice the story about the Los Angeles County assessor when he appears in court later this month?

 

With all the references of Mitch McConnell’s bugging being similar to Watergate, will the news media still cling to the old saw about “the burglars didn’t find anything of value” or will they start to hint that what they got was the dirt on the Vice Presidential candidate Thomas Eagleton and they used that to throw the Democrats off balance at the start of the 1972 Presidential Election campaign and parley that into Tricky Dick getting elected for a second time on a promise to end the War in Vietnam. This Sunday night is the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic encounter with an iceberg.

 

Just for yucks, pull up Hunter S. Thompson’s interview with Keith Richard on Youtube and see how many words you can understand as they talk to each other (ostensibly in English) and have no trouble understanding what’s being said.

 

If “they” have hacked into the Yahoo and Google sites and if the electronic voting machines are truly “unhackable,” why don’t Yahoo and Google hire the folks who delivered the unbeatable security to the “unhackabble” voting machines?  Were the people who designed the “unhackable” voting machines (by any chance?) veterans of “the Blond Ghost’s” old posse?

 

Baseball fans in San Francisco are getting their hopes up that they will soon see Carl Hubblell’s 1936 record for the Giants of winning 24 consecutive games be broken.

 

In his autobiography, Lenny Bruce started chapter five with this sentence:  “Standing on the deck of a warship in battle, you get a good look at the competitive aspect of life, carried to its extreme.”

 

Now the disk jockey will give Annette’s “Pineapple Princess,” a memorial tribute play and then spin ACDC’s “Dirty Deeds,”  Jackie DeShanon’s “Salinas,” and Bobby Daren’s “Jailer bring me water.”  We have to go check into some “false flag” rumors about the sinking of the SS Athena for the research department at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory.  Have an “electro shock therapy” type week.

Seen in Berkeley CA

April 3, 2013

Seen in Berkeley CA

While strolling on Shattuck we heard some boss cars and managed to get two shots of this Cobra

Is getting hacked a new fad?

February 20, 2013

 

Link to new column

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/48206/oscars-hacking-and-sequestration

 

<B>Posting a whimsical lighthearted column about the movie industry might not be a questionable move for a writer working in a country where approval, of the non-verifiable results from  electronic voting machines, is almost unanimous despite an overwhelming number of recent news reports saying that Google and Facebook have been hacked</B>.

 

The Oscar™ Ceremony will arrive just as American politics and punditry are put on “pause” while waiting for the sequestration train wreck (Why didn’t Obama just leave well enough alone and not put the wars back on the books?) to take center stage.

 

While living in tinseltown, there was one question that we were never able to ask let along get an authoritative answer from a qualified expert.

 

We would like to ask a simple binary choice question for two hypothetical film projects.

 

The first one would be this imaginary dream project:  Shane Black is one of the very best script writers available.  We get a script from him and it’s going to be a downhill coast to the bank.  So, hypothetically speaking, he hands us a “top of his game” script and then we ask the dean of the USC Film School to pick student actors and a crew from the junior class to film it.

 

Or

 

The most promising script writing student we can find delivers something that got him an A+ grade from a hard marking professor and then (magically) we get Martin Scorsese to direct, an Oscar™ winning cinematographer to work the cameras, John Williams offers to toss a few tunes on the soundtrack and then Robert DeNiro and Merle Streep sign on to head an all star cast.  They have to adhere strictly to the kid’s script.

 

If, after those two projects are completed and you could only go to see one, which one would you choose?

 

Speaking of Robert DeNiro, we loved seeing him team up with Al Pacino in “Heat” and that did good business.  So now we gotta ask:  Will Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise ever be matched up in one flick?

 

For that matter, wouldn’t you love to see what would have happened if Clint Eastwood ever get to play opposite John Wayne?

 

Can you imagine a cop, played by Angelina Jolie, tracking down a master criminal played by Nicole Kidman?  What if they both think Lenardo de Caprio is telling the truth when he tells each one  “I want to spend the rest of my life with you”?

 

Speaking of Brad Pitt, when we were in Kalgoorlie (in the W. A. [Western Australia]) we met a guy whose uncle had written a kids book about two spies who were married to each other.  Sounds like a flick Brad Pitt did with Angela Jolie, doesn’t it?  The last we heard the uncle was asking the Writers’ Guild to consider the possibility that there might be grounds for a plagiarism suit.  It’s been awhile.  We wonder how that worked out.

 

Did you like “Pritizi’s Honor”?

 

Folks watching “Apocalypse Now” are supposed to know that it is loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” but didja know that Orson Well had a film based on the Conrad novel in development before he started “Citizen Kane”?  The Wells project was never completed.

 

Which would be better for music fans:  a new band gets to be the first to record a song written by the Glimmer Twins (Mick Jager and Keith Richards) or the Rolling Stones record a song that won an amateur song writing contest?

 

Far fetched speculation is fun as long as it doesn’t get taken seriously, but these days the best minds at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (ACTF) are ready to signoff on American Politics because by clever mind games any attempt at telling the truth is automatically classified as an ungrounded conspiracy theory from a psycho case.

 

Movies cover a bell curve for truth.

Documentaries are supposed to be an accurate cinematic report on the real world.

Some films are accurate representations of real events.

Some films based on a true story sex up the script a bit to sell more tickets.

Some films distort things completely.

Other films such as Star Wars are complete fantasy.

 

American journalism has gone the “Star Wars” route.

 

How phony would photos of the World’s Laziest Journalist cutting brush on the WLJ ranch in the Berkeley Area be?  Why then did “journalists” sit silently by when President Tex, who was surrounded by Secret Service agents, posed for a few staged pictures and then the “newsmen” let the world think that a man who was surrounded by good guys with guns and had someone standing nearby with “the nuclear football,” would not hire some local trabajadors to do the work?  Hogwash!  It was a game of political spin and the Journalists were accessories to the deception.

 

The 2000 and 2004 Elections were both stolen, but suddenly and magically, after 2006 the unhackable electronic voting machines become completely beyond the capabilities of the foreign hackers who have been in the news lately and reverted to producing reliable results.  Stories reported by Brad Friedman indicate that the American people are being scammed by the assurances that the machines are unhackable but facts are now extinct and irrelevant for use in any debate with conservatives.

 

Some time back when election official in Washington D. C. challenged hackers to take their best shot at their new voting machines, a team from U of Michigan reported that while they were hacked into the machines they noticed that teams from Iran and China were also getting in there and taking a look around.

 

If the World’s Laziest Journalist can post the des key number for the electronic voting machines (F2654hD4) what makes the citizens, both liberal and conservative, so certain that hackers both foreign and domestic can’t crack the “unhackable” electronic voting machines?

 

Do you suppose that those hackers had anything to do with the light failure at the Supebowl?

 

The work crew at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (ACTF) will have to be furloughed because of austerity budget measures and so they would be better off concocting some “pitches” to take to Hollywood and maybe try to get an agent who appreciates a good imagination and a command of current events.

 

Or?

 

If the guys in white smocks at the ACTF just want to kick back and take life easy (as their boss already assumes they are doing) they should just try to become Republican Congressmen.  According to a highly classified ACTF report, here is a summary of a Republican Congressman’s weekly schedule:  Tuesday morning call in filibuster holds, ring out, and go off to their girlfriends’ apartment to start the weekend.

 

Hangfire!  That sounds good to the World’s Laziest Journalist, too.  Flo of Progressive Insurance has 5 million friends on Facebook.  How can we get her to “share” a link to one of our columns?  If we could become a Republican Congressional representative we’d only need a few dozen good friends on K Street to feel appreciated.

 

Meanwhile, we’ll pound out some columns just for (as the kids now say) sh*ts and giggles.  We know that we will never make more than a handful of readers (at best) stop and think about the theater of the absurd being played in D. C.  Why did just one kid point out that the emperor wasn’t wearing any clothes?

 

Orson Wells once said that making a movie is getting the biggest train set a boy could ever want.  Unfortunately we don’t have the exact quote for fact checking so we’ll just go with the most famous movie sound byte of all time:  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Ringo Starr’s “They’re Gonna Put Me in the Movies,” Clint Eastwood singing “For All We Know,” and Paul Newman singing “Plastic Jesus.”  We have to go and take a break for a few days.  Have a “I want to thank the members of the Academy  . . .” type week.

Just a link

February 17, 2013

I will just post a link to my new column

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/48174/the-case-of-the-worlds-greatest-dog

It’s complicated and I’m running out of computer time at the Library.

Just dig it.

 

Does the Pope have a good retirement package?

February 12, 2013

Charlie Sheen’s appeal to a killer to surrender, the pope’s resignation, and the President’s efforts to prepare for his State of the Union speech were some of the top news stories in the media on Monday February 11, 2013 and so the pundits went on “Condition Red” status in anticipation of a week that would not soon be forgotten.  In response to such a week, a columnist can try to provide the best (most quotable) analysis of one facet of the complex week, find an overlooked story that was getting lost in the shuffle, or use the Walter Winchell School of Journalism method, called three dot journalism, of trying to make one snarky comment about each of all the various topics of the week.

Comparisons of the search for the rogue cop in L. A., Christopher J. Dorner with the O. J. low speed pursuit seemed too obvious.

A full column about the time that John Dillinger was apprehended in Truckee CA would mean a lot of fact checking work.  Dillinger was arrested.  The local authorities telegraphed their coup to Washington and got a stultifying reply.  The local sheriff was informed that Dillinger was in prison in Indiana and their prisoner should be released immediately with an abundance of sincere apologies.  Three hours later they got a high priority update message that said “disregard previous message.”   It was too late and that little footnote to gangster history was consigned to a life of obscurity.  The fact that Truckee and Big Bear Lake were similar terrains would help add to the appeal of such a sidebar story.

The most famous fugitive in Canadian history also fled to a snowy mountain area to elude the Mounties.  Readers from north of the USA might like seeing a column in the USA that indicated a passing knowledge of their history.

A snarky suggestion about the possibility that law enforcement officials might want to check and see if their fugitive was hiding in the Gelenrowan Inn might tickle the fancy of readers in Australia, but that would be too esoteric, arcane, and baffling for most Yanks.

Technically isn’t one escape from Alcatraz still an open case?

We know of one fan of the TV series “The Fugitive,” who finally got to see the last episode of that program while he was in Saigon.  Have they ever use DNA testing to provide an update on the real life murder that provided the basis for the TV series?

For a column about papal history we would have to locate a copy of “The Bad Popes,” and reread it before attempting a long and accurate column about that topic.  What’s not to love about someone historians call “Pope Joan”?  Didn’t one of the popes have the heartache of contending with the scandal of one of his kids killing a sibling?

The topic of the state of the union should be easy to predict.  What do folks think a President who has just been reelected is going to say at the beginning of his second term in office?  The World’s Laziest Journalist is considering doing all the fact checking about the “sit down strike” Republicans are conducting in the halls of Congress and lumping all the relevant material into one column that would carry the headline:  “Dead Democracy Walking!’

It would take a massive amount of arrogant pride for a columnist to think that he could come up with an interesting thought provoking angle to pop culture that all the other commentators missed during a hectic news week.

The Internets was fascinated last week with a story detailing private e-mail material from former President George W. Bush which had been discovered by hackers.

Initial news reports implied that some unpatriotic scallywags might have been the culprits.  With small staffs and tight budgets, most privatized news media can’t waste resources on analyzing that innocuous crime news but if they did, what could else could it possibly be?  Didn’t Watergate start out as a “second rate burglary” item from a police beat reporter?

The media ignored the possibility that the hackers were from Iran or China and immediately focused attention of the unpatriotic possibility that Americans in cahoots with Anonymous were the culprits.

Did anyone have the audacity to suggest that the story was actually a Republican leak which will form the foundation for rehabilitating the Bush family brand name?  Wouldn’t the leaked – stolen – e-mails help humanize the former President?  Isn’t that how they started the campaign in the late Seventies to reshape Nixon’s image for history?  First you humanize him, then you deify him.  By the time Nixon was buried hadn’t his image been recast as a misunderstood American hero?  Well, if JEB is going to get the Republican nomination in 2016, when, where, and how would you start the effort to reestablish the Bush Dynasty image?

If any nationally known pundit hypothesized such an explanation, that fellow would immediately have to content with explaining how a copy of his “Employee ID card” from the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory had made its way onto the top Yahoo searches of the day list.

What’s not to love about a country where a President’s State of the Union speech morphs into the status of “opening act” for a Ted Nugent press conference?

Marlene Dietrich has been quoted as saying:  “If there is a supreme being, he’s crazy.”

Now the disk jockey will play Merle Haggard’s song, “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” Gene Vincent’s “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” and a memorial tribute playing of Reg Presley’s version of “Wild Thing.”  We have to go look for a copy of Cliff Arquette’s autobiography.  Have a “which way did he go” type week.

Turnabout is fair play

February 8, 2013

“Turnabout,” the 1931 novel by Thorne Smith was given a very strong recommendation that sparked a relentless search in used book stores from New York City to Los Angeles.  The story is about the struggles of a married couple who became the victims of an ancient Egyptian god’s practical joke when he magically (as ancient Egyptian gods are permitted to do) switched their minds into the other’s body.

Our quest to find that obscure literary treasure came to an end in Los Angels many moons ago.  The book delivered the expected level of entertainment and in an odd twist of fate that copy of that particular paperback was handed off to the fellow who had given the original recommendation because he wanted to re-read the hilarious antics again.

It turned out that the concept of two fictional characters trading minds had previously been used in an obscure short story, written by A. Conan Doyle, about a student and one of his professors.

The concept of two disparate personalities switching host bodies was used in the Tom Hanks film “Big” which told the tale of a father and young son who experienced that particular transformation.

In a week in which Republicans were castigating a Democratic President for not following the rules of warfare and the Dems were shrugging off the criticism with studied nonchalance in the “I can’t hear you” mode of saying “bugger off,” the entire staff at the World’s Laziest Journalist headquarters was coping with a strong attack of déjà vu . . .

President Obama let an opportunity to investigate the possibility that George W. Bush and his posse might have (subjunctive mood) exceeded the bounds of good taste slip away and then when Obama gave his acceptant speech at the Nobel Peace Awards, he sounded a tad bellicose.  Now, the Obama supporters approach the subject of impeachment and charges of war crimes with a very Karl Rove-ish sounding collective voice and the Repubs (does that word mean folks who visit a tavern for the second time in one night?) are snickering with fiendish delight.

Isn’t there an old legal adage that states “Silence Implies Consent!”?

So if Obama was silent about any possible Bush complicity in war crimes (and he was), then, at the very least, the possibility has to be considered that Obama was an accessory after the fact for any (hypothetically speaking) Bush War Crimes.

The German High Command in WWII went to great lengths to insure that the citizens of their country didn’t know what was happening and thus they had a legitimate claim to say to the members of the various allied armies that occupied Germany after the war was over that the average German in the streets didn’t know what was being done in their name by their leaders.

George W. Bush made goddamn sure that his policies were reported by America’s Free Press and thus insured that sooner or later Americans would be accessories before, during, and after the fact to his dirty deeds, if, indeed, there were any.

How many conservatives completely ignored the precepts contained in Robert Jackson’s opening statement at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and cried;  “He (Bush) didn’t know that there was no WMD’s!”?  More than a few.

Any debate, at this point, over which Party’s guy did or did not commit war crimes is an exercise in futility.

The War Crimes Studies Center operates on the University of California Berkeley campus and since they haven’t made any headlines about launching an investigation into the possibility of any Bush war crimes, that aught to settle the question once and for all.

By a remarkable coincidence, John Yoo, who led the team of legal advisors that George W. Bush used to insure that he never, either deliberately or accidentally, did anything which might arouse suspicions of potential War Crimes, works on that same campus and perhaps the War Crimes Study Center could invite Yu to be a guest lecturer who would be able to suggest to other countries what effective measures could be used to insure that their leaders would never commit a War Crime.  Isn’t preventing War Crimes as the Yoo team did, just as important as studying other countries’ War Crimes?

On Thursday February 7, 2012, Senator Diane Feinstein explained to excitable, gullible political activists that their concern about civilian casualties from drone strikes are based on only seven or eight fatalities and that efforts to allay their fears and rectify their gross misperception, based on a regrettable clerical error, should be made.

The fact that the Dems now sound like Bush supporters and the Repubs sound like some old Berkeley peaceniks, might appeal to some people with a connoisseur’s appreciation for irony (Isn’t the dictionary definition of irony:  saying the exact opposite of what you mean?  Don’t many people often incorrectly use that word [irony] when they mean poignancy?).

The cavalcade of confusion this week on talk radio is what brought the old literary gem, Thorne Smith’s “Turnabout,” to mind this week.

Many of Smith’s comic novels were turned into classic movie comedies and later TV series.  His novel “Topper,” became a hit movie for MGM in 1937 (with Cary Grant as the ghost George Kirby) and later a popular TV series in the Fifties.  Smith’s “The Passionate Witch” ultimately became the 1942 hit movie “I Married a Witch” and subsequently that morphed into the TV series “Bewitched.”

Smith’s novel “The Bishop’s Jaegers,” which told a story about a rich geek accompanied by his adventurous secretary and recounts their reactions when they land in a nudist camp.  It was ahead of its time when it was published in 1932.  Apparently it is still a little too edgy to be adapted into a film script today.

The acquisitions librarian at the World’s Laziest Journalist headquarter’s tried for twenty years to acquire a copy of “The Bishop’s Jaegers.”  At one point he balked at the chance to purchase a collector’s hard back edition for a hundred bucks.  Ultimately, at a used bookstore on Wilshire Blvd., in Santa Monica, he stumbled across a used paper back in the bargain bin for a dime.

Isn’t it rather poignant to note that Germans are not afraid of nudity but they are ashamed of their country’s participation in war crimes while Americans are terrorized by the concept of a nudist camp but are completely unfazed by the remote possibility of any hypothetical involvement in War Crimes.

At this point, some of this columnist’s faithful readers might expect this column to segue into a column’s end quote using Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s final words, but that, like a War Crimes trial for an American leader, aint’ gonna happen.

In an opinion piece titled “Fear and Loathing in the Bunker,” published in the New York Times on January 1, 1974, Hunter S. Thompson predicted:  “ . . . an American invasion, seizure and terminal occupation of all oil-producing countries in the Middle East.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Age of Aquarius,” “Springtime for Hitler,” and Randy Newman’s “Let’s Drop the Big One Now!”  We have to go dig up a new wedge issue.  Have a “no foul, no harm” type week.

Who ya gonna call?

January 10, 2013

“Did Mr. Houdini really make the elephant disappear?”

“Yes,” I said.  “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Did President Bush make the expenses of running two wars disappear?  Telling the truth to Dubya’s loyal admiring fans would be as cruel and vicious as trying to take away their guns would be . . . and just as unproductive.

Modern Society is fueled by misperceptions.  Ridiculing the Emperor’s new clothes has always been a sure fire way to become an outcast.  A book of literary criticism summed it up in its title:  “Naked is the best disguise.”

In the early part of the Twentieth Century, there was a Congressman (everybody in Congress was a man back then and so the correct designation was Congressman) who was very popular and seemed destined to land in the Senate or the Governor’s office in Minnesota . . . until he criticized the role that bankers were playing in the effort to get the United States into the War to End All Wars.

That fellow, as a young lawyer, got into trouble when a bank sent him out to foreclose on a farm and he returned with the money that paid the farmer’s loan up to date.  The Bankers were furious and fired him.  He got his revenge by becoming a political activist who worked on behalf of farmers.  To show their gratitude, they elected him as their Congressman.

When a European member of nobility got shot and millions of soldiers were called on to die in the ensuing war, some influential decision makers in the USA saw the fracas as a sure way to increase profits for certain businessmen.  The fellow, who had been born in Stockholm Sweden, started saying things like:  “The war-for-profit group has counterfeited patriotism.”

Wasn’t patriotism what fueled the British soldiers’ charge into machine gun fire in the subsequent battles for “no man’s land” in WWI?  According to information we stumbled upon in a non-fiction book by Len Deighton, a curious thing called “the creeping barrage” may have augmented the patriotism.  It was alleged that in an effort to encourage soldiers to participate in the charge against the German line, an artillery barrage was laid down by the British.  It started behind the front line.  The shells were gradually moved farther forward and the soldiers in the trenches had the option of taking their chances with the barrage or running at the German line and see if they could get past them.  The image of brave young men running enthusiastically at the dreaded Bosch was very reassuring to the families on the home front.

The American Congressman had sealed his fate and his career in the halls of Congress was doomed.  He remained popular with his constituents, but they just couldn’t reelect him because of his views.  He tried in vain to become governor, but that didn’t work.

He was quoted as telling his son “In war it is not safe to think unless one travels with the mob.”

His achievements faded into the history books but not his name.  His son, Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. became a celebrity pioneer in the field of aviation.

In an article on a notorious TV appearance by the singer Madonna, writer Norman Mailer hypothesized that celebrities (and politicians?), who were rascals, would be forgiven so long as they didn’t commit the one unforgivable sin, which is going against type.  Hence celebrities who project an image of virtue are dealt with severely, by the media and fans, when they are caught in a scandal.

You could be a cynic who tells America that Houdini didn’t make the elephant disappear, but showing them how he did it would be completely unacceptable.

Did Robert Capa fake his most famous picture?  According to his biographer Richard Whelan, Capa was a rake-hell who often embellished his achievements with heaps of exaggeration and so the possibility that the “Falling Soldier” photo was an elaborate ruse is irrelevant.

Why is it that Elvis Presley was drafted but James Dean wasn’t?

When we first encountered a best selling history of the USA that had a title that (we thought) hinted it would be a “tell all” expose, we had visions of giving it a place of honor in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory reference library.  Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be “more of the same” that breathlessly described how various legendary American heroes had made the elephant vanish into thin air.

[Note from the photo editor:  the photos we had of Banksy’s Los Angeles art installation called “The elephant in the room” have disappeared from the World’s Laziest Journalist’s photo archives and so this column will run without an accompanying photo.]

Is it hard work to be the World’s Laziest Journalist?

Did a well known folk singer really “burst on the scene already a legend”?

Was Amy Sample McPherson really kidnapped?

Did one bullet really do all that damage in Dallas?

Did a famous editor lie to a little girl named Virginia?

Are Federal investigators still trying to learn who made money on short selling airline stocks on Sept. 10, 2001?

Did Building 7 ever really exist?

Was President George W. Bush really able to reduce taxes, wage two wars, and not make a significant increase in the deficit?

When it comes time to make the call always remember the old journalism axiom:  “Always print the legend.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Do you believe in magic,” “That old black magic ” and“ Magic moments.”  We have to go try to score some tickets for Houdini at the Hippodrome.  Have an “abracadabra” type week.

The sad state of Journalism in the USA

January 9, 2013

During the last half of the 1930’s, Europe was flooded with journalists from America, who were being paid to report on the ominous developments that indicated a trend towards fascism was occurring, and they, subsequently, became the subject for a trend spotting item for historians to unearth.  Concurrently radio was in its Golden Age stage and Hollywood was about to release the movies that marked the high water mark.  Critics agree that the films receiving Oscar™ nominations for 1939 were a remarkable collection of excellent movies that has never been equaled in the following years.

What makes 2013 different from 1939?  How good is radio these days?  In typical Irish style we’ll answer that question with another question:  Was there more or less political propaganda on radio in Germany in 1939 or in the USA today?  In the late Thirties in Germany, citizens caught listening to foreign radio stations were dealt with in a very severe manner.  Why doesn’t the app that lets Americans listen to American radio stations on their cell phone let them listen to foreign origin radio stations?

Have the movies gotten better?  An obsession with maintaining political correctness while attracting the largest possible number of paid admissions has rendered cinema moribund.  How many Ten Best lists included “Killer Joe”?  Is regimented thinking a bad symptom in a country that was founded on the principle of freedom of speech?  Ja,wohl!

How much demand for foreign correspondents is manifest in American Journalism today?

CBS had a list of foreign correspondents in Europe in the Fifties that was on the “all star” level.  Today about the only foreign correspondent working in Europe that we can name is Silvia Paggioli and she works for NPR.

Do the students attending college this year have any idea who Gerda Taro was let alone consider her a woman’s lib role model?

Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat history but what happens when the young generation is discouraged from learning history at all?

Back when LBJ was in the White House, the current issue of the French language magazine Paris Match was sold on the newsstand in the PanAm building each week.  (Where?)  Recently Al Jazeera bought Current TV as a way of gaining entrée into the American media market.  So far the response seems to be a cold shoulder reception.  Copies of Paris Match are available in Berkeley Public Library each week, but due to postal delivery the latest issue may be a tad outdated.

Are foreign language magazines (and points of view) a superfluous, unnecessary expenditure in a country that has renamed French Fries as Freedom Fries?  Has Freedom of Speech become an expensive, useless luxury in a time of austerity budgets?

Yes, you can use your Interenets connection to read foreign language web sites if you can read and understand sites using foreign languages or can fiddle with the “translate this page” option, but the few that do can easily be dismissed as unpatriotic conspiracy theory nuts.

Reportage in Washington has become a breathless scramble for spin rendering journalism into a copy of coverage of Hollywood luminaries.  When was the last time you encountered news using the phrase “an investigation has revealed” rather than “according to a reliable source”?

Rogue pundits out in the boondocks have as much chance of uncovering a scoop as do the members of the in crowd in D. C.   Neither group is going to get anything but announcements and news releases because everything that happens now in D. C. happens behind closed doors and journalists sit back and wait for the official press release to be delivered to their desk.

While the World’s Laziest Journalist was in the process of writing this column, we encountered a used copy of James Fallows’ 1996 book “Breaking the News (How the Media Undermine American Democracy)” for fifty cents.  We have read that book before but our copy of it is still out on loan somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area so we bought a new used copy to refresh our memory.

If well educated Americans didn’t heed Fallows’ 1996 warning what would be the use for this columnist to finish writing this column in early 2013?  On a cold day with rain in the forecast for Berkeley CA, it boils down to a line from “Rebel without a Cause:”  “We gotta do something.”

On page 74, Fallows starts off chapter three by saying:  “Any reporter born before 1965 did not go into journalism for the money.”

Was he trying to imply that Robert Capa got his self kilt for altruistic reasons?

Could stories about how the small coalition of military, bureaucrats, police, and clergy in Spain, who tamped down the demands for better condition from the farmers and workers in the mid Thirties, be a warning to the protesters wearing Guy Falk masks to the Occupy events?

Isn’t it enough for Fox News to run a quote from the President saying that holding the debt ceiling hostage won’t be tolerated and a quote from John Boner (from the codpiece party) saying “We’ll see about that!”? Isn’t that a marvelous example of fair and balanced journalism?  Aren’t the buttinskis who inject any commentary way out of line?

Do the liberal pundits think that Americans have to be told that if an order doesn’t carry an implied threat, it is useless?  If a fellow receives an order from a boss, a sergeant in the Army, or his girlfriend there is an implied threat behind the order.  If you don’t follow the boss’ order; you will be fired.  If you don’t follow the sergeants’ orders you won’t get a weekend pass.  If you don’t follow a girlfriends’ orders . . . something bad will happen.

When a kid delivers an ultimatum and indicates that if the threat isn’t accepted, he will eat worms how much gravitas does it carry?  How much serious consideration does it inspire?  If the Republicans hold the debt ceiling hostage, will President Obama hold a press conference and eat worms?

If America has a debt crisis on Super Bowl weekend (or thereabouts) will anybody care?  Will the Yankees finally win Super Bowl rings?  Can the Super Bowl and Oscar™ events be compared to a chance to dance to “our song” on the Titanic?

Is Jim Morrison’s wish to see anarchy reign supreme in America about to be granted?

Recent news reports indicate that there may have been as many as 400,000 unjustified home foreclosures.  (How many foreclosed homes were owned by journalists?)  Does that upset journalists?  Fallows quotes Michael Kinsley, of Crossfire, as saying:  “Being paid more than you are worth is the American dream.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Born to lose,” Iggy Pop’s “I wanna be your dog,” and Frank Zappa’s “It can’t happen here.”  We have to go see about joining the SF Press Club.  Have a “the check is in the mail” type week.

The case of the crying banker

December 31, 2012

After posting a column on Friday December 28, 2012, in which we criticized the CBS Evening News for relying heavily on videos of people crying, we tuned in that night to the broadcast and saw a crying man who went out and actually begged for a kidney for his wife, a crying woman who lost her house to the bankers (banks don’t foreclose homes people working for those banks do [?]), and a crying man who was part of a couple whose effort to adopt a Russian orphan had come to a halt because of a new Russian law.  On the NBC Nightly News broadcast for Saturday December 29th, we saw a feature story with a video of a fellow who plays soccer and might get an offer from an American Football team to come and work in the USA.  The video had gone viral on the Internets and we wondered if a video of a crying pundit would “go viral” if it was posted on Youtube.  Did we just sabotage all (and we do mean all) our chances for becoming a late addition to the list of famous journalists known as “Murrow’s Boys”?

Slightly after four p.m. on the day we published the column criticizing CBS for tarnishing their legacy that was established by Edward R. Murrow, we heard Norm Goldman criticize, on his radio broadcast, a brand of banks (think of a 1939 movie that was a career breakthrough for John Wayne) because a recent decision by the Ninth Superior Court seemed to legitimize some unscrupulous accounting practices that always favored the bank and screwed the public.

While preparing to write a new column, we suddenly remembered the old oriental parable that ends with the punch line:  “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet (those damn drones at it again?).”  Voila!  We had a Sutter’s Mill Moment.  An epiphany, as it were.

We didn’t need to envy CBS their ability to send a reporter and (union) camera crew out to video a person who was having tough times during post financial cliff period of uncertainty, if we wanted to get a video that would go viral on the Internets, we needed to get a video of a bank official who, wracked by guilt, was crying while contemplating the damage he had wrought.

Then what?

Everybody would see it.

Then what?

One thing seems certain.  If we get a video of a banker crying because of his complicity in a business practice that destroys hundreds of lives, CBS Evening News sure as hell ain’t gonna do a feature about how the World’s Laziest Journalist made a video that went viral on the Internets.  Dang!  It’s a tad late in the game to start searching for a new career . . . but . . . it will be a new year soon.  It will be a new year in some places when this column is posted.

Whatever happened to the guy who was America’s oldest porn actor?  Did he retire?  Could we do some Gonzo style reporting about walking a mile in his moccasins?

Speaking of the cinema, since we do love movies and since a goodly number of young folks like the movies made by Quentin Tarantino and since he has a new film just out, perhaps we could go see it and write a review as a way to rekindle our career as a film reviewer.  (Google Richard Ebert’s review of “Van Wilder” and read the last two paragraphs.)

Perhaps since we are not fully versed on the Facebook fad, we can just designate everything the World’s Laziest Journalist posts as “open to the public” and give George Takei (of Stark Trek fame) a run for the title of the most popular guy on that website.

We have heard of one woman in L. A. who went to a director to ask for a loan and was told:  “Write a sentence on this sheet of paper.”  She was totally perplexed but did as she was asked.  He threw the results in a drawer and jumped on the intercom and instructed his secretary to draw up a standard amount check for buying the film rights (to that sentence).  There are people in Hollywood who make a decent living just by selling ideas (known as “a pitch”) for films.

Didn’t one of those specialists become a director with offices on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica?  Hmmm.  If he is busy maybe we could track him down and start a new career in pitching and sell him an idea for a new film?

Hey, bro, do you want to buy the story (with a few more specific details supplied) of a nurse who successfully escaped from a POW camp?  Yeah, yeah, yeah we know about the guy who used a motorcycle to escape from a POW camp in WWII but this is another “based on a true story” adventure with a chick as the protagonist.  What actress could turn down a chance to walk a mile in Steve McQueen’s moccasins?

Our columns rarely get comments but isn’t the topic of which young actress could evoke favorable comparisons to Steve McQueen rich with the potential for astute suggestions?

On the same program that he castigated bankers, Norm Goldman proceeded to tackle the legalize pot issue.  Back in the Seventies there was a novel, titled “Acapulco Gold,” that hypothesized what American culture would be like when (not “if”) marijuana became legal.

Wouldn’t it be odd if Washington’s repressive attitude forced the NRA and the legalize pot advocates to agree to a mutual assistance/defense treaty and seek refuge as a coalition group in a third part such as the Pirate Party?

Maybe after the bankers repent and ask forgiveness and the gun control issue is settled once and for all, maybe then the lobbyists representing America’s pharmaceutical companies will permit the politicians to address the legalize pot issue but in Thirteen the chances for that happening fall below the “slim and none” level down to the Australian category labeled “not bloody well likely, mate!”

In our efforts to select a photo to accompany this column, we remembered an image we acquired while doing some fact checking for a possible trend spotting story about snapshot collecting.  It showed a woman on a ship and carried the cryptic caption “Spring 1942.”  In the Spring of that year, the world was in turmoil but someone was making an effort to improve their lot in life.  Aren’t all journeys manifestations of optimism?  Couldn’t that woman be a metaphor for the USA at the start of 2013?

Maybe in an effort to achieve “fair and balanced” news coverage, CBS will hire a pundit to criticize the efforts of mainstream media in the USA?  They could feature a televised version of the media criticism made popular by A. J. Liebling.  Maybe not.  Maybe we could get a job at the American Studies Center at the University of Sydney helping them understand contemporary culture in the USA?  Maybe not.  Maybe now that Wolfman Jack has gone to the great sound booth in the sky, XERF needs a replacement announcer on the night side?  Maybe not.

All three of our writing heroes, Hemingway, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson, seemed to find the obligations accompanying fame very disagreeable so maybe we can reconfigure  the old F. Scott Fitzgerald wisdom to read “Living well (in obscurity) is the best revenge.”?  If you don’t believe us, then ask author William Kotzwinkle if there is any truth in that amended quote.

Isn’t it amazing that the political commentators are making the assertion that the congressional representatives and the Senators are feeling pressure for the members of the 112th  Congress to reach a fiscal cliff agreement now because of concerns about possible resentment for not getting a bipartisan plan to avoid the cliff, playing  a role in their reelection as members of the 113th Congress.  Isn’t there an old political adage that states that American voters have a short memory?
Winston Churchill may have predicted the fiscal cliff political stalemate when he said:  “We conferred endlessly and futilely and arrived at the place from whence we began. Then we did what we knew we had to do in the first place, and we failed as we knew we would.”

Now the disk jockey will play “As Time goes by,” “the Alabama song,” and the Eagles song about James Dean.  We have to go post a link to this column on Facebook.  Have a “good night and good luck” type of new year.

December 28, 2012

The woman who said “I don’t pay taxes; the little people do” may have inadvertently undercut the level of seriousness that some people will give to the looming prospect of a theoretically higher tax rate for the one percenters in return for giving them a chance to see how people addicted to consumerism handle austerity.  A thirty-nine percent tax rate that won’t be paid does sound more devastating than an irrelevant thirty-five percent tax rate, doesn’t it?

Wasn’t it established that Mitt Romney only pays about 15% in income tax?  If so, how serious of a threat would it be to tell him that if the USA goes off the financial cliff the theoretical rate he should be paying will be increased and life will get grim for the people who get government benefits.  Didn’t he dub them the 47 percenters?

Wealthy folks (like Mitt), after the first of the year, will be able to turn on the evening news, tune in to the nightly images of misery and drop out of the ranks of caring Christians.  Those with cash register hearts will see going off the financial cliff as the starting gun for a race to exploit the rest of society in a time of hardship and suffering.  Wasn’t there a Country song about chilling beers by holding it next to a cad’s heart?  Did he get a job as a CBS TV reporter?

Looking forward to an apocalyptic event that coincided with the end of the Mayan calendar because it would provide excellent material for use in a column may have been just a tad immature and illogical and now that it hasn’t happened writing about how CBS Evening News has morphed from a televised version of the World News Roundup into a contest to see which reporter can be the first to get an interviewee to cry on camera seems a bit anticlimactic and mundane.  If you had a buck for every time a person cried on camera this week and next on the Evening News, would you have a fistful of dollars or not?

After walking away unscathed from a rendezvous with certain death, it seems concomitant upon this columnist to inject a high level of joie d’vivre into our attempts to ridicule the arena of politics and perhaps in an year when not even Congressional representatives have to face the rigors of reelection to just focus on the other aspects of contemporary pop culture that are fun to observe.

Isn’t the yell that Wile E. Coyote gives when he goes sailing into the void a trademarked item that can’t be used without getting permission from a movie studio’s legal department?

When the fiscal cliff chapter of the political history of the USA started to unfold, didn’t Nancy Pelosi reassured Americans that she would bring up a measure in the House that had passed in the Senate last summer and thus avert a crisis?  Did she forget her solution to the problem?  Do the mainstream media journalists consider it rude to remind her of her promise?

How many skeptical commentators asked about how many Trevon Martin type incidents would occur in the schools if armed people are put in every school?  Is it realistic to expect that the armed guards will provide the law enforcement example of baseball’s unassisted triple play with a Rambo reaction to a school shooter?

If Fox News reported that its viewers were exceptionally well informed and that the concept of “the dumbing down of America” was part of a bogus Liberal conspiracy theory, and their viewers believed them; would that be an example of the Epimenides paradox?  Why is it that every time we hear the expression “I saw it on Fox News,” we think of the title of Ross Thomas’ mystery novel “The Fools in Town are on our side”?

Traditionally Ann Coulter used to use crazy talk to divert attention away from George W. Bush when the liberal criticism of him was getting intense.  Apparently the Republicans asked Wayne Lapierre to substitute for her recently when they wanted to turn a discussion on gun control into ideological gridlock.

When we heard of the investigation into the incident on TV that involved David Gregory holding up an extra capacity ammo clip, we were reminded of the time back in the Sixties when a New York City local news anchorman (Jeraldo Rivera?) was arrested on camera by someone dressed like a NYPD cop for holding up a roach (ie a marijuana cigarette) while he was on the air.  Who was that journalist?  What happened to that case?  Maybe if that on air personality is still serving time for that stunt, he can truly report that (for him) the Sixties still have consequences and aren’t over yet.

On one episode of the popular Sixties TV series Star Trek, the crew of the Enterprise was told that when the 21st century arrived massive land wars would be obsolete and that wars would be limited local struggles called Bush Wars.  Is that sound byte on Youtube?  If so we could write a column about that sometime during 2013.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist is going to relegate politics in the USA to the back burner, we could concentrate on other topics.  We might even shift our tendency to post on early Friday morning (PST in the USA) to a different day and time.  Maybe that would permit more readers an opportunity to skim our offerings?

Some cynics might suspect that a shift in emphasis away from politics to more of the “let the good times roll” reports might just be an excuse for this columnist to make the task of writing the columns more like an excuse to go out and have fun.  Watching a lava lamp and being inspired to write heavy philosophical think pieces might have been appropriate before the arrival of the last day on the Mayan Calendar, but now that we have cheated death isn’t every sandwich going to be a treat?  Didn’t a famous musician, after he learned he had a very serious health problem, advise people to “enjoy every sandwich!”?

Perhaps we should write a column about the old movie serials where a Hero (such as The Shadow as played by Victor Jory in the 1940 serial series) shrugs off a brush with certain death and plunges ahead with life in next week’s installment.  Will the saga of the post economic cliff America be a similar story line?

If a person rolls his car and winds up lying on a remote highway with a bunch of broken bones there are two ways to react.  One can either say:  “Oh dear, this means a long stay in the hospital” or he can exuberantly exclaim: “I’m still alive!”  We think that T-shirts that say “I survived the Mayan Apocalypse!” might sell well.  With or without an augmentation to the bank account, this columnist thinks that all the members of the  Mayan Apocalypse Survivors Association should make a concerted effort to make 2013 an enjoyable experience.

Yes, we realize that the suspension of unemployment checks is a serious economic situation, but if people who encounter that problem overcome the challenge just think of how baffled and aggravated the rich people, who expected to see soap opera existential crises every night on the evening news, will be.  It will be just like in the movie serials.  When 2012 ended it looked like “curtains” for sure, but when 2013 begins the financial cliff (except on Fox) will be No Big Thing (NBT).

If, somehow, the unemployed workers, manage to adopt a Zen existence that isn’t dependent on a weekly paycheck, just think how incensed that will make the capitalists who are counting on seeing the victims of their strategy suffer extensively.  It would almost be as if the victims refused to suffer just out of spite.

Back in the Eighties there was a spate of self help books that advised people to cut back on their standard of living and retire at a young age.  Perhaps some of the people getting their last unemployment check next week, should buy some used copies of those books this week?

After a few moments of contemplating what would make a good topic for a more feature oriented column, we realized that it might require a great deal of fact finding to produce a good trend-spotting column.  On the other hand, the obvious absurdities in politics are so readily available and the mainstream media makes no effort to point them out and so such columns full of “these columns practically write themselves” material need very little effort to produce, so maybe we will just slowly transition into some of the alternative topics.

Do the places that sell marijuana for medicinal purposes make extra profits by selling such periphery items as lava lamps?  Are T-shirts featuring a famous rolling paper logo still being sold?  Do the pot clubs sell those rolling papers?  Do rock concerts still include light shows?  When is the Jefferson Airplane going to release a new album?

Was it George Carlin who first said:  “If you can remember the Sixties; you weren’t really there.”?  Shouldn’t the closing quote for this column be something more intellectual such as Nietsche’s quote:  “ . . . when you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.”  (We preferred to use the Wile C. Coyote howl of despair, but, alas, it was not to be.)

Now the disk jockey will play “Rescue me,” “Cry me a river,” and “Sea of heartbreak.”  We have to go find a good VHS tape to play on New Year’s Eve.  Have a “ . . . but what if an armed guard had been there” type week.

Remebering “The Fugs”

December 14, 2012

We thought we posted this but it seems we did not.  Hence we will post it now (and hope it isn’t a double posting.)

“Fug You,” the 2011 book written by Ed Sanders, had completely gone stealth on the pop culture radar screen at the headquarters of the World’s Laziest Journalist until we noticed a remaindered copy for sale in the Half-Price Bookstore in downtown Berkeley CA, last week.  The snob appeal of being able to write about Sanders Sixties Rock group, the Fugs, and casually saying “we saw them perform in the Village in 1966” overpowered our usual tightwad tendency to avoid spending money just to be able to write a column <I>mit</I> book review.

 

When we got the book home and leaned that the cover was a visual pun that referred to the time the Fugs were featured on the cover of LIFE magazine, we had a breakthrough moment that solved a conundrum that has been baffling us for a long time:  “What makes the Bush era different from the Vietnam War era?”

 

The first time we read Albert Camus’ book, “The Rebel,” we thought we encountered a passage that asserted that the Establishment, as Society was called in the Sixties, would defuse rebels by absorbing them into high society.  (Subsequent rereadings of the Camus’ book failed to produce that particular passage for quoting purposes.)  That Camus insight, real or imagined, helped us immensely in our various subsequent excursions into pop culture analysis.  Didn’t a rebellious band from England eventually become The Rolling Stones Inc.?  Aren’t the rights to the Beatles songs still earning royalties?  Will new rock bands raise funds by selling stock?

 

As we started to read “Fug You,” we were delighted to see that a bunch of the references to the counterculture evoked some personal memories to add to our enjoyment level of Sanders recounting of the Sixties.  (Was the Psychedelicatessen NYC’s first “head shop”?  [It was featured in a Time magazine story dated February 24, 1967.])

 

Then we had our breakthrough insight while staring at the information that the Fugs were featured on the cover of the February 17, 1967 issue of LIFE magazine.  In the Bush era, underground cult heroes have zero chance of getting mainstream media exposure.  No corporation in its right mind (pun?) will give free publicity to a movie maker, novelist, or band that isn’t a shining example of the capitalist philosophy and (even better) part of that very corporation’s “extended family” of subsidiaries.

 

It wasn’t always like that.

 

When a book expert was asked to authenticate the validity of a hardback copy of the first edition of Jack Kerouac’s book, “On the Road,” which was autographed and inscribed to Marilyn Monroe, his research revealed that both the actress and the pioneer Beatnik novelist appeared on the Tonight TV show on the same night, so he verified the authenticity of the item.

 

Sanders says (on page 230) that the Fugs were invited to perform on the Johnny Carson version of the Tonight Show but that a dispute over which song was to be performed caused the cancellation of that potential milestone in pop culture history.

 

On November 5, 1965, the Fugs added an extremely unusual accomplishment to their resume (page 170).  Allen Ginsberg, the Fugs, and Country Joe and the Fish gave a concert performance in a chemistry lecture room on the University of California Berkeley campus.

 

In the Bush era, the mainstream media does not feature stories on the counterculture and thus bestow legitimacy on the rebel artists and their anti-establishment philosophy.  In the Sixties, underground celebrities were almost automatically given a ticket to fame by the mainstream media.

 

During 1969 while we lived in San Francisco, we were totally oblivious to the fact that a co-worker from our college yearbook and newspaper, John Walsh, was struggling with a counterculture venture in the very same city.  (Woulda/coulda/shoulda)  It wasn’t until about two years later that Newsweek magazine drew national attention to the feisty rock’n’roll magazine being published in the city slightly to the East of Berkeley CA.  That publishing venture called itself by the same name that O. Henry had used years before when he attempted to publish a magazine:  “Rolling Stone.”

 

San Francisco’s band of rogues called the Merry Pranksters weren’t the first people in the United States to buy an old bus and then go tearing around the country seeking fun and adventure, but the Pranksters were the first to have their escapades chronicled by a mainstream writer (from New York City) who just happened to be in the process of forming the Gonzo branch of Journalism, Tom Wolfe.

 

Hunter S. Thompson chronicled the exploits of the Hell’s Angles Motorcycle Club in the mid-Sixties in a book and then became a staff writer for the previously mentioned Rolling Stone magazine.

 

Comedian Flip Wilson did a routine about keeping up with the latest news that included “The Church of What’s Happening Now.”  Trend-spotting in the news media wasn’t just a fad in the Sixties, it was an obsession.

 

George Carlin skewered the Sixties penchant for fast moves in the pop culture arena when he suggested that a song could be “last week’s pick-hit of the week, this week number one, and next week’s ‘golden oldies’ selection.”

 

Was the band The Who trying to make a confession when they titled an album “The Who Sells Out” or were they just making a feeble attempt to be ironical?

 

In the Sixties, bands would get a career boost by appearing on the Ed Sullivan TV show.  TV talk shows were not reluctant to feature rising talent.  Saunders includes (pages 227 to 230) a partial transcript of the Fugs 1967 appearance on the David Susskind TV show.

 

In the early seventies, when a young unknown singer, named Bruce Springsteen, with a hard working publicity agent, wound up on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, the two rival magazines agreed to make sure that wouldn’t happen again.

 

When the “Sounds of Our Lives” radio format featured music from the big band era, rock fans might clandestinely listen to Glenn Miller but the roster of ads featuring denture adhesives, Depends, and cures for denture breath, would cause a young listener to recoil in horror exclaiming:  “Hell’s Bells, forty years from now will we become old farts who wax nostalgic listening to stations that only feature music from the British Invasion?”  Do Vietnam era veterans still utter the phrase “Roger that!”?

 

These days free publicity is too precious a commodity to be wasted on unknowns.

 

In the era of shrinking news staffs, journalism relies more and more on prepackaged material known as HO’s (hand outs).  Why pay a reporter when you can run a professionally done segment provided free from a large corporation (such as a pharmaceutical company?)?  We have recently learned that the United States and Switzerland are the only two countries that permit TV ads for medicines.

 

News from the underground provided fertile ground for the growth of alternative newspapers.  The Village Voice helped prepare the way for The L. A. Free Press, the Berkley Barb, and Al Goldstein’s Screw.  These days the San Francisco area sustains three weekly newspapers, the Guardian, San Francisco Weekly, and the East Bay Express.

 

Unfortunately the underground press no longer functions as a scout for the troops in the mainstream media.  Does Fox Views do trend spotting stories other than noting the rising stars in the Republican Party?  Wouldn’t it be a hoot if this column inspires the establishing of a late night talk show on Fox?  Would Disco Tex and the Sexoletts have a snowball’s chance in hell of being invited on that show?  Are stars from the underground this era’s missing media darlings?

 

Who is on the roster of the new angry young men?  What new band owns the rights to wear the <I>enfant terrible</I> label?  Can you name a contemporary poet, let alone say who is today’s most outspoken poet/critic of the military adventure in Afghanistan?  Is there any novelist working today who isn’t a corporate approved source of entertainment rather than a rogue who provides the voice of conscience for the USA?

 

Does the web site that is the leading source of links to contemporary Liberal Lite voices feature any content that can be considered “edgy”?  What ever happened to that word that was ubiquitous when the Internets was in the “new fad” phase?

 

Supposedly the Internets was going to give alternate voices a chance to get their messages out to the world, but ultimately many new voices and trends may be getting lost in a digital information dump.

 

Do Tweets provide the basis for trend spotting stories?  Really?  If a thousand people tweet their approval of some new music, do the friends of those thousand people run out and listen to the recommended music or are the tweets of approval lost among thousands of other tweets about thousands of other pop culture items?  If a Tweet is posted on the Internets and no one reads it, will it make a noise?  If a Tweeter touts a hundred new items this week, will a music recommendation carry any clout or will it get lost in the digital information dump?  Do Tweeters have fans who will follow up on all of this week’s one hundred recommendations?

 

Which will gather more media attention:  The Pope’s unsuccessful attempt to post his first Tweet, or a blog, called <a href =http://mediadarlings.net/> Media Darlings</a>, which is being done by a fellow from New Zealand named Rory MacKinnon.  His blog is aimed at journalists and journalism students and it recounts his adventures in Great Britain.

 

Fame has become America’s answer to British Royalty.  Yes, occasionally some brash young upstart can break into the ranks of the usual suspects, but for the most part hasn’t fame in the USA become a matter of “carrying on a family tradition”?

 

Reading about all the causes that Ed Saunders promoted (legalize pot, stop the war in Vietnam, providing advice for young men facing the draft, free speech) one is forced to stop and ask:  “Where did he get the energy to do all that?”  For those who didn’t become quite active in all those causes, it seems natural to ask if it was worth all the effort.  Some of the early anti-Vietnam activities Sanders describes will soon be marking their half century anniversary.  Will there be any sentimental laden 50th anniversary events in 2013?  If so, will they get any mainstream media news coverage?  Would such a hypothetical event inspire a Fugs reunion?

 

[Note from the Photo Editor:  The World’s Laziest Journalist Legal Department was very reluctant to approve a shot of just the cover of the Ed Sanders book and so a file shot of a West Coast location that was also famous for spawning successful music careers at the same time the Fugs were hitting it big in New York City was used.]

 

On page 206, Sanders quotes a 1966 review in the New York Times in which Robert Shelton wrote:  “The Fugs might be considered the musical children of Lenny Bruce, the angry satirist. . . . While obviously far out by most accepted standards of popular music, the Fugs are clever, biting and effective satirists.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play the Fugs’ “Kill for Peace,” Country Joe’s song “Dark Clouds” (from his new “Time Flies By” album), and Seasick Steve’s song “Dog House Boogie.”  We have to go see if the Berkeley Barb has any relationship to Malibu Barbie.   Have a “meteoric rise to fame” type week.

The Two Santas = Jekyll and Hyde?

December 7, 2012

Nota Bene</I>:  The following column contains irony.  Proceed with caution.

Democratic and Republican politicians, pundits both conservative and liberal, and voters from both parties want this columnist to believe that both sides in the fiscal cliff negotiations are participating in a difficult and nerve-wracking process of finding a suitable compromise that will avoid the dreaded denouement of: “what we have here is failure to communicate.”  A nagging doubt that the Republicans are negotiating in good faith continues to plague any attempt by the World’s Laziest Journalist to handicap this struggle and when we take a look at what the Republicans have been trying to do since the day the Social Security law was signed by FDR, we come up with a bleak evaluation of the prospects for any Happy New Year celebrations in the homes of the poor and middle class this year.

If the January first deadline passes without a compromise solution the 113 Congress which will be sworn in on January 3, 2013, will be busy performing necessary preliminary Parliamentary procedures and will be very pleased to let any public dissatisfaction with the results be linked to their predecessors and President Obama.

If the January first deadline passes without a compromise, how will the American Journalism community (with Fox News as point man?) react?  If Fox Television advocates a non-stop rush to hysteria as the only possible reaction to a post financial cliff crisis, will a handful of liberal radio personalities be able to stem the tide?

Haven’t the Republicans racked up a track record that indicates they might secretly want to let see President Obama take the USA over the fiscal cliff?

When St. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President, a part of his program was to start union busting with the Air Controllers Union being the first group to suffer the consequences. Didn’t Michigan just pass a “right to work” law?  Doesn’t the San Francisco radio station that carries progressive talk shows just start airing commercials from the National Right to Work (<a href =www.nrtw.org>www.nrtw.org</a>) organization?

Later in the eighties the Los Angeles Times ran one or two stories advancing not only the possibility that computers would bring time saving and unquestioned results to the task of counting election ballots but that some (publicity seeking?) science based college teachers (them again?) were making the wild baseless assertion that such an innovation in the democratic process would include an inherent risk in the form of possibilities that the final results could be subject to tampering by some unscrupulous fiends.

Such completely unrealistic prognostications were quickly dismissed as the work of demented professors who had lost touch with reality and quietly slipped into the twilight zone now known as Conspiracy Theory.

Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and when the voting counting in Florida in the Presidential election of 2000 got a tad gnarly, electronic voting machines and the laws mandating the use of that method of letting the accountants furnish the final results were conveniently written and waiting for the chance to get an “up or down” vote from previously elected Senators and Congressmen.

Liberals who don’t see how eliminating “likely” Democratic voters from the registration rolls prevents voter fraud are the same ones who don’t realize that outsourcing jobs to other countries increases the profit margin and that more profits are, by definition, the  essential ingredient in the strategy for economic recovery.

The farsighted Republicans had (in a 1996 PNAC white paper) foreseen the possibility of the country facing the challenge of “another Pearl Harbor,” and quickly implemented several variations of the “double standard” concept after 9/11 occurred.

Democrats would be held to a very strict level of accountability while any Republican (it was well understood) would get an automatic exemption from confining ideology such as the precepts of war established by the lead council for America at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, which held that any invasion was a crime against peace.

Increases in the debt ceiling were automatic when George W. Bush was in the Oval Office and the cost of the military adventures in Iran and Afghanistan were exempt from concerns about the deficit.  Now that President Obama is the commander-in-chief, the main concern of Republicans is deficit reduction.

Meanwhile, the Republicans when they were in the majority in Congress had initiated a policy for the filibuster rule which would put the Democrats in a straight jacket if and when the loyal opposition leadership cadre ever became obstreperous.

The Liberals who see a conspiracy hiding behind every Bush would have Patriotic red-blooded Americans believe that the rules change which helped one particular media mogul acquire more outlets than the law previously permitted was some kind of ominous “plot.”  Now instead of a diverse group of Republican conservative publishers owning newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations, one fellow from “down under” does.  Do they think that it makes a difference if the media is owned by one man rather than a group of like minded fellows?  (These doubters probably take the concepts in Jonathan Kwitny’s book, “The Crimes of Patriots:  A True tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA,” as “gospel.”)  These narrow minded liberals would have everyone believe that Plato was predicting Fox’s high ratings when he said:  “Everything that deceives may be said to enchant.”

The Republicans have forced the Post Office to provide pre-paid funding for employee retirement programs thus forcing that government agency to contend with almost certain bankruptcy and subsequently the need to become privatized to continue to provide their services to the public.

Can the battle pitting the Republican majority Congress against President Obama be compared to the Alamo?

In his novel “Texas,” James Michener (who is noted for the quality of the factual background for his stories) stated that when the state of Texas agreed to join the United States, it specifically had as part of the deal, an option of separating into five individual states.  Wouldn’t rambunctious Republicans be more anxious to invoke that option and get ten Senators rather than succeed from the union and have none?

The beginning of the Great Depression is pinpointed as being Black Friday in October of 1929 and exuberant Republicans, who enthusiastically make the assertion that the country could have been better served by Republican leadership during the Depression, conveniently forget that the low point of the era was reached later in President Hoover’s term in office and that the recovery began with FDR’s inauguration.

During St. Ronald Reagan’s two terms in the oval office, some extremists voiced the opinion that what America needed was another Depression with the implication being that bad times would be better with a Republican in the White House.

Obviously Liberals who believes that any Republican would seriously consider the “advantages” of a Great Depression 2.0 won’t have any need to use a laxative during the duration of the fiscal cliff stare down.

Speaking of the Thirties, why doesn’t the Jon Stewart Show feature a W. C. Fields impersonator and a replica of the Charlie McCarthy dummy (now in the Smithsonian Institute) having a modern political debate?  Didn’t Fields provide the Republican Party with their unofficial motto when he said:  “If a thing is worth having; it’s worth cheating to get it!”?

To some cynical Liberals, the fact that the implication of austerity budgets, which demand cutting many social programs as part of coping with hard times, will be a chance for Conservatives to break out the Champaign and caviar might seem to be an oxymoron but for connoisseurs of schadenfreude this year’s Christmas celebrations will ring with rich people singing about the rich getting rich being part of God’s divine plan for humanity and the cry of “please, sir, may I have some more porridge” being mimicked throughout the one particular home (out of many, of course!) where they have gone to celebrate the holiday.

Are Republicans postulating a Santa with a Jekyll and Hyde personality?  Could there be one Santa to bring joy, tax cuts, and happiness to the rich and another one who deals out tax increase and social service cuts to the middle class and poor?  Do the Republicans believe in a two Santa world?

Some folks prone towards manufacturing new and improved conspiracy theories have asked us if Berkeley City Mayor Tom Bates deliberately postpones contentious items until well past mid-night when many concerned citizens have gone home.  To which we respond:  Not bloody well likely, mate!”

Some of Berkeley’s famous panhandlers are asserting that the new Berkeley Public Library policy of turning away visitors carrying a large back pack is part of a concerted and coordinated policy of harassing them and is a new facet of the sit-lie controversy.

After Pearl Harbor was bombed (seventy one years ago on the day this column will be posted), the Republicans quickly proposed that the newly instituted laws mandating overtime pay be revoked so that workers could not be tainted by the suspicion of being war profiteers.  There were some very lucrative contracts going to come their way but in the country’s darkest hour, they still found time to be concerned about protecting their workers from the possibility of having their reputations tarnished by allegations of war profiteering.  The FDR administration (which had been suspected of being pro socialist when the Social Security Act was signed into law) thought that everyone including workers should share in the bounty that WWII was sure to bestow.

The Democrats seem very reluctant to admit that the Republicans have been relentless in the defense of Veterans benefits and programs.

When we look at all these separate examples of Republican political philosophy in action together, we can not conceive of a sudden “Christmas Carol” moment that puts a “God bless us one and all” sentiment in the mouths of the Republicans who see their mission as making a goal line defense to keep the Bush tax cuts in place.

[Photo Editor’s note:  Statues of newspaper owners (Rupert Murdoch?) such as this one of the publisher who founded Culver City CA (where about four decades ago we learned the fundamentals of covering city council meetings) are more likely to be erected than ones to well informed voters or Fox viewers and so we used a shot of the statue of Harry Culver in downtown Culver City, CA as this week’s column illustration.]

United States Senator Joe McCarthy is quoted online as having said:  “McCarthyism is Americanism with sleeves rolled.”

The disk jockey will now (for obvious reasons) play Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five, the Beach Boys song “Heroes and Villains,” and the theme music from “Cool Hand Luke.”  Now we have to go replay our VHS tape of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” because we may soon do a reassessment review for the 50th anniversary of its release in 1963.  Have a “can you spare a peso for a fellow American” (from Treasure of the Sierra Madre”) type week.

Early 2016 elections punditry!

November 30, 2012

America’s journey to Election Day 2016 began with a single step in the form of a front page article in the New York Times on November 23, 2012, which effectively anointed JEB Bush as the Republican frontrunner.  Since the World’s Laziest Journalist rarely gets news tips and doesn’t have well placed sources who will provide him with newsworthy inside information such as we read in a recent Tom Hartman column that described some astounding chicanery used by Richard Nixon in his second bid for the Presidency in 1968, we will have to continue relying on our usual <I>modus operandi</I> of occasionally attempting to point out the obvious in the “naked emperor” manner, ridiculing pomposity, while mixing in some obscure facts and names (which we call Google bait), and pop culture references, as a way to inform and entertain the regular readers while simultaneously conducting the search for topics which we (occasionally) manage to find before the mainstream media does.

 

For those who doubt that there are any “naked emperor” stories that journalists in America haven’t explored fully, we would ask: Why haven’t they asked these questions?:

 

Why did George W. Bush get a pass on Questions (Building 7, the vanished airplane wreckage near in and near the Pentagon, and the mysterious entities who profited from short sales of airline stocks) regarding Sept. 11, while President Obama is being held accountable for a full and immediate explanation of what happened in Benghazi?

 

Why did the press sit silent when George W. Bush expanded Presidential powers yet they join the chorus denouncing it when the Egyptian President makes a power grab?

 

Now that voices from the left are virtually extinct, where are the howls of outrage about the “liberal media”?  In a country that says it values free speech, shouldn’t there be patriots asking: Where did it go?

 

Was coach John Madden serious when he suggested on his KCBS radio show that it was a good idea to slather mayonnaise on a peanut butter sandwich?

 

It is a bit too early for a rogue pundit to start assessing the likelihood of a 2016 contest between Hilary and JEB that will be compared to a horse race, so we will try to find some interesting and entertaining topics that are available to a pundit without “reliable sources” and let the mainstream media report the latest poll results.

 

On Black Friday, we encountered five young guys from Belgium whose quest for adventure had brought them to San Francisco.  They were part of a group of artists calling themselves Harmony Street (which has a Facebook page) and they were selling hand made post cards to augment their finances to sustain their “on the road” lifestyle.  If we run an item about the San Francisco phase of their journey in one of our columns, isn’t it likely that several of their friends back home will be sent some links which will provide an infinitesimally small bump in the total number of hits?

 

Later that same day we encountered a young man from San Diego who was interviewing people about their assessment of the annual deluge of holiday films.  We told him that we personally were eagerly anticipating the arrival of the film version of “On the Road.”  We managed to give him our opinion without having to forfeit our record of keeping the Internets clear of images of our face.  To see it, click this link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfIfyqZHoaY&feature=plcp

 

If a blogger can be considered a “digital Kerouac, then we have a reason to mention that postings have resumed on the blog that describes the “on the road” facet of life for “<a href =http://thehitzels.blogspot.com/>

the Hitzels</a>.”

 

The road to the next Presidential Election Day is littered with hazards but there is one possibility that all political pundits both conservative and liberal are completely (until earlier this week) discounting:  what if the Republicans want to drive the economy off the fiscal cliff?  (Who will be the first pundit to compare the political showdown for the fiscal cliff to the game of chicken sequence in the film “Rebel without a Cause”?)

 

The Liberal pundits can not conceive of choosing to make that move so they use the psychological phenomenon called projection to assume that since they wouldn’t do that, then neither would the conservatives.

 

It would take a fair amount of work to write a column suggesting that the “please don’t throw me in the briar patch” strategy (from the Uncle Remos stories about B’rer Rabbit) might be lurking in the Republican leaders’ minds and neither liberals nor conservatives would give such a column serious consideration, so scratch that idea . . . but if that’s exactly what does happen don’t blame the World’s Laziest Journalist for not writing a tip-off alert column.

 

On Black Friday, we went to the Union Square in San Francisco to see how the convention of shoppers, political activists of the animal rights variety, protesters, office workers, tourists, police, and journalists was going.  The contingent of police was augmented by mounted patrolmen who were riding horses wearing badges and Santa hats.

 

After a referendum in Berkeley CA to enact a sit-lie law was narrowly defeated, Mayor Tom Bates brought up a variation of the issue of who should sit where by requesting that the seating chart for the city council be adjusted so that his colleague and political opponent councilman Kris Worthington would not be sitting next to the Mayor.

 

When the local web site Berkeleyside asked the Mayor why, his quick quip answer (“So I don’t strangle him.”) brought renewed intensive journalistic scrutiny to the Berkeley City Council.  Mayor Bates told a local TV crew “It was just a joke!”

 

 

In the Go-go era, would an independent citizen journalist have been able to report the possibility for an ecological disaster because of the gold mining efforts in the Pascua Lama area before the BBC ran a similar item about that business story from South America?

 

What about beating the New York Times with mentions of the 1939 BMW replica motorcycle, smoking bath salts, and pointing out that the opening statement by the lead American prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials crippled the Bush supporters “he didn’t know” argument?  Do they count as “scoops”?

 

The famous, fictional San Francisco cop, Dirty Harry (Cling Eastwood) said:  “A man’s got to know his limitations.”  In the new era of overextended news staffs, rogue pundits who report information which will appeal to liberals has got to expect that conservatives will disparage any items that don’t fit the conservatives’ narrative and they will marginalize any such independent commentators.

 

Could the Myth Busters TV program be plotting an expose that makes the assertion that the World’s Laziest Journalist works very hard to maintain his laid-back, happy-go-lucky ersatz Gonzo style of column writing?

 

The conservative critics who think that the über-cynical World’s Laziest Journalist is being led astray on his path to an eternal reward will be glad to learn that he has been provided with an autographed copy of “Turtle on the Fencepost:  Finding Faith through Doubt” (Richard B. Patterson Liguori Publications) and will read every word of it.

 

Back when Sean Connery was slipping into the role of James Bond and the Rolling Stones were trying to land a deal with a recording company, we were trying to improvise a plan that would deliver a life consisting of: meeting interesting people, seeing interesting sights, and witnessing interesting events.  As this column was being written CBS radio news ran an item noting that the film “Casablanca” opened on November 26, 1942, and we were delighted to realize that would give us plenty of conversational opportunities to resort to this comment:  “I’ve been to Casablanca and I’ve been to Paris – I prefer Paris.”  Sometime between now and the 2016 Election Day, we will write a column that will go under the headline:  “Raspberries, Jim Morrison’s grave, and the missing sewer tour.”

 

The road to the 2016 Presidential Election will be a tough slog so why should a freelance pundit bother to make that journey?  Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream offer bumper stickers that advise “If it isn’t fun, why do it?”  According to the philosophy of Ben and Jerry and the guiding principles of Gonzo Journalism, if it looks like fun then have at it.

 

Robert Louis Stevenson, in “An Inland Voyage,” wrote:  “To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Dave Dudley’s “Six Days on the Road,” the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road,” and Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere.”  We have to go and prepare to attend the “Winter Pow Wow.”   Have a “Why do we do this, Buzz?” type week.

Those who are about to vote ignore reality

November 2, 2012

The 2012 Election Day in the USA may well become known as the day that Journalism died because no matter what happens the actual results will be the subject for an eternal debate.  Brad Friedman, who is the leading spokesman for the critics of the unverifiable results produced by the electronic voting machines, has, in a preemptive move, been labeled as the voice for a conspiracy theory and thus all skeptical responses to the final counts will have been neutralized before they can be printed in the next day’s newspapers.

If Mitt Romney wins, there can and will be no criticism of the outcome.  Any Progressive voice who dares to contradict the news will be trashed as a conspiracy theory lunatic by the conservative noise machine just as Friedman was.

If President Obama wins, the conservative propagandists will discredit his win without in the least way casting any doubt on the electronic voting machines.

Either way partisan gridlock will ignore any attempts to let fully fact checked journalism play the roll of umpire or referee.  Then on one side or the other major segments of the American population will have serious doubts about the validity of the next President’s right to occupy the White House.

If Journalism per se is DOA, what then will columnists, who don’t want to be a cheerleader for either side, write about?

Lucy, the building in Margate, New Jersey, which resembles an elephant, apparently escaped major damage in Hurricane Sandy.  That fact may not be of much importance to readers in Western Australia, but anybody who flocked to the Jersey Shore during their formative years, will be glad to know about Lucy’s good fortune.  Folks who have never heard of this bit of unique American architecture, will probably appreciate the chance to click on a link that will produce a photo of the storm’s photogenic survivor.

http://boingboing.net/2012/10/30/lucy-the-elephant-1881-novelty.html

 

The folks in France and Germany may possibly get some reliable journalism about the election, but will the people in Australia and Great Britain get unbiased reports in their national media which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch?

We could write a column that asks what happens to the personal belongings of people who lose their homes when banks foreclose.  If the personal belongings and furniture are not moved, do the banks have a legal right to sell the items left behind?  Are the people who buy those goods still known as shinnies or is the use of that word forbidden in the land that was built on the principle of freedom of speech?

In Berekley CA, the voters will decide about enacting a sit-lie law.  According to information we received from a member of the city council, Berkeley has, in the past, enacted a sit-lie law and lost a sum of money when the ACLU took the municipality to court.  Berkeley lost that past case and perhaps could become the target for some “those who forget the past” criticism if history repeats itself.

Has the national news media reported that California Governor Brown has stated that the California Highway Patrol may be used to supply some law enforcement services in the cash strapped cities that are struggling with smaller local police forces?  Would using the California Highway Patrol that way be similar to sending members of nationally known baseball teams to substitute for the professional hockey players who have been locked out by the team owners?  (Just asking.)

The debate in California over Prop 32 has us asking this question:  If businessmen can not run ads which make fraudulent statements, why then can the people known as corporations run political ads which make fraudulent claims?  If two political PACs run contradictory statements, wouldn’t one of those ads have to be making some false statements?

If Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2008, would FEMA already have been disbanded?  If so, would America see the wisdom of cutting taxes for the billionaires while simultaneously dividing the job FEMA does among 50 different state levels of bureaucracy?  What’s not to love about duplicating the miracle of the loaves and fishes using bureaucrats?

If Mitt had been elected President in 2008 would the government be sticking its nose into the management decisions of a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company or would a sincere apology to the victims’ families have already been issued and the matter dropped by now?

Has the Los Angeles county assessor finally raised bail money or is he still in jail?  If so, why haven’t his campaign donors rushed to help him?  Will his plight be used as leverage to put pressure on him to cooperate with Federal investigators in return for leniency?

San Francisco politicians are hinting that it might be nice if Superbowl L (what the hell is “L”?) is played in their fair city.

In a country where having a prominent political father was enough of a resume to make Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney qualified Presidential candidates, we were doing some prep work for a column that would ask if John Allen Cassady is a genuine Beatnik.

John Allen Cassady is named John because his mother had an affair with Jack Kerouac.  He is named Allen because his mother had an affair with Allen Ginsberg.  He is named Cassady because his father was Neal Cassady.

We were talking to Cassady at a recent event held at the Beat Museum in San Francisco and mentioned that we had read somewhere that Kerouac had met Hemingway at a party.  A fellow who was listening to our conversation said:  “Oh, that was in my book.”  It turned out he was Gerald Nicosia, author of the Kerouac biography titled “Memory Babe.”  He offered to sign a copy of his new book “One and Only:  the Untold Story of ‘On the Road,’” which was for sale in the gift shop section of the Museum.  We bought one, had him sign it, and then asked John Allen Cassady to sign it as “witness,” which he graciously did.

Nicosia’s Kerouac biography reported that the fact that the famous beatnik had met Hemingway at a party in the Greenwich Village section of New York City in the late forties had been supplied to him by Kerouac’s wife and he felt safe in putting that bit of hearsay evidence in the book.  Kerouac fans can learn more about Gerald Nicosia at the <a href =http://www.millvalleylit.com/> Mill Valley Lit</a> website.

For recreational reading, we have been perusing “The Wolves are at the Door: the story of America’s Greatest Female Spy” by Judith L. Pearson and the title reminded us of some liberal pundits cynical assessment of Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency.

Some cynical California pundits are promoting the easy way out by urging “Vote ‘yes’ on all odd numbered ballot propositions and ‘no’ on the even numbered ones.”

[Note from the Photo Editor:  If citizen journalists have limited access to Presidential candidates for getting photos, then you have to go with the photos you can get.  If photo op access for citizen journalists is very limited; does that same principle also apply to the facts available for pundits to use in their assessments of the candidates?  The photos are posted over at http://worldslaziestjournalist.wordpress.com%5D

John Quincy Adams said:  “I can not ask of heaven success, even for my country,  in a cause where she should be in the wrong.”

Now the disk jockey will play Hank Williams Jr.’s “I’ve got rights,” Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots,” and Jacob Dillon’s song “War is kind.”  We have to go over to Frisco to see the art exhibition, by Wes Anderson, at the Spoke Art Gallery, titled “Bad Dads.”  Have a “just following a family tradition” type week.

Those were the days my friends . . .

October 26, 2012

On Monday night, watching the NLCS’s final playoff game with the sound turned down so that we could hear the Presidential debate was one of those epiphany moments that life serves up occasionally.

The World’s Laziest Journalist is suffering from a case of Propaganda Gridlock.  We know that the fate of the free world rides on the outcome of the rapidly approaching American Presidential Election but lately TV is outrageously infantile and radio seems to be a tsunami of political propaganda, but the saturation point has been reached, so we have been desperately searching for better quality diversions and entertainment as a change of pace to get away from the relentless onslaught of “important” news.

The prospect of watching the Presidential debate in the hopes of being given a possible column topic seemed very unlikely.  Both candidates have their script and will stick to their main talking points very rigidly.

The last time we were interested in baseball’s annual pennant race, Gene Woodling, Hank Bauer, and Allie Reynolds were providing depth for a team that featured a boy wonder batting star in the outfield.

Watching the playoff game while pondering the question “who will win this year’s World Series,” we were reminded of the title of a 1971 movie:  “They Might Be Giants.”

In an introduction to a book titled “The New Journalism,” Tom Wolfe informed readers of the 1973 copyrighted anthology that one of the branches of literature that preceded the era of writer involvement was “The Literary Gentleman with a seat in the grandstand.”

The calm, cool, detached observer seems like such a quaint old fashioned idea now that the golden age of propaganda in America has arrived.

One prominent political pundit in Germany proclaimed:  “It (propaganda) must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”  He also warned politicians to never concede any point:  “As soon as our own propaganda admits so much as a glimmer of right on the other side, the foundation for doubt in our own right has been laid.”

Does that sound like an accurate assessment of the “dialogue” surrounding this year’s Presidential election?   To any columnist who thinks that sounds like an accurate description of the quality of debate in the current American political arena, the task facing political pundits is not to provide eloquent journalism but to offer some sensational cheerleading support.

The Literary Gentleman with a seat in the grandstands has become completely irrelevant in the contemporary American Political scene and, in many cases, even in the realm of sports reporters.

The fans are becoming quite ferocious in their blind enthusiasm.  If you doubt this, would you be afraid to attend a World Series Game wearing a T-shirt sold by a non-participating team?  Heck, even wearing a T-shirt that was obviously intended to proclaim neutrality (such as a West Coast Eagles T-shirt) would probably draw some animosity from some enthusiastic supporters of the home team.

“New Journalism” quickly became known as “Gonzo Journalism” and San Francisco was the place where Rolling Stone magazine raised it from being a fad to the level of being a strong and vibrant branch of the news reporting industry.

In the Introduction to the 1973 anthology (on page 27) Wolfe noted:  “But the all time free lance writer’s Brass Stud award went that year to an obscure California journalist named Hunter Thompson who ‘ran’ with the Hell’s Angels for eighteen months – as a reporter and not a member.”

Inadvertently Hunter Thompson also pioneered the possibility that Gonzo Journalism can be used as a disguise for the old fashioned “convenient excuse for having a good time” tradition relished by writers seeking ways for getting their enjoyment of living subsidized by gullible accounting departments at various news media organizations and publications.

Over the years, the World’s Laziest Journalist, who has covered the Oscars™, the Emmys, the Grammies, been a passenger in a B-17 G, the Goodyear blimp, and given his autograph to Paul Newman, may have adopted a rather cavalier attitude about mixing fun and job performance.  (Isn’t that a rather common personality trait among folks with Irish heritage?)

Hence the challenge of post election column topics is beginning to take on all the ominous potential for becoming an identity crisis.

If Mitt Romney becomes President of the United States will it be worth the time and effort of someone, who has provided content for liberal (or progressive or “lefty”) websites since before George W. Bush was named President by the U. S. Supreme Court, to continue the efforts to tell Americans:  “Wake up!”?  That will be hard work and not much fun.

If, on the other hand, the President is reelected, he will be lucky to get a Democratic majority in Congress and if he doesn’t the Republicans will continue their “sit down strike” level of job performance and prolong the political gridlock.

If the President is reelected and gets a Democratic majority in Congress, is it very realistic to think that he will get some new ideas by reading the World’s Laziest Journalist’s columns?  Ridiculing politicians is easy but after doing it for a number of years, the fun quotient evaporates completely.

On Wednesday, October 24, 2012, the World’s Laziest Journalist reconnoitered the outside of AT&T Park just before Game One of the World Series was scheduled to begin.  That was a good photo op and fun to see.

We intended to go back the next day for more, but on Thursday October 26, 2012, Occupy Oakland scheduled a protest and march at Frank Ogawa Plaza to mark the one year anniversary of a mêlée that had made headlines when it occurred.  We felt duty bound to go check it out rather than hang out at AT&T Park.

It became obvious to this columnist that the unlimited supply of energy and enthusiasm that was accessible approximately 38 years ago, when the opportunity to attend the Oscar™ was offered, is no longer available to sustain a long wait and a long walk to cover protesters in the fall of 2012 at an event which ultimately did not make big headlines.

A new generation of firebrands will have ample opportunity to criticize the winner of the November election, but more and more it is becoming obvious that is a young man’s game and it may be time to throttle back and let the political chips fall where they may.

The few reviews of Tom Wolfe’s new novel, Back to Blood, we’ve seen have sounded rather dismissive in tones hinting that one of the founding fathers of Gonzo Journalism has lost his magic touch.

When a high school and college classmate was recovering from some wounds received in the Tet Offensive, we found that he would get very annoyed if we prefaced any comments on contemporary culture with:  “Back in 1968 . . . .”  He would address me in the same way that my family used and say:  “Goddamn it, Robbie, it is 1968.  Knock that shit off!”  As we used to say back in the Sixties:  “Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.”

The New Journalism is celebrating the start of the second half of its first century and that perhaps is a signal that, if nothing else, it is time for some new stars in journalism to be anointed and for some new labels to be coined.

On Wednesday October 24, in the San Francisco Chronicle’s World Series Preview section Scott Ostler wrote (on page E-6):  “I’m a reporter.  I’m not here to root.”

Now the disk jockey will play The Who’s “My Generation,” the Stones “Mother’s Little Helper,” and Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Someday Never Comes.”  We have to go dig out our Nikon F and relive some past glories.  Have a groovy week.

What? Romeny lie?

October 19, 2012

At the next debate, President Obama should be accompanied by a guy in a full fire fighting outfit like George W. Bush was when he spoke at the World Trade Center because if the challenger, Bishop Romney, tells any more lies in the next debate than he did in the last one, surely his pants will catch on fire.  The President should announce the reason for have that unusual escort before the debate begins.  Is there an incongruous aspect to watching a bishop tell lies non-stop?

When Republicans ask their own children:  “Do you use dope?” do they really want to see an example that their offspring can fib as blithely as the bishop does?  Shouldn’t they just look for needle tracks on the inside of the elbow area of the kids’ bodies?

Did Mitt really win a Medal of Honor in Vietnam while serving a tour of duty under an assumed identity?

What’s not to love about a California ballot proposition that does the exact opposite of what it sounds like it will accomplish?

Charles E. Willeford’s novel “The High Priest of California,” was about a used car saleman.

Is it true that if he is elected, Mitt Romney will be the only President ever to have previous experience as a congressman, a Senator, and a governor?

After all the conflicting stories about polls, will the results from the electronic voting machines have any credibility?  Hell’s bells if the news readers announced on the programs for the election results that JEB Bush had gathered enough write-in votes to be named President, would there be any recourse for skeptics?

Would it be ironic if Mitt Romney is proclaimed the election winner via electronic voting machines results that are one monumental lie?

Speaking of credibility will the arrest of the assessor in Los Angeles county have a direct affect on the (approximately) thirty-five year old effort of the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association’s call for an investigation into the relationship between the Los Angeles County board of supervisors campaign funds and some real estate developers who provide large amounts of money for those re-election bids?  Will this case revive the concept of “influence peddling”?   For more on the assessor’s arrest,  click this link:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-assessor-20121019,0,2209709.story

Who is better at proclaiming his innocence Gerry Sandusky or Lance Armstrong?

Arlen Specter, who died recently, was the author of “the single bullet theory.”  Did you know that some of the crucial findings of the Warren Commission were contradicted by a second, less well known, Congressional investigation?

Oscar Wild may have set a standard for American politics when he wrote:  “It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Mills brothers’ song “Be sure its true,” Johnny Cash’s version of “Rock Island Line,” and Ronnie and the Daytonas’ song “Antique ’32 Studebaker Dictator Coup.”  We have to go find the Liars’ Hall of Fame.  Have a “testify to that under oath” type of week.

“Such is life.”

October 5, 2012

In contemporary American Society fact checking has become passé and so this column has not been fact checked.

Attempting to write a column that adds new and perceptive insights to a discourse that has already disintegrated into BS gridlock is a fool’s errand, but at 0530 hrs on a Friday morning in Berkeley CA, there ain’t much else to do.  You can make some coffee and start writing or you can go back to sleep, which sometimes is something you can’t do by sheer force of will.

Sometimes after a middle of the night trip to the bathroom, we turn on the radio to see what Mike Malloy is saying on XERB, where his show follows the Wolfman Jack show.  On the broadcast for Thursday October 2, 2012, heard in the San Francisco Bay area between 1 and 3 a.m. PDT on Friday monring, Mike was offering the opinion that perhaps President Obama had to make a concerted effort to not look like an angry black man.

Norm Goldman reminded his listeners of a similar situation and noted that President Obama’s personality is one of being a quiet and thoughtful person who does not get drawn into any brawls verbal or physical.  Norm pointed out that the President has earned his nickname “no drama Obama.”  He suggested that perhaps the President should have done an imitation of St. Ronald Reagan and said something like: “there you go . . . fibbing again.”

News media reported that several different instant polls had given a decisive win to Mitt Romney.  Last week polls that showed the President had an impressive lead in swing states were loudly denounced for being slipshod and unreliable, but the ones that made Mitt look good were apparently and suddenly impeccable examples of what the polling industry is capable of producing.

Norm criticized the fact that many people were closely analyzing the body language of the debaters and not paying close attention to the substance of the dialogue.  All the body English criticisms seem to be directed against only one of the participants in the boring debacle.  How, we wondered, did Mitt earn a pass?

Long ago a political pundit in Germany wrote:  “All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to.  Consequently, the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be.”

President Obama seems to have assumed that the folks watching the TV show had a policy wonk level of comprehension of tax policy.  Mitt seems to not want to bother his listeners with information that reaches the “pick the fly excrement out of the salad” level of preciseness.

The people, who insisted on evaluating the speakers’ body English as a method of judging the debate itself, seem to have focused exclusively on the President.  The World’s Laziest Journalist noted during the split screen segments that quite often Mitt seemed to be exhibiting the nervous frantic mode of operation.  Would Mitt’s jittery behavior have aroused any suspicion if it was observed by a policeman during a traffic stop?  It’s not that he appeared to have been inebriated.  Quite the opposite.  His extreme animation couldn’t possibly have been chemically induced . . . could it?

(Didn’t the aforementioned German political pundit use some performance enhancing substances?)

What was with the black spot on his American Flag lapel pin?  We looked online and found some speculation but we did not find a plausible explanation of it.  (Could it have been a tribute to the oil industry?)

Many years ago, a Military Police Officer casually mentioned that when he and his fellow officers were, during off hours, playing a friendly game of mind-fuck with each other, the most devastating criticism they could offer was:  “you are acting like a hysterical old lady.”

We were reminded of that nostalgic bit of advice on Wednesday night as we watched Mitt’s lightening fast jerky movements and wondered if the old disconcerting assertion was relevant to the debater’s demeanor.

Many years ago novelist Norman Mailer made the assertion that the most damaging thing a celebrity (or politician?) can do is to go against type and that might explain why “no drama Obama” didn’t unload a verbal knockout punch but sometime an unexpected reaction can be very effective.

In a different galaxy many moons ago, we knew a young lady who we had never once heard use the word “fuck.”  When we heard her say “Fuck off, Bob,” it was very effective oratory and it got its intended result immediately.

The trouble with the 2012 Presidential election snapped into focus when we heard Merle Haggard sing “Drink up and be somebody” while writing the column on a “crash cloes” basis.

There are two candidates trying desperately to win the votes of guys who wouldn’t touch either one of them with a ten-foot pole.

Can anyone really imagine either candidate going into a honky-tonk bar to do some campaigning?

The two lawyers from the Harvard-Yale axis back east are trying to convince the good ole boys to vote for either one of the two who would be called “slick” in a bar that plays C&W music on the jukebox.

Do you really think that a guy with a horse that participates in dressage competitions can sing the lyrics to “I turned 21 in prison doing life without parole”?

The other guy tries to debate as if it is an exercise in etiquette.  He should listen to the words of “Colorado Kool-Aid” and then tell Mitt that he should wear his knife-proof earmuffs to the next debate.

Seeing Harvard-Yale lawyers trying to mix with just plain folks in the local diner is theater of the absurd cubed.

Either one of them would do better to imitate the English poet who was regarded as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know,” than to pretend they might qualify for votes from the “Ladies Love Outlaws” crowd.

In a bar with Waylon and Willie’s song “Clean Shirt” on the jukebox, could Bishop Romney really carry it off if he ordered sarsaparilla?  That would be fun to watch.

When will either the Romney or the Obama campaigns release the tie-breaking photos of the candidate clearing brush on his ranch?

Luckily the electronic voting machines can take all these various factors into consideration before awarding an indisputable result to the eagerly waiting journalists around the globe.

In “Kingdom of Fear,” Hunter S. Thompson wrote:  “On some nights I still believe that a car with the gas needle on empty can run about fifty more miles if you have the right music very loud on the radio.”

Now, the disk jockey will crank up the volume and play:  Tony and the Bandits’ song “I can’t lose,” the Partridge Family’s song “Something’s wrong,” and the Grateful Dead’s song “Throwing Stones.”  We have to go be one of the million and a half visitors in San Francisco this weekend.  Have a “this must be bat country” type week.

September 28, 2012

Labor dispute in progress!  This column has not been fact checked.

Good officiating is just as important in American politics as it is in the NFL and some curmudgeonly columnists will not be surprised if the Presidential Election ends with a call by the referees (or Supreme Court?) that gives the win to someone who was an ineligible receiver.

Rush Limbaugh early in the week was cackling with delight over the furor the poor officiating by the replacement referees over the weekend (and the Monday night Sea Hawks vs. Greenbay game) had generated among football fans.  Uncle Rushbo was gleefully asserting that the dispute points out the underlying fault in the liberal argument that the replacements are equal to the referees with years of experience.

It is a clever way to make the central issue (for Uncle Rushbo) seem to be that inexperienced rookies make excellent examples for the principle of giving quota hires the same priority as more qualified job applicants.

That, in turn, is a slick way of diverting the focus away from the idea that (economic) might makes right makes sense to the one percent.

It seems quite likely that Uncle Rushbo wouldn’t want to read any commentary that makes the assertion that the team owners might (metaphorically speaking) wanted to do to football fans, players, and bookies, what the Republican politicians would like to do to America’s voters.

Since a goodly number of media owners seem to relish the opportunity to cozy up to Uncle Rushbo and the team owners, it could be that there was an unwritten edict is in effect in the mainstream media to ignore the arrogance and greed of the team owners and focus on the ineptness of the scab laborers.  Didn’t Ayn Rand advise team owners involved in labor disputes that “winning isn’t everything . . . it’s the only thing!”?

Americans have traditionally supported the underdog and so folks like Uncle Rushbo derive a certain level of perverse pleasure when the conservative punderati have to defend the poor persecuted minority of people who own sports franchises against the unwashed rabble who are howling like a crowd at the gladiator games to see the team owners eaten alive by high tax rates.  It is up to the likes of Uncle Rushbo and the Republican politicians to come to the defense of the one percenters.

The Billionaires for Bush organization has morphed into Billionaires for Wealthfare and is recording their antics for posterity online.  Has a spokesperson for that group been a guest on Jon Stewart or the Colbert Report show?  If not; why not?

Speaking of cash bonuses for debilitating hits, are the TV networks giving out any bonus money to the cameramen if they record vignettes of people reduced to tears?  We have noticed that lately CBS Evening News does seem to be helping reinforce the conservative selling point that Obama has failed by showing someone crying each night because they can’t cope with the contemporary American economic situation.  It kinda seems like the managing editors are specifically sending the news reporters into the field to get shots of weepy women saying they don’t know how they are going to feed their kids and pay for college.  Did they show that kind of melodrama journalism back when George W. Bush was President?

Do network owners bother to get involved with the story selection process?  Would it build ratings if we had Ed Murrow interview Marilyn Monroe on “Person to Person”?

Do Americans want celebrity gossip or do they want a full explanation of what happened to Harold Holt?

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, recently made a comment about the Republican Party in the USA being taken over by “cranks and crazies.”  Did Fox News run any story about that bit of international criticism?  If not, why not?

Stanford University released a study, titled “Living Under Drones,” that asserted that the American drone bombers were spawning a great deal of resentment in the Middle East because of the high number of civilian casualties they caused.  The authors of the study seemed to be implying that the carnage would motivate future retaliation against the USA and thus prove that President George W. Bush was accurate in calling the conflict the “Forever War.”

President Obama was quoted as saying that the drones attacked high value military targets and that civilian casualties were “exceedingly rare.”  Will Uncle Rushbo validate Obama’s claim or will America’s anchor side with the Muslims and dispute the President’s claim?

Didn’t Reich Marshal Hermann Goering assure journalists during WWII that the V2 buzz bombs were only used against military sites and that very few Brits were being sent to the hospital (or morgue) as a result?

President Obama went to the UN this week and delivered a speech that stressed the point that Muslim countries should use the “freedom of speech” principle to ignore a film that they say is offensive to their religion.  Would he be just as tolerant of the freedom of speech principle if some Muslim clerics arrived in the United States and preached that NFL team owners should be permitted to have multiple wives harem style?

Is Religious freedom available to the Native Americans who believe that peyote should be used in some of their religious ceremonies?

Are any young Americans becoming enthusiastic about reforming the Lincoln Brigade and going to Spain to help the miners fight against the miserly mine owners?

Is there any talk about forming a new Lincoln Brigade and sending the boys to Syria to do for Syrians what Ernst Hemingway et al did for the Spanish people in the Thirties?

During the last week of September of 2012, Rush Limbaugh in a casual toss away line unveiled the concept of “media fraud.”  It was his contention (has he been sipping the Coolade seved in the employee mess at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory?) that all the polls predicting that President Obama will steamroll over Mitt Romney in the November Election are part of a concerted, coordinated premeditated effort to cast doubt on the “upset” victory news for conservatives who “know” Mitt will get the most votes on the electronic voting machines.

Wouldn’t any political party that plans to use covert methods of election cheating be wise to launch a preemptive strike aimed at media credibility as a way of discrediting any subsequent voting results that defy logic?  If the electronic voting machines are going to be manipulated to deliver an “upset” victory to Mitt Romney wouldn’t it be wise to start criticizing the media’s credibility now?

Isn’t the leftist media always goading the hoipolloi  into selecting Barabbas?

Did Barabbas have a horse that could participate in a dressage competition or did he just ride a fast quarter horse (for quick getaways?)?  Is there really a place called “Rose’s Cantina” in El Paso?  Do you know where the only foreign military base inside the United State is located?  Shouldn’t every American military base be named “Fort Bliss”?

Speaking of the Museum for the U. S. Cavalry, isn’t it remarkable that Errol Flynn did such a good job of portraying General George A. Custer?

Speaking of a massacre, can’t Karl Rove invoke the Whitlam rule and replace Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket before he makes political history similar to that achieved by Alf Landon and George McGovern?

Ahhh, but won’t the concept of “Media Fraud” (essentially) lay the foundation for a counter-conspiracy propaganda blitzkrieg substantiating a Mitt win (via the electronic voting machines with no verifiable results) that contradicts all expectations?  So it is that the results of the November election have already been rendered irrefutable and thus irrelevant.  (Whatever!)

The People who expect honest results from the team that gave George W. Bush two disputed “Touchdown!” calls haven’t been paying attention.  Do they skim read the Gospel of St. Ayn Rand?

The party that wins the White House in November will proudly proclaim that Democracy is alive and well in the USA.  The party that loses will hold a press conference on the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory and label the election a fraud and a farce.

In “The Fountainhead” St. Ayn Rand wrote:  “Don’t bother to examine a folly – ask yourself only what it accomplishes. . . . You don’t have to be too clear about it.  Use big words. . . . The farce has been going on for centuries and men still fall for it.”

Now the disk jockey will play Andy William’s “Hawaiian Wedding Song,” the tearjerker classic about football, “The blind man in the bleachers,” and  AC/DC’s song “Walk all over you.”  We have to go look for a good photo for next week’s column.    Have a “Mr. Gotti says:  ‘Get in the fuckin’ car!’” type week.

The Internets = Nihilist’s Valhalla?

September 24, 2012

Would it be worth the blood, sweat, and keystrokes necessary, if an online political pundit wrote a column comparing the passive aggressive tactics of the Republicans in the House and Senate to the autoworkers sit down strikes in the Thirties and then kicked back and waited to see that metaphor “go viral” on the Intenets?

What’s the payoff if a writer posts a column online about Germany’s Pirate Party three or four days before the New York Times publishes a piece about it on the OpEd Page?

After a severe cold interrupted the string of consecutive weekly political punditry columns, the World’s Laziest Journalist made a rash decision to go “cold turkey” and spend a week without accessing the Internets and to write the next column about the experience of going a week without a digital “fix.”

Don’t most Americans love to experience addiction vicariously?  Maybe a week offline would produce something like “The Lost Weekend Column,” “The Man with the Golden Arms Deal Column,” or William Burroughs’s lost masterpiece, “The Naked Bunch” column?

Staying off the Internets for a week would mean delaying the opportunity to inform our audience about an update regarding the <a href =www.calpirateparty.org>California Pirate Party </a>.  The California residents have a weekly chat room on Monday nights and the<a href =www.pirate-party.us>National Pirate Party</a> has a nation wide chat room on Tuesday nights.  Maybe we could suggest a mock “Jack Sparrrow for President” movement and if they thought it would bring them publicity from the national mainstream media that suggestion could go viral.  If no one else is going to offer them that idea won’t the “better late than never” rule apply?

During the “week in the penalty box,” we got the bright idea of sending an e-mail to Norm Goldman alerting him to the idea that we would write a column comparing Bishop Romney to MacHeath in “The Three Penny Opera.”  If Norm liked the possibility of an opera that portrays beggars as thieves being a variation of Bishop Romney’s political philosophy, then maybe we’d hear a reference to the World’s Laziest Journalist on Goldman’s nationwide radio show.  Aren’t the chances of that happening just about the same as our chances of getting an on air mention on the next Wolfman Jack broadcast?

What would happen if we wrote a column that asked the question:  “Is the controversial online movie critical of the founder of the Muslim religion being used as a rationale for staging riots that are payback for the killing of Osama bin Laden?”

After buying the book “No man knows my history,” by Fawn M. Brodie (Alfred A. Knopf 1963), the World’s Laziest Journalist was intimidated by the task of reading all that material just to get a thumbnail sketch of the life of the founder of the Mormon religion; so we went to an encyclopedia in the Berkeley Public Library and learned that Joe Smith (will there be Mormon riots in the Middle East if this column is perceived to be disrespectful in its regard for that religion’s founding father?) kept the details of his biography well obscured and that he co-mingled the concepts of religion and politics with a political philosophy he called “theodemocracy” and that he left some investors feeling cheated in the wake of a church-bank experiment.  Could Mitt be trying (consciously or unconsciously) to make the story of his life a duplicate of Joe Smith’s biography?

Many conservative commentators are completely disregarding St. Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (“Never speak ill of a fellow Republican”) and dishing out some severe criticism of Bishop Romney’s campaign tactics.  Should we pound out a column asking “What up wid dat?” or should we try something more unique such as attempting to find a common thread connecting the Republican Presidential Nominee’s political career with those of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt and America’s Senator Paul Wellstone?

With the music group, Puss Riot, getting extensive news coverage, we noticed that Der Spiegel also reported recently that Honor Blackman, who played Pussy Galore in the movie “Goldfinger,” has a supporting role in the new film “Cockneys vs. Zombies.”

Didn’t a famous newspaper columnist (Herbus Caenus?) in the era of Julius Caesar X once state that all web content falls into one of two categories: either bread or circuses?  Hell’s bells, it ain’t no fun waiting around to become a nationally known pundit.

As the week progressed, we became more and more aware that getting access to the Internets was often a cure for boredom and that if we filled the lulls with books, we wouldn’t really have much need for going online.

We were beginning to think that for every perceptive and insightful posting online, there are tens of thousands of inane and asinine entries that praise some acquaintance’s effort to post a link to a video of a kitten dancing on a typewriter’s keyboard and tapping out a carbon copy of the first page of “Tropic of Cancer.”

On the night of Thursday September 20 to Friday September 21, we caught a local TV news broadcast that delivered the information that the Space Shuttle Endeavor would do a fly-by at the Golden Gate Bridge between 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Friday morning.  We calculated that if we got up early and took some busses, we could be in position for a great news photo opportunity before mid morning.

Fatigue, which may have been a residual effect of the aforementioned cold, convinced us that some extra sleep might be a better executive decision.

We had breakfast and then aimlessly wandered over to the area in Berkeley where the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory “campus” is located and had a chat with a fellow who was on a smoke break enjoying his cigarette amid some magnificent Indian Summer in Berkeley weather.

We heard an airplane and when we looked up there was the Space Shuttle Endeavor on top of a Boeing that was banking west for a landside approach to the Golden Gate Bridge.  We wondered if the airplane’s itinerary had been selected as a way to pay tribute to the hard working staff at the Amalgamated Factory.  Would the Government say they were paying tribute, instead, to a nearby weapons laboratory?

We pulled out our beloved Nikon Coolpix and commenced to avail our self of the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.  The Nikon Coolpix viewing screen in daylight is not as clear and sharp as is the viewfinder image provided by a Nikon F, but that old reliable workhorse doesn’t fit into the front pocket of our jeans; so you go with whatcha got.

We have always been vaguely aware that watching something happened and taking photos of the same event are two different activities and so while we scrambled and fumbled with the various factors (such as a the telephoto zoom option and the hard to see screen) that needed our immediate attention, we sacrificed the option to just stand there and “drink in” the spectacle.

Simultaneously we had a variation of the St. Paul moment and our lifelong fascination with the category of philosophy called nihilism snapped into focus because we realized that we had thee options:  A. We could suspend our weeklong experiment with Internets avoidance and immediately start the process of editing, preparing, and posting the images we had taken.  B.  We could maintain our boycott and post the results on Monday.  C.  We could skip over the results and put them away in our digital shoebox photo storage area.  That was when we had the St. Paul epiphany moment.  Ultimately, in the grand scheme of “the History of the World,” the result for all thee options was (in Texting talk) IDFM.  (It Doesn’t F****** Matter!)

Posting on the Internets and Solipsism have a great deal in common.  Often, posting a column is like delivering a grandiose soliloquy at a dress rehearsal.

LIFE magazine had been posting the best newsphotos of the day on their website, but they dropped that feature awhile back.  We have been intending to write a column lamenting the lack of one major resource for still photos online.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a magnificent photo of the flyby at the Golden Gate Bridge on their front page Saturday morning.  The shot will probably win more than a few regional photojournalism clip contest awards and become a historic image (similar to the shot of a Pan Am China Clipper doing the same thing) in the future.  Our humble efforts pale in comparison.

The weeklong experiment provided the World’s Laziest Journalist with a reality challenge.  In a country where a fellow who’s business experience seems to mimic the antics of the cartoon character Snidely Whiplash, and where that same fellow becomes the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee, who consistently gets fifty percent of likely voters to say they will vote for him; then the tendency to rely on nihilism to provide the narrative thread for the writer’s lifetime becomes expedient again.  IDFM.

So why continue writing columns?  We find it amusing to think that in the future some unknown (but pop culture savvy) historian will chortle over a snide online comment that asserts that Bishop Romney’s secret plan to end the Recession will ultimately remind some folks of a Twilight Zone episode that ended with the line:  “It’s a cookbook1”

Now the disk jockey will play Bobby Darin’s song “Mack the Knife,” the Doors’ “Alabama Song,” and the Three Penny Opera.  We have to go do some fact checking for a possible column on the current state of football in the USA.  Have a “so what?” (Just like a noteworthy NY Daily News front page headline?) type week.

What’s not to like about the Euthanasia Coaster?

September 6, 2012

In the annals of Los Angles Political History there is a half century old story about a fiery challenger who, in the best David vs. Goliath tradition, issued bold and provocative challenges to a powerful incumbent to hold a debate.  The conventional wisdom at the time held that the fellow in office had nothing to gain by sharing the spotlight with an unknown underdog.  Finally the exasperated hopeful bought some local TV time and debated an empty chair.  This bit of extreme stunt campaigning helped deliver a stunning upset victory for the outsider.

Since Clint Eastwood, who was born in San Francisco in 1930, started a Hollywood acting career that was underway in the late Fifties, it could well be that he was trying to imitate that obscure, but successful, bit of political strategy when he spoke at the Republican National Convention last week.

The media storm caused by Eastwood’s speech may have been partisan payback for the “meltdown” allegations that were hurled at Howard Dean when he let out an enthusiastic yell at a primary election victory rally.

The fact that the critics of the Clint Eastwood’s empty chair shtick were supposed to be journalist and not partisan political hacks made the omission of a mention of the Los Angeles precedence, and its relevancy to last week’s event and the subsequent analysis, seem shoddy and inadequate.  Some of the Eastwood speech did seem to be a bit rambling and disjointed and thus provide a basis for the comparisons to Grandpa Simpson but the L. A. connection with the chair was just too obscure to be appreciated by folks who were not well versed in L. A. political history.  Repeated efforts to find out what L. A. personality successfully used the debate with a chair ploy were unsuccessful.

The first time this columnist encountered the phrase “a senior moment” was in a movie line delivered by Clint Eastwood.

As this year’s Presidential election draws closer the atmosphere in journalism is becoming very partisan and that makes the World’s Laziest Journalist reluctant to attempt to deliver snide remarks about either or both candidates.

A columnist who works with limited access to the Internets has to rely on instinct and personal preferences to select the material to be included.  It could be that while pounding out the keystrokes for a column that mentions an obscure bit of political history in Los Angeles, people have been inundated with similar mentions of it among the vast variety of commentary available to them.  Or not.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist stumbles across a mention somewhere (Muy Interesante magazine perhaps?) of the photos being made by South American artist Cecilia Paredes and they, in turn, remind us of some <I>trompe l’oeil </I> work featured in Popular Photography magazine a few decades back; would it be worth the effort to do all the work necessary to get permission to reprint some of her work plus examples of the images from American media past?  Isn’t it easier to let interested readers do their own Google Image search?    (Google Image hint:  Cecilia Paredes Photography)

Form follows function and to produce a variety of items quickly, a columnist has to use the “put it on a bumper sticker” attitude to get the column posted and get the collection of material for the next one started.

If the readers of this column have had numerous encounters with the news stories about the “Euthanasia Coaster,” which is supposed to be a design for an extreme roller coaster ride that will kill the riders, and it is mentioned here; it is up to them to say “Can’t this columnist find something new?” or, if this is their first encounter with that news item, they can choose to do a Google Image search and “be the first on their block” to make a reference to it on their Facebook page.

One wag suggested that the Euthanasia Coaster could be a conservative scheme to give folks a cheap solution to use when the Republicans start using death panels to cut medical costs.

If Bishop Romney announced that his plan to solve the recession problem was to wave a magic wand, saying “Poof!  Be gone” to unemployment, would that generate any skepticism among journalists with a national audience?

Since it should be obvious to this columnist that he will never deliver a column that is a tie breaker for a Presidential race that is continually reported to be a virtual photo finish race, we will settle for doing the work necessary for amusing a small online audience.

What if doing the necessary fact checking also provides a chance to cross an item off the columnist’s bucket list?  It could be that writing columns is the excuse for the worker going out, taking pictures, seeing interesting things, having fun and that writing about the process and posting the results online is just a bonus for  readers who want to enjoy the process vicariously.  We like to think that Hunter S. Thompson would approve.

Eventually one photo op for pictures of protesters getting arrested looks like the next and so some weeks the columnist with a Nikon Coolpix may have to settle for getting one image that includes kink, pop culture, and a shopping destination for tourists.  Is the pop culture scene being shortchanged by journalism because the smaller news staffs are often overworked?

We have written a column about walking around the ATT ballpark in San Francisco while a World Series Game was being played.  Would a report on the hi-jinks going on inside the press room at a World Series Game provide some juicy reading for both the regulars and new arrivals in the audience?  Maybe we should start to apply for a press pass for any AT&T Park World Series games this year?

Should we self-subsidize the expenses that would occur if we apply for and get a press credential to go back to the Oscars™?

Most Americans (both Liberal and Conservative) don’t want to read about the implications about the quality of the results that the electronic voting machines produce.  No one seems concerned about the possibility that “they” might steal another election.  If, as some people assert, “they” stole two, why the heck would they want to do it again?

The Conservatives don’t want to see or hear any reports that cast aspersions on Republican candidates or even on Ayn Rand.

The Liberals want to make a concerted effort to get out the vote and not be distracted by the possibility that the electronic voting machines may render their efforts ineffective.

Apparently the slim number of people concerned with the question of whether the Euthanasia Coaster or the Electronic Voting Machines has a better reliability rating means that those topics are only worth a quick mention.  If the Euthanasia Coaster and the Electronic Voting Machines were important topics wouldn’t either one or both be mentioned on the Jon Stewart Show?

Do people in other areas of the world want to read about the debate in Berkeley this fall over a proposed sit-lie ordinance?  Probably not.

Do citizens want to read a column about a new book that reports that the FBI got very involved in investigating the anti-war protesters at the University of California Berkeley campus in the Sixties?  In the era of Homeland Security are over zealous security measures from fifty years ago important?  Maybe not.  (Google News Search hints: “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals and Reagan’s Rise to Power” and “Seth Rosenfeld”)

Recently we noticed that the Mediteranium Café in Berkeley offers a beer float.  Not a root beer float, but a regular brewski with a scoop of ice cream in it.  We checked online and found a few mentions of the concept so we figure it is worth a mention.

That made us wonder about the news items about beer being brewed by the Obamas.  How much does one bottle cost?  Who gets the proceeds?  Do any profits go to the daughters’ college fund?  Are bottles sold at outrageously high prices to campaign donors?  Does the Democratic Party profit?   Are the answers to these questions available in print or electronic media or is quality journalism deteriorating that badly?

What topics are left for a columnist who puts a high priority on the “just for the fun of it” factor of fact finding and material gathering?  That is the recurring challenge.

In a country that seems to be on the brink of electing Bishop Romney President, perhaps a series of columns about the general atmosphere in the USA in the fall of 2012 will be of interest to future historians who want material that wasn’t part of the wolf pack journalism produced at the two Political Conventions.

Samuel Johnson wrote:  “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”  We have a suggestion for those ads for a certain credit card company because an “all access” backstage pass to a Rolling Stones concert would be (let’s all say it together) <I>Priceless</I> .

Now the disk jockey will play the Inconcevables song “Hamburger Patti,” The Daddy O’s “Got a match?,” and Hayley Mills’ “Johnny Jingo.”  We have to check to see what effect sit-lie ordinances are having in San Francisco and Santa Monica. Have a “hurray for our side” type week.

Some familiar sounding sound bytes

August 30, 2012

<I> Would covering the Oscars™ (again) be more fun than writing political analysis</I>?

<B>FADE IN</B>:

A grizzled tough old guy in a dimly lit room speaks:  “You know what I want . . . what do you say, baby?”

Cut to: A very attractive young woman, who looks like the young Lauren Becall, responds:  “As a Republican, I support a ban on all abortions with no exceptions.  I’m a member of the National Rifle Association and support the concealed carry laws and back the NRA on their support of the Stand your ground laws, I also endorse the use of hollowpoint bullets.”

She pats her purse and continues:  “If you intend on raping a fellow Republican, first you might want to tell me the answer to the question asked in the movie ‘Apocalypse Now:’  ‘How come you guys sit on your helmets?”

Cut to:  the man who hesitates and then replies:  “So we don’t get our balls blown off!”

 

Cut to:  She starts to reach into her purse.  “There’s another famous question from another movie:  ‘Do I feel lucky?’ . . . what do you say, baby? . . . if you want this game to continue . . . just whistle . . . you know how to whistle don’t you?”

As “Ride of the Valkyeries” plays the announcer does the V.O. (Voice Over):  “The American Women’s Sharpshooters Team urges all good patriots to vote Republican this fall.”

<B>FADE OUT</B>

A hip potential rapist, who knows the sources for all those cinematic questions, might also know that sometimes nothing is a real cool hand, but he might not be willing to bet his bippy, let alone his testicles, on what’s in the bag and what’s not.

If the fictional American Women’s Sharpshooters Team were ever to broadcast this hypothetical advertisement, a good many Republicans might wonder “Whose side are they on?”  This supposed ad would only use Republican talking points so what’s for them not to like?

Liberals, who strenuously object to the idea of PACs and advertisements run by groups whose funding is a mystery, are unanimous in the idea that it is mandatory to do all the groundwork necessary to get the Citizens’ United advantage removed from politics.  Could they, simultaneously, use the Judo principle of turning an attacker’s strength against himself to confuse and outrage the very people who wanted to expand the freedom of speech concept to include advocacy groups and the people known as corporations?

Obviously the long hard slog to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United decision will provide leading liberal spokespersons with job security for years to come and we wish them God’s Speed.

In California, proposition 32, is being touted by backers as a remedy for the PAC problems, but many analysts are saying that the measure will give further legal backing to the very practice it is supposed to remedy.   Who doesn’t think that’s a hysterically funny example of using lies to trick voters?  Folks outside California can read up on the issue but they should look up both the “for” and “against” arguments.  Some critics of the measure say that the proposition will only limit what unions can spend on political ads and not do anything to inconvenience wealthy conservatives who want to buy election results.

The Republicans, who want to prove that they have a sense of humor that will make people laugh, are also urging wage-earners to donate to a group that advocates passing the measure that some wags are calling “<a href =http://www.yesprop32.com/conslp>the Billionaires’ Bill of Rights</a>.”

That, in turn, causes us to wonder if Republicans, when they ask their children if they smoke pot, want their kids to tell the truth in response to that question or if they are looking to get verification that conservative kids have learned the lesson of sounding very sincere when they lie or make campaign promises.  What advice would Ayn Rand give to children who are being asked:  “Do you smoke pot?”  Is there a smoke-lie rule that applies?  I.e. if you can get into trouble over pot, just tell a convincing lie.

Since the Republicans seem determined to blame President Obama for the deficits caused by the wars George W. Bush started but kept off the balance sheet, why didn’t President Obama proclaim that the “off the books” expenses had become a bipartisan American tradition and keep them off the books?  When President Obama served his partial term as Senator didn’t he learn the old political legend that the Republicans spend like there’s no tomorrow when they are in power and then talk up balanced budgets nonstop when they are not in power?

Since Bishop Romney’s strategy of stressing his business record, which he won’t discuss, and giving assurances that his tax forms, which he won’t release, provide compelling reasons for electing him President have produced poll results which indicate a virtual tie; the World’s Laziest Journalist is beginning to think that political punditry has become superfluous and that it is time to start writing columns that are less partisan by tackling topics such as “Have the Oscar Ceremonies changed much since we took photos of Francis Ford Coppola with Mario Puzo?”

Columnists, who consider their mission is to provide snide comments about all politicians, might be more inclined to ask their audience if watching the Republicans try to ignore a major hurricane disaster reminded them of King Lear.  Many people might not get the joke and ignore the source but when Ayn Rand advised her disciples not to vote for St. Ronald Reagan for President, didn’t she get ignored too?

The world’s laziest journalist has always been fascinated by picaresque adventures and the people who chronicle their travel experiences but it wasn’t until after posting last week’s column that we learned that Henry Miller had written a book about his experiences on the road.  We were disappointed to learn that the Berkeley Public Library didn’t have a copy to borrow, but Moe’s Bookstore on Telegraph Avenue had a used volume of a collection of Miller’s work for sale.  It included the text of “The Air Conditioned Nightmare.”

After living in Paris for almost a decade, Miller had returned to the USA because Europe was on the brink of a cataclysmic war and he wanted to write a book about the return of the prodigal son experiences he would gather while traveling around his native land.

Pseudo Intellectuals (<I>moi</I>?) will be delighted to find a cornucopia of very intriguing pre Pearl Harbor pop culture trivia in the book.  Miller assumed that his audience would know who the writers Hermes Trismegistus and Kenneth Patchen and British actress Olga Nethersole were but we had to look them up.  The names of these once famous personalities have become rather obscure examples of Google-bait.

For a columnist who has covered various episodes from the Occupy protests in Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, Miller’s laundry list of social complaints sounded very much as if they “were ripped from today’s headlines.”

If economic inequity was a topic for Henry Miller seventy years ago and if it will be a hot issue for activists seventy years in the future, what then is the benefit that will be derived from doing the work necessary to post columns online about the issues that are generating the news events that transpire as the United States prepares to celebrate the workers of the world on Labor Day of 2012?  (Were the people who worked to establish Labor Day as a legal holiday, asked the HUAC question?)

If the prospect of providing reading matter for a bookstore customer seventy years in the future were very rational, then working to do some fact finding and providing some speculative comments about the personality of a Mormon bishop might be worth the effort, but if seeking fame and fortune are not valid motives for doing all the required labor, then the only reason left is:  “Just for the fun of it.”  If that’s the case . . . .

If Scanlan’s Magazine was open to sending a leading practitioner of the Gonzo style journalism to report on the festivities surrounding the running of the Kentucky Derby, then maybe (just maybe mind you) they might be willing to give the World’s Laziest Journalist a similar assignment and send him back to the Oscars™.

Other than giving permission to our self to use a picture we took at the Oscars™ almost forty years ago, we have no way to prove to Scanlon’s that we covered the awards program back in the mid Seventies but if Bishop Romney can convince America that his unavailable business history is just as valid as Nixon’s secret plan to end the war in Vietnam, then perhaps there is still hope.

Quote wranglers will be delighted with the assorted possibilities provided in the works of Henry Miller.  We like this incomplete sentence:  “A man seated in a comfortable chair in New York, Chicago or San Francisco, a man surrounded by every luxury and yet paralyzed with fear and anxiety, controls the lives and destinies of thousands of men and women whom he has never seen, whom he never wishes to see and whose fate he is thoroughly uninterested in.”

The disk jockey will play some music he thought might have been appropriate at the Republican National Convention: AC/DC’s song “Big Balls,”  the Kiwi song “My father was an All Black,” and  Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”  We have to go over to Frisco to see “Vertigo,” which is the best movie ever made (according to some Brits).  Have a “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” type Labor Day Weekend.

It seems like just the other day . . .

August 23, 2012

Finding a <a href =http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2012/8/17/paul_ryan_revealed_trust_fund_in.htm>

story on the Hispanic Business website</a> about a trust fund that the Republican Party’s presumptive Vice Presidential nominee had “forgotten” seemed like a good topic for a column but since the Republican Party’s “presumptive” nominee has based his campaign on his business record and has refused to release his tax records which would clarify questions about his qualifications for the Presidency, and since that clever bit of coyness seems sufficiently alluring to earn the fellow a virtual tie in polls; we deem the prospect of doing the work to produce a column that offers intelligent analysis of the implications of an overlooked trust fund an example of absurdity for inclusion in the Dadaism Hall of Fame.

The fact that this week’s polls show that the Presidential race is a toss-up, means that the only people who will question the final results that are produced by the electronic voting machines in November will be conspiracy theory lunatics.  It also means that it is too late to present facts which might help informed citizens change their mind about which candidate will get their votes.  As the croupier would say when the roulette ball hits the wheel:  “No more bets!”  The die is cast.  It’s time to write columns about sailing ships (the America’s Cup competition has started in San Francisco Bay), sealing wax, cabbages, and kings.

Would people who doubt the existence of global warming because it is based on the opinions of scientists be likely to consider the validity of an effort to use Schrödinger’s cat as a metaphor that explains the three card Monty game Mitt Romney is playing with his tax returns?  “Ah, hah, Mr. Romney. you have the Maltese cat?  You are a card, sir.”

We sent a link to the forgotten trust fund story off to radio talk show host Mike Malloy because he has more media clout and a bigger audience.

People seem to find the fact that TMZ found and published a photo of Paul Ryan without a shirt more interesting than the forgotten trust fund (or the completely ignored story about Paul Ryan’s girlfriend while he was in college.  [Google News Search hint:  “Paul Ryan girlfriend college”]  Keli Goff at The Root seems the reporter who got the scoop)

We have been intending to shift the focus of our columns to feature topics such as the effect the death of singer Scott McKenzie might have on tourism in San Francisco because that, at least, might lure some new readers from across the big pond, to this website.

Tourists from all over the world arrive in San Francisco and, equipped with maps, and then go walking around the various neighborhoods trying to imagine what it was like being there in the past during the Beatnik era.

Back in the Sixties, one had to dig deep to learn that the area around the Bus Stop bar had been called “Cow Hollow.”  That was the past.  The Beatniks had come (the location of the legendary Six Gallery was about three or four blocks away) and gone but who cared about the writers from the past when everyone was hip to Flip Wilson’s comedy routine about “The Church of What’s Happening Now!”

Learning to drive a stick shift V-dub on the streets of San Francisco at the time when folks were still chuckling because of Bill Cosby’s comedy routine on that very topic wasn’t funny because you could very easily get into a car crash whilst learning to make the deft maneuvers with the clutch pedal and the brakes.  Yeah, forty years later it may seem amusing, but not when it was actually “going down.”  There were laws governing how the front wheels of a car had to be positioned when parking on one of the famed hills.

Who cared about Beatniks when the cast recording of “Hair” was ubiquitous?  Beats were from a different decade.  Jack Kerouac was an old man in his forties reportedly living in Florida.  The Mamas and the Papas, the Doors, and the Jefferson Airplane were young and most likely would be playing a gig at the Filmore West very soon.

Back in the Fifties, when the Beat Generation in San Francisco was a popular media topic, the beats would have been talking about topics such as:  the Bay area disk jockey Don Sherwood, Herb Caen’s columns, and the arrival of the New York Giants at their new west coast home.

The beatniks had had their day and when the hippie era arrived it was time to enjoy KFOG and KABL radio, read Herb Caen’s columns, talk about Benny Bafano’s sculptures, see the Fantasticks, and voice an opinion about the War in Vietnam.

Young folks who stay this summer at the San Francisco Civic Center hostel will see a poster listing the lineup at the Filmore, for a concert on the 1969 Labor Day weekend.  They can look at the poster and just try to imagine what it would have been like to be able to go see that show.  About three and a half years ago, we were in that hostel, looking at that poster and thinking that very thing:  “Wow!  What would it have been like to be in San Francisco that weekend and have the option of seeing that show?”  Then we remembered, we had been seriously considered buying a ticket to that particular show until we got the chance to spend that weekend going for a job interview at the newspaper published in South Lake Tahoe.

On Tuesday, August 21, 2012, while doing some fact checking in the Beatnik North Beach neighborhood, we noticed a local artist using masking tape to make some political statements.

The map wielding tourists were searching for Beatnik ghosts and ignoring a fellow who was doing some street art.  We wondered if, forty years from now, tourists would be wandering around the same neighborhood wondering what it would have been like to stop and chat with Elvis Christ.  Since we can’t rationally expect to have that opportunity in 2052, we decided to take some photos and asked about him and his work now whilst we had the chance.

When we started back to the Transbay Bus Terminal, we encountered a photographer named “Grant” who had been shooting an assignment at the City Lights Bookstore for Interview magazine.  He had been taking photos of the store owner, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was also a poet, a book publisher, and a genuine member of the group of pioneers who started the Beat Era back in the Fifties.

It would have been a great photo-op if we could have gotten the chance to take some pictures of Grant and his subject, but it has always been a tenant of the World’s Laziest Journalist’s philosophy that (as they used to say in the Sixties) you have to stop and smell the (pop culture) flowers  along the way.  “Be here, now!”

Writing about the pop culture is similar to writing about horse racing.  In the future, historians will look back on the summer of 2012 and focus on specific stories which will have become significant factors for inclusion in books about the election of the President in that year, but for a columnist trying to writing about the summer of 2012 as it is happening; an encounter with Elvis Christ will provide a desperation chance to solve the weekly dilemma “What will this week’s column be about?”

Ayn Rand has said:  “Whoever tells you to exist for the state is, or wants to be, the state.”

Now, the disk jockey will play a Pussy Riot album, a Jefferson Airplane album, and Scott McKenzie’s “(If you’re going to San Francisco) Wear a flower in your hair.”  We have to go check out the column potential of the Blackhawk Auto Museum.  Have a “California Dreaming” type week.

Got Déjà vu?

August 16, 2012

In “The Selling of the President 1968” (Trident Press 1969), author Joe McGinniss described the trials and tribulations that the Nixon team had to surmount in that year’s Presidential Campaign, and since the challenges are quite similar to those being faced by the Romney Ryan ticket, we thought that simultaneous reviews of both that book and Timothy Crouse’s “The Boys on the Bus” (Ballantine Books paperback edition 1972) would be relevant as the Republican Nation Convention draws neigh.

McGinnis describes (on page 39) the difficulty of marketing Nixon eight years after he lost the 1960 battle with John F. Kennedy:  “Trying with one hand, to build the illusion that Richard Nixon, in addition to his attributes of mind and heart, considered, in the words of Patrick K. Buchanan, a speech writer, “communicating with the people . . . one of the great joys of seeking the Presidency;” while with the other they shielded him, controlled him, and controlled the atmosphere around him.”  Same problem, different Republican candidate, different year.

The star of the Nixon strategy team was a fellow named Harry Treleaven who came to the Nixon camp’s attention after he took a leave of absence from J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in 1966 to work on a congressional campaign in Texas.  The incumbent was a Democrat named Frank Briscoe and Treleaven assessed (McGinniss’ book pages 44 – 45) the race this way:  “There’ll be few opportunities for logical persuasion, which is all right – because probably more people vote for irrational, emotional reasons than professional politicians suspect.”

Picking Paul Ryan made liberals very angry, which, in turn, made conservatives very happy.  President Obama’s initial reaction seemed to be the use of logical argumentation to change the conservatives’ emotional reaction.  Wouldn’t seeing the dismantling of the Social Security program make liberals even angrier?  In a world devoid of logical thinking, wouldn’t that make the conservatives even happier?

The 1968 Nixon campaign perfected the strategy of making some news just in time to get it placed on the evening network news programs, which meant that the Democrats would be left scrambling the next day to contend with damage control, while Nixon & Co. started the game anew.  Adjusting the campaign to the timing of media news cycles was a breakthrough innovation.

The fact that Mitt Romney made his announcement early on a Saturday morning will be an irrelevant descriptive fact for most of the writers who wished to comment on the selection of Paul Ryan as the “presumptive” Presidential nominee’s presumptive running mate, but for the World’s Laziest Journalist, that example of odd timing looked like the metaphorical “kiss of death” for Mitt’s chances to win the fall election.  In the Internet era of 24/7 news coverage, one time may be just as good as another so long as the candidate’s media advisors don’t care about the news cycles for more traditional media such as influential newspapers, weekend network shouting matches, and magazine journalism.

If the announcement occurred at breakfast time in the Eastern Time zone that means the candidate was willing to reduce his West Coast audience for live coverage of the announcement to a pathetic minimum of what he could have had by choosing the timing with a better regard for strategic planning.

The preview editions of the Sunday editions of both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times were on the delivery trucks heading for the Saturday advance sales market.  No way to get free publicity about the announcement into those valuable assets.

The early edition of the New York Times Sunday paper was probably holding a news hole for a crash close on the story, but there was no way they would hold the Week in Review Section (and run up extensive amounts of overtime) for a Presidential candidate who treats journalists with the same sneering “that’s all your going to get” condescension that he delivers to the potential voters.  Why should that attitude remind this columnist of Nixon?

Don’t some of the weekend round-up shouting matches tape their programs on Friday afternoon?  In this cost conscious world, what made Romney think he could inspire a dispensation involving excessive amounts of overtime pay for the union workers?

Did Romney expect the networks to call in their Monday to Friday anchor persons to read the story on Saturday night’s installment of their network’s evening news program?  What did LBJ say about “If we’ve lost Cronkite . . .”?  Does a weekend substitute carry the same level of gravitas as Edward R. Murrow?

Did Newsweek hold the cover story for “crash close” coverage of the announcement?

Where are the adult Republican media advisors who helped write the book for the 1968 strategy described in Joe McGinniss’ book “The Selling of the President”?  Why didn’t Karl Rove help avert this example of inept spin control strategy?

Timothy Crouse, in his 1972 book,  “The Boys on the Bus,” (page 195) said:  “Then Nixon decided to hide out for a year and stop feeding the press handouts.  Instead he fed it George Romney.”  Does History repeat itself?  Could Mitt claim that he was brainwashed into making the ill-timed Saturday morning announcement?

Is there another Republican of Nixon’s stature standing in the shadows waiting for a dramatic call to unveil a secret plan to end the Vietnam War . . . or balance the budget . . . or whatever?  Or are the Republicans going to be satisfied with replaying the Goldwater debacle or a 1968 style squeaker?

Over the ensuing weekend, did the TV shows, which love to promise their audiences a variety of behind the scenes insights into what is really happening, mention the hidden implications of the odd timing of the announcement?

Crouse (on page 322) describes the major innovation in news coverage of Presidential campaigns:  “Here in 1972, with the new law that obliged contributors to make public their gifts, was a unique opportunity to follow the big corporation rats as they stole out of their holes to deposit a large bag of cash at the door of some candidate and – almost invariably – ask for some favor in return.”

One of the disadvantages of reading books more than forty years old is that some aspects of the text will leave the modern reader hanging in suspense.  Treleaven’s 1966 candidate won, but how the heck will we ever satisfy our curiosity and learn what happened to the guy who beat Briscoe 58 to 42 in a traditional Democratic stronghold?  What ever happened to George H. W. Bush?  (Maybe we’ll get lucky and a reader in Texas can post an update in the comments section.)

On page 10, Crouse quotes newsman Karl Fleming:  “So eventually a very subtle kind of thing takes over and the reporter says to himself, ‘All I gotta do to satisfy my editor and publisher is just get what the other guys are getting, so why should I bust my ass?’”

Does that mean that the World’s Laziest Journalist didn’t have to dig out a copy of Crouse’s book and track down a copy of McGinniss’ book, do some fast and furious reading, and then fire up the computer at 0600 on Monday morning?  We couldda skipped most of the work and just churned out a few words about Mitt making a bold gamble by catering to the demands of the far right and then posting that anemic effort.  Whatever.

Either one of these two books will provide a reader with a better basis for evaluating this year’s election process and taken together they provide conclusive evidence for proving the case for believing that America’s freedom of the press is rapidly approaching the final chapter for the history of an institution experiencing a terminal illness.  If the voters are not going to make their decisions based on a well informed evaluation of the issues, then America’s free press is doomed to extinction.

Oscar Wilde said he wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t judge people solely on their appearance and Harry Treleaven believed (McGinniss book page 44) “Most national issues today are so complicated, so difficult to understand, and have opinions on that they either intimidate or, more often, bore the average voter .”

Joe McGinniss quoted (page 131) Richard M. Nixon as saying:  “Let us remember, the main purpose of American foreign aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.”

Now the disk jockey will play the AC/DC song “Problem Child,” the Rolling Stones’ song “Sparks will fly,” and the 1968 Nixon campaign song “Bring Our Country Back.”  We have to post this week’s Week in Review column a few hours early and attend to some administrative matters.  Have a “Hidden Persuaders” type week.

Another of Bob’s JEB predictions?

August 10, 2012

The Democrats have shown very little inclination to indulge in the delight of the misery of others (Schadenfreude) but they may soon grant themselves a dispensation if current trend in polling results force the Republicans into choosing between letting Mitt Romney precipitate some Custer style massacre election results this fall or the use of some nefarious parliamentary procedures to deny Romney the nomination.

A month from today, the Presidential Campaign season will be underway and that means it may be too late for the Republicans to start brandishing a threat to impeach Harry Reid for his assertions about Mitt’s shutout record against the taxman.  When a Democratic politician is suspected of telling a fib, impeachment has to be considered to uphold the integrity of the American people, but if a Republican President sends his country into war because “he didn’t know” what he was talking about when he used possibility that WMD’s might exist to prove that war was inevitable, well then . . . give the guy a break because he meant well.

Only partisan Democrats think there is an inconsistency with giving Dubya a pass on his verbal gaff and then pushing for impeachment of both the “I did not have sex with that woman” guy and the “I’ll use Senator McCarthy approach to attack Mitt Romney’s tax forms” guy.

Once American journalists have printed the assertion “Harry Reid is lying” and Reid’s “No, I’m not” response, haven’t they fulfilled their obligation to provide the American people with fair and balanced coverage of the dispute?  Isn’t providing any additional germane material tantamount to partisan punditry which will only serve to politicize the Presidential Campaign process?

During the week, the media carried stories reporting that polls showed that President Obama was ahead of the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, in the crucial swing states.  Could the large number of Republicans who were urging Mitt to release his tax forms be used to jump to the conclusion that there is a disconcerting level of concern about Mitt’s appeal to the voters (and the concomitant “coattails effect”) that is causing some buyers’ remorse before the Republican Convention has been gaveled to order?

Gort 42, a Pennsylvania based political blogger, was offering the phrase “swift yachting” to describe the tidal wave of concern about Mitt Romney’s tax returns and his cavalier rich playboy image.  Are Republicans afraid that the image of an indolent wastrel might not be a draw for hard working tax paying American voters?  Couldn’t they market him as a Reggie Van Gleason surrogate candidate?

On Wednesday August 8, 2012, the World’s Laziest Journalist bought a bargain used copy of Ferdinand Lundberg’s 1968 book “The Rich and the Super-rich: A Study in the Power of Money Today,” which asserts that the rich often use the concept of a Foundation to establish the image that most wealthy Americans are actually philanthropists.

On that same day, we found that a writer on the Daily Kos website was posting material hinting that the tax records of the Tyler Charitable Foundation and the Romney Foundation might provide the curious with valuable clues and insights into the financial secrets that Mitt deems too personal to release.

On Monday, August 6, smoke signals in San Francisco’s East Bay area were seen in the evening and according to some experts the message being sent out to all Americans was:  “Higher gasoline prices soon come.”  Won’t higher gasoline prices mean more jobs, less taxes, and general euphoria in the various oil company boardrooms throughout the world?

Earlier that same day, Uncle Rushbo was warning his listeners that the tree huggers were about to politicize Football.  According to America’s anchor man, the liberals would use statistics (provided by the same scientists who have “proved” that global warming exists?) about brain concussions to outlaw that particular sport.

To make the issue even more alarming, Uncle Rushbo indicated that the team owners, who are mostly Anglo Saxons, were not the same ethnic group as were the players who were being injured.  That, he indicated, would only serve to goad the goody-two-shoes citizens into injecting race into the issue, and that, in turn, would only cause an increase in the level of fanatical emotional commitment for the activists trying to “get ’er done” and eliminate a native American sport from the pop culture scene.

Did we hear him correctly?  Did Uncle Rushbo say on Monday’s program, that some scientists believe that brain concussions can trigger an inclination towards child molestation?  Do seminaries have football teams?  Football is to firmly ingrained in American culture to be eliminate so that makes a potential threat to do so another perfect wedge issue.

Speaking of wedge issues, what are the chances of getting some new gun control legislation passed before this fall’s elections?

About the only development that could further exacerbate the level of rancor for this year’s political process would occur if some wealthy philanthropist, with extensive computer hacking resources, were to use illegal and immoral methods of obtaining copies of Mitt Romney’s disputed tax returns and then surreptitiously provide copies to Julian Assange’s posse to post for all the world to see.

Is Harry Reid playing into the hands of some diabolical conspiracy theory plot to use the Romney tax issue as an excuse for delivering the Republican Party’s Presidential Nomination to someone else?  Isn’t the Republican bullpen is empty?  Isn’t it true that there is nobody left on the bench?  Is the Romney nomination a clever ruse?  Is it in fact just a play fake?

Should the Democrats have played possum on the tax forms issue and waited until after Romney got the nomination before making them the subject of a fuss?

If the perception of Mitt Romney as a spoiled brat rich kid is accurate, then it seems quite likely that he will not suddenly develop a propensity for accepting defeat graciously.  If he is given a chance to step down before the Republican Convention will the guy who has always been able to buy the toys he wants, prefer, instead, to do a “White Heat” finale that will provide Americans with a memorable TV “wipeout” moment?

That might be what Harry Reid wants, but what will happen if Romney is given a metaphorical “Rommel Option” ultimatum and does step down before the Convention?  Then what?  Is President Obama’s strategy flexible or is it designed to function with only Romney as the “presumptive” opponent?  Could an alternative Republican nominee throw Obama’s game plan into complete disarray?  As bullfight fans would be quick to point out; the moment of truth is rapidly approaching.

Alfred M. Landon said:  “A government is free in proportion to the rights it guarantees to the minority.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Happy days are here again,” “When you’re smiling,” and “He’s a rebel.”  We have to go do a Google search for ChipPac.  Have an “aletoricism” type week.

St. Who?

August 3, 2012

St. Sithney, of Saighir, whose feast day is celebrated on August 4, was (according to an ecclesiastical urban legend) asked by God if he wanted to be the patron saint of unmarried women and he said he would rather be the patron saint of mad dogs.  The lawyers will be quick to point out that the fine print stipulates that he was to be the saint for curing mad dogs and protecting folks from dogs with hydrophobia (rabies).  Based on the consensus opinion of liberal pundits, the Democratic voters would do well to pray to St. Sithney for protection from the avid Republican candidates who seem, during this year’s election process, to be as logical and eloquent as mad dogs

Case in point:  Ted Nugent is advocating the possibility that if some of people in the theater in Aurora Colorado had been carrying hand guns, and returned fire in the smoke filled auditorium that was an example of bedlam; one of them might have been a Ninja marksman with a magical bullet that could have sliced through the body armor like a hot knife through a cold stick of butter.  To which we can only give the Hemingway response:  “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Liberals are still waiting for conservatives to give a coherent response to George Carlin’s objection to the birth control issue.  Babies have a right to life until they are born and then the “rugged individual” philosophy kicks in and “You’re on your own, kid” becomes standard conservative operating dogma.  Self determination is fine for middle class and poor kids, but for rich brats, “do you know who you are talking to?” is usually their first full sentence.  Learning to talk, for rich kids, means learning to threaten someone with a tsunami of legal paper work for standing in their way.

An anecdote, encountered many years ago, related a story about a rich woman who was told about the problem of hunger that is a vexation for homeless.  She replied “Why don’t they ring the bell?”  In her world, if she needed food, she would ring a bell and a servant would appear and immediately attend to that need.  She used the psychological phenomenon known as “projection” to assume that everyone else’s world was just like hers and that all a hungry homeless person had to do was ring the bell and a servant would stand by to take their order.

Democrats project their belief in voters’ rights for all citizens onto the Republicans and they (conversely) project their belief in a Republic where only qualified people (land owning males were specified in the American Constitution) could cast a vote.  Naturally some “What we have here is . . . failure to communicate” misunderstandings often sabotage any attempts to reach a compromise.  The purging of voters from the rolls in Florida would be a classic example of the consequences of the miscommunication surrounding this issue.

In the United States, the Democrats believe that the minute a person from a foreign country sets foot on American soil that person is entitled, by the doctrine of “all men are created equal,” to the some rights and privileges that the citizens (except for a vote) have.  The Republicans consider the concept as being similar to obtaining a driver’s license.  It is their contention that getting into the driver’s seat isn’t enough.  You have to pass a test to get the driver’s license and prove your qualifications for possessing that driver’s license.

Do people with mental illnesses have a right to buy assault weapons?  The Republicans seem to want to use the “all gun buyers are created equal” concept to prevent mental patients from being deprived of their rights.  The Democrats seem to want to put some restrictions on the purchase of guns.  Both parties do seem to be in agreement that people who are incarcerated in jails and prisons (such as Charlie Manson) don’t have a right to buy guns over the Internets.

A humorist once said that the law in its wisdom forbids rich folks as well as the homeless from living under a bridge.

Republicans maintain that extending the tax cuts for the rich will produce jobs.  The Democrats reply that if that were true, then this question must be asked: why has the level of employment declined during the almost decade long period when the Bush tax cuts have been in place?

Compassionate, conservative Christians can always sanction cutting social programs to fund new wars.  Democrats want to implement spending priorities that are the exact opposite.

The Muslim world has always been divided by two rival factions.  It seems like the Sunni and the Shiite groups will never live in peaceful coexistence.  The Republicans fully endorsed sending American troops into Iraq and now they seem to be ready to endorse a new military adventure involving Iran.  Does simultaneously conducting military operations in both a Sunni and a Shiite nation make any sense?  Should people be praying to St. Sithney for protection from such thinking?

Could two groups, who both adhere to the philosophy “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” temporarily suspend their mutual animosity and become united for a short time by the common objective of contending with meddling in their area of the world by some unwelcome interloping foreign country?

There a classic old back and white movie that shows, in a medium shot, some people struggling for control of a small boat.  The camera pulls back in a long tracking shot that shows that the craft is perilously close to the edge of a gigantic water fall.  Could that be a metaphor for what is happening with the struggle between the Democrats and the Republicans in Washington D. C.?

Do the Republicans really believe that the answer to all these problems will be provided by Mitt Romney?  When will some responsible Republicans realize that it is time for an “Intervention” gambit and find a rationale for disqualifying Mitt and handing the Presidential nomination to someone who has a better chance of not precipitating four years of mainstream media ridicule of the Commander-in-Chief as a bungling buffoon?

If Conservatives are strict constructionists who do not believe that the Founding Fathers would sanction the approval of the right to vote for anyone but male landowners, could they endorse a policy of using computer hacking to adjust vote totals to automatically purge some of the “ineligible” votes from the final results?

Whatever happened to the pundit who was kicked off a popular blog aggregator site for predicting, in the summer of 2010, that JEB would win the Presidency in 2012?  Did his posse direct prayers to St. Sithney asking to cure him?

The rumors that Oakland will be forced to accept Federal control of their police department percolated into the regional mainstream media this week.  On Tuesday, KCBS news radio featured Chronicle reporter Phil Matier predicting that move, and further predicting that it will mean that Oakland will be required to spend more on the Police Department.  If that happens during the current financial crisis, the money will be taken away from social programs, and that could cause a concomitant increase in crime which would then require even more increases in Police spending.

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper ran a page one story by Matthai Kuruvila reporting that after laying-off some police officers, Oakland purchased “nearly” $2 million worth of hardware that either didn’t work well or wasn’t used at all.

This week some news stories indicated that women are now entitled to free medical birth control advice.  How are the conservatives reacting to that?  Will they need some prayers offered on their behalf to St. Sithney?  Will Conservatives need a prescription for sedatives?

Marcus Moziah Garvey said:  “Hungry men have no respect for law, authority or human life.”

Now the disk jockey will play Noël Coward’s song “Mad dogs and Englishmen,” the song “Basket Case” (written by Warren Zevon and Carl Hiassen), and Andre Williams’ new release titled: “I gotta get Shorty outta jail.”  We have to go get our tickets to see both “Killer Joe” (over in S.F.) and “Never give a sucker an even break” at the Pacific Film Archive this weekend.  Have a “foaming at the mouth” type week.

[Using a photo of some San Francisco Bay Area slap art, by the graffiti artist called Broke, which echoes the conservative philosophy of “more work; less pay,” seemed like an acceptable solution to the column illustration challenge for this week.]

Is it time again for the liberal pundits to take cheap shots at gun control?

July 27, 2012

The Hollywood recipe of sex, high speed car chases, and shootouts, used to attract large numbers of young men to movie theaters during the summer months occasionally boils over into real life and when it does it precipitates a cavalcade of clichés for both the pro and anti gun pundits who automatically proceed to the “round up the usual suspects” mode of operation.  Attempting to write a remarkably eloquent example of argumentation for either point of view brings to mind a quote made famous by Inspector (Dirty) Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood):  “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

American culture offers such an abundance of pop culture items for relevant allusions that it provides a book manuscript level of possible material and since this will be a quick read column meant to incite readers to do their own analysis rather than offer an “off the rack” set of tailored opinions, we will try to present something that is both unique and thought provoking.

One of the world’s laziest journalist’s recurring complaints is that regimented thinking has become too standardized in mainstream media and we noted with some satisfaction that our subjective reaction to the initial onslaught of news was to wonder how many of the pundits who tackle the subject will use the idea that the shooter obviously needed to get laid as the basis for a column suggesting that the fellow was a poster boy for the idea that prostitution should be legalized.

One of the victims, Jessica Ghawi, was a remarkable rookie sports reporter whose brother asked for a boycott of the perp’s name and so we will not use the name of the young man who methodically attempted to execute an entire movie audience.  She was, according to several news reports, a vivacious and talented person who embodied what the French call <I>joie de vivre</I> (joy of living).  We have been intending to write a column about that French philosophical concept and realize the poignant fact that the victim epitomized the philosophy that every day is a precious gift and should be appreciated accordingly.  We will hoist a glass of our favorite non-alcoholic drink in her memory this weekend.

The kid who is now in custody and awaiting trial, it seems to this columnist, needed some love and sex to suppress his antisocial impulses.  We wondered what would have happened if fate had supplied the shooter with a dynamic girlfriend instead of a compulsion.

Many of the news reports about the shooter’s first appearance in court noted that the fellow looked dazed and confused.  None of the accounts specifically used the phrase “drug addled moron,” but that seemed to be the consensus opinion of the journalists.  It made us wonder:  since the fellow had been in custody since early Friday morning, did the District Attorney prescribe heavy sedation for the defendant to prevent the culprit from going berserk Monday as a way of providing a foundation for an insanity plea defense?

During the week, Ted Nugent speculated about how different things might have been if some other members of the movie audience had been strapped (i.e. carrying firearms).  When Australian fugitive Ned Kelly was apprehended, he was wearing home made armor and he sustained more than two dozen wounds before he was subdued.  Apparently Nugent’s speculation included a magical bullet with a mythological ability to be unencumbered by the restrictions of the laws of physics and would have sent the mass murderer to an early grave.

Could Chuck Norris have delivered such a hypothetical example of perfect marksmanship in the midst of the mass confusion?

Obviously Ted Nugent deserves a place on Mitt Romney’s short list of potential running mates.

Premeditated anonymity for the shooter, in accordance with the wishes of Ms. Ghowi’s brother, caused us to wonder just how many Americans can supply the name of the assassin (Charles Guiteau) who shot President James A. Garfield or the fellow (Leon Czolgosz) who shot President William McKinley.  It would take a trivia champ to name the guy (Gavrilo Princip) who shot Archduke Ferdinand and precipitated the mass carnage of WWI.

That, in turn, reminded us that there was a second Congressional investigation to augment the Warren Commission Report into the shooting of President Kennedy and the lesser known study concluded that there was more than one person involved in the assassination in Dallas.  Some conspiracy theory scholars suggest that the fellow who shot President Lincoln may have had some help from unknown people who were accessories to the crime.

Just about everything the world’s laziest journalist knows about snipers was learned while reading the novels of movie critic Stephen Hunter.  That, in turn, inspired us to read the biography of Carlos Hathcock, a U. S. Marine Corp sniper who killed a Viet Cong general with a shot from 2,000 yards away.

His name sparked us to remember that a poker hand of aces and eights has a special significance for people who are fascinated by the history of the American West.

At this point while doing the keystrokes for the rough draft for this column, caroming off on a tangential topic about which shots are morally acceptable and which are not has a powerfully appealing aspect, but we will address that topic some other day in a future column and continue objectively assembling a collection of gun related items for this particular column.

It seems very unlikely that corporate media will permit any of their indentured propagandists to dwell on the fact that the shooter had a college degree and was overqualified to work the “want a side order of fries with your burger?” jobs available.

If the police found any books by Marx or Engels in the shooter’s apartment, Uncle Rushbo & Co. will be jubilant.  Have the conservative pundits ever noted that the Tea Party movement in the USA strongly echoes the Black Hundred political movement in Tsarist Russia?

Some pundits have suggested that the shooter wanted fame and media attention and point out the culprit’s dyed hair as proof that the fellow was bonkers and willing to go to extremes to gain attention.  Have any of these expert pundits walked around in a college town lately?  If they have they will learn that the War in Vietnam has ended since they graduated and that some young folks these days sport hair dyed green, purple, or gray.  Have any of the musicians who pioneered the punk rock genre and used the retro Iroquois haircut started to go bald?

After hearing some recent news reports indicating that a majority of young people want to be famous, we stumbled upon a curious link connecting Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson.  Biographers indicate that all three considered being a famous celebrity a curse rather than a gift of fate.

[Both Hemingway and Hunter Thompson were avid gun enthusiasts.  We can’t immediately recall any passages from Kerouac’s writing which mentioned guns.  We have often wondered (word play alert!) if the inventory for Hunter’s private arsenal included a Thompson submachine gun.

Back in the day when this columnist was too young to qualify for a driver’s license, weekly magazines (such as Look and Colliers?) often featured an ad offering Thompson submachine guns which had blocked up barrels.  Quite often those ads were adjacent to other ads which offered replacement parts (such as barrels?) for obsolete military weapons.  We haven’t seen any of those ads recently and so we wonder if the Thompson submachine gun is now considered an assault rifle or not.]

Isn’t it rather poignant that the anti-Establishment rock bands from the Sixties, who warned their contemporaries about the dangers of commercialism, have come to epitomize the lucrative aspect of fame?  Some day we will get around to writing a column that will convey our philosophy about how fame can be a double edged sword.

[The illusive mystery writer K. C. Constantine was once quoted as saying he wrote and avoided publicity because he had had his fill of fame when he played professional baseball.  Our hunch is that the writer’s secret identity would be that of a former member of the N. Y. Yankees who had a subsequent career as a sports caster and lived in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.]

Is the anti-capitalism beatnik/hippie philosophy still being preached?  A blogger who posts tips and hints about how to run away to join a hippie commune will get a constant trickle of visitors seeking information on that very subject.  Maybe we’ll write a column on that topic.

Is it an example of hypocrisy to note that the conservatives who advocate availability of assault rifles for the masses often live in very secure compounds and fastidiously avoid malls and public movie theaters where they might encounter germs or stray bullets?  Would it be an example of über-irony if the gift shop at the World’s Laziest Journalist World Headquarters were to offer a T-shirt reading:  “I love hypocrisy!”?

After 9-11, people in the L. A. area who were being admitted to free movie screenings for critics and journalists, were searched for weapons, so is it another example of hypocrisy if people who see new films in a secure location condemn motion pictures for inciting violence at public theaters?  Or is that an acceptable example of double standard thinking?

Speaking of cinematic violence, when we were an enthusiastic Three Stooges fan, a relative pointed out that the mayhem in those comedies was “play acting” and noted that the only time an uncle killed an enemy soldier (he was a Seabee who was going for water on Guadalcanal), he hit the fellow on the head with an empty bucket.

Are the journalists in the media suffering from sensational event deficit disorder?  Do you expect to see/hear any gun control debate on the Sunday talk shows during the first weekend of the sports games in London?  After a news event has been featured on the covers of the weekly news magazines, it becomes ancient history.

Didn’t President George W. Bush end the War in Iraq when he signed a peace treaty with Saddam Hussein at an event that was held on the deck of an aircraft carrier?

As this column was being written, the disk jockey was sorting through a mountain of material to select the best relevant music to play when the time to roll the credits arrives.  There are so many songs about shooting that it would be difficult to select the top ten.  Items like “Frankie and Johnnie” and “Stagerlee” are fixtures in American Pop Culture.  Using the Gonuts song “Hot for Twinkies” would be too confusing for anyone who is not a trivia expert on San Francisco Political History.  Is some of the best of Ennio Morricone’s music appropriate?  If the disk jockey plays the Ride of the Valkyries, should the columnist say “Getcha a case of beer for that!”?  Should he play the theme song from “High Noon”?  “I hate Mondays!”?

American folk wisdom proclaimed:  “God didn’t create all men equal; Col. Colt did.”

The disk jockey will play the “Annie get your gun” album, the song “America – Fuck Yeah!” from Team America, and the theme song from the TV series “Palidin.”

Roll credits!

V. O. (Voice over):

Since we have not gotten an assignment to go to London and extol the delights of the cavalcade of simultaneous sports events occurring there, we will be lucky to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival this weekend.  Have a “wear garlic necklace” type week.

[TrustoCorp, which is described online as “a New York based artist (or artists) dedicated to highlighting the hypocrisy and hilarity of human behavior through sarcasm and satire,” put up an example of their work in Berkeley CA about two years ago.  It expresses a macho Australian philosophy about guns.  We used a shot of that sign (from the WLJ photo morgue) to illustrate this week’s column.]

Photos were posted on my floppyphotos blog on wordpress.

“Never give a sucker an even break.”

July 20, 2012

There is a sequence in a W. C. Fields movie (If memory servers, that would be “Never give a sucker an even break”) that shows a con man with a funny name (Fields) at a coffee shop lunch counter chatting up the fellow next to him.  The rapscallion makes his move and says to the victim:  “It’s been a pleasure talking to you; I think I’ll buy your lunch.  When I get up to the cashier, I’ll tell her to charge me for your lunch, so you raise your hand when I point in this direction.”  Then when he talks to the young hostess with access to the cash register, he says:  “The fellow next to me offered to buy my lunch.  It’s that guy.”  He points to the gullible fellow, who raises his hand.  Fields marches off in triumph leaving the film audience in hysterics.

All this esoteric film history would be relevant if we were trying to land a gig as the intern at the British film review website <a href =http://cinesthesiac.blogspot.com/

>Cinesthesiac</I>, if they ever expand their staff to include that position.  However, since this column is going to be posted on sites that relish mordacious political punditry, we had better hasten to add that this vignette from the cinema vaults can serve as a metaphor for a newer and more pertinent swindle being perpetrated on gullible Americans and proceed immediately to the explanation of the symbolism involved.

A loveable rascal in the White House wanted to go down in history as a war President and so he convinces his country to start a quick war that (he assured the citizens) wouldn’t cost much and would be over quickly and successfully.  Then, several years later, when his successor from another political party falls into the trap, the slick fellow tells the cashier:  “He’s going to pay for my war!” and <I>voila!</I> the chump raises his hand and (eventually) gets a big surprise.  Economic chaos ensues (Don’t the Republicans think that economic chaos is an example of knee-slap funny humor?) . . . .

If a W. C. Fields character where to be given a contract for security at a big world famous sports event, the cad would over promise performance, under deliver results, and then take the money and run leaving the host country to fill the security gap.  What Conservative doesn’t believe in the old Woody Allen philosophy of “Take the money and run”?

Before America got into WWII, Fields ran a campaign for President.  The thought of a fellow who is mostly known for bumbling, unscrupulous business conduct vying for a chance to move into the White House was a hilarious diversion for the American voters who had, in 1940, been coping with economic adversity for a decade.

One of the agents in the World’s Laziest Journalist spy corps recently filed a report saying that over at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, some of the more radical thinkers (?) on the staff are predicting that the Republicans are going to use a “Lucy van Pelt pulls away the football” type maneuver to take the nomination away from the presumptive (“never assume!”) nominee.

Gullible rubes refuse to consider the possibility that pundits are serious when the use the qualifying phrase “presumptive nominee” when they talk about Mitt Romney.  Their naiveté is a crucial ingredient for the political <I>blitzkrieg</I> (allegorically speaking) that will be unleashed before the Republican convention is called to order in Tampa.

The folks at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, this week, were expressing the old Jimmy Durante line:  “Everybody is trying to get into the act.”  Where does journalism reporting rumors end and conspiracy theories start?  Is there a cusp area? There were rumors online Thursday hinting that a certain front running candidate may have to contend with assertions he was given amnesty for some income tax evasion offenses and if this unfounded rumor turns out to be true, he might be ruled retroactively ineligible to be a participant in the Primary and General Election activities.

Americans have been anesthetized to any shock that might accompany proof that a politician is telling blatant lies.  Suppose (AKA “What if . . . ?”) that a party’s front runner has to content with undeniable, irrefutable proof that he has committed a major misdeed (such as income tax evasion?) just days before the convention is scheduled to start?  Could a fellow be ruled retroactively ineligible to participate in some Primary elections and stripped of his wins?  (Did Mitt ever win the tour de France?)

It seems to some of the members of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Workers union that some amateur scabs were doing some speculating this week that come perilously close to infringing on their trade.

There could be major problems ahead for the Republican Party.  If (subjunctive mood) Mitt is a rich kid who knows that where there is enough available money there is always a way to get what he wants and if the Republicans hint that it is time for him to be graceful and step down, perhaps the rich kid will become obstreperous.  If Mitt comes unglued by the tax question, he might have a meltdown that would make the Howard Dean scream incident seem very tame in comparison.

What would the Republican Party do if a respected newspaper had a Pentagon Papers moment and published authentic copies of the tax returns in dispute?  What if Mitt still wouldn’t step aside?

If that were to happen, then it might be time for a journalist-curmudgeon to say:  “The kid’s not a real trooper; send him home.”

If a Mitt candidacy is unacceptable to Republicans how can they possibly expect to sell him to Reagan Democrats?

If Mitt wasn’t really shuttling between working on the Olympics and working at Bain, could that rascally old Mormon have been splitting some of his family values time with an extra wife?

Speaking of double standards, most Liberals don’t understand the Conservative philosophy of boardroom conduct.  The executives, because of their “hands on” style of management, earn every last cent of their paycheck when things are rosy and profitable, but when things go sour, it must always be blamed on some underling who kept “the chief” in the dark about potential problems.  Being a mid-level management executive these days is like being a human shield protecting the fearless leader from indictments and irate stockholders.  When Republican industrial moguls say “You can’t loose,” that exactly what they mean.  Unfortunately, that caveat doesn’t apply to managers who don’t sit of the board of directors.

Was it Fields or Laurel and Hardy that featured the shtick about flipping a coin and saying:  “Heads, I win; tails, you loose!”?  What conservative Christian can’t condone that example of how to bamboozle a sucker?

St. Ronald Reagan often said that the eleventh commandment was:  Never speak ill of a fellow Republican.  The recent rash of Republican ruminating about the Romney run makes skeptics wonder what’s up in that party.  Either Reagan’s sway on the party faithful is waning or the Conservative Christians don’t consider Mitt to be an authentic member of their party.  If that’s the case, the chorus of criticism will continue until Mitt is deemed disqualified for the nomination and then he and his supporters will have a WTF mind meld moment and start asking themselves the usual Charlie Brown questions about being fleeced of their campaign money and being rooked out of the nomination they considered rightfully theirs.

There is a bit of old conventional wisdom among film critics that holds that the key to watching any film about swindlers is to keep in mind that the iron clad rule for the genre which is:  the con men are always the ones who get fleeced.  Thus film critics who see Mitt Romney as a modern W. C. Fields patent medicine salesman expect that he will wind up (like the fellow in a particular Jerry Reed song) getting the shaft instead of the expected gold mine.

If the Mittster is looking for a slogan for his Presidential campaign, perhaps he can swipe the phrase that Texas Guinan used to use when she greeted customers entering her New York speakeasy:  “Hello, sucker!”

For a column on swindles that will be posted on July 20, the disk jockey insists that his closing selection of songs starts off with “Springtime for Hitler” (from Mel Brooks’ “The Producers”), the Rolling Stones contractual obligation album [when they were committed to delivering one more album to a certain record company, they delivered a package of über-bawdy material and when the record company executives complained that they couldn’t release the album, the Stones lawyers indicated “That’s your problem.” (It became a top bootleg product for those people who sanction unauthorized products.)] and as a memorial tribute for country music fans, Kitty Wells’ breakthrough Country hit “It wasn’t God who made Honky-tonk angels.”  We have to go check and see who the Republicans have available on the bench in the bullpen.   Have an “I’ll hold the football for you, Charlie Brown,” type week.

[Quagmire, who may be the littlest panhandler on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley, attacked the columnist after being given a “drop in the bucket” offering and bit the writer’s cane so we thought a picture of this ungrateful cur would be an acceptable illustration for a column about swindles.  Why a cane?  Isn’t a cane essential for projecting the image of a suave <I>boulevardier</I>?]

Hippies, Pot, and War

July 13, 2012

Early in the week, a popular medical pot dispensary closed in San Francisco and caused a flare-up of the baffled pundit syndrome.  Skeptics are asking if President Obama is overlooking a link to the young voters who helped him win in 2008 and perplexed commentators are left scratching their heads.  Why would he do something that seems to spurn the attitude of a large portion of his political base?  Could the well paid experts be overlooking an obvious answer in much the same way folks couldn’t find the purloined letter?  Is there a hypothetical explanation for Obama’s curious failure to let pot dispensaries function without harassment?

Do you want to consider a possible explanation?  Let’s assume that businesses in the pharmaceutical industry make large contributions to both the Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates’ campaign funds.  Then let’s assume that those very same firms resent the potential of medicinal pot which is not part of their assortment of products.  Would they hold off on asking the resident in the White House for a bit of payback out of consideration of the therapeutic value that the pot provides for the afflicted or would they remind the President about paybacks and then ask him to pull strings to make life miserable for the interlopers?

On Thursday, a large popular medical marijuana dispensary with outlets in Oakland and San Jose announced they must either find new locations or close.

In Berkeley CA, this week, the city council heard public input on the topic of the sit-lie law which will be on the November ballot.  The measure will, if adopted, prohibit sitting or laying down on sidewalks from early morning until late evening.  If Berkeley gets rid of the hippies, what will be next?  Will anti-Vietnam War demonstrations at Venice Beach be outlawed?

Chalkupy, an activist organization which provides art work for liberal causes, placed a large chalk drawing in downtown Berkeley on Tuesday which showed a seated Buddha and said “arresting people for sitting is unenlightened.”

Chalkupy is brought to the public by Fresh Juice Party (www.freshjuiceparty.com).  According to a flyer handed out to folks who saw the chalk work of art being created, FJP is a politically prejudiced media group.  They also assert “WE have the power to squeeze out the truth.”  (Well if the free press in the US isn’t going to do their job, it would be nice if some other group takes up the slack.)

If the measure is passed it will go into effect in July of 2013.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if the measure removed all the hippie panhandlers at the very same time that someone else started an effort to increase business in Berkeley by holding some events which would commemorate the 50th anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from on top of a police car in December of 1964?

San Bernardino (AKA San Berdoo) wasn’t the only city making news this week by having financial hardships.  One report on KCBS news radio indicated that part of San Bernardino’s troubles stemmed from the fact that the city contains a large number of foreclosed homes which produce no property tax revenue.

We noticed that Scranton Pa. was also making news by cutting pay for various groups of city employees.  If some Occupy activists came to Scranton and waged an effort to win the restoration of  the full pay rate for police and firemen, who have been reduced to the minimum wage rate; how aggressive would the police be about thwarting such <I>amicus est tanquam alter idem</I> type help?

Why do you suppose it is that the well paid Liberal pundits are failing to point out that American cities are going broke at a time when the United States is still unquestioning about continued funding for the Bush Wars?  Would the old Berkeley Barb let this example of an inconsistent economic philosophy pass unnoticed?

[Is it true that one episode of Star Trek portrayed a visit to earth that revealed that at the end of the 20th century large global wars on earth had ceased and been replaced by smaller regional wars called Bush Wars?]

The Republicans seem to have a platform of:  austerity measures, tax cuts for the rich, and more war and the poles show a virtual tie between Mitt and President Obama.  How can this incongruity be explained?

Wasn’t there a scifi movie, some time back, which predicted that people would eventually become anesthetized by various distractions and not pay any attention to the important issues?  The people became I-pod people and just did not give a damn about anything.  If there was impending political disaster:  “Oh?  That’s interesting, what else is happening?”  Journalism has become sports, weather, celebrity gossip, and innocuous feature stories and the people in America are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about austerity measures, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the chance to send American troops to Syria.

Chill out, dude!  What’s the worst that can happen?  If the Republicans use the Edward Gough Whitlam clause in the Party’s by-laws to disqualify Mitt from getting the nomination, and if they then select a Presidential Candidate who delivers an early Christmas present to the folks who made long odds bets on him, well then maybe some Americans will realize that they better get used to stringent austerity measures and forget about looking for a job.  We’ll write a column that uses the headline:  “Austerity measures will continue until prosperity returns.”

If the people elect a Republican in the fall of 2012, this columnist will concentrate on more superfluous topics.  Who isn’t interested in knowing that the Rolling Stones played their first paid gig fifty years ago on June 12, 1962?

Since Saturday is Bastille Day and since we are continuing with an effort to re-read “Is Paris Burning?,” we intended to write a column for this week that was mostly very upbeat and feature-ish, but reading about all the sacrifices that were made to win the liberation of Paris, we began to wonder what the troops who were killed in WWII would say about the current situation in the USA.  How long will it be until some hippie who is into the occult comes out and claims to have held a séance which revealed that the fallen soldiers complain “the current political impasse in the United Sates wasn’t what we were trying to achieve when we made the ultimate sacrifice”?

It seems to this columnist that the Republican politicians are being passive-aggressive regarding their “jobs” and that the Democrats are shrugging their shoulders and saying they can’t do a damn thing about it because of the filibuster rules.

An employee (unless it’s a bank’s investment specialist) who doesn’t perform gets fired immediately; not when his annual review takes place.  When a pitcher gives up five runs in the first inning, he is told to “hit the showers!”  A soldier who commits dereliction of duty faces harsh consequences.  We’ve called what the Republicans are doing a modern sit-down strike and that concept sure as hell hasn’t “gone viral.”  The Republicans are very critical when any other group of workers use strike tactics.  Should the shirkers (strikers?) be reelected or arrested?  Do the I-pod people care about politics?

Didja know that there is a WTF website?  Maybe, if we write columns that are more insegrvious we can cross post our efforts on that site?  (You got a problem with a columnist using words that don’t exist?)

Have you ever noticed that college radio stations that insist on a culturally eclectic play list almost never play any Native American Music?

James Russell Lowell wrote:  “They have rights who dare maintain them.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Marseillaise,” “As time goes by,” and Edith Piaf’s “Le vie en rose.”  We have to go get a crepes breakfast.  Have a “le jazz hot” type week.

[The photos for illustrations for this column are over onmy floppyphotos.wordpress  for photos blog.]

A Political Quagmire for Conservatives

June 29, 2012

Did General Dietrich von Choltitz just disobey a direct order to invalidate Obamacare?

The Breitbart website, on Thursday, was raising the possibility that Chief Justice John Roberts was coerced by liberals into changing his vote from striking Obamacare down to letting it stand.  If Chief Justice Roberts was being coerced by President Obama or any of his authorized agents, the Supreme Court Justice missed a big chance to score the political equivalent of baseball’s unassisted triple play.  Justice Roberts could have voted with the conservatives, accused Obama of political blackmail (and opened up an avenue to impeachment?), and become the man who insured that Obama would be defeated in November.  Instead he made a “Profiles in Courage” move that unfortunately pissed off (AKA “greatly perturbed”) 99% of the conservatives in the United States and put the Republican Party in quite a bind.

Breitbart apparently isn’t bright enough to realize that perhaps the flip side of the coercion question might be in play.  Suppose some highly place Republican strategist told Justice Roberts which way they wanted him to vote and additionally suppose that Justice Roberts reacted in a way described on the opening page of Albert Camus’ “The Rebel:”  “A slave who has taken orders all his life suddenly decides that he cannot obey some new command.”

If Roberts made up his own mind then all the incredulity on Thursday would be genuine, but if he were being coerced by any of the Obama team Justice Roberts messed up in Hall of Fame fashion.  If (subjunctive mood) Breitbart is spot-on with his wild assertion, then Justice Roberts could have revealed the blackmail effort and achieved a much greater and very different level of conservative indignation.  As it is, rather than increase the conservatives hatred for Obama, this hypothetical unreported extortion ploy only produced a photo finish between Obama and Justice Roberts regarding today’s level of conservative revulsion for both of them.

This week’s current events sensation may eventually be seen as a tipping point for the entire conservative political agenda.  The conservatives can not replay the Howard Dean “complete mental breakdown” response because that would call all of the recent SCOTUS decisions into question and possibly precipitate a need to review all of them.  If, on the other hand, all possible rational explanations of the baffling decision invoke a conspiracy theory scenario, that too is unacceptable.  If one conspiracy theory is confirmed that would then open the flood gate of legitimacy for all conspiracy theories and that also is unacceptable.

The only response is to completely ignore the story and that will open the possibility that some obscure bit of punditry could “go viral” and expose the “emperor’s new clothes” aspect of the “pretend this isn’t happening” attitude.  Again, uncaccpetable.

The fact that Justice Roberts did not report any coercion brings to mind the Sherlock Holmes case in which a dog didn’t bark.  A guard dog doesn’t bark at friends.

Thursday also produced news reports that indicated that both CNN and Fox News had a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment which indicates that they both seemed more motivated by the “nyuck nyuck” philosophy than by a sincere attempt to practice journalism.

Obviously the management at both organizations was proceeding from the <I>Brennt Obamacare?</I>  (“Is Obamacare burning?”) attitude rather than wondering “What was the decision?”

If you want some analysis of Thursday’s decision that is more scholarly and lawyerly you might try reading UCLA law professor Gene Volokh’s site called the Volokh Conspiracy.

There was some fast and furious rewriting efforts at the WLJ home office following Justice Roberts delivery of the judicial equivalent of a brush-back pitch in baseball, but since the staff had not placed any bets on the decision, the prevailing attitude was:  <I>Me vole madre, cabronez.<I>

Once upon a time, a member of management told the World’s Laziest Journalist that it was fun to be our boss because we were very unpredictable.  The boss said he could usually accurately predict how the other workers would react under a set of certain circumstances, but that we were an unpredictable challenge.

When the Internets were getting started, everyone extolled the possibility that it might spawn new unique voices.  Then the corporations brought in the carefully controlled publicity machine and imposed the old “star” concept and shut out the possibility that something unexpected might actually happen.  Unfortunately the suits failed to see that another age old law of entertainment was also operable:  repetition becomes predictable and that is bo-o-o-ring.

Hearing a conservative talk show host get rude with a liberal caller is funny the first time you hear it, but after the first hundred times, it gets very predictable.  Get off my computer screen you unimaginative stuck record.

Hearing a pedantic liberal give icy cold courtesy to a troll conservative caller is annoying.  Why don’t they sacrifice politeness in favor of entertaining righteous indignation?  After several dozen callers abuse the hospitality of the liberal talk show host that too becomes tedious.

Hearing Norman Goldman give the trolls a flip side version of Mark Levin’s brand of vitriolic lack of hospitality is very refreshing.

We wish both the liberal and conservative talk show hosts were human bottles of nitroglycerin.  Be sweet and cordial to one troll and then be exceedingly rude to another one later in the program.

The unexpected (as Thursday showed) may cause some upset stomachs but it also make for memorable entertaining moments.  There is an alternate take, recorded in Las Vegas, of Elvis changing the lyrics to “Are you lonesome tonight” and breaking up the band, all but one of the back-up singers, and himself.  (A video of that is on Youtube.)

How many people laughed the night Walter Cronkite said:  “This has been Walter Cronkite filling-in for Arnold Zenker.”?

One (special) night at the Palladium in Los Angels, Keith Richards was touring with “the Expensive Wino Band” providing the back-up instrumental music and he was obviously getting a big kick out of seeing/hearing the audience react to songs recorded by the Rolling Stones.  He enjoyed the audience’s confusion even more when they ripped into one particular song.  WTF! ! !  Wait a minute!  The audience recognized the song, but something sounds “off,” eh?  Fooledja!  It was a song that had been a big hit for the Beatles and like a pitcher who lures a runner on first base to take one too many steps, Keith had caught his audience way off base.

Here is a question for connoisseurs of uniqueness:  If you heard two different musicians play the same song on the same piano in the same venue, could you tell the difference?  We have heard a well known musician play “Great balls of fire” at the Palamino in North Hollywood and later heard Jerry Lee Lewis plunk out the same tune on the same piano.  We have convinced ourself that we could distinguish a difference.

They say that in the old days some folks could not only tell who was working the other end of a telegraph, but that some experts could even tell who had taught that person to work the telegraph.

This columnist has read extensively about World War II (at least six books!) but it was only recently that we stumbled on something we weren’t expecting.  Hitler was funny?

We’ve been conditioned to expect the words “monster” and “madman” when reading about Germany’s leader in WWII, but this was such a change-up.

On page 51 of “The Women Who Wrote the War” (by Nancy Caldwell Sorel [Yeah, we’ve already plugged that 1999 book twice recently]), Virginia Cowles quotes Unity Mitford as saying:  “He (Hitler) would do imitations of his Nazi colleagues Goering, Goebbels, Himmler – also Mussolini, which was the funniest.  Sometimes he even imitated himself.”

Ernst Junger won an Iron Cross in World War I and subsequently wrote a novel, <I>Storm of Steel</I>, which was a paean for war.  Another novel <I>On the Marble Cliffs </I> was perceived by some as a criticism of the leadership of the Third Reich and Hitler, who was not known for a welcoming attitude for criticism, shrugged it off saying “Let Junger be!”  Junger rejoined the military and became the only man to win an Iron Cross in both World Wars.

Did you know that Audie Murphy wrote some country songs?

Speaking of obscure links for bits of arcane and esoteric information, on a recent visit to the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (which is rumored to be located in a secret rebel encampment in the Sierra foothills) during a visit to the gift shop we were completely baffled by a T-shirt that read:  “Does Romney know about the treacherous rip tides at Cheviot Beach?”  WTF?   What’s the sense in offering material that nobody but the author will understand?  We have lived in Los Angeles County and we know that there is no beach in Cheviot Hills.  If they mean the world famous tourist attraction known as Venice Beach (which is the second biggest tourist draw in Southern California), why don’t they just say it?

In “An Aesthete at War,” Bruce Chatwin quotes Madame Morand as saying:  “For me the art of living is the art of making other people work and keeping pleasure for myself.”  The Supreme Court would no doubt concur in a 5 to 4 decision.

Now the disk jockey will play Linda Laurie’s song “Just Keep Walking” (which has only garnered about 10,000 hits on Youtube), Rod Derrett’s song “Rugby, Racing and Beer,” and (This is the first year tickets to the Bayreuth Festival will be available online!) “Sigfried’s funeral march.”  We have to go see if Pan Am is sold out for next January’s China Clipper flights to New Zealand.  Have a “iftah ya simsim” type week.

[Note:  A feature photo from the Lakeview school sit-in in Oakland doesn’t have much of a direct relevancy to this column, but (as they used to day in Vietnam):  “Sen Loi, G. I.”]

Hackgate or Hecklegate?

June 22, 2012

Some news such as the potential for a Hackgate scandal is being completely ignored by mainstream media, while a rude conservative instantaneously becomes a celebrity journalist.  Between the two extremes of Hackgate and Hecklegate, lies a vast array of news stories of differing degrees of newsworthiness that should be getting more media attention.  The staffs of various national news organizations have been cut back to alarmingly low levels and stories that have great trend spotting value are being ignored by the various media that might have provided massive coverage if these same stories broke back in the day when manpower was plentiful for large newspapers and TV networks.

On Thursday, June 14, 2012, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) held a press conference to release their reaction to the the Frazier Report which criticized the OPD conduct in response to protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza on October 25 of last year.

On Friday, the Lakeview elementary school in Oakland was closed permanently.  Over the weekend disgruntled parents and teachers began a sit-in on the school grounds.

On Monday morning, the Oakland Police delivered to protesters the information that they were subject to arrest on the charge of interfering with the operation of a school, which is a serious matter.

As the week progressed it was unknown if the Oakland Police would adjust their response to the Lakeview school sit-in in a way which indicates that they have heeded the message of the Frazier Report or not.

Critics of the OPD would have other Americans believe that a new local version of the Algiers Motel Incident is almost inevitable.

If Oakland is becoming a microcosm of the problems and challenges facing many other American cities during the summer of 2012, then perhaps national news media (usually owned and controlled by conservatives) should be covering the political maneuvering in that city.  The politicians are trying to provide a miracle of the loaves and fishes style solution for the rapidly expanding list of budget shortfalls and municipal challenges.

News stories during the week indicated that Oakland would hire a Los Angeles based firm to manage the Oakland Coliseum as long as the agreement contained an iron clad clause that the company would not indulge in team poaching.   That brought to mind the old quote about “I don’t want lawyers who will tell me what I can and cannot do; I want lawyers who will get done what I want done.”

At the same time that a Republican Senator, who owns several homes, is staunchly asserting that it might soon become very necessary for the American military to become involved in a civil war in Syria, the Republicans, who have established their brand identity along the “for the sake of the children” style of thinking, seem to be willing to decimate public education nationwide rather than miss out on the chance to completely disregard the “never again” post Vietnam philosophy and plunge America directly into a shiny new war (AKA quagmire) in the Middle East region.

It seems as if the Republicans who were fearless of the deficit problem during the George W. era are now willing to sell off kids’ education and instead provide them with basic training and an M-1 (or the modern equivalent) in deference to deficit spending.

While student activists were objecting to generous raises for the UCB executives and trying to gain wage and benefit increases for the members of the AFSCME union’s local 3299, they had to contend with the possibility of massive cuts in the library service available to the students.  The Republicans seem ready to manipulate current students into a much higher interest rate for their student loans.

A recount of the votes for the smoking tax initiative in California’s June primary election were still being conducted as the week started, and the tally was “still too close to call.”

Financial markets around the world seemed to react favorably to the pro-Conservative results in the elections in Greece.  Pre election news stories indicated that the voter sentiment was leaning toward a socialist agenda.

Some skeptics were questioning the legitimacy of the election results in Egypt.

It seemed like the only journalist who was concerned about the legitimacy of the voting results in Wisconsin was Brad Friedman, who has provided extensive coverage about the reliability of the electronic voting and vote tabulating machines being used nation wide.  He was the only person drawing attention to the implications that if the recall results in Wisconsin were questionable, then conservatives might have used the contentious recall election there as a dress rehearsal for sliding more skewed results past the media in November.   (Google News search hint:  “Brad Friedman” plus “Command Center”)

In the past, reporters in the group known as Murrow’s boys (Yeah, we’ve read The Women Who Wrote the War” by Nancy Caldwell Sorel so we know that the war correspondents weren’t all guys) risked their lives to bring a very high standard of excellence to American Journalism during World War II.  Media owners (who are usually conservative) would like Americans to assume that is still the norm.  Unfortunately that is just as unrealistic as believing that Paul Josef Goebbels was a champion of freedom of the press.

These days it is much easier to get a major career boost from rude and boorish conduct at a President’s press conference than it is to do so via high quality reporting.  Who doesn’t love a class cutup from the Spicoli School of Journalism who can disrupt a President’s speech just as easy as he used to toss snide remarks at the teachers giving lectures at Ridgemont High?

How difficult would it be to convince high school dropouts (via cleverly disguised political propaganda?) that teachers don’t deserve to get the pension benefits they spent a lifetime earning?

The state of the art for Journalism in the USA has become so wretched that American journalists are happy to manufacture drama and uncertainty about how the Republican majority United States Supreme Court will rule on a case that could subsequently provide Republican propaganda specialists with an opportunity for asserting that there is no basis for speculating about the legacy of the first President with a pan-African heritage.

The world of conspiracy theory connoisseurs is buzzing with rumors that the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is conducting a competition that is offering a cash prize for the first employee who can come up with one single, all encompassing, narrative that includes three diverse items from the current events beat.

There is rumored to be a wealthy journalism media mogul who used wire taps and e-mail hacking in Great Britain to accumulate material which was then used to blackmail politicians for unspecified ends.

Brett McGurk’s e-mails were posted on a web site called Cryptome and caused the fellow to withdraw his efforts to become the American Ambassador to Iraq.

Some recent news stories reported that the e-mails of Mitt Romney, who is expected to be given the Republican nomination for President, have been hacked.

It is doubtful that even Philip K. Dick could concoct a logical narrative connecting the dots using those three items of public record, but if he were still alive and if he did concoct an entry for the competition and labeled it “Hackgate,” it is very unlikely that news media would take any notice.

Famous con man Frank W. Abagnale, in his autobiography, wrote:  “Almost any fault, sin, or crime is considered more leniently if there’s a touch of class involved.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Charlie Brown,” Chuck Berry’s “School Days,” and the drinking song from Sigmund Romberg’s “The Student Prince.”  We have to go see what odds the British bookies are giving for bets on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obamacare case.  Have a “not drunk he is who can from the floor can rise alone to still drink more; but drunk he is who prostrate lies with power to neither drink nor rise” type week.

[Note from the photo editor.  A good deal of time was spent on Monday trying to get some adequate news photos from the Lakeview school sit-in in Oakland.  A return trip on Tuesday produced a better result.  A casual encounter with carpenters’ local 180, which was handing out information leaflets on Market Street in San Francisco on Wednesday, produced better (but less relevant?) photo images.]

Bloom’s Day, Claustrophobia, and Pittsburg

June 15, 2012

Friday June 15, 2012, is Johnny Hallyday’s birthday, Saturday, June 16 is Bloom’s day, the Monterey Pop Festival celebrates its 45th anniversary and the word “Watergate” triggers 40 year old memories.  For a columnist who has the “write about anything” assignment, the world is a movable smorgasbord feast and all the writer needs to do is fill in the blank assignment sheet.  For instance, if attending the annual aviation event in Oshkosh is on the bucket list, then all that the modern day Ulysses has to do is take his mobile command center (his lap-top) to Wisconsin and he is in business.  On the other hand, expenses might be a consideration.  Perhaps moseying down to Palo Alto for the Concours d’Elegance, which will be held on the grounds of Stanford University, on Sunday June 24, would be a better choice from the low budget is no budget point of view.

Is wandering around in your own hometown just as exciting and adventurous as roaming the world?  For an Irishman, a day in Dublin might provide the same classic adventure as any of the Vikings’ Odysseys.  It would just be up to the writer to make it sound like a stop in a Dublin pub could be just as invigorating and refreshing as a drink in Hurley’s bar in Rockefeller Center, Quinn’s bar in Papeete Tahiti, or the Floridita bar in Havana.

Some time ago, the World’s Laziest Journalist visited and wrote a column about a day spent roaming around in Dublin CA, so, rather than settle for a been there done that retread travel experience, we decided that our dress rehearsal for Bloom Day would be a one day excursion to Pittsburg CA.  A one day local bus pass in the Pittsburg/Antioch area for seniors cost $1.35, which is in our price range.

Would anyone, other than a native of Scranton Pa., be curious about the origin of the name of Antioch’s Black Diamond Street?  Obviously, Huell (California Gold) Howser won’t be the only one to see a feature story potential for the place in downtown Pittsburg CA that is a combination of a Merchant’s Bank branch and a coffee house.  This columnist can not remember ever seeing a similar business combination anywhere else in our travels.

The bookstore in Pittsburg offers local memorabilia in many forms; one of which is cutting boards for chefs made by carpentry students in the local high school, whose football team is called the Pirates.

While in the Pittsburg/Antioch area we encounter a clerk in a local CD store who was able to update us with an extensive amount of information that would be necessary to participate in the continuing debate about the quality of analogue vs. digital music.  It has been several years since we have done any fact checking on that topic and apparently there have been some technical advances in the interim that would have relevancy for reevaluating the merits of digital music.

The Pittsburg Antioch area is the home of the “Forensic Philosopher” who is a champion exponent of using local transportation services as a way to increase the greening of the Tourism industry and his efforts cause us to wonder if the computer era will spawn a way for local tourist offices to offer integrated area transportation information.

Here is an example.  San Francisco attracts large numbers of tourists from outside the United States.  Citizens of Germany have been conditioned to expect a very high level of achievement from automobile museums.  California has three car museums that are capable of meeting the Germans’ very high standard of excellence and one of them, the Blackhawk, is accessible to visitors staying in San Francisco, but the challenge of using the resources available to get there and back in one day are formidable even for a local who is familiar with the various transportation companies that would have to be used.  The challenge of tracking down all the necessary time schedule information that would be needed to make such a day trip would be overwhelming.

Wouldn’t a one-stop computer site which offered all the integrated information necessary to make such a museum visit be theoretically possible?  Well, then, why can’t some group, or association of groups, subsidize such a site which would increase and maximize the level of tourist satisfaction for foreign visitors to the San Francisco bay area?  Doesn’t it seem likely that more tourists from Germany would appreciate a top notch auto museum than would enjoy the chance to see the Giants attempt to play another perfect game?

Isn’t it obvious that the appeal of using the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system and a Pleasanton area bus to visit a world class car museum is much greater than the idea of running the bureaucratic obstacle course that someone with a foreign driver’s license must complete to rent a car (and cope with the complicated map reading task) that could also get them to the same destination?  Not to mention being less expensive.

One of the rewards of traveling is a cross pollination effect on ideas.

In order to prolong our Pittsburg experience, we played hooky from the Tuesday night meeting of the Berkeley CA city council meeting which was going to feature input on the issue of putting a sleep-lie measure on the ballot for the city’s voters this fall.  We figured that since we were already in Pittsburg, we could pick up a one sentence summary of the council meeting later.  (They approved the measure to put the sleep-lie matter on the November ballot for Berkeley voters.)

The question of the homeless reminded us there could be Paris Hilton angle to the problem that isn’t being considered.  We were living in the L. A. area when Paris Hilton was permitted to use a GPS tracking device and house arrest as a substitute for a cell in the county jail because she had acute claustrophobia issues.

When we offered to buy lunch for the Berkeley’s (beloved) homeless fellow called “hate-man,” he asked if the offer could be in the form of a take-out meal from a nearby restaurant which would be enjoyed in the familiar surroundings of the People’s Park (this was before he got a stay-away order).  We immediately wondered if the guy’s odd behavior was part of his way of coping, on a lesser scale than Ms. Hilton’s solution, with claustrophobia and then we wondered how many other of the homeless might be carrying out compulsive behavior because of that malady.

That, in turn, caused us to wonder why some group of students at the University of California Berkeley campus haven’t used the readily available material for an extensive study (say a psychological evaluation of the homeless) that would shed some new light on the local problem with similar challenges being present in many other American cities.

During the week, we heard a report on KCBS news radio that the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was going to offer some of his personal fortune to help publicize and promote innovative and imaginative solutions to urban problems.

Berkeley mayor Tom Bates has mentioned that his city leads the nation in providing services to the homeless.  At specific times during the week, one of the municipal swimming pools (that is permanently closed for swimming) uses the locker room facilities to let the homeless take a shower.  Could other cities adopt this program?

Unfortunately the fact that Berkeley has such programs tends to bring additional homeless to the region and that carries with it a danger that the innovative programs could become over used and thus (metaphorically speaking) die of suffocation.

If the members of the Berkeley city council are very busy coping with this problem would it be logical to think that they might not have sufficient time to check to see if any programs Santa Monica used to cope with the same problem might be used in Berkeley?

In an era when information is available rapidly online, that has created a new problem.  How can voters in Berkeley know what progress has been made in other cities?  If a class in Berkeley studies solutions in Santa Monica how can the students bring their knowledge to the attention of the Berkeley City Council?

If Mayor Bloomberg’s cash awards help promote the cross pollination of urban ideas, he will have made a valuable contribution to the improvement of urban living.

Speaking of travel, while we were walking on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, Kimberly reminded us that Environment California is trying to draw attention to the fact that the tsunami trash that has traveled from Japan to America’s West Coast isn’t the only junk floating around in the Pacific Ocean.

[Note from the Photo Editor:  we will use a sunset shot from Christmas week 2008, taken on the beach at Fremantle Western Australia at 9 p.m. because that is their summer time to illustrate our point about how different locations perceive things differently.  Do folks in New York City think of a picnic dinner on the beach at Christmastime?]

While folks are reading this column, we gotta start wrestling with next week’s blank assignment sheet.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote:  “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere,” Johnny Paycheck’s “The running kind,” and Waylon and Willie’s “Clean Shirt” duet.  We have to go check the rideshare section on Craig’s List.  Have a “the world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings” type week.

Are news tips extinct?

June 1, 2012

[<B>Note:  This column will be a subjective report intended to proved a foundation for building an inductive logic case to support the contention that Journalism in the United States is reaching the point of no return for becoming an example of the death of a thousand cuts.</B>]

Before posting our last column on Friday, May 22, 2012, we were informed by one of the panhandlers on Shattuck Ave. in downtown Berkeley, that an incident involving police and some homeless young folks had occurred the previous night.

After posting the column, we made a more concerted effort to ask around to get some facts and information about the news potential of the event.  The street people related that the police had attempted to ticket a sleeping person about midnight and when the fellow did not wake up the Police used extreme physical methods to try to wake him up so that they could engage him in a conversation.

At that point the columnist was aware that the story had two possible ultimate conclusions; either it was a case of biased criticism of police procedures or it was a newsworthy example of police misconduct.

This writer has been posting columns asserting that Journalism in the USA is on the endangered species list, so this latest incident in Berkeley seemed like it would provide a convenient handle for another similar installment in the series of columns contending that the prognosis for Journalism in the USA is:  “dead man walking.” Instinctively, we knew that there would be resistance to any attempts to submit a news tip and that such reluctance to listen would be the topic for our next column.  Has submitting a news tip taken on the same karma as offering a piece of Kryptonite to Superman?

Writing about the Berkeley event itself would require a massive amount of fact gathering which could not possibly be finished in time for a column that would be posted on the First Friday in June, so we decided to render help to the panhandlers in the form of a news tip to other area news sources which might report about the event which, according to hearsay, sent a young man to the hospital.  (Later we were told that the fellow was a veteran who had served in Iraq.)  On Friday morning, a lawyer from the East Bay Community Law Center was interviewing the young homeless people about what had occurred the previous night.

If the event was as serious as some contend, then it might develop into a Berkeley version of the Rodney King beating.  A veteran had been injured last November at an Occupy Oakland event, so perhaps police beating up indigent veterans would be a trend-spotting story.  Such a trend would outrage Liberals and put conservatives in an embarrassing position because they would have to choose between approving the new anti-veteran philosophy or endorse the criticism of the police.  Either way the Conservatives would look inconsistent in their beliefs.

We called the California Center for Investigative Reporting and the phone operator said they weren’t interested in news tips about local events.  She suggested that I could write up a query letter offering to do all the work myself and submit that via snail mail.  Apparently if our news value judgment is better than theirs, we can prove it by doing all the work and then letting them take an agent’s cut for selling it.

Since the Berkeley Daily Chronicle is defunct and since the Berkeley Daily Planet’s weekly print edition has been suspended, the UC Berkeley student newspaper, the Daily Californian, has endeavored to take up the slack in that city’s local news coverage.

This example of a decline in local commercial news coverage is not a fatal wound for American Journalism, but it is a noticeable cut and entered as evidentiary exhibit for the contention being made by this column.  The fact that the Times Picayune of New Orleans has suspended daily publication is a more pertinent example of a long slow decline in local newspaper journalism.

We walked to the office of the Daily Californian and were told by a young man acting as receptionist that there was no member of the editorial staff available to listen to the news tip.  A receptionist can make a news decision or block a tip from being submitted?  There is another example of a non-fatal cut for our “case.”

Now since our experience has been that the editor at the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers always advised that a good journalist is always open to receiving news tips and since Doug Brew later became Time Magazine’s White House correspondent; we have always assumed that his advice about Journalism was reliable.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has always welcomed news tips.  Our past columns on the Pascua Lama gold mining and Germany’s Pirate Political Party were spawned by news tips.

This kid wouldn’t give his name so that we could attribute the Cal Daily news decision to him, so we used our best “don’t take ‘no’ for an answer” reporter’s assertive attitude and continued our efforts until we were speaking to the editor.  The editor took down the contact information for the lawyer from the East Bay Community Law Center and promised to look into the potential trend spotting value of the news tip.

We had to use our best “refusal conversion” debating style to get the audience with the editor and assume that most other potential tipsters would be cavalierly brushed aside by the receptionist (who looked old enough to drive but too young to purchase alcohol).  Now one fumbled news tip won’t be fatal to American Journalism, but if the trend in America is to disregard new tips . . . that would appear to be more like a major gash than a small nick with a razor blade type cut.

In the past, we have learned that the New York Times’ Public Editor does not want to concern himself with criticism of missed stories, and the New York Times Letters to the Editor editor does not publish letters about news that was not covered by the Great Gray Lady.  They obviously have a different attitude than the one this columnist was taught by the Independent Journal’s managing editor.

If the event that occurred on the night of Thursday May 24-Friday May 25, was one of a series of examples of police brutality, then a sensationalist might put the story with a headline that offers this opinion: “Kristallnacht for Berkeley’s homeless.”

On the Memorial Day Weekend, Jalopnik, the web site for car enthusiasts, ran a story about Police in the USA seizing cash and then (like the line in the Jerry Reed song) keeping all that money for evidence.   (Google hint to learn more:  http://jalopnik.com/5913416/cops-can-confiscate-money-and-property-from-law-abiding-citizens?popular=true)

Should someone call Fox News and give them a news tip about the arrest of Andy Coulson?

Why doesn’t the world’s laziest journalist do all the work necessary to write the “Are the Police in the USA out of control?” story?

The only possible motivation for such a labor intensive project would be self-satisfaction.  If writing a column about potential police misconduct didn’t get a bit of police harassment in return, the best this writer could hope to get would be a noteworthy example of mass indifference to online content.  Think along the lines of a soliloquy by Travis Bickel given to himself in his own home.

Do it gratis for humanitarian reasons?  We can only quote a crusty old Santa Monica Outlook city editor who used to growl:  “No good deed goes unpunished.”  The payoff choice runs the gamut from nasty stealth political paybacks to massive public apathy and that bleak spectrum of rewards is supposed to provide the motivation?  If this columnist is going to provide his own self-satisfaction, it will be by selecting assignments that are <I>ipso facto</I> fun to cover.  It would be much easier to write a column that lived up to the headline:  “Austerity measures will continue until prosperity returns.”

Getting from Berkeley to the Presidio in San Francisco takes a bit of time, but seeing United States Navy history occur, seemed worth the effort.  Getting good photos was just part of the self-satisfaction aspect of the work.  Doing the extra work to use photos to augment this weekend roundup column will be a “fielder’s choice” type decision.

If Freedom of the Press is actually in the process of dying the death of a thousand cuts, what’s the worst that could happen?  The Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s R & D Department is working on just such a prediction.  Here is a preview:  What if the Republican front runner gives a triumphant victory cry the weekend before the Republican’s National Convention, the last week in August, and (what if) the press (like a trained seal) issues a unanimous assertion that the fellow (just like it happened to Howard Dean) has suffered a complete mental breakdown and is unfit to receive the nomination?  We’ll keep you posted on future developments regarding this potential item in the Conspiracy Theory world.

If, on the other hand, Journalism in America is in robust health, what is the harm in letting the World’s Laziest Journalist post some idle speculation to the contrary?

If the Republican National Convention were happening in Great Britain, there would be a possibility that some of the delegates would be vulnerable to some extortion and blackmail via the News of the World style wiretapping, but since it is happening in the USA <I>It can’t</I> (as Upton Sinclair would confirm) <I>happen here.</I>  (But if it could . . . what’s the worst that could happen?)

If Euripides was assigned to rewrite a new shooting script of Ben Hecht’s “Front Page,” would he turn in a story that portrayed America’s Free Press as being blindsided by fascism and use the word “hubris” to explain it all?

If police ever start to invade newsrooms to beat up reporters, who will the reporters call to give a news tip for that story?

William R. Hearst sent a cable to Frederic Remington, who had been sent to Cuba to provide illustrations of a war and was requesting permission to return to the USA because he couldn’t find a war to illustrate, advising the famous painter:  “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”

Now, since this column will be posted on June 1st, which is Superman Day, the disk jockey will play:  “O Superman” (done by Laurie Anderson), “I kicked Spiderman’s ass,” and the theme music from the TV show “Batman.”  We have to go check out a news tip.  Have a “Kryptonite free” type week.

Boardroom brawl ethics

May 25, 2012

Barroom brawls used to be an integral part of the cinematic formula for a Western movie, but the one and only time the World’s Laziest Journalist witnessed a real life mêlée in a tavern occurred just about fifty years ago.  The long dormant memories were quickly revived this past week during an effort to assess the trend spotting potential for connecting several business news stories from the San Francisco Bay area.

The Golden State Warriors (née Philadelphia Warriors) announced that since they have gotten a sweetheart real estate deal in Frisco, it was time to say <I>adios</I> to Oakland.  It seems that the team owners will be gifted with some prime property on the waterfront and will provide their own funding for the construction of a new sports stadium entertainment complex in the postcard perfect setting.

The dramatic business news development occurred in “sucker punch” quick fashion this week.  On Monday, the sports reporters were saying that something was developing.  On Tuesday, a press conference on a pier on the bayside of fog city was being held.

The Sacramento Kings are scrambling to get a development deal from their hometown.  In Los Angeles, efforts to get the L. A. City Council to build a football stadium in the downtown area and make offers to lure a new tenant into it, are a recurring political refrain.  The Forty-niners football team has announced plans to split from San Francisco.

On Tuesday morning, John Madden, on his daily radio commentary show on KCBS radio, noted that Oakland had been there for professional sports in the past and that some reciprocal loyalty seemed to be conspicuous by its absence.

Meanwhile the business news seemed to be obsessing on the Facebook stock imbroglio.  It seems that one particular company advised their best clients to sit on the bench while the suckers took a bath.  The good ole boys take care of their own; the rest can fend for themselves.  Business has adopted W. C. Field’s advice, “Never Give a Sucker and even break,” as the new code of ethics.

Jamie Diamon (Jamie Diamond sounds like a good name for a go-go dancer, eh?) and his merry band of pranksters seem to be positioning their company for a new rendition of the ever popular “Too Big to Fail” song and dance routine that precedes a bid for a government bail-out.

Legally the paper work for home foreclosures (at least in California) seems questionable at best and possibly unlawful, but the foreclosures roll on like a bad dream.

President Obama led supporters to believe that he was sympathetic to the needs of people who derived medicinal value from cannabis.  Now, the government efforts to shut down the sites where pot can be sold as a remedy for a variety of medical conditions are occurring much more frequently.

 

What politician was the first to use the philosophy:  “Don’t listen to what I say; watch what I do!”?

 

In 1968, Richard Nixon got elected President by promising to end the war in Vietnam.  He used the same platform to get reelected in 1972.  President Obama intimated to the voters in 2008, that he would take care of two unpopular wars.  In 2012, Obama seems content to recycle the Roosevelt slogan “Prosperity is just around the corner.”

During the Vietnam War, the clergy of the Catholic Church was more concerned with the birth control issue than with the morality of using Agent Orange.  Now Notre Dame is drawing a line in the sand over the inclusion of contraceptives in health programs rather than worrying about any possible similarities between America’s drone strikes and the Condor Legion’s bombing of Guernica.

The paradigm for all this is that capitalists use the barrroom brawl ethics of a motorcycle gang to content with any opposition.  If you pick a fight with a motorcycle gang member other members of that club who are there will respond <I>en masse</I>.  If you take on a one percenter, he and the politicians, the police, the press, and the clergy will form a line of defense that will wear out any attacker.

On Tuesday, a very random casual poll of folks in San Francisco indicated that the person in the street didn’t care about where the Golden State Warriors called home.  (One year, several decades ago, they played six “home” games in San Diego.)

A one percenter sports team owner realizes that sports fans are just like the motor oil used to lubricate an engine.  A complete change is recommended for maximum efficiency or to increase profit margin.

Isn’t it rather poignant to note that immediately after the Facebook debacle, President Obama showed up in Silicone Valley to solicit campaign donations and the folks who bought the stock without the benefit of the brokers’ warning for high rollers have to hope some long drawn out law suit helps them recover their losses?

The good ole boys network survives!  Wasn’t there a Johnny Paycheck song that noted “the big man plays while the little man pays”?

Isn’t it very odd how politicians seem to be oblivious to the little people getting fleeced in America, but they get their panties all in a wad when some Secret Service members sew their wild oats in a foreign country?  (Isn’t prostitution legal in the country where the incident occurred?)

Is there one TV network that is becoming synonymous with sports?

Is there one TV network that is synonymous with politics?

Is there one TV network that has the audience with the lowest “well informed” ratings?

Wouldn’t it be a co-inky-dink if one name was the correct answer to all three of those questions?  You know; the network with the motto:  “We deceive; you pick up the check.”  What was the country song with the line:  “Six rounds were bought, and I bought five!”?

This columnist has heard that the police in Berkeley have started a program of waking up sleeping vagrants in the middle of the night.  (Who else got the sleep deprivation treatment?)  One source indicated that tickets were being issued but our efforts to fact check that aspect of the story have been inconclusive.

How many politicians talk to the homeless?  We have seen one member of the Berkeley City council talking to a homeless man recently, but when was the last time that President Obama talked to a homeless person?  When was the last time the governor of California talked to a homeless person?

In the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” a turning point came when the congressman got some fellow politicians to visit a refugee camp and talk with some of the victims of the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan.

Wait!  There is a subtle difference here.  The one percenters can make a profit on a war in a foreign country and feel good about helping the poor wretches who live near the battlefield, but they are also making scads of money on the foreclosure trend so why change that?

If the owners of the Golden State Warriors can turn a profit on the valuable real estate, could any subsequent sizable campaign contributions they might make to the politicians who helped expedite the change of venue be misconstrued as being “commission checks”?

The fact is that capitalists don’t care who get hurt by their ruthless pursuit of increased profits, but barroom brawlers do have some regard for innocent bystanders.  In the aforementioned donnybrook in the gin mill, in the mid Sixties, the columnist and his buddy were surrounded by ten to fifteen pairs of guys engaged in fisticuffs, but since we were perceived as two outsiders (it was our first visit to that city and that “watering hole”), who were not recognized by either of the fray’s rival factions, as being members of the opposition group, we were able to stroll away from the fracas unscathed.  Our reaction was to resort to the common cliché of “wow that was just like a scene in a John Wayne Western.”

[Note from the Photo Desk:  Reportedly the Golden State Warriors will use the Bay Bridge in their new logo.  The Golden Gate Bridge will celebrate its 75 birthday this weekend.

If the battleship Iowa’s departure for its new home in San Pedro and the Golden Gate Bridge’s birthday celebration occur simultaneously, during the Memorial Day Weekend; do ya think that an aerial photo showing the Iowa approaching the Golden Gate Bridge (this will be the last time an American battleship ever passes under the Golden Gate Bridge) will be used above the fold on page one of the next day’s edition of the New York Times?  That image for the Memorial Day issue would be <I>priceless</I>.]

Oliver Goldsmith wrote:  “Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Ballroom Blitz,” Roger Miller’s “Dang me!,” and the Sir Douglas Quintet song “I’m Just Tired of Getting’ Burned.”  We have to go donate some of our used satin sheets to the local shelter for the homeless.  Have a “posh soiree at Wayne Manor” type week.

The one most important issue of 2012

May 11, 2012

The Conservatives’ prayers have been answered and this year’s Presidential Election will ignore jobs, taxes, and wars and concentrate on an emotional wedge issue.  On Thursday, May 10, 2012, the top headline on the front page of the New York Times was about the gay marriage issue and it was augmented by a “news analysis” on that very same topic.

Traditionally conservatives have preferred to use a highly charged tangential emotional issue rather than focus on problems that are integral to the lives and livelihoods of the voters.

Last weekend, this columnist went to the Oakland Museum of California to see “The 1968 Project” which is a traveling exhibition focusing on the social, political, and economic events of 1968 because we anticipated that it would provide a convenient frame for a column comparing and contrasting that year with the situation in this election year.

Jobs, fair and equitable taxation and necessary wars are complex issues that can confuse voters.  Obviously both Republican and Democratic candidates want to offer the citizens a program that will reduce taxes, increase employment and preserve the peace, but both political parties can not make identical speeches.  They have to achieve brand identity and loyalty for their message and their party.  If they don’t; elections would seem like a variation on the Ford vs. Chevrolet debate.

Sales representatives (such as the one portrayed in the classical “Death of a Sales Rep” by Arthur Miller [Did you get the memo on the new politically correct title for that play?]) are always told to sell the sizzle and not the steak, so the two parties need an issue that will represent their “sizzle.”

If both Republicans and Democrats agree that taxes for the wealthy must be reduced or completely eliminated, then what’s to stop the voters from using a coin toss to make their choices?

If both parties know that the military industrial complex thrives on war, then the question is not whether to go to war or not; it is which wars can be sold as necessary for the protection of the citizens?

If the TV at night is clogged with ads urging addiction to products produced by the pharmaceutical industry, then wouldn’t it be hypocritical for Republicans or Democrats to denounce a cottage industry that offers an herbal product that promises similar miraculous medial results?  Obviously the large companies would not want amateurs cutting into their profit margin anymore than a bootlegger would want his regular customers to spend their money on some locally produced bathtub gin.

During the Roaring Twenties did any American pundit go to a bar in Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, or Australia and ask the locals why their country didn’t outlaw booze?

Were jobs, taxes, and wars important during the Twenties?  Was it easier to judge a politician on his stand for or against Prohibition or was it worth the effort to listen to some long and boring debate about the Smoot-Hawley Act?  (“They say it could cause a depression!”)  What about the Kellogg Briand Treaty and the London Naval Treaty of 1930?  (“What do you mean pave the way for a new World War?”)

The Republican strategists love to frame the debate and set the agenda for the Presidential Elections and as Americans celebrate May 11, 2012, as Twilight Zone Day one only has to casually peruse the usual sources for contemporary political opinion to see that the “there you go again” assessment can be applied to the attention being paid to the issue of gay marriage this week.

On Thursday, May 10, 2012, a reconnaissance patrol on the Internets revealed that some gays were urging the Democratic Party to move the location for their National Convention out of North Carolina to somewhere else.

If they are successful in manipulating the Democrats into making such a change of venue, then many of the party’s management staff will be distracted from the Presidential race by the nuts and bolts decisions that will accompany such a maneuver; if they don’t make the change the gay activists will resent the “my way or the highway” attitude implicit in such an example of fascist control over the splinter group.  Either way, the President will look bad and the Republican voters will have occasion to celebrate the success of the architect of their campaign strategy.

On Monday, August 5, the opening day of the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, California Governor St. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the Presidency.  Was that a tad late in the primary season to make that announcement?

He had only been governor for two years.  Was he rushing things?

Since many pundits are neglecting to point out that the focus on gay marriage would be a textbook perfect example of Republicans hijacking the national political debate, and that brings up another item that is being neglected in the age of meticulously scrupulous (?) punditry.  Is there an ulterior motive which would explain the late date for the Republican National Convention this year?

Traditionally the period between the Conventions and the Labor Day weekend, are devoted to resting up from the primary campaign and concocting the specifics of the Presidential Election campaign, but since the Republican Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27 in Tampa Bay, that means that when it is over (presumably) by the end of the week, it will be the start of the Labor Day weekend and the “go for broke” Presidential Campaign.

Many of the journalists in the realm of national politics seem to prefer channeling the spirit of psychics such as Carnac the Magnificent, on election night and tell the audience what the voters were thinking and what it all means.

The World’s Laziest Journalist will buck the trend and offer readers a chance for some do-it-yourself analysis.  What if some Republican decides to imitate the 1968 spirit of St. Ronald Reagan and announce on the Monday of the Republican Convention that he (in the spirit of breaking a deadlocked convention) would accept the Party’s nomination?

What if such a late last minute attempt were successful?  If the convention ended and someone other than Romney was the Presidential Candidate, wouldn’t that leave the strategists for the Obama campaign in panic mode?  Since the campaign would start on Labor Day, they would have just three or four days to reconfigure the President’s game plan for contenting with the new opponent.

After a week full of unexpected developments that has left the Obama team scrambling to reestablish an image of a confident leader who is in control, doesn’t it seem as if such a last minute new Republican Candidate would be well positioned to push the “Obama isn’t in command” meme on the voters?

There will be a surfeit of commentary available on the weekend after Twilight Zone Day full of near hysterical emotional examples of partisan mind-fuck and the World’s Laziest Journalist realizes that we could never add any noteworthy insights to the array that will be offered.  We can, however, try to add a dash of uniqueness by asking about any ulterior motivation there might be for the long (smoke and mirrors) lull between the last primary election in June and the Convention which will fill the news hole during the last week in August.

This week has had other topics to distract voters such as the possibility of a new banking crisis, the controversial Time magazine cover photo, continued Occupy protests such as the looming confrontation between protesters and the University of California Berkeley administration, and the possibility of a change of venue for the Democratic National Convention, but it is very likely that the gay marriage issue will get the undivided attention of most pundits this weekend.

If the Republicans produce an unanticipated candidate in late August, could the confusion that would cause be compared to the consternation produced by the Tet Offensive?

[Note from the photographer:  many museums have a rule against using flash.  If you have to use available light, be sure to use something (such as a doorway) to brace the camera for the long exposure and take several shots.]

Walter Lippmann allegedly said:  “Brains, you know, are suspect in the Republican Party.”

Now the disk jockey will play Pink Floyd’s “The Wall Album” for those folks who can’t get to San Francisco the night this column is posted (for their version of “Call to the Wall”), the Doors’ “The Doors” album, and the “Wild in the Streets” soundtrack album (from 1968).  We have to go register for the draft.  Have a “girls say ‘yes’ to guys who say ‘no’” type week.

Got Anarchy?

May 4, 2012

On Sunday, April 29, 2012, under the headline “In Oakland, Officials Say Police Used Illegal Tactics,” the New York Times reported that the Oakland Police Department would use changes recommended by the Frazier Group to cope with the May Day Occupy Oakland protests.

 

On May Day night, KCBS radio reporter Chris Filippi was describing the specifics of the new tactics that were being used to add approximately 20 new arrests to the OPD’s total for the day.

 

In the East Bay Express edition published on Wednesday May 2, 2012, a story by Ali Winston, under the headline “OPD Takes More Steps Backward,” on page 16, was accompanied by photo with a caption that informed readers the OPD faces the prospect of federal receivership. 

 

While taking photographs Tuesday at an Occupy Oakland protest, this columnist noticed that there were police vehicles present from the Office of Homeland Security.  (They have Homeland Security license plates.)  Unsubstantiated rumors in the area suggest that if and when the OPD goes into receivership, Homeland Security will step in and take over.

 

On May Day night a reporter from CopWatch said he had taken videos earlier in the day of police using tasers.

 

When the World’s Laziest Journalist makes political predictions, such as our contention that JEB Bush will be the winning candidate when Presidential Election is held in November of this year, the level of skepticism from Liberals is quite strong and they are adamant in their refusal to evaluate any information used to arrive at that conclusion.

Got indigestion?

 

If we write a column reporting the appearance of the Pirate Party on the political scene in Europe and post it on April 27, 2012, and if the AP runs a news story on the birth of the Pirate Party on April 28 and the New York Times runs a story about German’s Pirate Party on May 2, 2012, friends and regular readers don’t much care if we point out the coincidence.

 

Got a Tums tablet handy?  Here’s our next prediction:  If JEB wins in November, the World’s Laziest Journalist will write a column that will ask the question:  Did Liberals ignore the JEB prediction because subconsciously they wanted that precise outcome to occur? 

 

If Liberals don’t secretly want a return of the Bush Dynasty wouldn’t they look closely at the material used to make the prediction and evaluate it to see if they could possibly do anything (everything?) to prevent such a (hypothetical) result? 

 

Until the November election results are <s>counted</s> – strike that word because the electronic voting machines do not leave any verifiable results – until the November election results are being reported, we will use all the self-restraint we can muster to abstain from jumping to conclusions and/or making political predictions. 

 

We were wrong in our Kentucky Derby prediction about Native Dancer, so for tomorrow’s race, you’re on your own, pal.

 

Didn’t forecasts, predictions, and educated guesses about “the most likely outcome” provide the bulk of the Sunday morning talk shows’ appeal until the Murdochization of Journalism occurred and American citizens were conditioned to watch and accept unexpected events without questions?

 

George Clayton Johnson, who wrote for “The Twilight Zone” TV series, advises young writers to be creative by rejecting the laws of logic and ask themselves “What if?”  What would happen if political pundits rejected the Murdoch syndrome and began to ask “What if?” and (perhaps) achieve Twilight Zone levels of entertainment value in their evaluations of politics?

 

Here is an example:  After a primary season where all Republicans enunciated radical policies for keeping the women folk under control, giving businesses unrestricted disregard for laws in an effort to provide more jobs, and asserting that the Social Security Program was about to go broke; what if a deadlocked convention turned and begged JEB to (in the name of family tradition and patriotic duty) accept the Republican Party nomination to be their Presidential Candidate? 

 

If (hypothetically) the electronic voting machines with unverifiable results delivered a win to JEB, wouldn’t he then be able to say he had a “mandate” to carry out the program formulated during the Primary process?  If a deadlocked convention hands JEB the nomination, he won’t be shackled by any campaign statements or promises. 

 

Once a member of the Bush Dynasty gets a mandate, does Fox News bother with any debates about what the voters meant by their decision?  When Fox decrees, does any other team in the Journalism game dare to risk being labeled “conspiracy theory nutcases” and deviate from the norm established by Fox?

 

A promise not to make any new political predictions doesn’t mean that we won’t occasionally make snarky remarks such as noting that President Obama seems to be sanctioning the closure of places where medical pot is available and that Occupy protests are getting the same swift reaction that student anti-war demonstrations got in 1968 from the governor of California and then asking:  “Does that prove that Obama is a Reagan Democrat?”

 

Is there irony in the fact that Occupy Protesters tents were removed from public parks, but in the travel section of the April 29, 2012, edition of the New York Times, an article by Elaine Glusac suggested using a web site named Campinmygarden to find places in Great Britain to rent urban space where tourists could pitch their tents during the Olympic games?

 

In theUSAthe streets are filled with homeless people who are told that the empty buildings are off limits. 

 

Will cash strappedSan Franciscorent out park space for the yacht owners to camp out during theAmerica’s Cup preliminary races this summer?

 

In the Thirties atmosphere of class struggle, some wealthy people voiced the opinion that if a homeless person were on fire, the swells wouldn’t urinate on them to put out the fire.  Would it be an example of sadism if people condoned (symbolically) urinating on a worker struggling with payments for a house that is “under water”?

 

When it was discovered that banks were using improper procedures for home foreclosures, did any court issue an immediate injunction on additional foreclosure proceedings or no?  Perhaps in all the excitement, the banks have lost count of how many foreclosures they made.  Was it 500,000 or was it 600,000?  Now you have to ask yourself another question.  “Doe it matter?”  Well does it?

 

What if the World’s Laziest Journalist is wrong predicting a November win by JEB?

 

If we are accurate in the prediction, we will gloat; if our projection for the results is not correct, we will do an unabashed version of the Murdoch response and blame midlevel management (at the World’s Laziest Journalist headquarters) for being inept and providing us with inaccurate information.

 

[Note from the Photo Desk:  After taking and posting photos from the morning portion of the Occupy Oakland May Day protest, we returned toFrankOgawaPlazanear sundown and took some photos of the police coming out of the City Hall in riot gear.  At that point the batteries in the Coolpix camera ran out of juice, so we went home and listened to KCBS news radio to learn about the exact number of inevitable arrests.]

 

 

Wright Morris wrote:  “The man who walks alone is soon trailed by the FBI.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Max Frost and the Troopers’ song “Shape of Things to Come,” Janis Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz,” and (from 1966) the New Breed’s song “I’ve Been Wrong Before.”  [If W. C. Fields were still alive would he say:  “A man’s gotta believe in something and I believe “I’ll Have Another” will win!”?]  We have to go to National Free Comics Day, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, and place a bet on a real horse race.  Have a “frisked for weapons” type week.

Rogues, renegades, and rebels

April 27, 2012

Recently someone suggested doing a column about the Pirate Party inGermanyand some online fact checking provided some material that hasn’t been widely reported in the American media but it also produced some confusion because some of the facts published online provide different pictures of what is happening.  The file sharing community inSwedenhas spawned a political party thanks to the efforts of Rick Falkvinge and that in turn has resulted in a similar phenomenon inGermanywhere the Pirate Party is gaining popularity.  This new party could be forth biggest inGermanywith 8% of the voters joining or it could be the third biggest political party inGermanywith 13% of the voters.  You choose.  The Pirate Party has grown bigger than the Green party inGermanyor it may be just behind them in the rankings.

The fact that researching the story online does not provide a clear picture with exact numbers and percentages, in turn, provides an opportunity to write a future column on the possibility that the Internets is having a negative effect on the art of journalism because citizen journalists, who are supposed to augment and supplement the diminishing paid staff at various news organizations, can’t access the hard facts necessary to provide accurate journalism and that is very troubling because reliable, quality journalism is necessary to inform voters in a democracy (as the Founding Fathers intended). 

Earlier this week, the English language version web site for the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Martin Delius, who was described as the Pirate Party floor leader in the Berlin City Parliament, boasted that his party’s growth rate was surpassing the rate of expansion achieved by the Nazis in the early Thirties.  Whoops!  Not a good example of political bragging in that Country.  The offender quickly issued an apology. 

The Pirate Party was spawned inSwedenby a group of music fans who wanted to share information and files.  The Pirates’ Bay web site was their common meeting ground and provided the name for the political movement.  The party’s focus has expanded and is described online now as being concerned with government transparency, information availability, and (conversely) user privacy for computer users.

Could the Pirate Party find some potential for expansion into the contemporary political scene in theUnited States?  Some of the main concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement and those of the Germany Pirate Party seem to form a cusp area for the two groups and since one of the main (conservative) criticisms of the OWS movement is that they don’t have a clear cut political agenda, forming a political coalition using both groups to appeal to America’s youth vote, might happen with the same suddenness that is being achieved by the phenomenon in Germany.

Obviously such a development is too much of a radical departure from the conservatives’ philosophy of “politics as usual,” so seeing any impartial or favorable sounding news reports about the German Pirate Party on Fox Nation News, seems quite unlikely.  Although the basic “Screw your Rules” philosophy might appeal to conservative business executives wishing to circumvent the stifling aspects of government regulations.

Speaking of bypassing government rules as it applies to deficiencies in the art of Journalism, how much coverage have you encountered in American media about new worries that have been added to the list of woes for Rupert Murdoch and his son James?

Ostensibly in the United States the two political parties rarely agree on anything, but they do seem to be in agreement about making it virtually impossible for rebels, renegades and rogues to form a third political party. 

Some cynical pundits may suggest that the Republicans and Democrats in the United States are playing a political variation of the “good cop – bad cop” strategy for managing  the citizens for the one percenters and thus a third party would only complicate the process and therefore such an innovation becomes unnecessary and undesirable in the opinion of most one percenters.

It would be very unpatriotic to believe that the “good cop – bad cop” political atmosphere in the United States is anything less than idyllic but a niche group that might see things that way might be attracted to the Pirate Party.

The Internet presents the people known as corporations with access to all the consumer/computer user data to expedite the manipulation and exploitation of the suckers – strike that word and change it to customers – possible; also, they do not want to miss the opportunity to include extra hidden charges for intellectual property rights (passing those hidden addition monies along to the artists who should get the fees is an entirely different matter) along to their customers.  Therefore it seems that the people we know as corporations and the members of the Pirate Party have a cobra vs. mongoose type relationship.

The Pirate Party politicians will appeal to the natural inclination for a new generation of young people to become rebels and innovators by invoking a very popular cultural image that has also provided a very lucrative genre toHollywood.  If it seems like there is a new Pirate movie every Friday, it won’t be any surprise to learn that “The Pirates!  Band of Misfits” opens today.

Here is a short test to give the readers of this column a chance to see if their thinking has been molded by society or if they have the large canon of knowledge needed to sidestep any efforts to be fooled by conceptual shorthand propaganda. 

Can you name any Pirate ship captains who were women?  If you didn’t quickly rattle off several names; then you have been outwitted by marketing image molding and should consider taking the time to locate and read a copy of “She Captains” by Joan Druett. 

Robert Newton was the greatest movie pirate of all time for his portrayal of Long John Silver in “Treasure Island.”  He subsequently again played the same role for a move titled “Long John Silver,” and also for a TV series titled “Long John Silver.”  Most of that material is available online perhaps even at Pirates’ Bay?

September 19 is “Talk like a Pirate Day.”

Is radio Caroline on satellite radio?

[Note from the WLJ Photo Editor:  We took photos (heavy handed symbolism alert!) of two “polar bears” contending with melting blocks of ice at the Earth Day event at City Hall in San Francisco last Sunday and since we mentioned the Green Party in this column and since we don’t have to do extensive computer work to get permission to use one of the images with this column; we’ll go with what we got.]

Speaking of faux journalism, did any of the stories you encountered about the Secret Service imbroglio include the fact that prostitution is legal in Chili?  Does that fact change the validity of the tone of the moral indignation in the commentary on the story?

Will the Republicans, who are totally outraged by the (alleged) lapse of morality by the secret service agents, call for any investigations into the possibility that any Americans (military or “diplomats”) visited The White Rose or <I>Le Rendezvous des Amis</I> (Googling tip for amateur fact finders:  “Vientiane by night”), while in Vientiane Laos (if indeed that city did actually exist) back during the era when Richard Nixon was commander-in-chief during the Vietnam War?  Wouldn’t that be a similar chance to root out moral turpitude?  Perhaps the American government employees who hung out at the Purple Porpoise bar were not held to the same standards as are the agents in the Secret Service?  Perhaps Republican and Democratic Presidents are held to different levels of accountability for the actions of their hired hands?

Speaking of scoops, we have noticed a possible trend spotting story for the Fashion Desk developing inSan Francisco.  We have seen what seems to be high heeled hiking boots (is a high heeled hiking boot an oxymoron?).  Perhaps they are high heeled Ugg boots fromAustralia?

Robert Louis Stevenson, in “Treasure Island,” provided this closing quote:  “Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese – toasted mostly.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Pogues “Dirty Old Town,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Honky Tonk Stuff,” and a bootleg (i.e. pirated) copy of the Rolling Stones’ “Cops and Robbers.”  We have to go prepare for May Day on the Golden GateBridge(which is celebrating its 75th birthday on the Memorial Day weekend.)  Have a “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” type week.

April 26 will be the day to remember Gurenica and tell stories.

April 20, 2012

Guernica happened 75 years ago, on April 26, but that story is not liable to be noted much in American media during the coming week because the military tactic of using bombs to kill civilians is anathema to Obama’s reelection team because they want to project an image of Lincoln-esque nobility for his term in office and the Republicans (the American Republicans and not the neo-fascists in the Spanish Civil War) do not want to hear any criticism of the American military adventures started by George W. Bush and so it was with great joy that the World’s Laziest Journalist accidentally encountered a second chance last weekend to photograph the art installation in San Francisco titled “Defenestration” because that provided a striking visual metaphor for the Republican budget philosophy.  “Defenestration” depicts useful household items being recklessly tossed out of a building’s windows.  The Republicans seem intent on throwing out useful social programs so that the taxes on millionaires can be either greatly reduced or eliminated.

This week’s news stories about the role the Secret Service played in President Obama’s trip to Columbia provide a columnist with a chance to make a casual allusion to a half century old novel titled “The One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding,” but it also provides a rather tenuous chance for the team at the Amalgamated Conspiracy  Theory Factory’s Research and Development Department to unleash some trial balloon speculation about the possibility for something more dark and sinister such as a Republican spawned plan to reinforce their contention that President Obama is an inept manager. 

Is there anyone in the Republican Party who could arrange for the Secret Service to be humiliated and left looking that bad?  Could it have been a gigantic Political Dirty Trick which would just add more evidence to the Republican assertions that Obama is a poor administrator?  Would any Republican be that unscrupulous? 

This week the Los Angeles Times published pictures which may stir up anti-American sentiment in theMiddle East.  Won’t what that newspaper did be as helpful to the American mission inAfghanistanas someone spreading thumbtacks on the route Sisyphus will use and then forcing him to work barefooted?

WhenGuernicawas bombed, a contingent of journalists was in the nearby city ofBilbao.  When their dinner was interrupted by news of the bombing, they raced off to cover the news and get the chance to hear survivors tell their stories.

Since neither conservatives nor progressives want to read about Guernica, perhaps the fact that April 26th is also National Story Telling Day, could provide us with a chance to morph the focus of this column to the topic of storytelling?

Back in the day, when Jack Paar was the host for NBC’s Tonight Show, talk show guests were given ample opportunity to tell amusing and entertaining stories.  Now the only reason for someone to be on a talk show is to sell some new bit of entertainment such as a movie or album.  The stealth talk show sales pitch spawned a new word.  Such unpaid ads can be called promobabble.

Traveling and story telling seem to go together like ham and eggs ever since the guy who wrote the “Iliad” the “Odyssey” was in J-school.

As we recall, TV personality Herb Schriner wrote a history of mobile homes.

War correspondent Ernie Pyle traveled about theUnited Statesbefore World War II writing columns in a Chevy coup that had a modified trunk that functioned as his portable office. 

Jack Kerouac made a career out of writing about the adventures on the road that he experienced with his pal Neal Cassady.

John Steinbeck wrote “Travels with Charlie” in the early Sixties.  Some critics compare that with Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Travels with a donkey,” which may have provided the motto for travelers with this sentence:  “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”

If that philosophy appeals to you, then you might want to do some Googleing and investigate the possibilities offered by spending July inParistaking the travel writing course offered by Rolf Potts.  (What would the boss say about an assignment to go report on that learning experience?  Maybe we could include some reports about the 24 hour race atLe Mansfor sports cars and get a twofer for our money?)

Speaking of an endless summer on the road, we noticed that theUniversityofSydneyis offering their students who are studying United State Politics a chance to spend their winter (our summer) studying at UCLA.  Hey, fellows, what about turn about is fair play?  Gees any student who got into that program and who knows how to surf would only be a MTA bus ride away from The Call to the Wall surfing contest inMalibuwhile they were calling Westwood their home.

If they believe that turnabout is fair play shouldn’t UCLA students get a chance to study for a semester (our winter their summer) inSydney?

Personal note:  If things go as planned we intend on doing our Christmas shopping in Paris (France not Texas) and perhaps attending Christmas Eve midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral (has this year’s Mass been sold out already?).  If that doesn’t happen, then we will change to Plan B and opt for celebrating Christmas in the traditional Australian way; i.e. on the beach (Bondi or Cottesloe?) in a bathing suit.

Speaking of “On the Road Again,” on Friday April 20, 2012, on CBS radio’s World News Roundup, they mentioned that a statue of Willie Nelson would be unveiled inAustinlater in the day.

Tom Wolfe wrote an article for the Sunday magazine section for the New York Herald Tribune and got enough material for a book by joining a busload of hippies (with Kerouac’s buddy Neal Cassady doing the majority of the driving) going from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair.  A documentary film about that expedition was released last summer.  Many folks have written about their attempts to imitate the Kerouac “On the Road” exploration ofAmericabut the fact that Tom Wolfe wrote about Ken Kesey’s installment in that category inspired many more subsequent imitations. 

Now (thanks to a news tip in the form of a comment posted about Kerouac for a recent column) we have learned that a modern attempt to chronicle a similar adventure for something called the “magic love bus” will be posted online as that story unfolds.  (Google tip:  “magic love bus.”) 

Who hasn’t wanted to write their own version of “a savage journey to the Heart of the American dream”? 

Early in the Online era two fellows traveled about in a mobile home and produced the magazine “Monk” on a computer from their mobile office.  Don’t they still maintain an online web site?

The history of cars and California are intertwined and mystery writer Charles Willeford may have produced a minor classic novel on the topic of used car salesmen with “The High Priest of California.”

Southern Californiaused car legend Cal Worthington was a regular guest on the Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson phase of its history.

In the late Seventies, former President Richard M. (Tricky Dickey) Nixon in an interview tossed out a quote that Americans were like little children and needed to be told stories.  Fact checkers with access to Lexis/Nexis should be able to find the exact detail about the origin of this obscure bit of Presidential history.  President Ronald Reagan was a gifted story teller and usually managed to work a folksy story about ordinary Americans into most of his Presidential speeches. 

Didn’t the New York Times do a trend spotting story about the resurrection of the dead art of story telling recently?  Doesn’t that provide conclusive proof that story telling is making a comeback?

Speaking of used cars andCalifornia, earlier this week a little old lady (fromRichmondCA) walked into the new car showroom at McKevitt Volvo inBerkelyCAand asked what they would offer as a trade in value for her car parked in front of their establishment.  As luck would have it, the World’s Laziest Journalist just happened to walk past there and got some car-spotting photos to use on his photo blog.  She was driving a 1960 MGA (with the old style yellowCalifornialicense plate with black letters [used up until 1961]) in mint condition.  By Thursday afternoon, the sports car was sitting in the middle of their new car showroom (with 10,238 miles on the odometer).

We sent an e-mail about this classic example of tales from the used car trade to the tips editor at Jalopnik.

Columnist Herb Caen used the term “Little old lady” so often that he resorted to the initials “LOL” and his regular readers knew what that meant. Caen’s Name Phreaks department used to take note of people with names that were either very appropriate or inappropriate for the job they held.  A used car salesman who worked onVan Ness AvenueinSan Francisco, named Bob Cheatum, was submitted by readers so often that he was given Hall of Fame status. 

After Aimee Semple McPherson told an incredible tale about being kidnapped, journalists asked some skeptical questions about the details and she responded:  “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

It’s been a sad week in musical history, so the disk jockey will play some songs that will always evoke American Bandstand memories for this columnist; “The stroll,” Fabian’s “Tiger,” and Duane Eddy’s “Forty Miles of Bad Road” plus “Cripple Creek Mountain.”  We have to go and check the Porchlight calendar for this month’s story telling competition inSan Francisco.  Have a “You’re never going to believe this, but . . .” type 4/20 day.

This columnist celebrates National Columnists’ Day

April 18, 2012

On theislandofIe Shima, on April 18, 1945, war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed in action and that is why that date has been selected by the National Society of Newspaper Columnist to be designated as National Columnists’ Day. 

After a few years of writing about Ernie Pyle for National Columnists’ Day, it grew a bit challenging, and so the focus for our annual column for that occasion was expanded to include homage to other famous columnists from the past such as Herb Caen and Walter Winchell.   

For a columnist named Bob Patterson, who was born and raised inScrantonPa.and now lives in Berkeley CA, to celebrate National Columnists’ Day by writing this year’s installment about a columnist, scalawag, and rascal named Bob Patterson, who was raised about a hundred years ago in Berkeley CA, is a daunting challenge.  In order to produce a column that doesn’t sound like a noteworthy example of shameless über-egotism and crass self-promotion, we will refer to the writer from the past by his pen name of Freddie Francisco and note that the facts for this column were contained in the “exposé” story Freddie Francisco wrote about himself for a weekly newspaper named “The City of San Francisco” in their August 10, 1975 issue.

Francisco revealed that during the Twenties Patterson landed a $47 a week reporter’s job on the New York <I>Graphic</I> and when he began to work the police beat Freddie/Bob was offered a $100 a week bonus from a Prohibition entrepreneur who wanted a phone call tip whenever the Prohibition agents left on a raid.  That stunt got him fired.  His confession relates that subsequently Freddie/Bob went to work for the fellow who had supplied the tip bonuses.

In the early Thirties, Freddie/Bob moved toJapan.  To augment his pay while living there Freddie wrote about the forbidden topic ofTokyo’s notorious Yoshitwara district.  That got him another pink slip and deportation status on the same day that he contracted malaria. 

Freddie quickly transitioned to the staff of the China Press inShanghai.

Freddy/Bob arrived inShanghaibetween World Wars.  Freddie described his reactions thus:  “It was fine, fine, fine; Patterson decided to stay forever, and maybe three days over.”  It took only two months for him to get the assignment of writing a daily column he dubbed “The Dawn Patrol.” 

During Freddie’s stint inShanghai, he gathered enough human interest stories to fill a thousand novels, if he ever retired from journalism. 

In describing the conduct of a battle between rival houses of prostitution, he informs readers that the madam with seniority hired coolies to defecate on the front steps of the rival location just as the evening was about to begin.

One kindlyShanghaimortician used to offer free services to indigent Americans who died far from their native land.  He also, Freddie reported, paid for shipping and interment back home in theUSA.  Customs started digging up the opium laden coffins before the morticians’ associates and then the concept of the altruistic motivation went up in smoke (as it were).

Freddie got to visit at Madame Sun Yat-sen’s home, thanks to Andre Malraux.

Freddie wrote a book about the glory days inShanghai.  When the book was republished in theUSA, the American publishing firm gave Freddie the run-a-round rather than residuals.

In the 1975 article, Freddie glossed over the time line and ignored certain gaps in the narrative saying only that when it came time to apply for a job at the San Francisco <I>Examiner</I>, that “Sing Sing doesn’t provide irresistible references.”

Back in the day when Frisco was home for very memorable gin mills  such as “The Fly Trap,” “Mark’s Lower Bar,” and the “Home That Jack Built;” Freddie/Bob became good friends with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, and the two gathered material by going bar hopping together.  Feddie/Bob conceded that his arch rival was “a shade faster because of fancier footwork and better streamlining.”

Once, after the two purchased some toy machine guns and participated in some late night frolicking, they were apprehended by two rookie policemen and the columnists indignantly inquired if the youngster knew who they were trying to arrest.  When they arrived at the station house, they walked in and the watch commander broke into a hearty laughing fit and finally managed to ask the two patrolmen if they knew who it was that they were trying to arrest.  (Case dismissed – on the spot.)

Freddie pushed the boundaries and got in hot water with management when he used the word “poontang.”  He was forbidden to use that word ever again and the top proofreader was charged with making sure the embargoed word was banished forever.  In a description of a party that included a list of forty names, a mysterious guest named Poon Tang was listed and won Freddie a wager for a double sawbuck.

In a dispute about running a story about a business man and a bimbo, Freddie asked about using that information in the paper.  His boss, out of concern for the fellow’s wife, replied “Forget the story and give him a call so he knows that we know.”  Freddie elaborates the result:  “Max dumped the doll and stayed away from expensive poontang from then on until coffin time.”

Freddie was involved in a plot that involved hush money for his prison record and he spurned the chance to cover it all up.  His termination was reported to the readers in a box on a subsequent <I>Examiner</I> front page.

Freddie/Bob reports that he then went into business with “Honest” Luke Carroll playing poker on various passenger liners sailing the Pacific.  The company that owned the vessels eventually stopped selling tickets to the two card players.

Freddie/Bob bummed around the Journalism Industry and picked up some writing assignments inHollywood, but then:  “In 1967, Patterson felt homesick for the <I>Examiner</I> and asked them for a job.”

In 1960, the <I>Examiner</I> had suffered some humiliation when (according to the Freddie exposé) Bud Boyd “was discovered (by Ed Montgomery) to be writing a wilderness survival series from the comfort of his living room.”

A few years after rejoining the <I>Examiner</I> staff, the rehired Freddie/Bob scored some exclusives fromChina; the newspaper’s managment didn’t take kindly to allegations that the scoops had been penned in Hong Kong and not the interior ofChina.  It was time for another front page box informing readers that Freddie/Bob had been fired again. 

A copy of the Freddie/Bob story was located in the San Francisco Public Library and other sources indicate that Freddie/Bob’s story didn’t end there.  Due to a law suite, Freddie/Bob was suspended from writing assignments but was kept on the payroll at full pay until the legal matter could be clarified.  (Some guys have all the luck?)

Like Elvis, Jim Morrison, and James Dean, Freddie Francisco (AKA Bob Patterson)’s death was well reported in the Bay area many years ago.  The World’s Laziest Journalist intends on holding a brief memorial service on National Columnists’ Day for Freddie Francisco.  Since one of the legendary Frisco bars, the Gold Dust Lounge (Est. 1933), which got fond mentions from Herb Caen, is in immanent danger of closure now, perhaps we will hoist a glass of diet cola in Freddie/Bob’s honor there as our celebration of National Columnists’ Day.  What’s not to like about a fellow who loved traveling the world, having good times, and then writing about his own adventures?  Putting it on the expense account could only have been putting frosting on the cake.

Freddie Francisco’s lead for his exposé provides an apt closing quote for this column:  “Bob Patterson, erstwhileSan Francisco<I>Examiner</I> newsman,Chinaexpert and scoundrel is a very misunderstood man.  He is misunderstood by his critics, by two former wives and by at least one god-fearing and red-blooded former employer who recently fired him on the front page.”

Now the disk jockey will play “On a slow boat toChina,” the soundtrack album from “The Lady fromShanghai,” and the Flatlanders “My wildest dreams get wilder every day.”  We have to go over toSan Franciscoand look for some very old books.  Have a “stay out of jail card” type week.

Join the rising tide of conformity!

April 13, 2012

[<B>WARNING:  This column has been found to contain trace elements of irony.</B>]

The corporatization of the Internets has meant that unique voices must be marginalized into extinction because of the “there is no I in the word ‘team’” philosophy that has become mandatory for all Americans now that corporations are persons.  Any individual who thinks he has the same rights and freedoms as a corporation (for example British Petroleum) has a lesson in the meaning of equality in contemporary American culture to learn. 

Leaving workers feeling like they are beat when they lose their home to a bank via foreclosure may not be a new phenomenon.  Their howls of protest may hearken back to some previous more poetic rebellions. 

Back in the Sixties, Playboy magazine published a cartoon (by Shel Silverstein?) showing a line of hippies stretching back to the horizon all carrying the same sign which urged:  “Protest the rising tide of conformity!”  The Sixties are over and the Establishment has won.  Good patriotic Americans must become vigilant and ever alert to help immediately stifle any possible examples of nonconformity.

It took some time but Nixon and California Governor Reagan have been vindicated and American Presidents are no longer shackled if Walter Cronkite is not enthusiastic about the potential of victory in the latest American military venture.

When the Republican National Convention starts in Tampa, and the town is swamped with hippies protesting the War in Vietnam (or whatever) we wonder if the mayor will urge patriotic citizens to circle the venue with a wall of human shields (as the Liberals wanted to do to protect Saddam Hussein) and urge them to stand their ground and not let the protesters get near the entrance, let alone onto the convention floor. 

The fact that conservative talk radio has become almost all pervasive in the talk radio area may mean the death knell for the Beat Generation.  The progressive radio station in theSan Franciscoarea has started carrying Glen Beck during the morning commute drive time and has pushed Mike Malloy’s three hour shows into the 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. time slot.  During the day you will hear ads from a web site that offers to help listeners make the right choice about which guns to buy. 

After writing a suggestion pointing out the opportunity for a fund raising effort to help Americans who have lost their homes in foreclosure, we noticed recently that a web based effort titled <a href =http://www.homeaid.net/>Home Aid</a> will be conducted this fall.

The Democratic candidates want to focus attention on the economy and fair taxation for the Presidential election.  The Republicans traditionally prefer to use issues less complex than the allocation of tax benefits and restrictions on services offered by banks, hence they prefer to select other issues that are easier for the less educated to understand, such as racial prejudice.  While President Obama is busy giving speeches urging changes that would mean millionaires pay the same rate of taxes as their secretaries do, news broadcasts were headlining aFloridashooting.

Could it possibly be that the compassionate, Christian conservatives’ prayers have been answered?  Would the Republicans reap any political benefit from delaying a trial for George Zimmerman until October?  Would American voters let a racially motivated murder have an effect on their ballot choices?  Will conservative pundits be disingenuous about admitting that concentrating news coverage on such a trial might be a variation of the Willie Horton effect?  Will the final verdict be as controversial as the acquittal of OJ?  Will future political historians assert that the Zimmerman trial had an effect on the Presidential Election?

Will conservatives use the George Zimmerman case to establish a reverse version of jury nullification and call it jury validation of the stand your ground laws?  We should know the answer to that question by Election Day.

Some liberals tend to think that if they don’t mention the possibility of such a coordinated Republican strategy, then it won’t happen.  We tend to think of the “let’s not talk about that” philosophy as being an integral part of the conservative game plan and so we bring up some uncomfortable parallels as a way of providing spoiler information so that the Democratic Party officials can make plans to counter such a gambit, rather than playing along and ignoring the elephant (GOP symbol alert!) in the room.

Is it naïve to think thatAmerica’s Free Press will go along to get along and deliberately shape or avoid news coverage that might favor one party over the other?

The Huffington Post French Edition ran a story last week about an accident at the Penly nuclear plant in France.  We did a Google New Search and learned that Bloomsberg was reporting that the fires had been extinguished.  Did you happen to see any reports on that bit of news anywhere else in American owned and controlled media?

If you have not become informed about this story is that because of the dumbing down of American Journalism or is it because the corporations that promote the use of nuclear power have the right to be free from any pesky protests that might be inspired by such irrelevant information?  Don’t the rights of those persons (corporations) trump your puny personal rights to criticize how they run their businesses?  Keep your hands off our nuclear reactors!

After learning that Jack Kerouac’s first book length manuscript has just been published with the title “The Sea is my brother,” we decided to go on the Internets and look up the location for the Beatnik bar that was named “The Place.”  We tried putting the words in quotes and adding the words Beatnik and Kerouac.  The results produced an avalanche of irrelevant links. 

On Saturday, April 7, 2012, we decided that it would be easier to hop on an AC Transit bus and go toSan Franciscoand get that bit of information.  We peeked in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s guide book “The Beats in San Francisco,” while we were in City Lights Bookstore but failed to note that our goal was within walking distance.

By Wednesday, April 11, 2012, we had consulted the Google maps online and returned to theNorthBeacharea ofSan Franciscoto take some photos of the site where The Place used to be.  We learned that the business next door down, <a href =http://macreativedesign.com/>Macchirini’s Designs</a> has been owned and operated by the same family since before the Beat writers arrived in the area.

Daniel Macchirini was delighted to hear that the new book, “jubilee hitchhiker,” by William Hjortsberg corroborates the information in an obscure book that tells the history of “The Place” and that the poem Howl was read in public at The Place before it supposedly debuted at a poetry reading at the 6 Gallery.  Macchirini showed us his copy of the copyrighted manuscript for the history of the famed Beat bar called “The Place.” 

[Note:  since this columnist did not have photo pass access to the President’s speeches this week, nor did he have a chance to take any news photos of legal proceedings in StanfordFlorida, the photo editor will have to use some photos from the North Beach Beatnik area ofSan Francisco, taken on Wednesday, as illustrations for this column.  Doesn’t the current philosophy of the Internets hold that any image with a tenuous link to the content is better than no photo at all?]

The R & D Department at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is working around the clock to come up with a plausible explanation for how the JEB team will deliver the nomination to their chosen one despite the unexpected departure of Rick Santorum from the list of active candidates earlier this week and the rapidly disappearing opportunity for a deadlocked National Republican Convention.

Isn’t thinking that JEB could still be handed the nomination just as absurd as thinking that a President could usurp the Congressional power to declare war and lead theUSAinto a war withIraqjust to settle an old score that was part of an International family feud?

What’s the worst that could happen?  Won’t the well informed voters use the electronic voting machines with no means of verifying the results to prevent any possible political disaster if by some miracle JEB becomes the Republican nominee?

Didn’t Jack Kerouac say that if he had been registered to vote, he would have voted for Eisenhower in 1956?  Didn’t Kerouac support the troops inVietnam?  Didn’t Kerouac prefer William F. Buckley Jr.’s political views and denounce his friend Alan Ginsberg for being pro-Commie?  Here is a hypothetical question:  Would Kerouac vote for JEB?

Is America becoming immune to the need for analyzing?  Was part of this week’s entertainment news about the selection of an actor who is over forty to play a musician who died when he was 28? 

In 1938, Mao Tse-tung said:  “Our Principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.”  He was not a Republican, that’s for sure.

Now the disk jockey will play Chuck Barry’s “Wee Wee Hours” (It’s on the flip side of “Maybellene”), Pat Boone’s “Ain’t that a Shame,” and Elvis’ “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.”  We have to go write a column for April 18, which will be National Columnists’ Day.  Have a “real cool, daddy-o” type week.

Where the free speech movement started

April 6, 2012

After the New Downtown Berkeley Launch Event was concluded on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, a reporter from KGO radio in San Francisco was walking on Adeline Street with John Caner, the Executive Director of the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA), when one of the homeless people in front of John’s Ice Cream challenged her to talk to him and get both sides of the story.  She declined the invitation to get a balanced picture of the situation and scampered quickly to her Mercedes Benz and drove off informing him that she had all the information she needed.

In the current issue of the East Bay Express (April 4 – 10, 2012) on page 12 of the hardcopy edition, reporter Robert Gammon recaps the skepticism that Joe Debro faced when he criticized the deal which was utilized <a href =

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/raiders-deal-still-haunts-oakland/Content?oid=3167659> to bring the Oakland Raiders back toOakland</a> from their temporary rebel encampment in theLos Angeles area.  Debro was vastly outnumbered by sports fans, journalists and politicians who heartily endorsed the efforts to lure the absent rascals back to the Bay Area.

Debro’s objections seem more credible now that the city is in financial crisis mode and the football team might need to be reminded of the particulars of a loan that was instrumental in getting them to (like the prodigal son) return home because it is Debro’s continued position that no payments on the loan have been made and none are scheduled to be made.  If families can live paycheck to paycheck, can’t a $53.9 million dollar loan be forgotten if a team is living from season to season?

Time magazine’s Reagan era White House correspondent, Doug Brew, advised reporters to take the time to listen to what people were trying to tell them and not prejudge the quality of their information based on their appearances or apparent financial status.  How (you might ask) could the World’s Laziest Journalist possibly be the recipient of advice from such a highly qualified source for opinions on the art of Journalism?  We were coworkers on the staff of the weekly Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers in theLos Angelesarea.  That brings up the question:  “How well did you get to know him?”  When he was welcomed into this columnist’s humble abode in Marina del Rey, Brew expostulated:  “My God, Bob, this is a hovel!”

Could KGO’s gal reporter have possibly missed a goodBerkeleysidebar story in her haste to get . . . some place else?

On Tuesday afternoon, we were informed by some of the folks in People’s Park that (irony alert!) the beloved guy known as “hate man” had been issued a stay-a-way order from the public park that he calls “home.” 

The ten years that Mark Hawthorne (AKA Hate man) worked for the Metro Section of the New York Times were also known as “the Sixties” and we would pay good money to hear him tell his stories and just maybe get some advice on how to produce quality journalism. Hawthorne’s suggestions would probably be just as good as those provided by the fellow who worked for Time magazine. 

If UCB’sschoolofJournalismcan’t get hate man to teach there, perhaps they could getHawthorneto do one guest lecture per semester?  Hate man prefers to be outdoors and it is not unprecedented for some UCB classes to be held outside (like perhaps at People’s Park?). 

How is that fair and balance act working out for Rupert Murdoch?  Maybe if we learned how to do Journalism Fox style, we could wind up driving a Mercedes Benz?  Don’t they always put their best sly digs in the form of a question?

Is it true that Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy a major league baseball team and get the town fathers in FoxboroMassachusettsto build a stadium to serve as home for such an enterprise?   Could they call such a stadium “The Hen House”?

Could anyone convince the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to build a brand new football stadium on county owned land in Marina del Rey and let a football team move in for little or no rent?  Isn’tLos Angelesthe biggest metropolitan area without a major football team?  Shouldn’t the board be happy to build a stadium and make loans that can then sit abandoned?  Where are the Brookly Dodgers Football team playing these days?

Whatever happened to the pro football teams that used to play in theLos Angelesarea?

Is there a C&W song titled “You’ve got a cash register heart”?   If not; why not?

Isn’t theUniversityofCalifornia Berkeleyrenovating their football stadium?  Aren’t college football games always played on Saturdays and aren’t pro football games always played on Sundays?

If the Berkeley Downtown Business Association really wants to bring shoppers and travelers to their town, why don’t they float a bond issue, take over management of the UCB football stadium and give the Raiders a better deal than a loan that doesn’t have to be paid back?  They could pay the Raiders gigantic bonus to move a few miles north and become the Berkeley Raiders!

If Monterey can be world famous as the town where one writer (John Steinbeck) use to live and if Key West Florida can hold an annual Hemingway Days series of events because just one writer used to live in their community, then why don’t book readers from all over the world flock to Berkeley where Ursula K. LeGuinn was born, and Philip K. Dick, Alan Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac used to live?

Since the Mediterraneum was open when Dick, Ginsberg, and Kerouac all lived in Berkeley, isn’t it natural to wonder if they ever had a brief chat there?

Charles Dickens, when he came to theUnited Statesto visit, made a particular point of going to visitLowellMassachusettsbecause of its literary heritage because a famous magazine had been published there.  That was years before Jack Kerouac’s father brought his family to that town.  Isn’t the Berkeley Barb mentioned repeatedly in “Smoking Typewriters,” which is about the history of underground newspapers in theUSA?

Last fall, when the high school finalists in the freedom of speech essay contest read their winning entries didn’t it get coverage on the TV networks by holding the event on the Mario Savio steps at theSproulPlazaarea of UCB?

Doesn’t the guy who runs the Daily Kos website for liberal online commentary live inBerkeley?

Is there a DBA suggestion box for ways to bring attention toBerkeley?

If the Journalism students at UCB were to produce a TV show all about Berkeley every day, wouldn’t it be quite likely that in this era of “low cost is no cost” broadcasting if they offered such a product to a cable TV company <I>gratis</I>, they would take it and offer it to viewers all over the world?  (Fox seems to be ubiquitous inAustralia.  Lottsa sports.)  Wouldn’t that be a career boost for the participating students and wouldn’t that win the DBA seal of approval?

Doesn’tKalgoorlie, inWestern Australia, lure visitors from all over the world with just one word?  Gold!  How far fromBerkeleyis Sutter’s Mill?

[Note:  It was a challenge to find a way to illustrate this column.  We used material from an abandoned photo project titled “On the road with a copy of ‘On the Road.’”  SinceBerkeleyis specifically mentioned in “The Dharma Bums,” that might have been a better choice, but the photo editor had to go with what was available.]

National columnists’ Day is rapidly approaching and the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to write a column for the occasion about a fellow who was born inBerkeley(about a hundred years ago) and became one of the Bay Area’s top contenders for the right to call himself “Mr. San Francisco.”  UCB has the Hearst School of Journalism and that particularBerkeleyrascal was personally fired by William Randolph Hearst . . . twice.  That notorious columnist might provide the basis for one installment of the aforementioned hypothetical student TV show “Berkeley Tonight” (or whatever).

Didn’t the Sixties officially start (in Berkeley) when Mario Savio said:  “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”  [Can you believe that that quote is not in Bartlett’s?] 

Now the disk jockey will play Janice Joplin’s “Oh, dear Lord,” Ry Cooder’s “Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile (Every Woman I Know),” and Woody Gutheris’s “Go For a Ride in the Car, car.”  Speaking of cars, we have to celebrate this weekend by watching “Rebel without a Cause” one more time.  Have a “See theUSAin your Chevrolet” type week.

Beatnik flashbacks

March 30, 2012

When William Hjortsberg started reading chapter twelve, “frisco,” from his new book “jubilee hitchhiker:  the life and times of Richard Brautigan” (Counterpoint Berkeley hardback $42.50), and got to the lines about the role the City Lights bookstore played in the start of the Beat era in the city at the South end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it seemed rather appropriate to be hearing it with the audience in the poetry room of that very same bookstore.

In an era when perpetual growth, unlimited opportunity, and boundless optimism made it seem like America was driving a stake through the heart of poverty and that the starving artists of San Francisco were serving as artist proxies who would voluntarily submit themselves to the rigors of destitute living so that the middle class in the Eisenhower years would have some interesting and entertaining novels available to help amuse those who were enjoying the start of the era of infinite prosperity to know what life as a starving artist would be like rather than experiencing the American Dream firsthand.

The story of Richard Brautigan and a legion of others who would become the roster of celebrity artists who converged onSan Franciscoin the Fifties and Sixties has been fertile ground for almost all of the participants in the events that provided a gold rush opportunity for those luck enough to be there.

The World’s Laziest Journalist first heard Hjortsberg’s name when the mystery book sub-genre of vampire detectives became an obsession.  Two decades ago, Hjortsberg’s books had become prized collectors’ items and so obtaining a copy of his “Falling Angel” became both a challenge and a necessity.  Our quest led us to Vagabond books, back when they had a brick and mortar presence onWestwood Blvd., inLos Angeles.  We asked if they had the book and they did.  It was a mint condition copy.  We balked at the price but mentioned how a New York Times review indicated that book was an outstanding example of the new sub-genre we were investigating.  The clerk said:  “Oh do you just want to read it?”  We said yes and she scurried off and returned with a battered edition.  It was just a “reader’s copy” and much less expensive.

That, in turn, led us to read several other Hjortsberg’s novels that were not about a vampire detective. 

When we passed by the City Lights bookstore on Tuesday, March 20, and saw a flyer indicating that later in the week, Hjortsberg would be reading and signing his new book about Richard Brautigan.  We decided that the event would be a twofer because we have also read some of Brautigan’s work. 

Since our political punditry columns predicting that JEB will be the next President seems to upset both Liberals and Conservatives and since JEB endorsed Mitt Romney the next day, it seemed like the twofer reading and autograph party just might provide a timely and convenient opportunity to produce a column that veers away from partisan politics but still retains the right to be classified as news appropriate for use in the pop culture section.

The book was facetiously described as 50% a Brautigan biography, 50% a novel, and 50% Hjortsberg’s memoirs and that may sound like inaccurate mathematics until you see the gigantic book.  The book could easily be described as an Encyclopedia of facts for fans of the Beat Generation. 

The new book may revive the dormant debate about who precisely is and who is not a beatnik writer.  Many of the authors mentioned in this new book are irrefutably classified as founding fathers of the Beat Generation.  But some, like Brautigan, may not seem to qualify to be on the list.

One member of the audience at City Lights was a woman who was acting on behalf of her Brautigan fan husband who was out of town.  One fellow came equipped with a large variety of Hjortsberg material to be signed by the author.  He even had vintage copies of Playboy magazine with stories by Hjortsberg.  The topic of writers’ autographs and getting books signed would provide enough material, such as the  signed copies of the Philip K. Dick book that was published posthumously [signatures from his returned checks were pasted into numbered copies of the book], for an entire column.

Since Hjortsberg mentioned that James Crumley was among the vast array of writers that the author knew personally, we used that as an excuse to ask Hjortsberg during the Q and A segment of the evening a question that we had previously (at the Ocean Front Bookstore on the Venice Boardwalk) asked Crumley:  “What is your favorite dive bar?”  Hjortsberg responded by noting that his favorite bar in all the world did not qualify as a dive bar and that was the legendary McSorley’s Bar inNew York City.

It turned out that Hjortsberg’s father owned a different bar inNew York City.  Later when Hjortsberg was signing copies of the new book, one member of the audience compared Brautigan unfavorably to Gene Sheppard and that caused Hjortsberg to elaborate on being influenced, as a kid, by the New York late night radio talk show hosted by Sheppard. 

Luckily the massive book (Will it be compared to Boswell’s Life of Johnson? [It just was in the last sentence.]) has an Index and that will make it much easier for students of literature who want to read this new book as a source book for possible thesis material.  Crumley’s name gets three pages listed and he appears in a caption in the selection of photos in the book.  As best as we can recall, Crumley’s response to the question was a bar named “Mother’s” somewhere inMontana.

At this point, the fact that many of the beat writers used their own life experiences as the basis for their books, such as Brautigan did with “Willard and his bowling tropies,” caused this columnist to notice a distinct similarity to the “New Journalism” style of writing that emerged fifty years ago immediately following the Beat era.  Where does the Beat style end and the New Journalism style begin?   Will this new book provide fodder for a debate about that very topic?

Jack Kerouac wrote about one particularSan Franciscopoetry reading in 1955 in his book “The Dharma Bums.”  Kerouac fictionalized the names of the participants in the actual poetry reading at the 6 Gallery.  Kerouac also included some of the participants, Neal Cassady and Alan Ginsburg, with yet other fictionalized names, in his classic beat novel “On the Road.”  Tom Wolfe, one of New Journalism’s founding fathers, wrote about the exploits of Neal Cassady in his work of nonfiction titled “The Electric Kool Aide Acid Test.” 

When the line of those getting items autographed disappeared and we noticed that there was one copy of the new book left, we decided that it was time to start our Christmas gift shopping (Is this a manifestation of doubt concerning our claim that when JEB wins the November 2012 Presidential Election, we will do our Christmas shopping in Paris [France not Texas {should we put a visit to the town in Texas on our Bucket List?}]?) and buy the last copy and have it inscribed.  (The recipient will never know we read it before giving it . . . unless they read this column and that’s not bloody well likely.)

Hjortsberg said that a great amount of material had been cut from the original manuscript to pare it down to the massive volume which was printed.  During a period of skimming through the book, we encountered several topics which might warrant use as a subject for a full column in the near future, so we appreciated the challenge of the task of figuring out (as the song goes) “what to leave in and what to leave out.”  If this new book becomes a runaway best seller, does that mean that sometime in the future Beatnik fans can clamor for a “director’s cut” edition which will be twice as big?

We noticed that many of the complaints of the poets and writers described in this new book sounded very familiar.  That brought up a question for another potential column topic:  Are the Occupy Protesters recycling the Beatnik’s criticism of “the Establishment”?

The Vesuvius Café, which is just across Jack Kerouac Alley from the City Lights bookstore, is mentioned in the book but not listed in the Index. 

One of the passages Hjortsborg read described a Brautigan project that combined poems with plant seed packets “published” with the title “Plant this book.”  Brautigan gave them away in the late Sixties and Hjortsborg said that ones in mint condidtion are now valued at a thousand dollars by collectors.  This columnist lived inSan Franciscoin 1969, but we don’t know how valid our “oh yeah, I remember seeing that” memories are because this column’s closing quote is the current folk axiom:  “If you can remember the Sixties; you weren’t really there.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Age of Aquarius,” Country Joe’s “Fixin’ to die rag,” and “Big Bad Bruce” (that may have been a regional hit played only on San Francisco jukeboxes).  We have to go and search for a way to exceed our life time best (in a letter to a high school classmate inVietnam) of a quadruple end parentheses punctuation.  Have a “solid!” type week.

Beat from the Start

March 28, 2012

Coping with sporadic stints of volunteer file clerk typist duties for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association down in the Los Angeles, while simultaneously trying to “get a handle” on some unfamiliar new topics in the San Francisco bay area caused a “Eureka!” moment for the World’s Laziest Journalist when a paradigm for all the diverse issues began to form.

During hard times what’s not to like about a sure-fire way to make a new fortune, reelect incumbents and bilk voters?  Is there a common thread here connecting the long battle in the L. A. area with the new issues in theSan FranciscoBayarea?  What if you can get politicians to give you free land for your business, get them to build the building where you will conduct your new enterprise, get some tax breaks thrown in if you can, and then soak the voters for as much of the money in their bank accounts as you possibly can?  Wouldn’t you then feel obligated to use some of that loot, to subsidize the reelections of the politicians who handed you that windfall license to steal?  Could Liberal pundits please call such campaign contributions “tithing” and not make snide remarks comparing the cash donations to “kick backs”?

We noticed this possible pattern recently after being asked if we could help the Marina Tenants Association write up an annotated report on the long close relation ship between real estate developers and various members of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to be submitted to the new California Attorney General.

Baseball fans inSan Franciscoare upset because the baseball team seems to be asking a city in theSouthBayarea to get some land, build a new baseball stadium, and then let the Giants baseball team move-in and charge more money for seats and season tickets.  The fans for that baseball team think they are being exploited.

The folks urging government expenditures to lure theAmerica’s Cup boat races to the San Francisco Bay Area seem to be asking for the rights to develop various Piers after the city gives them the real estate.  In return for the added recession era municipal expenditures such as additional traffic control and police work, the locals will (if they can’t use a helicopter, airplane, or yacht to get close up views of the competition) get the chance to buy expensive binoculars and telescopes, and thus boost some local businesses, if they want to try to get a glimpse of the race participants doing their high speed version of the Sunday duffers roaming about the bay.

Didn’t George W. Bush exploit his close connection with and access to the occupant of the White House to get land via eminent domain?  Then didn’t he get the citizens ofTexasto subsidize building a stadium on that land?  At that point, didn’t he help (in exchange for a bit of stock?) a group of businessmen buy a baseball team and move it into that very stadium?  Eventually didn’t he sell his share of that team and make a tidy profit?

If you see a familiar pattern in these random examples of self made fortunes, then perhaps you need to consider seeking professional help to break you of this terrible propensity toward conspiracy theory lunacy.

Back to MTA problem.  The invitation/challenge arrived when we were trying to “digest” a vast quantity of information of, by, and about the Beat Generation writers as part of the preparations for doing a column about a new book focusing on an assortment of relevant topics.

The challenge of writing something new, concise, and well documented using a vast array of newspaper articles that were published over a fifty year period seems daunting, to say the least.  Concurrently reviewing information about writers and poets who felt that they were beat before they got their careers started, for a future column, conjures up comparisons to the old Myth of Sisyphus story.

The fact that all this is swirling around in the World’s Laziest Journalist’s “in box,” while efforts are being made to coordinate information about attempts to revive the Occupy Wall Street series of political actions while a suspected war criminal is getting a heart transplant begins to overload the “current topics” circuits.

Could the fact that the Conservative noise machine is drowning out all the concerns about wealth inequality getting worse be compared to the battle the Beats had in various courts for using words that were condemned for being “Obscene!”?

Could the uphill fight use the pod people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” as a basis for a comparison the futility of fighting the tsunami of Fox Propaganda?  Isn’t trying to warn members of the proletariat that they seem to be voting against their own welfare when they vote Republican a lot like Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) trying to convince his town that something bad is happening?  Isn’t the blank look response in both cases identical?

Since this column is being written in the city that was, for many year, Philip K. Dick’s hometown, could we channel him to cook up a science fiction column describing how it would have been if the Beat writers had time traveled back to Berlin in 1935?  Didn’t William L. Shirer describe in one of his books about life during the Third Reich era how Hitler told his associates when they entered the Chancellor’s office, that when he final left there they would carry him out on his shield?  Isn’t that how the Republicans view their “mandate”?

The Bonus Army, Beatniks, and OWS protesters and the homeless seem to be connected by a long continuous series of aggravations for the ruling class. 

Couldn’t the never ending efforts of the wealthy to train the little people to pay their taxes and not complain be compared to the work Sisyphus was assigned? 

Could the “stand your ground” law be compared to legalizing lynching?

Some years ago (1994?), the Los Angeles Times made a commendable effort to draw attention to the fact that a cozy relationship existed between various real estate developers and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, but they were unable to neither instigate any legal investigations nor win a Pulitzer Prize for the series of stories they published.

It is flattering to be asked to make a new effort to do what they couldn’t accomplish, but the overwhelming feeling is that the next time we hear about Sisyphus’ rock, our response will be:  “Been there; done that!”

It has come to our attention that some motorcycle gangs assert that if a person picks a fight with one member, the attacker will have to contend with the entire club membership to win the battle.  Do the wealthy and the politician secretly hold that same philosophy?

It seems that if a tenants’ association attacks a group of politicians, they have to fight all the politicians to win any ground and if they do make any progress, a Republican majority in the United States Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional.  Rest assured your attempts will be beaten down.

Why do the New York Giants play their home football games inNew Jersey?

Aren’t the Giants moving out ofSan Francisco?

Maybe we should write a column about the two big cites that lost a team called “The Giants”?

Remember how reassuring it was to hear Harry Harrison on WABC inform his audience he was broadcasting from the “GreatestCityin the world!”?

Who paid for the new stadium where the Yankees play baseball?  Hmmm.  Maybe before we go running off to the Marina Tenants Association offices, we should detour throughTimes Squareand do some additional fact finding?  Wouldn’t that be a far, far better thing to do in a far away better place?

In “the Rolling Stone Book of the Beats,” Richard Meltzer, on page 72 of the paperback edition, wrote:  “His (Jack Kerouac’s) actual bloody masterpiece, and one of the great, great works of the English language, is <I>Big Sur</I>.”

Now the disk jockey will play Ornette Coleman’s “Shape of Jazz to Come,” Slim Gaillard’s “Slim’s Jam,” and Cecil Taylor’s “Unit Structures.”  We have to go look up the California Attorney General’s snail mail address.  Have a “totally cool” week.

Etch-a-sketch comment = game changer

March 23, 2012

Artist Mark Petersen opened his new show, titled “game changer,” at the “local 123 café” gallery in Berkeley on Friday March 16, 2012; the premise for the show is that 99% of society are pawns in a game being played by the one percent of the population that believes in a government of the elite by the elite is run for the benefit of the elite.  We took some photos of the artist and assumed that the philosophy underlying the works of art would provide a graphic metaphor for starting a column that would explain the results of this week’s Primary Election inIllinois, which we were expecting.  When the final count ran completely contrary to our expectations, the lede for this week’s column wasn’t the only thing that needed a quick revision.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has assumed that Karl Rove hasn’t worked all these years for the Bush family so that he will get a prestigious seat assignment for the Inauguration of Mitt Romney as President in January of 2013; so when JEB endorsed Romney the day after Romney won in Illinois, it seemed that it was time for the various radio talk shows to use “A simple twist of fate” for their bumper music as the week drew to a close.

There are two ways to write political commentary.  You can either report your own personal thoughts and reactions or you can read up on other commentary and then make the choice to either follow the crowd or go rogue.  Since our access to TV and the Internets is rather limited lately and since our budget has necessitated a drastic reduction in our ability to read the New York Times on a daily basis, we have been forced by circumstances to go the “I column as I see ’em” route to forming our political opinions.

Our immediate reaction to Tuesday’s election results inIllinoisand the JEB endorsement story was to begin a search for a clever line that would casually mention Bishop Romney or to make some snarky remark about Mitt Goldwater or Senator Barry Romney. 

Are the Republicans really going to give the Presidential Nomination to a fellow who turns off a goodly number of their own voters?  Apparently they are.  Are the Democrats going to give their party’s nomination to a guy who has put his <I>imprimatur</I> on the Bush war policies by adopting them with a <I>Nihil Obstat</I> rating?  Apparently they are.

Political commentary hasn’t had to contend with a game changer like Tuesday’sIllinoisresults since Linden B. Johnson told Americans, on March 31, 1968, that he wouldn’t seek reelection.

While the very convoluted contemporary political scene gets sorted out, what can a columnist write to amuse and entertain the dozen or so regular readers?  “ . . . <I>to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget</I> . . .”

There will be a cornucopia of topics not related to the November election available during April because this year there will be chances to write about:  the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, theSan Franciscoearthquake, National Columnists’ Day, the bombing ofGuernica, the Columbine school shooting rampage, and the start of Winston Smith’s clandestine diary.

We could also write about the Air Sex Championships scheduled for Tuesday March 27, 2012, at the Elbo Room inSan Francisco.  It wasn’t immediately clear if the Air Sex Championships is a band or a contest similar to the Air Guitar competitions.

Since Mitt Romney’s middle name is Willard perhaps we could write a column comparing the November Election to the classic movie “Apocalypse Now”?  It’s not difficult to imagine candidate Romney looking at the Obama legacy and responding to an question about the effectiveness of Obama’s agenda by muttering:  “I don’t see any methods at all . . . .”

If Willard Romney wants to project a “man of the people” image (on his Etch-a-sketch screen?) perhaps he should show off some bowling trophies?

We could run a plug for a friend’s automobile photos and then use that as an excuse for segueing into considering if we should send a query letter to the assignment editor at Jalopnik suggesting they assign a political pundit to test drive a new Ferrari or maybe just a chance to describe the sensations produced while operating a Zamboni.  Does anyone ever hold Zamboni races?  Would an assignment to cover such hypothetical Zamboni races provide a chance to write an allegorical novel about “a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream”?

Could a series of weekly Photo Reports on Contemporary Pop Culture pass as weekend wrap-up columns?

Could we write a column with deep psychological insights based on the fact that this week inSan Francisco, we saw an advertisement for whipped cream flavored vodka?  Would anyone read such a column?  Would anyone care?  “<I>What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side?</I>”

Is it worth the effort for the World’s Laziest Journalist to go toChicagoand see if the Occupy May Day protests there will produce any 1968 flashbacks?

A trip toLondonto see the Olympic Games might not be cost effective for a columnist who would have to subsidize his own travel expenses.

Didn’t a long haul trucker become an art critic for the New York Times?  Hasn’t that fellow maxed out on getting Facebook friends?  Has that guy ever heard the music of the German Country and Western band named “Truck Stop”?  Is it possible to think of the concept of Country music with lyrics sung in German and not think of Hunter S. Thompson’s line in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” describing the “Circus Circus” casino?

Lately talk radio seems to consist of either conservative hosts endorsing the conservative talking points made by conservative callers or progressive hosts attempting to drop a game changer explanation on a conservative caller who doesn’t seem inclined to listen to any rebuttals.  A Romeny vs. the incumbent Presidential race does not seem to offer any hope for improving the entertainment factor for talk radio.

At this point, it seems that rebroadcasts of some of Wolfman Jack shows would be more entertaining than any production figures about oil pipelines provided by a man who has talent on loan from God.

Can anyone make the chocolate production numbers more informative and entertaining than Rush Limbaugh?  “<I>Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones</I>.”

Speaking of Uncle Rushbo, has he commented on the Treyvon Martin affair yet? 

There isn’t going to be any drama about the eventual Democratic Party pick for the fall election.  The Republicans seem resigned to the fact that Mitt Romney is predestined to get his party’s nomination.  Isn’t the challenge facing both political parties comparable to the idea of getting American sports fans hooked on rugby? 

This columnist was expecting to write a series of columns for 2012 that would sound quite a bit like what one might expect to be produced by a black belt in conspiracy theory, but all that evaporated this week when the movement toward the selection of the Republican nominee got its “white smoke/new pope” moment. 

If football players can get bonus pay for sending a member of the opposing team to the hospital, why can’t liberal pundits get big extra bucks for items that cripple the campaigns of conservative candidates?

We will (apparently) have to scrap all our plans to win a few friendly bets on JEB Bush and face a bleak choice of either making some tepid criticism of both party’s candidates or changing the focus of the columns to other topics.  However, in the best spirit of conspiracy theory lunatic thinking, we can remember that in this vitriolic world of unexplained events, an unexpected game changer development could become a new factor quicker that you can say “Senator Paul Wellstone.”

The closing quote for this column was found in George Orwell’s essay titled “Looking back on the Spanish War.”  He wrote:  “All that the working man demands is what these others would consider the indispensable minimum without which human life can not be lived at all.  Enough to eat, freedom from the terror of unemployment, the knowledge that your children will get a fair chance, a bath once a day, clean linen reasonably often, a roof that doesn’t leak, and short enough working hours to leave you with a little energy when the day is done.”  The Republicans inSpainwanted that? 

Now the disk jockey will play Patsy Cline’s “So Wrong,” Waylon Jennings “WRONG!,” and Buddy Holly’s “Whatcha Gonna Do About It?”  We have to go look for some new column leitmotifs.  Have an “Ignorance is strength” type week.

 

The column with no photo

March 16, 2012

The conflict inAfghanistanhad its Tet Offensive moment last Sunday, when a soldier, whose name wasn’t initially released by the Ministry of Truth, went on a shooting rampage.  Just because the Peaceniks believe that proves that the war inAfghanistanis unwinnable, they are ready to call it quits.  President Obama can now sound like George W. Bush and urge the folks to continue fighting the war inAfghanistanfor no appareanet reason or he can mimic Lyndon Johnson and decline the Democratic Party’s nomination.  By mid-week, President Obama was recycling many of the Bush clichés about staying the course.

On Tuesday, Rick Santorum won two more primaries and thus underscored the sourceless contention that Mitt Romney is not a member of the <I>Herrenvolk</I> and thus ineligible to receive his Party’s Presidential nomination.

The Republicans believe in a Republic which means that only eligible people (men who own land according to the Founding Fathers) can vote and thus they will have no philosophical objections if the Party elite perform an intervention and deliver the Party’s Presidential nomination to someone who is a member of the <I>Herrenvolk</I> and is obviously qualified to reestablish the Republican domination of the White House.  (A Republican has been in the White House for 28 of the last forty-four years or 36 of the last sixty years.)

During the week we saw an item online that asserted that inEnglandtwo reporters involved in the Murdoch-gate phone tapping scandal had attempted suicide.  Don’t the Brits call the investigation Operation Weeting?

The Porngate scandal inIndiadoesn’t seem to be getting much play in American media.

On Tuesday, Uncle Rushbo fresh from a day off for golfing, started his program with a meticulous examination of the meaning of the numbers for oil prices and oil production.  Since there had been an item online reporting that a Canadian study asserted that Conservatives tended to be less educated and more insecure than Liberals, we marveled that the man who flatly stated that there is no Republican war on women, was able to mesmerize his audience, reputed to number 20 million, with facts and figures that might tend to bore all but a very specific college classroom full of students ready and eager to join the BP assault on undersea oil reserves around the globe. 

Does Uncle Rushbo’s disk jockey have permission from the artist to play the old hit “I’m the Pied Piper”?  We ask that quesiton because, apparently, he has the magic touch and can lead his vast audience into some very arcane and esoteric facts and figures and not suffer any perceptible amount of listener defections. 

On Thursday, Uncle Rushbo was mesmerizing his millions of listeners with a discourse on the history and purpose of the strategic oil reserves.  That, in turn, made us wonder what would Lenny Bruce have said about Limbaugh’s “slut” slur?

Speaking of adventuresome college radio, this week we heard a well done report on KALX (the UCB student radio station) from North Gate Radio about fecal transplants.  It was one of those unusual bits of news that usually shoots to the top of the list on odd news websites such as Fark and/or Obscure Store.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has noticed that using a photo to illustrate the columns usually means a better chance of catching the reader’s eyes, but the challenge (and time consuming nature of the task) of finding an appropriate still shot and then getting the photographer’s permission to use it is very daunting, and so (after struggling with learning to include the photos with the posting) we often resort to taking an appropriate photo and using that. 

It works out rather well if the columnist manages to get some shots of some news worthy events that are mentioned in the column, such as arrests at a “No Justice; No BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)” protest, or some events at Occupy Oakland or Occupy Cal; but for a week when there are no high news value images available, that means either running a mundane weather shot or mooching an extra shot from a former high-school classmate who covered the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, a high profile car event held in Florida, for the Just Above Sunset Photo website or not using any and losing a chance for the column to be more noticeable.

The World’s Laziest Journalist missed such a photo op inBerkeleylast weekend, when Louis Frakaan delivered some controversial comments at a speaking engagement at theUniversityofCalifornia’sBerkeleycampus.

Wasn’t there some concern in the early days of the Internet media revolution that quality content would be accorded diminished value as “bells and whistles” graphics were added to various web sites? 

Here is a hypothetical example of how an item without a very noticeable graphics can loose reader appeal.  Recently we picked up a copy of “The New Journalism” by Tom Wolfe (“an anthology edited by Tome Wolfe and E. W. Johnson” [Harper and Row paperback edition]) and began to assemble some information for writing a column about the 50th anniversary of the start of the “New Journalism” branch of news reporting.  The publication of “Joe Louis the King as Middle-aged Man” in Esquire magazine in 1962, is cited by Wolfe as a significant milestone in the demarcation of the birth of the trend.

The anthology includes all of the essential examples of the New Journalism (called “Gonzo Journalism” by Hunter S. Thompson) but it also piqued our curiosity.  Does You Tube offer a hilarious obscure example of “Parajournalism” (as Wolfe dubbed it) that consisted of video of Hunter S. Thompson interviewing Keith Richards?  We learned that several versions have been posted there and a still shot from that tsunami of mumbled unintelligible syllables would serve as bait for luring unsuspecting new readers into the latest example of this columnist’s attempt to preserve the traditions of “thee dot journalism” . . . if we could figure out how the heck to insert such a still shot touting that interview before the (self imposed) Friday morning deadline. 

In the past, the World’s Laziest Journalist has made efforts to draw attention to the idea that Philip K. Dick, in his speculative history work of fiction titled “The Man in the High Castle,” seemed to accurately predict Hunter S. Thompson’s life and writings.

Our efforts to draw attention to that coincidence have been just as successful as our Hans Brinker-ish efforts to warn Liberals that Karl Rove will use delegate gridlock at the Republican National Convention as a smoke and mirrors diversion to hand the nomination to JEB Bush. 

The Conservative pundits will ignore the JEB angle because they don’t want to tip Rove’s hand and the Liberal commentators can’t or won’t acknowledge that scenario because . . . they receive their generous paychecks from media owners who don’t want any spoiler material put into the national debate . . . until it’s too late.

Perhaps some folks who have a rare form of diarrhea and are in need of some therapeutic bacteria are not the only ones who qualify for fecal transplants?  Could that concept be used as a metaphor for the Liberal voices employed by Conservative media owners?

The topic of objectivity vs. a reporter’s emotional involvement with a news story got an example of the inherent dangers on Thursday night when a KALX reporter on the evening newscast became overcome with emotion and had to hit the cough button.  The story was about an event at a zoo inGermanyto draw attention to the arrival of a new bunny.  Unfortunately during the course of the media event, the bunny was trampled to death by the attending journalists.  The reporter seemed on the verge of tears when she deactivated her microphone for a few moments.

In “The New Journalism,” Wolfe describes the task facing subservient “wordproles” (on page 44):  “The reporter . . . (manifests) behavior that comes close to being servile or even beggarly. . . . They supply mainly ‘vivid description’ plus sentiment.”  Then they are free to (as Liberace once put it) “cry all the way to the bank.”  (Do you honestly think that any on-air personality at Fox would dare show any sign of disapproval if JEB gets the Republican nomination?)

Now the disk jockey will playRoyOrbison’s “Workin’ for the Man,” Gene Autry’s “Here comes Peter Cottontail,” and Bing Crosby’s “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . . . .”  We have to go find our green T-shirt and green Branch Motor Express jacket.  Have an “Erin go Bragh” (Ireland forever!) type week.

 

War, Virtual War, and Real Life

March 9, 2012

The events of the first full week in March of 2012 can all be used to provide evidence to support the theory that in the future historians and psychologists will look back at this week and conclude that Super Tuesday week was when reality became extinct in theUSA.

While waiting for Monday morning’s installment of Uncle Rushbo’s parade of propaganda to begin, we played the newSan Franciscogame of “find the program.”  Radio stations in fog city have started to play an audio version of three card Monty and it is a challenge to find out which station is now carrying the program you want to hear.  Thus we inadvertently tuned in to Armstrong and Getty who were asking if the Fatherland Security Agency was intended to be a means for hassling Americans and teaching unquestioning subservience and not doing much to help prevent any terrorist attacks.

Was this week’s story about a basketball game that featured the chanting of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” an example of evidence that helps to prove that the United States is slowly adopting the philosophy of “One Fatherland, One Conservative point of view in the media, and One Political Dynasty”? 

Then Uncle Rushbo made his clever apology for apologizing, which precipitated an avalanche of commentary about Limbaugh’s level of sincerity.  By the next day, Super Tuesday, Uncle Rushbo was asserting that the Republican Party is not waging a war on women.  You think they are?  “Get your mind right, Luke.”

Then came the Super Tuesday results which didn’t prove anything and only unleashed a torrent of speculation about who would get the nomination if none of the guys, who have spent vast fortunes for ads in/on conservative owned media, get enough delegates to cinch the nomination.  The consensus of opinion seems to be that if the Republican Party can’t get a nominee from the selection of those still standing in the elimination process, then they will have to give the nomination to someone else who is tan, fit, and well rested.

Norm Goldman, the radio talk show host who has conniptions when the Republican Party calls their opponents the “Democrat Party,” played a sound byte of conservative talk show host Mark Levine using the dreaded “c-word” (One of George Carlin’s Seven Deadly Words) to make a reference to President Obama.  (So why not call the Fascists the Republic party?  What’s the difference between a Republic and a Democracy?)

The FCC is disregarding the reality of the sound byte that contains Levine saying that word which calls for an automatic drastic response from their agency and is, instead, acting as if it is a case of “no harm, on foul.”

The Armed Forces Radio is ignoring calls to dump Limbaugh.  It would be different if he were an offensive liberal voice.

The series of several preliminary primary elimination elections around theUSAwill be inconclusive so why is the news media obsessing over the nitpicking irrelevant details and not focusing in on the charade by Republicans aspect?  Why are they ignoring the possibility that the eventual nominee is going to bring back the clichés about “shady deals made in smoke filled rooms”?

The media is following its trained dog and pony show orders and also skipping over a debate about the pros and cons of sending drones to bombSyriato protect its citizens from slaughter just as they avoided such debates before the invasions ofAfghanistanandIraq.

The possibility of bombingIranto prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons is being treated by journalists as if the start date is the only news.  The particulars about the how and why of the war are unimportant, the big news will be when it actually starts.  Revealing that the war has started will be just like one of those regularly scheduled big announcements from Apple Computers.  The war is in development and when it actually becomes available to the journalists there will be a big press conference to make the announcement and elaborate on some of the distinctive features of the new war.

There was a major announcement from Apple this week inSan Francisco.  The Wednesday morning news conference just happened to coincide with the World’s Laziest Journalist’s weekly excursion toSan Franciscoand to Molinari’s Delicatessen for an Italian sausage sandwich; so we tried to squeeze a visit to the news conference into the day’s to do list.  Even though we knew one of the security guards we were unsuccessful in our attempt to pull off a Gonzo crash the gates maneuver at the event which was “by invitation only.”

We were able to use Gonzo Journalism methods to get into the Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Convention Center and discovered a smorgasbord of evidence to support our contention that reality has become extinct.

The object of video games is to acquire virtual assets which can be sold “in the real world” (and also to have as much fun as possible in the process).

To the World’s Laziest Journalist, “imaginary adventures” immediately conjures up one iconic image:  “Here is the WWI ace standing by his Sopwith Camel about to go seeking an aerial dual with the Red Baron.” 

The military experts (one American, one British, both tankers) at War Gaming dot net quickly informed us that we had only one game as a possibility and that would be “Rise of Flight.” 

The British chap also helped clear up one of our misperceptions about a military legend.  British General Bernard L.Montgomerycould not have possibly sent German General Erwin Rommel the message “I read your book (you bastard!)” because Rommel had, at that point in history, only published one book, which was about the Infantry and not armored vehicles.

We immediately commenced a recon patrol to find “Rise of Flight.” 

In the search we came across folks from theUniversityofPittsburgpromoting the game “Doctor Transplant,” which is a game which teaches players all about the topic of organ transplants.  When we were young playing doctor was very <I>verboten</I> territory.

We came across a man who had just retired from a career in banking and was now helping promote a video gardening game called Garden Quest.  Players will learn things which will deliver practical knowledge which can be transferred into real life and enthusiastic replies to the question “How does your garden grow?”

We participated in a virtual roller coaster ride that was augmented by a very expense chair that delivers the sensations of physical movement and thus makes the ride feel like an authentic amusement park experience.  We suggested that they should offer a copy of the game and one of the chairs to thePlayboyMansionin L. A.

Someone somewhere was bound to start a video games museum and sure enough, we encountered theMuseumofArtand Digital Entertainment and it just happens to be located inOaklandCAand so we might devote a future column to their story.

When we spotted a large red case decorated with a black Maltese cross, we honed in on that like a heat-seeking video missile.  “Curse you, Red Baron!  We will meet again someday and when we do, you will rue the day!”  

There is (to the best of our ability to ascertain) no video game about journalism, let alone a Gonzo Game.  There is a game for a simulated paperboy peddling his route experience. 

Pub Games (from Melbourne Australia) got its company name when the guys working there discovered that they did their most creative work after they rang out for the day and adjourned for the day to the local pub.  (What about a combination video-drinking game for use in pubs?)

On Wednesday, while we were exploring the Game Developers Conference the pundits were reacting to Senator McCain’s suggestion that the USA unleash a wave of drone attacks on Syria to help protect that country’s citizens.  Apparently he, like most members of the Republican Party, think that collateral deaths is a virtual entity in a video game and not a country full of real life dead and wounded civilians.

Speaking of the nasty Republican Party, since we are big fans of Ernest Hemingway, and since the 75th anniversary of the bombing ofGuernica (April 26, 1937) is coming soon, perhaps we should have looked for a Spanish Civil War Game?  Even whilst it was happening many Americans couldn’t figure out which side deserved cheers for being “the good guys.”  Were the Republicans also called “the Falangists,” or was that the other guys?  Essentially it was the Commies vs. the Nazis, wasn’t it?  Which of those two opposing factions would you pick as being “the good guys”?

We didn’t see a video panning for gold game, either, come to think of it.

What’s not to like about a game where Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), in the “Treasure of the Sierra Madre (at the very top of our list of best movies of all time)” offers this challenge:  “I’ll bet you . . . $150,000 you fall asleep first.”  Now there’s a game!

Now the disk jockey will play the theme song from the movie “The Vikings,” the theme song from “El Cid,” and the theme song from “The Twilight Zone.”  (Is there a licensed Twilight Zone game?)  We have to go investigate some schools offering a degree in game design.  Have a “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” type week.

Are Americans living in a world of carefully crafted illusions?

March 5, 2012

A column describing the events of Saturday, March 3, 2012 experienced and witnessed by the World’s Laziest Journalist might prove how and why the parable of the six blind Hindus is still important in the Internet era.

 

[Six blind Hindus touched an elephant and were asked to describe their reaction.  The one who felt the tail thought elephants were like a strand of rope.  The guy who touched the elephant’s trunk, said elephants were just like snakes.  The fellow who touched the ear observed that elephants were just like a big leafed plant.  The man who felt the elephant’s stomach was very convinced that elephants were a subcategory of walls.  The guy who touched the tusk, knew that elephants were like swords.  The guy who felt a leg concluded that elephants were very similar to trees.]

 

On Saturday morning, we met up with <a href =http://smirkingchimp.com/author/james-richard-armstrong-ii>James Richard Armstrong II, the homeless columnist</a> who lives in Berkeley CA.  This writer wanted to brainstorm some possible column topics and have a morning cup of coffee.  James was, among other things, concerned about some generalizations a reader had made regarding one of his columns about the plight of the homeless.  People who live in houses (glass or not) tend to be very certain of their perceptions as do all of the six blind Hindus.

 

Since the homeless writer uses Hunter S. Thompson as a role model and since Thomson’s public persona often displayed a cavalier attitude about money, we criticized theBerkeleyresident’s tendency to imitate Thompson when making financial decisions.

 

We suggested that perhaps Thompson’s attitude was part of a fictitious “image” that was deliberately manufactured.  This was met with a vehement denial of that possibility, which, unfortunately, was impossible to fact-check.  The World’s Laziest Journalist explained that he was basing his assertion on one actual encounter with one of the founding fathers of the GonzoschoolofJournalism.

 

At an appearance at the Viper Room inLos Angeles, in 1996, Thompson had made a conspicuous display of having security eject hecklers.  What many in the venue did not notice is that subsequently the persons who had been 86’d would be seen again in the sold out event, quietly observing the proceedings from the very back of the auditorium.  The victims had the material for a personal encounter story that they would still be telling many years later, Thompson had bolstered his Wildman image, and the audience had been treated to an entertaining example of Thompson’s lack of tolerance for dissention.

 

We suggested that (perhaps) Thompson (who owned real estate in the Aspen area ofColorado) was just helping to create an image of an outlaw journalist when he seemed to act irresponsibly about financial matters. 

 

We have been reading a recently acquired copy of “The Kitchen Readings:  Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson” (by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis Harper Perennial paperback) and have become aware that often the reality of stories about Hunter do not match the legend and that the tendency is to use theRio Bravoadvice:  “print the legend.”

 

Hence we strongly asserted that the famed father of Gonzo may have been playing a role when he used an expense account to subsidize living large.

 

Next we discussed the bogus aspect of the image of the homeless as free wheeling “king of the road” people who could come and go as the mood strikes them.  Unfortunately the reality is the complete opposite.  Often their movements are very restricted because they have to worry about finding a place to temporarily store their possessions if they want to  move about during the day. 

 

We volunteered to do a column delineating the problem.  If (for example) a homeless woman wants to go into a public building and use the women’s rest room, the backpack and bedroll is an open invitation for hassling.  If she can leave her gear with a trusted friend, she can run off, use the facility, and return very quickly.  The problem is exponentially more complicated if the homeless person wants to stash their backpack and go across toSan Franciscofor a day.  Where can he or she leave the backpack for a whole day?

 

Storage lockers are a quaint reminder of the past.  (We will expand on this topic for use as a full column in the future.)  So where can a person leave all his worldly possessions while taking a one day trip over intoSan Francisco?  Taking sleeping gear and a heavy backpack will certainly put a damper on any one day outing inSan Francisco.  What’s with these practical restrictions vs. the image of “go anywhere when the mood strikes you” freedom? 

 

A few hours later we were at the opposite end of the social spectrum.  We were inMarinCountyas the guest of a woman who has devoted her life to helping women’s causes and helping philanthropists decide where and how to make their contributions.  She has lived the “those who can, do” aspect of the story; now she also does coaching and teaches about that and related subjects.

 

As it turns out, the woman had met Hunter S. Thompson at the wedding of one of her close relatives.  The philanthropy coach corroborated our impression of Thompson as a fellow who created a public persona that was very different from the private person. 

 

The prolonged economic “recession” has added some additional new challenges to the task of encouraging wealthy citizens to make well informed decisions about making philanthropic donations to an every growing list of worthy non-profit organizations. 

 

As it turns out, on that very day that we were discussing the particular financial needs of various organizations devoted to women’s causes, radio personality Rush Limbaugh may have inadvertently drawn added attention to women’s causes in particular by apologizing for calling a collage student a slut, earlier in the week.  Liberal pundits noted that the apology was “out of character” for the bombastic radio talk show host.

 

Uncle Rushbo could add a considerable amount of credence (“What me make an insincere apology just to get myself off the hot seat?”) if it were accompanied by a large donation to a relevant women’s nonprofit organization. 

 

We asked the Philanthropy coach if she or any of her associates had ever asked Uncle Rushbo (Doesn’t he live in a house that is worth $24 million?) what the level of his philanthropic donations are and also ask if he would like to increase that amount of giving during the economic hard times which have perceptively swelled the difficulty level of maintaining America’s commitment to subsidizing charitable organizations. 

 

Wouldn’t most Americans be quite prepared to assume that Uncle Rushbo’s annual philanthropic donations are rather anemic?  Doesn’t he advocate the “bootstrap” philosophy of self reliance?

 

The World’s Laziest Journalist adheres to a stringent budget, but we have, in the early phase of the Occupy movement, bought fast food meals, on different occasions, for two Occupy protesters.  Could it be that the parsimonious columnist outspends Rush on philanthropic endeavors?  Perhaps Rush Limbaugh makes large philanthropic donations anonymously or very quietly while perversely bolstering the Scrooge image?

 

On Monday morning’s broadcast, Uncle Rushbo’s introductory monologue seemed to be an apology to his regular listeners for making the apology on Saturday.  His mistake was to lower himself to the level of leftists, he explained.  “ . . . it was way beneath me . . .”  

He did use the term “self reliance” several time Monday morning. 

 

When Armstrong posts and shares a link to one of our columns on <a href =http://www.facebook.com/james.r.armstrong1>facebook </a>, we get a perceptible bump in hits.  We had shamelessly suggested that the Philanthropy coach bring the humble efforts of the World’s Laziest Journalist to the attention of some of her well known friends in the journalism industry.  Could they do better at boosting the hits? 

 

What would happen if Uncle Rushbo destroyed our speculation about his level of philanthropy giving on air and enumerated and elaborated on his donations and specifically mentioned that he was providing some fact checking information for the World’s Laziest Journalist?

 

Over the the course of this weekend and Monday morning, we realized that about one percent of journalists have about ninety percent of the clout that publicity can deliver.  The other ninety nine percent of those working in Journalism must share the remaining amount of influence. 

 

The folk wisdom inHollywoodis:  “I don’t care what people say about me as long as they spell my name correctly.”  Should we, perhaps, hope that Rush does mention our columns in a negative context?  What if Limbaugh resorts to ridicule and speculates about the incongruity of someone who works very hard to promote the image of being an example of Lazy Journalism?

 

 

While this columnist roamed aboutAustraliain a “sundowner” style, we often left our suitcase under a bunk in a hostel.  We were oblivious to the homeless’ concern about “stowing the gear for a day,” until Armstrong elaborated it.  This proved to me his contention that people who live in glass houses (or even sleep on a hostel’s bunk) should not assume that they fully understand what it means to be homeless.

 

What would life be without handy, comfortable illusionary images?

The closing quote has to be a line from “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”  “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. “

[Correction:  the Howard Hawks series has not concluded but continues at the Pacific Film Archive until mid April. Rio Bravowill screen Saturday, April 14, 2012, at 8 p.m.]

Now the disk jockey will play “the man who shot Liberty Valence,” “Do not forsake me oh my darlin’” (the Oscar winning theme song from “High Noon”) and the theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  We have to go get us a cup of celestial tea.  Have a “smile when you say that” type week.

Is it too late to review a 1940 movie?

March 2, 2012

In Howard Hawks’ 1940 film “His Girl Friday,” an unscrupulous, unethical newspaper editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant), will do anything to get things to happen his way.  In the film he uses his “anything goes” ethics to win back the love of his best reporter and former wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) who is, as the film begins, about to marry another man the next day.

Hawks took the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic journalism drama, “The Front Page,” and changed the basic plot into a screwball comedy with some sensationalism and contemporary issues dialogue thrown as elements of substantiating authenticity. 

As America drew closer and closer to involvement in the war in Europe, women such as Margaret Bourke-White and Martha Gellhorn struggled to establish a woman’s right to be employed as a “newsman.”  Hawks focused on the romance angle of his version of the story and let incidental issues such as race and pay get only quick lines to outline the (perfunctory) attempt to establish some sympathy for mitigating circumstances in the murder of a policeman.  Hildy’s marriage is scheduled on the same day as the murderer’s execution.

The film, which the Pacific Film Archive had scheduled to be the final installment of a Howard Hawks retrospective, was shown on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, and brought up the question:  How relevant could a 72 year old film about a declining industry be?

Since the film was shown at the same time that newspaper/broadcasting mogul Rupert Murdoch was being portrayed as an unscrupulous, unethical newspaper publisher who is  being investigated for using “anything goes” ethics to win readers and increase his profit margin, it turned out that the movie was not a night off, but required the World’s Laziest Journalist to put on his columnist hat and ask this question: What if a similar newspaper man were trying to manipulate American voters and change the Republicans’ choice for their Presidential nominee rather than win back the love of a top reporter?

Isn’t there a folk axiom that proclaims that “All is fair in love, war, and journalism!”?

Supporters of Murdoch will make the assertion that citizen journalists will be the Maginot Line insuring that shoddy journalism doesn’t become the norm in theUSA.  However the Myth of Sisyphus task for bloggers may be showing some signs of stress fatigue.  In the current issue of the East Bay Express, Rachel Swan (on page 10 of the hard copy edition) presents a story substantiating the idea that unpaid bloggers may be as effective as the Maginot Line was.  The subhead for her story reads:  “The blogs that were ‘making democracy work’ last year have largely fizzled out.”

When the Republicans unanimously started to use morality as the basis  for assessing the Blunt bill (to permit employers the right to withhold health benefits for employees on the grounds of religious freedom), earlier this week, did any voice in the mainstream media point out that such scrupulous attention to morality seemed conspicuously absent when liberals pointed out the large number of collateral damage deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

Does any unique pundit ask where is the morality when bankers, who have used faulty if not felonious paperwork for foreclosures, continue to toss American families out of their homes, are asked to hold off until the paperwork can be improved; they continue to foreclose at top speed?  Is that flagrant disregard for the sanctity of a family’s home in preference to profits a true example of the American politicians’ concept of family values? 

Can paid punditry’s continued effort to completely ignore the incongruity of the high moral tone for the birth control aspect of health care and at the same time the callus disregard for the morality of unrelenting foreclosure efforts mean that the professional writers are either really stupid or are they just unquestioningly subservient to the one percent media owners?

Does the fact that only a lose cannon, online columnist has the freedom to ask such impertinent questions, prove conclusively that the free press is extinct?  If that is the case, will Americans wait until listening to foreign broadcasts and reading dissenting opinions are capital offenses before they realize that the free press is as extinct as theCaliforniagolden bear?  Or will they cheerfully assert that the pathetic uniformity of conservative punditry is all they want or need to become well informed voters?

How did that work out in Germany in the Thirties? (Do a Google search for “VE 301”)

Is there some irony to be found in the fact that when Democrats are in the White House, the Conservatives are unanimous in their belief that criticism of the President must be unrelenting, but when George W. Bush was President, the conservatives assessed any criticism of Dubya as being unpatriotic? 

When FDR was in the White House did conservatives denigrate the Presidents constantly?  Wasn’t the very wide spectrum of voices in the political arena (when “His Girl Friday” was released) a vast assortment of differing points of view?  How diverse was the political debate inGermanyat that very same time?  Which style of diversity are the Republicans striving to duplicate?

In “His Girl Friday,” Hildy Johnson thought that Walter Burns’ extortion and bribery made him all the more lovable and by the film’s end, she was back in love with Burns.

When Rupert Murdoch’s choice for the Republican candidate in 2012 becomes known, the teabaggers may fall in love with Murdoch again, but the liberals might get a jolting dose of <I>déjà vu</I> that gives them a “Rick Santorum level of revulsion” reaction.

Have you noticed that the mainstream media seems to be in perfect harmony regarding the idea that Mitt Romney shouldn’t be handed the Republican Presidential nomination?  (The Stepford Pundits?)  Have all the paid political pundits (both liberal and conservative) started to sing the same song?  Where is the much vaunted “unique voice” that will point out the fact that all the calls for withholding the nomination seem to be written by the same author with little or no unique wording or phraseology inserted?

The Republicans started out with about a dozen potential candidates and now that Mitt is the frontrunner, he is being criticized for not getting a majority of the Republican primary votes.  Are the mainstream media hacks too dumb to see the correlation to the arguments supporting the “instant runoff” concept or are they being forbidden to wander into that line of reasoning? 

On Thursday, March 01, 2012, Andrew  Breitbart died and Uncle Rushbo was effusive in his praise for the conservative spokesman.  Limbaugh seemed on the verge of suggesting that Britebart be put on a catafalque and lay in state for a day or so in the rotunda of the Capital building in Washington D. C.  Was Andrew Breitbart more like Walter Burns and Rupert Murdoch or was he the modern day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow?  Which type of news reporter doesAmericawant/deserve?

Is the tendency to make sure that conservative pundits are liberally remunerated for their work but that altruism is deemed sufficient reward for leftist, a stealth way to make sure that the pundits eventually suffer burnout?  Isn’t it conservatives who glibly spout the sentiment that “Virtue is its own punishment”?

[In 1940, when “His Girl Friday” was playing in movie theaters across theUSA, the designs had been drawn and production of the weapons of war was beginning.  Pearl Harbor hadn’t happened yet, butAmericawas gearing up for war.  The USS Iowa had already been designed. 

The fact that photos of the Iowa visiting Richmond CA while slowly traveling to its new permanent home in the Los Angeles area will be used to illustrate this column rather than photos from various Occupy protest marches held on Thursday March 1, 2012 also illustrates how fatigue can inject a WTF factor into the contemporary online realm of column writing.]

Back when the number of words used determined the cost of sending a telegram, often meant that some words were dropped as a means for economizing.  A writer who wanted to know Cary Grant’s age for a story he was writing sent a telegram:  “How old Cary Grant?”  Grant’s answer to that question provided the closing quote for this column.  He replied:  “Old Cary Grant fine.  How you?”

Now the disk jockey will take us back in time by playing “Long ago and far away,” “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” and “The band played on.”  We have to go buy tickets to see “Fear and Loathing inLas Vegas,” again, at the Flashback film series.  Have a “stop the press!” type week.

“We just live in it . . .”

February 24, 2012

The assertion that President Obama may have botched his chance for reelection in November because he didn’t start a war during the week of February 19 to 25 may sound absurd as that week comes to an end, but how will the President’s spin specialists respond if, right before the 2012 Presidential Election is held, the Republican candidate tells the voters that it is too late to stop Iran from developing an atomic weapon and that the last chance to prevent that development came during the last full week in February?

Usually avoiding American involvement in a new war is portrayed as a wise course of action, but with the Republicans this year the standard rules of political conduct seem to be in disarray, if not total chaos, and that leaves open the chance that the candidate who eventually wins the Republican Party’s nomination and who will attempt to limit President Obama to one term in office may not hesitate to point back at the last full week in February of 2012 and say that was when President Obama had the last chance available to use a surgical military strike to put a halt to the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

During the week of February 19 to 25, pundits and or journalists suggested thatIranmight want to use a preemptive strike to protect their own country.  The news media in theUSAran a story suggesting thatIranhad individuals inside theUSAdoing scouting reports for possible terrorist activity. 

If a President has solid intelligence asserting that another country is going to launch a preemptive strike against theUSA, doesn’t that mean that the President should launch a preemptive strike against them to defendAmericafrom a new Pearl Harbor-type attack?

Some altruistic personalities were suggesting that the week would have been a good time to launch humanitarian air strikes againstSyriato protect their citizens in much the same way as the war for humanitarian reasons helped diminish the carnage inLibyalast year.

Now that the principle of war for humanitarian reason has been established (by President Obama) can any Democrat rationally defend a choice to skip waging a new war for humanitarian reasons? 

The Republicans love to frame the issues and debates for the Presidential elections and so if they make the assertion that a surgical strike against Iran should have been launched this past week, then the Presidential campaign might be based on the idea that the winner should be the one who can most duplicate the war-like attitude of George W. Bush.

Wouldn’t it be über-ironic if George W. Bush’s brother used that bit of inverted logic to win the Presidency in November of this year?

If President Obama doesn’t attack some country soon, his fall reelection campaign might sound like a flashback toSan Franciscoin the Sixties.  “Make Love, not War” and all that.

It seems that Occupy San Francisco has faded into history.  The Republicans love to treat a problem by removing the symptoms.  Where have all the Occupy Protesters gone?

Page one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Wednesday, February 22, 2012 edition, reported “Peter Cukor, 67, was killed at his home inBerkeleyminutes after reporting a trespasser.  Police were responding only to emergency calls at the time.”  Since the Berkeley Police Department was busy monitoring an Occupy Berkeley Protest, critics immediately demanded a complete investigation into the BPD response to the citizen’s call on the non-emergency line.

OccupyCalhas been moving a protest encampment around to different locations on theBerkeleycampus.

OccupyOakland, Occupy San Francisco, and Occupy Berkeley encampments have been dispersed.  The news media seems to have become distracted away from any questions about where the Occupy protesters have relocated. 

On Wednesday, February 22, 2012, the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP) had members of the local clergy present a letter to a representative of Wells Fargo Bank asking their bank to put a halt to foreclosure proceedings in the state of California until a study could determine if the paperwork had been done carefully and legally. 

Would the clergy’s protest have received more news media coverage if any of the Occupy groups had provided additional protesters?  There were no San Francisco Police Department officers in riot gear monitoring the possibility that the clergy protest might get out of hand and necessitate numerous arrests.

The Occupy San Francisco protesters have disappeared and news coverage of the possibility that the city will host theAmerica’s Cup yacht races has become the hot controversy for local political observers.

To some cynical observers, it may seem that the politicians inSan Franciscoare giving away too many concessions to various parties.  To others, theAmerica’s Cup races promises to bring additional tourist revenue to the area.

If some averageSan Franciscocitizens were to suddenly have the chance to do the tourist routine inFremantle,Western Australia, which would they rather see:  Bon Scott’s statue or the Museum with a yacht that won theAmerica’s Cup?

Recently the World’s Laziest Journalist noticed what seemed to be a T-shirt with a typo.  It read:  “Beat me up, Scotty!”  Then we realized that was aSan Francisco(Republican?) thing.

This week, folks in fog city learned that tickets would soon go on sale for a local venue for “<a href =http://shatnersworld.com/>Shatner’s World:  We just live in it</a>.”  Wasn’t that predicted ages ago by the Mayan calendar?

Former area resident (and columnist) Hunter S. Thompson has been quoted as saying:  “I wouldn’t recommend alcohol and drugs to anyone.  But they have always worked for me.”

Now the disk jockey will play The Iron Butterfly song “Beyond the Milky Way,” the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” and Scott McKenzie’s “What’s the Difference?”   We have to go see if flower power is still happenin’.   Have a Haight & Ashbury type week.

JEB, Karl Rove, and a brokered convention

February 17, 2012

IsAmericabeing set up for the return of the Bush Dynasty?  Has the legacy of Murrow’s Boys morphed into a shameless spectacle of his network’s modern on air talent kowtowing to the Republican Party in the form of stories about a political triumph that is being spun as a “compromise”?   

In the early morning hours on Thursday, KCBS news radio inSan Franciscoreported that the payroll tax cut had been extended because the Republicans folded on their insistence that it be balanced by corresponding budget cuts. 

Isn’t the “payroll tax cut” code talk for cutting back on workers’ contributions to the Social Security Trust fund?  Hasn’t destroying the Social Security program been the top Republican political goal since the day FDR signed it into law?

They get to take another major step towards dismantling the Social Security Program and make their dreams come true and a step to destroy (eliminate funding from) other social programs is postponed and that qualifies as a compromise?  GMAFB!

Hasn’t cutting social programs become the Sadistic highlight of the post St. Reagan era for the Republicans?  Wouldn’t gettingAmerica’s free press to applaud the trend just be icing on the cake?  Could the trend to cut social programs funding be compared to being the budgetary equivalent ofSherman’s march to the sea?

Isn’t portraying the lack of cuts as a humiliating compromise the final nail in the coffin forAmerica’s Freedom of the Press?

Do employees at Fox News really start the day by facing a photo of Murdoch, taking an loyalty oath, and then putting their hats over their hearts while singing along to “Memo from Turner”?  Or is that just an urban legend?

The World’s Laziest Journalist thinks that he remembers a posting on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website castigating American Journalists for using the dishonest “payroll tax cut” euphemism in place of the more politically charged term “raid on the Social Security Trust Fund.” 

In the conservative dominated realm of spin, ascertaining the truth in American Politics has come to resemble the classic chase scene in Orson Wells film “The Lady fromShanghai.”  Which image is political reality, which is diabolical spin?  Remember if you make a guess and it is incorrect, you will lose more of you rapidly diminishing supply of Constitutional rights.  (Good luck!) 

Hasn’t the pervasive Conservative noise machine pummeled Americans into surrendering their insistence that the function of the press is to provide citizens with accurate information that will permit them to make well informed decisions when they vote?  Isn’t amusing and entertaining what just what Edward R. Murrow and his posse, called Murrow’s Boys, really wanted?

Have you heard the radio ads that tout a method for getting a choice of approximately 500 American radio stations?  (Define “a hall of mirrors.”)  Should the ever narrowing window of opportunity for access to foreign news sources be compared to Hitler’s edict that proclaimed that listening to foreign radio stations had become a capital offense?

What would be so bad about listening to Sky Rock fromParis, Triple J fromAustralia, or (if it still exists) Radio Caroline?

Wasn’t there a book a while back in theUSA, with the cryptic title:  “Ladies and Gentlemen; this way to the showers!”?  What was that supposed to mean?

At the World’s Laziest Journalist’s Headquarters we thought we saw a mention on the Internets (and a story in last Sunday’s edition of the New York Times) about some newsmen getting arrested inGreat Britainbecause of a hacking scandal investigation.  Did we just imagine that?

Before Dubya sent American troops off toAfghanistanandIraq, the American Free Press ran “we don’t want anotherVietnam” essays on their Op Ed pages.  Now asAmericaprepares to use the principles established at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials outlining the necessary condition for permitting a preemptive strike, the lefties in the press realize that such divisive diversions are counter-productive and seem to have given up that lame attempt at circulation building stunt journalism. 

If Rupert Murdoch tells the journalists to jump, they must jump and ask “How high?” on the way up.

Americaestablished the principle of war for humanitarian reasons before authorizing drone attacks onLibya.  This week the need to send drones attacks againstSyriaas a means of protecting that country’s citizens from a bloodthirsty national leader is becoming abundantly clear thanks to the fair and balance new coverage being provided byAmerica’s Free Press.

Weren’t the trend spotting reporters in American Journalism right on top of the “Linsanity” phenomenon this week?  We may have to personally direct the Pulitzer Prize selection committee’s attention to some of the best of the lot.

Not all the work done at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is devoted to deep dark secret government plots against its own citizens.  One of the Factory’s midlevel management team, earlier this week, dug out an old item from long ago when he was only a summer intern there. 

According to his theory; if you take the segment of Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” documentary film where she ridiculed actor Kevin Costner and speculate that that incident must have occurred just about the time he (as Executive Producer for the film project called “The Bodyguard”) was making assessment about who should be given the role of the female singing sensation (what is type casting?); you just might come up with some speculation about how Whitney Houston’s big career boost was  directly attributable to some rudeness delivered by Madonna.  (Didn’t Madonna used to have some aspirations for an acting career to augment her musical achievements?)

This week Tony Bennett was given the key to the city in a ceremony atSan FranciscoCity Hall.  Some pre-event publicity indicated that part of the program would include the honoree singing “I Left My ♥ inSan Francisco.”  He didn’t.  (OMFG! Somebody has left the ♥ symbol loose on the Internets!  Now it will spread like the bubonic plague!)

The Occupy Cal rebel encampment on Sproul Plaza was moved to another area of the campus late this week.  (Note:  On Friday morning, it was being reported by an Occupy Potester that the encampment on the steps of Doe Library had been removed.  A Google News search was inconclusive.)

On Thursday, we saw news reports that stated that a brokered Republican Convention might be offered the choice of JEB Bush or Sarah Palin to function as a “tie-breaker.”

(How many Democrats will be dumb enough to believe that the Republican Party is ready to name a beauty contest winner as commander-in-chief of the American military?  {This is what mystery fans call “a red herring.”}) 

There is a bit of folk wisdom inHollywoodthat advises script writers to leave some “wiggle room” at the conclusion of a horror film, so that the monster can return in a sequel. 

Wasn’t there a bunch of news reports about the Bush Dynasty being as extinct as the dinosaurs when George W. Bush’s term in office was concluded?  Is Karl Rove going to pull an astonishing sequel scenario out of a hat this summer just as if American politics were as predictable as a Wes Craven movie sequel?

Are the liberal pundits inAmerica’s Free Press just going to sit there and not bring up the possibility of the political effort to reincarnate something that was deemed extinct? 

If this column isn’t reprinted on the Op Ed page of the New York Times next week, maybe the World’s Laziest Journalist should try to contact the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney (New South Wales) and see if there’s any possibility of being a guest lecturer there before the November election.  Don’t people into scholarship value alternative viewpoints . . . especially if in retrospect they were spot-on?

To be continued .  . .

FormerSan Franciscocolumnist Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary included this entry:  “<I>Cynic</I>, n. a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be.”

Now, the disk jockey will play The Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” Janis Joplin’s “Down on me,” and Quicksilver Messenger Service’s “Holy Moly.”  We have to go to the poster shop and get the one of the flying Mustang from “Bullitt.”  Have a “Make Love, not war” type week.

Wanna see my snapshots?

March 4, 2014
More slap art

More slap art

Photo for column

January 26, 2014

DSCN4014_29641BusvsBike14Jan26

This should be with my next column, if I figure out the html riddle.

“It’s a cook book!” JFK, Castro, and Obama

August 9, 2013

Living a week under the condition red alert was a flashback to the good old days when lefty pundits could criticize George W. Bush for his policies rather than having to exert some effort to defend President Obama for doing what Dubya did while he was in the White House.  At least the week long condition red alert took the focus off the NSA’s (alleged) unnecessary monitoring of various means of communication.

 

If Obama is busy doing the same thing George W. Bush did, how can the people who criticized Bush defend Obama?  Likewise, how can the Republicans who defended Dubya attack Obama?  Isn’t there a kind of demon who suddenly becomes the exact opposite of what it was perceived to be? 

 

Do the pundits who criticized the Bush plan to do some electronic snooping in the name of Homeland Security have any grounds for praising Obama for doing the same thing?  Do the Republican propagandists have any logical way to denounce Obama for using the old Bush era “Red Alert” ruse to defuse the topic as a subject for a debate?

 

Journalism is (theoretically) supposed to fact check the politicians so that the citizens can make a well informed decision at the voting polls.  Unfortunately, it is up to consumers of news media to do their own fact checking and now both parties seem to be willing accessories after the fact for the murder of quality journalism in the country that spawned Murrow’s Boys.

 

Doesn’t it make sense that a party of greedy capitalists, who endorsed the con man attitude of caveat emptor, would encourage journalism to morph from an obsession with truth into an endless source of doubletalk that bamboozles the rubes?  We wonder what the Democrats’ explanation could possibly be.

 

If a pundit with access to the Timer Travel Machine were to travel back to 2006 and announce that in 2013 a Democratic President would be wrestling with the tantalizing possibility of adding Syria to the list of American quagmires, such a hypothetical columnist would be hauled off and forced to endure a cooling off period of psychiatric evaluation. 

 

On Thursday, August 08, 2013, Uncle Rushbo was kvetching about the fact that Obama’s first nationally televised comments about the new Terrorists’ Threat came on the Tonight Show.

 

Uncle Rushbo can’t bitch about Obama doing what Dubya used to do because that might prove to be inconvenient in 2016 when JEB is running as the Republican Party nominee for President, so he has to use attacks on the personal level to criticize the President.  Hence he was saying the appearance on the Tonight Show diminished the Presidency. 

 

Rush specifically mentioned that John F. Kennedy did not go on the Tonight Show, back when Jack Paar was the host, to tell the nation about his assessment of the Cuban Missile Crises.  Limbaugh either chose to forget or didn’t know that Fidel Castro did go on the Tonight Show, after deposing Fugencio Batista, to make overtures to Washington.  Facts are just pesky details for “America’s Anchorman.” 

 

Rush questioned Jay Lenno’s credentials for being a Journalist rather than a stand up comic.  Limbaugh said “I’m not being critical of Leno at all.  And I was not at all surprised that Leno would ask better questions than the White House press corps does.”

Quoting something that Chris Cillizza, wrote in the Washington Post, Limbaugh continued:  “As we have written before in this space, the idea that a serious journalist can’t have fun is not one that’s broadly held by the people who, you know, consume our journalism. Leno’s interview with Obama proves that the opposite is also true; that a ‘fun’ person can also be serious.”

[Could the World’s Laziest Journalist humbly suggest that when journalism takes a break from being oh-so-serious, it should be dubbed “Leprechaun Jorunalism”? ]

 

When it seemed like Limbaugh was going to address the issue of what makes a good journalist, he veered away from that interesting topic.  (We could do an entire column on that topic.)

Bringing the focus of the rant back to himself Uncle Rushbo continued:  “ . . . I do something that you don’t find elsewhere in the media.  I combine the serious discussion of issues with irreverent satirical comedy, with credibility on both sides.”  Isn’t the both sides contention often contradicted when Uncle Rushbo abruptly cuts off a liberal caller?

Was Uncle Rushbo intimating that Journalism should be one sided rants that can (as Fox has established in court) tell lies with a cogent punch line thrown in to prove that Conservatives have a sense of humor?  Fox tried to establish a Jon Stewart type of late night comedy punditry amalgamation of entertainment but failed to achieve acceptable ratings.  (John Douglas, a pioneer FBI profiler, has said that a frequent hallmark for serial killers is a strange sense of humor that many folks “don’t get.”)  Would Uncle Rushbo maintain that he is a better journalist than Hunter S. Thompson was?

 

We wonder what percentage of the audience for Uncle Rushbo, Hanity, and O’Reilly go to the bother of doing any fact checking about what they have heard.  How many ditto heads have read the book “Out Foxed,” let alone make the effort to see the movie of the same name?

 

In 2006, to the best of our ability to discern, no American journalist had bothered to fact check what had been said at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial nor had any of the modern day versions of Murrow’s Boys bothered to ask a participant of the WWII War Crimes Trails if they saw any evidence to indicate that George W. Bush may have (inadvertently) been seen in a harsh light if the standards of conduct applied retroactively to the Germans were used to evaluate the legality of Bush’s war policies.

 

The challenge facing Republican strategy policy makers in 2006 was to find a way to get the Democrats to slowly accept and implement the Bush program without it seeming to be a sell-out of the Trojan horse school of clever political maneuvers.

 

Obviously any pundit who pointed out existence of such a deception would be denounced as a raving lunatic from the most recent graduating class in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory training class for new employees. 

 

According to Uncle Rushbo, President Obama, who was highly visible in the “hands on” mode of being the Commander-in-Chief when Osama bin Laden was being snuffed, went into stealth mode of operation on the night that the raid on the Americans in Benghazi was happening.  Are the conservatives hinting that this could be Monica 2.0?  Are the liberal pundits faking a lack of comprehension?  “What, me worry?” 

 

Attack the man, because the liberals can’t attack Obama for continuing the Bush agenda.  If they did, that might be inconvenient when JEB get the nomination in 2016.

 

Are Americans supposed to believe a short radio segment riddled with unfacts and bumper sticker slogans rather than assiduously working their way through a complex and scholarly rebuttal?  If that’s an accurate assessment how long will it be before they start thinking that they are oh-so-clever when they ask the question:  “Sock it to me?”?

 

Uncle Rushbo gets very upset when lefty pundits use personal attacks on him, yet he has no qualms about attacking the President and charging him with demeaning the Presidency by talking to Jay Lenno. 

 

When Uncle Rushbo is attacked personally, he usually responds with a counterattack that brings the lefty a fulfillment of Andy Warhol’s promise.  Should an obscure online pundit who wrote about a chance encounter with a War Crimes Trials expert and an earlier analysis of the American lead prosecutor’s opening statement at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial launch a vitriolic personal attack against Uncle Rushbo in the hopes of getting a tsunami of negative publicity for his efforts?

 

As the summer of 2013 peaks, attempts to provide rational discourse for political issues is about as difficult an assignment as it would be to get a rabid Dodgers fan to go see the Giants host a three game home series with their archrival and convincing this fellow to “root for the home team.”

 

It ain’t gonna happen.

                                                                                                         

That, in turn, may explain why Jay Lenno and John Stewart are becoming more important to politicians than interviews on the network news programs.

 

When a hallmark Bush gambit becomes part of Obama’s repetoir of ploys, some pundits may realize that the situation is similar to that moment when the home team’s fans head for the parking lot in the 7th inning.  At that point some mildly amusing (forget about perceptive and cogent) punditry has been put out of read.

 

[Note from the photo editor:  A file shot of a man using an 8 X 10 camera seemed to illustrate our topic of looking for the Zeitgeist for this week.  Quality Journalism has become a thing of the past, as have view cameras.  Both are missed by aficionados.]

 

Ned Kelly said it best:  “Such is life.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play the Speedies song  “Let me take your Photo,” the Who’s “Pictures of Lily,” and Paul Simon’s “Kodachrome.”  We have to go see if we can buy a West Coast Eagles t-shirt.  Have a “your mother wears combat boots” type week.

In search of Déjà vu in Berkeley

August 2, 2013

 

As political protests in Berkeley go, last Saturday afternoon’s rally of citizens protesting the sale of the Post Office facility in the downtown area didn’t seem to be a chance to watch history in the making but then we were told that something else would happen after the speeches and music were concluded.  We were provided a hint that it would be similar to an Occupy event.  On a summer day, when it is cloudy and chilly the appeal of going to a political protest in Berkeley that wouldn’t be something that folks would be talking about for years to come (the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car is rapidly approaching) was not exactly overwhelming but on the other hand no other choice seemed better.

 

There were three TV trucks there and that indicated that the event did have some news value.  The number of TV trucks can equate to the news level of an event and we have seen perhaps as many as 10 trucks in Oakland for an Occupy Oakland event.  We lament our lapse in penny pinching judgment that caused us to skip the chance to buy a souvenir T-shirt at the “Camp OJ” convention of TV trucks in Los Angeles, some time back.

 

Experience from Occupy events indicated that any effort to remove the tents which were pitched on the Berkeley Post Office front steps would come either after dark or perhaps at dawn on Sunday, so we considered the array of possibilities our solo news organization efforts could select because it was obvious that eventually there would be a photo op for the removal of the protesters.  When not if. 

 

There was a lingering feeling of familiarity to the impending news event and it wasn’t just the Occupy events we had witnessed.

 

We weren’t too enthusiastic about the possibility that we could inadvertently need a friend to post bail if we got too close to a melee on a quiet Sunday morning, but we seemed compelled by more than curiosity to take a look-see early the next day.

 

Then we had a flashback.  Vietnam Veterans camped out in the lobby of the Wadsworth Veterans Hospital in the Westwood Section of Los Angeles back in 1981.  A summer co-worker at the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers was a young fellow who was majoring in photojournalism in college and we advised him to monitor the events at the hospital very closely.

 

Leaving for work an hour early to swing by the protest and see what new developments had occurred became a part of the daily routine for both of us.  One particular morning, two or three TV trucks but no still photographers were documenting the removal of the vets from the hospital lobby.  Our young coworker took some photos and they were used by AP.  In his Junior year he had a portfolio that included his work appearing on the front pages of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times.   He got a summer intern job at a daily newspaper in the L. A. area the next year.  We took a shot that turned out to be the only news photo (that we know of) that we’ve taken that appeared in the New York Times.

 

Didn’t the Wadsworth event bring world wide attention to the lack of care that was being provided to the Vietnam vets?   We thought that perhaps our next column might ponder the fact that the “never again” meme is always forgotten, new wars are started, and vets always have to protest to get better care despite the patriotic sentiments expressed as they marched off to the various battlefields around the world.

 

There have been stories online indicating that the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plants was much more serious than reported and we thought that skipping the plight of the Berkeley PO and writing about the thereat of radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean might be an good alternative.  Then we realized that the radio active debris story is being totally stonewalled by the mainstream media.  Could it be that the story is so negative that the chance that young folks might, if they realized “we’re all gonna die!,” go completely out of control and precipitate an “end of the world” orgy of excess is the real underlying cause of the news embargo on radioactive leaks? 

 

While attending the Saturday event at the Berkeley Post Office we noticed that several other activists tried to hijack the media’s attention with their cause.  Postcards were collected and sent to Bradley Manning.  The prisoner hunger strike was mentioned.  Concerned voters were encouraged to support the efforts of workers promoting the gay marriage and abortion causes.

 

During the week we listened to Armstrong and Getty and noticed a curious phenomenon concerning money.  The “hottest show on the West Coast” pointed out the hilarious aspect of the Detroit going bankrupt story and the possibility that workers would lose their pensions.  Detroit’s financial plight can be, according to conservative thinking, traced back to the greed of the union workers.  The “greed” motive is being mentioned as the ultimate cause of the need for a resumption of the BART strike in the San Francisco area.  The BART strike will resume on Monday.

 

Unions tried, in the past, to get money so that union members could live comfortably while raising a family and sending their kids to college and then enjoy retirement living.  Now, however, union workers who want a living wage are deemed greedy but billionaires who have more money than they will be able to spend in their lifetime need to be given more tax breaks so that they can have even more money.  Perhaps we should write a column elaborating this economic disparity.

 

We noticed this week that Uncle Rushbo has been eliminated from the lineup of about forty radio stations around the country.  (Is the classic rock format making a comeback?)  We wonder if he ever noticed our column that warned him that when all the liberal leftist voices are eliminated from the American pop culture scene, the fat cats won’t want to pay Uncle Rushbo his enormous salary if there is no socialist propaganda that needs to be drowned out. 

 

Won’t the tax cut hungry billionaires eventually deem Uncle Rushbo’s annual salary as an example of worker’s greed?  Can’t the radio executives find a new younger voice that will deliver the same seductive propaganda for a much smaller salary?  Isn’t Uncle Rushbo in a union?  Wouldn’t he, philosophically speaking, endorse an effort to disrupt his career and retirement plans by replacing him with non-union talent who would do the same pronucicating for a lot less money?

 

Recently we decided that it was time to take a night off and get away from political disputes, so we journeyed to a meeting of a local club for folks who like to pan for gold.  The effort of Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), to pan some gold, as seen in the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” has been a leitmotif in our life since childhood.  The club meeting that we attended was devoted almost entirely to examining legal issues of the utmost importance to the club members.  Out comes the pen and the reporter’s notebook.  Scratch the idea of a night off.  There is one web site where many of the legal issues are listed and so now we have another topic in our “future columns” in box.  To get an idea of just how legally complexities are getting the attention of those hobbyists, take a look at the issues being discussed on the Western Mining Alliance (dot com) web site.

 

One professor at Berkeley has done a remarkable job of collecting information about the history of what the WPA did during the Great Depression (Please do not call it the Republican Depression!).  We’ve mentioned, in a previous column, that he is trying to promote the idea of a brick and mortar location for a New Deal Museum.  Perhaps if we do an entire column devoted to that topic then the feature assignment editor at the New York Times might give the effort some national publicity?  His scholarship can be seen on the livingnewdeal dot org web site.

 

Some of the peaceniks in Berkeley think that Bradley Manning should have been commended for following the moral advice delivered to the German war criminals in the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials but they conveniently overlook the fact that Manning isn’t in the German Army!

 

More than fifty years ago, Berkeley resident Philip K. Dick was writing novels predicting a fictional government spying on its own citizens. 

 

As of 10 a.m. PDT on Friday August 2, 2013, the Occupy the Berkeley Post Office steps protest was still protesting the proposed sale of the property.

 

[Note from the photo editor:  For a photographer, who was told “it’s a great picture but it generates too much sympathy for the anti-war crowd” when AP passed on the chance to buy a Vietnam War protest photo in December of 1966, the potential of taking some career making protest photos in 2013 only evokes a strong déjà vu reaction.] 

 

St. Ronald Reagan is reported to have said:  “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”

 

Now, since the theme of nostalgia has been recurring in this column, the disk jockey will play some songs that get automatic memory associations from the World’s Laziest Journalist.  Hearing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you outta my head” will always make us feel like we are back in Australia.  The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the city” always takes us back to NYC in the summer of 1966.  Then he will play Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay.”  We have to go see the Peter Stackpole photo exhibition at the California Museum in Oakland.  Have a “Temps perdu” type week. 

 

Scandals, baby, and a burning oil rig

July 26, 2013

[<B> Note:  The legal department insisted that this column be clearly labeled as a work of fiction and attempt at achieving humor so that it would be exempted from the ministrations of a member of the fact checkers’ union.</B>]

 

Since JEB Bush and Hillary Clinton both have such a commanding lead in the mad scramble for their respective party’s Presidential nomination, the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization conducted some polling to asses the likely winner of the (hypothetical?) expected 2016 match-up and have determined that the race is, at this point, too close to call.

 

Mrs. Clinton, a former Little Rock Arkansas housewife, became known during Obama’s Second Term for her efforts to establish a political strategy consulting firm in Washington D. C.  Then she decided to become her own top client and run for President.

 

JEB Bush, who has been Governor of Florida, is a recognized authority on academic matters and he runs a Journalism consulting firm which lists Fox as its top client.  He also has been a top military advisor for the fellow who occupied the White House before the Obama Recession devastated the American economy.  JEB, before he entered politics in Florida, was a famous musician who might be best known as a pioneer in the mariachi surf sound because of his no. one hits “Swimming to Miami,” “Alligators in El Paso,” and “Deficit wipeout!”

 

Speaking of Florida’s and America’s political future, the Astrology desk at the World’s Laziest Journalist News Organization is predicting that Congressman George Zimmerman, who was a famous crime fighter before he entered politics, will win reelection to a second term in the 2016 general elections.

 

Conspiracy Theory aficionados are speculating about the possibility that an investigation is needed regarding their suspicion that a bit of a combination psy-ops and jury tampering might have occurred in conjunction with the George Zimmerman acquittal.

 

Liz Cheney has upset some Republicans by announcing that she would like to run for the Senate from Wyoming.  When her father suddenly announced that he had concluded that the best running mate for George W. Bush should be Dick Cheney some curmudgeonly Democrats objected because the rules specifically state that the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate can not be from the same state.  Dubya was a Texan and the Dickster was living in Texas, but when the objections were raised . . . faster than you can say “Poof be gone!,” Dick Cheney was suddenly a Wyoming resident.  Why shouldn’t the same magical logic apply to his daughter?

 

Speaking of forgotten past news items, this week in San Francisco a bicyclist was charged with vehicular manslaughter and the case was being described as a first.  Wasn’t there a pedestrian killed by a bicyclist on Ocean Front Walk at the Venice Beach back about 1978 or 79?  Didn’t the AP move a photo on the wire (at least for a regional split) of a related protest? 

 

Did anyone else notice that in the last full week of July 2013, both the Uncle Rushbo and the Norman Goldman/Mike Malloy factions of talk radio seemed (cue the Hallelujah Chorus song) to be in agreement about one thing:  Americans don’t care about the birth of a kid who might be the King of England 65 years from today.  Heck the American media seems this week to be ignoring the trials and tribulations for one of Michael Jackson’s kids.  Back in the day couldn’t he make world headlines by holding his kid over the edge of a balcony.  Are news editors that fickle?

 

The Armstrong and Getty radio show criticized CBS Evening News for using the royal birth as a lead item.  Apparently the CBS news team doesn’t care about the fact that Iraq has been determined to be in a state of Civil War (should the USA send troops?) and that Syria’s Civil War may also need some American troops.  It’s as if CBS had sent a guy to cover the Battle of Britain and he sent back a report about how the Princess was handing out candy bars in an air raid shelter.  Wouldn’t CBS have wanted something more hard news-ish?   One day soon, won’t the “Peace in our time” era be celebrating its 75th anniversary?

 

This weeks news story about another accident involving an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that we have intended to write to the Columbia Journalism Review and ask them if the continuing series of ads proclaiming that British Petroleum has helped the Gulf area return to normal, which accompany the CBS Evening News Broadcasts seen in the San Francisco Bay area are seen in the same context around the USA and does that constitute a conflict of interest?  If the phrase Ethics in Journalism isn’t an oxymoron, then could the folks that teach journalism consider the BP ads an example of applying the “hide in plain sight” principle to the concept of bribery? 

 

Should the Columbia Journalism Review call CBS out for a conflict of interest?  Maybe we’ll send the URL for this column to the editor of that publication and ask about that.

 

Was there any other criticism this week of CBS Evening New that we missed?

 

Private Eye, a publication in Great Britain, epitomized the prevalent opinion for most Americans with their headline:  “Woman has baby.”

 

We have heard an unconfirmed report that the folks who participated in the Occupy movement are planning on having a reunion in Kalamazoo soon.  Our reaction to that was to suggest that a famous Kalamazoo resident should come out of retirement and help them with a benefit concert. 

 

Isn’t the “Elvis isn’t dead” exhibit in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s Hall of Fame a perennial favorite with the tourists who are granted the rare privilege of a tour of the facility’s campus?

 

Why is there so much secrecy surrounding the annual “Conspiracy Theory of the Year” award ceremony?

 

Some dismal Democrats are asserting that Detroit’s bankruptcy ploy is a shameful attempt to destroy the pensions for people who worked for that city all their lives.  The Democrats say destroying lives and stealing pension funds as if that were bad.  In a country with a large contingent of homeless citizens, isn’t it appropriate to have voters’ attention focused on a city full of empty and abandoned homes?

 

If a Republican politician is caught in a sex scandal he can just ignore it and win reelection, but if a Democrat is accused, an immediate resignation becomes a matter of national honor. 

 

The drugs in baseball scandal seems to be a news story on steroids and it won’t go away.

 

The stalled bridge story in the San Francisco Bay area might win national attention if some New York based editors ever stop to think that perhaps the crumbling interstructure meme has gone to the extreme and the West Coast Oakland Bay Bridge stall out story may soon be used to exemplify the idea that America is now building new bridges that are already unsafe the day they are opened. 

 

We have been reading some political history and apparently up until 1946 the Thirties were called The Republican Depression.  After the end of WWII, the Republicans renamed it the Great Depression and folks like Dick Nixon won elections in large numbers.  The communist hunting California congressman won his seat in Congress in a district that had been home to a fellow who had scored high on the liberal side of the conservative vs. liberal measurement scale.  See how well a good bit of spin can work?

 

In a week where the bitching about the NSA surveillance of e-mails and phone calls was seeping into some Republican talking points, no one suggested that if the snooping is as good as its proponents say it is, then perhaps the NSA will finally be able to figure out who made huge profits on the short sale of airline stocks at the time the World Trade Center was attacked.

 

It seems like the World’s Laziest Journalist will, once again this year, miss the Hemingway Days festivities in Key West.

 

[Note from the photo editor:  There were a good number of historic photo opportunities happening lately but getting some photos of a rally that protested the verdict in the George Zimmerman trail was the only event we were able to attend and photograph, hence our ability to select the best frame to accompany this column was a bit limited.  We did the best we could with the resources we had.]

 

Anton Chekhov has been quoted as saying:  “The word “newspaper-writer” means, at very least, a scoundrel.” 

 

For no particular reason the disk jockey wanted to play us out with songs about drinking in Mexico so he will play Heino’s song “In einer Bar in Mexico,” Marty Robin’s “El Paso,” and Waylon and Willies’ “Clean Shirt.”  We have to go celebrate Mick Jagger’s 70th birthday.  Have a “get off my cloud” type week.

 

http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/50824/polls-politicians-and-petroleum

 

http://bartblog.bartcop.com/?p=14181

 

What everybody is talking about this week (in the SF area).

July 19, 2013

 

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/50707/justice-yachts-and-journalism

 

http://bartblog.bartcop.com/?p=14159

 

 

[<B>Due to austerity budget measures the services of the fact checker have been eliminated for this column.</B>]

 

A very wealthy conservative who is upset with the impact the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage will have on family values has decided to form a corporation and will hire a bevy of extremely attractive young ladies to fill the board of directors and will then marry that person/corporation. His law staff assured him that it will be legal since corporations are people and since the definition of marriage has been expanded far beyond the limitations of “between a man and a woman,” his marriage might offend some liberals who preach family values, but it will be a legal marriage.  He expects that some private tapes of his romps with the board of directors might actually win some adult film awards and that a reality TV show deal is a “gimme.”  What young couch potato wouldn’t enjoy the vicarious experiences of an old curmudgeon with the power to hire, fire, and manage a de facto harem?

 

Great Britain announced this week that the Queen has decreed that gay marriages will be legal.

 

Speaking of “family values,” the Armstrong and Getty radio show assures listeners that the mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, will become famous nationally because of his hypocrisy regarding sexual exploitation.

 

Another news item about Sonoma County Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who may be charged because of a weekend incident, was featured on that radio show because it made a Democratic Party politician look like a family values hypocrite.

 

Paul Krassner’s opinion, awhile back, in The Realist magazine that the Democratic and Republican political parties in the USA were examples of the old “identical twins separated at birth” phenomenon caused extreme skepticism when we read those words.  After last weekend, when the Republicans hailed the verdict for the George Zimmerman trail and President Obama shrugged it off with a comment about how the jury had spoken, we noted that our opinion of Krasner’s insight will have to be revised to a much higher level of esteem.

 

On the 8 a.m. CBS radio network news broadcast for Tuesday, July 16, 2013, listeners were informed about a violent reaction to the verdict in the Zimmerman trail occurred in a franchise for a well known fast food hamburger chain in Los Angeles CA.  Folks who actually live in that berg don’t need to hear Jack Webb doing a voice over capsule description of their home town to know that more than one franchise operates in that large metropolitan area and that the specifics about which particular one was the scene of the fracas would be a relevant fact that should have been included in the news item.

 

The CBS audience also heard about another facet of the nation’s reaction to the verdict and was told that a third night of unrest had occurred in Oakland.  Since it was a chilly gray overcast day the chance to run down to the Oakland City Hall area and see if we could get some photographs of the clean-up efforts for possible use with a weekend wrap-up column seemed like a constructive way to pass the time.  Some mediocre news photos were not worth using.

 

On Tuesday night, we went down to the City Hall area of Oakland for a personal inspection of the potential trouble spot.  There were about two dozen people assembled there at 7 p.m. with four TV trucks and a large contingent of police standing by to handle any unlawful conduct.

 

On Wednesday night CBS Evening News did a feature story on the Civil War battle at Fort Wagner in Charleston harbor.  They noted that one fellow was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor (which he received many years later in the mail) but didn’t tell their viewers that the Fifty Forth Massachusetts Regiment, the first black unit recruited in the North, was engaged in a dispute over equal pay when they were given the assignment to attack Fort Wagner, which was, according to Otto Friedrich’s article titled “the Trial of Sergeant Walker,” a virtual suicide order.  A fellow who was a hero in that battle, Sergeant William Walker, was later executed for mutiny sparked by the equal pay dispute.  This week probably was a bad time to publicize any facts about American History containing any instances of racism.

 

In an episode of “An American in England,” broadcast in 1942, which, according to Joseph E. Persico’s biography of Edward R. Murrow, was “a time when black GI’s were being lynched by white American soldiers for dating English girls,” hinted that there was some animosity based on racism occurring between the members of the American military stationed in Great Britain during WWII.

 

Speaking of racism and the military, until recently we had never heard of “the Double V” campaign, now we see that Bloomsburg Press has just published Rawn James, Jr.’s book titled “The Double V:  How Wars, Protests and Harry Truman desegregated America’s Military.”

 

The public’s enthusiasm for the America’s Cup Races, which are being conducted on San Francisco Bay, has failed to generate a massive amount of interest for local sports fans.  Some of the contests have been described as one boat races, which might tend to diminish the amount of illegal wagering those contests could generate.  Not to worry, any financial shortfall caused by lower than expected attendance and related revenues will be covered by the local taxpayers.  San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll Wednesday wrote:  “Conspicuous consumption, the kind represented by the extremely pricey – and useless for anything else – America’s Cup boats is sort of rude in this era of austerity.” 

 

We have been told that the one boat races are the equivalent of the timing of practice laps for a car race that are used to determine the starting positions for the participants in the race.  The intrigue factor for a lone boat sailing on the bay isn’t quite as appealing as a chance to get an up close look at fast cars vying for the pole position at the Indianapolis 500.

 

After being acquitted of the charges that Lizzie Borden used an ax to chop up her parents, did she convert her fame into a fortune?  Isn’t becoming a pop culture star the ultimate step in the process of the rehabilitation of a person suspected of criminal activity?

 

[Note from the photo editor:  Photos that were more feature-ish than hard news were taken on Tuesday night July 16 in Oakland at a verdict protest rally.  For a photographer, who was offering anti-war protest photos to AP 47 years ago, less dramatic photos of protest signs taken earlier this week were good enough.  (The writer, who claims to be 28 year old, might have to remind readers at this point that this column has not been approved by a member of the fact checker union.)]

 

Homer Simpson has been quoted as saying “I didn’t do it.  Nobody saw me do it.  You can’t prove a thing.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play Girls with Guns’ song “Girls with guns,” Elton John’s “I feel like a bullet (in the gun of Robert Ford),” and Ry Cooder’s “The Girls from Texas.”  We have to do some fact checking to learn what Peaches said to Browning.  Have an “Oxbow Incident free” type week.

Isn’t turnabout fair play?

July 12, 2013

It’s time to post the columnist’s annual summer reading suggestions

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/bob-patterson/50571/spy-vs-spy-wwii-version

 

http://bartblog.bartcop.com/?p=14145

 

Don’t have the link for Op Ed News yet

 

 

 

War protest sign in Berkeley CA

 

“The Irregulars:  Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in wartime Washington” by Jennet Conant (© 2008 by Jennet Conant Simon & Schuster New York N.Y.) is a handy book to have around if you just happen to be surrounded by peacniks in Berkeley who are outraged by the fact that the United States, the country that saved Great Britain with desperately needed supplies for use during the Battle of Britain, has been conducting monitoring of the Internets and phone calls to protect the world from terrorists. 

 

Roald Dahl, who introduced the concept of tiny malicious creatures called Gremlins, was a wounded war hero who was reassigned to diplomatic duties in Washington to help the American President (FDR) decide to break his campaign pledge to not send American boys to fight in Europe’s war by waging an extensive public relations effort via planted stories in the American media to convince the citizens that duty and honor compelled a reversal of the popular (with Americans) policy of non intervention.

 

The pilot and war time casualty was also dashingly handsome and so seducing American Congressional representative Clare Booth Luce (AKA Mrs. Henry “Time magazine” Luce) was part of Dahl’s mission because issues such as cabotage in the post war world were at stake due to the small print in the Lend Lease agreement.

 

The Brits were also more than a little curious about what faction of the French government in exile would be favored by the Americans.  Would FDR be more partial to General de Gaulle or would he favor General Henri Giraud?  Could stories be planted in the American media to swing the choice in de Gaulle’s favor?

 

Fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain was a highly touted motivation but when it came time to consider an end to colonialism after the war, enthusiasm waned.  If the French didn’t retain ownership of French Indo China after the war would that be a bad omen for the country that owned and operated India as a colony?

 

Having troops in Vietnam during WWII was a great tactical advantage for Japan.  Detailed explanations of how they gained the use of that bit of territory for use by their troops when they fought to take control of places like Burma is usually missing from books about the run up to the War in the Pacific.

 

Otto Friedrich’s 1989 book “the Grave of Alice B. Toklas” also came to our attention this summer and his 1959 article “How to be a war correspondent” was fascinating because it recounted how Friedrich “covered” the war in French Indo China from Paris.  The main challenge was to add phrases such as “wade through turbulent flood-swollen streams,” “knife through sweltering jungles,” and “fighter bombers zooming low” to statistic laden French government press releases handed out in Paris to inform American readers about the progress the fight against a Communist take over in Asia was progressing.

 

Friedrich revealed the secret of being a war correspondent in a far away nation:  “The outside world needs nothing more than a few announcements of enemy casualties and an occasional declaration that the ‘terrorists’ are on the run.”  Don’t the French have a saying about how things never change?

 

Sunday will be Bastille Day and so this week might be a good time to finish reading our bargain used copy of “Americans in Paris:  Life and Death under Nazi Occupation 1940 – 44,” by Charles Glass.

 

Edward Snowden is in the news this summer and is being accused of treason for revealing information that has been widely known for years.  Since Hans Fallada’s “Every man dies alone” is a cautionary tale about the futility of opposing a government committed to war, we wanted to flip though it again.  It is a fictional retelling of the story of a German couple who left postcards critical of Hitler all over Berlin in the early Forties.  Mostly all of their work was turned over to the Gestapo and proved to be useless.  The hapless war protesters were executed.  Will the real life source for this novel become the patron saints for the bloggers who have been critical of the foreign policy used by both the George W. Bush and Barrack H. Obama administrations? 

 

Book reviewers for the mainstream media have a fiduciary motivation for reading an assigned book all the way through as quickly as possible, but a columnist who is just trying to find a new column topic and simultaneously do some reading for entertainment purposes tends to use a pile of books in the same cavalier way that a couch potato uses his remote clicker.

 

The World’s Laziest Journalist may read a chapter in Lenny Bruce’s “How to talk dirty and influence people,” then pick up Camus’ “The Rebel” and flip through it to see if any of the underlined passages will proved a closing quote for this week’s column, and then because Hunter S. Thompson’s 75th birthday will be July 18, it might be a good idea to go back over the highlighted passages that follow the classic line:  “We were somewhere around Barstow when the drugs began to take hold.”

 

Perhaps we should reread Hemingway’s short story “the Killers” and then do a parody for a column that would compare the Social Security program to Ole Anderson?

 

Berkeley and San Francisco both offer  parsimonious book readers a wealth of bargain opportunities for used book buyers and since Berkeley is known for being liberal and also is home for a very respected school of Journalism, we have acquired (for a modest cost) a vast array of books that offer a very critical analysis of the Bush Administration written (mostly) by well known names from the realm of American Journalism.

 

When future historians look back on the wide assortment of voices warning Americans of impending disaster, they will have to wrestle with the question of why the citizens, in the face of overwhelming number of Cassandra voices, reelected George W. Bush.  Perhaps some future historian will propose a full length book that attempts to see it as an entire nation contending (subconsciously?) with a death wish?

 

Which brings us to the nagging question of the week:  “If Rupert Murdock can use hacking to get scoops, why can’t the NSA monitor e-mails and phone calls to keep the free world safe from terrorists?”

 

The topic of impending disaster brings us back to the large number of books dealing with the events just prior to America’s entry into WWII when Roald Dahl would have to do his spying on the USA.

 

Many of America’s future journalism movers and shakers toured Europe and were inspired to write dire warnings about the implications of the Spanish Civil War and the threat Hitler represented.

 

Low information voters were too occupied by the task of getting a job during the latter stages of the Great Depression to pay close attention to and try to critically analyze the implications of the war in Ethiopia and the Spanish Civil War.

 

The children from the low information households would provide the essential manpower for fighting the war that the vagabonding journalists saw on the horizon, so maybe the people who were flocking to see “Gone with the Wind” should have paid more attention to the efforts being produced by the multitude of foreign correspondents churning out content for America’s newspaper readers.

 

The folks in the San Francisco Bay area are being informed that the opening of the new Bay Bridge will have to be delayed while the authorities address the issue of some safety violations.  Will any writer tackle a book assignment sometime in the future for elaborating the real challenge?  The politicians know that the project has to be completed.  What can be done to make that happen in such a way that the only people vulnerable to legal proceedings will be the mid level managers if a disaster strikes in the future?  Aye, lad, there’s the rub.

 

The new issue of the East Bay Express contains an article by Darwin BondGraham, titled “BART’s lead negotiator has a history of illegal behavior.”  It only strengthens our hunch that the true goal in this local labor dispute is to continue the policy of union busting that began by St. Ronald Reagan.

 

[Note from the photo editor:  War protests in Berkeley go back a long way so a sign at a bus bench in the downtown that was critical of the War in Iraq wasn’t attracting many readers this week.  We thought that a photo of the sign would be relevant to a column on reading matter.  The sign shows a drawing of a hand holding a shoe and folks should know that throwing a shoe is an extreme demonstration of disapproval in Iraq.  The only English words on the sign say:  “Iraq is devastated.”  For critics of the Iraq War that tells readers what the sign maker had to say.]

 

 

Lenny Bruce wrote:  “My reading matter ran the gamut from a technical book on intercontinental ballistic missiles to Jean-Paul Sartre’s study of anti-Semitism but all I knew about (George Bernard) Shaw was that he wrote Pygmalion.”

 

Now the disk jockey will play “Summer time,” “Having a heat wave,” and “Summertime Blues.”  We have to go look for our next used book treasure find.  Have a “We’ll always have Paris” type week.

 

 

The Hollywood Ten ride again?

July 5, 2013

If Disney Films and Jerry Bruckheimer are helping Hollywood make films like “The Lone Ranger,” which makes bankers, railroad builders, and the American military look like a gang of ruthless outlaws in disguise, then, perhaps, it’s time to resurrect the House Un-American Activities Committee because this new flick couldn’t be any more anti-American if it were written by the most notorious of the Hollywood Ten.  Luckily, the owners of the major media have (apparently) required their reviewers to pan this new attempt to besmirch the reputation of the capitalists who built American and provided jobs and prosperity for all the citizens.  All the major reviewers who are pounding this new release with a relentless stream of invective are to be commended by their bosses.

 

Is it just a coincidence that this film about the conquering of the Old West begins in the depths of the Depression?  Did the winning of the West lead to the Depression?  Is it a co-inky-dink that the film opens in San Francisco and that is where the union movement led to the general strike in the Thirties that helped inspire a trend towards unionization all across America?

 

Sure, some reviewers from leftist publications will probably insinuate that this new film from the team that gave America the Pirate Jack Sparrow is just trying to retell the saga of the Lone Ranger as a samurai warrior lost in a spaghetti Western fighting the greedy capitalists who exploit the workers in the world of saloons and six shooters.

 

In a subtle cinematic reference (without the Col. Bogey March) the director hints that the workers who built the transcontinental railroad were de facto slaves similar to the Prisoners of War who built the Bridge on the River Quai. 

 

The film makers go out of their way to twist history, logic, and geography and set this story about the transcontinental railroad in Texas.  It’s a wonder that the script writing team (a nom de plum for Dalton Trumbo?) didn’t call the bandits the Bush gang. 

 

At one point when the dynamic duo realize that sometimes a good man has to use a mask although the two crime fighters are not shown celebrating Guy Fawkes Day.

 

Bleeding heart liberals have always had a difficult time coping with the measures that were necessary for carrying out God’s plan and making the manifest destiny a reality. 

 

The Comanche tribe’s effort to Occupy Texas was unsuccessful and would be a forecast of how the later attempts to Occupy other parts of the USA and disrupt the capitalists’ paradise would end.  It’s not nice to mess with Mother Nature or the capitalists, either.

 

Robert Newton’s portrayal of Long John Silver set the standard of excellence for cinematic pirates for the baby boomers but when Johnny Depp’s role as Capt. Jack Sparrow came along, it suddenly became a basis for debating the right to the “best ever” claim.  The Question “Can Depp do it again with an effort to become the Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto?” was sufficiently intriguing to lure the World’s Laziest Journalist out of the rebel encampment in the Berkeley foothills and go over to San Francisco during the BART strike to catch a bargain matinee showing of the new “Lone Ranger” flick. 

 

Perhaps, the new film could be compared to “Apocalypse Now” set in Texas?  Would there be some hidden hipster references to Lenny Bruce’s “Thank you Mask (not Masked) Man”?  What would the music sound like?  Would it be an outstanding example of an existentialist drama? 

 

The initial indications (such as the movie’s score on the Rotten Tomato site) were that the film didn’t cut the mustard.  Some snooping on the Movie Review Query Engine site reinforced that initial impression. 

 

The World’s Laziest Journalist does not try to be a contrarian with movie reviews but the tsunami of negative reviews caused us to wonder if there was the kernel of a column in that facet of the new flick and made it worth the effort to see it and write a review.

 

Spoiler Warning:  It will be necessary to use some of the film’s gotcha moments to continue the analysis of the underlying themes and therefore we strongly advise any of the left wingers who still think they might want to see this example of anti-American propaganda that they should only continue reading this review after they have indulged their urge to see it.

 

The visionary capitalists who built America are depicted in this film as being the Doppelganger equivalant of the barbarian Cavendish gang of outlaws.  The fact that on the day that we saw this new film, the Forth of July, the CBS radio network news at 9 p.m. PDT reported that there is an inconvenient law that forbids the USA from paying out aid to a country that has experienced a coup d’etat by their military and, they implied that the law, for pragmatic reasons, will have to be ignored in Egypt’s case is just an inconvenient co-inky-dink.

 

Didn’t John Wayne use the line:  “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”?  Doesn’t that line of reasoning apply to countries too?

 

If Americans see “The Lone Ranger” and believe the propaganda they will be prone to believing the wildest conjecture about the compassionate conservative Christians running the USA today.  For instance, the other night Mike Malloy told his listeners about a new conspiracy theory that suggests that somehow “they” hacked into the computer on Michael Hastings car and overrode the driver’s commands and caused that car to crash into a tree and kill the journalist who wrote the Rolling Stone article that ended General Mc Crystal’s military career.

 

Edward Snowden is learning the “You can run but you can’t hide” lesson, but the journalists seem to be still clinging to the Liberal daydream of instilling the French Three Musketeers (Communist?) philosophy of “one for all and all for one” into America’s workers.

 

An example that is ripped from today’s headline might be found in the San Francisco Bay area this week.  The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers are out on strike.  The AC Transit Authority contract ran out at the same time but they didn’t go out on a simultaneous strike.  How long will it be before the Daily Worker Newspaper makes some snide suggestions that the old “divide and conquer” philosophy is at work here and that “they” got to the AC workers and promised some favoritism while “they” destroy the BART union? 

 

If some radicals believe the propaganda in “The Lone Ranger,” folks might expect “them” to destroy the BART union first, break their word, and then set their sights on the AC Transit workers union.  St. Ronald Reagan (Raygun?) started the union busting trend and so it does not seem too conspiracy theory-ish for liberals to wonder if the BART and AC unions will be destroyed in sequential order.

 

[This just in:  The BART strike negotiations will continue while the workers agreed to extend the current contract for the next thirty days.  Service was scheduled to resume at 3 p.m. PDT on Friday July 5, 2013.]

 

Did the Pullman strike, the Ludlow massacre, and the Ford plant strike really occur or are they just urban legends concocted by Communist writers to scare the low information voters?

 

Intellectuals will probably make the assertion that hipsters should see this film just to see how many clever instances of “homage” to other movies they can spot.  Does the bank robbery scene remind you of “Bonnie and Clyde”?  Does one shot remind viewers of another shot in “Lawrence of Arabia”?  Does the bridge explosion sequence evoke memories of the Bridge on the River Kwai? 

 

True patriotic media owners will not let their film reviewers suggest that this Western movie is worth seeing. 

 

What will it say about America if, after being subjected to a tsunami of negative reviews, this film does great business?  Hopefully the dumbing down of America will be sufficiently established and the rubes who haven’t seen the film will agree with the critics and will render it a financial debacle and thus discourage additional sequels for this attempt at entertainment which should precipitate a move to reconvene the House Un-American Activities Committee.

 

The World’s Laziest Journalist (AKA the frugal cinephile?) thought that “The Lone Ranger” was interesting, entertaining, and thought provoking and well worth the price of a bargain matinee.

 

[Note from the photo editor:  Is a film which asks “what’s with the mask” a subtle endorsement of the Occupy Movement?  Just asking!]

 

Orson Wells has said that directing a movie is the greatest train set a boy could ever hope to have.  Which brings up the question:  “What was the biggest train wreck ever filmed?”

 

The critics have viewed “The Lone Ranger” and have agreed with Rhett Butler:  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

 

Now the disk jockey will play the William Tell Overture, Paul Revere’s “Indian Reservation” and the Renegades song “Geronimo.”  We have to go smoke the peace pipe.  Have a “who was that masked man” type week.

Bob’s new column

June 28, 2013

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court made a decision because, they asserted, prejudice in the voter rights case was an outmoded consideration from the past, then the next day they struck a blow to protect gays from marriage discrimination.  Due to the fact that irony does not work well on the Internets, the World’s Laziest Journalist was on the verge of pulling the old “best of” dodge and skipping the weekend roundup column for the last full week in June of 2013.  One day the SCOTUS five are saying that racial prejudice is extinct in the USA then the next day a reconfigured majority of five says that since the work of eliminating discrimination against gays is still far from the finish line, they had to lend a helping hand.  Which is it? Is bigotry dead or not?

 

Will the late night comedian/political commentators try to get laughs by saying that the Supreme Court missed an opportunity when they did not get involved this week with the furor over Paula Deen’s use of the N-word?

 

Paula Deen suggested that she needed to be executed by a crowd of stone throwers and that got us to thinking that perhaps President Obama could offer patriotic Americans from the Democratic and Republican parties a chance to buy a spot on the firing squad that might be needed some day to deliver a death sentence to Edward Snowdon. 

 

That, in turn, brings up this question:  If Snowden is stuck in an area that is not a part of Russia, why doesn’t the United States’ State Department send someone from the American Embassy in Moscow to meet with the suspect, shoot him, and then use diplomatic immunity to walk away from the event?  Would that be so very different (and less messy) than using a drone strike to “rub out” the fugitive from justice?

 

We had hoped to write a sensational column, for this week, about the decline of journalism in America and maybe link the work of real journalists from the past such as Ernie Pyle and Hunter S. Thompson to the comic book hero, Spider Jerusalem, who is a popular and highly paid columnist who exposes political corruption and scandal.

 

Has the story arc for Journalism in America gone from Edward R. Murrow’s “This is London calling” to a comic book hero with weird glasses in less that 75 years? 

 

The World’s Laziest Journalist had assumed that conservative animosity would trump the Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection” clause and deliver a ruling that rendered marriage rights for gays as being unconstitutional.  We were wrong.  It was just like the time we picked Native Dancer to win the Kentucky Derby.  We were wrong then, too.  Twice in one lifetime?  We won’t let it happen again!

 

A friend in the Eastern Time Zone called right after the decision was announced and said that the New York Time confirmed my erroneous prediction.  We were listening to Armstrong and Getty and challenged the accuracy of the headline on the Internets.  Our friend read more and amended her assessment because it seems that the great gray lady (as the famous newspaper is called in the gin mills that cater to journalists) had posted a bad (“Dewey wins!”) headline.

 

Randi Rhodes said that both landmark decisions, when considered together, indicated that the cause of States’ Rights had been bolstered by the week’s history and that continued political stalemate had been assured by the decisions.

 

Speaking of the status of Journalism in the USA, we had recently noted that some citizen journalists were advocating the use of a consortium approach to investigative journalism.  Since we have monitored the news media coverage of events in the Los Angeles area concerning the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors and their administration of the Marina del Rey area, we are aware that the concept of investigative journalism is a complex and time consuming way to fight for gaining access to information that is deliberately put out of reach.

 

A web site that is intended as a central clearing house for altruistic investigative journalism projects was announced recently.  There is a tendency among writers to want to jealously guard against the theft of intellectual property but there is also a human tendency to want to participate in a community project that is working towards a large goal that is unavailable to the lone wolf rogue journalist.  (Insert nostalgic reference to Sartre, Camus, and Combat newspaper in Occupied Paris here.  [Them again?])  We will expand this topic in a subsequent column.

 

Speaking of lone wolves, citizen journalists, and the Internets, we went to San Francisco on Sunday June 23 to cover the City Lights Bookstore’s birthday celebration.  We got some OK photos outside the store but our tendency of avoiding claustrophobic situations to work “on spec” caused us to miss the chance to get to the poetry room to get a photo of Lawrence Ferlinghetti signing books.  It was amazing to see how much drawing power a beatnik could still have.

 

Berkeley is looking to increase tourism and the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from on top of a police car is rapidly approaching, perhaps the city fathers should consider holding an anniversary event.

 

The saga of Spider Jerusalem, which is the product of the creative team of writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson, was told in the Transmetropolitan comic book series.  It was published in the late nineties and the early Dubya era, and contained a good number of accurate predictions of technological advances and political malfeasance.  The comic book columnist hero fits in with our recurring leitmotif of famous journalist, so we made an effort recently to chat with Robertson and get some photos of him doing a drawing of “the helmet,” which can be seen as a prediction of Google glasses.

 

If citizen journalists hope for fun, fame, and fortune, but get aced out of the fame and fortune by the proprietary attitude of the high priced media talent (and their “owners”?), then the Leprechaun attitude will become more prevalent in journalism than Hunter S. Thompson ever imagined.

 

Would it be rational to expect the Huffington Post to hire an Internets loose cannon (let alone Fox) or would it be more realistic to expect that only those who subscribe fully to the “ya gottta go along to get along” style of expressing opinions are acceptable to management as members of the team?

 

We picked up a bargain copy of Joseph E. Persico’s biography of Edward R. Murrow recently and were reminded of just how much time devoted to dealing with office politics was necessary at the time that he was reporting live from London during the Battle of Britain.

 

When Ernie Pyle showed up in England in December of 1940 to cover the effect that the Battle of Britain was having on the ordinary citizens, he stayed in a posh hotel and was not bothered by the riggers of rationing.

 

Did anyone hire Woody Guthrie to go to London to report on the effect on workers that the Battle of Britain was causing?

 

The dog days of summer draw neigh and so the next few weeks may be a very opportune time for a columnist to begin a whimsical attempt to find amusing and amazing feature material while the Supreme Court Justices do some relaxing and start to select the next batch of cases needing their attention.

 

Horace wrote:  “The man who is tenacious of purpose in a rightful cause is not shaken from is firm resolve by the frenzy of his fellow citizens clamoring for what is wrong, or by the tyrant’s threatening countenance.” 

 

Now the disk jockey will play  “Here Come da Judge,” “Strange fruit,” and Waylon Jennings’ “WRONG!,”   We have to go look for a time travel machine.  Have a “Great Caesars’ Ghost!” type week.

XL Pipeline, Gun Control, and Syrian Civil War

June 21, 2013

“Roi Ottley’s World War II: the Lost Diary of an African American Journalist” (University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas © 2011) edited by Mark H. Huddle came to our attention while we were in the Berkeley Public Library looking for books with information about the fall of Paris in 1940.  We had never stopped to consider the potential existence of material that would cover the topic of the journalism in WWII done by writers with a pan African heritage.  A footnote reported that an article by John D. Stevens, titled “From the back of the Foxhole: Black correspondents in WWII” indicated that there were at least twenty-seven such individuals.  Could one of our columns spawn a doctoral dissertation project? 

 

We had never before heard of the double “V” campaign that sought to publicize (and correct?) the irony that pan African soldiers from a country with segregation laws had risked death to fight a war against the white supremacist philosophy expressed by the Third Reich.

 

We learned that Roi Ottley had attended St. Bonaventure College and since we were preparing to act as tour guide to San Francisco for a high school classmate who had attended that institute of advanced learning, we knew we’d have something new to add to the conversation as we did the tourist bit in the bay area.

 

Recently we noted that Democrats were a tad disappointed in the developments in the realm of the XL pipeline, gun control, immigration reform, and the Civil War in Syria, and so we thought it would be a good idea to get a stock shot of the suicide hot line that is located adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge combination bike path and walkway.  Maybe some disgruntle Democrats need to hear a bit of the old “buck up and stay the course” encouragement rather than doom and gloom assessments of how the Bush Forever War is lasting a long, long time and seems about to be expanded into a new Middle East country.

 

“Jersey Bill” is an avid bicyclist, but he thought that the Golden Gate Bridge’s effort to combine a walkway and a bike path was a klusterfuk.  We concurred.  Jersey Bill and his wife passed on the suggestion to go out to Treasure Island and see where the Pan Am office had been located.  They were, however, up for a trip down Nostalgia Lane to the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.

 

We knew that a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream store now sits on one of the corners of that world famous intersection and we decided that a photo showing the new franchise for the chain that made the Cheery Garcia flavor and is situated less than two blocks away from a home that was once occupied by Gerry Garcia, might be a chance to work in some sly references to AARP aged peaceniks who protested the war in Vietnam and must now work up some new anti-war slogans to express their disapproval of President Obama’s program to supply weapons (and technical advisors?) to the Syrian rebels.

 

One of the stores in the area was hosting a jam done by a local musical group called the Garden Band.  We looked them up and they have a page on Facebook and that got us thinking.  Some time back we had a similar experience.  A local band had played a free concert in the nearby Golden Gate Park.  Sure enough the Jefferson Airplane also has a page on Facebook.  It’s a small (digital) world after all.

 

Old habits die hard and when we told our fellow high school classmate that we might describe the weekend tour of San Francisco in a column about Roi Ottley along with our recent prediction that the United States Supreme Court will declare gay marriage unconstitutional, Jersey Bill resorted to his decades old (how can that be if we are only 28 years old?) tradition of calling the World’s Laziest Journalist a crazy person.

 

He reminded us of one or two of the very few erroneous predictions we have made in  our long and distinguished journalism career.  Hell’s Bells, man, that’s half the fun of being a modern practitioner of the three dots journalism tradition.  Jersey Bill was unaware of the work done by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen.  He did know about Walter Winchell because he had been carried in the morning paper in the city where we had been classmates.

 

Since the three dot journalism style of columns indicates many rapid changes of topics and since the internet has encouraged skim reading, we had always assumed that the old style of one topic per column would be vulnerable to a skip-a-long reading method and since Herb Caen’s methodology was complete unpredictability of one paragraph to the next, imitating his style would trip-up the skim readers’ game plan.

 

A columnist who embraces the serendipity style can throw a rhetorical question, such as:  “Who is the only war criminal to win a Nobel Peace Prize?,” into this paragraph and then blithely move on to bankers’ chicanery in the next.

 

We tuned into the Stephanie Miller program on Tuesday of this week and heard her, Charlie Pierce, and the mooks inform their audience that some banks had determined that they were entitled to the insurance money that would be paid out to the people whose homes had been destroyed by tornados in Oklahoma.  The banks figured that they could collect the insurance company payouts to pay off the mortgages of the destroyed homes.  That radio team also pointed out that many of the Occupy folks were arrested for protesting the bankers’ greed but not one banker has been arrested for taking homes from hard working Americans.

 

Speaking of video of folks crying on camera, we learned on CBS Evening News, earlier on Tuesday, that a politician in Colorado who urged gun control is facing a recall challenge.

 

We told Jersey Bill that in our next column we would deliver a challenge to the folks who aren’t upset by the collection of Internets information.  In a free country what’s wrong with taking a look at a site that challenges your beliefs?  If you think that’s A-OK, then we double dog dare readers to just take a look at one of the web sites that offers custom tailored SS Officers’ uniforms.

http://hollywoodprop.com/ss.htm

 

The staff at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is working at maximum capacity this year because of the 50th anniversary of the vanishing grassy knoll persons of interest, the Cheshire cat WMD’s in Iraq, the building that just sorta fell down, etc., but the news item about some folks urging a new investigation into the accident that caused TWA flight 800 to fall out of the sky is causing the Personnel Department at the Amalgamated Factory (at a secret location in the Sierra Nevada foothills) to contact retirees and make lucrative offers to lure them back to the daily grind.

 

If any of the beloved inhabitants of the White House are ever caught in just one lie then patriotic Democrats will be forced by logic into considering the possibility that all the wild conspiracy theories from the last half century (starting on November 22, 1963?) have been refuted with lies.  Fortunately, the Democrats love the current occupant of the Oval Office so much that when he makes the assertion that the FISA courts, which have made 10,000 decisions in favor of government snooping but that the details of everyone of those cases makes complete secrecy necessary, is proof that he kept his promise to deliver transparency.  The Democrats believe him without flinching.  It’s as if all the Presidents have combined to pitch a perfect game as far as fibbing about mysterious unexplained phenomenon is concerned.

 

Jersey Bill takes a very dim view of the opportunity to jump on a bus near his home and go over to New York City to absorb some of the many cultural offerings and since many tourists remark that San Francisco bears a family resemblance to the Big Apple, (“Manhattan with hills added.”) we were not surprised when Jersey Bill informed us that he and his wife intended to get the hell out of Frisco sooner than we expected.

 

Thus, instead of spending Father’s Day continuing our tour guide service for a long time friend, we impulsively took one of the panhandlers in Berkeley out for an Eggs Benedict breakfast.  It was the first time he ever had that treat.  Listening to that fellow do a Howard Beale style rant we wondered why talk radio (or at least local cable access TV) doesn’t offer the audience a real choice and have a homeless pundit to push the debate to extreme freedom of speech limits?  Critics of talk radio contend that it is a variation of “good cop/bad cop” because the conservative hosts deliver conservative talking points and the callers second the motion.  On liberal talk shows, the host spends most of the phone time refuting callers who spout conservative talking points.

 

Do “they” just want to spin the illusion of public debates on all the current topics or do “they” really want a modern example of “no holds barred” brainstorming to solve problems?  Doesn’t being “intransigent” and ignoring other points of view, leave a whole lot more time for watching the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the mid season baseball games, and the NFL preseason exhibition games?  (Can players earn bonuses for extremely hard hits during an exhibition game?)

 

[Note from the Photo Editor:  The suicide hotline on the Golden Gate Bridge serves as a very grim reminder that there is a potential for some very lugubrious consequences if the United States Supreme Court makes some unpopular decisions later this month.]

 

We reminded Jersey Bill of Hunter S. Thompson’s  quote about how life should be lived:  “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – Wow – What a ride!”

 

Now the disk jockey will celebrate National Music day by playing: “Just keep walking, Ambrose (Part V),” Duane Eddy’s Rebel Rouser,” and Waylon Jenning’s “I’ve always been crazy.”  We have to go observe Cuckoo Warning Day and International Surfing Day.  Have a “hang ten” type week.


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