Spin for fun and profit

Most folks get so emotionally involved with political issues that they can not calmly and quietly have any discussion about spin while using examples from the contemporary world of “elected” (via stealing) officials, so we will write a bit about some recent travel adventures and point out how spin can, very unobtrusively, be inserted.

Every city in Australia is very anxious to help convince Americans to travel to their country and then select their particular location as the ultimate destination.  The smorgasbord of interesting places can overwhelm an American by sheer dint of numbers.  Should you select the country music festival in Tamworth?  Should you see the rock wave?  Do you really need to see Uhrlur (whatever)?   Should car fans go all the way to Australia just to soak up the beer, boobs and burn-outs at the SummerNats?  (Why does Australia always try to lure tourists to their country’s pet rock and always ignore car enthusiasts?)  How many right hand drive <a href =https://worldslaziestjournalist.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/summer-nats-photos/>deuces (1932 Fords)</a> have you seen in your lifetime?

One of the Australian cities this columnist was enthusiastic about seeing was Kalgoorlie, which is a gold mining town in a remote area of Western Australia (called WA by the locals).  How accurate and spin free would an enthusiastic recounting of the visit be?

Since this columnist’s nominee for best movie of all times is “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” and since this particular traveler has gone panning for gold in California, heading for Kalgoorlie (named by as one of Australis’s top 100 cities) seemed like a good idea.. While in the Kalgoorlie – Boulder City area, he kept bumping into the same three other tourists who arrived at the same time, on the same train, as he did.

The four of us (a German guy and two young ladies from Japan) went to the Big Pit together and toured a railroad museum together.  We resisted the temptation to introduce ourselves as “this week’s mob of tourists.”  A visit to the Super Pit reminded the columnist of a line in a Waylon Jennings song about how all guys like things that make loud noises.  Waylon neglected to mention that there are bonus points if that thing happens to be <a href =http://www.flickr.com/photos/8216859@N04/3179380448/>a big explosion</a>.

The columnist went (solo) to the Gold Prospector’s Hall of Fame and enjoyed it immensely.  We did some gold panning there.  Bought and some postcards.  We also registered our complaint that there wasn’t one single solitary mention of  “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” movie or Fred C. Dobbs.

Now, if, in our opinion, we only know one person who might enjoy a tirp to Kalgoorlie, is it honest reporting to write an very enthusiastic column about our visit there? 

Skimpy’s bar had two swinging doors at the entrance and the only other time we have seen that in real life was at a joint in Santa Monica (was it 14th and Olympic or 11th and Olympic?).  Since we figured we’d always have the option to go into the one in Santa Monica, we put it off until it was too late and we missed the chance to go inside for a look-see.  Going into Shimpy’s for a diet soda (the only time we’ve ever really had a drink of Sarsaparilla was at a bar in Pennsylvania) was a total hoot (subjective reaction unable to be fact checked.)  Is there an objective way to rate taverns?

We met some folks who were in the gold mining business. 

One guy wanted our advice because he believes his uncle’s children’s book had been plagiarized by folks who made a movie with Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie.  We put him in touch with someone who is a member of the Writers Guild because all members of that group take a dim view of people who might have committed plagiarism. 

Two of the guys in the hostel, where we were staying, were normally good friends, but late on Saturday night they were heard having fisticuffs in the hallway.  If there had been any chance to give the brawl some advance publicity it would have been touted as “The Bishop takes on the Falcon” because one guy was known as “the Bishop” and the other as “the Falcon.”  When asked about it on Sunday morning, neither one of them could remember being in a fight or explain how they had gotten some minor cuts and scrapes on their faces.

How did it go when different groups invited the columnist to go to a local bar for a drink at Judd’s and discovered that he would stick to diet soda?  None of the rough and tumble crowd had the least bit of trouble with it.

How could a person grow up in Scranton and not learn that St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners?  Dunno how, but it did happen.  There is a statue of St. Barabara in Kalgoorlie.  What’s wrong with Scranton?  Why doesn’t she rate a statue in Western Australia, but not “the Electric City?  An online search for a picture of the St. Barbara’s statue in Kalgoorlie was inconclusive.  We knew we should have taken the time to pout our picture of that statue when we had the chance.  Now its in our storage unit and there’s no way it will get posted in time to illustrate this column.

If the columnist had a blast (15 yard penalty bad pun!) in Kalgoorlie and Boulder City, and if he has only one of his friends who might possibly have any fun in that same city (Jersey Bill might love seeing old cars and trucks if he could find where they were hidden away) how can he write a “fair and balanced” account of a visit to the city that was home to “the golden mile”?  Langtree’s offers tours of a working bordello.  Don’t expect to find that fact in a tourist brochure.

Recently while waiting for a bus in Santa Monica, a discussion with a gentleman from London England revealed that he had a brother living in Kalgoorlie.  Do you think he e-mailed his brother that night and told him about meeting a guy near the Venice beach who was enthusiastic about a visit to that mining town in WA?

We loved our daily visit to Jesster’s Pies.  Krispe Kreme Doughnuts are very popular in the eastern part of Australia but folks in Western Australia have to request a favor from traveling friends, if they want to satisfy their craving for that brand of doughnuts. 

If this columnist was hired by any airline to blog (very enthusiastically) about his trip to that part of the Southern Hemisphere, convincing some of his fellow Americans that they “must see” certain parts of Australia might be a blatant example of oversell (“That’s spin if I’ve ever seen it!”), but subjectively the reaction is that since we never went on a day trip from Kalgoorlie to Koolgarde (Even Word’s spell check challenges the names of those two cities) for a one day excursion in the desert with a metal detector, then “Bob’s your uncle,” eventually we will have to go back and correct that omission.  In 1986 when we visited Paris (France, not Texas); we didn’t even bother to drop off a resume at the International Edition of the Herald Tribune, but maybe we should have looked into the possibility of an opening at the Miner?

In a past Internet incarnation as a movie reviewer, this columnist has castigated a nationally known movie reviewer for giving “this is a movie everyone must see!” quotes for the print ads because this columnist has never ever seen one movie that he thinks everyone else will love. 

[Evidence exhibit A and B would be two women who are very much alike but one likes porn and hates violence and the other hates violence and enjoys porn.  It seems very unlikely that they could ever share a mutual admiration for one movie.]

In a similar vein (Again with the bad mining puns!  That’s another 15 yard penalty), this columnist enjoyed meeting and was very impressed with Malcolm X.  Not everyone who met that particular person had the same reaction.  Was it “wrong” to be very impressed with the guy?  Gee, wouldn’t ya love to hear what Bill O’Reilly’s reaction to such a face to face encounter would be?

Is the concept of “one size fits all” really valid or is it just a stealth bit of salesmanship and therefore a lot like “spin”?

Has there really ever been a movie that “everyone must see!”?  Are travel articles completely truthful?  Can political punditry honestly claim to be “fair and balanced”?

V-Australia can get you from L. A. or San Francisco to Australia’s East Coast.  United Airlines can also, but Qantas (it’s an acronym that means Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service) can get you to Australia’s East coast, Perth, and a  bunch of cities in-between, but not direct service into Kalgoorlie.

At this point we probably haven’t help those airlines sell  beaucoup tickets (if you love New York City, you’re gonna like Sydney and be sure to visit Harry’s Hot Dogs!) but by now you should get what we mean when we say spin can be very subtle and misleading. .  . especially if the reader and the writer aren’t working in close coordination like a pitcher and catcher do.

If you read travel magazines be aware that the writer probably never has to wait in a line and gets ushered to good seats and that restaurants make a concerted effort to please the writer. 

Reading only conservative pundits, who gush about the talents and accomplishments of Republican candidates, is going get you something that is more salesmanship than journalistic reporting.

Most Americans say that they think very highly of Melbourne.  We’ll be fine if we never see that city again.  That is a very subjective reaction but you won’t find statemnts like that in a travel magazine story.  On the other hand, don’t be very surprised if one of our future columns is datelined Kalgoorlie.  There’s always the possibility of a rematch for the Bishop and the Falcon,.

Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) said:  “I think I’ll go to sleep and dream about piles of gold getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

Kalgoorlie has a statue of St. Barbara and so the disk jockey will play Tennessee Ernie Ford’s hit “Sixteen Tons.”  We gotta get going to dig up something for our next column.  Have a pure gold type week.


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