Archive for August, 2009

PKD on terrorism?

August 31, 2009

In the novel “A Scanner Darkly,” Philip K. Dick (on page 91 paperback) wrote:  “One of the most effective forms of industrial or military sabotagelimits itself to damage that can never be thoroughly proven – or even proven at all – to be anything deliberate.”  How closely would Dick say that the fires in the Los Angeles region come to meeting his criteria?

How do you figure?

August 29, 2009

While traveling we resented paying money to get computer time, so we finally got a lap-top.

Now, when we want to post we spend money to get a drink at the Cow’s End Cafe in Venice and it seems that we are spending just as much, if not more, than we did when we had to pay for computer time in the various hostels.

As Ned Kelly once said: “Such is life.”

Jack, Bobby, and Teddy

August 27, 2009

In Scranton Pa., Irishcatholicdemocrat is one word and when it was learned that Jack Kennedy, who was running for President, was coming to town, the excitement level started to rise. By the time he rolled into Scranton it was at fever pitch level.

The candidate was coming to speak at the Hotel Casey, which was across the street from Perino’s Restaurant, and since I knew the owners’ son, Russ, I got permission to be on the roof overlooking the candidate’s arrival.

Some 8mm movies in B&W of the event exist, but finding them, they are packed securely away in a storage unit, would be a major task.

In 1968, while we were in California, we got a picture of Bobby Kennedy campaigning to get the Democrats’ Presidential nomination. We use our most valued possession, a Nikon F, to get some still shots (also in B&W) of him in a motorcade in a>downtown Los Angeles.

Somewhere along the way we attended a political rally in San Francisco. Bobby Kennedy was supposed to attend it. His brother Teddy was there. Again we used the beloved Nikon to get some photos. Teddy was introduced to the locals. We jumped in line and when the guy went to introduce me, he balked. I said my name and shook hands with the Senator from Massachusetts and then yielded my to the next person in line.

At the end of this historic week, most of the posts in Punditstan will be about either CIA torture or Teddy Kennedy. In journalism, August is called the dog days because news is – or used to be – rather slow in the summer of a non-elecitons year, so it seemed like a chance to dash off a column recalling the times we saw all three of the Kennedy senators, was a gimme chance not to be missed.

You want this column to include some political gossip that you can’t get anywhere else?

OK we’ll give you the only hot inside rumor we have from the conservative world: according to what we hear, the conservatives are pushing the search for Obama’s birth certificate because there is supposed (told ya it’s just gossip) to be an application for a foreign student loan for the young Barry Obama that swears to his eligibility for the money.

If he produces a birth certificate from Hawaii and they then locate the alleged document from the President’s college student days, well then, they have him swearing to a falsehood and don’t the conservatives consider that solid grounds for an impeachment proceeding?

Yikes, did we just provide a spoiler for a Bill O’Reilly “scoop”?

That’s the best we can do for this column. It’s time to start wrapping this up. It’s hot in Los Angeles. The Venice Beach is about four blocks away. You do the math.

The closing quote for this week comes from the Los Angeles Times website. While newly inaugurated Senator Ted Kennedy was talking about his relationship with his brother the President, he dabbled in some self-deprecating humor: “I was down at the White House this afternoon with some suggestions for the State of the Union address, but all I got from him was, ‘Are you still using that greasy kid stuff on your hair?’”

Warning: for this week’s song, the disk jockey is going to play the version of Jackie DeShannon’s song “What the world needs now . . . to which disk jockey Tom Clay added some news sound bytes. We gotta warn the liberals, if you’ve never heard this version before, it is going to make you cry. We dare the conservatives to listen to it. We gotta go wipe a speck of dust from our eyes. Have a “let’s drink to his memory” (even if it’s just diet soda) type weekend.

Living in the Hostel World

August 21, 2009

Hostelling is celebrating its 100 year this year and <a href =>Hostelling International USA</a> is celebrating its 75 birthday and since this columnist has been on the road for a good deal of the past year, and staying in various hostels from San Francisco to Fremantle Western Australia and since Hostelling week is from August 22 to August 30 (which is actually 8 days), it seems like this is a good opportunity to write a dog-days column about living in the hostel world and give the pro-Bush trolls a Saturday off by not mention anything about how much he deserves a war criminal trial let alone say anything about how embarrassing such a legal proceeding might be for Jeb Bush and his quest to become “45” in 2012.

Recently we noticed an odd aspect about staying in hostels because when we traveled in Australia, at the various hostels, we met young folks from Great Britain, Germany, France and many Canadians (just a few fellow Americans) but when we wound up staying at the Hostel California in the Venice section of Los Angeles, (not far from the apartment we used to call “home”) we met a slew of Australians. 

It’s a sort of insulated subgroup within the community.  The hostellers meet others hostellers and not the locals.  The locals don’t realize just how much the visiting tourists add to the local businesses.  High rollers tend to stay in upscale hotels and mostly meet other well-to-do travelers.  Business men stay at business oriented hotels and mostly meet other traveling salespersons.

Hostels are a good way to meet folks and make new friends, but there are some shortcuts that anyone trying the hostel experience for the first time might want to know.  For instance, even a non-smoker and non-drinker would find new friends by hanging out in a hostel’s smoking and drinking area.  (Here’s a shout-out to the gang on the roof of the Sydney Central Backbackers Hostel waiting to see the bats [from the Sydney Botanical Gardens] fly past.)  The smokers and drinkers seem to be more friendly than those who abstain from drink and tobacco, but they are very open-minded about letting a fellow who passes on both counts to sit with them and talk late into the night. 

Most Americans (except for the few surviving hippies who used crash pads) aren’t use to the Spartan comfort level, but the ones that do give it a go, know that on a good vacation if a person is on the go from morning to late, late at night and the only thing really needed at that point is a bed and a pair of ear plugs.  Someone who has had a good touristing day will flop down, sleep ‘til dawn, and then start all over again. 

Young folks don’t need all the amenities that run up the costs at a four star hotel.

As we started to prepare to write this weeks’ Saturday column, we bought a lap-top and that brought a new dilemma into our life: we’d like to settle down (Go Berkeley Bears!) somewhere, but with a lap-top we could go back out on the road and be fully portable and not have to pay for computer time. 

Back in the good old days of B&W photos, sometimes when a scheduled news event (track meet or such) was happening outside the nearest AP bureau, they would ask the newspaper that was closest to the event, if thy could invoke interline courtesy and use the local paper’s darkroom and telephones to set up a temporary transmitting station.  They would use the newspaper’s darkroom facilities, but they had to lug a big “portable” transmitter into the office and place it near the phones they were going to use.

For someone who has seen all that elaborate preparations needed to send out photos to the world that way, the thought that nowadays kids can use a lap-top and be ready to post some photos (in color!) on their facebook page immediately after (heck now a photojournalist with the right camera can send out photos right from the event itself) they have been taken, is totally amazing.

Say, with the new lap-top maybe we could sell some rights to the picture we got last Saturday (August 15, 2009) of <a href =>Oliver Hudson</a> (trying to), from the TV show “Rules of Engagement,” selling kisses on Venice’s Ocean Front Walk.  It was supposed to be part of a scavenger hunt competition.

Getting a lap-top will expand the capabilities of the World’s Laziest Journalist Industries to levels that seemed like a science fiction story just a few years back.  Just writing that sentence makes the WLJ want to get moving again, tomorrow.  We can just hear Willie Nelson singing “<a href =>On the road again</a>,” can’t you?

If we go back on the road, we’d love to go back to Australia.  It’s so big and so varied we didn’t get to see everything in our three months there, but on the other hand, we could explore our origins by going to Ireland.  We understand that the air fare has been remarkable low recently.

Should we go or should we stay . . . put?  If we “go” should we push on into new territory (an Irish pub?) or go back and see what we missed (Coober Pede)?”
When we left Fremantle we started traveling east.  According to an Italian guy who worked for the Spanish monarchs, if this columnist continues to travel <a href =>East  bound</a> he won’t fall off the edge of the world, he will wind up back in Fremantle.  (Here’s a shout out to the goon squad at the HI on Peckenham St.)  Well our motto has always been:  “Unless I put my hand in the place of the wound, I shall not believe.”  Where is Pan Am’s Flight One when you really need it?  Say, are our Pan Am frequent flyer miles still valid?

Being an ordained minister who do we turn to for advice?  Jim Brennan, author of “Cure Your Bad Back Forever! With the miracle of Equi-load,” shared his advice with us.  He says that that the world is too big and too beautiful for redundancy when it comes to selecting a destination.   He says Ireland and Germany are my destiny and my duty to myself.

Is it true that one particular tavern in Munich has some very historic bullet holes in the ceiling?  What’s it like to hear an “oopah” band during Oktoberfest? 

While traveling in Australia, we never did learn just how the alcoholic drink known ad “goon” got its name. 

We never did learn the who, what, or where about the country music heard on something called comet radio.  It’s one thing to hear Bobby Bare’s song <a href =
 >“500 Miles”</a> in the USA, but you should try hearing it while listening to a radio in Kalgoorlie.  That’s more like 10,000 miles from home

Just imagine how emotional it would be to hear an Irish folk song in a Dublin pub! ! !

We’ve mentioned in previous columns just how moving it was to hear the entire “<a href =>At Folsom Prison</a>” by Johnny Cash, while standing in a record store in Fremantle.

If that Italian guy is right about the world being round, we could go to Ireland, then hop over to the continent.  We could stop in at Cinq rue Daneau, maybe visit a friend since high school in Germany, and then continue on to Fremantle! ! !  It seems that there is very little possibility that we would need to come back to the USA to cover any political developments. 

Didn’t Germany have one-man Death Panels in the SS?  Maybe I could study up on that and get enough material for a good column?

It’s obvious that my faithful troll like to tell me where to go, but should I stay or should  I go?

Here’s the quote of the week from Supreme Court Justice Scalia:
“This court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is actually innocent.”  Can you say “Totenkopf,” boys and girls?

Here’s the disk jockey’s reply to my question about going back on the road:<a href =>Via con Dios</a>
<a href => Happy Trails to You</a> and
<a href => Phantom 309</a>

It’s time for us to move on.  Have a Paparazzi free week.

Pig in a (trauma) blanket

August 14, 2009

If Bill O’Reilly is looking for a new topic to stir up rancor and animosity between the tree-hugging liberals and the patriotic conservatives, he might be delighted if he reads this column.  PETA, on Wednesday August 12, 2009, held a protest against the treatment of pigs at Camp Pendleton.

The pigs according to information found online Thursday, are slashed with scalpels so that medics-in-training can then treat them in practice sessions.  Later, if they survive, they are, according to the activists, shot and then treated for that medical condition.  If they are still alive after that, they are euthanized, according to information found online.

The PETA people contend that this constitutes inhumane treatment of animals.

Mr. O’Reilly would probably be the loudest to proclaim that the use of pigs save lives by helping to prepare the medics for similar emergencies they will face (with human victims)in combat is acceptable to him and most of his listeners.

It seems likely that if Mr. O’Reilly takes ups this cause; his efforts will be seconded by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

We came across this contentious news item via a photo seen in the Los Angeles Times for Thursday August 13, 2009.  We did a Google news check and found about 20 suggested URL’s and we immediately knew that we wanted to be ahead of the curve on a news item that seems likely to stir up a goodly amount of spirited debate.

While fact checking for this column we learned that there is a rugby team in Portland named the Portland Pigs and that the mascot for the Lehigh Valley baseball team is the Iron Pig.

PETA seems very adept at riling up O’Reilly and others of his ilk and those radio personalities, in turn, seem to inspire the tree huggers to higher levels of commitment.

Recently this columnist has been called to task by an anonymous editor (when attempting to cross post a different weekend column) for emulating the columnist style of Walter Winchell and Herb Caen by using several short items in one installment, so we are hesitant to wonder if the pigs who get cut, shot, and then (if they are still alive) euthanized, would use Australian outlaw Ned Kelly as their role model.  Kelly was shot 28 times while being arrested.  When he was well enough to stand trial they tried him and sentenced him to death by hanging. 

Another reason we like to digress is because it is a way to plant some “Google bait” to help lure new readers to this website.  Sure the regulars know what to expect, but sometimes if we insert a bit of trivia into the column (such as the fact that Fremantle Western Australia has erected a <a href =>statue of Bon Scott</a>, [there’s not too many pictures of that statue to be found online] lead singer for AC-DC because he grew up in their town) people who wouldn’t ordinarily read this web site might (since there isn’t much online about that statue) come to this site and find out that the content pleases them and then they might want to book mark it and come back.  Plus that rationale gives the columnist a convenient excuse to run the obscure information that might not please that aforementioned editor. 

We also know that trauma blankets are used for burn victims, but we couldn’t come up with a better (cuter) headline.

For this week’s end of column quote we will include a snippet of dialogue from “Pulp Fiction:
Jules: “Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.”
Vincent: “Yeah, but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good.”

This week, before he plays some music, the disk jockey is recommending that all his fans go to Youtube and look up the vignette of the guitar duel between Les Paul (RIP) and his wife Mary Ford.  To end this column he will play Pink Floyd’s “Pigs on the Wing,” “Old MacDonald had a farm,” and Mitch Miller’s song “Be Kind to Your Web-footed Friends.”  It’s time for us to say:  “That’s all folks!”  Have an “all you can eat” type week.

Journalism’s Dog Days Meltdown

August 7, 2009

Have all those Republican US Attorneys Generals, (the ones who are appointed by the President and not State Attorneys General who are elected) who caused a big fuss in the past, been replaced? 

Earlier this year, this columnist did a bit of fact checking online to learn what had happened to the Bush appointees.  A quick random search indicated that in January, before President Obama was inaugurated, those folks were given an extension into the new President’s term in office which was to last until they were either replaced or until early August of 2009.  A search as this column is being written shows that tracking down the information online would be a long tedious task.  Doing a Google News search to learn about any new replacements was inconclusive.  Have they been replaced or have they been grandfathered into a longer stay?

Times up!  If you can’t say right now, then you may never know.

If the New York Times and/or the Washington Post haven’t updated the saga of the Bush Posse residing in the various US Attorneys General offices across the land, then surely some of the top bloggers will (as they did with the original story) send up a collective howl that will force the mainstream media to get the Republican talking points concerning either the new appointees or the extension of the incumbents’ tour of duty.

Sure, this columnist could put in a week or two of nothing but online fact checking and, perhaps, come up with something that either:  a) confirms his worst suspicions or b) results in a list of the new replacements. 

Either result won’t do a darn thing to diminish the nations’ top journalists pride in their own efforts to keep freedom of the press a valued American tradition.  What anyone else does is irrelevant to those pretty people.

If they don’t get around to updating the attorneys general story this weekend, it’s only because they are so busy, with all the staff cuts and such, that they just couldn’t do it and rush the details of the new Supreme Court Justice story to their audiences. 

Then they are also busy helping their Republican sources spread the Astroturf movement to disrupt townhall meetings, reporting the comparisons of President Obama to Hitler, and the departure of Paula Abdul from American Idol.  Yikes!  There’s only 24 hours in each day and they can only cover a finite amount of news in that time period, so it seems that if they pass on the attorneys general updates, it would be very understandable.

Heck if the Talking Points Memo website broke the story originally shouldn’t they be the ones responsible for an update?

If Bush’s appointees manage to hold on to their jobs, do Americans really care?  They don’t seem to be too concerned with the 18 “enduring” bases in Iraq, the growing level of conflict in Afghanistan, and/or the possibility that many folks in countries around the world regard former president George W. Bush as an unindicted war criminal, so why should they care about a bunch of Republican sinecures?  

For those trolls who would like to challenge the statement that folks in other counties consider George W. Bush a war criminal, if you don’t believe it, then go to the Kings Cross section of Sydney in Australia (one of the U. S. most loyal allies – they have sent troops to every conflict which America has fought in the last 110 years) go into a locals bar (such as the Vegas) and proclaim your endorsement of the 43rd President and then see if you can get out of there without getting into an altercation.  Good luck.

Earlier this week this columnist heard Thom Hartman speak at the Santa Monica Public Library.  He raised several fascinating topics, such as Coral Peru, and mentioned in passing that the Muslim culture holds revenge as one of their social obligations.  He quickly added that it was ominous to note that since dozens (perhaps in the hundreds) of Iraqi and Afghanistani families have lost members due to the inadvertent collateral damage resulting from American air strikes, the war may continued until those disgruntle Muslims inflict their retaliatory damage on Americans. 

For folks who claim that the number of causalities in Iraq may be above a million, that tends to indicate that the two wars may have (like the ones in George Orwell’s 1984) become permanent perpetual conflicts.  Yikes!  Just think of the negative effect an eternal state of war would have on the “Peace on Earth” ceremonies at Yuletide.

Journalists are into the “dog days” and doing stories about other more “upbeat” topics such as the flood of tourists who are parading up and down the Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach.  Should we do a column exploring the back-story of what and why and how the Bondi Beach Café wound up being situated just a quarter of a block away from the aforementioned Ocean Front Walk?  Is it time to go there and do a restaurant review?

Would it be worth the effort to do all the work necessary, if it turns out that United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (case 09-56073) really does result in a continuation of the saga of the first instance in American jurisprudence where a citizen, according to his supporters, has been <a href =>denied the writ of habius corpus</a>?  Yeah, it would be a biggie just because of the “first” aspect, but there would be a lot of work involved and wouldn’t more people want to read about the fortieth anniversary of Woodstock than plow through all the legalese that would be required to explain the intricacies of California’s <a href =>SBX 2 11</a> (enacted on Feb. 8) and how that applies to one lawyer who was disbarred? 

Isn’t it time for Tim Russert’s son to be promoted to appear on-air relaying Republican talking points to voters?

Which is more important for an obscure blogger:  doing the New York Times job for them or working on a good tan?  If you haven’t read any updates about the Bush appointees and their replacements, don’t send me any complaints and don’t send any to the public editor at the New York Times, either, because they only want letters about stories they have written.  They don’t want you bugging him with complaints about stories they haven’t written.  Don’t worry about it.  They’ll probably get another Pulitzer Prize next year for something.  So, don’t fret about a journalism meltdown.

Republican Attorneys General?  America’s first political prisoner?  Maybe it would be best to go up to San Francisco and report on the status of Donald Fisher’s art collection (or the whereabouts of the Beatmobile)?

Mark Twain said “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Now, the disk jockey will play the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the City.”  We’ll go get some suntan lotion and (perhaps) see you on the Venice Beach?  Have a “hang ten” (wasn’t that the final score at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial?) week.

Example of blog entry for Dave N.

August 5, 2009

Hi Dave!

The MTA could go this route.


Summer of our Discontent

August 1, 2009

When we returned from our (fist) trip to Australia on Inauguration day in January, this columnist was eagerly looking forward to summer (in the US) and the prospect that we would be writing about the war crimes trials of George W. Bush (and our disk jockey would be playing Hank Williams’ “Knock the Hell Out of You” song at the end of it) and his cronies , but it looks like there will be no such columns written this summer (or ever?) and most appropriate song would simply be “So Long, It’s been good to know ya.” It seems we will have to come up with a different idea for a summer column. 

Our question about where was the Queen Mary when Pearl Harbor was attacked got answered when we went down to the tourist attraction in Long Beach and talked to the Public Relations department who consulted the ship’s records and informed us that the ship spent from late November to mid December of 1941, in Trincomalee harbor.  It may have been there for some periodic maintenance.  That shot down our theory about that ship getting an order to evacuate from Pearl Harbor late on Saturday, December 6, 1941 and it caused us to learn that Trincomalee is a harbor on the coast of  Shri Lanka (which was then called the island of Ceylon.)  We planned a long and clever column about that excursion.  Without a war crime trial, it seemed that the need for writing that column was also considerably downgraded.  Folks in the US just don’t care that much about wars.

A few weeks ago, a visit to Homeboy Industries had us inspired to write a column all about it and adopt it as our favorite “good cause” and urge folks to donate money to them (after making an enormous donation to their favorite progressive web site fund raising drive) but somehow, despite all our good intentions, it didn’t get written.

Would a column about our disk jockey’s suggestions for assembling all the most appropriate songs for a Bush era soundtrack album be worth the effort?  Well, maybe after the Labor Day weekend, there will be more enthusiasm for the project.

While in Australia, we kept thinking about the fact that we were missing the Sunday Night Classic radio broadcast featuring Jimmy Kay.  We especially thought of that program while standing in the Record store in Fremantle and listening to the entire “At Folsom Prison” album.  It seemed that the further one gets from Folsom Prison, the better the album sounds.  We recently learned that the Sunday Night program went off the air and that a petition to help it get back on the air is available online.

How about a column about James Crowley?  Have you gotten your Crowley for Congress bumper sticker yet?  They don’t make them?  Wait a week.  They will.  How can the Republicans not love a guy who reminds this columnist of Sarah Palin?

When George W. Bush’s paperwork from his air National Guard days turned up missing, it was (to the conservatives leading the chorus of mainstream media) no big deal.  However, they just gotta see Obama’s birth certificate.  We thought about writing a column about the conservatives’ curious application of a double standard regarding old personal presidential documents.  Is this paragraph good enough?

Since we have managed to get a ride on the Goodyear Blimp and a B-17-G, when we got an e-mail recently saying that the Beat Museum (in San Francisco) has resurrected the Beatmobile, we came up with the idea of writing a clever column that would earn us an invitation to do a ride-along story about some of their adventures “on the road.”  We haven’t gotten around to writing that column yet.

Would it be inappropriate to mention here that the (car and truck) International Towing and Recovery Hall of Fame is located in Chattanooga Tennessee?

That, in turn, reminded us that we are still trying to figure out how to get either Qantas, VAustralia, or United Airlines to donate a RT ticket to Australia for the next facet of our new columnist’s tradition of celebrating Christmas in the traditional Australia way (in a bathing suit on the beach) this December. 

That caused us to contemplate writing a column suggesting that maybe one of those air lines should run ads in December in (say) Buffalo, Boston, NYC, Chicago, and Minneapolis, featuring attractive lasses giving a live weather reports from both Bondi and Cottesloe beachs each night.  On a cold winter’s night in the northern part of the USA, it would be afternoon the next day on both of those beaches and the weather report alone should convince some folks that a vacation in Australia at that time of year ain’t a bad idea.

Rodney King once said:  “We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out.”  He was never invited to the White House for a beer.

Now, the disk jockey will play the fugs “Summer of Love.”  We gotta go send a news tip suggestion (about Richard Fine’s legal plight in L. A.) to Rolling Stone magazine.  Have a “retroactive amnesty” type week.