Archive for September, 2009

Tracking Kerouac’s Ghost

September 29, 2009

This columnist’s attempt to emulate Jack Kerouac didn’t start last October first when we walked away from our former digs in the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles and set out to become a digital beatnik.  Becoming a blogger on the road was an inconceivable concept when we tried hitchhiking across the USA during the Sixties.  Our most recent effort to renew the quest was more like a chance to put it into high gear.  We have always been vaguely aware that it was a mythical task and not something like trying to gather material for use in a doctoral thesis.  Picking up a copy of John Leland’s <I>Why Kerouac Matters</I> made the option of rejecting the facts about one of the Beat Generation’s founding fathers a necessity.  How can free spirits possibly take a political conservative as a role model?

Leland makes a heroic effort to debunk the life of the guy who spawned the efforts of a generation’s groovy efforts to establish a culture of peace, love, and understanding.  It’s easier to hold on to one’s illusions than to read the effort to prove that <I>On the Road</I> was a paean to conservative values.  As Leland says on page 60:  “It is a point seldom acknowledged that <I>On the Road</I>, a slacker bible for the last half century, begins with career counseling and a lecture on the Protestant work ethic.”

Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman, Ernie Pyle (when he was a columnist and not a war correspondent), and Woody Guthrie had laid the foundation for the establishment of a footloose and fancy free faction of post war American culture and so if the hippies missed Kerouac’s point when they read his detailing of the adventures of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarity.

Finding a fellow in Canberra who claimed to have traveled back in time and served as the <a href =>model for the creation of the image on the Shroud of Turin</a> was more in keeping with our quest than having Leland point out that “On the Road” starts with guidance counseling about establishing a firm work ethic.

Last October we honed in on a visit to the Beat Museum.  A year later we went back to put an idea in the suggestion box.  The proprietor seemed very interested in the idea and we will get back to that in a future column after his “yea or nay” decisions has been made.

Shortly after this year’s (annual?) hajj to the Beatnik’s Mecca, we came up with a question.  The Beat Museum gift shop has a cornucopia of relevant books  which folks like to peruse.  After we walked away we realized that there might be an even better idea to drop in the comments box.  If Jack Kerouac spawned the coffee house fad, why doesn’t the Beat Museum start their own brand of coffee (call it “Jack’s Java”?) and sell cups at their Columbus Ave bricks and mortar location.  It would be imperative for it to offer free wi-fi connections so that a tsunami of “guess where I am” type blog entries that could be posted with the “reporting live from the Beat Museum in San Francisco” label attached.

It has taken a year to refine the latest formula for becoming a (digital) beatnik and so it seems imperative to use the next year to continue the quest.  Instead of buying a round trip ticket to Sydney, this time around it seems more efficient to buy a one way ticket to Oz. 

New Zealand is raised to a “must” level.  We’ve always heard only good things about New Zealand.  Some people like NYC; some don’t.  Some People like L. A.; some don’t.  Never have we heard a discouraging word about New Zealand.  More sailors jump ship (according to hearsay evidence) than in any other country in the world.  That tells you something.

This time, rather than doing an about-face in Perth, we could buy a one-way ticket and continue West to . . . Prague?  It would be a case of following the Perth to Prague to Paris path.

Recently, we were rather harsh in our comments on snapshots and despite the fact that it isn’t part of this columnist’s <I>modus operandi</I>, we immediately noticed that some old snapshots we had found for sale in a flea market held a hypnotic fascination for us.

A snapshot of a lady onboard a ship with the handwritten caption “<a href =>Spring 1942</a>” inspired intensive speculation about the circumstances that instigated that trip for her.  Maybe after we revisit Perth, see Prague, Berlin, Munich, our high school classmate who lives near Frankfort, Paris, London (?), Ireland, and then cash in on an offer to crash in Vermont next September, then, perhaps, we could use that snapshot to inspire a work of fiction.

Snapshots of Hemingway, F. Scot Fitzgerald, and family and friends are valuable historic documents and for those getting their picture taken, they can serve as a subliminal expression of faith and encouragement.  It’s a way to reassure members of your posse that you are certain that they will become famous and their photos will be avidly sought by biographers. 

Some recluses such as B. Traven, Thomas Pynchon, and J. D. Salinger, actively avoid (like the Amish?) having their photos taken.  Imitating writers who have posed for photos or not is a personal choice and not an essential vocational decision, eh?

A year ago, the use of the President (at that time) was admonishing journalists for using the word “recession.”  This year, the word “depression” is being included in assessments of President Bush’s replacement, so perhaps another year of gathering photos and quick notes from various places outside of Los Angeles’ city limits might be an acceptable reason for not being as vociferous in our criticism of the occupant of the White House as we were over a year ago.

Don’t the French have an old saying about the more you try to implement a “Change” agenda, the less your legacy will be?

Hmmm.  Let’s think this through.  Conservatives, such as Rush Limbaugh, are getting scads of money to denigrate (is that a racist term?) the President.  This columnist can write some scathing comments about “to surge or not to surge in Afghanistan, that is the question,” (for a great deal less money than el Rushbo gets) or we can check out the veracity of the statement we heard in Fremantle:  “In Ireland, in the summer, the rain is warm; in winter it’s cold.” 

Gee, it seems that it might be more fun to get to Koolgardie and go on one of the local metal detector scavenger hunts in the nearby desert than to write a tepid “second the motion” columns that reinforce criticism of the guy who is continuing the implementation of George W. Bush’s war policy.

Literary scholars have not revealed much, if any, commentary in the Kerouac notebooks about Korea, Eisenhower, or the dog Checkers.  Who has a bigger literary reputation in Paris, these days:  Kerouac or Drew Pearson?

When does the Metropole Paris web site hold their weekly <a href => meetings</a>?  Do we need a reservation for next June?

Leland gives readers (on page 17) this Kerouac quote:  “The things I write about are what an editor usually throws away and what a psychiatrist finds most interesting.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Around the World” and we will commence efforts to post this via wi-fi from the Berkeley Public Library South Branch.  Have a “do what you said you were gonna do” type week.

Is Facebook killing Photojournalism?

September 26, 2009

Is Facebook destroying photojournalism?


In Fremantle, Western Australia, they have erected a statue of one of the city’s more famous citizens.  Is the number of people who want to see a photo of the statue of AC/DC’s lead singer, Bon Scott, larger than the number of people who want to see an image of somebody’s mug in front of it?


While traveling from hostel to hostel in Australia, this columnist was presented with a cornucopia of information, impressions, advice, and manifestations of another country’s culture and, after covering a student demonstration in Berkeley a few days ago, one of the subtle lessons of the journey down under bubbled to the surface.


In Australia, all the young people with digital cameras were taking photos of themselves with various and sundry tourist attractions in the background.  In Berkeley, none of the photographers seemed to be taking photos which would prove to their editors that they had indeed found their way to Sproul Plaza and were fulfilling “the chief’s” (All M.E.’s secretly love to be called “the chief”) order to bring back images that would visually tell the story that the students at UCB were backing the faculty in a protest against budget cuts.  “Chop from the top!”


Earlier this month, a visit to the <a href =>Annenburg Space for Photogaphy</a> in the Century City section of Los Angeles (what gives you the right to ask if I’m a Kerouac wannabe recast in the digital age?) we saw that some of the images in Black & White gave off a heavy nostalgia karma even thought they were taken last year.  The only time visitors saw the faces of the various photographers was during interview portions of the accompanying video.

Shouldn’t someone somewhere tell these digital era wanderers that they might want to get the heck out of the way and take quality photos and not snapshots that only their friends and family might want to see.

Andy Warhol said that a good photograph was in sharp focus and was of a famous person.  Yeah, future generations might want to see a photo of you looking at one of Manhattan’s urban canyons if (big IF) you actually became a famous literary figure, but if not, the chances are that unless its Dorothy Lang documenting the latest Great Depression, no one wants to waste valuable net surfing time looking at a photo of you with San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge lurking in the background

<a href =>Life magazine</a>, the <a href =>New York Times, Slate</a>, and <a href=>Slate</a> all have an array of the day’s best photos.  (Slate’s are mostly from Magnum’s files.)  Perhaps they should team up with Nikon magazine and hold a photo contest for the best “facebook” style mug shot?  Wouldn’t that, at least, get some of them to stop for a few moments and try to capture an image with some composition and esthetic appeal?

Baby boomers will recall a snapshot contest held by local newspapers in conjunction with Kodak, which was held every summer in the Fifties.  Where is the digital era replacement competition?  The aforementioned photo print competition produced some excellent entries and didn’t those contests also help build circulation for the newspapers?

All these digital mug shots would be great if the subject were famous and being booked at the Los Angeles’ sheriff’s substation in Malibu, but absent those extenuating factors, this columnist can look at pictures taken by friends and other travelers and understand that if they have the image on their digital camera, that indicates that they were probably there when the photo was taken and so attention can be concentrated on evaluating the artistic quality of the image.

Let say, for example, that you are sitting at the rooftop smokers’ table at the Sydney Central Backpackers Hostel and one of the group shows you an excellent picture of one of the bats who hangs out at the Botanical Garden (they really do hang upside down).  The fact that he had the quick reflexes needed to get the picture was remarkable.  It would have been asking too much to insist that he should have included his own face in the picture. 

Did anybody who had the presence of mind to grab their camera while Pearl Harbor was under attack bother to take a “facebook” style picture to prove that they were there when the bombs hit the fan deck?

Back in the day, when a fellow had to perhaps botch completely the development of a roll or two while learning to put a roll of 35mm film on a Nikor reel, it took time to learn all the factors that go into a good picture, and since film and processing were expensive, it was a good idea to hesitate a moment and pre-visualize the image that was about to be captured.  Now, the digital cameras make all the creative decisions and give the shooter the option of manually doing an override.  So the digital beatniks can aim, shoot, and scoot in the time it used to take to focus with a Nikon F and the quality level of the image suffers in a proportional way.  The quicker a facebook shot is taken the lower its esthetic level will be.

It used to be that the Associated Press rarely gave a photo credit to one of its staff for doing their job.  Every once in awhile, one of them would take a remarkable photo, such as the one Eddie Adams got of the <a href =>Saigon chief of police shooting a guy in the head</a>, and then the editors would figure that the photographer’s name would be attached to that picture when it would inevitable (as it did) win a Pulitzer Prize, so they would figure “why wait” and put it in the caption when it first moved on the wire.

Perhaps, because just about the only time we’ve seen real “facebook” photos is when they are posted on other sites after the subject has become a person of interest in a notorious crime, we’ve completely misjudged the quality of that site’s photojournalism?

Then again, we did see a lot of the “let’s upstage the scenery” type shots in the various Australian hostels.  There were exceptions to the rule, as we have noted, but we’ll go with the statistical majority.

These days, it seems, even images from a stock shot source include the photographer’s name in the photo credit line.  Shouldn’t bloggers emulate the egomaniac level of self-promotion style of folks such as Thomas Pynchon, J. D. Salinger, (Banksy?) and B. Traven?

Facebook reminds us of the old Groucho Marx line:  “I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member.”  That doesn’t mean, however, that we wouldn’t be thrilled to start cross-posting some of our columns on Digihitch

Now, the disk jockey will play “Kodachrome” and we’ll fade to black.  Have a “Quick, get the camera!” type of week.  [You want extraneous and distracting information about where photos and stories come from?  This column was composed at a crash pad provided by a good friend in Berkeley and it will be posted via wi-fi (10-4 that) from the Mediterraneum Café, which local legend says was frequented by former Berkeley resident Jack Kerouac.]

Subliminal (but Friendly) Persuasion

September 23, 2009

Published on The Smirking Chimp ( (but Friendly) PersuasionBy Bob PattersonCreated Sep 23 2009 – 11:48am


Regular visitors to this site who want accuracy in their political punditry might do well to flip through some travel magazines while keeping in mind the old axiom: accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.

Here’s an example: when this columnist first arrived in Sydney Australia, one thing which caught our attention was that country’s biggest bookstore. While chatting with a clerk at the bookstore, we got a surprise because she was enthusiastic about travel and specifically mentioned her hopes for visiting a museum located in the Los Angeles neighborhood we had just left.

If (subjunctive mood) we had any knowledge of factors which might lessen her enthusiasm to visit that tourist attraction should we/must we inform her about that? We had visited that museum on a spur-of-the-moment impulse and had gotten some good material for a column and relayed that information to her. What if our assessment had been that she wouldn’t like it?

Would “throwing cold water” on her intention to go see it for herself have served any worthy journalistic goal? Would it have been sufficient to encourage her to read all she could about it before she spent money for an airplane ticket?

Travel writers have to be like cheerleaders. Spend the money! Go see it!
How often do you see an article in a travel magazine that advises the reader to save some money and skip some exotic destination?

The guys who get assignments from travel publications don’t usually travel incognito so that they can give “fair and balanced” assessments of their impressions gathered at the place they visited. They may get comped meals. Often they get a public relations specialist to personally escort them and make sure they don’t get snarled in such mundane activities as waiting in line. They usually get good seats at the theater and when they give enthusiastic reports about their subjective reaction to the change in geography, they are essentially selling the idea of traveling there and they usually want to, in salesmanship terms, sell the sizzle and not the steak.

With that in mind, try gathering some current political punditry and see if there is any similarities to travel writing in the political journalist’s methodology.

Does one media outlet consistently give reports that favor one political party and denigrate the efforts of the other? Is that what America’s founding fathers had in mind when they extolled the value of a free press?

What harm is done if the Los Angeles and the San Francisco papers show bias and favoritism when the Giants play the Dodgers? Doesn’t a lack of objectivity add some spice to the stories that appear the following morning? Is there any harm in letting that style of favoritism spill over into political punditry?

Let’s say that people who have worked hard to steal a fortune are faced with the prospect of seeing some of it dribble away via a tax increase. If the reality is that rich people often don’t pay any tax and they convince the voters that the government effort to raise taxes amount to them taking “our” money, shouldn’t they get an “attaboy” for their fake-out? Don’t people who get suckered into supporting tax cuts for the very rich deserve to be fooled under the “caveat emptor” principle?

Why should journalists be convinced that professional ethics require that they should give the man in the street a valid heads-up?

If partisanship is supposed to be an integral part of punditry, does that leave any room for items that neither conservatives nor liberals would endorse? Such as? Has any other commentator assessed this columnist’s theory that President Bush let Osama bin Laden escape from the Tora Bora mountains in return for a promise that there would be no terrorist attacks inside the USA during Bush’s term in office?

Ansel Adams worked photographic magic by rendering scenery into various values on a gray scale, but shouldn’t journalism be like a sketch done with pen and ink that gives an accurate picture using only the two extremes of black and white or would they then be accursed of racism?

Would the same number of people have paid their hard earned money to see Houdini perform if he were called “an illusionist” rather than the world’s greatest magician?

If unbridled salesmanship is an acceptable part of punditry, are you as eager as this columnist is to see which journalist will be the first to endorse Jeb as the best qualified contender to seek the Presidency in 2012?

Teddy Roosevelt had this bit of travel advice: “I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’ ”

Now, the disk jockey will play Pat Boone’s “Friendly Persuasion.” We gotta fly. Have a “see ya later, alligator” type week.

Dharma Bumming Around

September 19, 2009

Originally this columnist intended to write something with “The Week the Truth Became Irrelevant” as the headline, but then we decided to put that column off until later and do a “clear old items off the desk” type column.  Wasn’t that a ploy used by Stan Delaplane?

Jack Kerouac, in his novel The Dharma Bums, brings up the concept of Zen Lunatics and that, in turn, leads us to ask:  If Sam Spade (Is this column going to have San Francisco as a connecting narrative?) was called  a “knight errant,” could a practitioner of the gonzo style journalism be called a “clown errant”?

That was Zen, this is now.  Has anyone written a column pointing out that when Ho Chi Minh city was being established, the fact that the North Vietnamese were mostly Buddhists and not into revenge and that fact might make a difference and the quick end to the war in Vietnam might not be relevant to a discussion of a possible withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan because revenge is a major factor in Muslim culture and it seems that dozens and dozens of civilians may have been harmed in those two areas of American military activity?  If not, we’ll put writing such a column on the “to do” list.

Also on our “to do” list is visiting Burritt Alley.  Would any city other than San Francisco put up a historic plaque in the place where a fictional event probably occurred?  They do the CYA shuffle by saying:  “On Approximately This Spot, Miles Archer, Partner Of Sam Spade, Was Done In By Brigid O’Shaughnessy.”

Is it unrealistic to expect President Obama to include a stop on San Francisco’s Russian Hill to solicit votes from the socialists there?

If you close your eyes and listen to Scott McKenzie, doesn’t his voice sound remarkably like Jim Morrison’s?  Didn’t Bobby Bare record as “Bill Parsons” before he went country?  Say, you don’t suppose . . .?

Isn’t it odd that there isn’t much on-line about the original Mr. San Francisco, Freddie Francisco (AKA Bob Patterson)?  When one of the San Francisco newspapers fired him for faking Nixon era dispatches from China, the guy’s termination was mentioned in Newsweek.  Information found on-line indicates the famous columnist <a href =>slit his wrists in a bathtub</a>, which gives this very much alive columnist the perfect opportunity to inset the Mark Twain line about “rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s just one of those “same name” coincidences.

Here’s some SF history for Mike Savage.  One of the reasons that a large gay community accumulated in “Baghdad by the Bay” was because during WWII, when men in the Pacific theater of operations would be court marshalled for homosexuality, the service would muster them out in San Francisco and many were reluctant to face the shame that returning to their home town would mean, so they elected to stay in the more gay-tolerant city in Northern California.

Speaking of dirty laundry, according to, the first commercial laundry in the US opened on September 19, 1849, in Oakland CA. 

Harry Bridges has been quoted as saying:  “There will always be a place for us somewhere, somehow, as long as we see to it that working people fight for everything they have, everything they hope to get, for dignity, equality, democracy, to oppose war and to bring to the world a better life.”

One of Herb Caen’s best lines is:  “A man begins cutting his wisdom teeth the first time he bites off more than he can chew.”

Now, the disk jockey will do his David Letterman imitation by playing his top ten San Francisco Songs.
“If You’re Going to San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie
“I Left My Heart in San Francisco,” (Dean Martin’s version)
“Nothing Else, Ma.” Metallica and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
“Omaha” by Moby Grape
“Flower in the Sun” by Big Brother and the Holding Company
“Truckin'” by the Grateful Dead
“Jingo” by Santana
“What About Me” by the Quicksilver Messenger Service
“Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” by Country Joe and the Fish
(Big finish – you know what to do when this song peaks)
“White Rabbit” by the Jefferson Airplane.

We have to go look for a Beatnik coffee house.  Have a “far out, man!” type week.

Where have all the hippies gone?

September 17, 2009

Published on The Smirking Chimp ( have all the hippies gone?By Bob PattersonCreated Sep 17 2009 – 2:00pm

[Note: This column was written and posted while listening to the Rush Limbaugh program for Thursday September 17, 2009.]

Just as the Sixties were beginning, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a farewell speech [1] which warned about the emerging power grab from the Military Industrial Complex in the United States. Vietnam was a former French colony know mostly only to Americans who got A’s in geography, when he said: “Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

On a day when Rush Limbaugh is doing his best to refute the wisdom of the move to scrap plans to build a missile shield in Europe, the lesson of America’s war in Vietnam seems to be this: if a long war was good, a state of permanent war is even better.

On September 11, 2001, Hunter S. Thompson (Kingdom of Fear page 161) wrote: “Make no mistake about it: We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.”

Finally the hawks can relax and not worry that those damn hippies are going to keep singing their peacenik songs until World Peace arrives.

The author of Operation Chaos is asserting that President Obama is promoting the chaos and furor about race that is currently the top topic of conversation. Listening to Rush on Thursday morning, September 17, 2009, it seems like the Freedom Marches never happened.

Reading news reports that President Obama is deciding about sending more troops to Afghanistan, it seems like now more than ever hippies would need to hear some inspiring songs to encourage peace, love, and understanding.

Rush has informed his audience that the racism issue is being used to obscure the fact that Obama is (as el Rushbo wishes) failing.

Sociologists may well mark the week of September 13 – 19, 2009 as the week when the Sixties really ended.

Back in the Sixties, the City of New York urged citizens: “Give a damn!” Now, the Supreme Court seems to be on the verge of pitting large corporations against individuals and assessing it as an even fight. Surely the hippies who wanted to get involved will be smart enough to realize that if “you can’t fight city hall,” then it’s total insanity to try to buck Wall Street. (Wouldn’t real hippies use a slogan with a word spelled just s tad different from “buck”?)

Would Mario Savio back Rush’s sarcastic remarks about President Obama as an example of Free Speech that had to be defended or would he condemn it?

Aren’t any anti-war rallies, these days, more like a hippie reunion than they are an expression of a “youth-quake”?

Rush says that if President Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan (and Rush knows that he will), then any Democrats who speak out against it are racists.

The news on Wednesday that Mary Travers had passed away makes it obvious that the peacnik movement of hippies and older activists lies in the past. Peace activism must be laid to rest. It brings to mind the title of a Waylon Jennings song: “Living Legends Are a Dying Breed.”

It’s time for hippies to face the truth: RIP the Sixties [2].

Joni Mitchel put it this way: “They won’t give peace a chance, that’s just a dream some of us had.”

(What were the best songs of the Sixties [3]?) Now, the disk jockey will play “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
Maybe we’ll spend the afternoon in San Francisco. Have a groovy week.


L’enfant Terrible Strategy Returns

September 16, 2009

Recently <a href =>John Amato</a> mentioned that he agrees with Maureen Dowd and former President Jimmy Carter, regarding the fact that the RepubliKKKan party seems to be taking a racist view concerning the current President.  Some liberal web sites seem to be reluctant to let a columnist do cross postings that make the same contention.  Racial hatred exists in America.  Is ignoring that facet of American culture analogous to denying that Germany used gas chambers to exterminate millions of Europeans?

Would it have been good journalism if Edward R. Murrow reported that the blitz was hardly noticeable and the Brits were on the verge of beating Germany into submission?

Since, the Republicans had conniptions when anyone even hinted that George W. Bush’s thinking and plans were not infallible and since it is obvious that they don’t maintain that attitude of deserved respect for a President who isn’t a white guy, the first question is:
Do you think that the Republicans would authorize the dirtiest political trick their strategists could devise?

If you replied in the affirmative, then the next question is:  “Are they playing the race card?”  Haven’t some online pundits christened the current conservative strategy as the “angry white man” approach?

Are the RepublicKKKans big on traditional American values?

Isn’t the most basic fundamental American right Free Speech?

How long will it take for the leading conservative spokesman to notice that el Rushbo can not use a racial slur word when talking about the current President?  Won’t that give el Rushbo the option of either becoming a martyr for the Free Speech cause or the guy who broke down the prohibition for the use of the “N-word” when white conservatives talk about President Obama?  Think good manners would cause them to scrap that political gambit idea?  If they thought it would be the decisive move in their 2012 Presidential campaign, would any one of them suggest not doing that because it would be tawdry?

Wouldn’t the martyr bit or the return of the once common racial slur bolster the RepubliKKKans’ reputation with the redneck guys who are the target market for the “angry white guy” strategy?  Doesn’t that mean it boils down to a win-win choice for the radio loudmouths?

What would happen if el Rushbo got hizself arrested for using the “N-word” and was charged with a hate crime?  Wouldn’t the folk who strongly support Joe Wilson’s show of disrespect endorse the Excellence in Broadcasting top spokesman’s hypothetical effort to avail himself of his free speech rights?  Wouldn’t they become more than a bit outraged at the efforts to stifle Rush’s political opinion that the use of the “N-word” expresses?

The massive outpouring of monetary support for Joe Wilson indicates that there is an untapped well of resentment against President Obama that is harbored by the guys who have a rifle rack in the rear window of their pickup trucks.  They are very willing to put their money where their mouth is.  Joe Wilson was a proxy for a large number of voters.

Democrats are using the old ostrich solution to the problem of this animosity for Obama by pretending it doesn’t exist.

The RepubliKKKans are coming as close to crossing the line with the topic as they can.  Isn’t it logical to conclude that when the time comes for President Obama to run for reelection, the heat of the moment will produce an “inadvertent” slip and put the speculations raised by this column on top of the current events agenda?

Conservative pundits are holding the “N-word” move until they can gain the maximum surprise value from it.  The liberal pundits seem to be perpetually willing to give the RepublicKKKans the benefit of the doubt about how dirty things are going to get.

This columnist has a right to express an opinion and saying what we think the RepubliKKKans will do is part of the old “everyone is entitled to their opinion” school of thought.  For RepubliKKKans, hypocrisy is a virtue and we fully expect that they will vehemently deny that there is even a possibility that things will sink that low before election day 2012, but we beg to differ.  If Joe Wilson can win their approval of his interruption of a Presidential speech, how can they possibly object to an online pundit giving his opinion about where their <I> L’enfant terrible </I> antics will take the country when the beleaguered voters will have to cope with President Obama’s attempt to get re-elected?

Online one will find this quote from “To Kill a Mockingbird:”  “There’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads- they couldn’t be fair if they treid. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s word, the white always wins. They’re ugly, but these are the facts of life.”

Now, the disk jockey will play the ultimate difference of opinion song, Lloyd Price’s 1959 hit “Stagger Lee” and we’ll beat a hasty retreat.  Have an undeniably great week.

Wilson coulda been much worse

September 12, 2009

Liberals were quick to pounce on Rep. Joe Wilson for yelling “You Lie!” during the President’ speech as an unnecessary display of a lack of decorum and politeness.  Republicans, who don’t think any such display of partisanship would have been admissible during a Bush speech, are chuckling over the tree-huggers dismay when Freedom of Speech is used by a conservative.  Secretly the conservatives know that Joe showed an admirable amount of restraint.  Can you imagine the kumbaya faction’s reactions if Wilson had added even more drama by using the old political cliché:  “Great White Father speaks with forked tongue.”?  The Republicans would have been delighted and the liberals would have had a massive coronary thrombosis, no doubt. 

The press has been castigated by liberals for not fact checking and ascertaining the veracity of the President’s statement, which Wilson challenged.  Is it favoritism for the news people to ignore that aspect of the outburst?  Doesn’t the failure to point out that Wilson was wrong actually, subliminally,  burnish the Republicans and the “angry white male” image they are trying to convey? 

That brings up a rather esoteric question about the coverage of Wilson’s outburst.  Did someone tip off any journalist about it?  When photojournalists and video cameramen are covering a Presidential speech they concentrate on watching the speaker.  Yes, someone may be instructed to take reaction shots of the listeners, but “You lie!” only takes a second to utter and the odds that a still photographer hand a video cameraman would both be aiming their equipment at Wilson at the same time is rather questionable at best.  Were they tipped about the rude outburst beforehand?

Speaking of news photos, and rendering issues in shades of black and white, a visit to the <a href=>Annenberg Space for Photography</a> in the Century City section of Los Angeles on Friday and were very impressed by this new learning resource for photographers.  It was very interesting to note that a good many of the images were Black and White prints.  They conveyed more than just a bit of nostalgia for the Nikon F era of photojournalism.

This column had been roughed out in note form with the intention of actually doing the keystrokes and posting it while riding on an Amtrak train.  Our plans were quickly reconfigured on Saturday when a serendipity lark adventure provided us with a chance to gather some facts and information for a future column which will be posted later in the month (or year?).

One of our ongoing fact gathering tasks, recently, has been to learn as much as possible as fast as possible about the speaking circuit.  Part of our weekend experience was meeting <a href =>Jennifer Kay</a> who is an author who is expanding her efforts into giving motivational speeches.  We will share what we learn with her as well as with the lawyer for the Marina Tenants Association whose interesting legal plight is being extensively covered by <a href =>Fulldisclosure’s cable TV show</a>.  The president of the MTA, a personal friend, has asked this columnist to help supply the lawyer with information about the area of the speakers’ circuit that specializes in legal matters. 

Speaking of talking, this columnist was recently interviewed for <a herf =–Worlds-Laziest-Journalist>Stevie Mack’s</a> online radio show and we were delighted to be given the chance to practice our verbal promobabble skills.

The Republicans seem to be entering an “anything goes” style of attacking President Obama and a column speculating about where that is taking the county will be posted sometime soon.

Carl Sagon has said:  “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Now, the disk jockey will play the Rolling Stones song “Lies” (from the Some Girls album).  It’s time to post this column.  Have a “and that’s no lie” type week.

Michener’s Warning

September 7, 2009

This column was re-written and then submitted to Smirking Chimp and re-submitted to Op Ed News.  The updaed version is being posted Labor Day at 5:54 p.m. Pacific Tims

[Book Review]
James Michener’s 1985 novel, Texas, is, in this columnist opinion, the best book for helping liberals understand George W. Bush, that’s available, even though it reads more like a history of the state than a psychological guidebook to the 43rd President. 

However, if someone who picks up a used copy of the Random House hardback edition for a buck at the Venice branch of the Los Angeles Public Library starts to read this entertaining and informative book just for pleasure, it will quickly become apparent that it will be necessary to start marking off the appropriate passages for use in a review of the book seeking to prove the contention made in the preceding paragraph.  What seemed to be a pleasant read is going to require that it be done while wearing the “book reviewer’s hat” because there’s going to be a massive amount of good quotes and salient points to mark off and then sort through when the time comes to write it up.

The fact that when Texas became a state, it reserved the right to secede and become an independent nation might be of interest in the first stages of the post (George W.) Bush era, and the footnote that it also has the right to break itself up into five separate states might be of interest to Obama era political pundits who keep close score on the political balance in the U. S. Senate.  Those two items of interest have nothing to do with the psychology of the former president, so where is the juicy stuff that will remind the good Bushies of what made their man special?

Michener weaves the saga of several different families from separate periods of Texas history into one marvelous narrative thread and when he get into the story of Todd Morrison and his family who moved to Texas from Detroit, he includes a vignette about the daughter, Beth, learning about Texas’ history, such as the fact that Mentone, a city of 41, is the seat for the county of Loving (pop. 163).  The father becomes concerned about the lack of equal emphasis on world geography and history.  That may remind some readers of a time based upon a gaff in a Presidential debate, when Yankee journalists couldn’t grasp the basics of management and understand that a president would have PhD level advisors to tell him all he might need to know about foreign countries, such as one he might be invading soon.

Yeah, it might be an interesting coincidence immediately after Sara Palin resigned as the governor of Alaska to note that one of Texas’ greatest heroes, Sam Houston, at different times in his life, resigned as governor of two different states, but that has nothing to do with figuring out what made “Dubya” tick.

Folks in the L. A. area, who are closer to the movie industry than the oil drilling business, might enjoy the book a great deal because it contains (in a subliminal mode) pitches for some stories that have a high movie potential such as the life of Panther Lomax, Otto Macnab, his grandson Oscar Macnab, and/or Loan Wolf Gonaullas.  Film buffs will be quick to jump to the conclusion that the story of Emma Larkin’s capture by the Comanche and subsequent liberation, was filmed and is rated as one of John Wayne’s best.

When you get to page 259 and read that Rev. Joel Job Harrison said:  “The Texan who guns down his neighbor does not visualize himself as committing a crime,” it starts to become apparent that a President from that state might not be bothered by the legalities of a scrap of paper from a conference which he didn’t attend and then find himself as commander-in-chief, being constricted by a bunch of foreigners who established rules that might restrict the interrogation of a prisoner who might be withholding valuable information which would put the lives of American military personnel at risk, if it were not divulged. 

The Texan’s regard for religion becomes even more obvious when, on the same page, the author outlines the case of the Baptist minister John Franklyn Norris who won an argument with three bullets.  Michner says:  “The jury found him innocent on the grounds, I suppose, that he was a member of the cloth and therefore incapable of doing wrong.”  It seems that Texans accord Presidents that same assumption.

When Judge O. D. Cannon shoots a black lawyer (on page 741) the readers learn:  “The coroner’s verdict:  Harriel Geiger had been guilty of repeated contempt and had been properly rebukes.”

Some “scientists” say that a man can’t hold two contradictory thoughts in his head simultaneously.  Obviously those experts (who believe in “global warming” also?) have never been to Texas.  Michener notes on page 615:  “ . . . many slave holders were convinced tat their slaves, at least, were supremely happy in their position of servitude; but at the same time, the owner were desperately afraid of slave uprisings, . . . .”

Michener sums it all up in the last line:  “Never forget, son, when you represent Texas, always go first class.”  The American citizens who live outside of Texas may need to read this book to see that, by Texas standards, George W. Bush did just that.  This book is highly recommended for any of the fans who would like to understand George W. Bush better.  (We know the book uses the novel format to relate incidents based on the events of actual Texas citizens and hence it could have been a better book (at least for reviewers) if it had an index.)

The best Texas quote may have come from a non-Texan woman, Leona Helmsley who said:  “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes ….”  That quote alone should get her a place of honor in the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Now, the disk jockey will attempt to string together the ten best Texas songs of all Time

Deep in the Heart of Texas (is that song still banned on the BBC?)
Yellow Rose of Texas
Waltz Across Texas (by Ernest Tubb)
Bob Wills is still the King (by Waylon  Jennings)
Houston (by Dean Martin)
Abilene (by George Hamilton)
Amarillo by Morning
Theme from “Giant”
Big D little a Double L –a-s
El Paso (by Marty Robbins)
For a much longer list click:

This is the World’s Laziest Journalist reporting live, via wi-fi, from the Cow’s End Coffee House in Venice CA, saying:  Have a “Todd, you must go to bed each night reassuring yourself:  ‘This is Never Going to End’ (especially wars in Iraq and Afghanistan)” type week.

Is your cash register half full or half empty?

September 1, 2009

If you have been getting business news which indicates that the future looks bleak and that things are going to get worse, you are probably reading and listening to conservative media.  The journalists who reach very optimistic conclusions from the economic news are likely to be on Air America or progressive liberal web sites.  The fact that both camps are forming diametrically opposed predictions (with either a quick endorsement of or repudiation of President Obama’s entire agenda) gives citizens a strong indication that “journalism” is in danger of an immanent death (if it hasn’t already flatlined).

Have any of the observers of contemporary culture done stories mentioning any similarity to the fact that when George H. W. Bush’s term was coming to a close, the Savings and Loan crisis required an infusion of government money and that when George W. Bush was coming to the end of his second term in office, the banking industry required an immediate injection of cash on a “do or die” basis?  Why have neither the liberal nor the conservative pundits pointed out this remarkable economic coincidence?

Do the columnist of either the liberal or conservative persuasion point out the absurdity of the Republican talking point that President Obama can be compared to Adolph Hitler?  At the 1936 Olympics wasn’t the mere presence of Jesse Owen with a winning gold medal a subtle way of refuting the German leader’s views about Arian superiority? 

If the clowns who relay the idea that America’s first Negro President is comparable to one of history’s most famous exponents of white supremacy, can keep their composure while “reporting” such an absurdity, then shouldn’t their lack of competency be painfully obvious to all but the most prejudiced members of the audience? 

Would a sports reporter covering a football game be reprimanded if he (or she) asked “what inning is it?”?

On Thursday, July 14, 2005, the top headline on page one of the Los Angeles Times read “Governor to Be Paid $8 million by Fitness Magazine.”  The fact that that updates to that story have been obscure at best indicates a bit of favoritism regarding scandal updates.  Would a Democratic office holder of similar rank, under similar circumstances, get a similar amount of <I>laisse faire</I> response from journalists?  If the California governor was a Democrat, wouldn’t O’Reilly and Hannity have become relentless in excoriating the office holder? 

Is the disparity level of scandal updates an indicator of the possibility that the pro liberal mainstream media have morphed into an embarrassing exhibition of blind Republican talking sock puppets?

Paid journalists who with straight faces assert that conducting investigations into the use of torture enhanced questioning of prisoners will disrupt the business of Congress should be required to write, direct, and narrate a History Channel special on the use of similar methods by the Germans during World War II and they should be compelled to logical explain how the two instances of intelligence gathering are different.

Did the “pro-liberal mainstream media” pay as much attention to the stories that the electronic voting machines can be hacked and the results distorted as they did to the “angry” hecklers at this summer’s townhall meetings?  Why would they want to give more credence to a story that could be based on planted agent provocateurs than they would to a tech story that indicates democracy can easily be subverted?  Think maybe their news judgment regarding these two stories would have any bearing on the amount of their Christmas bonus check from the rich fat cats who own the media that employs them?

In most of the classic Western movies, Americans had a basic high level of animosity regarding a card player who used a stacked deck.  Why, then to they seem to be so unexplainable amenable to “fair and balanced” news reporting that is shoddy and dis-honest? 

If Americans are stupid enough to think that Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are modern day journalists of Edward R. Murrow’s caliber, then they will, without flinching, accept propaganda, disguised as Pulitzer level quality journalism, that will be used to promote Jeb Bush as a sterling example of a qualified candidate to serve as Dick Chenney’s Vice President and be a heartbeat away from sitting in the Oval Office.

So as America enters an new version of the era that maintained “You’re lucky to have a job,” questioning the direction that America’s economy will take as the new post Labor Day Christmas Shopping season begins, is an unnecessary expenditure of energy.  Tune in to any news media.  Turn on the relentless onslaught of Republican talking points and drop out of the necessity of ascertaining the quality of the reporting you see, hear, and/or read.

Most online sources quote George Washington as the source for this quote:  “The last official act of any government is to loot the treasury.”  The Bushes are not known for their propensity to flaunt tradition.

The disk jockey wants to get a holiday weekend so he wants you to go to youtube and play:  Pete Seeger singing “I’m stickin’ to the union,” Roy Orbison’s “Working for the man,” and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “Sixteen Tons.”  It’s time for us to take a break.  Have a “kick back” type Labor Day weekend.