Archive for February, 2011

The Lost Acting Awards

February 28, 2011

Once again, Hollywood has managed to survive the ordeal of voting awards to themselves, but if they really wanted to hand out awards for outstanding acting, why didn’t they honor some of the world class performances in Washington D. C., which they overlooked?

In Hollywood it’s easy to please your friends and upset your enemies, but there is one fellow in political arena who played the part of a liberal change of pace Presidential Candidate and managed to earn the undying hate of the Republicans and simultaneously displease the true lefties base.  Barry Obama’s role as the personification of change was a very convincing performance by a Reagan Democrat who let war criminals (who are wanted men in other countries) walk and then continued their illegal methods that earned them the distain of many citizens in ally countries.

The Australians are very well informed about celebrity news from Hollywood, perhaps because the Australian film industry seems to be functioning as a “farm club” for the American film industry.  The Australians were disappointed (to put it mildly) with the “who knew?” acting job turned in by George W. Bush and Company.  (Explaining the intricacies of American Politics brought a “Who is Rush?” response all over Oz.)

Would folks outside “the Industry” (AKA Hollyweird) appreciated the sarcasm if this columnist wrote a column asking:  Is the Bush family the Charlie Sheen of American Politics?

The level of excitement over the Oscar™ telecast in the Los Angeles area is quite a bit more intense than it was during the preceding week in Berkeley CA.  In the San Francisco Bay area, the attitude was “Who’s nominated this year?”  In Los Angeles, it’s “where are you going to watch the show?” and “What parties will you attend?”  In Hollywood, it’s like the home team is playing in the World Series every year.  It is a news event reported around the world.

While taking a Saturday stroll on Ocean Front Walk, we encountered a news crew talking to a young man.  We asked what was going on and learned that the Danish news crew was interviewing William Jøhnk Nielsen who was in the Danish film competing for the Best Foreign Film Oscar™.

A woman (his mother?) suggested that we ask the young man for his autograph, so in the spirit of interline courtesy, we did and the Danish film crew had some additional footage for their story.

We snapped a few paparazzi shots for <a href =http://floppyphotos.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/celebrity-spotting-on-ocean-front-walk/ >our photo blog</a> and continued on our way.  It then occurred to us that young Mr. Nielsen had something in common with John Wayne:  they are the only two actors whom this columnist has ever asked for an autograph.  (John Wayne handed out business cards with a copy of his signature on it.)

John Wayne won his Oscar on the same day that California Governor Ronald Reagan held a small impromptu news conference.  The Los Angeles Times buried the governor’s news conference on page 3 and splashed “the Duke’s” Oscar™ all over the front page.  The world will little note nor long remember what was said by the Governor that day.  What’s not to love about a governor who says:  “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with.”  Would he give the same words of wisdom to the governor of Wisconsin tomorrow, if he could?

On our walk, we discovered that the topic of the homeless in Venice these days has the potential to be very disturbing to a cynical IrishCatholicDemocrat who hears one philosophy from the mouths of Conservative Christian Capitalists and then sees that sweeping the homeless under the rug and out of Venice, contradicts what they say.  We will have to do some additional fact checking so that we can write a column about the relevant facts for yet another column that asserts that hypocrisy is one of the Seven Cardinal Virtues for Republicans.

American politicians can give glib explanations for wars of aggression and then turn around and blithely dismiss any concerns about the “what ever you do to the least of my brethren” who lack a sleeping bag to cope with a cold night on the beach.

Shame, it seems, is a quant facet of nostalgia just like silent movies.  Do TV addicts know what “slapstick comedy” is? 

Speaking of nostalgia when was the last “anti-war in Vietnam” rally held?  We see that some old hippies will be gathering next month in Washington D. C., for a rally against the Iraq-Afghanistan military adventures.  Maybe by the time it occurs they can toss in their objections to a new adventure in Libya?

We have been advised that if we wish to understand the apparent disparity between millionaire actors giving awards and “air kisses” to each other one day and engaging in cut-throat business deals the next (which may necessitate the actors doing research on the homeless so that their next film [a musical comedy look at life on the ragged edge?] will have a veneer of authenticity to it); we should read Ayn Rand’s “the Fountainhead.” 

What ruthless corporate mogul wouldn’t appreciate seeing his merciless conduct portrayed in film that rationalizes his ruthlessness and portrays his immoral conduct as the work of a benevolent crazy uncle who is loved by all his devoted employees? 

Isn’t Ayn Rand’s philosophical take on morals similar to Andy Warhol’s definition of art?  He said “Art is whatever you can get away with.”  If you don’t get arrested; apparently, it wasn’t a crime.  Sin no longer exists.

Unless a film competes in the Documentary categories, isn’t it considered a work of fiction?

If the Republicans are looking for a theme song for their next convention to select a Presidential Candidate, perhaps they should consider using the Don Henley’s song “Kick ‘em when their down.”  Ya think?

It’s “buy Girl Scout cookies” season again.  How many boxes will the Koch brothers buy? 

The <a href =http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/7802346/razzie_awards_2011_winners_mostly_from.html>Razzie Awards</a> honoring the lousiest films of 2010 was held on Saturday.

Marshall McLuhan said:  “Affluence creates poverty.”  Could the Republicans believe that it’s the other way around?  “Poverty creates affluence.”  For them, it does.  More foreclosures means more profits for the banks.  Hence the banks have an obligation to continue the trend.

Now the disk jockey will play some of the Oscar™ winning songs from years past, such as “When you wish upon a star,” “Whatever will be will be,” and “High hopes.”  We have to go try to find out what has happened to the hippies who have been kicked out of Venice.  Have a “we may look ragged and funny” type week.

Is all news created equal?

February 27, 2011

(Venice CA) After traveling from Berkeley CA down to Los Angeles, this columnist sent an e-mail out to the posse to let them know that things went as planned.  We attempted to use humor to convey the message and wrote:  “L. A. is just like Berkeley only bigger with ocean beaches.” 

Cities in close proximity can have very different personalities.  Pasadena and Santa Monica are both in the same county.  They both have the same state level politicians.  They both are served by the same large members of the media.  The locals watch the same local TV channels.  The audiences for various radio shows in have fan/listeners in both cities.  The Los Angeles Times has a large number of subscribers in both cities.  It would be ludicrous to say that Pasadena and Santa Monica are twin cities. 

Although the two are only about thirty miles apart, on a sunny summer day there can be a noticeable difference in temperature and that can have a psychological impact.  It can be “June Gloom” cloudy along the beach in Santa Monica in early summer while Pasadena may concurrently be sweltering in a hot sunny cloudless day.

The smaller local papers cover different issues.

The two cities each have rival NPR outlets.

Santa Monica College and Pasadena City college are both highly regarded, but some Santa Monica citizens consider UCLA local while in Pasadena, that school is “out on the Westside.”

If these two relatively close cities in California can be distinctly different, it doesn’t take a sociologist to figure out that Kalgoorlie in Western Australia is quite different from being in the Kings Cross Section of Sydney. 

It is extremely convenient for anyone who wishes to manipulate the citizens of a country to use the lowest common denominator factors to influence them. 

Hence if there was some hypothetical fiend (Auric Goldfinger?), who wanted to subtly manipulate voters, would find it efficient, economical, and effective to use a generic pundit who worked on listeners all over the country on a basic level such as inciting jealousy.  It would be easier to hire one guy to magically (like the miracle of the loaves and fishes) appear on a multitude of local radio stations around the country and tell all of his listeners that the unions were exploiting them as taxpayers.  If a gullible audience became convinced that something unfair was afoot, then it would be easy to push them further and put it in more graphic terms:  “The unions are stealing from your tax dollar.”  All people in the Congressional Districts across the three time zones could be urged to call their Congressional representative and urge them to put a “stop to this robbery.”

If the hypothetical bad guy, Goldfinger, with ulterior motives, and the imaginary ubiquitous voice from the radio were able to bust unions so that Goldfinger could more easily reduce the pay of his workers and bank more money . . . oh well, <I>caveat emptor</I> should explain that bit of diabolical manipulation.  Wouldn’t it be über-ironic if the voice was a union member decrying unions?  Didn’t your grandmother always say that “All’s fair in love, war, and politics”? 

Let’s imagine the USA as an old West Saloon.  (Skimpy’s Bar in Kalgoorlie had the old fashioned double swinging doors when we were there in 2008.  When was the last time you saw a tavern entrance like that in California?)  Suppose someone plays cards in the saloon and suspects there has been some cheating going on to fleece the victim of all his cash.  The sheriff asks you to tell him what happened and how it was done.  He can’t arrest a winner just because you lost.  You complain to the Preacher and he says you shouldn’t have been gambling in the first place.  You complain to the editor of the Tombstone Epitaph (or whatever the daily paper is named) and the editor says: “When you have a choice of printing the truth or the legend, always go with the legend.”  America, you’ve been had and the general opinion in the corporate owned media is that you should “suck it up” like a man.

You’ve been fleeced of your money.  No one wants to hear your sad lament.  You should have known better before you sat down at the poker table, eh?

The streets are filling up with homeless people asking for donations.  Jobs are getting very scarce.  Banks just make too much money from foreclosures so stopping them from doing more just doesn’t make sense to them.  Look into foreclosures more closely and you will see that they make excessive amounts of money by foreclosing and asking them to give up a big profit just isn’t logical.  If the home’s owner stops making payments how can they make money on that?  Did Houdini really make the elephant disappear?  Check it out, slick, just ‘cause you don’t know how to do it doesn’t mean the trick can’t be performed.

Why would conservative talk show hosts belong to a union and tell listeners that the political impasse in Wisconsin is the fault of unions?  Check it out, slick, just ‘cause you can’t explain it doesn’t mean it ain’t happening.

Folks in Los Angeles don’t like the joke about how they are like a bowl of granola (it’s full of nuts fruits and flakes).  Folks in New York City don’t like other people imitating a Brooklyn accent.  People in flyover country (everything “down there” for people who do business in both L. A. and New York City) don’t even like to hear their area referred to in that flip manner.

When a young man from Western Australia said he was from Perth, we asked if he ever went to hear rock music at Mojo’s in Fremantle.  When he realized that this columnist knows the subtle difference between those two cities (Fremantle is to Perth as the ‘bu (ie. Malibu) is to Los Angeles), he was happy to admit he was a Fremantle citizen. 

The same thing happened more recently when a young lady raising funds for Green Peace in Berkeley had to admit that Fremantle is separate and distinctly different from the bigger city farther up the Black Swan River.  Being a port city, Fremantle is to Perth as Long Beach is to Los Angeles. 

People who live New York City are more likely to enjoy Sydney more than Fremantle, but that doesn’t mean that New York City and Sydney are “twins separated at birth” similar.  Nor should Australia be considered “Canada without snow.” 

If you think different cities are alike and you think that standup comedians spouting Republican talking points are Edward R. Murrow clones, we double dog dare you to get some news from a foreign based member of the media.  <a href =http://www.spiegel.de/international/>Der Spiegel</a> and <a href =http://www.dw-world.de/>Deutsche Welle</a> both have English language web sites.  Do you really think that conservative talk show hosts (who reportedly are union members) want you to get your news and information from any other source?  If they don’t want you to do some “comparison shopping,” then you have to also recall that Germans during World War II were forbidden (under penalty of death) from listening to foreign radio stations.

If they don’t want “comparison shopping” for news, then you gotta ask yourself another question – No, not:  “Do I feel lucky?” – you should ask “Why would they do that?”  At this point in American history, you won’t risk death by dialing up some other point of view and to see what they have to say.  What have you got to lose by taking the dare?

Do you think that the German voters passed a ballot initiative to give up that freedom?

Adolph Hitler, in <I>Mein Kampf</I> wrote:  “ . . . never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”  Doesn’t Uncle Rushbo unfalteringly follow that advice?   

Now the disk jockey will play Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York,” and “Chicago,” and Randy Newman’s “I love L. A.”  We have to go for yet another walk on Ocean Front Walk on Venice Beach.  Have a “don’t do as I do; do as I say” type week.  This has been the World’s Laziest Journalist reporting live from Venice CA.

Revisiting L. A. Politics

February 24, 2011

When this columnist read on the Internets that Jane Harman was going to resign from her job as the Congressional representative from California’s 36th Congressional District, we spent a moment wondering who would replace her and made a note to get back to that topic.  Recently while looking for a column topic we spied something written by Marcy Winograd and figured that we had the answer to our question because the school teacher has been doing well as a Democratic Party candidate trying to wrestle the office away from the incumbent. 

On February 7, 2011, Ms. Harman announced that she would be resigning from Congress to become the head of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  We learned online that Jane Margaret Lakes Harman had graduated from Harvard Law School in 1969. 

Since we lived in that area for several decades, we figured a closer look might yield the ingredients for a good column. 

The District was created in by redistricting caused by the 1990 census and there was no incumbent in 1992.  We went to a meet and greet event for the candidates hoping to win the new seat which was held at Loyola Marymont University.  We saw the array of hopefuls.  Ms. Harmon did a credible job of presenting her case and seeming personable. 

Marcy Winograd has in two past primary seasons given the incumbent reason to campaign very hard and not take the incumbency advantage for granted.  Ms. Winograd got Gore Vidal to speak at one local rally attended by this columnist.  She too did a noteworthy job of sounding both sensible and dependable, but she now lives in Santa Monica which is outside the district (according to something Ms. Winograd posted online).

We then learned that Los Angeles City council representative Janice Hahn may seek to become the new congressional representative from the 36th Congressional District in California.  Her brother has been the mayor of L. A. and her father was a member of the L. A. County board of supervisors.  We wondered if we could do a column about the possibility that political dynasties in the USA are becoming the American version of a title in Great Britain. 

Most Americans are aware of the big name dynasties such as the Kennedy family, the Gore family and the Bush family (which may try for a revival via JEB’s bid to become the next Republican Presidential Candidate.)  How many other American Political Dynasties are in play but are not as well known.  How many voters (for example) in Berekeley CA would know (or care) about the Hahn family history down in SoCal?  How many other similar mini-dynasties are there around the USA?  Since when does a family have a right to a big name factor advantage in free elections?  And why?

We can see the potential for a book in using the topic of American Dynasties but we were only looking for a column’s worth of information.

Then we learned about yet a third Democrat, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who has expressed an interest in running for that particular congressional seat.  Ms. Bowen has battled against the use of electronic voting machines.  It was beginning to look like there might be enough material for a book about the political maneuvering in just this one Congressional District  and sadly that much material in columns aimed at a national audience would tend to bore readers outside the district.

You can just bet that some Republican political strategists are paying very close attention to many facets of this complex district with a smorgasbord of voters.  The district includes portions of Venice, Marina del Rey, part of Mar Vista (it might be only a tiny sliver), Playa del Rey and (as I recall) portions of the South Bay.  There are still some hippie/beatniks living in Venice.  Marina del Rey seems to have gone a bit more Yuppie than it was in the “swinging singles” era in the Seventies.  (We knew people who were not challenged when they said they attended the famous LSD party reported in Sports Illustrated in the late Sixties.  [We never did find out why Sports Illustrated ran a trend spotting article about the fact that the baby boom generation was entering their courtship phase.])  

The South Bay is a conservative enclave with folks employed by both the Defense and  Aero Space Industries.  Don’t know how they are dong in the Bush era but supposedly old voting habits die hard.

To even a causal observer the workers in the Defense and Aero Space industries seem to be the antithesis of the voters living in close proximity to Ocean Front Walk.

In a time when being well informed seems to mean that folks skim a large variety of web sites, it may be asking too much to suggest that there should be complex analysis of each and every Congressional District available online. 

Will political junkies really read bios and synopsis of the political views of three Democratic candidates just to prepare for one local primary contest?  If you think that then please explain the success of Senate candidate Alvin Greene in South Carolina.  (Isn’t he running for a new office?)

What about the Republican efforts in that District?  We’ll have to research their efforts to win a seat this year and maybe have the incumbent advantage in the general elections in 2012.

While we were collecting information for a nostalgic look back at that particular Congressional District where we spent a few decades, we got the “bat-signal” from the President of the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association.  He’s a long time friend and he wants some volunteer help on a local issue and so as we will answer the call and go back “on the road” to go help him.

Other than talking to local residents involved in the area’s issues, fact finding will be a challenging chore.  The Santa Monica Outlook suspended publication and their “morgue” is probably in a storage room somewhere in Torrance CA.  It is available on mircrofilm at the Santa Monica Public Library.  The Argonaut newspaper, which did a commendable job of covering local politics still has an office in the area (and their archives are available online) but the effort necessary to get a closer look at the background for one particular Democratic Primary race is a formidable challenge if one hopes for a comprehensive roundup article.  We realize that a good amount of facts may go unreported in a great many races around the state and that only tends to increase our pessimistic outlook on America’s political future.  The Republicans tend to rely on sloppy voter preparation and a heavy advertising budget to win political races.

Maybe while we are helping the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Associaton we can use some spare time to pick up enough facts for a “behind the scenes” look at this one particular special election.

If we get to L. A.; isn’t there a blog entrepreneur who holds weekly literary salon parties up in Brentwood?  How do we go about getting an invitation?  Is there room for a visiting columnist from Berkeley at the “in crowd” events held close to the UCLA campus?

What “sells” online these days?  How can an outsider get a bigger online audience?  The task facing liberal web sites and citizen journalists brings to mind an old expression about using a sieve to bail the water out of a leaky old row boat.  The conservatives “own” the airwaves.

That, in turn, reminds us of the “rumor” that there is a possibility that the bloggers whose work appears on a certain recently sold high profile website are going to have their salaries doubled (2 X 0 = ?) and that makes us think of the old joke about some good news and some bad news for the guys pulling the oars on the Emperor’s boat.  The good news was their food ratio would be doubled.  The bad news was:  “This afternoon the emperor wants to go water skiing.”

Which comedian is credited with the line:  “That joke is so old it was found carved on the Rosetta Stone!”?  Bah-dump-bump.

Has it come to be that the only material available for use by liberal media is recycled half century old jokes?  If so, the Democratic platform may start to sound like articles of surrender.

In case you are wondering why Jane Harman is stepping down, according to information found online, she will be appointed by the President to the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Once she “steps out of the picture,” most national web sites will not want to expend valuable time and effort to track her career at a think tank.

Getting a shipload of information into a short easy to read column that folks will skim over reminds this columnist of the long lost concept of “a blivet.”  If you don’t know, go down to the local workman’s bar and offer to buy an old guy a beer in return for the definition.

Doing volunteer work for the Marina Tenants Association might present us with the chance to call Reverend Dan while he is on the air with his “Music for Nimrods” show and request Elvis’ “Old Shep.” 

Should this columnist be lest flippant?  The way we assess the situation for the Democrats, the unions, the decrepit remains of the New Deal (isn’t the New Deal on life support?), and women’s rights, it can best be summarized by quoting W. C Fields:  “The time has come to take the bull by the tail and face the situation.”

Speaking of unions, this columnist, when he isn’t “on the road,” gets days off only when public libraries are closed because we need them to get access to the web to post our columns and photos.  When they are not open, we get a day off.  When we are “on the road,” it’s never a sure thing.  We are well acquainted with the hours of operation for the various Libraries on L. A.’s Westside, so stay tuned.

Until then, we’ll leave you with the almost thirty five years old words of Howard Beale:  “I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TV’s while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad – worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot – I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you’ve got to get mad.”

Now the disk jockey will take us back to the swinging singles era by playing Disco Tex and the Sex-o-lettes’ “Get Dancin’”  Barry White’s “Can’t get enough of your love, babe,” and Johnny Cash’s 1976 comeback hit “One piece at a time.”  We have to go find a copy of a 1936 Army Corps of Engineers report.  Have a “Stayin’ Alive” type week.

The battle of the bogus ballots

February 23, 2011

Just as we were noting a possible rise in the number of homeless people, we encountered a new worthy cause seeking donations.  The Suitcase Clinic has been a “humanitarian student organization and volunteer community” which offers free health and social services to the underserved population since 1989.  They are a source of items such as toothpaste, razors, safety pins, aspirin, and other such “household items” for the homeless.  We offered to add some buzz boosting their efforts rather than donate an insignificant buck because isn’t that what being a Gonzo Bloger is all about?

According to Doug Brinkley (as quoted on pages 125 – 126 of “Gonzo: the Life of Hunter S. Thompson” Little Brown and Company hardback edition 2007):  The Internet is full of bogus falsehoods propagated by uninformed English professors and pot-smoking fans about the etymological origins of ‘gonzo.’”  Brinkley adds that it comes from Cajun slang in the New Orleans jazz scene and means “to play unhinged.”  (Ibid.) This we know because we scored a mint condition copy of that book on one of our frequent book safaris in Berkeley CA, which we contend (mindful of the Golden Days when the Book Row of America was located in New York City) is the used book buyers Valhalla.

The legendary Cody’s Books in Berkeley is closed.  That gave us an opportunity to write a column headlined “Memories of Cody’s Books,” which helped lure some Jack Kerouac fans into our realm of Gonzo blogging.  There are other marvelous bookstores still available for the seekers of the great white whale of books. 

Every time we go into the Shakespeare and Co. on Telegraphy Avenue, we wonder if the charming fellow who owned the similarly named store in Paris is still offering writers a rent free year in an apartment in the City of Light.  We learned about that marvelous opportunity while visiting Paris in 1986.  Do Gonzo Bloggers qualify as writers?  We’ll get back to you on that.

Are the young folks asking for money on that Berkeley street aging beatniks?  Kerouac and Ginsberg lived in Berkeley CA during 1955 and some familiar street names pop up in the “Dharma Bums” book.  We refuse to take this opportunity to besmirch Berkeley’s image by speculating about any possible walking around DNA evidence of the “free love” philosophy those writers promoted.  (We missed a great opportunity a few decades back when a coworker in Santa Monica claimed that his mother had been a member of Kerouac’s SF Posse.)

Sometimes when there is an anti-war demonstration in Berkeley, you have to wonder:  which war are they protesting? 

We scored a trade paperback copy of Rupert Holmes big band era mystery titled “Swing” and learned that students in Sproul Plaza had demonstrated in the Thirties against the FDR foreign policy which (they asserted) would lead to involvement in the war in Europe.

Living in Berkeley has taught us the futility of bragging.  We recently stopped to chat with a young film-head photographer and when we tossed in the fact that Paul Newman had once asked for our autograph, the kid responded:  “Who is Paul Newman?”  (Look it up on the Internet, kid.  Maybe he can’t if he isn’t into digital photography?) 

Did you hear Uncle Rushbo make a reference to the World’s Laziest Journalist today?  Me neither too.

We have recently asked some Berkeley students if they knew who Mario Savio was.  A streak of negative responses quashed our enthusiasm for continuing work on that informal survey.

What was it that the kids at UCLA used to say (back in the pre-Bush era)?  “If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there.”  That reminds us of a passage we found in our bargain bin copy of “Johnny Cash.”  He wrote (HarperPaperbacks 1998 page 49):  “Sitting down with pen and paper (or tape recorder and Microsoft Word), the words ‘I don’t remember’ and ‘I’m not sure one way or the other’ don’t seem adequate, even if they do reflect reality more accurately than whatever you are about to write.”

Getting up at 6 a.m. to bang out another blog column berating bogus voting machine ballot results is getting very boring, especially when it becomes obvious that should the predictions be judged to be very accurate in retrospect, the fact that all liberal media will have vanished in America will mean there will be no chance to post any “We tried to warn ya” columns and gloat.

Do readers of liberal blogs care if the first time a columnist sees a Rolls Royce in Berkeley CA it has a flame paint job?  We double dog dare you to look at a photo of that and not think of the Beatles band member named John Lennon.

We’ve only seen one Ferrari in Berkeley CA.  We can’t locate the digital file for the photo showing the time that we spotted two Ferraris sitting side-by-side at the traffic light at Windward and Pacific in Venice.  In L.A., no one else noticed that co-inky-dink.  Is Uncle Rushbo referring to our car-spotting efforts on our photo blog when he mentions the drive-by journalists?

It may be boring to be the blogger battling bogus ballots, but we becalm ourselves by the thought that we are on the brink of a boredom busting breakthrough.

George Noel Gordon (AKA Lord Byron) wrote:  “I’ll publish right or wrong:  Fools are my theme, let satire be m song.” 

Now the disk jockey will play the Blues McGoos “Psychedelic Lollipop” album, Johnny Bond’s “Hot Rod Linclon” album, and Molly Bee’s “Swingin’ Country” album.  We gotta go look for the new Johnny Cash album featuring rarities such as the B-sides of his hit singles records.   Have a “Biutiful” week.

Rugby or Honest Elections?

February 22, 2011

Two years ago while visiting Australia, one of the bits of cultural differences we noticed was that sports on TV was ubiquitous.  Enthusiasm about cricket matches and rugby games was rampant.  Monday night football games from the USA played well being seen live during the day on Tuesdays in Sydney.  Fox Sports seemed to have a cash-cow with their corner on the sports fans market in Australia. 

This columnist preferred to take the Ronald Reagan philosophy for giant sequoia trees when it came time to assess chances to spend portions of the excursion glued to the boob tube watching rugby or cricket:  “If you’ve seen one match/game, you’ve seen them all.”

Lately we have noticed a new trend on the media horizon:  The conservatives aren’t satisfied with the preponderance of their presence in the media world, they want to banish all vestiges of liberalism in contemporary American culture.  They seem to regard a grain of truth with the same amount of tolerance as if seeing it appear anywhere, at any time, would be comparable to a doctor finding a case of the bubonic plague.  Has any writer ever used a plague as a metaphor for the truth? 

The Mike Malloy radio show is often preempted in the San Francisco area by basketball and on Presidents’ Day we heard Stephanie Miller note that in a Florida market, the station that carries her has gone all sports and she’s MIA. 

On the Malloy program for Monday, February 21, 2011, he mentioned that his hours were being curtailed in the Madison Wisconsin area on the radio station there.  He also had a caller who referred back to a call from “Blue” on Friday night, but we hadn’t heard that because Malloy had been preempted by Cal’s Women’s Basketball. 

Could it be that the Republican philosophy will not be satisfied with a strong numerical superiority over liberal talk radio?  Could the Republicans want to shut down progressive radio completely and are they willing to spend the money to get their way?

Back in the day, this columnist had a continuing debate going with a maiden aunt who stoutly maintained that the wrestling matches on TV were rigged.  We did our best to refute her wild and irresponsible assertions and prove that she was subscribing to a conspiracy theory that was reprehensible because it attacked the veracity of a pillar of American culture. 

We assume that if she were alive today, she would be reading some of the well known Internets sites for conspiracy theory lunatics and joining with them in the unpatriotic questioning of the elections which delivered a Republican landslide last fall and are presenting the Republicans with a voter mandate to eradicate collective bargaining for state employees in Wisconsin.

According to Ozzie Osborne, the “Wobblers” disorder manifests itself when small problems take on the aspect of the End of Time.  (We heard about that bit of medical news on the aforementioned Stephanie Miller Show on Monday morning.)  If you listen to any liberal talk radio this week, they are making it sound like events in Wisconsin are a union worker’s version of the End of Time events.  Is it time for the liberal talk show hosts to call Dr. Ozzie and find what he recommends as a cure for the “Wobblers”?

We only heard our maiden aunt utter the word ********** (10 letter word meaning oral sex [Uncle Rushbo prefers to use the term “a Lewinski.”) once when the topic was Nixon’s “expletive deleted” mystery.  We think we can guess what her assessment of George W. Bush would have been.

In the movie “Jaws” a brief reference was made to a horrible ordeal involving sharks suffered by some American sailors during World War II.  The cruiser Indianapolis was on a top secret mission (delivering an atomic bomb to an AAF base in the Pacific) when it was torpedoed by the Japanese.  It sunk rather quickly and the crew had no time to launch the life boats so they jumped into the ocean.  Since their mission was top secret their radio silence was not questioned.  The sharks attacked the guys one at a time and inflicted a high number of casualties.  Would that obscure facet of naval history provide an adequate analogy for what is happening to progressive media these days?  Some of the crew managed to survive. 

Would the fate of the Americans who fought at the Alamo be a better example of appropriate symbolism?  They were wiped out.  So was the cavalry unit which fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

When will Mike and Stephanie see their heresy and recant so that they may receive absolution and attain the large monetary remuneration and throngs of adoring fans that await them if they (like the prodigal son?) begin to spout Murdock approved Republican talking points?

My aunt was a bit of a bigot.  She wouldn’t acknowledge that folks with dementia had just as much right to be President as any of the other candidates.  She refused to discuss the possibility of voting for St. Ronald Reagan for re-election.

Would my dear aunt maintain that Obama has done for the Republicans what a desperate boxer does when he agrees to “throw the fight.”  Did he squander his legacy by taking a long time to write a law that was bound to flunk the Supreme Court test?

Did the weekend Teabagger rally in Madison Wisconsin evoke references to the concept of solipsism? 

[Note:  Uncle Rushbo (on his Monday program) declared that throat cancer is caused by “Lewinskis.”  That’s good news for fellows who may have experienced one before Clinton invented that bit of perversion, eh, Rush?  Uncle Rushbo ridicules “scientific” opinions about global warming and the possibility that the polar bears are in peril, but he accepts and disseminates the Lewinski story because of the scientific supporting evidence.  Could that be an example of the Republican Philosophy that hypocrisy is one of the seven cardinal virtues, along with lying, cheating, stealing, etc.? ]

Bartlett’s attributes to Voltaire this quote:  “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  Apparently that was amended to apply only to Republicans’ right to free speech.  Democrats need not apply.

The disk jockey will play the “Jaws” soundtrack album, “Please Mr. Custer,” and “Eve of Destruction.”  We have to go prepare to hear some Dons Basketball.  Note:  Berkeley’s Rugby team has escaped elimination via budget cuts (baseball didn’t) and so maybe we will soon have the chance to hear some of those games on Progressive Talk Radio in the SF Bay area?  Have a “T-t-t-that’s all f-f-f-folks!” type week.

Wanna bet?

February 19, 2011

Getting a job in New York City in the mid Sixties presented a young man with a smorgasbord of delights and temptations.  We were aghast to learn that a bottle of beer was three times more expensive there than in Scranton Pa.  We encountered on enterprising fellow who had set up a gambling casino on top of a portable table.  He was soliciting bets that you couldn’t keep up with the movement of the cards he was moving about.  The Ace of Spades had a bent corner and it was child’s play to see where it had ended its wanderings.  He wanted folks to bet on their powers of observation and he singled me out of the crowd for a personal challenge.  Not wanting to take unfair advantage of the fellow, we offered to teach him a lesson for the symbolic wager of $1.  He belittled us mercilessly and said we lacked the chutzpah (whatever that was) to make a substantial bet.  Some other fellow in the crowd had the <I>cajones</I> to bet a double sawbuck.   The tip-off flaw somehow failed to provide the intrepid soul with a windfall profit and the operator of the table top gambling casino reaped the rewards of his labor via some slight-of-hand magic. 

When the fabled decade ended, we were living at Lake Tahoe and the greatest dog who ever lived (Baron Siegfried L. von Richthofen III [a sweetie when sober]) was a roommate.  There were ample opportunities to play games of chance that were more closely regulated than the rouge operations we had seen in New York City, but as the Sixties came to a close, our efforts to duplicate the cynical W. C. Fields philosophy of life had taken firm root and we limited our gambling experiments to an annual loss of $35 and considered that an entertainment expense.

One time we walked into the office of a Public Relations official for one of the local casinos carrying the props for a photo which would illustrate a story about a local charity event.  Since one of the props was a genuine shotgun, the PR official asked:  “How did you get past security?”  We told her “we just walked past.” 

The other human roommate and I hosted weekly poker games.  New decade; new vices?

There were some brief scurrilous rumors that Siegfried would eyeball the other fellows hands and then silently say what they were holding so that we could gain, via lip reading, an unfair advantage over our guests.  It was one of the wildest conspiracy theories we have ever heard.

We were unaware of the FM revolution occurring in radio and since South Lake Tahoe is surrounded by a ring of mountains, the reception of AM stations was extremely limited.  There were two stations in the basin and we could on good nights pick up clear signal KFI from Los Angeles and some station in Texas with a wild disk jockey with a distinctive voice who touted himself with the phrase “coast to coast, border to border, wall to wall and tree-top tall.”  “They say” you could hear him in 38 states.

Times have changed.  Things are different.  Back then folks protested the Vietnam War.  We understand that there will be a new protest for the latest war in Washington on March 19th this year.  Is there a new war to protest or is it a display of sentimental nostalgia for the “usual suspects”?  We presume that the artists will include Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, and . . . perhaps the Kinks? 

Some folks, who seem to be as naive and trusting as the aforementioned “rube” in “swinging” New York City was, think that only conspiracy theory nuts (Hi, mom!) distrust the results of the paperless electronic voting machines.

This columnist realizes that his efforts to emulate the jaded cynical paranoid attitude of the hero/victim in Hemingway’s “The Killers” is a tad maudlin, but the fact that the crimp in the corner of the card still bothers us. 

If hustlers believe that only big stakes make displaying their talents worth the effort, then couldn’t one political party play with reckless abandon if they were playing with a marked deck?  The marked decks in magician supply stores are sold for entertainment purposes only – but some Svengali types find it very entertaining to “separate the suckers from their money.”  Don’t look now, but aren’t the efforts of the capitalists very similar to the mad scramble images conjured up by the phrase “Great Oklahoma land rush”?

If (subjunctive mood) one Party wanted to cheat, wouldn’t they try to lure the suckers (“a measly dollar?”) into playing for major bucks?  Why go to all that effort just to win $10?  If the stacked/mark deck guarantees a sure win, why not put abortion, collective bargaining, and tax breaks on the line? 

We didn’t intend writing a new column today.  Rather than get up at 6 a.m. we slept in until 7.  We took some snapshots of the snow in the higher elevations of Berkeley CA.  We put some old music on the sound machine and . . . well, what else is there to do on a cold and wet morning in a city where the local University will soon start their baseball team’s last season.  Budget cuts make sports fans unhappy, but just think how happy the billionaires are this morning. 

“They say” things will get tougher before they get better.  To which optimists and preachers of self-reliance only say:  “You can bet on that!”

Nelson Algren is credited with being the original source for this bit of folk wisdom:  “Never play cards with any man named ‘Doc.’  Never eat at any place called ‘Mom’s.”  And never, never, no matter what else you do in your whole life, never sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own.”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Thirty-nine and holding,” “I wish I was 18 again,” and “Who is going to play this old piano?”  We have to go see if we can score a pres pass to the Rolling Stones Concert (“what would you pay to hear a living legend sing?).  Have an “abracadabra!” type week.

Obama Turning Point?

February 18, 2011

Whether Obama realizes it or not, his political legacy will be at stake in Wisconsin next week because if a rookie Republican governor can cripple the union movement in his state, that will encourage other Republicans to make a similar effort to dismantle one of  the last vestiges of the New Deal but if he manages to stop the Wisconsin facet of the continuing attack on his own political agenda that could provide him with a rallying cry for urging the Democrats to regain the political initiative in a way that might be compared to a key pass interception in a football game.

Sports announcers like to talk about the momentum in a football game and how one particular play in football can be (in retrospect) called pivotal.  Since the President’s State of the Union Speech, the Republicans have continued their criticism of Obama’s health care bill, called attention in a negative fashion to the President’s response to the Crises in Egypt and will use any Republican success in Wisconsin as an indication that their dreams of completely dismantling the New Deal are attainable.

The fact that the Democratic strategy of hiding, which was also used by the Democrats in Texas some time ago, brings to mind the Schwarzenegger term “girly-men” isn’t very reassuring.  

If a sports announcer were as continually biased as is the lineup of standup comedians at the entity called Faux News, the audience would feel duped.  They would use the traditional lament:  “Are you blind?”  Conversely if things are not playing out as the Obama advisors had planned, then any harsh assessment would not be welcome in a group that craves enthusiastic liberal journalism.  If the majority of Democrats prefer to avoid harsh analysis, perhaps future historians will see it as an attempt to avoid confronting reality and say that marked the point where the Party started to slip into dementia. 

If Obama makes a speech and encourages the people of Wisconsin (and union member guests from other states?) to stand together and block the effort (a goal line defense for four consecutive downs?) future historians might well pick that as the moment when Obama “turned the game around” for the 2012 local, state, and national elections.

If the Republicans eventually “put points on the scoreboard” via the Wisconsin confrontation that will make Obama seem like a Democratic Party version of Vidkun Quisling or Marshal Philippe Pétain, which will delight the Republicans immensely.

Obama likes to portray himself as someone who goes the extra mile to extend the hand of bipartisan friendship to the Republicans.  In war, executing civilians in retribution for the killing of troops is verboten.  Lately Obama’s efforts to reach out to the Republicans has seemed like appeasement or perhaps a metaphorical attempt to negotiate the number of civilians who must be killed in retribution.

Political strategists think that in dire times, a strong candidate has the most voter appeal. 

It makes things interesting if both candidates try to out-do each other on the macho appeal scale.  (Did that bit of psychology work against Meg Witman?)  How would a woman who shoots wolves from an airplane match up against a guy with (hypothetically) a PETA endorsement?

There is folk wisdom that advises the fastest and strongest don’t always win a competition but some smart-alecky guy added the codicil saying:  “but that’s the way the smart betting usually goes.”

What would the next election be like if (hypothetically) next week Obama urges voters in Wisconsin to hold a “general strike” and additionally says that independent truckers should come to Madison and cause gridlock as a show of support?   

What does it mean when a pro-union guy holding a baseball bat asks:  “Which hand do you use when you urinate?”  If they are really mean don’t they leave you with both hands in casts so that someone else would have to help you?

Pro-union people risked life and limb to get to their goal.  Watching Obama piss away their efforts is a bit disappointing. 

Back in the day, when a family member was killed in a mining accident, the company representatives who would leave the dead body on the front porch would often leave a note saying that their was a job opening and that the next oldest unemployed son should come to work the morning.   It’s doubtful that Obama heard stories about that kind of exploitation when he was growing up.  They just don’t mention things like that at Yale.

There is a story told by the people speaking at Horror Writers events about one of them,  lady, who was traveling on a rural side road in Wisconsin (perhaps one of the major bridges had been washed out in a sever storm?) and got lost.  She walked into a small general store and asked the man, who was busy stocking the shelves, for directions.  A rather scary looking man turned around and advised her:  “Run far, run fast.”

News from Wisconsin tends to have a difficult time getting onto the National News pages in newspapers published elsewhere, so we haven’t heard about what happened to Ed Gein’s farm after it was put on the real-estate market.  Perhaps a New York Times reporter covering the union busing in Wisconsin next week, will try to impress his assignment editor by turning in an update on the fate of the Gein farm?

Didn’t one of the Boston based major league baseball teams move to Wisconsin about a half century ago? 

On Thursday night, February 17, 2011, the ABC network evening news program used the plight of Wisconsin labor unions for its lead story. 

If the events in Madison become the dominant story of the day (with the concomitant media circus presence), that will only increase the stakes for the workers and the President.  Gee, if there’s a new chance to make the President seem weak and incompetent, won’t Rupert Murdock send his anchor man there for some “on the scene” broadcasts?  They don’t do that do they?  They just sit in New York City and do their impression of Jubba the Hut and send lesser personalities to do the remote reports.

Jimmy Hoffa has been quoted as saying:  “I may have many faults, but being wrong ain’t one of them.”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s song “What made Milwaukee famous,” the Rolling (will their new tour ever get off the ground?) Stones’ “Rip this joint,” and Woodrow Guthrie’s “I’m stickin’ to the union.”  We have to go check and see if Uncle Rushbo has to pay AFTRA dues.  Have a “winner takes all” type week.

Has Boehner become the newest Existentialist?

February 17, 2011

Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office is devoid of Internet access, a TV set, and phone, the staff winds up listening to the radio or playing old musical tapes when it comes time to kick back and chill out.  Since there ain’t a hella (note to AARP site editor types: that may not sound right to you but that’s <I>de rigueur</I> jive for the young folks) variety of choices on the radio, we tend to go to extremes.  Uncle Rushbo is fascinating listening because he keeps pushing towards the limits to gain the inevitable liberal media publicity.  Every time he comes close to going over the edge, he winds up landing safely and thus brings to mind a segment of the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.”  (“Where’s Buzz?”)  On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Malloy who is just as fully committed to his beliefs as is the King of Oxycontin.  (If you had to spout Republican spin all year long, wouldn’t you have an insatiable appetite for pain killers, too?) 

Lately Malloy seems extremely distressed about the prognoses for democracy.  He may need a refresher course on the philosophy of the guys who wrote for the underground newspaper, Combat, which was published in Paris during the German occupation. 

Would it be too esoteric and arcane to assert that listening to both Uncle Rushbo and Malloy would be comparable to reading both the Paris Zeitung and Combat? 

Recently we attended a screening of the film “Casablanca.”  We knew that Humphrey Bogart’s role as Fred C. Dobbs in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” had made a lasting impression (and had an influential effect?), but we had not been aware that his role as Ricky Blaine had also made itself felt long after we first saw it.  Blaine was existentialism in action.

If there was a book title Zen and the Art of Existentialism; we’d recommend it to both those radio personalities.  Ricky Blaine learned the <I>laissez faire</I> attitude in Paris (home of existentialist thinking) and, after that, pretty much kept away from partisan politics.  When a group of boisterous members of the German military attached to diplomatic duty in Casablanca sang a patriotic song, Ricky tried to balance things out by advising the band leader to play the Marseilles just to keep things on an even keel.  

Some of the best segments of the Malloy program occur when he and his screener/producer/wife Kathy quibble over fact finding bits of trivia.  It’s obvious that their emotional relationship doesn’t impinge on their attempts for hair-splitting bits of factual accuracy.  One assumes that they have read Robert L. Stevenson’s essay on how to conduct a stimulating but civilized conversation.  Are they trying to become the modern equivalent of Tex and Jinx Falkenburg?  Unfortunately that’s one bit of radio history we missed. 

We might, if we had a phone, call Rush and suggest that he listen to the Malloys and then think about putting his wife on the air with him.   Then we realized that wouldn’t work.  Equality in marriage is a Democratic Party type thing and Rush would lose so much street cred, his ratings would plummet.  Haven’t we read somewhere on the Internets that Uncle Rushbo’s audience is diminishing? 

Some nights Malloy comes perilously close to being a Xerox copy of the fictional TV journalist Howard Beal.  Recently he was lamenting the fact that there seems to be two systems of justice.  One for über-wealthy Republicans (like Uncle Rushbo?) and another for “Just Us.”  We were tempted to call Mike (if we had a phone) and suggest that it might be an appropriate time for his wife/producer to play the Waylon Jennings song that has the lament about “if I’dda killed her when we first met; I’d be outta jail by now.”  The guy in the song mustta been a Republican, eh?

Since Malloy does repeatedly reference Mario Savio’s most famous quote, if we had a phone we’d call Malloy and suggest that he read Albert Camus’ “The Rebel” because Malloy would be sure to find a shipload of hand-dandy quotes.  If the Republicans are going to rely on existentialism to bolster their program, it might be a good bit of self-defense preparation to read some Sartre and Camus.

His recent steak of pessimism would be the perfect opportunity to play the perfect example of nihilistic/existentialistic commingling contained in Howard’s speech at the end of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”  Fate has played a practical joke on liberals.  Get over it.

If Malloy did read up on the existentialists, wouldn’t he eventually encounter the cusp area where Zen and nihilism overlap?  Didn’t Jean-Paul Sartre practice Nietzsche’s <I>amor fati</I> lesson i.e. “So Be It!” when he was a German prisoner of war and he used the time to write a new play?

Folks love to portray college professors as “pointy-headed” intellectuals with far left political opinions who bandy about references to obscure books such as “Nausia,” but didn’t all the teabaggers do a marvelous job of stifling their amusement recently when John Boehner snuck a crafty allusion to the <I>amor fati</I> lesson from Nietzsche into a press conference?  Didn’t the teabaggers love it when he was paraphrasing the existentialists and the liberals didn’t even notice?  What teabagger couldn’t savor the delicious irony of that?

[Note:  for those intellectuals who quibble over the pronunciation of the name of the Speaker of the House, we have one question:  Isn’t Boeotia phonetically bee-oh-shah?  Do Republicans use the word Boeotian (bee-ocean) in it’s stupid or boorish person meaning to denote a Democrat?  Shouldn’t the Speaker’s name be pronounce as if (phonetically) were bee-ner?]

If some teabagging existentialist troll has read this far, we will counter the objection that this column is a shameless example of a partisan attempt to “suck up” to Malloy, we would point out that it is being posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011, and that means that when Malloy broadcasts tonight, the audience in Berkeley CA will hear women’s college basketball and this columnist will be at the Berkeley 7 watching “The Fifth Element.”

In “The Rebel,” (Vintage Book paperback page 41) Albert Camus wrote:  “In politics his (i.e. Marquis de Sade’s) real position is cynicism.  In his <I>Society of the Friends of Crime</I> he declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating.  It is the same impulse that makes the lowest form of criminal vote for conservative candidates.”  In the Republican Party, isn’t cynicism one of the seven cardinal virtues?  Don’t most teabaggers recognize the fact that Boehner knows his Camus, while the liberals sit and listen to him with dropped jaw incredulity. 

The disk jockey will now play: “Helter Skelter,” “Street Fighting Man,” and Waylon Jenning’s “Out of Jail.”  We have to see if folks in Berkeley can pick up the XERB signal because we’d love to hear the Wolfman again.  Have an “of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine” type week.

He ain’t heavy, father, he’s my Nikon F

February 16, 2011

Photographers who always have a small digital camera in there pocket might fully appreciate more fully the convenience of the digital camera if they had used a 4X5 Speed Graphic camera in college to get “grab shots.”  These days the term “grab shot” will probably conjure up a hypothetical image of some boisterous conduct that gets posted on Facebook, but back in the day it symbolized a concept that was part of the Advertising vs. Photojournalism debate.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was famous for taking “candid” shots that were as dramatically different from the ones in the ads as were the stogy Hollywood films that used rear screen projection shots for car ride sequences and the same chintzy sets over and over again versus the “Johnny on the spot” newsreels that capture history in the making.

Photographer Bert Stern revolutionized photography by taking one photo of a Martini.  He went to Egypt to take a photo of a <a href =http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4952874>Martini with one of the iconic pyramids in the background, for Smirnoff</a>.

Back then, boys and girls, there were only a small number of darkroom wizards who could manipulate an image well enough to make it look completely natural.  Today, through the magic of Photoshop, a college level student can whip together a photographic image that is both realistic and notable because it defies logic.  The thought of paying a name photographer to take an all expenses paid trip to the Cairo area just to come back with an image of a glass full of booze and one of those “how did they do that” upside down stone cone buildings in one frame would be über-laughable.  (Will the Internets make umlauts obsolete?) 

About a year ago this columnist bought a Nikon Coolpix and has carried it everywhere.  The fact that it is getting pretty beat-up brings to mind an opportunity to inject this bit of arcane and esoteric photographic nostalgia:  Among photojournalists who had the black finish Nikon F cameras there was a bit of macho competition to see which photographer had worn through the black and was showing the most brass.

In the intervening year, we have taken approximately 7,000 pictures.  In the old day, a roll of color slide film (We mourn the passing of Kodachrome) and developing would run a fellow about $10.  Using the old rounding off dodge, that would mean (at three rolls per 100 images) 3 X 70 X $10 = $2,100.  Whew!  Did we save some major bread or what?

We could get a chance to maybe get a newsphoto in San Francisco on the night of Wednesday, February 16, 2011, but why bother? 

In a perverse bit of logic, we would rather spend the funds necessary to get some images at this year’s installment of the 24 hour race for sports cars at Le Mans.  At first glance that don’t make sense, but since the Internets is changing things (and messing with proper English?) it may hold up under closer scrutiny. 

If a fellow was a newspaper photographer and his roommate was the sports editor, maybe he could go take photos of the Saturday night high school basketball game (the editor didn’t have to go because he could “call the coach Sunday night” for a story in Monday’s paper) in return for doing less of the household chores.  It doesn’t mean earning any overtime but it does make sense, <I>n’est-ce pas</I>?

If a news photo isn’t salable and if the only criterion is personal satisfaction, Le Mans, here we come!

Here’s an added bit of rationalization:  A photo of the local sports scene doesn’t have much appeal for use on a website specializing in national and international issues, but pictures of (hypothetical example) newspapers featuring a picture of an American politician on the front page of newspapers being sold in a Paris news kiosk, might. 

(We did take some shots of a particularly promising pitcher at Santa Monica High, some time ago.  Where did we file those old negatives of the Baseball’s Hall of Fame guy named Tim Leary?)

In the old days a “stringer” might spend the entire day trying to get a good B&W (Does Kodak still make Panotomic X?) photo and getting it to a wireservice and selling it outright for $25.  These days if a photographer gets a photo of local interest [say a shot of the Mog truck from Oregon] he apparently can’t offer the same picture to two local competing Internets web sites.  It seems that you can let one or the other use it for free, but not both. 

Speaking of “things have changed,” does any young blogger know how to do a “hed count”?  Why do newspaper headline writers prefer words with “l’s” and “i’s” over words with “w’s” and “m’s”? 

According to a reliable source, the major league pitcher “Dizzy” Dean used to pause, while he was at work, and watch planes fly over the stadium.  Idiosyncratic personalities with “a unique voice” were thought to be the promise of Internets democracy.  As the corporatization of the web continues, the homogenization of the voices becomes more prevalent.

If a rogue blogger asks:  “Did the turmoil in Egypt validate George W. Bush’s claim that invading Iraq would create a demand for democracy in the Middle East” will it call to mind the tree falling in a forest with no humans around?  Even Conservative pundits may want to ignore that idea and hold it as a trump card to be played later in the game.   Such as when it may be a part of the JEB strategy to promote the idea that Obama fumbled the ball and that the George W. Bush strategy for the Middle East was “spot-on.”

Heck, if the Egyptian military seizes power and props up a new dictator, JEB might assert that all that was Obama’s fault.  That will come later, not now.  It’s too early to bring that up.

Whoops!  This is supposed to be a column about photography in the digital age.  <I>Pardonez moi</I>, eh?

We did get a picture of a very intense conversation for the college yearbook using the aforementioned 4 X 5 Speed Graphic and we thought:  “Who needs a Leica? (Isn’t it curious that the 35mm brand name is challenged by Word spell-check?)  Henri Cartier-Bresson, eat your heart out!”

After college folks used to comment that the Nikon FTn was too heavy.  Not after using a camera that used film holders, it wasn’t.  However, it is rather convenient to have what amounts to a portable Sixties photo studio fit comfortably into the pocket of your jeans.

Someday, we may learn the html mumbo jumbo incantation necessary to make a photo appear in a column, but for now the best we can do is link to <a href =http://floppyphotos.wordpress.com>our photo blog</a>.

Now, the disk jockey will play the song “Kodachrome,”   the “Grand Canyon Suite” and “the Stripper.”  (Will anyone realize that offset printing required stripping negatives?)  Now, we have to take the Coolpix and go wander around aimlessly looking for some digital photo ops.  Have a “regional split” type day.

Counterfeit excitement in Berkeley CA

February 15, 2011

Imagine how exciting it would be to be walking around in Berkeley CA (excitement galore, right there) and you saw on the ground a dollar size piece of greenish paper that said “Fifty Dollars”?  Your <I>joie d’vivre</I> might diminish considerably when you notice that the portrait on the front side is of a bearded fellow who looks like he might have been one of those misguided clergy men who wanted to make the Hawaiian natives put clothes on and is identified as “Hoffarth.”  Then you notice the disclaimer:  “for Motion Picture use only.”  Drat!

This columnist has, many moons ago, on two different occasions, found a genuine 100 dollar bill and so the first thought when we laid eyes on the Hoffarth bill was to immediately take a picture and start to debate weather we should submit the item to the Berkeley Daily Planet or the Berkeleyside web site.  They must have been filming a movie in Berkeley recently and that is the kind of hot news both of them like.

Is that name some kind of joke?  Is it a phony name like the one used in a famous e-mail that faked-out a legendary stand-up comedian working for Fox News? 

In the era of hit movies from the Jackass crew and the word Punk’d has slipped into the mainstream American vocabulary, who wouldn’t love the irony of finding a Hoffarth bill? 

Don’t all Americans appreciate a good practical joke?  Lately, we have noticed some political pundits are analyzing the new Obama budget proposals and slaping their own foreheads and saying:  “Oy vey!  We thought he was a progressive!”  The joke that the Reagan Democrat fooled voters into thinking he was a progressive is another hilarious example of Punk’d-ing for fun and frivolity.  Young Internets citizens might not remember the time when an American President and his pals concocted a clever ruse about something that had to do with aluminum tubes that were positive proof that a new war needed to be started. 

The President went though all the effort to cook-up a clever reason never realizing that all he had to do was ask. 

[We’ve heard an urban legend about an attractive young lady who had a very close male friend and when he had to move to a different geographical area he asked her whey they had never hopped into bed together and she responded:  “Because you never asked!”]

Some pundits are groaning about the apparent buyers’ remorse factor that the far lefties are experiencing as the Reagan Democrat President reaches out his hand to the far righties in the Republican Party. 

Cynics are asking:  Shouldn’t a President who works so assiduously to be a one term President get what he wants?

This columnist tends to emulate the taciturn nature of saloon owner Ricky Blaine in the movie Casablanca and thinks that the Australian bandit Ned Kelly was spot-on when he said:  “Such is life.” 

Is it time to inject some obscure and esoteric (but relevant) items?  Watching some newsreel footage from 1953 we saw and heard Adele Stevenson chide his successful rival for the Presidency for being in charge of a political party run by businessmen.  Wasn’t Harry Truman the last President with businessman experience?

We digress.  Speaking of digressing, did you know that a bunch of writers from one very successful liberal web site have their own page on Facebook?  Why isn’t Eric Hoffer one of that group?  Wasn’t he big on liberal causes?  Didn’t a famous communist coin the phrase “One for all; all for one.”  Don’t the Hell’s Angels say:  “A fight with one of us is a fight with all of us!”?

This columnist wishes he could contact that group of scribes because we’d love to ask them:  “Is it better for a columnist to tell his readers what he wants them to think or is it better to throw some apparent contradictions at them and let them think it through for themselves?”  It’s just like when George W. Bush said:  “You teach a child to read, and he or she will be able to pass a literacy test.”

When dealing with writers like that Facebook group shouldn’t their boss ask them the classic question from the Fifties:  “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”? 

Wasn’t “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!” a famous communist slogan in WWII?

We’ve read:  “In a Communist state a love of neighbors may be classed as counter-revolutionary.  Mao Tse-tung counts it a sin of the liberals that they will not report the misdeeds of ‘acquaintances, relatives, schoolmates, friends, loved ones.’”  Where did we read that?

In “The Ordeal of Change” (Perennial Library paperback 1963 p. 5), Eric Hoffer wrote:  “Things are different when people subjected to drastic change find only meager opportunities for action or when they cannot, or are not allowed to, attain self-confidence and self-esteem by individual pursuits . . . . The substitute for self-confidence is faith, the substitute for self-esteem is pride; and the substituted for individual balance is fusion with others into a compact group.”  Was Hoffer a founding father of the teabag movement? 

If you see something suspicious report it.  Buy War Bonds today.

Now the disk jockey will play “Stickin’ to the Union,” the “Cool Hand Luke” soundtrack album and Roy Orbison’s “Workin’ for the man.”  We have to go and file a grievance with the shop steward.  Have a “contract approved by a vote of the membership” type week.