Searching for a new trend-spotting story

If the assignment editor for the Features Department of the New York Times newspaper just happens to read this column he may be very glad that he did if he gets a “heads-up” about an art story that he can assign, but what about everybody else in the world with access to the Internets?  Is it possible that a citizen-columnist might be the first writer to notice a story that is that good?  Or is it more likely that people will be very amused by the opportunity of seeing a self-deluded fool in action?  Isn’t that the very same reason why the news coverage (such as it is) of the Republican efforts to get their party’s 2012 Presidential Nomination is so fascinating?  Don’t those folks realize that JEB has a lock on it?

Columnists, much like journalists, are trained to turn on their cultural radar the moment they wake up and keep it scanning the contemporary scene until they drift off to sleep that night.

Were the college kids on KALX the first to play a trend setting song of the future on this morning’s program?  Did a localBerkeleyCAweb site break a story that will resonate with all the young people staying at the Sydney Central Backpackers Hostel?  Would it be worth the effort to buy a brand new book at Moe’s Bookstore, read it, and then review it for the entire world? 

Is it possible that a columnist could visit the used bookstore run by friends of the Berkeley Public Library and find some new (and shocking?) information about the Bush Junta in a book by Laura Flanders (Bushwomen Vero hardback) that was published outside the United States (in the American colony called London?) in 2004?  Isn’t Bush-bashing out of date?  Isn’t it too early now to be of relevance to the next installment in the saga of the Bush Dynasty?

Suppose that a columnist notices what seems to be a local trend in graffiti? 

Artists inCaliforniahave tended in the past to be at the vanguard of new national fads in many areas of contemporary American culturd.  Aren’t most of the journalists inCali, who work for a nationally known media headquartered inManhattan, especially keen to find a trend-spotting story?  (and thus get an “attaboy” from the home office?)

After purchasing a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, about a year ago, we were anxious to try out the close up setting and so we began to notice small examples of graffiti in the form of stickers affixed to inconspicuous locations aroundBerkeley,Oakland, andSan Francisco.  Since this columnist isn’t well versed in botany, and since flowers tend to vibrate in the wind, and since stickers don’t; we began to concentrate more on collecting images of the stickers. 

Some seemed to be mug shots of John Wayne Gaycie.  Was that a subtle political statement?  Are capitalists eating the poor?  Is it a call to action?  Is it an expression of a bit of sarcasm? 

One day, we noticed one particular example of this subcategory of graffiti that had been created on what had been a post office address label that was (in haste?) rather poorly stuck on an abandoned newspaper dispenser box.  We carefully removed the fresh example of folk art and took it back to the World’s Laziest Journalist news organization headquarters.  If these labels are hard to scrape off their location, does that mean that original examples are desirable collectables?  Who collects them?  How do they acquire them?

We went to Fantastic Comics, inBerkeleyCA, and 1 AM art gallery inSan Franciscoin an effort to track down more facts about this art trend.  The more we learned, the bigger the topic seemed to become.  While we were out and about trying to tack down the story, we were missing time when we could have been dispensing opinions online about some recent high profile celebrity sexual escapades such as the Ricky Nixon and St. Kilda schoolgirl scandal.  (Do a search on Google News for that exoteric bit of Australian celebrity gossip.)

We learned that the use of quickly applied pre-made examples of graffiti is called “slap art” or “sticker bombing.” 

Painting a mural sized graffiti painting takes time; slapping a label on a hard surface, doesn’t. 

Using spray paint cans to create graffiti can mean some sever problems if the artists are caught <I>en flagrante delicto</I> and their artistic efforts are construed as constituting vandalism.  There can be major problems with any offense involving the spray can school of graffiti art.  The legal penalties for putting up slap art are not (we are told) as stringent.  

You do the math.

Several more time consuming attempts to gather more information, such as trying to get contact information about the leading practitioners of slap art, only produced enough of a feint trail to indicate that it would take a lot more work to get an interview with either Broke or Euro.  (You want to talk to Banksy?  Fergedaboudit.)  Since graffiti artist don’t  often seek publicity in the pages of People magazine, that reluctance is precisely what would make a story in the Sunday editon of the New York Times so appealing to the aforementioned assignment editor.

Obviously being out in the sunshine and fresh air (what ever happened to the news coverage of the readings for nuclear fall-out downwind from the disaster in Japan?) is preferable to sitting in a dingy writer’s hovel at a computer pounding out some sarcastic snarky remarks about the teabaggers’ (wet) dream ticket of Palin-Bachman for the Republicans in 2012 (where would the lefties be with regard to gender equality and that pair?). 

[Would it be shameless bragging to repeat the anecdote about the time the guy who would become Time magazine’s White House correspondent entered my apartment in Marina del Rey and exclaimed:  “My god, Bob, it is a hovel!”?] 

Isn’t a unique individual initiative story with some trend spotting in Art, much more commendable than an anemic example of me too-ism wolf-pack punditry?

What if an online columnist combined into one story all this information: Congress is considering giving the President the power to declare war, a recent article by Semour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine suggesting that some intelligence agencies are cherry picking information that will indicate that Iran’s nuclar program is a threat to the USA, and Brad Friedman’s continuing efforts to undermine his audience’s confidence in the reliability of the electronic voting machines? 

What if such a hypothetical endeavor ultimately became a remarkably accurate forecast about JEB’s role in the Story of the Bush Dynasty in American History?  If that happened, wouldn’t the lone but perceptive pundit ultimately get many main stream media employment offers? 

BerkeleyCAhas a large much respected school of journalism, so it isn’t surprising to find a wide assortment of used books for sale that offer an insider’s close up look at the collapse ofAmerica’s free press.  How could there be that many books offering that idea whileAmericais lulled into a false sense of being well informed by a tsunami of Fox Political Propaganda? 

Has Journalism disintegrated into a farce where obedience to the political policy of the corporate masters is more important than “truth, Justice and the American way”?  Don’t the corporate owners prefer an obedient worker who will unquestioningly follow orders rather than a high maintenance rogue who gets it right?  Ostracism to the Internets’Siberiais its own reward?  What does that mean?

Andy Rooney, who is best known for his commentary on CBS TV’s Sixty Minutes program, has been quoted (Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller Simon & Schuster hardback page 121) as saying:  “the worst kind of censorship has always been the kind that newspaper people impose on themselves.” 

Now, the disk jockey will play “Stuck on you,” the Drop-kick Murphy hit “Fuck you – I’m drunk” (did that get a lot of airplay?) and the unreleased music project known as the Rolling Stones’ contractual obligation album.

We have to go do some fact finding about the rumor that Banksy is teaching economics classes at a well known institution of higher learning in theSan Franciscobay area.  Have a “know when to run, know when to freeze” type week.

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