Report of the Reporter on the Beatnik Beat

Now that President Obama has checkmated the Republicans and can coast to reelection, it seems that while Congress takes its summer vacation the folks who write political punditry can also kick back and use the dog days of summer to churn out some content on other more mundane matters. 

Some recent items from the Beatnik file have been accumulating on our desk and so we will use this weekend’s opening of the “Magic Bus” (Ken Kesey’s search for a cool place) movie as an excuse to do a roundup of items from the reporter who collects those tidbits of news and information about being “on the road” and lump them all together in one column.

We’ve been accumulating some new “road” books and are in the process of reading Alistair Cooke’s “The American Home Front,” which presents the story of that Brit’s road trip throughout theUSAin the early stages of WWII.  Cooke was one of the few journalists who covered the war’s effect on civilians while most of the countries journalists flocked to the various battle fronts.

At the beginning of John Steinbeck’s book “Travels with Charlie,” he talks about an encounter on an airplane trip with John Gunter and how they compared notes about how their two styles of gathering material differed.  Isn’t it odd that at the beginning of Gunther’s book “Inside the USA,” he tells readers that he used the itinerary of his crisscrossing road trip around theUSAto gather the book’s material as the outline for his way to present his material in the book?  Does that make it a “road book”?

At the Berkeley Public Library Main branch book store we discovered “It isn’t a Bus,” by Martha French Patterson and Sally Patterson Tubach, which is about Charles Everett Patterson’s (no relation to this columnist) pioneering efforts to turn a Flexible bus into a motorhome and tour theUSAin it, after World War II.

We are still plodding through a borrowed copy of Douglas Brinkley’s “Majic Bus.”

On Thursday, we learned that President Obama intends to go on a campaign style bus tour in August.  Sarah Palin did a brief bus tour publicity stunt earlier this year.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist’s efforts to become the pundit that other pundits read first has stalled out, then it might be time to post a terse ride wanted notice on Craig’s list:  “SWM seeks ride: SF – NYC” and see if we can join the vast number of journalists taking America’s pulse during this historic summer.  If we catch a transcontinental ride on a band’s tour bus, a chronicle of that journey might make us almost famous.

We noticed items on Kevin Roderick’s L. A. Observed web site recently noting that at least two writers have started an effort to walk across theUSA. 

What’s with all the bus trips?  What ever happened to hitchhiking?  Should we attempt theBerkeleytoBostonthumbing marathon?  In 1968, we used that method to get fromChambersburgPa.to TonkawaOklahoma.  Perhaps a nostalgic series of columns could report on how theUSAhas changed (if it has) in the interim.

We’ve missed Hemingway Days for this year, but the Oshkosh Flying will be happening soon, and the 25th Annual Farm Aid Concert is coming up in Kansas City on the weekend of August 12 -14.  Would a trip to Burning Man produce some worthwhile columns?  Will this be the year we finally get to see some aspect of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance? 

Jack London wrote a book about traveling about the USA in 1898.  Is Jack London’s book, “The Road” a road book?  Could Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad” be considered a road book?

Some critics of the World’s Laziest Journalist might think that the shtick of mentioning an attempt to get a speaking gig at the Beat Museum in San Francisco during Litquake is pathetic and getting tired and old.  Is it a genuine authentic bid for such an opportunity or is it a classic example of a subconscious effort to sabotage the request?  Can you picture the World’s Laziest Journalist doing all the work that would be required to give a talk which would promote the venue’s bookstore offerings (of road books and beat literature) as well as extol the virtues of the author’s memoirs which he intends to write someday when he “gets a round tuit.”  (Bah dump bump) 

Slowly, during the summer of 2011, the number of folks who are getting on the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factor employee’s shuttle bus (used to move folks about at their secret rebel encampment) seems to be growing.  People are beginning to put things together.  If you add 2 + 2 you get 4; but if you put 2 and 2 together, you get 22.

Can the Murdoch hacking scandal, the profits from the endless wars, the stolen 2000 and 2004 Presidential Elections, the blind faith in unverifiable election results, the voter rebellion in Wisconsin, the Republican assertions that they are on the little guy’s side, the suspicion that Republican politicians are guilty of dereliction of duty (which would get them a courts-martial if they were in the military), the fact that Obama’s odd (but highly acclaimed) “reach out across the isle” style of negotiating closely resembles total capitulation, and the glaring SFW (So F*****g What?) aspect of the FAA fumbled ball story all be used as ingredients for a massive Liberal recipe for truth?  The result will serve as the answer to the standard conservative dodge:  “Something’s happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear . . .”  

Are people beginning to suspect that the Republican refrain about how everything is unexplainable and that none of them are to blame when (not if) things go wrong, and that any conjecture about anything is automatically to be discounted as an unreliable conspiracy theory sounds just as phony and suspicious as O. J. Simpson’s adamant assertion that he was not guilty?  Or does it sound like Captain Queeg’s deductive reasoning process that lad to the conclusion that there was another key to the wardrobe?

When will Americans get to hear Michelle Bachman say:  “Tell Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.”?  Do Democrats think of “the Ballad of Lucy Jordan” when they hear the latest Republican spin?

In the summer of 2011, would there be a market for T-shits that proclaim:  “Only certified millionaires should spout Republican talking points!”?  Would that cover the recent Internet fuss over the allegation that David Gregory continues to pepper his (loaded) questions with Republican talking points?

Ken Kesey has been quoted (Bartlett’s 125th anniversary edition page 913) as saying:  “Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus.  If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again.  If you’re off the bus in the first place – then it won’t make a damn.” 

Now the disk jockey will play:  Ray Charles’ “Hit the road, Jack” and Willie Nelson’s “On the road again,” and his duet with Lacy J. Dalton’s on the song “Where has a slow moving, once quick draw, outlaw got to go?”  We have places to go find out more about <a href =http://www.teapotparty.org/>Willie Nelson’s new Tea pot Party</a>.  Have a “real gone” week.

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