Archive for September, 2011

“Why do we do this, Buzz?”

September 29, 2011

Would anybody in their right mind, put all their stuff in storage, give notice to the landlord in the Mar Vista section of Los Angeles thereby becoming homeless, and then go running off to Australia in search of material for their blog?

Obviously using a left-handed shirttail grab to save a fellow’s life in Sydney will make for a great page or two for the memoirs, but would people want to read a column online detailing how such a maneuver stopped a fellow who was in the falling down stage of inebriation from attempting to stand on a precipice that was four floor above the street and urinate into the void?  When he decided to redirect his efforts to a nearby potted plant and fell face first into the bush, didn’t that constitute saving his life?  Some of the more immature travelers thought it might have been hilarious to let him try his face-plant efforts from on top of the fence that would have provided a more majestic visual than the crass spectacle of the “watering” of the shrubbery did

A large number of books and several magazines find eager audiences willing to spend money to read about far away places with strange sounding names so why is it that the Internets hasn’t spawned a digital Kerouac?  Can crossposting columns on Digihitch lead to a book deal?  Would “No good blog goes unread” be the corollary for “No good deed goes unpunished!”?

What if a fellow traveled extensively and then boldly asserted that theGolden GateBridgein theSan Franciscoarea was more photogenic than theSydneyBridge?  That might stir up one or two posts in the comments section challenging the contention, but (hypothetically) do any potential readers in ConcordiaKansasreally care about determining which of the two is a better photo op?  Wouldn’t they be more interested in getting the final score of the Friday night high school football game?

Would it be worth all the time the time, effort, and expense required to get photos of the two contenders, just to push a troll in the King’s Cross Section of one of the bridges’ home towns into going to all the trouble of posting an “<I>au contraire</I>” message in the comments section?

Isn’t that like the moment in “Rebel without a cause” when James Stark (James Dean) asks the other guy:  “Why do we do this Buzz?”  The answer was “We gotta do something.”

Since that first step of walking out of the apartment building inLos Angeleshappened on October 1 of 2008, we’ve been thinking about the way things have changed since then.

Many Americans pay for a tour to a foreign country and come back with enthusiastic accounts of forming friendships on the trip . . . with their fellow American travelers.  Business men who get paid to go toAustraliausually get to stay at a chain franchise hotel and get to mingle with other businessmen from around the world. 

When they come back to theUSAfolks will ask:  “What are the Australians like?” and those folks will reel off a list of Kodak moments (such as shots of Bon Scott’s statue in Fremantle) and spout travel platitudes.

Staying in Hostels we did not encounter very many fellow Americans nor did we get a chance to chat with many Australians.  We mostly got to talk to fellow vagabonders from throughout theBritish Empireplus a goodly number of European youths.  We made an effort to talk to Aussies so that we could blog our reply in more detail to the “What are Australians like?” question.

If you loveNew York City(and who doesn’t?), you will feel quite at home inSydney, but are New Yorkers just like the folks in ConcordiaKansas?  TheSydneyvs.Perthdebate is very similar to the rivalry betweenNew York Cityand the City ofour LadyQueen of the Angeles (AKA L. A.). 

At a hostel inKalgoorlie, (the Word spell check challenges the name of that city in the W. A. [AKA WesternAustralia]) you are more likely to encounter a Kiwi seeking work than a person fromSydney. 

Regional loyalty is an interesting phenomenon.  Somebody inAustraliathought it would be better to reshoot episodes of “The Office” with local geographical references rather than showing reruns of the American series (which was inspired by a series inEngland).

If the Aussies make a joke about Skimpie’s being the most famous saloon inAustraliawould that be better than a reference to the Amereica’s best corner bar?  When Johnny Carson was hosting the Tonight Show from a studio inNew York, he helped Hurley’s achieve that distinction, but now that he’s gone and Hurley’s is too; what is the most famous gin mill in theUSA?

Australians make as much of a fuss about the Melbourne Cup as Americans do for the Kentucky Derby.  Can your American neighbor who has taken a tour of Oz tell you when that race is held?

One of the most popular tourist attractions inAustralia is the National War Museum in Canberra.  Americans who visit it can learn during World War II, just as the Australians were preparing for an invasion byJapan, theAmericaswon theBattleof theCoral Seaand the Battle of Midway in rapid succession and thereby crippled the Japanese military’s plan to plant their flag on Australian soil.

Australians we met made efforts to explain that they lovedAmericaand Americans for preventing the Japanese invasion, but they disagreed with what George W. Bush was doing with torture, invasions, and attacks on personal liberty.

We went to an (American) Election Results (Why doesAmericainsist on holding their elections on Melbourne Cup Day?) viewing party at theUniversityofSydneyand the tumultuous reaction to Obama’s victory seemed genuine.  When the polls closed at 9 p. m. on Election day, onAmerica’s West Coast, it was 3 p.m. Wednesday inSydney. 

Lately as we notice that while some beautiful Indian Summer days in Berkeley indicate that Winter is drawing neigh, the jacaranda bushes will soon be blooming in Sydney and their country will prepare to celebrate Christmas in the traditional Australia way, i.e. in a bathing suit on the beaches from Bondi to Cottesloe.

In late October of 2008, Australians were very enthusiastic about the election of President Obama and we can’t help but wonder if “change” has occurred in their assessments ofAmerica’s leader.  Hmmm.  Would it be better to go back to theUniversityofSydneyto watch the 2012 Election results get posted or should we try going to Harry’s New York Bar inParisto see the reaction there?

Being a cynical self-subsidized American political columnist means that ultimately that decision will be up to the World’s Laziest Jounralist and no one else will get to participate in the final results.  Which brings us back to Buzz’s question in “Rebel Without a Cause.”

At Christmas time in 2008 we recall one evening sitting in the smoking and drinking area of a hostel in Fremantle WesternAustraliachatting with some young ladies fromStocktonEngland(Home of the Northern Blues) and they asked this columnist why he had gone to all the effort to travel there. 

Seeing the Fords, Ferraris, and Chaparrals compete at Sebring had been fun.  Going to the Oscars™, Emmys, and Grammies had been a real hoot (should we double back on our tracks and see if they have changed much since Nixon was in the White House?).  We had asked John Wayne for his autograph and gotten a business card with a reproduction of his signature.  We gave our autograph to Paul Newman.  We flew in the Goodyear blimp. 

Would a blogger have to be crazy to try to attempt to do something with a blog that Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and Jack London didn’t achieve with their books?  We explained that we were searching for a colorful character who had been everywhere and done everything.  The Brits enthusiastic response was to say that was precisely why they had come there and that was why they were glad they had met the World’s Laziest Journalist.

In all the intervening days we’ve lost track of the “on the road” aspect of our quest for material for the columns we write.  It seems that we have settled into a routine of bashing the Bush-Obama political agenda.  Now we have to ask ourself another question.  “Why (allegedly) do more sailors jump ship inNew Zealandthan any other country in the world?”

In “A Personal Record,” Joseph Conrad wrote:  “I had given myself up to the idleness of a haunted man who looks for nothing but words wherein to capture his visions.”

Since some music will now always remind us of our trip toAustralia, the disk jockey will now play Bobby Bare’s “Five hundred miles away from home,”  Johnny Cash’s “Live at Fulsome Prison” album, and the 1812 Overture (what will the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra play at this year’s Christmas Concert under the stars?).  We have to go check the expiration date on our passport.  Have an “I remember it well” type week.

S-a-a-a-y What?

September 27, 2011

Writing an eloquent and well reasoned column pointing out the logical shortfall when a straw poll has been held by the Party that has stated their game plan is to limit the occupant of the White House to one term because they hate him for his ethnic background and the results awards a win indicating that there could be a Presidential race featuring two candidates of Pan-African heritage is too much of a challenge for the World’s Laziest Journalist.

Would Republicans be content to let the conservative majority United State Supreme Court sit idly by and let democracy in action embody provide an example of their nightmare scenario coming true?

Attempting to explain the apparent hypocritical aspect of such an unexpected result would require an elaborate example of in-depth journalism that would blend an extensive knowledge of psychology with speculation about the deep subconscious motivation for the result that blatantly contradicts the attitude revealed by numerous Republican attempts at ethnic humor that offends many Democrats. 

Aren’t the Fox Views propagandists the only performers qualified to give instant analyses displaying an extensive knowledge of the mood of the electorate?  Wouldn’t a liberal pundit be challenged for producing anything describing what the voters are thinking that is unsubstantiated by extensive (and expensive) polling results?

It would be easier to write a column about an attempt at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory to fabricate a new item that makes a nefarious effort to link the ideas that college educated liberals support teachers’ unions and that high school dropouts who may not have had courses where they learned to dissect a frog are the staunchest critics of the global warming evidence presented by “scientists.”  What possible connection could they suggest at the aforementioned factory?  Doesn’t it sound stupid to think that the longer a person stays in school the more likely it will be that they think that all polar bears (<I>Ursis maritimus</I>) will eventually drown in the Artic Sea?  Can we get a WTF?

Isn’t it great that after President Obama lectured the Congressional Black Caucus and told them that they should take Archie Bunker’s advice to “Stifle!,” his ardent Liberal critics (such as Mike Malloy) didn’t resort to a trite metaphor about making them eat some cookies that carry a racial slur connotation in their brand name? 

Someday we are going to write a column about the list of radio personalities that became cultural phenomenon.  We can remember hearing Arthur Godfrey, Don McNeill, Cousin Brucie, Harry Harrison, and Dr. Demento.  We seem to remember that Don Sherwood had a brief gig at a Lake Tahoe radio station and we heard one or two examples of that show.  AM radio reception in the Tahoe basin was poor but Wolfman Jack came in loud and clear.  We were too young to have the chance to hear Father Coughlin.  We missed Jean Sheppard.  Liberals and Conservatives have diametrically opposed reasons for listening to Mike Malloy, but someday we are going to put on our Pop Culture hat and do a column asserting that as theUSAmorphed from democracy to fascism, Malloy functioned as the last Liberal voice standing. 

Someday folks who were youngsters during the Obama era will be reading history books (are they on the endangered species list yet?) and might regret that they had the chance to hear what a Liberal rant sounded like but that they put it off and thereby missed a chance to participate in cultural history as it was happening.

We assumed that the unwashed phenomenon performing at the Village Gate would always be there and we intend to catch it next time we are in the Big Apple.

We didn’t realize how long it would take but since we assumed that Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground would always be the house band at Maxwell’sKansas City, we figure that we should go there at the next available opportunity.

Can you hear Radio Caroline on the Internets?

Should one of the Internets radio sites call itself XERB dot com?

Why did Liberal media types hail the British Invasion of America in the Sixties and condemn the American Invasion of Iraq in the Bush era?

Why don’t the Conservative trolls refute the assertion that the current Republican game plan sounds like a “Waiting for Godot” revival and that existentialism and Theater of the Absurd are close approximations of Republican values?

Speaking of “Waiting for Godot,” some skeptics have challenged our contention that JEB will be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012.  When is he going to make his move?

Why is it that, when the Rolling Stones, who have touring down to a fine science, are scheduled to take the stage at a concert, they always run late?  The audience gets restless and rowdy and just when the crowd seems on the verge of a spontaneous riot, the announcer (who did they get to replace Bill Graham?) will introduce the world’s greatest band and the crowd will give them a very enthusiastic reception.  Could Karl Rove be intending to do the same thing for JEB?

Remember the time inLos Angeleswhen Bill Graham told the crowd that if they didn’t stop booing Prince, they wouldn’t get the Stones?  Boy, that shut the rude boys up real fast.

The is a folk axiom that says “If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there.”  Back then people had to work hard to be well informed about the contemporary culture.  The Village Voice, theBerkeleyBarb, and the L. A. Free Press worked diligently to keep people informed about what was happening.  The older WWII vets thought that the kids and their opposition to “Tricky Dick” were amusing.

People who rely on Fox Views to be well informed might some day look back on the Bush-Obama era and realize that there was an ideological explanation for questions about why theOccupy Wall Streetmovement didn’t get noticed by the mainstream media until there some good old Sixties-style mass arrests were made.

Political chicanery may be ubiquitous but it is never amusing – except to existentialist cynics.  Fool the voters once, shame on you.  Fool them every time and it is time to reassure the rubes that the electronic voting machines are unhackable. 

The Cain win inFloridais exhibit A for making the case that the Republicans are not racists.  The Obama win in 2008 is exhibit A for proving that the results from the electronic voting machines are reliable. 

Part of Karl Rove’s strategy has always been to attack the opposition’s strong point.  Does that mean that if JEB is nominated his ads will feature a sound byte of his brother’s quote:  “If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”?

Now the disk jockey will play the Del Vikings “Don’t get slick on me,” the Kink’s “Who will be the next in line,” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “What a heck of a mess.”  We have to go find our draft card.  Have a veto proof type week.

Right to life or “Give us Barabbas!”?

September 23, 2011

Aren’t the audiences for live TV events usually expected to react on cue?  Aren’t they supposed to applaud only when the “Applause” light is lit?  Did the debate audience flash the inverted hitchhikers sign (which very closely resembles the movie reviewer’s hand signal trademarked by Roger Ebert?) to indicate their suggestion to the “Give meLibertyor give me death” binary choice while they uttered their verbal bit of Gladiator nostalgia?  “Could the studio audience’s shouting of ‘Let him die!’ have been a scripted moment?”

Isn’t it deadly serious and not the least bit funny when the right to life segment of the Republican Party sits in silence while a man of Pan African heritage is executed for a murder for which there is reasonable doubt about the defendant’s guilt?  Did uncle Rushbo play the “Let him die!” sound byte on the day of the Troy Davis execution?  Are the “Right to Life” advocates just playing “dead dog” on command or are they a dying breed?  Will the Republicans keep the “Let him die!” philosophy in mind when it comes time to apply some stringent budget cuts to the Veterans Hospitals programs?  (Do Republicans laugh when they hear Elvis sing “Old Shep”?) 

Isn’t it logical to conclude that either the “Right to Life” or “Let him die!” is a false flag operation for the Republi<I>can’t</I>s?  Or have they mastered the concept that George Orwell dubbed “double think”?

Will any bleeding-heart liberal pundit ask:  “Is it really surprising to find Gestapo values in a war crimes nation?”

Read John Powers book “Sore Winners” and then try to make the point that a scripted spontaneous moment couldn’t have been the case.  Aren’t all the famous Republican moments well scripted?  (Such as:  “We hear you!”?)

Could it be that pundits for mainstream media are no longer expected to do anything but act as part of a bucket brigade for conservative talking points? 

If the paid pundits have morphed into subservient propagandists, then they won’t risk their weekly paychecks to ask impertinent questions about the piss-poor job performance of the Republicans in Congress.  Why should they? 

If America has become an “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” nation, why should a media personality risk his job just to bring up the possibility that voters negotiating to save their homes from foreclosure are dealing with the same kind of hardhearted desperados as were featured in the famous example of Arab folklore. 

There is an old bit of American folk wisdom warning that the one sure way of avoiding a divorce is to never get married.  Using that logic, if people don’t want to deal with a bank foreclosing on their homes, then they shouldn’t buy one.

If the wife does get sick, new wisdom says:  “have a divorce lawyer deliver the <I>adios</I> papers!”  Was Newt afraid to do that? 

Isn’t it selfish (and a fine example of sewing the seeds for class warfare) for foreclosure victims to begrudge bankers their generous Christmas bonuses?

Do they want the foreclosure henchmen to be paid salaries just to sit and ignore past-due mortgage payments?

Didn’t a John Steinbeck novel prove that you can’t move toCaliforniaand take the family farm inOklahomawith you?

Aren’t über-cynical pundits saying that it is very poignant to realize that the author of “Generation of Swine” died long before the spectacle of this year’s P. T. Barnum style Presidential race began to unfold?

Is it true (who doesn’t love the Jim Healy sound bites on the Norman Goldman radio show?) that the JEB Bush campaign staff is giving away free copies of Agatha Christie’s classic “Ten Little Indians”? 

JEB has not been littering the debates with embarrassing sound bytes.  JEB has not been participating in kindergarten level squabbles.  JEB will look absolutely statesman-like in comparison, when theVermontprimary is held.

Isn’t the underlying reason for the pitiful Republican field the same clever bit of game-playing that causes manager of the headline acts at a rock concert to take extreme measures to make sure that the opening acts don’t eclipse his guys?  If an opening act gets boo-ed off the stage, isn’t the contrast much greater then when the headliners do take the stage?

Sure it would be fun to open for the Rolling Stones during their next tour.  What band could turn down such an invitation?  What critic really cares who opens for the Stones?  Isn’t it mind-boggling to realize that the greatest rock and roll band in the world will soon be celebrating their 50th year in business?  Will they play a gig at the Marquise Club just to draw attention to the milestone?  How much money could such a hypothetical gig raise for charity? 

Did Tony Bennett just get some adverse publicity for calling for a new investigation into 9-11?

A soldier who doesn’t fight on the battle field is subject to a court-martial for dereliction of duty.  (Wasn’t there some talk inWashingtonthis week about reinstituting the draft?)  A worker who lacks diligence can be fired for incompetence.  A nihilist who lacks energy can express his philosophy of life by goofing-off.  Can the Republicans who were elected to work in the legislative branch of government be impeached for their sit-down strike tactics? 

Voters inAmericaare free to use the electronic voting machines that leave no verifiable results to (try) to vote the rascals out of office.  Cynics are still free (for how much longer?) to ask if that isn’t like the concept in a David Bowie song of putting out a fire by dousing it with gasoline.

Didn’t the Nazis use a minority party to control a majority of citizens who didn’t approve of their political program?  In many Arab countries isn’t it often the case that a Shiite minority rules over a Sunni majority of citizens (or is it the other way around?)?  What Republican would object on moral or political philosophical grounds to the suggestio that they use the electronic voting machines to permit a minority party to rule over a much bigger number of citizens in a majority party?

Doesn’t the Vince Lombardi philosophy apply to the use of electronic voting machines with unverifiable results?  “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.”

The term “false flag operation” has been bandied about frequently recently and it makes this columnist wonder if perhaps somehow people in a smoke filled room were inspired by that concept to engineer a way to get a Republican mole into the White House cleverly disguised as a precedence setting Democrat.

Will some of Pan Am’s airplanes turn into time machines?  Is it true that Leonardo DiCaprio will make an uncredited cameo appearance on the new TV show?  We are going to try to catch that if we can. 

Closing quote:  Kurt Weill said:  “Wherever I found decency and humanity in the world it reminded me ofAmerica.”

Now the disk jockey will get a little esoteric by playing:   “Somehow I Never Could Believe” (from “Street Scene”), Marlene Dietrich’s “See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have” (from “Destry Rides Again”), and Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife.”  We have to cut out.  Have aWeimarRepublictype week and keep the “Applause” light lit while the credits roll.

Remember Unions?

September 16, 2011

A noisy racket at 7:40 a.m., on Wednesday September 14, 2011, inSan Francisco’s Embarcadero district was designed to remind guests at the hotel across from theFerryBuildingat the foot ofMarket Streetthat they had crossed a picket line when they checked-in.  It also reminded one columnist of some San Francisco history and that it was time to take some photos and to collect whatever tidbits of information about union busting were available and not worry about a topic for the next installment of his continuing series of assessments of contemporary American Pop Culture.

One of the strikers described a recent confrontation with a critical citizen passerby who disparaged the strikers’ efforts.  She replied by offering the opinion that by supporting the management’s position he was actually supporting Osama bin Laden’s efforts to destroy America’s economy.  The citizen went and got a cop to provide the arbitration for the street debate.

The early morning commotion included the use of a kazoo amplified by a bullhorn augmented by some chanting and a striker who used another bullhorn to state her grievances.  Nearby some of the famed cable cars prepared to “climb half way to the stars.”  So did the noise level.  (We have to fact check and see if it was Keith Moon who played drums on the recording of “Stairway to Heaven.”)

Later on Wednesday (according to information found via a Google News search), the workers held a rally and agreed to return to work while continuing to express their grievances to company management. 

San Franciscotourists (and some of the city’s younger residents?) might be unaware of the fact thatFogCityhad been, during the Thirties, the site for one of the few general strikes in the annals of the American Labor movement.  Do the folks, who are planning the protest in Washington D. C. for October 20 of this year, know about the general strike that was held inSan Francisco?

When Teddy Roosevelt would mumble the word “Bully,” was he offering conservatives attitude advice on how to respond to complaints about working conditions such as those described in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”?

During World War II, there was a Broadway production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” that featured juvenile actors.  Will the repeal of child labor laws speed the demise of union? 

The description of the striker’s involvement in the curb side example of freedom of speech reminded this columnist of a pro-management conservative inLos Angeleswho also happens to be well versed in martial arts.  He often cites kung-fu movies as being an example of how individuals should be prepared to fight their battles with management alone.  Is the legend about one lone Texas Ranger single-handedly backing down a mob based on a true incident?

The fellow in L. A. ignores the implications of the axiom:  Negotiate together or beg alone.  He seems blissfully unaware of just how unrealistic those movies are.  In a film, Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee may beat-up a group of thugs but the bad guys always come at the hero one at time like the “take a ticket and wait for your number to be called” customers at a busy deli.  In real life (fact questioning trolls are referred to Hunter Thompson’s book on the Hell’s Angeles), if a karate expert blundered into a confrontation with a motorcycle gang, they wouldn’t fight him one at a time.  They would swarm over him (insert bear, bees, honey metaphor here) and beat the crap out of him. 

Fact checking trolls who challenge this are invited to go into a biker’s bar and learn first hand how inaccurate the kung-fu films’ level of reality is.  Do the actors in those quaint films belong to the actors’ union?  Can’t they fight their own labor disputes by themselves?

Reality has never been a serious consideration for those presenting the conservative point of view and it never will be.  Fox Views (News?) has legally established their right to tell lies as part of their efforts to report and let the audience decide.  If they really want you to decide about important issues, then we have a question:  How would you rate Fox’s coverage of the Murdoch hacking scandal?

We know of one particular conservative in L. A.’sSouthBayarea who asserts that the voices in his head have the call waiting feature.

If annual awards for hypocrisy are ever initiated, conservatives will be expected to dominate the yearly results. 

Take Uncle Rushbo and Sean Hannity (please, take them!).  Earlier this year they indulged in diatribes railing against unions.  Were we surprised to hear Mike Malloy mention that those two fellows were members in good standing in the very same union to which Malloy pays his membership dues?  Do wild bears . . . .  Conservatives and hypocrisy go together like . . . what?  Conservatives and hypocrisy go together like bikers and free concerts at the Alta Mont raceway!

We haven’t listened to Uncle Rushbo lately but we are curious to know if he is explaining how extending work hours and reducing wages can provide a logical basis for starting an economic recovery.  How the heck can people be out in the malls spendingAmericainto recovery if they have to put in extended hours at their desks to earn less pay?  Oh!  Yeah!  Run credit cards up to the limit!  What conservative doesn’t approve of that solution for a way to handle a tight budget crisis? 

Are the Republican members of Congress going to use the classical “sit down strike” strategy from now until a Republican is elected President?  Isn’t that like holding the recovery hostage and using that as a basis for a “You’ll get a recovery, when you elect a Republican President” type (implied) ransom demand?

If the Republicans use the union tactics of a sit down strike to bust unions, shield the rich from taxes, and regain the White House, would that  be an example of irony or hypocrisy?

Speaking ofSan Franciscohow did William R. Hearst’s efforts to break the union strike at the L. A. Herald Examiner work out?

In an effort to track down an appropriate closing quote from either Eric Hoffer or Harry Brudges (gotta help the conservative trolls earn their pay by providing them with deliberately misspelled names), we stumbled across the fact that Woodrow Wilson (wasn’t he a Republican?) told congress:  “The seed of revolution is repression.”

Now the disk jockey will play Woodrow Guthrie’s “Sticking to the Union,” Roy Orbison’s “Workin’ for the Man,” and the “Cool Hand Luke” soundtrack album.  We have to go make plans to attend the San Francisco Public Library’s 47th Big Book Sale September 22 – 25 atFortMason.  Have a “never heard Herb Caen’s name mentioned once” type week.

The crazy world of citizen journalism

September 14, 2011

Back in the Sixties, the New York Times had a daily box listing the books that were officially being published on that particular day.  When the Internets were younger, this columnist made some feeble efforts to contact Amazon and see if he could interest them in paying him to provide an online version of the newspaper’s daily listing.  One of the joys of a bookstore is the serendipity factor when a buyer stumbles across an item that makes a strong case for indulging in an impulse purchase.  Since Amazon seems to lack a method of making a direct approach to impulse buys, we thought a listing of new books could be a strong unique, drawing feature for the online firm.  Our efforts to be the Internets pioneer who started such a daily draw for the book selling firm were for naught.  They didn’t hire this columnist and they still don’t offer such a listing.

Since everyone loves the idea of winning free stuff in a contest, we also assessed the potential for doing the work necessary for starting a web site where contest fans could find a daily resource for news and information about <I>exciting</I> (isn’t there a law that requires that adjective to be attached to all contest announcements?) new contests. 

One of the negative aspects for both these ventures was the large potential for ultimate boredom.  If we had undertaken (pun alert here?) either of these monumental tasks, it seems likely that we would have eventually used up our initial adrenaline burst of enthusiasm and energy and then be forced to rely on the all American motivation of greed to carry the task to completion.  Only large gobs of money can cure boredom and inertia, eh?

When we got a gig being a columnist errant for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine, we envisioned it as a chance to help that magazine duplicate the Rolling Stone magazine success story by becoming the digital version of an ersatz Hunter S. Thompson.  The web site’s management (AKA <I>el jefe</I>) decided to concentrate their editorial content exclusively on music and we had to move our Don Quixote efforts elsewhere. 

In the process of providing book and film reviews, photos, and political punditry to the management at Just Above Sunset online magazine, we were able to scratch two items off our bucket list: a ride in the Goodyear blimp and a ride on a B-17 G bomber.  Soon, we were cross-posting our political punditry efforts on both Just Above Sunset and Smirking Chimp.  Later we added cross posting on Op Ed News and Bartcop to our online “to do” list.

It seemed to the World’s Laziest Journalist that, in an era of specialization, an effort to imitate online what columnist Herb Caen had done for San Francisco for almost six decades by providing a string of rather short snarky tidbits about one particular city could be expanded to appeal to a more geographically diverse audience, and that it would work well in the digital era because skimming has become ubiquitous.

Last week, this columnist took some photos and did an item on a group of protesters in People’s Park who were conducting their efforts while living up in one of the park’s trees.  The day after Labor Day their efforts had vanished.  We learned that one of the protester’s had fallen out of the tree during the night (Monday to Tuesday morning).  The Cal Berkeley student newspaper reported that other park residents had said that the girl broke her back in the fall. We should do a Google news search for a more authoritative update.

We also ran an item about the past weekend plans for theNorthern Californiagroup that wants to bring out the truth about what happened on 9/11.  Their promotional literature mentioned a Toronto Hearing.  We should do a Google news search for information on that unexplained aspect of the 9/11 topic.  As this column is being written, we have skipped an opportunity to take a photo of their Sunday parade downMarket StreetinSan Franciscoand have chosen, instead, to do the first draft of this column.

As the overwhelming aspect of doing all that simultaneous work became more and more apparent, we considered doing an entire column asking if the overworked writers for liberal web sites were facing a situation that could be compared to the task of the reporter who was with General Custer when he was surrounded at the Little Big Horn river by attacking Indians. 

(Would it be worth the effort to do some fact checking on the idea that the American soldiers only had old obsolete muzzle loader weapons and that the attackers had repeater rifles supplied by an unethical gun dealer or is that something on display in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s “Hall of Fame” display area?)

On Monday September 12, 2011, we knew that there was going to be another protest at theBARTCivicCenterstation, but we decided to skip the chance to take new news photos that would probably be very similar to the images we had recorded at several other recent similar protests. 

Is there a potential column topic in the possibility that Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch are conspiring to work liberal writers to death (like the dog in “Cool Hand Luke”?) by inundating them with bullshit that needs to be refuted with extensive fact finding and careful logical analysis?

Could we do an issues oriented roundup column under with a headline reading:  “Has American Democracy been scuttled by the Republicans?”  It seems that Democrats must now simultaneously mount efforts to revive interest and enthusiasm for:  the unions, the social security program, verifiable election results, voter registration, fair taxation rates, ending extraneous wars, providing social welfare programs for the homeless, and maintaining affordable quality education while the Republicans flash their “Just vote No!” bumper stickers and head for the golf course with campaign donors?

With all the pandemonium surrounding the P. T. Barnum approach to selecting next year’s Republican Presidential nominee, shouldn’t it soon be time for Barbara Bush to hold a press conference and admonish all Americans to come to their senses, get serious, and nominate her son JEB?  Hypothetically wouldn’t even Edward R. Morrow himself have to utter a subservient response to such a clarion call?  “Yes, mom, we’ll get to work on that right away.”  (Wasn’t last weekend’s terrorist alert a delightful bit of Bush era nostalgia?)

Recently we learned online that Herb Caen’s typewriter is on display in the San Francisco Chronicle’s newsroom.  Unfortunately the public can’t drop in to see it.  William Randolph Hearst made an exception to his own iron clad rule for a columnist named Bob Patterson.  Is it worth all the effort it would take for the World’s Laziest Journalist to get a photo ofCaen’s Royal to use with one of his own columns? 

In a world where solipsism rules and where Sisyphus is the citizen journalists’ team mascot, it seems to this columnist that it might be worth the effort to shoehorn an appointment with a typewriter into a schedule that is already an insurmountable challenge to efficient time management.  

After we do our next installment of volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association, check out the statue of an alligator in theEl Pasotown plaza (or is it a crocodile?  They look alike in the dark.), we will start holding a schizophrenic style debate with ourself about assigning ourself to doing some columns about the earthquake recovery efforts in New Zeland.

If it seems that such a gig doesn’t have any connection to American political punditry, perhaps we can ask some of the relief workers the Goldwin style question:  “How much do you loveAmerica’s latest war crimes?”

Writing about the same topic, over and over, such as what books are new or what contests are new, might earn a columnist an opportunity to be cross posted on one particularly big aggregate web site, but, to this columnist, that seems too much like a job and we prefer to continue our efforts to build a collection of readers who ask:  “What did he write about this time?”

Recently a fellow blogger in theBerkeleyarea noted with trepidation that the three dot (it’s called an ellipse) style of column writing often triggers skeptical responses from readers.  If some fiddle head conservative troll, who tries to evoke the old high school bit of humor about the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Cries for You” or accusations such as “You are crazy!”, can do better aren’t they free to submit such efforts?  It seems that those who can, do; and those who can’t, post troll comments. 

When the manager of a hotel informed the music group “The Who” that there had been complaints from other guests about noise in the rock stars’ room, legendary drummer John Bonham (allegedly) threw the TV out the window and said “That was noise; this is music.”

Now the disk jockey will play Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” and a bootleg recording of the Rolling Stones project sometimes called “The Contractual Obligation” album.  We have to go post bail (again?) for a friend.  Have a “OR’ed” type week.

“Here Come de Judge”

September 8, 2011

When a call from a friend came requesting some coaching on the topic of how to bring the questionable conduct of a judge to the attention of a reporter from the New York Times, we replied that it would be best to take some preliminary fact finding steps and to try to use some community resources first.  Our pal of about three and a half decades then asked additional questions about how precisely that phase of her attempt to bring things out in the open should be conducted.  We replied that we would have to do a bit of our own research to answer those questions and suggested that she call back on the weekend.

We intended to relay her questions to some of the journalists and lawyers we know in theLos Angelesarea.  The next morning, we received a call from the President of the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association (MTA) and indulged in some small talk about political issues in both theSan Franciscobay area and the greater “Hollyweird” metropolitan urban sprawl.  Before we could ask what our friend back East should do, we were asked if we would like to get away from the numerous issues of concern in the Berkeley activists community and take a working vacation closer to the MTA offices where their efforts to focus on rent control and defining “fair rate of return” and refining the definition of “grounds for recusal ” are continuing.  Thus we can provide them with new evidence proving our ability to perform volunteer work.

Maybe, if we get some extra free time in L. A., we could start a blog for the MTA organization.

While we are in the L. A. area, maybe we can get some tips and information from the Ful Disclosure Network about doing journalism concerned with judicial matters and then relay that information to our friend in New York.

We have been noticing a series of editorials in the New York Times about aspects of the judicial branch of government and we have been sending the links to those editorials to the MTA and Full Disclosure’s management, so maybe the New York Times would be open to a story suggestion from a New York state resident. 

Earlier this year, we had noticed a large amount of political punditry that questioned the potential for conflict of interest regarding U. S. Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas and his wife who is active in some national political issues.  We didn’t think that there was any possibility that we could add a substantive column to the debate and sat on the sidelines for that topic.

We noted a recent flurry of political commentary about the news updates on the West Memphis Three.

Doing a round-up of the prisoners who have been freed by DNA evidence is way beyond our limited resources.  Isn’t that also an example of outdated news?

If we do go down toLos Angeles, we would be positioned to write a column about the latest developments concerning the saga of Richard Fine.

Some pundits who specialize in writing about legal issues have been questioning the wisdom of a recent Supreme Court decision which declared that companies are persons.  There are some complex aspects to this decision such as:  “Are companies likely to be drafted if the draft boards are re-activated any time soon?”  Pundits have wondered:  “Do companies need a passport to go overseas to do business?”  What about this question:  “Should companies that intend to do a merger be subjected to the legislation which regulates marriages?”  If one of the companies involved isn’t clearly a male and the other obviously female, would such a merge be a stealth example of gay marriage?

At this point, it seemed like a relaxing night at the movies would have some therapeutic value. 

We went to see a documentary titled “Crime after Crime.”  It tells the story of the legal struggles of Deborah Peagler’s effort to get out of prison.  The film raises questions about the conduct ofLos Angeles’ District Attorney Steve Cooley and his staff in the handling of the case and the long series of appeals.  The filmmakers are trying to comply with the rules of eligibility so that the film can compete for the Best Documentary Oscar™ for 2011.  Her legal team got some support from the Habeas Project Coalition and they are now trying to get legislation passed in the state ofNew Yorkwhich will be similar to a measure inCaliforniawhich helped Ms. Peagler’s case.

Isn’t there more than one movie that featured the line:  “First we’ll give you a trial – judge, jury, everything – then we’ll hang you!”?

Recently radio talk show host Mike Malloy has been pointing out that there seems to be some hypocrisy involved in the fact that both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have administered some national policy that seems to contradict the very principles of conduct established by theUnited Statesand other countries at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. 

In another item of irony, the Supreme Court of Germany ruled that the results from the electronic voting machines were unreliable and subsequently those machines were disqualified for use in elections in that country. 

In theUnited States, only Brad Friedman (of the Bradblog website) is challenging the contention that those machines are unhackable and highly reliable.  Is Friedman asserting that questionable election results are being fast-tracked to become a hallowed American tradition?  Is Brad afraid thatAmerica’s Supreme Court isn’t as liberal as theGermany’s seems to be?

Recently we heard a “news” opinion predicting that the old Supreme Court decision in the Roe v. Wade case will be reexamined and overturned in a new reevaluation of the case.

At this point we have become seriously alarmed at the possibility that our friend in theEmpireState(do we need to insert an irony alert here?) will build a substantial amount of evidence of judicial misconduct and then be shunted aside by the New York Times on grounds that such stories have become too commonplace to warrant the use of staff time and resources on just one particular example.

John B. Bogart earned a place inBartlett’s Quotations (on page 659 of the Fifteenth Editon) for saying:  “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often.  But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”  Wasn’t there a certain photo of Michele Bachman’s husband biting a dog being displayed on the Internets recently?

Now the disk jockey will play “Here Come de Judge,” Johnny Cash’s “The Long Black Veil,” and an album by the Denver based group called Tequila Mockingbird.  We have to go and look up the definition of “jury nullification.”  Have a “case dismissed” type week.

The Return of “Street Fighting Man”?

September 6, 2011

As the ninth month of the year begins, here are a few items that the columnist considers important cultural tidbits:  an unpopular Democratic President is struggling to get renominated, a bumper sticker being sold on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley asks:  “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?,” there is an ongoing protest at People’s Park, the Freedom of Speech issue is spawning arrests, a new book by Shel Silverstein is due out this month, the Playboy Club (and “the bunny slouch”?) will be featured in a new TV series, and Pan Am will get tons of free publicity from a new fall TV series (perhaps based on the book “Coffee, Tea, or me?”?), so with out looking at a calendar can you please say what year is this?  British disk jockey Danny Baker recently proclaimed that this year is 1968 and he might be right.

The longer Obama is President the easier it becomes for a pundit to make clever and perceptive comments; all that’s needed is a great memory.  A case in point would be pollution and global warming.  You don’t need to be a conspiracy theory scientist to have a major emotional reaction to a bit of popular American culture from 1970.  Who can watch the Iron Eyes Cody Public Service Announcement and not get the point?

Who can listen to “Man in Black,” Johnny Cash’s 1971 hit that covered just about all of today’s problems, and not find it moving?

For people living in Berkeley and facing the task of preparing to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car, the recent No Justice No BART protests and arrests about the Freedom of Speech issue has a distinct “been there done that” aspect.

People’s Park is back in the news.  Activists are staging a protest.  They assert that theUniversityofCaliforniainBerkeleyis using incremental limitations as a way of trying to end the use of the area known as People’s Park as a campsite for homeless people.  Activists inform journalists that efforts are being made to end the program to feed the homeless in the park.  Similar protests in 1969 were suspended after the Park and the protests, which resulted in the death of James Richter, became national news stories.

Peace is still the objective for Peaceniks only the name of the war has changed.

Mario Savio objected to high tuition fees in the Sixties and asserted that students had a right to express their opinions.  Two years ago students were holding demonstrations at UCB to draw attention to increases in tuition costs.

Over the Labor Day weekend, a march by the United Farm Workers reachedSacramentowhere they hoped to deliver their list of grievances and goals to the governor ofCalifornia.

For a columnist who made futile efforts to get to the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, this year’s issues and protests have a strong <I>déjà vu</I> aspect to them.  One ingredient that is missing from attempts to photograph and write about this year’s events is an endless supply of energy and enthusiasm.

Scrambling around theSan FranciscoBayarea to get photos at a benefit for theNorthern California9/11 Truth Alliance, People’s Park and the various No Justice No BART protests, it is obvious that getting a by-line in the <I>Berkeley Barb</I> is a goal that will never be accomplished. 

In one day, can one reporter photographer cover a nine hour event at the Grand Lake Theater inOakland, a planned new No Justice No BART event inSan Francisco, and check in with the protest in People’s Park?  Obviously we’ll have to postpone plans to do a round-up column on the current spate of items concerned with the quality of the judicial branch of government in theUSAtoday.  We’re working on developing other columns such as one that compares the Republican philosophy to that of the Apaches and play with the irony that some famous Republicans have been accused of kidnapping Geronimo’s skull. 

We’ll try to cover the Sunday event at the Herbst Theater inSan Franciscoon September 11.  We’ll monitor the People’s Park protest.  We’ll do updates on the No Justice No BART protests.  Rather than struggling with the knack of loading Tri-X film on the Nikkor reels, we’ll be struggling to learn the new html skills to move our photojournalism into the digital era, but we will also be aware of certain other limitations on our efforts.

Back in 1968, the World’s Laziest Journalist used to annoy the snot out of some close friends by introducing cultural comments and insights with the phrase “Back in 1968.”  We don’t bug them with that shtick anymore because a two of the folks who were most upset with it, have “gone to the happy hunting grounds.”

In the April 1965 issue of Cavalier magazine, Paul Krassner wrote:  “There was, of course, oneBerkeleyadministration official who mustered up his oversimplification gland and labeled the protest there as not much more than a ‘civil rights panty raid.’”

Krassner also wrote:  “There is an Establishment (translate:  in-power) point of view about events such as these – usually predictable but nevertheless in a state of limited flux – and the mass media serve as vehicles for and reflections of the Establishment point of view.”  What if Rupert Murdoch is the Establishment?

Now the disk jockey will give someBerkeleymusicians a bit of exposure by playing the “Fixing to Die” rag, “Run through the Jungle,” and “Long as I can see the Light.”  We have to go and try to buy a copy of Eye magazine.  Have a “hella-groovy” type week.