The crazy world of citizen journalism

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.

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