Archive for March, 2012

Beatnik flashbacks

March 30, 2012

When William Hjortsberg started reading chapter twelve, “frisco,” from his new book “jubilee hitchhiker:  the life and times of Richard Brautigan” (Counterpoint Berkeley hardback $42.50), and got to the lines about the role the City Lights bookstore played in the start of the Beat era in the city at the South end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it seemed rather appropriate to be hearing it with the audience in the poetry room of that very same bookstore.

In an era when perpetual growth, unlimited opportunity, and boundless optimism made it seem like America was driving a stake through the heart of poverty and that the starving artists of San Francisco were serving as artist proxies who would voluntarily submit themselves to the rigors of destitute living so that the middle class in the Eisenhower years would have some interesting and entertaining novels available to help amuse those who were enjoying the start of the era of infinite prosperity to know what life as a starving artist would be like rather than experiencing the American Dream firsthand.

The story of Richard Brautigan and a legion of others who would become the roster of celebrity artists who converged onSan Franciscoin the Fifties and Sixties has been fertile ground for almost all of the participants in the events that provided a gold rush opportunity for those luck enough to be there.

The World’s Laziest Journalist first heard Hjortsberg’s name when the mystery book sub-genre of vampire detectives became an obsession.  Two decades ago, Hjortsberg’s books had become prized collectors’ items and so obtaining a copy of his “Falling Angel” became both a challenge and a necessity.  Our quest led us to Vagabond books, back when they had a brick and mortar presence onWestwood Blvd., inLos Angeles.  We asked if they had the book and they did.  It was a mint condition copy.  We balked at the price but mentioned how a New York Times review indicated that book was an outstanding example of the new sub-genre we were investigating.  The clerk said:  “Oh do you just want to read it?”  We said yes and she scurried off and returned with a battered edition.  It was just a “reader’s copy” and much less expensive.

That, in turn, led us to read several other Hjortsberg’s novels that were not about a vampire detective. 

When we passed by the City Lights bookstore on Tuesday, March 20, and saw a flyer indicating that later in the week, Hjortsberg would be reading and signing his new book about Richard Brautigan.  We decided that the event would be a twofer because we have also read some of Brautigan’s work. 

Since our political punditry columns predicting that JEB will be the next President seems to upset both Liberals and Conservatives and since JEB endorsed Mitt Romney the next day, it seemed like the twofer reading and autograph party just might provide a timely and convenient opportunity to produce a column that veers away from partisan politics but still retains the right to be classified as news appropriate for use in the pop culture section.

The book was facetiously described as 50% a Brautigan biography, 50% a novel, and 50% Hjortsberg’s memoirs and that may sound like inaccurate mathematics until you see the gigantic book.  The book could easily be described as an Encyclopedia of facts for fans of the Beat Generation. 

The new book may revive the dormant debate about who precisely is and who is not a beatnik writer.  Many of the authors mentioned in this new book are irrefutably classified as founding fathers of the Beat Generation.  But some, like Brautigan, may not seem to qualify to be on the list.

One member of the audience at City Lights was a woman who was acting on behalf of her Brautigan fan husband who was out of town.  One fellow came equipped with a large variety of Hjortsberg material to be signed by the author.  He even had vintage copies of Playboy magazine with stories by Hjortsberg.  The topic of writers’ autographs and getting books signed would provide enough material, such as the  signed copies of the Philip K. Dick book that was published posthumously [signatures from his returned checks were pasted into numbered copies of the book], for an entire column.

Since Hjortsberg mentioned that James Crumley was among the vast array of writers that the author knew personally, we used that as an excuse to ask Hjortsberg during the Q and A segment of the evening a question that we had previously (at the Ocean Front Bookstore on the Venice Boardwalk) asked Crumley:  “What is your favorite dive bar?”  Hjortsberg responded by noting that his favorite bar in all the world did not qualify as a dive bar and that was the legendary McSorley’s Bar inNew York City.

It turned out that Hjortsberg’s father owned a different bar inNew York City.  Later when Hjortsberg was signing copies of the new book, one member of the audience compared Brautigan unfavorably to Gene Sheppard and that caused Hjortsberg to elaborate on being influenced, as a kid, by the New York late night radio talk show hosted by Sheppard. 

Luckily the massive book (Will it be compared to Boswell’s Life of Johnson? [It just was in the last sentence.]) has an Index and that will make it much easier for students of literature who want to read this new book as a source book for possible thesis material.  Crumley’s name gets three pages listed and he appears in a caption in the selection of photos in the book.  As best as we can recall, Crumley’s response to the question was a bar named “Mother’s” somewhere inMontana.

At this point, the fact that many of the beat writers used their own life experiences as the basis for their books, such as Brautigan did with “Willard and his bowling tropies,” caused this columnist to notice a distinct similarity to the “New Journalism” style of writing that emerged fifty years ago immediately following the Beat era.  Where does the Beat style end and the New Journalism style begin?   Will this new book provide fodder for a debate about that very topic?

Jack Kerouac wrote about one particularSan Franciscopoetry reading in 1955 in his book “The Dharma Bums.”  Kerouac fictionalized the names of the participants in the actual poetry reading at the 6 Gallery.  Kerouac also included some of the participants, Neal Cassady and Alan Ginsburg, with yet other fictionalized names, in his classic beat novel “On the Road.”  Tom Wolfe, one of New Journalism’s founding fathers, wrote about the exploits of Neal Cassady in his work of nonfiction titled “The Electric Kool Aide Acid Test.” 

When the line of those getting items autographed disappeared and we noticed that there was one copy of the new book left, we decided that it was time to start our Christmas gift shopping (Is this a manifestation of doubt concerning our claim that when JEB wins the November 2012 Presidential Election, we will do our Christmas shopping in Paris [France not Texas {should we put a visit to the town in Texas on our Bucket List?}]?) and buy the last copy and have it inscribed.  (The recipient will never know we read it before giving it . . . unless they read this column and that’s not bloody well likely.)

Hjortsberg said that a great amount of material had been cut from the original manuscript to pare it down to the massive volume which was printed.  During a period of skimming through the book, we encountered several topics which might warrant use as a subject for a full column in the near future, so we appreciated the challenge of the task of figuring out (as the song goes) “what to leave in and what to leave out.”  If this new book becomes a runaway best seller, does that mean that sometime in the future Beatnik fans can clamor for a “director’s cut” edition which will be twice as big?

We noticed that many of the complaints of the poets and writers described in this new book sounded very familiar.  That brought up a question for another potential column topic:  Are the Occupy Protesters recycling the Beatnik’s criticism of “the Establishment”?

The Vesuvius Café, which is just across Jack Kerouac Alley from the City Lights bookstore, is mentioned in the book but not listed in the Index. 

One of the passages Hjortsborg read described a Brautigan project that combined poems with plant seed packets “published” with the title “Plant this book.”  Brautigan gave them away in the late Sixties and Hjortsborg said that ones in mint condidtion are now valued at a thousand dollars by collectors.  This columnist lived inSan Franciscoin 1969, but we don’t know how valid our “oh yeah, I remember seeing that” memories are because this column’s closing quote is the current folk axiom:  “If you can remember the Sixties; you weren’t really there.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Age of Aquarius,” Country Joe’s “Fixin’ to die rag,” and “Big Bad Bruce” (that may have been a regional hit played only on San Francisco jukeboxes).  We have to go and search for a way to exceed our life time best (in a letter to a high school classmate inVietnam) of a quadruple end parentheses punctuation.  Have a “solid!” type week.

Beat from the Start

March 28, 2012

Coping with sporadic stints of volunteer file clerk typist duties for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association down in the Los Angeles, while simultaneously trying to “get a handle” on some unfamiliar new topics in the San Francisco bay area caused a “Eureka!” moment for the World’s Laziest Journalist when a paradigm for all the diverse issues began to form.

During hard times what’s not to like about a sure-fire way to make a new fortune, reelect incumbents and bilk voters?  Is there a common thread here connecting the long battle in the L. A. area with the new issues in theSan FranciscoBayarea?  What if you can get politicians to give you free land for your business, get them to build the building where you will conduct your new enterprise, get some tax breaks thrown in if you can, and then soak the voters for as much of the money in their bank accounts as you possibly can?  Wouldn’t you then feel obligated to use some of that loot, to subsidize the reelections of the politicians who handed you that windfall license to steal?  Could Liberal pundits please call such campaign contributions “tithing” and not make snide remarks comparing the cash donations to “kick backs”?

We noticed this possible pattern recently after being asked if we could help the Marina Tenants Association write up an annotated report on the long close relation ship between real estate developers and various members of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to be submitted to the new California Attorney General.

Baseball fans inSan Franciscoare upset because the baseball team seems to be asking a city in theSouthBayarea to get some land, build a new baseball stadium, and then let the Giants baseball team move-in and charge more money for seats and season tickets.  The fans for that baseball team think they are being exploited.

The folks urging government expenditures to lure theAmerica’s Cup boat races to the San Francisco Bay Area seem to be asking for the rights to develop various Piers after the city gives them the real estate.  In return for the added recession era municipal expenditures such as additional traffic control and police work, the locals will (if they can’t use a helicopter, airplane, or yacht to get close up views of the competition) get the chance to buy expensive binoculars and telescopes, and thus boost some local businesses, if they want to try to get a glimpse of the race participants doing their high speed version of the Sunday duffers roaming about the bay.

Didn’t George W. Bush exploit his close connection with and access to the occupant of the White House to get land via eminent domain?  Then didn’t he get the citizens ofTexasto subsidize building a stadium on that land?  At that point, didn’t he help (in exchange for a bit of stock?) a group of businessmen buy a baseball team and move it into that very stadium?  Eventually didn’t he sell his share of that team and make a tidy profit?

If you see a familiar pattern in these random examples of self made fortunes, then perhaps you need to consider seeking professional help to break you of this terrible propensity toward conspiracy theory lunacy.

Back to MTA problem.  The invitation/challenge arrived when we were trying to “digest” a vast quantity of information of, by, and about the Beat Generation writers as part of the preparations for doing a column about a new book focusing on an assortment of relevant topics.

The challenge of writing something new, concise, and well documented using a vast array of newspaper articles that were published over a fifty year period seems daunting, to say the least.  Concurrently reviewing information about writers and poets who felt that they were beat before they got their careers started, for a future column, conjures up comparisons to the old Myth of Sisyphus story.

The fact that all this is swirling around in the World’s Laziest Journalist’s “in box,” while efforts are being made to coordinate information about attempts to revive the Occupy Wall Street series of political actions while a suspected war criminal is getting a heart transplant begins to overload the “current topics” circuits.

Could the fact that the Conservative noise machine is drowning out all the concerns about wealth inequality getting worse be compared to the battle the Beats had in various courts for using words that were condemned for being “Obscene!”?

Could the uphill fight use the pod people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” as a basis for a comparison the futility of fighting the tsunami of Fox Propaganda?  Isn’t trying to warn members of the proletariat that they seem to be voting against their own welfare when they vote Republican a lot like Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) trying to convince his town that something bad is happening?  Isn’t the blank look response in both cases identical?

Since this column is being written in the city that was, for many year, Philip K. Dick’s hometown, could we channel him to cook up a science fiction column describing how it would have been if the Beat writers had time traveled back to Berlin in 1935?  Didn’t William L. Shirer describe in one of his books about life during the Third Reich era how Hitler told his associates when they entered the Chancellor’s office, that when he final left there they would carry him out on his shield?  Isn’t that how the Republicans view their “mandate”?

The Bonus Army, Beatniks, and OWS protesters and the homeless seem to be connected by a long continuous series of aggravations for the ruling class. 

Couldn’t the never ending efforts of the wealthy to train the little people to pay their taxes and not complain be compared to the work Sisyphus was assigned? 

Could the “stand your ground” law be compared to legalizing lynching?

Some years ago (1994?), the Los Angeles Times made a commendable effort to draw attention to the fact that a cozy relationship existed between various real estate developers and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, but they were unable to neither instigate any legal investigations nor win a Pulitzer Prize for the series of stories they published.

It is flattering to be asked to make a new effort to do what they couldn’t accomplish, but the overwhelming feeling is that the next time we hear about Sisyphus’ rock, our response will be:  “Been there; done that!”

It has come to our attention that some motorcycle gangs assert that if a person picks a fight with one member, the attacker will have to contend with the entire club membership to win the battle.  Do the wealthy and the politician secretly hold that same philosophy?

It seems that if a tenants’ association attacks a group of politicians, they have to fight all the politicians to win any ground and if they do make any progress, a Republican majority in the United States Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional.  Rest assured your attempts will be beaten down.

Why do the New York Giants play their home football games inNew Jersey?

Aren’t the Giants moving out ofSan Francisco?

Maybe we should write a column about the two big cites that lost a team called “The Giants”?

Remember how reassuring it was to hear Harry Harrison on WABC inform his audience he was broadcasting from the “GreatestCityin the world!”?

Who paid for the new stadium where the Yankees play baseball?  Hmmm.  Maybe before we go running off to the Marina Tenants Association offices, we should detour throughTimes Squareand do some additional fact finding?  Wouldn’t that be a far, far better thing to do in a far away better place?

In “the Rolling Stone Book of the Beats,” Richard Meltzer, on page 72 of the paperback edition, wrote:  “His (Jack Kerouac’s) actual bloody masterpiece, and one of the great, great works of the English language, is <I>Big Sur</I>.”

Now the disk jockey will play Ornette Coleman’s “Shape of Jazz to Come,” Slim Gaillard’s “Slim’s Jam,” and Cecil Taylor’s “Unit Structures.”  We have to go look up the California Attorney General’s snail mail address.  Have a “totally cool” week.

Etch-a-sketch comment = game changer

March 23, 2012

Artist Mark Petersen opened his new show, titled “game changer,” at the “local 123 café” gallery in Berkeley on Friday March 16, 2012; the premise for the show is that 99% of society are pawns in a game being played by the one percent of the population that believes in a government of the elite by the elite is run for the benefit of the elite.  We took some photos of the artist and assumed that the philosophy underlying the works of art would provide a graphic metaphor for starting a column that would explain the results of this week’s Primary Election inIllinois, which we were expecting.  When the final count ran completely contrary to our expectations, the lede for this week’s column wasn’t the only thing that needed a quick revision.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has assumed that Karl Rove hasn’t worked all these years for the Bush family so that he will get a prestigious seat assignment for the Inauguration of Mitt Romney as President in January of 2013; so when JEB endorsed Romney the day after Romney won in Illinois, it seemed that it was time for the various radio talk shows to use “A simple twist of fate” for their bumper music as the week drew to a close.

There are two ways to write political commentary.  You can either report your own personal thoughts and reactions or you can read up on other commentary and then make the choice to either follow the crowd or go rogue.  Since our access to TV and the Internets is rather limited lately and since our budget has necessitated a drastic reduction in our ability to read the New York Times on a daily basis, we have been forced by circumstances to go the “I column as I see ’em” route to forming our political opinions.

Our immediate reaction to Tuesday’s election results inIllinoisand the JEB endorsement story was to begin a search for a clever line that would casually mention Bishop Romney or to make some snarky remark about Mitt Goldwater or Senator Barry Romney. 

Are the Republicans really going to give the Presidential Nomination to a fellow who turns off a goodly number of their own voters?  Apparently they are.  Are the Democrats going to give their party’s nomination to a guy who has put his <I>imprimatur</I> on the Bush war policies by adopting them with a <I>Nihil Obstat</I> rating?  Apparently they are.

Political commentary hasn’t had to contend with a game changer like Tuesday’sIllinoisresults since Linden B. Johnson told Americans, on March 31, 1968, that he wouldn’t seek reelection.

While the very convoluted contemporary political scene gets sorted out, what can a columnist write to amuse and entertain the dozen or so regular readers?  “ . . . <I>to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget</I> . . .”

There will be a cornucopia of topics not related to the November election available during April because this year there will be chances to write about:  the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, theSan Franciscoearthquake, National Columnists’ Day, the bombing ofGuernica, the Columbine school shooting rampage, and the start of Winston Smith’s clandestine diary.

We could also write about the Air Sex Championships scheduled for Tuesday March 27, 2012, at the Elbo Room inSan Francisco.  It wasn’t immediately clear if the Air Sex Championships is a band or a contest similar to the Air Guitar competitions.

Since Mitt Romney’s middle name is Willard perhaps we could write a column comparing the November Election to the classic movie “Apocalypse Now”?  It’s not difficult to imagine candidate Romney looking at the Obama legacy and responding to an question about the effectiveness of Obama’s agenda by muttering:  “I don’t see any methods at all . . . .”

If Willard Romney wants to project a “man of the people” image (on his Etch-a-sketch screen?) perhaps he should show off some bowling trophies?

We could run a plug for a friend’s automobile photos and then use that as an excuse for segueing into considering if we should send a query letter to the assignment editor at Jalopnik suggesting they assign a political pundit to test drive a new Ferrari or maybe just a chance to describe the sensations produced while operating a Zamboni.  Does anyone ever hold Zamboni races?  Would an assignment to cover such hypothetical Zamboni races provide a chance to write an allegorical novel about “a savage journey to the heart of the American Dream”?

Could a series of weekly Photo Reports on Contemporary Pop Culture pass as weekend wrap-up columns?

Could we write a column with deep psychological insights based on the fact that this week inSan Francisco, we saw an advertisement for whipped cream flavored vodka?  Would anyone read such a column?  Would anyone care?  “<I>What certainty had he that a single human creature now living was on his side?</I>”

Is it worth the effort for the World’s Laziest Journalist to go toChicagoand see if the Occupy May Day protests there will produce any 1968 flashbacks?

A trip toLondonto see the Olympic Games might not be cost effective for a columnist who would have to subsidize his own travel expenses.

Didn’t a long haul trucker become an art critic for the New York Times?  Hasn’t that fellow maxed out on getting Facebook friends?  Has that guy ever heard the music of the German Country and Western band named “Truck Stop”?  Is it possible to think of the concept of Country music with lyrics sung in German and not think of Hunter S. Thompson’s line in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” describing the “Circus Circus” casino?

Lately talk radio seems to consist of either conservative hosts endorsing the conservative talking points made by conservative callers or progressive hosts attempting to drop a game changer explanation on a conservative caller who doesn’t seem inclined to listen to any rebuttals.  A Romeny vs. the incumbent Presidential race does not seem to offer any hope for improving the entertainment factor for talk radio.

At this point, it seems that rebroadcasts of some of Wolfman Jack shows would be more entertaining than any production figures about oil pipelines provided by a man who has talent on loan from God.

Can anyone make the chocolate production numbers more informative and entertaining than Rush Limbaugh?  “<I>Winston’s job was to rectify the original figures by making them agree with the later ones</I>.”

Speaking of Uncle Rushbo, has he commented on the Treyvon Martin affair yet? 

There isn’t going to be any drama about the eventual Democratic Party pick for the fall election.  The Republicans seem resigned to the fact that Mitt Romney is predestined to get his party’s nomination.  Isn’t the challenge facing both political parties comparable to the idea of getting American sports fans hooked on rugby? 

This columnist was expecting to write a series of columns for 2012 that would sound quite a bit like what one might expect to be produced by a black belt in conspiracy theory, but all that evaporated this week when the movement toward the selection of the Republican nominee got its “white smoke/new pope” moment. 

If football players can get bonus pay for sending a member of the opposing team to the hospital, why can’t liberal pundits get big extra bucks for items that cripple the campaigns of conservative candidates?

We will (apparently) have to scrap all our plans to win a few friendly bets on JEB Bush and face a bleak choice of either making some tepid criticism of both party’s candidates or changing the focus of the columns to other topics.  However, in the best spirit of conspiracy theory lunatic thinking, we can remember that in this vitriolic world of unexplained events, an unexpected game changer development could become a new factor quicker that you can say “Senator Paul Wellstone.”

The closing quote for this column was found in George Orwell’s essay titled “Looking back on the Spanish War.”  He wrote:  “All that the working man demands is what these others would consider the indispensable minimum without which human life can not be lived at all.  Enough to eat, freedom from the terror of unemployment, the knowledge that your children will get a fair chance, a bath once a day, clean linen reasonably often, a roof that doesn’t leak, and short enough working hours to leave you with a little energy when the day is done.”  The Republicans inSpainwanted that? 

Now the disk jockey will play Patsy Cline’s “So Wrong,” Waylon Jennings “WRONG!,” and Buddy Holly’s “Whatcha Gonna Do About It?”  We have to go look for some new column leitmotifs.  Have an “Ignorance is strength” type week.


The column with no photo

March 16, 2012

The conflict inAfghanistanhad its Tet Offensive moment last Sunday, when a soldier, whose name wasn’t initially released by the Ministry of Truth, went on a shooting rampage.  Just because the Peaceniks believe that proves that the war inAfghanistanis unwinnable, they are ready to call it quits.  President Obama can now sound like George W. Bush and urge the folks to continue fighting the war inAfghanistanfor no appareanet reason or he can mimic Lyndon Johnson and decline the Democratic Party’s nomination.  By mid-week, President Obama was recycling many of the Bush clichés about staying the course.

On Tuesday, Rick Santorum won two more primaries and thus underscored the sourceless contention that Mitt Romney is not a member of the <I>Herrenvolk</I> and thus ineligible to receive his Party’s Presidential nomination.

The Republicans believe in a Republic which means that only eligible people (men who own land according to the Founding Fathers) can vote and thus they will have no philosophical objections if the Party elite perform an intervention and deliver the Party’s Presidential nomination to someone who is a member of the <I>Herrenvolk</I> and is obviously qualified to reestablish the Republican domination of the White House.  (A Republican has been in the White House for 28 of the last forty-four years or 36 of the last sixty years.)

During the week we saw an item online that asserted that inEnglandtwo reporters involved in the Murdoch-gate phone tapping scandal had attempted suicide.  Don’t the Brits call the investigation Operation Weeting?

The Porngate scandal inIndiadoesn’t seem to be getting much play in American media.

On Tuesday, Uncle Rushbo fresh from a day off for golfing, started his program with a meticulous examination of the meaning of the numbers for oil prices and oil production.  Since there had been an item online reporting that a Canadian study asserted that Conservatives tended to be less educated and more insecure than Liberals, we marveled that the man who flatly stated that there is no Republican war on women, was able to mesmerize his audience, reputed to number 20 million, with facts and figures that might tend to bore all but a very specific college classroom full of students ready and eager to join the BP assault on undersea oil reserves around the globe. 

Does Uncle Rushbo’s disk jockey have permission from the artist to play the old hit “I’m the Pied Piper”?  We ask that quesiton because, apparently, he has the magic touch and can lead his vast audience into some very arcane and esoteric facts and figures and not suffer any perceptible amount of listener defections. 

On Thursday, Uncle Rushbo was mesmerizing his millions of listeners with a discourse on the history and purpose of the strategic oil reserves.  That, in turn, made us wonder what would Lenny Bruce have said about Limbaugh’s “slut” slur?

Speaking of adventuresome college radio, this week we heard a well done report on KALX (the UCB student radio station) from North Gate Radio about fecal transplants.  It was one of those unusual bits of news that usually shoots to the top of the list on odd news websites such as Fark and/or Obscure Store.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has noticed that using a photo to illustrate the columns usually means a better chance of catching the reader’s eyes, but the challenge (and time consuming nature of the task) of finding an appropriate still shot and then getting the photographer’s permission to use it is very daunting, and so (after struggling with learning to include the photos with the posting) we often resort to taking an appropriate photo and using that. 

It works out rather well if the columnist manages to get some shots of some news worthy events that are mentioned in the column, such as arrests at a “No Justice; No BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)” protest, or some events at Occupy Oakland or Occupy Cal; but for a week when there are no high news value images available, that means either running a mundane weather shot or mooching an extra shot from a former high-school classmate who covered the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, a high profile car event held in Florida, for the Just Above Sunset Photo website or not using any and losing a chance for the column to be more noticeable.

The World’s Laziest Journalist missed such a photo op inBerkeleylast weekend, when Louis Frakaan delivered some controversial comments at a speaking engagement at theUniversityofCalifornia’sBerkeleycampus.

Wasn’t there some concern in the early days of the Internet media revolution that quality content would be accorded diminished value as “bells and whistles” graphics were added to various web sites? 

Here is a hypothetical example of how an item without a very noticeable graphics can loose reader appeal.  Recently we picked up a copy of “The New Journalism” by Tom Wolfe (“an anthology edited by Tome Wolfe and E. W. Johnson” [Harper and Row paperback edition]) and began to assemble some information for writing a column about the 50th anniversary of the start of the “New Journalism” branch of news reporting.  The publication of “Joe Louis the King as Middle-aged Man” in Esquire magazine in 1962, is cited by Wolfe as a significant milestone in the demarcation of the birth of the trend.

The anthology includes all of the essential examples of the New Journalism (called “Gonzo Journalism” by Hunter S. Thompson) but it also piqued our curiosity.  Does You Tube offer a hilarious obscure example of “Parajournalism” (as Wolfe dubbed it) that consisted of video of Hunter S. Thompson interviewing Keith Richards?  We learned that several versions have been posted there and a still shot from that tsunami of mumbled unintelligible syllables would serve as bait for luring unsuspecting new readers into the latest example of this columnist’s attempt to preserve the traditions of “thee dot journalism” . . . if we could figure out how the heck to insert such a still shot touting that interview before the (self imposed) Friday morning deadline. 

In the past, the World’s Laziest Journalist has made efforts to draw attention to the idea that Philip K. Dick, in his speculative history work of fiction titled “The Man in the High Castle,” seemed to accurately predict Hunter S. Thompson’s life and writings.

Our efforts to draw attention to that coincidence have been just as successful as our Hans Brinker-ish efforts to warn Liberals that Karl Rove will use delegate gridlock at the Republican National Convention as a smoke and mirrors diversion to hand the nomination to JEB Bush. 

The Conservative pundits will ignore the JEB angle because they don’t want to tip Rove’s hand and the Liberal commentators can’t or won’t acknowledge that scenario because . . . they receive their generous paychecks from media owners who don’t want any spoiler material put into the national debate . . . until it’s too late.

Perhaps some folks who have a rare form of diarrhea and are in need of some therapeutic bacteria are not the only ones who qualify for fecal transplants?  Could that concept be used as a metaphor for the Liberal voices employed by Conservative media owners?

The topic of objectivity vs. a reporter’s emotional involvement with a news story got an example of the inherent dangers on Thursday night when a KALX reporter on the evening newscast became overcome with emotion and had to hit the cough button.  The story was about an event at a zoo inGermanyto draw attention to the arrival of a new bunny.  Unfortunately during the course of the media event, the bunny was trampled to death by the attending journalists.  The reporter seemed on the verge of tears when she deactivated her microphone for a few moments.

In “The New Journalism,” Wolfe describes the task facing subservient “wordproles” (on page 44):  “The reporter . . . (manifests) behavior that comes close to being servile or even beggarly. . . . They supply mainly ‘vivid description’ plus sentiment.”  Then they are free to (as Liberace once put it) “cry all the way to the bank.”  (Do you honestly think that any on-air personality at Fox would dare show any sign of disapproval if JEB gets the Republican nomination?)

Now the disk jockey will playRoyOrbison’s “Workin’ for the Man,” Gene Autry’s “Here comes Peter Cottontail,” and Bing Crosby’s “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . . . .”  We have to go find our green T-shirt and green Branch Motor Express jacket.  Have an “Erin go Bragh” (Ireland forever!) type week.


War, Virtual War, and Real Life

March 9, 2012

The events of the first full week in March of 2012 can all be used to provide evidence to support the theory that in the future historians and psychologists will look back at this week and conclude that Super Tuesday week was when reality became extinct in theUSA.

While waiting for Monday morning’s installment of Uncle Rushbo’s parade of propaganda to begin, we played the newSan Franciscogame of “find the program.”  Radio stations in fog city have started to play an audio version of three card Monty and it is a challenge to find out which station is now carrying the program you want to hear.  Thus we inadvertently tuned in to Armstrong and Getty who were asking if the Fatherland Security Agency was intended to be a means for hassling Americans and teaching unquestioning subservience and not doing much to help prevent any terrorist attacks.

Was this week’s story about a basketball game that featured the chanting of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” an example of evidence that helps to prove that the United States is slowly adopting the philosophy of “One Fatherland, One Conservative point of view in the media, and One Political Dynasty”? 

Then Uncle Rushbo made his clever apology for apologizing, which precipitated an avalanche of commentary about Limbaugh’s level of sincerity.  By the next day, Super Tuesday, Uncle Rushbo was asserting that the Republican Party is not waging a war on women.  You think they are?  “Get your mind right, Luke.”

Then came the Super Tuesday results which didn’t prove anything and only unleashed a torrent of speculation about who would get the nomination if none of the guys, who have spent vast fortunes for ads in/on conservative owned media, get enough delegates to cinch the nomination.  The consensus of opinion seems to be that if the Republican Party can’t get a nominee from the selection of those still standing in the elimination process, then they will have to give the nomination to someone else who is tan, fit, and well rested.

Norm Goldman, the radio talk show host who has conniptions when the Republican Party calls their opponents the “Democrat Party,” played a sound byte of conservative talk show host Mark Levine using the dreaded “c-word” (One of George Carlin’s Seven Deadly Words) to make a reference to President Obama.  (So why not call the Fascists the Republic party?  What’s the difference between a Republic and a Democracy?)

The FCC is disregarding the reality of the sound byte that contains Levine saying that word which calls for an automatic drastic response from their agency and is, instead, acting as if it is a case of “no harm, on foul.”

The Armed Forces Radio is ignoring calls to dump Limbaugh.  It would be different if he were an offensive liberal voice.

The series of several preliminary primary elimination elections around theUSAwill be inconclusive so why is the news media obsessing over the nitpicking irrelevant details and not focusing in on the charade by Republicans aspect?  Why are they ignoring the possibility that the eventual nominee is going to bring back the clichés about “shady deals made in smoke filled rooms”?

The media is following its trained dog and pony show orders and also skipping over a debate about the pros and cons of sending drones to bombSyriato protect its citizens from slaughter just as they avoided such debates before the invasions ofAfghanistanandIraq.

The possibility of bombingIranto prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons is being treated by journalists as if the start date is the only news.  The particulars about the how and why of the war are unimportant, the big news will be when it actually starts.  Revealing that the war has started will be just like one of those regularly scheduled big announcements from Apple Computers.  The war is in development and when it actually becomes available to the journalists there will be a big press conference to make the announcement and elaborate on some of the distinctive features of the new war.

There was a major announcement from Apple this week inSan Francisco.  The Wednesday morning news conference just happened to coincide with the World’s Laziest Journalist’s weekly excursion toSan Franciscoand to Molinari’s Delicatessen for an Italian sausage sandwich; so we tried to squeeze a visit to the news conference into the day’s to do list.  Even though we knew one of the security guards we were unsuccessful in our attempt to pull off a Gonzo crash the gates maneuver at the event which was “by invitation only.”

We were able to use Gonzo Journalism methods to get into the Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Convention Center and discovered a smorgasbord of evidence to support our contention that reality has become extinct.

The object of video games is to acquire virtual assets which can be sold “in the real world” (and also to have as much fun as possible in the process).

To the World’s Laziest Journalist, “imaginary adventures” immediately conjures up one iconic image:  “Here is the WWI ace standing by his Sopwith Camel about to go seeking an aerial dual with the Red Baron.” 

The military experts (one American, one British, both tankers) at War Gaming dot net quickly informed us that we had only one game as a possibility and that would be “Rise of Flight.” 

The British chap also helped clear up one of our misperceptions about a military legend.  British General Bernard L.Montgomerycould not have possibly sent German General Erwin Rommel the message “I read your book (you bastard!)” because Rommel had, at that point in history, only published one book, which was about the Infantry and not armored vehicles.

We immediately commenced a recon patrol to find “Rise of Flight.” 

In the search we came across folks from theUniversityofPittsburgpromoting the game “Doctor Transplant,” which is a game which teaches players all about the topic of organ transplants.  When we were young playing doctor was very <I>verboten</I> territory.

We came across a man who had just retired from a career in banking and was now helping promote a video gardening game called Garden Quest.  Players will learn things which will deliver practical knowledge which can be transferred into real life and enthusiastic replies to the question “How does your garden grow?”

We participated in a virtual roller coaster ride that was augmented by a very expense chair that delivers the sensations of physical movement and thus makes the ride feel like an authentic amusement park experience.  We suggested that they should offer a copy of the game and one of the chairs to thePlayboyMansionin L. A.

Someone somewhere was bound to start a video games museum and sure enough, we encountered theMuseumofArtand Digital Entertainment and it just happens to be located inOaklandCAand so we might devote a future column to their story.

When we spotted a large red case decorated with a black Maltese cross, we honed in on that like a heat-seeking video missile.  “Curse you, Red Baron!  We will meet again someday and when we do, you will rue the day!”  

There is (to the best of our ability to ascertain) no video game about journalism, let alone a Gonzo Game.  There is a game for a simulated paperboy peddling his route experience. 

Pub Games (from Melbourne Australia) got its company name when the guys working there discovered that they did their most creative work after they rang out for the day and adjourned for the day to the local pub.  (What about a combination video-drinking game for use in pubs?)

On Wednesday, while we were exploring the Game Developers Conference the pundits were reacting to Senator McCain’s suggestion that the USA unleash a wave of drone attacks on Syria to help protect that country’s citizens.  Apparently he, like most members of the Republican Party, think that collateral deaths is a virtual entity in a video game and not a country full of real life dead and wounded civilians.

Speaking of the nasty Republican Party, since we are big fans of Ernest Hemingway, and since the 75th anniversary of the bombing ofGuernica (April 26, 1937) is coming soon, perhaps we should have looked for a Spanish Civil War Game?  Even whilst it was happening many Americans couldn’t figure out which side deserved cheers for being “the good guys.”  Were the Republicans also called “the Falangists,” or was that the other guys?  Essentially it was the Commies vs. the Nazis, wasn’t it?  Which of those two opposing factions would you pick as being “the good guys”?

We didn’t see a video panning for gold game, either, come to think of it.

What’s not to like about a game where Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), in the “Treasure of the Sierra Madre (at the very top of our list of best movies of all time)” offers this challenge:  “I’ll bet you . . . $150,000 you fall asleep first.”  Now there’s a game!

Now the disk jockey will play the theme song from the movie “The Vikings,” the theme song from “El Cid,” and the theme song from “The Twilight Zone.”  (Is there a licensed Twilight Zone game?)  We have to go investigate some schools offering a degree in game design.  Have a “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” type week.

Are Americans living in a world of carefully crafted illusions?

March 5, 2012

A column describing the events of Saturday, March 3, 2012 experienced and witnessed by the World’s Laziest Journalist might prove how and why the parable of the six blind Hindus is still important in the Internet era.


[Six blind Hindus touched an elephant and were asked to describe their reaction.  The one who felt the tail thought elephants were like a strand of rope.  The guy who touched the elephant’s trunk, said elephants were just like snakes.  The fellow who touched the ear observed that elephants were just like a big leafed plant.  The man who felt the elephant’s stomach was very convinced that elephants were a subcategory of walls.  The guy who touched the tusk, knew that elephants were like swords.  The guy who felt a leg concluded that elephants were very similar to trees.]


On Saturday morning, we met up with <a href =>James Richard Armstrong II, the homeless columnist</a> who lives in Berkeley CA.  This writer wanted to brainstorm some possible column topics and have a morning cup of coffee.  James was, among other things, concerned about some generalizations a reader had made regarding one of his columns about the plight of the homeless.  People who live in houses (glass or not) tend to be very certain of their perceptions as do all of the six blind Hindus.


Since the homeless writer uses Hunter S. Thompson as a role model and since Thomson’s public persona often displayed a cavalier attitude about money, we criticized theBerkeleyresident’s tendency to imitate Thompson when making financial decisions.


We suggested that perhaps Thompson’s attitude was part of a fictitious “image” that was deliberately manufactured.  This was met with a vehement denial of that possibility, which, unfortunately, was impossible to fact-check.  The World’s Laziest Journalist explained that he was basing his assertion on one actual encounter with one of the founding fathers of the GonzoschoolofJournalism.


At an appearance at the Viper Room inLos Angeles, in 1996, Thompson had made a conspicuous display of having security eject hecklers.  What many in the venue did not notice is that subsequently the persons who had been 86’d would be seen again in the sold out event, quietly observing the proceedings from the very back of the auditorium.  The victims had the material for a personal encounter story that they would still be telling many years later, Thompson had bolstered his Wildman image, and the audience had been treated to an entertaining example of Thompson’s lack of tolerance for dissention.


We suggested that (perhaps) Thompson (who owned real estate in the Aspen area ofColorado) was just helping to create an image of an outlaw journalist when he seemed to act irresponsibly about financial matters. 


We have been reading a recently acquired copy of “The Kitchen Readings:  Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson” (by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis Harper Perennial paperback) and have become aware that often the reality of stories about Hunter do not match the legend and that the tendency is to use theRio Bravoadvice:  “print the legend.”


Hence we strongly asserted that the famed father of Gonzo may have been playing a role when he used an expense account to subsidize living large.


Next we discussed the bogus aspect of the image of the homeless as free wheeling “king of the road” people who could come and go as the mood strikes them.  Unfortunately the reality is the complete opposite.  Often their movements are very restricted because they have to worry about finding a place to temporarily store their possessions if they want to  move about during the day. 


We volunteered to do a column delineating the problem.  If (for example) a homeless woman wants to go into a public building and use the women’s rest room, the backpack and bedroll is an open invitation for hassling.  If she can leave her gear with a trusted friend, she can run off, use the facility, and return very quickly.  The problem is exponentially more complicated if the homeless person wants to stash their backpack and go across toSan Franciscofor a day.  Where can he or she leave the backpack for a whole day?


Storage lockers are a quaint reminder of the past.  (We will expand on this topic for use as a full column in the future.)  So where can a person leave all his worldly possessions while taking a one day trip over intoSan Francisco?  Taking sleeping gear and a heavy backpack will certainly put a damper on any one day outing inSan Francisco.  What’s with these practical restrictions vs. the image of “go anywhere when the mood strikes you” freedom? 


A few hours later we were at the opposite end of the social spectrum.  We were inMarinCountyas the guest of a woman who has devoted her life to helping women’s causes and helping philanthropists decide where and how to make their contributions.  She has lived the “those who can, do” aspect of the story; now she also does coaching and teaches about that and related subjects.


As it turns out, the woman had met Hunter S. Thompson at the wedding of one of her close relatives.  The philanthropy coach corroborated our impression of Thompson as a fellow who created a public persona that was very different from the private person. 


The prolonged economic “recession” has added some additional new challenges to the task of encouraging wealthy citizens to make well informed decisions about making philanthropic donations to an every growing list of worthy non-profit organizations. 


As it turns out, on that very day that we were discussing the particular financial needs of various organizations devoted to women’s causes, radio personality Rush Limbaugh may have inadvertently drawn added attention to women’s causes in particular by apologizing for calling a collage student a slut, earlier in the week.  Liberal pundits noted that the apology was “out of character” for the bombastic radio talk show host.


Uncle Rushbo could add a considerable amount of credence (“What me make an insincere apology just to get myself off the hot seat?”) if it were accompanied by a large donation to a relevant women’s nonprofit organization. 


We asked the Philanthropy coach if she or any of her associates had ever asked Uncle Rushbo (Doesn’t he live in a house that is worth $24 million?) what the level of his philanthropic donations are and also ask if he would like to increase that amount of giving during the economic hard times which have perceptively swelled the difficulty level of maintaining America’s commitment to subsidizing charitable organizations. 


Wouldn’t most Americans be quite prepared to assume that Uncle Rushbo’s annual philanthropic donations are rather anemic?  Doesn’t he advocate the “bootstrap” philosophy of self reliance?


The World’s Laziest Journalist adheres to a stringent budget, but we have, in the early phase of the Occupy movement, bought fast food meals, on different occasions, for two Occupy protesters.  Could it be that the parsimonious columnist outspends Rush on philanthropic endeavors?  Perhaps Rush Limbaugh makes large philanthropic donations anonymously or very quietly while perversely bolstering the Scrooge image?


On Monday morning’s broadcast, Uncle Rushbo’s introductory monologue seemed to be an apology to his regular listeners for making the apology on Saturday.  His mistake was to lower himself to the level of leftists, he explained.  “ . . . it was way beneath me . . .”  

He did use the term “self reliance” several time Monday morning. 


When Armstrong posts and shares a link to one of our columns on <a href =>facebook </a>, we get a perceptible bump in hits.  We had shamelessly suggested that the Philanthropy coach bring the humble efforts of the World’s Laziest Journalist to the attention of some of her well known friends in the journalism industry.  Could they do better at boosting the hits? 


What would happen if Uncle Rushbo destroyed our speculation about his level of philanthropy giving on air and enumerated and elaborated on his donations and specifically mentioned that he was providing some fact checking information for the World’s Laziest Journalist?


Over the the course of this weekend and Monday morning, we realized that about one percent of journalists have about ninety percent of the clout that publicity can deliver.  The other ninety nine percent of those working in Journalism must share the remaining amount of influence. 


The folk wisdom inHollywoodis:  “I don’t care what people say about me as long as they spell my name correctly.”  Should we, perhaps, hope that Rush does mention our columns in a negative context?  What if Limbaugh resorts to ridicule and speculates about the incongruity of someone who works very hard to promote the image of being an example of Lazy Journalism?



While this columnist roamed aboutAustraliain a “sundowner” style, we often left our suitcase under a bunk in a hostel.  We were oblivious to the homeless’ concern about “stowing the gear for a day,” until Armstrong elaborated it.  This proved to me his contention that people who live in glass houses (or even sleep on a hostel’s bunk) should not assume that they fully understand what it means to be homeless.


What would life be without handy, comfortable illusionary images?

The closing quote has to be a line from “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance”  “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. ”

[Correction:  the Howard Hawks series has not concluded but continues at the Pacific Film Archive until mid April. Rio Bravowill screen Saturday, April 14, 2012, at 8 p.m.]

Now the disk jockey will play “the man who shot Liberty Valence,” “Do not forsake me oh my darlin’” (the Oscar winning theme song from “High Noon”) and the theme song from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”  We have to go get us a cup of celestial tea.  Have a “smile when you say that” type week.

Is it too late to review a 1940 movie?

March 2, 2012

In Howard Hawks’ 1940 film “His Girl Friday,” an unscrupulous, unethical newspaper editor, Walter Burns (Cary Grant), will do anything to get things to happen his way.  In the film he uses his “anything goes” ethics to win back the love of his best reporter and former wife Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell) who is, as the film begins, about to marry another man the next day.

Hawks took the Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s classic journalism drama, “The Front Page,” and changed the basic plot into a screwball comedy with some sensationalism and contemporary issues dialogue thrown as elements of substantiating authenticity. 

As America drew closer and closer to involvement in the war in Europe, women such as Margaret Bourke-White and Martha Gellhorn struggled to establish a woman’s right to be employed as a “newsman.”  Hawks focused on the romance angle of his version of the story and let incidental issues such as race and pay get only quick lines to outline the (perfunctory) attempt to establish some sympathy for mitigating circumstances in the murder of a policeman.  Hildy’s marriage is scheduled on the same day as the murderer’s execution.

The film, which the Pacific Film Archive had scheduled to be the final installment of a Howard Hawks retrospective, was shown on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, and brought up the question:  How relevant could a 72 year old film about a declining industry be?

Since the film was shown at the same time that newspaper/broadcasting mogul Rupert Murdoch was being portrayed as an unscrupulous, unethical newspaper publisher who is  being investigated for using “anything goes” ethics to win readers and increase his profit margin, it turned out that the movie was not a night off, but required the World’s Laziest Journalist to put on his columnist hat and ask this question: What if a similar newspaper man were trying to manipulate American voters and change the Republicans’ choice for their Presidential nominee rather than win back the love of a top reporter?

Isn’t there a folk axiom that proclaims that “All is fair in love, war, and journalism!”?

Supporters of Murdoch will make the assertion that citizen journalists will be the Maginot Line insuring that shoddy journalism doesn’t become the norm in theUSA.  However the Myth of Sisyphus task for bloggers may be showing some signs of stress fatigue.  In the current issue of the East Bay Express, Rachel Swan (on page 10 of the hard copy edition) presents a story substantiating the idea that unpaid bloggers may be as effective as the Maginot Line was.  The subhead for her story reads:  “The blogs that were ‘making democracy work’ last year have largely fizzled out.”

When the Republicans unanimously started to use morality as the basis  for assessing the Blunt bill (to permit employers the right to withhold health benefits for employees on the grounds of religious freedom), earlier this week, did any voice in the mainstream media point out that such scrupulous attention to morality seemed conspicuously absent when liberals pointed out the large number of collateral damage deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan? 

Does any unique pundit ask where is the morality when bankers, who have used faulty if not felonious paperwork for foreclosures, continue to toss American families out of their homes, are asked to hold off until the paperwork can be improved; they continue to foreclose at top speed?  Is that flagrant disregard for the sanctity of a family’s home in preference to profits a true example of the American politicians’ concept of family values? 

Can paid punditry’s continued effort to completely ignore the incongruity of the high moral tone for the birth control aspect of health care and at the same time the callus disregard for the morality of unrelenting foreclosure efforts mean that the professional writers are either really stupid or are they just unquestioningly subservient to the one percent media owners?

Does the fact that only a lose cannon, online columnist has the freedom to ask such impertinent questions, prove conclusively that the free press is extinct?  If that is the case, will Americans wait until listening to foreign broadcasts and reading dissenting opinions are capital offenses before they realize that the free press is as extinct as theCaliforniagolden bear?  Or will they cheerfully assert that the pathetic uniformity of conservative punditry is all they want or need to become well informed voters?

How did that work out in Germany in the Thirties? (Do a Google search for “VE 301”)

Is there some irony to be found in the fact that when Democrats are in the White House, the Conservatives are unanimous in their belief that criticism of the President must be unrelenting, but when George W. Bush was President, the conservatives assessed any criticism of Dubya as being unpatriotic? 

When FDR was in the White House did conservatives denigrate the Presidents constantly?  Wasn’t the very wide spectrum of voices in the political arena (when “His Girl Friday” was released) a vast assortment of differing points of view?  How diverse was the political debate inGermanyat that very same time?  Which style of diversity are the Republicans striving to duplicate?

In “His Girl Friday,” Hildy Johnson thought that Walter Burns’ extortion and bribery made him all the more lovable and by the film’s end, she was back in love with Burns.

When Rupert Murdoch’s choice for the Republican candidate in 2012 becomes known, the teabaggers may fall in love with Murdoch again, but the liberals might get a jolting dose of <I>déjà vu</I> that gives them a “Rick Santorum level of revulsion” reaction.

Have you noticed that the mainstream media seems to be in perfect harmony regarding the idea that Mitt Romney shouldn’t be handed the Republican Presidential nomination?  (The Stepford Pundits?)  Have all the paid political pundits (both liberal and conservative) started to sing the same song?  Where is the much vaunted “unique voice” that will point out the fact that all the calls for withholding the nomination seem to be written by the same author with little or no unique wording or phraseology inserted?

The Republicans started out with about a dozen potential candidates and now that Mitt is the frontrunner, he is being criticized for not getting a majority of the Republican primary votes.  Are the mainstream media hacks too dumb to see the correlation to the arguments supporting the “instant runoff” concept or are they being forbidden to wander into that line of reasoning? 

On Thursday, March 01, 2012, Andrew  Breitbart died and Uncle Rushbo was effusive in his praise for the conservative spokesman.  Limbaugh seemed on the verge of suggesting that Britebart be put on a catafalque and lay in state for a day or so in the rotunda of the Capital building in Washington D. C.  Was Andrew Breitbart more like Walter Burns and Rupert Murdoch or was he the modern day equivalent of Edward R. Murrow?  Which type of news reporter doesAmericawant/deserve?

Is the tendency to make sure that conservative pundits are liberally remunerated for their work but that altruism is deemed sufficient reward for leftist, a stealth way to make sure that the pundits eventually suffer burnout?  Isn’t it conservatives who glibly spout the sentiment that “Virtue is its own punishment”?

[In 1940, when “His Girl Friday” was playing in movie theaters across theUSA, the designs had been drawn and production of the weapons of war was beginning.  Pearl Harbor hadn’t happened yet, butAmericawas gearing up for war.  The USS Iowa had already been designed. 

The fact that photos of the Iowa visiting Richmond CA while slowly traveling to its new permanent home in the Los Angeles area will be used to illustrate this column rather than photos from various Occupy protest marches held on Thursday March 1, 2012 also illustrates how fatigue can inject a WTF factor into the contemporary online realm of column writing.]

Back when the number of words used determined the cost of sending a telegram, often meant that some words were dropped as a means for economizing.  A writer who wanted to know Cary Grant’s age for a story he was writing sent a telegram:  “How old Cary Grant?”  Grant’s answer to that question provided the closing quote for this column.  He replied:  “Old Cary Grant fine.  How you?”

Now the disk jockey will take us back in time by playing “Long ago and far away,” “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,” and “The band played on.”  We have to go buy tickets to see “Fear and Loathing inLas Vegas,” again, at the Flashback film series.  Have a “stop the press!” type week.