Archive for April, 2012

Rogues, renegades, and rebels

April 27, 2012

Recently someone suggested doing a column about the Pirate Party inGermanyand some online fact checking provided some material that hasn’t been widely reported in the American media but it also produced some confusion because some of the facts published online provide different pictures of what is happening.  The file sharing community inSwedenhas spawned a political party thanks to the efforts of Rick Falkvinge and that in turn has resulted in a similar phenomenon inGermanywhere the Pirate Party is gaining popularity.  This new party could be forth biggest inGermanywith 8% of the voters joining or it could be the third biggest political party inGermanywith 13% of the voters.  You choose.  The Pirate Party has grown bigger than the Green party inGermanyor it may be just behind them in the rankings.

The fact that researching the story online does not provide a clear picture with exact numbers and percentages, in turn, provides an opportunity to write a future column on the possibility that the Internets is having a negative effect on the art of journalism because citizen journalists, who are supposed to augment and supplement the diminishing paid staff at various news organizations, can’t access the hard facts necessary to provide accurate journalism and that is very troubling because reliable, quality journalism is necessary to inform voters in a democracy (as the Founding Fathers intended). 

Earlier this week, the English language version web site for the German magazine Der Spiegel reported that Martin Delius, who was described as the Pirate Party floor leader in the Berlin City Parliament, boasted that his party’s growth rate was surpassing the rate of expansion achieved by the Nazis in the early Thirties.  Whoops!  Not a good example of political bragging in that Country.  The offender quickly issued an apology. 

The Pirate Party was spawned inSwedenby a group of music fans who wanted to share information and files.  The Pirates’ Bay web site was their common meeting ground and provided the name for the political movement.  The party’s focus has expanded and is described online now as being concerned with government transparency, information availability, and (conversely) user privacy for computer users.

Could the Pirate Party find some potential for expansion into the contemporary political scene in theUnited States?  Some of the main concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement and those of the Germany Pirate Party seem to form a cusp area for the two groups and since one of the main (conservative) criticisms of the OWS movement is that they don’t have a clear cut political agenda, forming a political coalition using both groups to appeal to America’s youth vote, might happen with the same suddenness that is being achieved by the phenomenon in Germany.

Obviously such a development is too much of a radical departure from the conservatives’ philosophy of “politics as usual,” so seeing any impartial or favorable sounding news reports about the German Pirate Party on Fox Nation News, seems quite unlikely.  Although the basic “Screw your Rules” philosophy might appeal to conservative business executives wishing to circumvent the stifling aspects of government regulations.

Speaking of bypassing government rules as it applies to deficiencies in the art of Journalism, how much coverage have you encountered in American media about new worries that have been added to the list of woes for Rupert Murdoch and his son James?

Ostensibly in the United States the two political parties rarely agree on anything, but they do seem to be in agreement about making it virtually impossible for rebels, renegades and rogues to form a third political party. 

Some cynical pundits may suggest that the Republicans and Democrats in the United States are playing a political variation of the “good cop – bad cop” strategy for managing  the citizens for the one percenters and thus a third party would only complicate the process and therefore such an innovation becomes unnecessary and undesirable in the opinion of most one percenters.

It would be very unpatriotic to believe that the “good cop – bad cop” political atmosphere in the United States is anything less than idyllic but a niche group that might see things that way might be attracted to the Pirate Party.

The Internet presents the people known as corporations with access to all the consumer/computer user data to expedite the manipulation and exploitation of the suckers – strike that word and change it to customers – possible; also, they do not want to miss the opportunity to include extra hidden charges for intellectual property rights (passing those hidden addition monies along to the artists who should get the fees is an entirely different matter) along to their customers.  Therefore it seems that the people we know as corporations and the members of the Pirate Party have a cobra vs. mongoose type relationship.

The Pirate Party politicians will appeal to the natural inclination for a new generation of young people to become rebels and innovators by invoking a very popular cultural image that has also provided a very lucrative genre toHollywood.  If it seems like there is a new Pirate movie every Friday, it won’t be any surprise to learn that “The Pirates!  Band of Misfits” opens today.

Here is a short test to give the readers of this column a chance to see if their thinking has been molded by society or if they have the large canon of knowledge needed to sidestep any efforts to be fooled by conceptual shorthand propaganda. 

Can you name any Pirate ship captains who were women?  If you didn’t quickly rattle off several names; then you have been outwitted by marketing image molding and should consider taking the time to locate and read a copy of “She Captains” by Joan Druett. 

Robert Newton was the greatest movie pirate of all time for his portrayal of Long John Silver in “Treasure Island.”  He subsequently again played the same role for a move titled “Long John Silver,” and also for a TV series titled “Long John Silver.”  Most of that material is available online perhaps even at Pirates’ Bay?

September 19 is “Talk like a Pirate Day.”

Is radio Caroline on satellite radio?

[Note from the WLJ Photo Editor:  We took photos (heavy handed symbolism alert!) of two “polar bears” contending with melting blocks of ice at the Earth Day event at City Hall in San Francisco last Sunday and since we mentioned the Green Party in this column and since we don’t have to do extensive computer work to get permission to use one of the images with this column; we’ll go with what we got.]

Speaking of faux journalism, did any of the stories you encountered about the Secret Service imbroglio include the fact that prostitution is legal in Chili?  Does that fact change the validity of the tone of the moral indignation in the commentary on the story?

Will the Republicans, who are totally outraged by the (alleged) lapse of morality by the secret service agents, call for any investigations into the possibility that any Americans (military or “diplomats”) visited The White Rose or <I>Le Rendezvous des Amis</I> (Googling tip for amateur fact finders:  “Vientiane by night”), while in Vientiane Laos (if indeed that city did actually exist) back during the era when Richard Nixon was commander-in-chief during the Vietnam War?  Wouldn’t that be a similar chance to root out moral turpitude?  Perhaps the American government employees who hung out at the Purple Porpoise bar were not held to the same standards as are the agents in the Secret Service?  Perhaps Republican and Democratic Presidents are held to different levels of accountability for the actions of their hired hands?

Speaking of scoops, we have noticed a possible trend spotting story for the Fashion Desk developing inSan Francisco.  We have seen what seems to be high heeled hiking boots (is a high heeled hiking boot an oxymoron?).  Perhaps they are high heeled Ugg boots fromAustralia?

Robert Louis Stevenson, in “Treasure Island,” provided this closing quote:  “Many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese – toasted mostly.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Pogues “Dirty Old Town,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Honky Tonk Stuff,” and a bootleg (i.e. pirated) copy of the Rolling Stones’ “Cops and Robbers.”  We have to go prepare for May Day on the Golden GateBridge(which is celebrating its 75th birthday on the Memorial Day weekend.)  Have a “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum” type week.

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April 26 will be the day to remember Gurenica and tell stories.

April 20, 2012

Guernica happened 75 years ago, on April 26, but that story is not liable to be noted much in American media during the coming week because the military tactic of using bombs to kill civilians is anathema to Obama’s reelection team because they want to project an image of Lincoln-esque nobility for his term in office and the Republicans (the American Republicans and not the neo-fascists in the Spanish Civil War) do not want to hear any criticism of the American military adventures started by George W. Bush and so it was with great joy that the World’s Laziest Journalist accidentally encountered a second chance last weekend to photograph the art installation in San Francisco titled “Defenestration” because that provided a striking visual metaphor for the Republican budget philosophy.  “Defenestration” depicts useful household items being recklessly tossed out of a building’s windows.  The Republicans seem intent on throwing out useful social programs so that the taxes on millionaires can be either greatly reduced or eliminated.

This week’s news stories about the role the Secret Service played in President Obama’s trip to Columbia provide a columnist with a chance to make a casual allusion to a half century old novel titled “The One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding,” but it also provides a rather tenuous chance for the team at the Amalgamated Conspiracy  Theory Factory’s Research and Development Department to unleash some trial balloon speculation about the possibility for something more dark and sinister such as a Republican spawned plan to reinforce their contention that President Obama is an inept manager. 

Is there anyone in the Republican Party who could arrange for the Secret Service to be humiliated and left looking that bad?  Could it have been a gigantic Political Dirty Trick which would just add more evidence to the Republican assertions that Obama is a poor administrator?  Would any Republican be that unscrupulous? 

This week the Los Angeles Times published pictures which may stir up anti-American sentiment in theMiddle East.  Won’t what that newspaper did be as helpful to the American mission inAfghanistanas someone spreading thumbtacks on the route Sisyphus will use and then forcing him to work barefooted?

WhenGuernicawas bombed, a contingent of journalists was in the nearby city ofBilbao.  When their dinner was interrupted by news of the bombing, they raced off to cover the news and get the chance to hear survivors tell their stories.

Since neither conservatives nor progressives want to read about Guernica, perhaps the fact that April 26th is also National Story Telling Day, could provide us with a chance to morph the focus of this column to the topic of storytelling?

Back in the day, when Jack Paar was the host for NBC’s Tonight Show, talk show guests were given ample opportunity to tell amusing and entertaining stories.  Now the only reason for someone to be on a talk show is to sell some new bit of entertainment such as a movie or album.  The stealth talk show sales pitch spawned a new word.  Such unpaid ads can be called promobabble.

Traveling and story telling seem to go together like ham and eggs ever since the guy who wrote the “Iliad” the “Odyssey” was in J-school.

As we recall, TV personality Herb Schriner wrote a history of mobile homes.

War correspondent Ernie Pyle traveled about theUnited Statesbefore World War II writing columns in a Chevy coup that had a modified trunk that functioned as his portable office. 

Jack Kerouac made a career out of writing about the adventures on the road that he experienced with his pal Neal Cassady.

John Steinbeck wrote “Travels with Charlie” in the early Sixties.  Some critics compare that with Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Travels with a donkey,” which may have provided the motto for travelers with this sentence:  “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.  The great affair is to move.”

If that philosophy appeals to you, then you might want to do some Googleing and investigate the possibilities offered by spending July inParistaking the travel writing course offered by Rolf Potts.  (What would the boss say about an assignment to go report on that learning experience?  Maybe we could include some reports about the 24 hour race atLe Mansfor sports cars and get a twofer for our money?)

Speaking of an endless summer on the road, we noticed that theUniversityofSydneyis offering their students who are studying United State Politics a chance to spend their winter (our summer) studying at UCLA.  Hey, fellows, what about turn about is fair play?  Gees any student who got into that program and who knows how to surf would only be a MTA bus ride away from The Call to the Wall surfing contest inMalibuwhile they were calling Westwood their home.

If they believe that turnabout is fair play shouldn’t UCLA students get a chance to study for a semester (our winter their summer) inSydney?

Personal note:  If things go as planned we intend on doing our Christmas shopping in Paris (France not Texas) and perhaps attending Christmas Eve midnight Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral (has this year’s Mass been sold out already?).  If that doesn’t happen, then we will change to Plan B and opt for celebrating Christmas in the traditional Australian way; i.e. on the beach (Bondi or Cottesloe?) in a bathing suit.

Speaking of “On the Road Again,” on Friday April 20, 2012, on CBS radio’s World News Roundup, they mentioned that a statue of Willie Nelson would be unveiled inAustinlater in the day.

Tom Wolfe wrote an article for the Sunday magazine section for the New York Herald Tribune and got enough material for a book by joining a busload of hippies (with Kerouac’s buddy Neal Cassady doing the majority of the driving) going from San Francisco to the New York World’s Fair.  A documentary film about that expedition was released last summer.  Many folks have written about their attempts to imitate the Kerouac “On the Road” exploration ofAmericabut the fact that Tom Wolfe wrote about Ken Kesey’s installment in that category inspired many more subsequent imitations. 

Now (thanks to a news tip in the form of a comment posted about Kerouac for a recent column) we have learned that a modern attempt to chronicle a similar adventure for something called the “magic love bus” will be posted online as that story unfolds.  (Google tip:  “magic love bus.”) 

Who hasn’t wanted to write their own version of “a savage journey to the Heart of the American dream”? 

Early in the Online era two fellows traveled about in a mobile home and produced the magazine “Monk” on a computer from their mobile office.  Don’t they still maintain an online web site?

The history of cars and California are intertwined and mystery writer Charles Willeford may have produced a minor classic novel on the topic of used car salesmen with “The High Priest of California.”

Southern Californiaused car legend Cal Worthington was a regular guest on the Tonight Show during the Johnny Carson phase of its history.

In the late Seventies, former President Richard M. (Tricky Dickey) Nixon in an interview tossed out a quote that Americans were like little children and needed to be told stories.  Fact checkers with access to Lexis/Nexis should be able to find the exact detail about the origin of this obscure bit of Presidential history.  President Ronald Reagan was a gifted story teller and usually managed to work a folksy story about ordinary Americans into most of his Presidential speeches. 

Didn’t the New York Times do a trend spotting story about the resurrection of the dead art of story telling recently?  Doesn’t that provide conclusive proof that story telling is making a comeback?

Speaking of used cars andCalifornia, earlier this week a little old lady (fromRichmondCA) walked into the new car showroom at McKevitt Volvo inBerkelyCAand asked what they would offer as a trade in value for her car parked in front of their establishment.  As luck would have it, the World’s Laziest Journalist just happened to walk past there and got some car-spotting photos to use on his photo blog.  She was driving a 1960 MGA (with the old style yellowCalifornialicense plate with black letters [used up until 1961]) in mint condition.  By Thursday afternoon, the sports car was sitting in the middle of their new car showroom (with 10,238 miles on the odometer).

We sent an e-mail about this classic example of tales from the used car trade to the tips editor at Jalopnik.

Columnist Herb Caen used the term “Little old lady” so often that he resorted to the initials “LOL” and his regular readers knew what that meant. Caen’s Name Phreaks department used to take note of people with names that were either very appropriate or inappropriate for the job they held.  A used car salesman who worked onVan Ness AvenueinSan Francisco, named Bob Cheatum, was submitted by readers so often that he was given Hall of Fame status. 

After Aimee Semple McPherson told an incredible tale about being kidnapped, journalists asked some skeptical questions about the details and she responded:  “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”

It’s been a sad week in musical history, so the disk jockey will play some songs that will always evoke American Bandstand memories for this columnist; “The stroll,” Fabian’s “Tiger,” and Duane Eddy’s “Forty Miles of Bad Road” plus “Cripple Creek Mountain.”  We have to go and check the Porchlight calendar for this month’s story telling competition inSan Francisco.  Have a “You’re never going to believe this, but . . .” type 4/20 day.

This columnist celebrates National Columnists’ Day

April 18, 2012

On theislandofIe Shima, on April 18, 1945, war correspondent Ernie Pyle was killed in action and that is why that date has been selected by the National Society of Newspaper Columnist to be designated as National Columnists’ Day. 

After a few years of writing about Ernie Pyle for National Columnists’ Day, it grew a bit challenging, and so the focus for our annual column for that occasion was expanded to include homage to other famous columnists from the past such as Herb Caen and Walter Winchell.   

For a columnist named Bob Patterson, who was born and raised inScrantonPa.and now lives in Berkeley CA, to celebrate National Columnists’ Day by writing this year’s installment about a columnist, scalawag, and rascal named Bob Patterson, who was raised about a hundred years ago in Berkeley CA, is a daunting challenge.  In order to produce a column that doesn’t sound like a noteworthy example of shameless über-egotism and crass self-promotion, we will refer to the writer from the past by his pen name of Freddie Francisco and note that the facts for this column were contained in the “exposé” story Freddie Francisco wrote about himself for a weekly newspaper named “The City of San Francisco” in their August 10, 1975 issue.

Francisco revealed that during the Twenties Patterson landed a $47 a week reporter’s job on the New York <I>Graphic</I> and when he began to work the police beat Freddie/Bob was offered a $100 a week bonus from a Prohibition entrepreneur who wanted a phone call tip whenever the Prohibition agents left on a raid.  That stunt got him fired.  His confession relates that subsequently Freddie/Bob went to work for the fellow who had supplied the tip bonuses.

In the early Thirties, Freddie/Bob moved toJapan.  To augment his pay while living there Freddie wrote about the forbidden topic ofTokyo’s notorious Yoshitwara district.  That got him another pink slip and deportation status on the same day that he contracted malaria. 

Freddie quickly transitioned to the staff of the China Press inShanghai.

Freddy/Bob arrived inShanghaibetween World Wars.  Freddie described his reactions thus:  “It was fine, fine, fine; Patterson decided to stay forever, and maybe three days over.”  It took only two months for him to get the assignment of writing a daily column he dubbed “The Dawn Patrol.” 

During Freddie’s stint inShanghai, he gathered enough human interest stories to fill a thousand novels, if he ever retired from journalism. 

In describing the conduct of a battle between rival houses of prostitution, he informs readers that the madam with seniority hired coolies to defecate on the front steps of the rival location just as the evening was about to begin.

One kindlyShanghaimortician used to offer free services to indigent Americans who died far from their native land.  He also, Freddie reported, paid for shipping and interment back home in theUSA.  Customs started digging up the opium laden coffins before the morticians’ associates and then the concept of the altruistic motivation went up in smoke (as it were).

Freddie got to visit at Madame Sun Yat-sen’s home, thanks to Andre Malraux.

Freddie wrote a book about the glory days inShanghai.  When the book was republished in theUSA, the American publishing firm gave Freddie the run-a-round rather than residuals.

In the 1975 article, Freddie glossed over the time line and ignored certain gaps in the narrative saying only that when it came time to apply for a job at the San Francisco <I>Examiner</I>, that “Sing Sing doesn’t provide irresistible references.”

Back in the day when Frisco was home for very memorable gin mills  such as “The Fly Trap,” “Mark’s Lower Bar,” and the “Home That Jack Built;” Freddie/Bob became good friends with San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, and the two gathered material by going bar hopping together.  Feddie/Bob conceded that his arch rival was “a shade faster because of fancier footwork and better streamlining.”

Once, after the two purchased some toy machine guns and participated in some late night frolicking, they were apprehended by two rookie policemen and the columnists indignantly inquired if the youngster knew who they were trying to arrest.  When they arrived at the station house, they walked in and the watch commander broke into a hearty laughing fit and finally managed to ask the two patrolmen if they knew who it was that they were trying to arrest.  (Case dismissed – on the spot.)

Freddie pushed the boundaries and got in hot water with management when he used the word “poontang.”  He was forbidden to use that word ever again and the top proofreader was charged with making sure the embargoed word was banished forever.  In a description of a party that included a list of forty names, a mysterious guest named Poon Tang was listed and won Freddie a wager for a double sawbuck.

In a dispute about running a story about a business man and a bimbo, Freddie asked about using that information in the paper.  His boss, out of concern for the fellow’s wife, replied “Forget the story and give him a call so he knows that we know.”  Freddie elaborates the result:  “Max dumped the doll and stayed away from expensive poontang from then on until coffin time.”

Freddie was involved in a plot that involved hush money for his prison record and he spurned the chance to cover it all up.  His termination was reported to the readers in a box on a subsequent <I>Examiner</I> front page.

Freddie/Bob reports that he then went into business with “Honest” Luke Carroll playing poker on various passenger liners sailing the Pacific.  The company that owned the vessels eventually stopped selling tickets to the two card players.

Freddie/Bob bummed around the Journalism Industry and picked up some writing assignments inHollywood, but then:  “In 1967, Patterson felt homesick for the <I>Examiner</I> and asked them for a job.”

In 1960, the <I>Examiner</I> had suffered some humiliation when (according to the Freddie exposé) Bud Boyd “was discovered (by Ed Montgomery) to be writing a wilderness survival series from the comfort of his living room.”

A few years after rejoining the <I>Examiner</I> staff, the rehired Freddie/Bob scored some exclusives fromChina; the newspaper’s managment didn’t take kindly to allegations that the scoops had been penned in Hong Kong and not the interior ofChina.  It was time for another front page box informing readers that Freddie/Bob had been fired again. 

A copy of the Freddie/Bob story was located in the San Francisco Public Library and other sources indicate that Freddie/Bob’s story didn’t end there.  Due to a law suite, Freddie/Bob was suspended from writing assignments but was kept on the payroll at full pay until the legal matter could be clarified.  (Some guys have all the luck?)

Like Elvis, Jim Morrison, and James Dean, Freddie Francisco (AKA Bob Patterson)’s death was well reported in the Bay area many years ago.  The World’s Laziest Journalist intends on holding a brief memorial service on National Columnists’ Day for Freddie Francisco.  Since one of the legendary Frisco bars, the Gold Dust Lounge (Est. 1933), which got fond mentions from Herb Caen, is in immanent danger of closure now, perhaps we will hoist a glass of diet cola in Freddie/Bob’s honor there as our celebration of National Columnists’ Day.  What’s not to like about a fellow who loved traveling the world, having good times, and then writing about his own adventures?  Putting it on the expense account could only have been putting frosting on the cake.

Freddie Francisco’s lead for his exposé provides an apt closing quote for this column:  “Bob Patterson, erstwhileSan Francisco<I>Examiner</I> newsman,Chinaexpert and scoundrel is a very misunderstood man.  He is misunderstood by his critics, by two former wives and by at least one god-fearing and red-blooded former employer who recently fired him on the front page.”

Now the disk jockey will play “On a slow boat toChina,” the soundtrack album from “The Lady fromShanghai,” and the Flatlanders “My wildest dreams get wilder every day.”  We have to go over toSan Franciscoand look for some very old books.  Have a “stay out of jail card” type week.

Join the rising tide of conformity!

April 13, 2012

[<B>WARNING:  This column has been found to contain trace elements of irony.</B>]

The corporatization of the Internets has meant that unique voices must be marginalized into extinction because of the “there is no I in the word ‘team’” philosophy that has become mandatory for all Americans now that corporations are persons.  Any individual who thinks he has the same rights and freedoms as a corporation (for example British Petroleum) has a lesson in the meaning of equality in contemporary American culture to learn. 

Leaving workers feeling like they are beat when they lose their home to a bank via foreclosure may not be a new phenomenon.  Their howls of protest may hearken back to some previous more poetic rebellions. 

Back in the Sixties, Playboy magazine published a cartoon (by Shel Silverstein?) showing a line of hippies stretching back to the horizon all carrying the same sign which urged:  “Protest the rising tide of conformity!”  The Sixties are over and the Establishment has won.  Good patriotic Americans must become vigilant and ever alert to help immediately stifle any possible examples of nonconformity.

It took some time but Nixon and California Governor Reagan have been vindicated and American Presidents are no longer shackled if Walter Cronkite is not enthusiastic about the potential of victory in the latest American military venture.

When the Republican National Convention starts in Tampa, and the town is swamped with hippies protesting the War in Vietnam (or whatever) we wonder if the mayor will urge patriotic citizens to circle the venue with a wall of human shields (as the Liberals wanted to do to protect Saddam Hussein) and urge them to stand their ground and not let the protesters get near the entrance, let alone onto the convention floor. 

The fact that conservative talk radio has become almost all pervasive in the talk radio area may mean the death knell for the Beat Generation.  The progressive radio station in theSan Franciscoarea has started carrying Glen Beck during the morning commute drive time and has pushed Mike Malloy’s three hour shows into the 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. time slot.  During the day you will hear ads from a web site that offers to help listeners make the right choice about which guns to buy. 

After writing a suggestion pointing out the opportunity for a fund raising effort to help Americans who have lost their homes in foreclosure, we noticed recently that a web based effort titled <a href =http://www.homeaid.net/>Home Aid</a> will be conducted this fall.

The Democratic candidates want to focus attention on the economy and fair taxation for the Presidential election.  The Republicans traditionally prefer to use issues less complex than the allocation of tax benefits and restrictions on services offered by banks, hence they prefer to select other issues that are easier for the less educated to understand, such as racial prejudice.  While President Obama is busy giving speeches urging changes that would mean millionaires pay the same rate of taxes as their secretaries do, news broadcasts were headlining aFloridashooting.

Could it possibly be that the compassionate, Christian conservatives’ prayers have been answered?  Would the Republicans reap any political benefit from delaying a trial for George Zimmerman until October?  Would American voters let a racially motivated murder have an effect on their ballot choices?  Will conservative pundits be disingenuous about admitting that concentrating news coverage on such a trial might be a variation of the Willie Horton effect?  Will the final verdict be as controversial as the acquittal of OJ?  Will future political historians assert that the Zimmerman trial had an effect on the Presidential Election?

Will conservatives use the George Zimmerman case to establish a reverse version of jury nullification and call it jury validation of the stand your ground laws?  We should know the answer to that question by Election Day.

Some liberals tend to think that if they don’t mention the possibility of such a coordinated Republican strategy, then it won’t happen.  We tend to think of the “let’s not talk about that” philosophy as being an integral part of the conservative game plan and so we bring up some uncomfortable parallels as a way of providing spoiler information so that the Democratic Party officials can make plans to counter such a gambit, rather than playing along and ignoring the elephant (GOP symbol alert!) in the room.

Is it naïve to think thatAmerica’s Free Press will go along to get along and deliberately shape or avoid news coverage that might favor one party over the other?

The Huffington Post French Edition ran a story last week about an accident at the Penly nuclear plant in France.  We did a Google New Search and learned that Bloomsberg was reporting that the fires had been extinguished.  Did you happen to see any reports on that bit of news anywhere else in American owned and controlled media?

If you have not become informed about this story is that because of the dumbing down of American Journalism or is it because the corporations that promote the use of nuclear power have the right to be free from any pesky protests that might be inspired by such irrelevant information?  Don’t the rights of those persons (corporations) trump your puny personal rights to criticize how they run their businesses?  Keep your hands off our nuclear reactors!

After learning that Jack Kerouac’s first book length manuscript has just been published with the title “The Sea is my brother,” we decided to go on the Internets and look up the location for the Beatnik bar that was named “The Place.”  We tried putting the words in quotes and adding the words Beatnik and Kerouac.  The results produced an avalanche of irrelevant links. 

On Saturday, April 7, 2012, we decided that it would be easier to hop on an AC Transit bus and go toSan Franciscoand get that bit of information.  We peeked in Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s guide book “The Beats in San Francisco,” while we were in City Lights Bookstore but failed to note that our goal was within walking distance.

By Wednesday, April 11, 2012, we had consulted the Google maps online and returned to theNorthBeacharea ofSan Franciscoto take some photos of the site where The Place used to be.  We learned that the business next door down, <a href =http://macreativedesign.com/>Macchirini’s Designs</a> has been owned and operated by the same family since before the Beat writers arrived in the area.

Daniel Macchirini was delighted to hear that the new book, “jubilee hitchhiker,” by William Hjortsberg corroborates the information in an obscure book that tells the history of “The Place” and that the poem Howl was read in public at The Place before it supposedly debuted at a poetry reading at the 6 Gallery.  Macchirini showed us his copy of the copyrighted manuscript for the history of the famed Beat bar called “The Place.” 

[Note:  since this columnist did not have photo pass access to the President’s speeches this week, nor did he have a chance to take any news photos of legal proceedings in StanfordFlorida, the photo editor will have to use some photos from the North Beach Beatnik area ofSan Francisco, taken on Wednesday, as illustrations for this column.  Doesn’t the current philosophy of the Internets hold that any image with a tenuous link to the content is better than no photo at all?]

The R & D Department at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is working around the clock to come up with a plausible explanation for how the JEB team will deliver the nomination to their chosen one despite the unexpected departure of Rick Santorum from the list of active candidates earlier this week and the rapidly disappearing opportunity for a deadlocked National Republican Convention.

Isn’t thinking that JEB could still be handed the nomination just as absurd as thinking that a President could usurp the Congressional power to declare war and lead theUSAinto a war withIraqjust to settle an old score that was part of an International family feud?

What’s the worst that could happen?  Won’t the well informed voters use the electronic voting machines with no means of verifying the results to prevent any possible political disaster if by some miracle JEB becomes the Republican nominee?

Didn’t Jack Kerouac say that if he had been registered to vote, he would have voted for Eisenhower in 1956?  Didn’t Kerouac support the troops inVietnam?  Didn’t Kerouac prefer William F. Buckley Jr.’s political views and denounce his friend Alan Ginsberg for being pro-Commie?  Here is a hypothetical question:  Would Kerouac vote for JEB?

Is America becoming immune to the need for analyzing?  Was part of this week’s entertainment news about the selection of an actor who is over forty to play a musician who died when he was 28? 

In 1938, Mao Tse-tung said:  “Our Principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.”  He was not a Republican, that’s for sure.

Now the disk jockey will play Chuck Barry’s “Wee Wee Hours” (It’s on the flip side of “Maybellene”), Pat Boone’s “Ain’t that a Shame,” and Elvis’ “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.”  We have to go write a column for April 18, which will be National Columnists’ Day.  Have a “real cool, daddy-o” type week.

Where the free speech movement started

April 6, 2012

After the New Downtown Berkeley Launch Event was concluded on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, a reporter from KGO radio in San Francisco was walking on Adeline Street with John Caner, the Executive Director of the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA), when one of the homeless people in front of John’s Ice Cream challenged her to talk to him and get both sides of the story.  She declined the invitation to get a balanced picture of the situation and scampered quickly to her Mercedes Benz and drove off informing him that she had all the information she needed.

In the current issue of the East Bay Express (April 4 – 10, 2012) on page 12 of the hardcopy edition, reporter Robert Gammon recaps the skepticism that Joe Debro faced when he criticized the deal which was utilized <a href =

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/raiders-deal-still-haunts-oakland/Content?oid=3167659> to bring the Oakland Raiders back toOakland</a> from their temporary rebel encampment in theLos Angeles area.  Debro was vastly outnumbered by sports fans, journalists and politicians who heartily endorsed the efforts to lure the absent rascals back to the Bay Area.

Debro’s objections seem more credible now that the city is in financial crisis mode and the football team might need to be reminded of the particulars of a loan that was instrumental in getting them to (like the prodigal son) return home because it is Debro’s continued position that no payments on the loan have been made and none are scheduled to be made.  If families can live paycheck to paycheck, can’t a $53.9 million dollar loan be forgotten if a team is living from season to season?

Time magazine’s Reagan era White House correspondent, Doug Brew, advised reporters to take the time to listen to what people were trying to tell them and not prejudge the quality of their information based on their appearances or apparent financial status.  How (you might ask) could the World’s Laziest Journalist possibly be the recipient of advice from such a highly qualified source for opinions on the art of Journalism?  We were coworkers on the staff of the weekly Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers in theLos Angelesarea.  That brings up the question:  “How well did you get to know him?”  When he was welcomed into this columnist’s humble abode in Marina del Rey, Brew expostulated:  “My God, Bob, this is a hovel!”

Could KGO’s gal reporter have possibly missed a goodBerkeleysidebar story in her haste to get . . . some place else?

On Tuesday afternoon, we were informed by some of the folks in People’s Park that (irony alert!) the beloved guy known as “hate man” had been issued a stay-a-way order from the public park that he calls “home.” 

The ten years that Mark Hawthorne (AKA Hate man) worked for the Metro Section of the New York Times were also known as “the Sixties” and we would pay good money to hear him tell his stories and just maybe get some advice on how to produce quality journalism. Hawthorne’s suggestions would probably be just as good as those provided by the fellow who worked for Time magazine. 

If UCB’sschoolofJournalismcan’t get hate man to teach there, perhaps they could getHawthorneto do one guest lecture per semester?  Hate man prefers to be outdoors and it is not unprecedented for some UCB classes to be held outside (like perhaps at People’s Park?). 

How is that fair and balance act working out for Rupert Murdoch?  Maybe if we learned how to do Journalism Fox style, we could wind up driving a Mercedes Benz?  Don’t they always put their best sly digs in the form of a question?

Is it true that Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy a major league baseball team and get the town fathers in FoxboroMassachusettsto build a stadium to serve as home for such an enterprise?   Could they call such a stadium “The Hen House”?

Could anyone convince the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to build a brand new football stadium on county owned land in Marina del Rey and let a football team move in for little or no rent?  Isn’tLos Angelesthe biggest metropolitan area without a major football team?  Shouldn’t the board be happy to build a stadium and make loans that can then sit abandoned?  Where are the Brookly Dodgers Football team playing these days?

Whatever happened to the pro football teams that used to play in theLos Angelesarea?

Is there a C&W song titled “You’ve got a cash register heart”?   If not; why not?

Isn’t theUniversityofCalifornia Berkeleyrenovating their football stadium?  Aren’t college football games always played on Saturdays and aren’t pro football games always played on Sundays?

If the Berkeley Downtown Business Association really wants to bring shoppers and travelers to their town, why don’t they float a bond issue, take over management of the UCB football stadium and give the Raiders a better deal than a loan that doesn’t have to be paid back?  They could pay the Raiders gigantic bonus to move a few miles north and become the Berkeley Raiders!

If Monterey can be world famous as the town where one writer (John Steinbeck) use to live and if Key West Florida can hold an annual Hemingway Days series of events because just one writer used to live in their community, then why don’t book readers from all over the world flock to Berkeley where Ursula K. LeGuinn was born, and Philip K. Dick, Alan Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac used to live?

Since the Mediterraneum was open when Dick, Ginsberg, and Kerouac all lived in Berkeley, isn’t it natural to wonder if they ever had a brief chat there?

Charles Dickens, when he came to theUnited Statesto visit, made a particular point of going to visitLowellMassachusettsbecause of its literary heritage because a famous magazine had been published there.  That was years before Jack Kerouac’s father brought his family to that town.  Isn’t the Berkeley Barb mentioned repeatedly in “Smoking Typewriters,” which is about the history of underground newspapers in theUSA?

Last fall, when the high school finalists in the freedom of speech essay contest read their winning entries didn’t it get coverage on the TV networks by holding the event on the Mario Savio steps at theSproulPlazaarea of UCB?

Doesn’t the guy who runs the Daily Kos website for liberal online commentary live inBerkeley?

Is there a DBA suggestion box for ways to bring attention toBerkeley?

If the Journalism students at UCB were to produce a TV show all about Berkeley every day, wouldn’t it be quite likely that in this era of “low cost is no cost” broadcasting if they offered such a product to a cable TV company <I>gratis</I>, they would take it and offer it to viewers all over the world?  (Fox seems to be ubiquitous inAustralia.  Lottsa sports.)  Wouldn’t that be a career boost for the participating students and wouldn’t that win the DBA seal of approval?

Doesn’tKalgoorlie, inWestern Australia, lure visitors from all over the world with just one word?  Gold!  How far fromBerkeleyis Sutter’s Mill?

[Note:  It was a challenge to find a way to illustrate this column.  We used material from an abandoned photo project titled “On the road with a copy of ‘On the Road.’”  SinceBerkeleyis specifically mentioned in “The Dharma Bums,” that might have been a better choice, but the photo editor had to go with what was available.]

National columnists’ Day is rapidly approaching and the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to write a column for the occasion about a fellow who was born inBerkeley(about a hundred years ago) and became one of the Bay Area’s top contenders for the right to call himself “Mr. San Francisco.”  UCB has the Hearst School of Journalism and that particularBerkeleyrascal was personally fired by William Randolph Hearst . . . twice.  That notorious columnist might provide the basis for one installment of the aforementioned hypothetical student TV show “Berkeley Tonight” (or whatever).

Didn’t the Sixties officially start (in Berkeley) when Mario Savio said:  “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”  [Can you believe that that quote is not in Bartlett’s?] 

Now the disk jockey will play Janice Joplin’s “Oh, dear Lord,” Ry Cooder’s “Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile (Every Woman I Know),” and Woody Gutheris’s “Go For a Ride in the Car, car.”  Speaking of cars, we have to celebrate this weekend by watching “Rebel without a Cause” one more time.  Have a “See theUSAin your Chevrolet” type week.