“Reporting at Wit’s End (Tales from the New Yorker)” (Bloomsbury USA, New York, N. Y. ©2010), which was written by St. Clair McKelway, is chock full of true life feature stories, mostly from the true crime genre file, from the Thirties and Forties. The one titled “Who is the King of Glory” (written with A. J. Liebling), which was an example of a profile of a personality in the news, caught the eye of this columnist because we heard the name Father Devine years ago but have had no other information to add to his dossier.
The story hints that the famous cleric from the past was a tantalizing mixture of an amazing philanthropist and, simultaneously, (perhaps) a charlatan who gave mesmerizing sermons which were a jazz like riff using words rather than notes produced by a musical instrument.
According to information found online Johnny Mercer heard one of those remarkable talks and was inspired to write a song when he heard the phrase “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.”
The story in the book collection did not make a decisive conclusion and inform the readers about a final verdict on the question of any possible fraud or deception about how all the money that flowed into the coffers was spent. We may have to look for a biography of the famed cleric to learn more. That, in turn, made us question the journalistic quality of a piece that leaves a reader in the lurch about a central question.
The passages about Father Devine’s unique vocal style don’t do justice to it because in a transcript (page 112) much of the mischievous tone of the word play loses its magic. “It has been tangibleated, and it can be retangibleated, it can and will continue to materialize, and repersonify, rematerialize, and repersonify, for the great materializing process is going on.”
The fact that a devotee left Father Devine a mansion and a large tract of land in Pennsylvania, made the World’s Laziest Journalist, who can barely get friends on Facebook to share a link to his columns, question his own ability to enunciate enchanting words and phrases.
At this point some skeptics (who want to ask a question in the manner of a Peggy Lee song) might wonder: “If that’s all there is to a career in online column writing, why not chuck it all and say ‘fuck it!’?” To which we would reply “No my friends, not me. I’m going to stick around, make fun of both the Republican and Democratic politicians, lace the columns with arcane, esoteric, and obscure facts that will provide Google bait to lure in new eyeballs (which in turn will cause the management to be [just a bit] more tolerant of this columnist’s eccentric style caused by misguided admiration for the three dot journalism pioneered by Walter Winchell and Herb Caen], occasional unintentional malapropisms, typos and/or misspellings, (lapses into poor taste?), and invent some new words (such as promobabble) in the hopes that some day some reader somewhere (Kalgoorlie W. A.?) might notice that sometimes this frazzled and idiosyncratic columnist has occasionally racked up a noteworthy achievement, such as posting a column like last Friday’s (It proved to be an echoed in advance of a news analysis on the front page of the New York Times on the following Sunday.) and thus be inspired to donate a mansion with a lavish surrounding estate, where the World’s Laziest Journalist Headquarters can then be relocated.
[Note here is the URL for the New York Times news analysis online. People who are registered online as subscribers can copy and paste this link into their browser. Otherwise it won’t work.
Until that happy day arrives, we will have to provide our self with our own rewards for churning out a stream of occasional original insights, underreported stories, and pathetic attempts to replicate the wit of George Carlin.
You want original insights? Did the USA win the Invasion of Iraq or did a lot of Americans get killed and wounded and a number of defense industries experience a boost in business for conducting the most expensive criminal execution in the history of the world? If it was an undisputed KO win, what exactly did the USA win? Did the prognostications that oil revenue would pay for that military adventure turn out to be accurate? If (subjunctive mood) the U. S. did not win will corporate owned media let any reporter say that, let alone just ask the question?
Need another example? We have done volunteer clerk work for the Marina Tenants Association, which has been embroiled for years in a running dispute with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. Some members of the MTA have the opinion that the Supervisors grant real estate developers very lucrative deals to develop businesses in Marina del Rey, which is county owned land, and (hypothetically speaking) are given vast sums of money for their reelections funds in return.
In San Francisco, famed Candlestick Park, which is located on county owned land, will be demolished after the last Fortyniners’ Game of the 2013 season and the county owned land will be used for new private ventures.
The MTA is busy enough with Los Angeles County matters and they won’t have the time or resources to expand their citizen watchdog work into the San Francisco area. The journalists in the Bay area will, mostly, be unaware of the fact that for more than fifty years some Nosey Parkers have been writing newspaper stories calling for investigations of the way Marina del Rey has been handled by the Board of Supervisors and thus the Bay Area reporters will not be alert to the potential for a monkey see, monkey do bit of (possible) chicanery in their circulation area.
The World’s Laziest Journalist does do repeated Google News searches to monitor the evolving story of the Los Angeles County assessor who has been incarcerated and has failed to post bail. We keep wondering: Is some law enforcement agency trying to negotiate some testimony in return for a sweetheart plea bargain deal? If so, who are they trying to go after?
In the San Francisco area we noticed that as the 2012 Baseball Season drew to a conclusion, some baseball players had to sit out a few games because they had readings that showed a too high level of testosterone. We have seen ads on TV that offer to increase the zest for life level of viewers by increasing their testosterone levels. That made us wonder why Baseball players get punished for increasing their testosterone levels but viewers of the Evening News are urged to take measures to increase their testosterone levels. Is that fair?
Would George Carling approve of the quip we made while watching the ads for the testosterone boosting products? While watching the ad we blurted out the comment: “If my doctor said I had low-T, I’d beat the shit out of him!”
On Thursday February 14, 2013, the Armstrong and Getty Show opened their phone lines and asked folks to make suggestions about how to protest the rising tide of overgovernmentalizing (we invented that word while waiting on hold for our turn to talk) in American Society, so we were full of testosterone and just wanted to suggest that folks call radio talk shows and say words that offend the FCC. We didn’t want to actually say those words and incur a big fine. We were immediately disconnected and the 10 second delay must have consigned our attempt to oblivion via the “memory hole.” Guess they don’t have a sense of humor (at least we got a good item for the column from the effort). Do conservative talk show hosts have an irony allergy? Would Lenny Bruce approve our attempt to criticize big government? Would Father Devine approve our attempt at wordification?
Speaking of increasing testosterone levels for feeling young, virile, and sexy, after we noted that this year will be the Chinese year of the Snake, we thought immediately of our quest to drive (or at least get a ride in) a Cobra and so we fired off an e-mail to the Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club (LASAAC), which includes a goodly number of examples of the famed car made by Carol Shelby, asking if they were planning any special Cobra events other than their annual car show, which is usually held in September on the Santa Monica Pier.
A club spokesman replied that there were no current plans for adding an extra Cobra event to their schedule to celebrate the year of the Snake. Our expert authority concluded his reply with a quote that we will use for the column ending wisdom quote. We were informed: “Confucius say: Man who run in front of car get tired… man who run behind car get exhausted… and man who get hit by car get that run down feeling!”
Now the disk jockey will play the “Logical Song,” Joan Baez’s “Diamonds and Rust” (because of the line about “you were so good with words”) and Mama Cass’ “Words of Love.” We have to go look up the meaning of omphaloskepsis. Have a “senescence” type week.