Murrow’s “Orchestrated Hell” revisited

One TV station in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Saturday May 18, 2013, used an ironical sound byte to illustrate their story reporting on the commencement address given that day by Steve Wozniak in Berkeley.  In the brief excerpt, Wozniak urged graduates to take a page from the panhandlers’ guide book (folks in Berkeley are well aware of the existence of street people asking for a handout) and to be sure, later in life, to take time to have some fun or as the hippies in the Sixties used to say:  “stop and smell the flowers.” 

The very next day some 30,000 people officially participated (there were many more unofficial runners) in San Francisco’s annual “Bay to Breakers” competition which combines a footrace with a Halloween practice run in May.  It was not immediately known how many of the racers were recent UCB graduates putting Wozniak’s advice into action.

A group of women wearing ball gowns may have been a good example of the event’s basic philosophy.  When asked if they were the “Gone with the Wind” team they laughed and said that a journalist last year had dubbed them the “Bevy of Beauties.”

The Mardi Gras atmosphere may have been exemplified when the band Posole, a self-described mariachi/surf band which will be appearing June 7, at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, provided the World’s Laziest Journalist with the opportunity to participate in an impromptu audition for the possibility of becoming America’s oldest roadie.  (Isn’t the chance for a career change from columnist to roadie rife with potential column topics?) 

On Tuesday, May 21, it was announced that Superbowl L (the Roman numeral for 50) will be played in the 49ers’ Levi stadium.

While having supper in Oakland on Tuesday, we had stumbled upon a pre City Council meeting protest march that was urging the local municipality to endorse a national move to impose a tax on Wall Street which would collect funds to replace revenue lost in the austerity budget fad for cutting money for social programs.  We had never heard of the Robin Hood tax movement and so we took a few photos.  Folks who have not encountered news coverage of this topic can learn more at RobinHoodTax.org.

A columnist, who first learns of a new topic by encountering a street demonstration, runs the risk of thinking that a topic is new and unique (scoop?) if he has limited access to the Internet where the topic may have been previously reported ad nauseum but the advantage of preferring the reporting from the field methodology of topic gathering is that it delivers a cornucopia of photo ops which may produce photos that can be used either immediately or at a later date.

Wednesday May 22, 2013 the only item on the World’s Laziest Journalist’s agenda was to do some fact finding for a future column comparing and contrasting the B-17 and the B-24, which were both used extensively as bombers (a drone with a crew?) in WWII.  The inspection of the WWII aircraft on display (through the weekend) at Moffett Field left us wondering if Edward R. Murrow were available to do a report today from the scene of a drone attack in the Middle East, would he make any nostalgic references to his famous “Orchestrated Hell” report made while flying a bombing mission aboard a British Lancaster Avro bomber?

While walking down Third Street towards the Caltrans station, we impulsively decided that since our mind is already made up and we prefer the B-17, what the heck . . .  since everyone knows what a B-24 looks like, we were free to improvise a day in Frisco and figure out the column photo question later.

If a columnist were to write a column later in the year about drones, wouldn’t it be convenient to have some stock shots of a piece of machinery that could be called a drone with a large crew?

[Note from the photo editor:  The Vesuvio bar in Frisco’s North Beach area has been there for decades and so it is often listed as one of the places where Jack Kerouac imbibed with his fellow writers.  Patrons on the Second Floor balcony can look across Jack Kerouac Alley at a mural on the side of the famed City Lights Bookstore.  Who knew that Jack Kerouac and Steve Wozniak would agree on the philosophical concept of chillin’?]

With all the attention to fun and frivolity it was easy to be distracted and forget that the situation in Washington D. C. was serious.  Could the Republicans’ enthusiasm for a new impeachment circus be compared to the segment in the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” where the escaped prisoner tries to outrun and outfox the bloodhounds who are following his trail?

In a cynical example of reverse racism, Uncle Rushbo was loudly asserting (“Please don’t throw me in that briar patch!”) that America couldn’t (in good conscience?) impeach the first President of Pan-African heritage.  Wasn’t his wink, wink, nudge, nudge implied in the tone of his voice?

As the Memorial Day Weekend for 2013 approaches, we realize that once again we have waited too long for making a serious effort for applying for a press pass to cover the 24 hour endurance race at Le Mans in France. 

Formulating a game plan that blends serendipity safaris in search of interesting photo opportunities with attempts to offer unique observations about the contemporary political scene in the USA may sound a bit too whimsical to be practical, but the sad truth is that a freelance pundit is not bound by the implied obligations of party affiliation and can therefore make snide remarks about the emperor’s new clothes if the occupant of the White House is a Democrat or a Republican. 

A hybrid combination of three dot journalism and the Gonzo style of reporting gives a columnist a great deal of latitude for making editorial and photo decisions. 

For example in the San Francisco area, a new bridge is being built to replace one that is 75 years old.  Readers in Los Angles, New York City, and Fremantle could care less about a new bridge between Treasure Island and Oakland.  When the bridge encounters delays because of faulty bolts and the entire project is put in jeopardy, the news value of an item about that bit of local news gains some additional news value.  If the integrity of the entire project comes into question because of some greedy short cuts, then a mention of a topic that has not been used in the mainstream media becomes more pragmatic.  

When the future of the project is called into question, a renegade pundit can muse about the curiosity factor of the possibility that the bigger a crime is, the less likely it is that some poltroon (we learned that word while reading some H. L. Mencken) will serve time in prison.  Perhaps we could do an entire column about the possibility that there is some kind of inverse proportion linking the amount of money involved in the commission of a crime and the length of a prison sentence.  Didn’t Jean Valjean learn that lesson first hand many moons ago?

One other advantage to inventing a writing style that combines three dot journalism with the Gonzo school of first hand observations is that it makes it much more difficult for trolls to disrupt the flow with a bumper sticker slogan.  Isn’t it more compassionate to toss them an occasional malapropism and watch them go into an ecstatic trance when they have the opportunity to point out the “mistake”?  

What’s not to love about an esoteric and arcane tidbit of information that will cause a WTF meltdown reaction?  Could the Bay Bridge Bolts be compared to the Warren Commission’s exhibit no. 399?

Commentators from both the Republican and Democratic Parties seem to be in agreement about the fact that the United States Supreme Court decision on gay marriages could go either way (15 yard penalty for inappropriate cliché?) but a rogue columnist can have the opinion that a decision that could be compared to a walk off grand slam homerun for conservatives is a gimme call for cynics.

Journalists partial to either the Democratic or the Republican Parties seem to be in agreement about the reliability factor for the unhackable electronic voting machines.  Hunter S. Thompson (the godfather of Gozno) might, if he were still alive and ranting, advise his fans to embrace a more cynical assessment.

General Douglas MacArthur said:  “It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

The disk jockey will augment the music with a playing of Edward R. Murrow’s “Orchestrated Hell” broadcast.  The tunes for playing us out (“We’ll do it live!”) will be the Andrew sisters’ “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” Edith Piaf’s “Mon Legionnaire,”  and Marlene Deitrich’s “Lilly Marlene.”  We have to go prepare for celebrating National Tap Dancing Day and National Towel Day (in honor of writer Douglas Adams) simultaneously on Saturday.  Have a “ya mean people get paid to do this?” type week.

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