In the annals of Los Angles Political History there is a half century old story about a fiery challenger who, in the best David vs. Goliath tradition, issued bold and provocative challenges to a powerful incumbent to hold a debate. The conventional wisdom at the time held that the fellow in office had nothing to gain by sharing the spotlight with an unknown underdog. Finally the exasperated hopeful bought some local TV time and debated an empty chair. This bit of extreme stunt campaigning helped deliver a stunning upset victory for the outsider.
Since Clint Eastwood, who was born in San Francisco in 1930, started a Hollywood acting career that was underway in the late Fifties, it could well be that he was trying to imitate that obscure, but successful, bit of political strategy when he spoke at the Republican National Convention last week.
The media storm caused by Eastwood’s speech may have been partisan payback for the “meltdown” allegations that were hurled at Howard Dean when he let out an enthusiastic yell at a primary election victory rally.
The fact that the critics of the Clint Eastwood’s empty chair shtick were supposed to be journalist and not partisan political hacks made the omission of a mention of the Los Angeles precedence, and its relevancy to last week’s event and the subsequent analysis, seem shoddy and inadequate. Some of the Eastwood speech did seem to be a bit rambling and disjointed and thus provide a basis for the comparisons to Grandpa Simpson but the L. A. connection with the chair was just too obscure to be appreciated by folks who were not well versed in L. A. political history. Repeated efforts to find out what L. A. personality successfully used the debate with a chair ploy were unsuccessful.
The first time this columnist encountered the phrase “a senior moment” was in a movie line delivered by Clint Eastwood.
As this year’s Presidential election draws closer the atmosphere in journalism is becoming very partisan and that makes the World’s Laziest Journalist reluctant to attempt to deliver snide remarks about either or both candidates.
A columnist who works with limited access to the Internets has to rely on instinct and personal preferences to select the material to be included. It could be that while pounding out the keystrokes for a column that mentions an obscure bit of political history in Los Angeles, people have been inundated with similar mentions of it among the vast variety of commentary available to them. Or not.
If the World’s Laziest Journalist stumbles across a mention somewhere (Muy Interesante magazine perhaps?) of the photos being made by South American artist Cecilia Paredes and they, in turn, remind us of some <I>trompe l’oeil </I> work featured in Popular Photography magazine a few decades back; would it be worth the effort to do all the work necessary to get permission to reprint some of her work plus examples of the images from American media past? Isn’t it easier to let interested readers do their own Google Image search? (Google Image hint: Cecilia Paredes Photography)
Form follows function and to produce a variety of items quickly, a columnist has to use the “put it on a bumper sticker” attitude to get the column posted and get the collection of material for the next one started.
If the readers of this column have had numerous encounters with the news stories about the “Euthanasia Coaster,” which is supposed to be a design for an extreme roller coaster ride that will kill the riders, and it is mentioned here; it is up to them to say “Can’t this columnist find something new?” or, if this is their first encounter with that news item, they can choose to do a Google Image search and “be the first on their block” to make a reference to it on their Facebook page.
One wag suggested that the Euthanasia Coaster could be a conservative scheme to give folks a cheap solution to use when the Republicans start using death panels to cut medical costs.
If Bishop Romney announced that his plan to solve the recession problem was to wave a magic wand, saying “Poof! Be gone” to unemployment, would that generate any skepticism among journalists with a national audience?
Since it should be obvious to this columnist that he will never deliver a column that is a tie breaker for a Presidential race that is continually reported to be a virtual photo finish race, we will settle for doing the work necessary for amusing a small online audience.
What if doing the necessary fact checking also provides a chance to cross an item off the columnist’s bucket list? It could be that writing columns is the excuse for the worker going out, taking pictures, seeing interesting things, having fun and that writing about the process and posting the results online is just a bonus for readers who want to enjoy the process vicariously. We like to think that Hunter S. Thompson would approve.
Eventually one photo op for pictures of protesters getting arrested looks like the next and so some weeks the columnist with a Nikon Coolpix may have to settle for getting one image that includes kink, pop culture, and a shopping destination for tourists. Is the pop culture scene being shortchanged by journalism because the smaller news staffs are often overworked?
We have written a column about walking around the ATT ballpark in San Francisco while a World Series Game was being played. Would a report on the hi-jinks going on inside the press room at a World Series Game provide some juicy reading for both the regulars and new arrivals in the audience? Maybe we should start to apply for a press pass for any AT&T Park World Series games this year?
Should we self-subsidize the expenses that would occur if we apply for and get a press credential to go back to the Oscars™?
Most Americans (both Liberal and Conservative) don’t want to read about the implications about the quality of the results that the electronic voting machines produce. No one seems concerned about the possibility that “they” might steal another election. If, as some people assert, “they” stole two, why the heck would they want to do it again?
The Conservatives don’t want to see or hear any reports that cast aspersions on Republican candidates or even on Ayn Rand.
The Liberals want to make a concerted effort to get out the vote and not be distracted by the possibility that the electronic voting machines may render their efforts ineffective.
Apparently the slim number of people concerned with the question of whether the Euthanasia Coaster or the Electronic Voting Machines has a better reliability rating means that those topics are only worth a quick mention. If the Euthanasia Coaster and the Electronic Voting Machines were important topics wouldn’t either one or both be mentioned on the Jon Stewart Show?
Do people in other areas of the world want to read about the debate in Berkeley this fall over a proposed sit-lie ordinance? Probably not.
Do citizens want to read a column about a new book that reports that the FBI got very involved in investigating the anti-war protesters at the University of California Berkeley campus in the Sixties? In the era of Homeland Security are over zealous security measures from fifty years ago important? Maybe not. (Google News Search hints: “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals and Reagan’s Rise to Power” and “Seth Rosenfeld”)
Recently we noticed that the Mediteranium Café in Berkeley offers a beer float. Not a root beer float, but a regular brewski with a scoop of ice cream in it. We checked online and found a few mentions of the concept so we figure it is worth a mention.
That made us wonder about the news items about beer being brewed by the Obamas. How much does one bottle cost? Who gets the proceeds? Do any profits go to the daughters’ college fund? Are bottles sold at outrageously high prices to campaign donors? Does the Democratic Party profit? Are the answers to these questions available in print or electronic media or is quality journalism deteriorating that badly?
What topics are left for a columnist who puts a high priority on the “just for the fun of it” factor of fact finding and material gathering? That is the recurring challenge.
In a country that seems to be on the brink of electing Bishop Romney President, perhaps a series of columns about the general atmosphere in the USA in the fall of 2012 will be of interest to future historians who want material that wasn’t part of the wolf pack journalism produced at the two Political Conventions.
Samuel Johnson wrote: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” We have a suggestion for those ads for a certain credit card company because an “all access” backstage pass to a Rolling Stones concert would be (let’s all say it together) <I>Priceless</I> .
Now the disk jockey will play the Inconcevables song “Hamburger Patti,” The Daddy O’s “Got a match?,” and Hayley Mills’ “Johnny Jingo.” We have to check to see what effect sit-lie ordinances are having in San Francisco and Santa Monica. Have a “hurray for our side” type week.