Posts Tagged ‘National Columnists’ Day’

Marking National Columnists’ Day

April 17, 2013

[Note: The annual task of writing something to be posted honoring National Columnists’ Day on April 18, which was the day that war correspondent/columnist Ernie Pyle was killed in action on the island of Ie Shima in the Pacific Theater of  WWII, is always a challenge because the intention is to keep the tone lighthearted and upbeat but this year, because it falls at a time when the national mood is very somber, we will, after a moment of silence, proceed with this year’s installment, for the same reasons that Boston will hold their marathon again next year.]

 

A hint of scandal for this year’s America’s Cup Races in the San Francisco Bay area will provide us with a chance to examine how two of our favorite columnists might take different approaches displaying their unique styles to the task of informing their readers of the looming potential for an economic blunder with dire implications for the taxpayers in the town Herb Caen dubbed “Baghdad by the Bay.”

 

While preparing to write this year’s installment of our annual National Columnists Day posting to mark the day which honors both war correspondent Ernie Pyle and the vocation of being a columnist, we decided to focus this year’s effort on legendary San Francisco scribe Herb Caen who served in the Army Air Force during WWII.

 

Pyle wrote from the point of view of the G. I. in the foxhole, while Caen, in his civilian phase, preferred to let his audience participate vicariously in his life as a flâneur, a boulevardier, and a bon vivant, who hung out with and traded gossip with “the swells.”  Caen’s first effort was published on July 5, 1938, and ended with his last column in 1997.

 

Obviously if both of them were still alive and churning out words, they would both take very different approaches to the growing grumbling about the Americas’ Cup races scheduled to be held later this year on San Francisco Bay.

 

The race’s lawyers seem to have outwitted the ones working for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and so the two parties signed a deal that, upon closer reading, will leave the citizens liable for a large financial shortfall.

 

We assume that Caen would look forward to rubbing elbows with the “swells” who will conduct the races and hold the accompanying “invitation only” parties and maybe he would also describe the spectacle as seen from a private airplane flying overhead.  Isn’t it logical to conclude that Pyle would side with the taxpayers who can only use binoculars to see some (three?) sailboats on the bay?

 

Caen’s pioneering approach to celebrity journalism made him a star in the ranks of columnists.  He coined the word “beatnik” and quite often his witty way with words won him a mention in the monthly “towards more picturesque speech” feature in the Readers’ Digest. 

 

Caen was a staunch supporter of iconoclastic wit and provided a continuing source of publicity to Lenny Bruce for his pioneering efforts in the realm of “sick” humor.

 

In addition to honoring and remembering Ernie Pyle each year, the day is also intended to draw attention to the career of being a columnist, which in the Facebook era should make Pyle the Patron Saint of Facebook, since the mission statement for a columnist is essentially the same motivation for churning out the keystrokes for a Facebook page, i.e. tell the world what you are doing and thinking.  Ernie Pyle, Herb Caen, and Bill Mauldin all have a Facebook page.

 

Can a Facebook blurb make or break a restaurant?  Once, many moons ago, Caen wrote a blind item blurb about a restaurant that incurred his wrath.  After it was published, the owner of another restaurant that fit the vague description of the offending culprit, contacted Caen’s office and begged him to explain that their restaurant, which had suffered a consequent crippling of their usual business level, was not the one that folks should boycott.  He immediately cleared up the misperception.  Can a Facebook writer have that big of an impact on a community? 

 

The fact that Caen’s style of quick verbal jabs was dubbed “thee dot journalism,” because he used the punctuation of three dots (called an ellipse) to separate items, preceded the Internet phenomenon of catering to an audience with an attention span that demanded items with the complexity level of a bumper sticker and that should endear him to the new generation that operates with a self imposed 130 word limit.  For example, isn’t just the fact that Anthony Grafton wrote a scholarly book, title “The Footnote a Curious History,” enough information for a great Herb Caen-ish column item? 

 

A fellow who went AWAL from a military hospital, three weeks after the liberation, and went into Paris with a nurse who spoke French told us about going into a fine restaurant and ordering a “once in a lifetime” meal.  When the fellow asked for the bill, management considered it a matter of honor to refuse to let the sergeant pay for the meal.  We like to think that Ernie Pyle, if he heard about it, would have devoted a full column to that incident.  He would (we assume) have compared and contrasted the best that Paris had to offer with the famed K-ration that the GI’s often disparaged with very salty language.  (If the disk jockey is alert he will play “Moose Turd Pie” as part of the “outro” music at the end of this column.)  Herb Caen, who served in WWII, was a gourmet who savored fine meals and shared his enthusiasm with his readers. 

 

Many Facebook entries include a snapshot of a meal.  Would young folks appreciate the subtlety if an Ernie Pyle wannabe posted a photo of a K-ration being served?

 

Once, according to an anecdote provided by one of Caen’s contemporary rivals in the realm of column writing, the two competitors for the right to the title of “Mr. San Francisco,” were out cavorting in some fog city bars after WWII.  They became a bit rowdy and a rookie policeman started to arrest them.  They simultaneously asked if the youngster knew who he was trying to arrest.  He didn’t know and didn’t care.  He led them down to the local station.  When the trio entered, the desk sergeant began to laugh boisterously and asked the newcomer:  “Do you know who you are trying to arrest?”  Case dismissed!

 

The San Francisco Chronicle would, when Caen was on vacation, run a box on the front page above the fold saying “Herb Caen is on vacation” to cut down on the number of complaints from people who would call and bitch about not being able to find that day’s installment of the column simply titled “Herb Caen.”

 

Once, back in the season when the Oakland Raiders won games when George Blanda would kick a last second field goal, a reporter for the Tahoe Daily Tribune rushing a “starter” copy of the day’s publication, noticed that at the beginning of the lead story, the words indicated that the story was about the will a local celebrity had written “after” he died.  The ME had a “Stop the presses!” moment and the word was quickly changed to “after” and one of the typesetters was given a stern lecture about the rule that only editors could change copy.  The incident was quickly forgotten until the next week when the secret goof-up was prominently mentioned in Herb Caen’s column.

 

According to Barnaby Conrad, in his book “The World of Herb Caen,” the Frisco phenomenon produced enough columns of approximately 1,000 words (about three takes) that Caen’s lifetime total would verify this boast: “If laid end to end, his columns would stretch 5.6 miles from the Ferry Building to the Golden Gate Bridge.”

 

At the height of his popularity Ernie Pyle was read by approximately 3 million readers nationwide.

 

Facebook posters might note with extreme envy that in his prime, Caen received 45,000 letters a year.  Isn’t a fan letter better than a quick “like” click?

 

Herb Caen wrote:  “If I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven. He looks around and says, It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.

 

Now the disk jockey will play the “Vertigo” soundtrack album, the “Moby Grape” album, and the Jefferson Airplane’s “Surrealist Pillow” album.  We have to go reread Ernie Pyle’s very gruesome and lugubrious columns written on the Normandy Beach (as foud in the Random House book “Ernie’s War: the Best of Ernie Pyle’s World War II Dispatches” edited by David Nichols) immediately after the D-Day Invasion.  Have a “soldier on” type week.

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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.

National Columnists’ Day for Hunter Thompson fans

April 14, 2011

National Columnists’ Day occurs annually on April 18 because it was on that date in 1945 that war correspondent/columnist Ernie Pyle was killed in action on theislandofIe Shima.  In past years, our annual National Columnists’ Day column has detailed Pyle’s life and career and in other years it was devoted to other memorable columnists such as Herb Caen and Walter Winchell.  About two weeks ago, we took a break from the task of selecting a subject for this year’s installment and went down to the local Half Price Bookstore in downtownBerkeleyto score a bargain bin copy of Ammo Books’ “Hunter S. Thompson,” which is subtitled “Gonzo.” 

Recently, we had caught a screening of the film “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and followed it up with an immediate repeat viewing via a VHS tape, on the following day.  The “Gonzo” book, edited by Steve Crist and Laila Nabulsi, includes photos and reproductions of memorabilia from Thompson’s life.  While perusing the new addition to the collection, because a friend is preparing to celebrate her fortieth birthday, we noticed one particular illustration in the Ammo book; it was a certificate of achievement, from the National District Attorneys Association noting the fact that the Thompson had covered the Third National Institute Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs convention which was held, in Las Vegas, on April 25 to 29 in 1971.  We realized that the events described in Thompson’s “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” book were also celebrating their 40th birthday. 

After starting to reread the book, we recalled reading columns by Hunter S. Thompson in the (now defunct) Los Angeles Herald Examiner and then later, in the computer age, online.  Thompson has always been hard to categorize and so it seemed that selecting him to be the peg for this year’s installment of our annual National Columnists’ Day column made the choice a “slam-dunk” because forty years after Thompson blurred the lines between fiction and journalism all of American Journalism has become a credibility challenge for those who want to know if what the government is telling the people is fact or fable. 

“Fear and Loathing inLas Vegas” is subtitled:  “A Savage Journey into the Heart of the American Dream” and that may be a play on title of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”  Forty years ago, the concept of the “American Dream” evoked clichéd references to a home surrounded by a white picket fence.  Today, the thought of a “home” conjures up images of thousands of families being thrown out of their homes by wealthy businessmen (who contribute generously to various political reelection funds?) who are just as savage and ruthless as any native warrior encountered by Marlow in the journey described in the Conrad novel. 

Forty years after Thompson lampooned the American Dream, circa 1971, theUSAis full of disillusioned families with broken dreams trying desperately to cope with homelessness and the darkness in their new depression era hearts.  The country is going broke fighting three separate perpetual military adventures which are either just for the pure fun of it or are wars of imperialistic aggression.  The American Dream has morphed into a nightmare while American Journalism stands by obsessing over the latest celebrity gossip about Charlie Sheen and ignoring the Republican Party’s coordinated efforts to vandalize and sabotage the Democratic process of holding honest elections.

Thompson helped popularize the term “Gonzo Journalism” which became a handy label for a Sixties journalism trend marked by the writer including himself in the events being described while simultaneously exaggerating some factual aspects of the story.  (For a more scholarly approach to the wide open and vague bit of fact checking about the origin of the word “gonzo,” refer to page 128 of Jann S. Wenner and Corey Seymour’s oral biography of Thompson, titled “Gonzo,” published in 2007 by Little Brown and Co.) 

In the early stages of Internets development, we belonged to an e-mail group of people (mostly scholars) who were focused on all things concerning Ernst Hemingway and they accepted without challenge the idea that the degree of involvement of the writer in his own story, as far as both Hemingway and Thompson were concerned, was about equal.  The term “gonzo” had not come into contemporary American Literary culture when Hemingway was writing (and producing columns) about WWII and the Spanish Civil War.  Is it possible to make the case for asserting that Hemingway was the spiritual godfather of gonzo journalism?

While George W. Bush was President, columnists who furnished vitriolic criticism of the fellow, who Thomas called “the child-President,” became wildly popular on liberal web sites and attracted an eager audience whose appetite for disparaging remarks about the occupant in the White House couldn’t be satisfied by a relentless torrent of criticism. 

In “Kingdom of Fear,” the last of Thompson’s books published while he was still alive, the pessimistic attitude regarding the future of America is epitomized by the phrase “Big Darkness Soon Come” and it doesn’t take a scholar with impeccable academic credentials to say that if Thompson had lived, he would be very acerbic in his assessments of George W. Bush’s successor who has rubber stamped his approval (“imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”) of almost every one of Bush’s outrages against the Geneva Accords and the rules of engagement. 

Thompson was relentless in applying his philosophy regarding politicians (“Don’t take any guff from these swine”) to the Bush Administration and anyone who wants to assume that Thompson would give President Obama a pass and, instead, provide partisan platitudes just because he wasn’t a Republican is asking for a stretch in logic that betrays the foundations of rational thinking.

Thompson’s righteous indignation, directed against George W. Bush, was a matter of principle not subject to change when a new President from the other major political party took the oath of office, rather than being an example of partisanship (of the German salute level of commitment kind) which would defy credibility when it broke the WTF barrier of logic and did a complete 180 degree about-face to mollify the new war monger (not that the new guy gives a farthing about what columnists or bloggers think of his ERA [or era?]) Thompson would have continued his acerbic snarky attitude with only the name of the President being criticized changed.

Philip K. Dick, in “Man in theHighTower,” envisioned a cult hero writer adored by his fans who lived in isolation inColorado.  The World’s Laziest Journalist is alone in his conviction that Dick had accurately forecast the cult of Thompson fans, in his alternative history novel which was written and published when Thompson was graduating from high school and serving a hitch in the Air Force.  If this columnist was younger and more ambitious, he might consider doing a doctoral thesis as the basis for a comparison of the real life writer to Dick’s fictional character.

Thompson’s biographers report that he was obsessive in his slavish attention to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby” and that Hunter may have either consciously or unconsciously patterned “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” on Fitzgerald’s work of fiction.  Ironically, the Fitzgerald novel has become an icon of life in the Twenties during prohibition and “Fear and Loathing inLas Vegas” has become a symbol of the hippie life style.  Each novel has come to epitomize an American generation.  Perhaps some diligent liberal arts graduate student will do a doctoral thesis comparing and contrasting the two (related?) examples of classic contemporary American Literature?

While gathering information for this column we were informed that Cliff Notes does not have a detailed critical analysis of “Fear and Loathing inLas Vegas” available.  Perhaps some industrious literary critic will now send a query letter to the Cliff Notes commandant and perhaps that gap will be remedied?

The fact that theBeatMuseum(inSan Francisco) has become the host site for two courses (for college credit?) in creative writing brought to mind the academic consternation caused when a pioneering effort to teach a course in Beat Literature was a controversial innovation and that, in turn, caused us to wonder if any college or university anywhere offers a course of study (Gonzo 101?) devoted to the works of Hunter S. Thompson or an overview of Gonzo journalism per se.

Ernie Pyle went toEnglandto cover the Battle of Britain.  Hunter S. Thompson covered the Viet Cong’s arrival inSaigonafter American troops were evacuated.  Would it be too Philip K. Dick-ish to try to envision how an imaginary encounter between Pyle, if he had lived longer, and Thompson, during the evacuation ofSaigon, would have played out? 

Looking through the index for Karl E. Meyer’s book “Pundits, Poets, & Wits (An Omnibus of American Newspaper Columns)” it is obvious that we could have made a different less controversial selection for this year’s installment of our National Columnists’ Day column, but the fact that Thompson could be a contentious choice made it all the more imperative to do so.

About his friend Oscar Zeta Acosta, Thompson wrote:  “Oscar was one of God’s own prototypes – a high powered mutant of some kind who was never even considered for mass production.  He was too weird to live, and too rare to die.”  The same might be said of Thompson himself.

Now the disk jockey will play the “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” soundtrack album.  We have to go to a wifi hot spot and post this column early as a way to stir up a “my National Columnists’ Day column is better than yours” competition to increase public awareness of the annual event.  Have a “Gonzo” type week.

Happy National Columnists’ Day!

April 18, 2010

For National Columnists’ Day, we’ll offer an appreciation of both San Francisco’s legendary columnist Herb Caen and of Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent/columnist whose death in combat during World War II on April 18, 1945, inspired that National Society of Newspaper Columnists to select that date as the one to be used for National Columnist’s Day.

In his book, “Don’t Call It Frisco,” Caen muses about writing columns.  Advising a rookie about the art of producing columns, he says (Doubleday hardback page 25):  “He has three choices roughly.  He can write a so-called ‘think’ column, in which he takes one subject each day and proceeds to beat it to death by expressing a variety of opinions about it, all the opinions being his own. . . .

“Then there is the folksy column . .  . . He takes a phone call from a subscriber about a parking problem; a letter from a veteran who needs an old piano; adds some cornball opinions and observations of hi sown on women who take a long time to dress and dentists who talk to you when you can’t answer back – and presto-no-change-o, he’s got a column. . . .

“This brings us to the third type – the ‘scattershot’ column, crammed with short items on a variety of subjects.”

Bloggers face the same challenges as columnists with some minor differences such as not getting a regular paycheck.

Bloggers might write a think piece about how Sarah Palin writes crib notes on the palm of her hand.  After milking the topic for all the laughs the possible, the blogger will hit the post button, sit back, and give himself an attaboy.  (Here’s a note for the gender fairness police:  Ray Stevens recorded a song titled “Attaboy, girl.”)  It’s unknown if such ridicule hurts Sarah’s feelings and if she plagiarizes Liberace’s attitude and famous line:  “Yes, I cried all the way to the bank.”  Perhaps the note on her palm says “Pay no attention to unpaid bloggers!”?

Odds are that a good deal of bloggers will comment on Bill Moyer’s posting asserting that it really was all about oil.

What will happen to blogging when the only columnists and commentators are the Republican flunkies who spew spin?

Discussions of contemporary issues will sound like a Monty Python comedy routine.  (No it won’t!)

Herb Caen covered local items and mostly ignored the war in Vietnam.

Eventually when the only paid columnists and pundits are Republican lackeys bloggers will tire of refuting the lies for free and blogging will die of malnutrition (i.e. money).  Just look at how well paid Uncle Rushbo is and how many liberal web sites are constantly asking for donations to help sustain their mission.

Since times are tough, isn’t it natural to conclude that eventually the Republican noise machine will win the war of (economic) attrition?

Today on National Columnists’ Day, bloggers should ask themselves:  If paid liberal pundits and columnists are a dying breed, where will this road take us?

So today is a day to enjoy diversity of opinion because just like Herb Caen, Walter Winchell, and Ernie Pyle, may be a thing of the past.

Obviously, with no printing costs for bloggers, there will always  be a market for local punditry.  Sure some people outside of Fremantle in Western Australia might care about a statue of Bonn Scott and folks outside of Venice CA might care about the Jim Morrison mural and the Myrna Loy statue at Venice High School, but how many people are concerned about the future of development in Marina del Rey?

Which topic will get more blogging hits:  Lady Gaga or the prospects for the surge in Afghanistan this summer?  Which will get better mainstream media coverage?

Which is more engrossing:  Kick Ass, the movie, or Kick Ass America’s war policy? . . . for unlimited profits for the private contractors?

Herb Caen became a legendary columnist by not paying attention to war.  Ernie Pyle was killed on April 18, 1945 covering World War II. 

Where are the modern reincarnations of  Ernie Pyle?  Do you think they are working for Fox News?  Is Fox producing anything like the efforts produced

http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/erniepyle/wartime-columns/

by Ernie Pyle?

Herb Caen said (or wrote):  “ The trouble with born again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.”  Amen.

Now, the disk jockey will play some pop songs from 1945: “Til the end of time” (how long will the Bush wars last?), “It’s been a long, long time,” and “Dig you later.”  We gotta split.  Have a “Who threw the whisky in the well” type week.