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.