Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Beat from the Start

March 28, 2012

Coping with sporadic stints of volunteer file clerk typist duties for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association down in the Los Angeles, while simultaneously trying to “get a handle” on some unfamiliar new topics in the San Francisco bay area caused a “Eureka!” moment for the World’s Laziest Journalist when a paradigm for all the diverse issues began to form.

During hard times what’s not to like about a sure-fire way to make a new fortune, reelect incumbents and bilk voters?  Is there a common thread here connecting the long battle in the L. A. area with the new issues in theSan FranciscoBayarea?  What if you can get politicians to give you free land for your business, get them to build the building where you will conduct your new enterprise, get some tax breaks thrown in if you can, and then soak the voters for as much of the money in their bank accounts as you possibly can?  Wouldn’t you then feel obligated to use some of that loot, to subsidize the reelections of the politicians who handed you that windfall license to steal?  Could Liberal pundits please call such campaign contributions “tithing” and not make snide remarks comparing the cash donations to “kick backs”?

We noticed this possible pattern recently after being asked if we could help the Marina Tenants Association write up an annotated report on the long close relation ship between real estate developers and various members of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to be submitted to the new California Attorney General.

Baseball fans inSan Franciscoare upset because the baseball team seems to be asking a city in theSouthBayarea to get some land, build a new baseball stadium, and then let the Giants baseball team move-in and charge more money for seats and season tickets.  The fans for that baseball team think they are being exploited.

The folks urging government expenditures to lure theAmerica’s Cup boat races to the San Francisco Bay Area seem to be asking for the rights to develop various Piers after the city gives them the real estate.  In return for the added recession era municipal expenditures such as additional traffic control and police work, the locals will (if they can’t use a helicopter, airplane, or yacht to get close up views of the competition) get the chance to buy expensive binoculars and telescopes, and thus boost some local businesses, if they want to try to get a glimpse of the race participants doing their high speed version of the Sunday duffers roaming about the bay.

Didn’t George W. Bush exploit his close connection with and access to the occupant of the White House to get land via eminent domain?  Then didn’t he get the citizens ofTexasto subsidize building a stadium on that land?  At that point, didn’t he help (in exchange for a bit of stock?) a group of businessmen buy a baseball team and move it into that very stadium?  Eventually didn’t he sell his share of that team and make a tidy profit?

If you see a familiar pattern in these random examples of self made fortunes, then perhaps you need to consider seeking professional help to break you of this terrible propensity toward conspiracy theory lunacy.

Back to MTA problem.  The invitation/challenge arrived when we were trying to “digest” a vast quantity of information of, by, and about the Beat Generation writers as part of the preparations for doing a column about a new book focusing on an assortment of relevant topics.

The challenge of writing something new, concise, and well documented using a vast array of newspaper articles that were published over a fifty year period seems daunting, to say the least.  Concurrently reviewing information about writers and poets who felt that they were beat before they got their careers started, for a future column, conjures up comparisons to the old Myth of Sisyphus story.

The fact that all this is swirling around in the World’s Laziest Journalist’s “in box,” while efforts are being made to coordinate information about attempts to revive the Occupy Wall Street series of political actions while a suspected war criminal is getting a heart transplant begins to overload the “current topics” circuits.

Could the fact that the Conservative noise machine is drowning out all the concerns about wealth inequality getting worse be compared to the battle the Beats had in various courts for using words that were condemned for being “Obscene!”?

Could the uphill fight use the pod people in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” as a basis for a comparison the futility of fighting the tsunami of Fox Propaganda?  Isn’t trying to warn members of the proletariat that they seem to be voting against their own welfare when they vote Republican a lot like Dr. Miles J. Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) trying to convince his town that something bad is happening?  Isn’t the blank look response in both cases identical?

Since this column is being written in the city that was, for many year, Philip K. Dick’s hometown, could we channel him to cook up a science fiction column describing how it would have been if the Beat writers had time traveled back to Berlin in 1935?  Didn’t William L. Shirer describe in one of his books about life during the Third Reich era how Hitler told his associates when they entered the Chancellor’s office, that when he final left there they would carry him out on his shield?  Isn’t that how the Republicans view their “mandate”?

The Bonus Army, Beatniks, and OWS protesters and the homeless seem to be connected by a long continuous series of aggravations for the ruling class. 

Couldn’t the never ending efforts of the wealthy to train the little people to pay their taxes and not complain be compared to the work Sisyphus was assigned? 

Could the “stand your ground” law be compared to legalizing lynching?

Some years ago (1994?), the Los Angeles Times made a commendable effort to draw attention to the fact that a cozy relationship existed between various real estate developers and the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, but they were unable to neither instigate any legal investigations nor win a Pulitzer Prize for the series of stories they published.

It is flattering to be asked to make a new effort to do what they couldn’t accomplish, but the overwhelming feeling is that the next time we hear about Sisyphus’ rock, our response will be:  “Been there; done that!”

It has come to our attention that some motorcycle gangs assert that if a person picks a fight with one member, the attacker will have to contend with the entire club membership to win the battle.  Do the wealthy and the politician secretly hold that same philosophy?

It seems that if a tenants’ association attacks a group of politicians, they have to fight all the politicians to win any ground and if they do make any progress, a Republican majority in the United States Supreme Court will declare it unconstitutional.  Rest assured your attempts will be beaten down.

Why do the New York Giants play their home football games inNew Jersey?

Aren’t the Giants moving out ofSan Francisco?

Maybe we should write a column about the two big cites that lost a team called “The Giants”?

Remember how reassuring it was to hear Harry Harrison on WABC inform his audience he was broadcasting from the “GreatestCityin the world!”?

Who paid for the new stadium where the Yankees play baseball?  Hmmm.  Maybe before we go running off to the Marina Tenants Association offices, we should detour throughTimes Squareand do some additional fact finding?  Wouldn’t that be a far, far better thing to do in a far away better place?

In “the Rolling Stone Book of the Beats,” Richard Meltzer, on page 72 of the paperback edition, wrote:  “His (Jack Kerouac’s) actual bloody masterpiece, and one of the great, great works of the English language, is <I>Big Sur</I>.”

Now the disk jockey will play Ornette Coleman’s “Shape of Jazz to Come,” Slim Gaillard’s “Slim’s Jam,” and Cecil Taylor’s “Unit Structures.”  We have to go look up the California Attorney General’s snail mail address.  Have a “totally cool” week.


The crazy world of citizen journalism

September 14, 2011

Back in the Sixties, the New York Times had a daily box listing the books that were officially being published on that particular day.  When the Internets were younger, this columnist made some feeble efforts to contact Amazon and see if he could interest them in paying him to provide an online version of the newspaper’s daily listing.  One of the joys of a bookstore is the serendipity factor when a buyer stumbles across an item that makes a strong case for indulging in an impulse purchase.  Since Amazon seems to lack a method of making a direct approach to impulse buys, we thought a listing of new books could be a strong unique, drawing feature for the online firm.  Our efforts to be the Internets pioneer who started such a daily draw for the book selling firm were for naught.  They didn’t hire this columnist and they still don’t offer such a listing.

Since everyone loves the idea of winning free stuff in a contest, we also assessed the potential for doing the work necessary for starting a web site where contest fans could find a daily resource for news and information about <I>exciting</I> (isn’t there a law that requires that adjective to be attached to all contest announcements?) new contests. 

One of the negative aspects for both these ventures was the large potential for ultimate boredom.  If we had undertaken (pun alert here?) either of these monumental tasks, it seems likely that we would have eventually used up our initial adrenaline burst of enthusiasm and energy and then be forced to rely on the all American motivation of greed to carry the task to completion.  Only large gobs of money can cure boredom and inertia, eh?

When we got a gig being a columnist errant for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine, we envisioned it as a chance to help that magazine duplicate the Rolling Stone magazine success story by becoming the digital version of an ersatz Hunter S. Thompson.  The web site’s management (AKA <I>el jefe</I>) decided to concentrate their editorial content exclusively on music and we had to move our Don Quixote efforts elsewhere. 

In the process of providing book and film reviews, photos, and political punditry to the management at Just Above Sunset online magazine, we were able to scratch two items off our bucket list: a ride in the Goodyear blimp and a ride on a B-17 G bomber.  Soon, we were cross-posting our political punditry efforts on both Just Above Sunset and Smirking Chimp.  Later we added cross posting on Op Ed News and Bartcop to our online “to do” list.

It seemed to the World’s Laziest Journalist that, in an era of specialization, an effort to imitate online what columnist Herb Caen had done for San Francisco for almost six decades by providing a string of rather short snarky tidbits about one particular city could be expanded to appeal to a more geographically diverse audience, and that it would work well in the digital era because skimming has become ubiquitous.

Last week, this columnist took some photos and did an item on a group of protesters in People’s Park who were conducting their efforts while living up in one of the park’s trees.  The day after Labor Day their efforts had vanished.  We learned that one of the protester’s had fallen out of the tree during the night (Monday to Tuesday morning).  The Cal Berkeley student newspaper reported that other park residents had said that the girl broke her back in the fall. We should do a Google news search for a more authoritative update.

We also ran an item about the past weekend plans for theNorthern Californiagroup that wants to bring out the truth about what happened on 9/11.  Their promotional literature mentioned a Toronto Hearing.  We should do a Google news search for information on that unexplained aspect of the 9/11 topic.  As this column is being written, we have skipped an opportunity to take a photo of their Sunday parade downMarket StreetinSan Franciscoand have chosen, instead, to do the first draft of this column.

As the overwhelming aspect of doing all that simultaneous work became more and more apparent, we considered doing an entire column asking if the overworked writers for liberal web sites were facing a situation that could be compared to the task of the reporter who was with General Custer when he was surrounded at the Little Big Horn river by attacking Indians. 

(Would it be worth the effort to do some fact checking on the idea that the American soldiers only had old obsolete muzzle loader weapons and that the attackers had repeater rifles supplied by an unethical gun dealer or is that something on display in the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory’s “Hall of Fame” display area?)

On Monday September 12, 2011, we knew that there was going to be another protest at theBARTCivicCenterstation, but we decided to skip the chance to take new news photos that would probably be very similar to the images we had recorded at several other recent similar protests. 

Is there a potential column topic in the possibility that Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch are conspiring to work liberal writers to death (like the dog in “Cool Hand Luke”?) by inundating them with bullshit that needs to be refuted with extensive fact finding and careful logical analysis?

Could we do an issues oriented roundup column under with a headline reading:  “Has American Democracy been scuttled by the Republicans?”  It seems that Democrats must now simultaneously mount efforts to revive interest and enthusiasm for:  the unions, the social security program, verifiable election results, voter registration, fair taxation rates, ending extraneous wars, providing social welfare programs for the homeless, and maintaining affordable quality education while the Republicans flash their “Just vote No!” bumper stickers and head for the golf course with campaign donors?

With all the pandemonium surrounding the P. T. Barnum approach to selecting next year’s Republican Presidential nominee, shouldn’t it soon be time for Barbara Bush to hold a press conference and admonish all Americans to come to their senses, get serious, and nominate her son JEB?  Hypothetically wouldn’t even Edward R. Morrow himself have to utter a subservient response to such a clarion call?  “Yes, mom, we’ll get to work on that right away.”  (Wasn’t last weekend’s terrorist alert a delightful bit of Bush era nostalgia?)

Recently we learned online that Herb Caen’s typewriter is on display in the San Francisco Chronicle’s newsroom.  Unfortunately the public can’t drop in to see it.  William Randolph Hearst made an exception to his own iron clad rule for a columnist named Bob Patterson.  Is it worth all the effort it would take for the World’s Laziest Journalist to get a photo ofCaen’s Royal to use with one of his own columns? 

In a world where solipsism rules and where Sisyphus is the citizen journalists’ team mascot, it seems to this columnist that it might be worth the effort to shoehorn an appointment with a typewriter into a schedule that is already an insurmountable challenge to efficient time management.  

After we do our next installment of volunteer work for the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association, check out the statue of an alligator in theEl Pasotown plaza (or is it a crocodile?  They look alike in the dark.), we will start holding a schizophrenic style debate with ourself about assigning ourself to doing some columns about the earthquake recovery efforts in New Zeland.

If it seems that such a gig doesn’t have any connection to American political punditry, perhaps we can ask some of the relief workers the Goldwin style question:  “How much do you loveAmerica’s latest war crimes?”

Writing about the same topic, over and over, such as what books are new or what contests are new, might earn a columnist an opportunity to be cross posted on one particularly big aggregate web site, but, to this columnist, that seems too much like a job and we prefer to continue our efforts to build a collection of readers who ask:  “What did he write about this time?”

Recently a fellow blogger in theBerkeleyarea noted with trepidation that the three dot (it’s called an ellipse) style of column writing often triggers skeptical responses from readers.  If some fiddle head conservative troll, who tries to evoke the old high school bit of humor about the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Cries for You” or accusations such as “You are crazy!”, can do better aren’t they free to submit such efforts?  It seems that those who can, do; and those who can’t, post troll comments. 

When the manager of a hotel informed the music group “The Who” that there had been complaints from other guests about noise in the rock stars’ room, legendary drummer John Bonham (allegedly) threw the TV out the window and said “That was noise; this is music.”

Now the disk jockey will play Patsy Cline’s “Crazy,” Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring,” and a bootleg recording of the Rolling Stones project sometimes called “The Contractual Obligation” album.  We have to go post bail (again?) for a friend.  Have a “OR’ed” type week.

38 Ford Truck in San Francisco

April 4, 2009
Ford truck in SF

Ford truck in SF

This 1938 truck was seen in San Francisco recently.  We will try to bring it to the attention of the Flickr group of car-spotters working in San Francisco.

We will post the URL for this page with some that will be posted over on Flickr.

Car-spotting in SF

April 3, 2009

Some group on Flickr asked if they could use some of my photos of cars and trucks in San Francisco


I said yes, so they now appear on that page also.  There were other pictures of old cars taken in San Francisco, but they didn’t ask about them.  The captions don’t say those extra pictures were taken in San Francisco.  So maybe I have to put the city name in all the photos?

Now, I wonder if Jalopnik and their DOTS department would give any publicity to a strickly SF group?

I’ll post some new pictures of a 38 Ford truck taken in SF and see if they want them for the SF car-spotters page on Flicker.

Life can get so complicated, eh?

Blogger from Denmark

March 25, 2009

At the hostel, today, we met a young lady from Denmark who is in San Francisco and studying English.  She blogs in Danish and plans to switch to English.  Here is the link

Hope it works.  If not try adding the www bit

We meant to suggest to  her she should post dual entries and write one in Danish and the practice her English by reposting her own translation of her own Danish entry.  That way she could build up a dual audience.

Car-spotter’s “walk off grand slam”

March 21, 2009
Model J Duesenberg

Model J Duesenberg

For car-spotters seeing a 1930 Model J Duesenberg dual cowl phaeton, is like a baseball player getting a walk-off grand slam . . . in the last game of the World Series!

On Sunday , March 15, we were riding on a bus on Van Ness in San Francisco.  We saw some old cars in a building there and so we hopped off.  It was the Accademy of Art University and they were displaying some old cars in what looked like a former new car dealer show room. 

What are the rules of car-spotting?  We didn’t see it for sale.  We didn’t see it in a museum.  Is there a whistle on the play?  Does it count?  It sure was fun to see it.

Rules for Car-spotting

March 20, 2009
Car-spotting in SF

Car-spotting in SF

What are the official rules of Car-spotting?  It seems that seeing a car in an antique car store (we saw a 40 Ford DeLuxe coupe in such a store in Santa Monica recently) shouldn’t really count.  Seeing a rare car in a museum, doesn’t seem to qualify either, but what about if you see a very rare car in an art school’s window that is part of an art exhibit?  Should that count?

Once a hippie . . .

March 17, 2009
Haight & Ashbury

Haight & Ashbury

Has it changed in 41 years, or have I?

Postcard from San Francisco

March 17, 2009


This is a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco without the Bobbag.  (See earlier posts).   Too bad the bag went AWAL.