As political protests in Berkeley go, last Saturday afternoon’s rally of citizens protesting the sale of the Post Office facility in the downtown area didn’t seem to be a chance to watch history in the making but then we were told that something else would happen after the speeches and music were concluded. We were provided a hint that it would be similar to an Occupy event. On a summer day, when it is cloudy and chilly the appeal of going to a political protest in Berkeley that wouldn’t be something that folks would be talking about for years to come (the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car is rapidly approaching) was not exactly overwhelming but on the other hand no other choice seemed better.
There were three TV trucks there and that indicated that the event did have some news value. The number of TV trucks can equate to the news level of an event and we have seen perhaps as many as 10 trucks in Oakland for an Occupy Oakland event. We lament our lapse in penny pinching judgment that caused us to skip the chance to buy a souvenir T-shirt at the “Camp OJ” convention of TV trucks in Los Angeles, some time back.
Experience from Occupy events indicated that any effort to remove the tents which were pitched on the Berkeley Post Office front steps would come either after dark or perhaps at dawn on Sunday, so we considered the array of possibilities our solo news organization efforts could select because it was obvious that eventually there would be a photo op for the removal of the protesters. When not if.
There was a lingering feeling of familiarity to the impending news event and it wasn’t just the Occupy events we had witnessed.
We weren’t too enthusiastic about the possibility that we could inadvertently need a friend to post bail if we got too close to a melee on a quiet Sunday morning, but we seemed compelled by more than curiosity to take a look-see early the next day.
Then we had a flashback. Vietnam Veterans camped out in the lobby of the Wadsworth Veterans Hospital in the Westwood Section of Los Angeles back in 1981. A summer co-worker at the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers was a young fellow who was majoring in photojournalism in college and we advised him to monitor the events at the hospital very closely.
Leaving for work an hour early to swing by the protest and see what new developments had occurred became a part of the daily routine for both of us. One particular morning, two or three TV trucks but no still photographers were documenting the removal of the vets from the hospital lobby. Our young coworker took some photos and they were used by AP. In his Junior year he had a portfolio that included his work appearing on the front pages of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times. He got a summer intern job at a daily newspaper in the L. A. area the next year. We took a shot that turned out to be the only news photo (that we know of) that we’ve taken that appeared in the New York Times.
Didn’t the Wadsworth event bring world wide attention to the lack of care that was being provided to the Vietnam vets? We thought that perhaps our next column might ponder the fact that the “never again” meme is always forgotten, new wars are started, and vets always have to protest to get better care despite the patriotic sentiments expressed as they marched off to the various battlefields around the world.
There have been stories online indicating that the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plants was much more serious than reported and we thought that skipping the plight of the Berkeley PO and writing about the thereat of radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean might be an good alternative. Then we realized that the radio active debris story is being totally stonewalled by the mainstream media. Could it be that the story is so negative that the chance that young folks might, if they realized “we’re all gonna die!,” go completely out of control and precipitate an “end of the world” orgy of excess is the real underlying cause of the news embargo on radioactive leaks?
While attending the Saturday event at the Berkeley Post Office we noticed that several other activists tried to hijack the media’s attention with their cause. Postcards were collected and sent to Bradley Manning. The prisoner hunger strike was mentioned. Concerned voters were encouraged to support the efforts of workers promoting the gay marriage and abortion causes.
During the week we listened to Armstrong and Getty and noticed a curious phenomenon concerning money. The “hottest show on the West Coast” pointed out the hilarious aspect of the Detroit going bankrupt story and the possibility that workers would lose their pensions. Detroit’s financial plight can be, according to conservative thinking, traced back to the greed of the union workers. The “greed” motive is being mentioned as the ultimate cause of the need for a resumption of the BART strike in the San Francisco area. The BART strike will resume on Monday.
Unions tried, in the past, to get money so that union members could live comfortably while raising a family and sending their kids to college and then enjoy retirement living. Now, however, union workers who want a living wage are deemed greedy but billionaires who have more money than they will be able to spend in their lifetime need to be given more tax breaks so that they can have even more money. Perhaps we should write a column elaborating this economic disparity.
We noticed this week that Uncle Rushbo has been eliminated from the lineup of about forty radio stations around the country. (Is the classic rock format making a comeback?) We wonder if he ever noticed our column that warned him that when all the liberal leftist voices are eliminated from the American pop culture scene, the fat cats won’t want to pay Uncle Rushbo his enormous salary if there is no socialist propaganda that needs to be drowned out.
Won’t the tax cut hungry billionaires eventually deem Uncle Rushbo’s annual salary as an example of worker’s greed? Can’t the radio executives find a new younger voice that will deliver the same seductive propaganda for a much smaller salary? Isn’t Uncle Rushbo in a union? Wouldn’t he, philosophically speaking, endorse an effort to disrupt his career and retirement plans by replacing him with non-union talent who would do the same pronucicating for a lot less money?
Recently we decided that it was time to take a night off and get away from political disputes, so we journeyed to a meeting of a local club for folks who like to pan for gold. The effort of Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), to pan some gold, as seen in the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” has been a leitmotif in our life since childhood. The club meeting that we attended was devoted almost entirely to examining legal issues of the utmost importance to the club members. Out comes the pen and the reporter’s notebook. Scratch the idea of a night off. There is one web site where many of the legal issues are listed and so now we have another topic in our “future columns” in box. To get an idea of just how legally complexities are getting the attention of those hobbyists, take a look at the issues being discussed on the Western Mining Alliance (dot com) web site.
One professor at Berkeley has done a remarkable job of collecting information about the history of what the WPA did during the Great Depression (Please do not call it the Republican Depression!). We’ve mentioned, in a previous column, that he is trying to promote the idea of a brick and mortar location for a New Deal Museum. Perhaps if we do an entire column devoted to that topic then the feature assignment editor at the New York Times might give the effort some national publicity? His scholarship can be seen on the livingnewdeal dot org web site.
Some of the peaceniks in Berkeley think that Bradley Manning should have been commended for following the moral advice delivered to the German war criminals in the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials but they conveniently overlook the fact that Manning isn’t in the German Army!
More than fifty years ago, Berkeley resident Philip K. Dick was writing novels predicting a fictional government spying on its own citizens.
As of 10 a.m. PDT on Friday August 2, 2013, the Occupy the Berkeley Post Office steps protest was still protesting the proposed sale of the property.
[Note from the photo editor: For a photographer, who was told “it’s a great picture but it generates too much sympathy for the anti-war crowd” when AP passed on the chance to buy a Vietnam War protest photo in December of 1966, the potential of taking some career making protest photos in 2013 only evokes a strong déjà vu reaction.]
St. Ronald Reagan is reported to have said: “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”
Now, since the theme of nostalgia has been recurring in this column, the disk jockey will play some songs that get automatic memory associations from the World’s Laziest Journalist. Hearing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you outta my head” will always make us feel like we are back in Australia. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the city” always takes us back to NYC in the summer of 1966. Then he will play Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay.” We have to go see the Peter Stackpole photo exhibition at the California Museum in Oakland. Have a “Temps perdu” type week.