“Roi Ottley’s World War II: the Lost Diary of an African American Journalist” (University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas © 2011) edited by Mark H. Huddle came to our attention while we were in the Berkeley Public Library looking for books with information about the fall of Paris in 1940. We had never stopped to consider the potential existence of material that would cover the topic of the journalism in WWII done by writers with a pan African heritage. A footnote reported that an article by John D. Stevens, titled “From the back of the Foxhole: Black correspondents in WWII” indicated that there were at least twenty-seven such individuals. Could one of our columns spawn a doctoral dissertation project?
We had never before heard of the double “V” campaign that sought to publicize (and correct?) the irony that pan African soldiers from a country with segregation laws had risked death to fight a war against the white supremacist philosophy expressed by the Third Reich.
We learned that Roi Ottley had attended St. Bonaventure College and since we were preparing to act as tour guide to San Francisco for a high school classmate who had attended that institute of advanced learning, we knew we’d have something new to add to the conversation as we did the tourist bit in the bay area.
Recently we noted that Democrats were a tad disappointed in the developments in the realm of the XL pipeline, gun control, immigration reform, and the Civil War in Syria, and so we thought it would be a good idea to get a stock shot of the suicide hot line that is located adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge combination bike path and walkway. Maybe some disgruntle Democrats need to hear a bit of the old “buck up and stay the course” encouragement rather than doom and gloom assessments of how the Bush Forever War is lasting a long, long time and seems about to be expanded into a new Middle East country.
“Jersey Bill” is an avid bicyclist, but he thought that the Golden Gate Bridge’s effort to combine a walkway and a bike path was a klusterfuk. We concurred. Jersey Bill and his wife passed on the suggestion to go out to Treasure Island and see where the Pan Am office had been located. They were, however, up for a trip down Nostalgia Lane to the intersection of Haight and Ashbury.
We knew that a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream store now sits on one of the corners of that world famous intersection and we decided that a photo showing the new franchise for the chain that made the Cheery Garcia flavor and is situated less than two blocks away from a home that was once occupied by Gerry Garcia, might be a chance to work in some sly references to AARP aged peaceniks who protested the war in Vietnam and must now work up some new anti-war slogans to express their disapproval of President Obama’s program to supply weapons (and technical advisors?) to the Syrian rebels.
One of the stores in the area was hosting a jam done by a local musical group called the Garden Band. We looked them up and they have a page on Facebook and that got us thinking. Some time back we had a similar experience. A local band had played a free concert in the nearby Golden Gate Park. Sure enough the Jefferson Airplane also has a page on Facebook. It’s a small (digital) world after all.
Old habits die hard and when we told our fellow high school classmate that we might describe the weekend tour of San Francisco in a column about Roi Ottley along with our recent prediction that the United States Supreme Court will declare gay marriage unconstitutional, Jersey Bill resorted to his decades old (how can that be if we are only 28 years old?) tradition of calling the World’s Laziest Journalist a crazy person.
He reminded us of one or two of the very few erroneous predictions we have made in our long and distinguished journalism career. Hell’s Bells, man, that’s half the fun of being a modern practitioner of the three dots journalism tradition. Jersey Bill was unaware of the work done by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen. He did know about Walter Winchell because he had been carried in the morning paper in the city where we had been classmates.
Since the three dot journalism style of columns indicates many rapid changes of topics and since the internet has encouraged skim reading, we had always assumed that the old style of one topic per column would be vulnerable to a skip-a-long reading method and since Herb Caen’s methodology was complete unpredictability of one paragraph to the next, imitating his style would trip-up the skim readers’ game plan.
A columnist who embraces the serendipity style can throw a rhetorical question, such as: “Who is the only war criminal to win a Nobel Peace Prize?,” into this paragraph and then blithely move on to bankers’ chicanery in the next.
We tuned into the Stephanie Miller program on Tuesday of this week and heard her, Charlie Pierce, and the mooks inform their audience that some banks had determined that they were entitled to the insurance money that would be paid out to the people whose homes had been destroyed by tornados in Oklahoma. The banks figured that they could collect the insurance company payouts to pay off the mortgages of the destroyed homes. That radio team also pointed out that many of the Occupy folks were arrested for protesting the bankers’ greed but not one banker has been arrested for taking homes from hard working Americans.
Speaking of video of folks crying on camera, we learned on CBS Evening News, earlier on Tuesday, that a politician in Colorado who urged gun control is facing a recall challenge.
We told Jersey Bill that in our next column we would deliver a challenge to the folks who aren’t upset by the collection of Internets information. In a free country what’s wrong with taking a look at a site that challenges your beliefs? If you think that’s A-OK, then we double dog dare readers to just take a look at one of the web sites that offers custom tailored SS Officers’ uniforms.
The staff at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is working at maximum capacity this year because of the 50th anniversary of the vanishing grassy knoll persons of interest, the Cheshire cat WMD’s in Iraq, the building that just sorta fell down, etc., but the news item about some folks urging a new investigation into the accident that caused TWA flight 800 to fall out of the sky is causing the Personnel Department at the Amalgamated Factory (at a secret location in the Sierra Nevada foothills) to contact retirees and make lucrative offers to lure them back to the daily grind.
If any of the beloved inhabitants of the White House are ever caught in just one lie then patriotic Democrats will be forced by logic into considering the possibility that all the wild conspiracy theories from the last half century (starting on November 22, 1963?) have been refuted with lies. Fortunately, the Democrats love the current occupant of the Oval Office so much that when he makes the assertion that the FISA courts, which have made 10,000 decisions in favor of government snooping but that the details of everyone of those cases makes complete secrecy necessary, is proof that he kept his promise to deliver transparency. The Democrats believe him without flinching. It’s as if all the Presidents have combined to pitch a perfect game as far as fibbing about mysterious unexplained phenomenon is concerned.
Jersey Bill takes a very dim view of the opportunity to jump on a bus near his home and go over to New York City to absorb some of the many cultural offerings and since many tourists remark that San Francisco bears a family resemblance to the Big Apple, (“Manhattan with hills added.”) we were not surprised when Jersey Bill informed us that he and his wife intended to get the hell out of Frisco sooner than we expected.
Thus, instead of spending Father’s Day continuing our tour guide service for a long time friend, we impulsively took one of the panhandlers in Berkeley out for an Eggs Benedict breakfast. It was the first time he ever had that treat. Listening to that fellow do a Howard Beale style rant we wondered why talk radio (or at least local cable access TV) doesn’t offer the audience a real choice and have a homeless pundit to push the debate to extreme freedom of speech limits? Critics of talk radio contend that it is a variation of “good cop/bad cop” because the conservative hosts deliver conservative talking points and the callers second the motion. On liberal talk shows, the host spends most of the phone time refuting callers who spout conservative talking points.
Do “they” just want to spin the illusion of public debates on all the current topics or do “they” really want a modern example of “no holds barred” brainstorming to solve problems? Doesn’t being “intransigent” and ignoring other points of view, leave a whole lot more time for watching the NBA finals, the Stanley Cup playoffs, the mid season baseball games, and the NFL preseason exhibition games? (Can players earn bonuses for extremely hard hits during an exhibition game?)
[Note from the Photo Editor: The suicide hotline on the Golden Gate Bridge serves as a very grim reminder that there is a potential for some very lugubrious consequences if the United States Supreme Court makes some unpopular decisions later this month.]
We reminded Jersey Bill of Hunter S. Thompson’s quote about how life should be lived: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming – Wow – What a ride!”
Now the disk jockey will celebrate National Music day by playing: “Just keep walking, Ambrose (Part V),” Duane Eddy’s Rebel Rouser,” and Waylon Jenning’s “I’ve always been crazy.” We have to go observe Cuckoo Warning Day and International Surfing Day. Have a “hang ten” type week.