President Obama’s candid admission “We have no strategy,” also described the situation as the deadline for this week’s column approached. A plethora of topics were under consideration. As we struggled to settle on just one topic for this week’s column we recalled that one San Francisco based columnist used to occasionally resort to a catch-all column style that he called “clear the desk top” and so we decided to pay homage to Art Hoppe by imitating his shtick and sweep a bunch of disparate topics into our Labor Day end of the week roundup.
If the Russians had waited a few more days they could have launched their incursion into the Ukraine on the seventy-fifth anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, which might have gotten them better (and more sympathetic?) play in the world’s media.
We’ve seen news reports that state that the beheading of an American reporter has produced a wipeout for America’s reluctance to send troops back to the Middle East. A news report that cites a source for that conclusion (such as “according to a poll conducted by the New York Times”) is a news story. A vague conclusion (such as “most Americans now think”) is pro-war propaganda.
Has Obama offered to ignore the Russian incursion into the Ukraine in return for being given a free hand for dealing with ISIS forces inside Syria?
Walter Cronkite went to Vietnam to report on the Tet Offensive in early 1968, after his special was broadcast LBJ was reported to have said: “If we’ve lost Cronkite, we’ve lost the war.”
A Viet Cong representative commenting on the conflict said: “It has already lasted for more than twenty years. We can hold out much longer. Eventually the American people will tire of the war, and will turn against it. Then the war will end.”
Can George Bush’s “Forever War” refute that logic or will a new American President have his Cronkite moment?
In the last week of August of 2014, America’s TV audience saw a mother’s emotional plea to spare the life of her child. America’s network pundits predicted that the plea will convince American mothers to be stoical if troops go back to Iraq. Nothing is said on American TV about what a similar affect the thousands of collateral damage deaths of women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan might have on the citizens in those countries.
Is it possible that the American mother’s plea might have an unintended consequence on the ISIS leadership and accelerate their rush to punish the next journalist?
Could America’s lack of bipartisanship eventually disintegrate into a permanent perpetual state of mutual distrust and animosity that will eventually become as fully entrenched in American society as is the Sunni vs. Shiite division is in most countries in the Middle East (or to use a newly revive trendy old word: the Levant)?
In an effort to take the pulse of the USA, we have recently availed our self of an opportunity to wtch some cable TV news. When Megan Kelly talked about Obama going to Rhode Island for some fund-raising, she did a moue and rolled her eyes. It was so adorable but it made us wonder: “If Obama has lost Megan Kelly is the war lost?” and also: What happened to the “fair and balanced” style that ignored any criticism of Dubya when he took more and longer vacations?
If she gets all hot under the collar about that perhaps she needs to take the ice bucket challenge on air?
That, in turn, reminded us that we have been waiting to see next month’s Playmate of the Month dousing some member of management (Hef himself?) as part of this summer’s publicity fad, which would also illustrate the concept of the high school coach’s advice to “take a cold shower!” We fired off an e-mail to a fellow on the Playboy masthead asking how long we were going to have to wait to see photo evidence that that magazine is hip to the bucket challenge.
Our efforts to recall which columnist had used the “clear the desk top” shtick had caused us to do a roll call of the great columnists who had at one time or another called San Francisco their hometown. That list, in turn, convinced us that if the National Society of Newspaper Columnists ever decided to establish a brick and mortar Columnists’ Hall of Fame, it would have to be located in Fog City.
Hunter S. Thompson and Ambrose Bierce are perhaps the best known of a long list of writers who churned out columns while being residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Some naysayers might want to nominate the Big Apple as the appropriate location for a hypothetical Columnists’ Hall of Fame and we would reply: “Other than Walter Winchell and Pete Hamill who else has been a famous Manhattan columnist?”
It’s hip in Hollywood to call a telephone “an Ameche,” because Don Ameche played Alexander Graham Bell in a film back in the Golden Age.
There is a bar in Frisco called “The Philosophers’ Club” and that caused us to wonder if it would be worth while to open a gin mill (there are a massive amounts of synonyms for the word “tavern”), fill it with photos of famous columnists, and call the bar “The Columnists’ Hall of Fame.”
Smoke filled bars and newsrooms are a thing of the past. Aren’t actors permitted to smoke at work if the scene calls for indoor use of cigarettes (such as shooting a film noir set in the Thirties)? If that is so, what about declaring a watering hole a location shoot for a movie and paying the customers a $1 stipend for working as extras. Maybe students at a local film school could provide a crew that would work for peanuts? (Would they actually do filming for a student documentary project?) Thus they could have one more nostalgia laden nights in a place where extras and the actor playing Sam Spade could light up a Fatima (or other brand) cigarette (wasn’t it hip slang back in the day to call them fags?)?
Speaking of the good old days, the Berkeley Public Library has a copy of John McMillian’s “Beatles vs. Stones” book and we are enjoying it immensely. A concise review will be included in future column.
We saw “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” this week. It scored high on the 3G meter. Girls, Guns, and fabulous fast cars that require high octane Gasoline are Hollywood’s sure fire formula to please the male audience.
If a columnist, who doesn’t smoke and doesn’t drink, misses smoke filled bars; was it the right move to legislate them out of existence?
We hope that the NRA will step in and get the Uzzi kid (or her parents?) a book deal and some lucrative speaking fees and perhaps a guest appearance on Letterman’s TV show.
CORRECTION: Last week we reported that movie director John Waters had done a book promotion at the Beat Museum in San Francisco. Just as famed San Francisco columnist Herb Caen used to cover goofs, we must quote Ricky Blane’s (Humphrey Bogart’s) line in Casablanca: “Apparently, we were misinformed.” It turns out that Waters and his friends were just visiting the famed tourist destination and where not there to promote Water’s new book “Carsick.”
[Note from the Photo Editor: Has any columnist ever inspired a brand name for a beer?]
Janis Joplin has been quoted as saying: “Beatniks believe things aren’t going to get better and say, ‘The hell with it,’ stay stoned, and have a good time.”
Now the disk jockey will play Jack (Dragnet) Webb singing “Try a little tenderness,” Leonard Nimoy singing “I walk the line,” and William Shatner singing “Rocket Man.” (They are all available on Youtube.) Now we have to fact check the claim that San Francisco’s ten most famous citizens were all fictional characters. Have a “Do I feel lucky?” type week.