January 23, 2015

Journalism and the shell game?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: — Bob Patterson @ 1:27 pm


crop of confusing picture

If the Supreme Court is setting up the country for another gotcha decision, then it is critical for the main stream media to make loud and emphatic proclamations asserting that the decision could go either way. The universal meme in the main stream media that says the fellow with the swing vote is impossible to second guess in advance was ubiquitous last week and Americans believed it. GMAFB; TV personalities stand ready to go on camera and pontificate on any subject at any time and then suddenly they all balk? Isn’t there something very fishy with that? Will this be seen by future historians as the key to the strategy that calls for a repeat of the “leave the decision with the clerk and then get out of Washington on the night before the results are announced” game plan? If gay marriages are found to be unconstitutional, will the journalists be required to say “no one saw this coming” and then move onto other matters clamoring for the attention of America’s various managing editors?

Does anyone honestly believe that seasoned veteran journalists don’t have any strong hunches about the final result? Do the news reporters with many years experience in covering the United States Supreme Court really have no background material available to provide (at the very least) an educated guess at which way the guy is going to vote?

If American journalists really wanted to fulfill their mission, they could couch the story by reminding voters that the Supreme Court has done that previously and that the current landmark case is the golden opportunity for the Conservative Christian majority group to strike a blow against a trend that they perceive to be an abomination against nature.

So what if some obscure columnist points out the absurdity of this attempt to set the public up for an “up yours” ending for the current Supreme Court session?

This weekend the talking heads political analysis shows will want to look like they are scrutinizing the Yemen crisis and the Saudi Royal family history but (odds are) if you listen closely you will (mixed metaphor alert!) see that they just repeat the basic facts and make it seem like they are examining all pertinent information.

If the so called Mid-East experts don’t mention the part that WWI events played in the history of the Saudi Royal family will it just seem to be an in-depth analysis?

It wouldn’t be very entertaining if the experts said: “We haven’t read ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by T. E. Lawrence and so we don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.” Wouldn’t that be too much honesty for TV?

So if they can appear to be extremely well informed about the history of the Saudi Royal family but the reporters who have covered the United State Supreme Court for years can say they have no clue as to how the Republican majority body will decide, are you really going to believe that?

Did Winston Churchill (and FDR?) pressure the Saudi Royal family to produce more oil during WWII? Did they Saudis refine oil and sell it directly to the British Navy operating in the Mediterranean? (Just asking.) If someone offers to give a complete background briefing (between ad breaks) shouldn’t they deliver what they promised?

This weekend under-inflated footballs, inoculations for the measles, and the fate of two hostages who are scheduled to be executed should provide some excellent examples of “red Herring news.” It is information meant to throw citizens off the trail that they ware following to become well informed voters.

Speaking of used car salesmen, Charles Willeford titled his book about a used car salesman, “The High Priest of California.” Is “Go see Cal” just an L. A. thing?

Where were we?

Oh, yes, . . . Should the USA send troops to maintain a new puppet government in Yemen?

How realistic is it to ask a Republican majority led Congress and Senate to tax the rich and give tax breaks to the middle class?

The pundits are unanimous in the opinion that the Senate and Congress will pay little attention to the words of President’s state of the union speech on Tuesday of this week. That will be good practice if Obama decides to become a political pundit and write columns after his term expires.

Surrealism in action in Paris? Is it true that some of the leading existentialist philosophers in France are postulating that the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices was an indication that the surrealists have returned to Paris?

Historians who look back on this week may very well focus on bits of pop culture that featured under inflated footballs, an outbreak of the measles, and an installment of the Getty and Armstrong radio show that provided an in depth examination of the medical phenomenon of broken penises . . . then again . . . maybe the historians will dwell on some facts of great significance that the main stream media just didn’t think were all that important.

Historians tend to focus on just one aspect of the past in a way that is similar to a jig-saw puzzle fan working on assembling an image of an old steam locomotive. Columnists, however, who dabble in punditry can be compared to the challenge that would be presented if the jig-saw fan’s wife dumped all the different puzzles into one gigantic pile of puzzle pieces and harrumphed about the futility of using a butterfly net to catch a rainbow.

Does anyone want to read an entire column devoted to the fact that to celebrate the Fiftieth anniversary, another 50 Cobras will be made and sold?

In the “Only in Frisco” feature, we note that this week’s copy of the San Francisco Weekly has a notice informing their audience that the weekly newspaper is seeking a cannabis critic.

[Note from the Photo Editor: To illustrate the columnist’s challenging task of plucking the best pop culture items to discern a pattern and capture the spirit of a hectic week, we chose a graffiti collage seen in Berkeley.]

We’d like to think that Andre Breton was referring to the Sunday gabfests when he wrote: “I resent passing through these ill-lighted sentences, receiving these confidences without object, suffering at every moment, through the fault of a chatterbox, a sensation of ‘I knew that before.’”

Now the disk jockey will play Jerry Lee Lewis’s “I wish I was 18 again,” “Forever Young,” and Orson Wells rendition of “I know what it is to be young, you don’t know what it is to be old.” (It’s on Youtube.) Now, we have to go look for a French language bookstore.   Have a “Je suis Charlie” type week.

January 16, 2015

Gendarmes, terrorists and tourists in Paris

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:31 pm

Cartoon Museum shot




















In November of 1986, when America’s evening news featured scenes of gendarmes with submachine guns at the major intersections in Paris was like viewing a scene ripped from the pages of “1984,” that had come to life. A series of terrorist incidents had prompted coworkers to suggest that it might be a good idea to cancel the trip. Our reply was: “Yeah, but if I get killed by a terrorist’s bomb in Paris that will mean that my demise will be reported on the front page of the New York Times.” November in Paris in even numbered years means that the Month of the Photo will be celebrated and since we had waited all our life to check out the moveable feast in action, we scoffed at the idea of canceling the trip. A paucity of tourists meant that the traditional comedy shtick about Parisian waiters being rude to American Tourists had also been put on “Pause.”

An American in Paris, in November of 1986 didn’t get the royal treatment that American soldiers received in August of 1944, but any Gringo tourist who was there for the 1986 Month of the Photo was accorded semi-hero status. We hope that this year’s American tourists who want to make “April in Paris” one of the highlights of their life and not just a song title, won’t be intimidated by fear and trepidation.

On Monday, January 14, 2015, there was a report on KCBS news radio that a controversial ad juxtaposing Hitler and a Muslim had appeared that day on busses in San Francisco. It was reported that the ads would remain on display. We went to Fog City on Tuesday to get a photo of the newsworthy bus ad.

We spent some time trying to find and photograph the elusive ad. We changed plans and headed towards the San Francisco Museum of Cartoon Art. As we walked through the financial district, we noticed flyers, taped to various light poles, that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a cartoon stick figure.

The Museum, we learned, was trying to formulate their response to the attack on cartoonists in Paris.

Wasn’t Charles Chaplin known in France as “Charlot”? Didn’t he inspire the names for two brands of cigarettes? Tramps and Charlie?

Cliff Robertson won a lead actor Oscar for playing the title role in the 1968 film “Charlie.”

A source close to the Conspiracy Theory Manufacturers Association, speaking anonymously, told us that the move to portray the Hebdo Massacre as the French 9-11 as a way to start vaporizing French citizens rights is underway. It is time (as they used to say in the Sixties) to run that theory up the flagpole and see who salutes it.

As with all events these days, some people are suggesting that it was a false flag tactic.

Is it time to print T-shirts depicting Charlie Chaplin, General de Gaul, and Che and have the same dialogue balloon on each one that read: “Je suis Charlie!”?

On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, when the new issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine was in the news, the topic became which media were showing the cover and which were only describing it. We began to think that perhaps we should not post even the image of the right side of the flyer we saw Tuesday in San Francisco.

If American media can print the Pentagon Papers but not the cover of the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo magazine, you shouldn’t have to wonder if the terrorist attacks are being considered a success and will be continued.

We spend the better part of a day roaming around San Francisco trying to get a photo to illustrate this week’s column and we come up empty-handed. We’ll have to settle for an innocuous and non controversial image that is (hopefully) at least eye-catching.  What can a columnist do about a week’s search that delivered a Sisyphus’ type final score?

Then we had the brilliant idea that maybe it’s time to market an article titled “Being the World’s Laziest Journalist is hard work,” but then we asked ourselves: “Who’d want such an item?” and immediately we replied: “What about ‘the Idler’ magazine in Great Britain?”

Surely the Brits would grok to the concept of “editor errant,” wouldn’t they? We’ll have to pitch them on some story/column ideas we think they would dig and see what their reaction is.

Maybe we could become their editor at large in the San Francisco Bay Area and finally realize our goal of sitting around in a posh gin mill and have fawning fans besiege us with potential column items just like our heroes Herb Caen and Walter Winchell used to do?

That should be a hella easier than covering riots, such as we did in December, and encountering a phalanx of police officers in riot gear as we have done repeatedly in the last half dozen years.

The reassurance of a large police presence was contrasted by what happened in Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdicts were announced. LAPD Chief Darryl Gates announced that the LAPD wouldn’t respond to the calls for help generated by rioting and looting that occurred the night the verdicts were announced. All f*****g hell broke loose in “Shakeytown” that night.

The slowdown by police in New York City recently would seem to be a limited example of the sit-down strike philosophy.

When workers at Ford, in the Thirties, called a strike action, a few were shot and killed and the strike was of short duration. Later workers at General Motors went to their work stations and remained idle, it was called a sit-down strike. It was a tipping point for unions and the Auto Workers Union became a viable entity in the history of Detroit.

The concept that police officers have the right to self defense while performing their dangerous job should be obvious. The fact that such a right can lead to egregious abuses of that right should also be obvious. Since discourse in America has disintegrated into a binary choice, compromise is rendered impossible to achieve.

(Can’t you just imagine the voice of Lenny Bruce suggesting that a study commission come up with an acceptable number of yearly police shooting totals? )

The goal of zero accidental fatal police involved shootings is impossible to achieve. It should be obvious that castrating the concept of policing is a bad idea, too.

This year will have a massive amount of feature story potential. It is very unlikely that this column will be the first and only mention of the fact that the Battle of Britain will be marking its 75th anniversary this summer.

It also seems quite likely that for political pundits, 2015 will be a bumpy ride with the use of seatbelts being mandatory.

If Obama is impeached, and if the Vice President is sworn in as President, what will Hilary’s chances be for landing the 2016 Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination? Don’t incumbent Presidents, who aren’t restricted by term limitations, have a lock on the nomination?

Wouldn’t it be more pleasant to be churning columns out describing delightful assignments such as (hypothetically speaking) a lunch/interview with an author in his hometown of San Francisco?

The closing quote this week is a famous line of dialogue from the film “Apocalypse Now:” “Charlie don’t surf!”

Now the disk jockey will play a the song with the title “Charlie don’t surf!,” the Kingston trio’s “MTA,” and Waylon Jenning’s song “Don’t you think this outlaw bit’s done got out of hand?” We have to go cover the 13th annual Noir City Film Festival (noircity dot com) which starts in San Francisco this weekend. Have a “no politically incorrect images” type week.

December 12, 2014

Flashbacks in Berkeley

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: — Bob Patterson @ 1:33 pm

St. Ronald Reagan
































On Tuesday December 9, 2014, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates canceled the regularly scheduled meeting of the Berkeley City Council. According to a city councilman, the Mayor did not have the power or authority to do that. The next night at a meeting of the Berkeley Police Review Commission the public comment segment produced a stream of assertions that on Saturday December 6, 2014, a demonstration protesting recent grand jury decisions elsewhere in the country, the Berkeley Police Department employed the unauthorized use of teargas and baton strikes for crowd control. The speakers noted that subsequent news coverage of the event was inaccurate.

One of the public comment speakers said that he had posted videos on Youtube of Saturday night’s confrontation using the handle “rancid diesel” and the titles smoke bomb 1 and smoke bomb 2.

An organization of journalists announced they were going to file a complaint about the way members of the press were treated while covering the Saturday night confrontation between protesters and police.

On Thursday December 12, in the evening, KCBS news radio reported that on the previous evening an undercover California Highway Patrol officer had drawn his gun and aimed it at a crowd of protesters. Was a modern Kent State incident narrowly avoided?

In Washington on Thursday, the legislative maneuvers that were used to pass a budget measure looked like political extortion.

Has Democracy in action in the United States disintegrated? Is the Republican Reich really what the voters wanted?

For one cynic, what the Berkeley Police Department did on Saturday night could be summarized by the glib question: “Wasn’t the Berkeley Police Department merely carrying out Mayor Dailey’s orders?”

The journalist who had his camera smashed by police this week might be tempted to think that he had experienced a flashback moment that revived the spirit of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

Americans have traditionally been advised that if a catastrophe occurs, they should stand by and wait for the authorities to tell them what to do . . . and what to think.

As this tumultuous week in Berkeley came to an end, the situation might cause some nostalgic prone conservatives to recall the words of (then governor of California) St. Ronald Reagan who said: “If it takes a bloodbath to end this dissention on campus, let’s have it and be done with it.” About four weeks later, students were shot at Kent State and the era of student unrest came to a halt.

Christmas is rapidly approaching and if Santa Claus gets enough identical requests from conservative millionaires, perhaps St. Nick will accede to their requests and give them a Christmas present America will never forget.

It seems that Karl Rove’s wish for a Republican Reich will make his Christmas a happy and holy time this year.

Speaking of Christians, it seems that a new tactic for handling the homeless during a rain storm is to deny them permission to spend time in places like under the awnings of a movie theater. Many liberals seem to forget that in the famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the fascists who kick the homeless f**kers out into the rain!”

Since today is National Believe Day, we will quote W. C. Fields: “A man’s gotta believe in something . . . and I believe . . . I’ll have another drink.”

To be continued . . .




December 8, 2014

Protest in Berkeley CA

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: — Bob Patterson @ 3:34 pm

best of smiley face


The plan to start the Sunday evening protest in Berkeley at UCB at 5 p.m., was disrupted by a memorial candle light vigil service for a recently deceased student. The Ferguson protesters respectfully changed their plans for starting their event in the same place at the same time.


The marchers grew impatient and the march started off down Telegraph Ave about 5:30 p.m.


In downtown Berkely (at approximately 7 p.m.) the marchers pauses for some speeches.


This columnist couldn’t keep up with the young marchers and journalists, so we went home.


About 12:30 a.m. early Monday morning we heard helicopters near the location of the Berkeley Bowl. We got up, grabbed our Nikon Coolpix and went to see what was happening.


The protesters were walking down Shattock in silenece.


We encountered the owner of the Roxy Deli keeping guard on his business.

trash bin fire

We spotted a buring trash bin and noted that a photographer from the UCB student newspaper, the Daily Cal (Californian) and a photographer from Reuters were on hand to record the event for posterity.


A fellow in a van yelled to the Roxy owner and this columnist: “I can’t breathe, I’m laughing at the Police.”


A young person relayed the rumor that if there is another protest on Monday, the National Guard will be called out. We have to fact check that allegation.


We did note that we had raw material for writing yet another column outlining how a major news event is too unwieldy for citizen journalists to cover without backup.


We have a smorgasbord of topics for use in future columns.


Our late night photo safari produced images of a burning trash bin and some broken windows.


Early on Monday morning, we took additional photos to document the riot damage.


We noted that a car had been parked adjacent to a broken window.


Apparently our plan to take an extended hiatus from column writing was another example of a “victim” of the Berkeley response to some unpopular recent grand jury decisions outside California


November 30, 2014

Ye Old Scribe Answers “What the %$#@! Went Wrong in 2014?”

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:02 pm

Dem operatives are out in force trying to do what ReThugs did in 2012: claim what went wrong. Of course they didn’t follow any of their advice so Republicans had a big loss and are headed for extinction: on another planet, in an alternate universe that doesn’t exist.

Nah, just said, “Screw that,” and doubled down.

Dem operatives are puzzled. After all the warnings, what went wrong.

Perhaps not dire enough?

After all, why E-mail Dems with a subject line like, “Absolute meltdown,” when, “Careful, Mothra working for Republicans is coming and will burn you alive if you vote” is so much more colorful? (more…)

November 26, 2014

Does this week remind you of the Sixties?

Filed under: Commentary — Bob Patterson @ 1:28 pm

crop of Ya gotta be kidding

Walking into the men’s room on the ground floor of Wheeler Hall and meeting some UCB co-ed protesters who were urging gender neutral restrooms was not on our “to do” list for Friday, November 21, 2014, but since that happened less than 24 hours after we decided to write a Thanksgiving column listing our memorable moments fighting the never ending battle for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, we were glad to have something new and unusual to add to the list.

However, we quickly realized that since gender neutral restrooms might be a new and unfamiliar topic, we might want to write an entire column on this new and controversial issue, instead.

The day before when we were fact finding the new series of student protests trying to convince the board of regents to roll back the latest tuition price increase, we realized that since one of the protesters didn’t know what Prop 13 was and why it had started California on a course that produced the controversial increase, we might want to write a column that outlines the history of the events that resulted from the passage of Prop 13 and the unpopular consequences that measure delivered.

With the student unrest, the reaction to the Ferguson decision, and the ISIS problem, maybe we could bang out a column under the headline: “Are the Sixties really over?”

Unfortunately our attempts to take, edit, and post some photos of the new protest at the University of California campus in Berkeley revealed that the computer used at the World’s Laziest Journalist New Organization, was malfunctioning and disrupting our plans.

That, in turn, caused us to re-evaluate the need to do all the necessary work involved as well as to subsidize our expenditures in the long process of posting weekly columns for (as best as we can recall) continuously for a decade and a half.

If we can not do our photo editing duties at home, we would have to do all that work somewhere else. Should we do a feature column answering the question “Where did all the Internet Cafés go?”

Then we asked ourself: Why should we do all that work and underwrite all the costs?

The idea that providing online content would ultimate produces fun, fame, and fortune was a bit of a miscalculation. If we wrote a column that listed the highlights it would be obvious that we did have a great deal of fun but the bottom line for a freelance Liberal pundit is very anemic.

We’ve been warning folks for years that JEB will be the star in the Bush Dynasty restoration saga. There’s not much we can do to change the inevitability factor for this prediction so perhaps we should permit ourself to take a sabbatical leave during the same time that Congress diddles around with their lame duck session until the new Congress is sworn in so they can lay the preliminary groundwork for JEB’s inauguration by impeaching President Obama.

On the night of November 24, 2014 to Tuesday, November 25, 2014, we ignored an opportunity to go to Oakland and observe first hand the local reaction to the Grand Jury’s decision in the Ferguson police shooting case.

Approximately forty years ago we covered the Venice Canal riot and in the time since we did that, our infinite supply of energy and enthusiasm has mysteriously diminished considerably.

Four decades ago, we were very much motivated to help the Marina (del Rey) Tenants Association in their battle against the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors who had tuned a unique situation (private real estate development on county owned land) into an endless supply of campaign contributions for the board members. Now the San Francisco Board of Supervisors seem determined to duplicate the unique Marina del Rey setup by sanctioning private real estate development projects on the county owned land where Candlestick Park used to be located.

Our columns about this potentially dangerous possibility get no notice or response so we have to ask: “Why bother?”

Perhaps a mid-semester sabbatical vacation could revive and regenerate our levels of energy and enthusiasm. We could come back when the new Congress is sworn-in in January of 2015 and be the usual happy-go-lucky columnist we have always been.

In the meantime, we could rest or work on some other writing projects such as revising and polishing a effort to write our autobiography.

Recently we have been reading Carlo Gebler’s 1988 book “Driving through Cuba.” Since the book concerns the writer’s quest to locate a rare Cadillac Eldorado convertible on the island which, before the revolution, “imported more Cadillacs than any other country,” we wonder if there might be a window of opportunity for the World’s Laziest Journalist to go there and update car fans on how things are in Cuba.

Perhaps we could use some down time to find a sponsor to help defray the costs of an attempt to update the latest aspects involved in a visit to the time capsule car fan’s Valhalla. We could start by asking the management at Frank Nicodemus’ Castle Cadillac Restorations about a sponsorship deal because “it never hurts to ask.”

If we get to Cuba, it seems likely that we could work in a visit to Finca Vega (Cuba’s version of Owl Farm) and scratch a tour of Hemingway’s home, off our Bucket List. What was the name of Hemingway’s favorite bar in Havana? (The Floridita?)

We reserve the right to impulsively reverse our decision to take a sabbatical break should we see an unexpected need for our talent to observe, analyze, and comment on various current events topics.

We always try to put some unique facts into each column and we have been meaning to casually mention that we have been searching the Internets for the source of the car racing use of the expression “the pits” to designate the place where mechanics work on the cars during the race.

In the 1971 Ballantine Books editon of “Alfa Romeo,” written by Peter Hull, readers learn on page 59 that the old course for the Lyone-Givors race included a portion where trenches were dug at the side of the road. Peter Hull notes that the holes “were sunk into the border of the road thus showing the origin of the term.”

[Note from the Photo Editor, since a photo that has nothing directly to do with the contents of a column will lure extra readers into the column, we will use one of our favorites from the past to accompany this week’s posting from the World’s Laziest Journalist.]

Speaking of car races, we saw a documentary film on the life of actor Steve McQueen and in the later stages of his career he provided us with the closing quote for this column when he said: “I’m getting to old for this s**t!”

Now the disk jockey will play Dooley Wilson’s “As Time Goes By,” the soundtrack album for “Revel without a Cause,” and the latest addition to our list of favorite songs, Nathalie Cardone’s “Hasta Siempre, Commandante” (AKA the Che Guevara song). We have to go check costs for winter excursions to New Zealand (where summer is just beginning.) Have a “the more things change . . . ” type holiday season.


November 13, 2014

How to Kill a Ghost and Lose an Election

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 10:06 am

Congratulations on your continued employment as a grim reaper, and your elevation to the special class of reaper: harvester of the souls of the already dead. We know you will bring honor to your employer, and of course if you don’t you KNOW what awaits you.

You will be of great service, reaping the souls of the already dead. This has become more of a problem as of late: drivers have closed their windows because the lost spirits distract them by yelling, “You’re going the wrong way! You’re going to KILL somebody!” schools have been visited by the specter of some teacher who can’t stop yelling, “Class, class, SHUT UP!!!” …and some ghost who call himself Bluto who has been pestering frats for years.



First: a definition. A ghost is someone who has died and, for many reasons, simply hasn’t passed on to whatever reward or torment that awaits them. Many are poor, tortured, unsatisfied souls: and it is your job to bring them home. Of course “home” could be heaven, or more like a broken, bad. marriage that has gone Groundhog’s Day. And if the character Bill Murray played actually MARRIED her you KNOW that’s what would have happened, for men always return to their most disgusting behavior patterns, right gals?

1. Put out an ecotoplasm trap. (more…)

November 7, 2014

Waiting for Godot (AKA JEB)

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:29 pm

crop of Singing in Rain

The long march to the historic ceremonies that will officially mark the coronation/inauguration of King JEB I and the resumption of the Bush Dynasty began this week when the news flacks swooned over the implications of the mid-term election results. In retrospect, future historians will realize that this year’s mid-term elections gave the Republicans a mandate to rescind Obamacare, start a new movement to impeach a Democratic President and take care of the Social Security mess. The impeachment of Obama will (in effect) scuttle Hilary’s attempt to gain the Democratic Party’s 2016 Presidential nomination because Joseph Biden will have the incumbent’s advantage for getting the Party’s nomination because he will be inaugurated as President moments after the impeachment is completed.

A radical faction of researchers at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory contends that this hypothetical assertion meshes perfectly with their contention that Obama’s phenomenal rise to the Presidency was a Trojan horse strategy orchestrated by Karl Rove.

Some of the young wisenheimer staff members at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, while watching the Election Night TV coverage, started greeting each new Republican victory by raising their right arm (with the hand flat and palm) down at a 45 degree angle and shouting: “God bless America!”

Many citizen journalists have a tendency to regard the Internets as omniscient and infallible but we contend that the Internet is fallible and that some facts are missing in action on the Internets.

On Tuesday of this week, the World’s Laziest Journalist encountered a young couple in San Francisco who were perplexed by the construction site for the renovated Transbay Bus Terminal. They had a hand held device that indicated the Greyhound Bus depot was there. That’s where it used to be. We had to practically take them by the hand and lead them to the temporary Transbay Bus Terminal about two blocks away where the Greyhound Bus depot is for the time being.

Seeing the dichotomy when reality differs from information delivered by a computer gave us a specific example of how and why the “conspiracy theory” label will always trump reality and make perceptive punditry a Myth of Sisyphus style task.

In last week’s column, the World’s Laziest Journalist predicted: “ . . . the results of next week’s mid-term elections will only be questioned by conspiracy theory loons.” Sure enough on Thursday, November 6, 2014, the front page of the paper that published the Pentagon Papers (the New York Times) features a story by Jonathan Martin, under a headline asserting: “In States Seen to Be Tilting Left, Voters Defy Democrats’ Forecast.”

[Speaking of the New York Times, we heard a hot rumor this week that the Automobile Section in the Sunday edition will be history by the end of this year.]

If the mainstream media and the most popular Internet web sites say that JEB is the front runner for the Republican nomination, then America will not bother to debate if the Bush brand name has been poisoned by George W. Bush. JEB is the front runner and will get the nomination and forget about any spill over effect from George W. Bush’s unsuccessful military adventures in the Middle East.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has written about a half million worlds for the Internet including a good deal of words predicting that JEB will live in the White House someday.

The audience for such dire predictions is meager at best. Americans don’t want to hear about it. The mid-term election results have convinced us that writing warnings about President JEB Bus is a wast of time and keystrokes.

Apparently the USA wants a Republican led government and a restoration of the Bush Dynasty and columns lamenting the absurd aspect of those two topics is just a waste of time and energy. Perhaps President JEB is exactly what many Democrats want but they just don’t have the cajones to actually say so and to vote that way.

Warnings and analytical based predictions about what the consequences of a Republican surge in the mid-term elections may have been available to the voters but the World’s Laziest Journalist did not notice any such in-depth forecasts.

If voters are suddenly informed that, in retrospect, the mid-term elections were a referendum on the Social Security Program and the need to Impeach the incumbent in the White House . . . then the “caveat emptor” principle may also become a retroactive factor in this week’s election results. What middle class American doesn’t love being ambushed by lawyers? Don’t the folks who get zapped by a foreclosure on their homes readily admit that the bankers won the game fair and square?

Why was it left up to only a few political pundits to point out the long term dangers of a Republican “landslide”? Well, maybe, again in retrospect, these rare and obscure Cassandra warnings can function as a “you were warned” rebuttal to the cries of “foul!”?

Wasn’t a bad guy holding the deed to Nell’s house a leitmotif for a very popular TV cartoon series in the Fifties and Sixties?

Next week’s column may be a review of the Arnold Newman photo exhibition which opened recently in San Francisco or it maybe a review of John Birmingham’s book “He Died with a Felafel in his Hand,” or maybe something else.

[Note from the photo editor:   We used a photo of a Shattuck Avenue panhandler as a visual metaphor for the Democratic Party on Wednesday morning of this week. We also used a photo of two UCB engineering students from Paris (France not Texas) who were dressed up for Halloween as characters from the movie “Clockwork Orange.” They will remind film fans of the treatment Democrats can expect from the Republicans after the new session starts in Jan.]

The closing quote is a variation of folk wisdom supplied by W. C. Fields: “If at first, you don’t succeed; try, try again . . . then quit because there’s no use being a damn fool about it.”

Now the disk jockey will play Nancy Sinatra’s “These (Republican) boots are made for walking,” Cher’s “Don’t come crying to me,” and (of course!) “Singing in the Rain.” We have to go look for a “JEB in ’16” t-shirt. Have a “if you can’t beat ‘em; join ‘em” type week.

crop of metaphor image

October 17, 2014

What a week!

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:36 pm

crop of inspection long shot

Once upon a time, several decades ago, a televised football game inadvertently became an example of theater of the absurd when a heavy fog developed. If the quarterback threw a pass he couldn’t see the receivers and they would have to rely heavily upon intuition to catch a ball that might suddenly appear where they were holding their hands. Running plays were no less of an exercise in absurdity. TV cameras can no more cut through fog than human eyes so the video portion of the game was ghostly images at best. Sports announcers are supposed to describe the play as it happens but when vision is impaired by fog, their job becomes very challenging. The novelty of the situation became exhausted quite quickly and we changed channels and forgot about that bit of boring television entertainment until recently when we tried to assess the new coverage of the Isis battles in the Middle East.

The reporting, commentary and analysis of the Isis phase of the Forever War is similar in quality to the coverage of that forgotten game played in the Chicago area (as we recall) many moons ago. The media heavy weights get the latest official statements which are vague and nebulous. The war correspondents get to describe the carnage they are permitted to see, but they can’t see over the horizon. Politicians appear on the Sunday morning gab-fests and promote their party’s agenda. The bottom line for journalists is: there is nothing to see, no one will say what their secret plan for victory is, but everyone is willing to say that Americans should be prepared for a long struggle.

Coverage of the Ebola episodes is just as bad as far as the lack of quality journalism is concerned.

In a frantic effort to find some items of interest to be able to write this week’s anemic attempt to provide a “that was the week that was” report about how things are going as the mid-term elections in the USA are approaching rapidly, the World’s Laziest Journalist rounded-up a few small items and will lump them all together as background material for a week full of medical reports about various Ebola victims.

On the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory, the staff is, for recreational purposes, experiencing a reading via “Dr. Mary’s Monkey,” by Edward T. Haslam. It seems that this novel indulges in speculation and hints of a link between the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Ebola epidemic. The World’s Laziest Journalist will attempt to borrow the copy of his book, read it, and report on just how likely it is that the book’s fantastic speculation could or could not be true.

The Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is formulating some speculation about the possibility that terrorists are recruiting kamikaze jihad warriors for a suicide mission that asks them to get infected with Ebola and then travel into enemy territory. Wouldn’t infected blankets work just as well?

The Orwellian concept of “doublethink” was not missing from the surreal aspect of this week. Tom Frieden told Congress that the Ebola could not be contracted by sitting next to a victim on an airplane, then he added that Ebola victims should not fly.

Wasn’t one of the goals of the Sept. 11 attack, to cripple the airline industry? Your homework assignment, this week, is to write an essay asserting that the Ebola fad is part of the terrorist strategy from 9-11 to destroy the airline industry in the USA, post it on social median and then wait for it to go viral.

Will cost conscious hospitals and health organizations suddenly embrace a “damn the costs” approach to containing a potentially hazardous situation from getting out of hand? Could the heath problem provide a new example of the foolhardy aspect of the “penny wise, pound foolish” philosophy?

Is Albert Camus’ novel “The Plague” experiencing a surge in popularity? Can the sale performance of a book be determined on the Amazon site?

We have heard one prediction that this year’s most popular Halloween costume will be a Has-mat outfit.

Berkeley political activist Mike Zint early this week posted on his Facebook page, a piece assessing the shrinking number of alternative news sources available and on Wednesday October 15, 2014, the Bay Guardian, an alternative news source in the San Francisco Bay Area for forty-nine years, published its last issue (Vol. 49, no. 3).

Quality news for Germans was unavailable during WWII and the ramifications of what their dilemma was, is a topic that will lead most online fact checkers to an familiar sounding situation. (Google hint: “gray radio WWII 600,000 watts” and also try “Aspidistra”)

Do the UCB alumni have to see this year’s Cal vs. Stanford game to know who they want to support? Should Americans care if Freedom of the Press has become extinct?

On a lighter note, the annual write a novel month online shenanigans is about to begin again. (Google hint: National Novel Writing Month [AKA Nanowrimo])

Since the ship America was in San Francisco for fleet week, and since the President of the United States was in Frisco for some fund raising at the same time that the christening ceremony was scheduled to take place, we went on a walkabout in the area trying to get some serendipity photos of the commander-in-chief. The world’s laziest journalist got some digital images of the view from the Hi-Dive tavern on the Embarcadero, some photos of security checks being made and a good impromptu portrait image of San Francisco’s chief of police, Greg Suhr but we didn’t see or take photos of the current POTUS.

We had never heard of ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) until this week when a Liberal Berkeley resident suggested that ODD might explain the civil unrest in Ferguson Missouri.

This week we were invited to go to Cupertino, see the film “Dead End,” directed by Joron F. Ghanma, and review it; but we couldn’t arrange transportation and missed that chance to write a change of pace column.

BTW you should change your e-mail account password.

George Orwell wrote: “The Gordon Riots of 1780, though they had religious bigotry as a pretext, seem to have been little more than a pointless outburst of looting.”

Now the disk jockey will play Ray Steven’s “I Saw Elvis in a UFO,” “Hang up and drive,” and “Dead Skunk (in the middle of the road).” We have to go see “Kill the Messinger.”   Have a “Go Giants!” type week.

Our photo of San Francisco Chief-of-Police Greg Suhr


crop of chief Shurr



October 3, 2014

Berkeley looks back

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:27 pm

crop of arrest guy speaks BEST

Approximately 50 years ago, a traffic ticket was issued and put on a car being operated by a member of the University of Scranton Class of 1965. The fellow came along as the ticket was being written and he tried to talk his way out of it. Other students passing by stopped to watch. A crowd partial to the plight of the student gathered and thing began to reel out of control. More police arrived and then a round-up of students started. Later in the afternoon, a local radio station reported that 18 arrests had been made. The chancellor of the Jesuit University went down to the local police station and by the time the local morning newspaper was delivered the next day, no arrests had been made and no incident had occurred. Unless someone had been there to see it happen, most Scrantonians would ever know about it. The incident was quickly forgotten and (mostly) disappeared from the annals of Scranton History.

On October 1, 1965, a student at the University of California’s Berkeley campus, Jack Weinberg, was proselytizing from a card table on Sproul Plaza about the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The topic was in direct conflict with school rules which expressly forbade political oriented activity on the campus where a scholarly atmosphere was traditional. Again, events spun out of control and eventually students surrounded the police car where the fellow who was being arrested was sitting. Someone urged the students to lie down all around the police car to deter the car from proceeding to the police department. A stand-off situation developed.

One student, Mario Savio, in an attempt to defuse the volatile situation, jumped on top of the police car (he removed his shoes so that he wouldn’t scuff the paint) and began to give a speech. That example of impulsive extemporaneous oratory became an iconic moment and would be recognized around the world as the start of the student activism era in the USA and Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement (FSM).

A rally to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the events which spawned the Free Speech Movement was held Wednesday, October 2, 2014, at the same location, Sproul Plaza, and drew a crowd of several hundred which included current students and (by a show of hands) a goodly number of individuals who had witnessed the original confrontation.

It was a melodramatic moment for them when the voice of Mario Savio was replayed via electronic means. Cynics who appreciate heavy-handed audience manipulation couldn’t help but notice that it would have reduced the older folks to tears if the event producers had played Jerry Lee Lewis’ song “I wish I was 18 again.”

An assortment of journalists was on hand to record the new event for posterity. Local newspaper and radio news reporters were there as well as a platoon of photographers and at least two TV news crews.

One of the reporters was representing the Paris publication Le Monde newspaper and the reporter, Cerine Lesnes, mentioned that she was new to the area. She had been reassigned to the Bay Area because that paper had just opened up a news bureau in San Francisco.

Since newspapers have been cutting the use of satellite offices as a cost cutting measure, this bit of trade talk caused us to schedule a bit of subsequent fact checking to see if this is an anomaly or if it can be used to write a future trend-spotting column about a turnaround in the newspaper industry.

Ironically the ceremony to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Free Speech Movement fell on the same day that the new issue (Vol. 49, No. 1) of the Bay Guardian carried the latest installment of Project Censored’s annual list of the year’s top ten underreported stories. Free Speech is about the unimpeded flow of information; contemporary Mainstream Media (MSM) is about corporate propaganda masquerading as news.

Fifty years ago students clamored to have their voices heard on social issues, but in the interim, the main stream media in the United States has become a sad pathetic echo of what the citizens think they are getting; i.e. enough information to make well informed decisions in the voting booth.

We explained briefly to the Le Monde reporter, why there would never again be student anti-war protests in the United States (and Berkeley in particular). The cost of tuition has priced many Americans out of the market for a top notch university education. They have been replaced by students from wealthy foreign families who don’t care what the USA does, the wealthy Americans who are training to take their place as the community leaders of the future (and not about to rock the boat) and kids who are signing up for a life of indentured servitude via student loans. The student loan contingent can be stripped of their academic standing if they get arrested in a demonstration but they would still have the loan to repay, hence they operate on the “ya gotta go along to get along” principle. (Google hint: to learn more about how the Frisco area looks to a reporter from Paris: twitter dot com slash BicPictureCL)

The irony of celebrating free speech while economic reality stifles dissent and student criticism in political issues seems to contradict the essence of what the day was meant to promote.

Many Americans think that the valuable role played by newspapers has been supplanted by the Internets but reality contradicts the idea that “you can look it up on the Internets.”

Last week, we did some fact checking on the Internets and concluded that the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd had fumbled a great opportunity to gather material for a top notch column. Subsequently we learned that she had written what may be her best column ever with a lead sentence which may get her into future editions of “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.” In her column for September 20, 2014, she opened with this sentence: “WHEN Willie Nelson invites you to get high with him on his bus, you go.” (Odds are that even the Pope would concur.)

There are times when the World’s Laziest Journalist wants to check something we have written in the past and our attempts to find it online have been unsuccessful. Our opinion of the quality of the information available on the Internets keeps shrinking.

Initial critical assessments of the Internets potential asserted that it would become just another sales tool for corporate America and that the promise of developing unique voices that could build an audience and clout was doomed to be vetoed by the corporate leaders who will be very reluctant to foster any means that would encourage and supply an opposing point of view.

At first glance, the UCB event Wednesday was a chance to cover (and run) a light-hearted look laden with nostalgia back at some Sixties lore. A closer examination of the changes that have occurred in the last fifty years would require a bit more than a quick column geared to please in the skim and click age.

The Congress on Racial Equality isn’t in the news much lately but if you look around on the internets you will find that the assertion that a person of African-American heritage is shot by a police agency (on the average) of once every twenty eight hours is ubiquitous.

Fifty years ago, 18 year old young men were being drafted to fight in conflicts started by politicians whom the draftees couldn’t vote for until three years later. Now new military action can be sanctioned by a budget vote held late at night. The all volunteer military is staffed by young folks who can’t afford to go to college and don’t want to be burdened by student loans.

Corporations are still reaping large tax benefits from Prop 13. The loss of property tax revenue has meant that tuition costs in California have become astronomical (metaphorically speaking) and so the people struggling with student loans are probably not thrilled about the fact that corporations are still reaping benefits from that decades old bit of legislation.

Have things changed via the Free Speech Movement or is it a case of the more things seem to change the more the reality is “same ole, same ole”?

The words of Mario Savio will be quoted extensively in various “Week in Review” round-ups and so, to be different, we’ll quote Andy Gowdy who once said to Chef Teddy Owens: “For your birthday, we’ll take you up to Vegas and get you some new scars.”

The disk jockey was tasked with finding songs about being arrested, so he will play

Johnny Cash’s “Live at Folsom Prison” album, and Merle Haggard’s “Mamma tried” and Toby Keith’s “I’ll never smoke weed with Willie again.” We have to go post bail for a buddy. Have a “‘get out of jail free’card” type week.

crop of Le Monde repotersecond shot

September 26, 2014

Ye Olde Scribe Presents: WHY Would You Call it THAT?

Filed under: Commentary — Ye Olde Scribe @ 4:53 pm

045hitler_228x310Scribe ponders: hurricanes. Why do we call them names like “Rachel?” Ms. Scribe knew a Rachel once: ugly, yes, but a fine person: more beautiful inside than 99.9% of the supposed “beautiful people.” Why don’t we call use mythology and call them “Thor,” or if we must use the names of real people, how about, “Hitler?”

“Hitler’s coming!”
People will KNOW to run like hell, except maybe your pathetic, accept anything FOX says as gospel, teabag, Stand Your Ground supporting, right wing spewer of cliches and hate uncle who will probably pull out two of his 100 AK47s and run out into the BLACK hurricane shooting and yelling, “Go away you black bastard and take your Kenyan socialist, commie president with you!” (more…)

September 12, 2014

War Crimes for Peace

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:30 pm

crop of Oakland Protest

A political protest in Oakland on the evening of Friday, September 5, 2014, produced substantiating evidence for reaching a sad paradoxical conclusion for political activists: the more that police involved shooting occur, the harder it is to make a cohesive, coherent generic protest.

When Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, MO, the national media focused on that specific story but at the protest in Oakland, there were so many diverse examples of dead young people that some confusion and a lack of a centralized focus was bound to be generated.

Oakland held a protest rally when Trayvon Martin was killed by a vigilante. The Northern California case of Andy Lopez was of regional interest for Oakland residents. Residents in the Eastern Time Zone will be unaware of the particulars of his death. The case of Ezell Ford, who was shot in Los Angeles two days after Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, was virtually ignored during the Oakland event.

The September 5 protest was also used to draw attention to the militarization of the nation’s police departments and also to protest the Project Shield Program.

An enterprising writer could almost devote a book length project to all the police involved shooting in August. It would be a major task to chronicle all the police involved shootings in the USA for 2014. [Nick Wing and Matt Ferner did a round-up (for the Huffington Post) of the police involved shootings that have occurred since the shooting last month in Ferguson MO. It is worth the effort to find and read.]

The task of focusing the public’s attention and outrage begins to become defused.

Focusing outrage and indignation on one noteworthy example of police involved shootings is a manageable assignment but when the number of police shooting increases geometrically, the goal of protesting all of them becomes unmanageable. Thus the more that happen the harder it is to protest them. A cynic (channeling the ghost of Lenny Bruce?) might be tempted to urge the conclusion that increasing the number of examples of such tragedies (and accompanying protests) would be a way to make the problem disappear completely. [Bartlett’s attributes a relevant quote to Joseph Stalin: “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”]

Will the drone strikes on ISIS help Obama to become the first person to win two Nobel Peace Prizes? Will the Ministry of Propaganda give the proposed drone strikes inside Syria a cutesy label, such as: “War Crimes for Peace!”? Colonel Kurtz’s quote comes to mind: “We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “fuck” on their airplanes because it’s obscene!” Ya gotta draw the line somewhere, eh?

The President said that Syrian Rebels will be given training by Americans and we immediately wondered if that means that the CIA’s crack JMWAVE team will come out of retirement.

If George Miller (the Australian movie director with an office on Orwell Street) reads this, we’d like a chance to pitch him on a movie about a story that combines the life or an Australian nurse with elements of Steve McQueen’s classic movie, “The Great Escape.” (What ever became of Kate Blanchett?) Speaking of WWII, has anyone ever filmed the story of Hanna Reitsch?

After picking up a bargain bin copy of Vol. II of the Gonzo Papers, we hatched the idea of doing a column devoted to Litquake in Rocktober in Frisco and using the title: “Is Litquake Decadant and Depraved?” and making it a parody of Hunter S. Thompson ‘s report on the Kentucky Derby.

We’ve been told by a reliable source that Berkeley is scheduling some events to mark the fact that the Free Speech Movement will turn 50 this fall. We should get some acceptable quality photos and a column or two if we get a chance to cover those events.

As we were re-reading Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” our wanderlust was rekindled by this passage: “At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, When I grow up I will go there.”

Did you know that (according to maritime legend) more sailors jump ship in New Zealand than in any other country in the world? Hmmm.

Whilst we were doing our walkabout in Australia, we wrote a column that whimsically suggested that Qantas should provide Netroots Nation attendees free transportation if they would decide to hold one of their annual conventions in the land down under. A year later we were surprised to learn that Oprah and Qantas were taking her audience down where they would have a chance to experience the W. A. (AKA Western Australia). Hmmm. Should Air New Zealand make Netroots Nation an offer they’d be stupid to ignore?

If President Obama wants the World’s Laziest Journalist to now switch gears and support George W. Bush’s war in Iraq; does that also mean he wants us to support the stealth JEB for President Movement? Now that we are obliged to follow Obama’s lead and endorse Dubya’s philosophy for War in Iraq, we wish that Obama could cater to the nostalgia fans and for just once, replace one of the drone strikes with one last call to duty for the Stukas.

Do the bad guys in the Middle East get a new name every two or three years as a way to prevent the Forever War from becoming routine and mundane?

Is it true that when the post 9-11 investigation into finding who had profited by selling airline stocks short began to lead towards two high profile Republican Senators, the funds for the effort disappeared?

The SLA (Scotland Liberation Army) will take their battle for a free and independent land to the voting booths next week. Good luck!

After hearing the President address the nation on Wednesday night, we were tempted to make an effort to find the text for Robert Jackson’s opening statement at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial (it’s available online) but then we realized that if we found some passages in that bit of oratory that condemned the actions President Obama announced, most Americans wouldn’t give a f-f-f-arthing. Who was it said: “My country, right or wrong, my country!”?

[Homework assignment: Find (Google hint: “Robert Jackson Nuremberg opening”) and read the lead American prosecutor’s opening statement at the War Crimes Trial and then, after making a determination if bombing ISIS in Syria would fit the criteria for a crime against peace found there, write a 1000 word essay agreeing or not, post it on a social media site, and then give yourself a B+ grade for following orders unquestioningly.]

Some folks who read our column regularly (or even sporadically) wonder if the World’s Laziest Journalist feels disappointed that after many moons of criticizing the Bush war in Iraq, President Obama now wants us to fully endorse it. Our philosophy of life was encountered early in life when we saw “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” in its initial release. Our life was given a guiding philosophy because of this line: “Oh laugh, Curtin, old boy. It’s a great joke played on us by the Lord, or fate, or nature, whatever you prefer. But whoever or whatever played it certainly had a sense of humor!”

Our challenge to the disk jockey was to find songs that fit the qualification “If you haven’t heard this song done live by the band, then you have never really heard this song at all!” He will now play the Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” and the Rolling Stones “Honky-tonk Woman.” We have to go help a friend by throwing a radio into their bath tub when we hear the appropriate musical note.   Have a “call in an airstrike” type week.

crop of inverted flag

August 22, 2014

Return of the long hot summer

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:37 pm

crop of Police line OEN top shot

What would Americans think if two examples of police involved shooting occurred almost simultaneously and if one involved a victim who was not likely to generate much public sympathy and the other involved circumstances that precipitated a snap judgment that the case was bound to cost Los Angeles tax payers a massive amount of settlement money because of widespread compassion for the victim?

What would a rookie pundit think if, additionally, the mainstream media (mostly owned by conservatives) accorded massive amounts of coverage to the case that seemed destined to make the victim seem to be a modern disciple of Tupac Shakur and stonewalled the other case that involved a victim who was described as “mentally challenged”?

A week after Michael Brown was shot on August 9, in Ferguson Missouri, we became aware of one of the most bizarre conspiracy theories we have ever encountered. According to this new theory (which we discovered on a visit to the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory campus in the San Francisco Bay Area), every time America’s best ally in the Middle East becomes embroiled in military action with one particular neighbor, incidents in the USA of police shootings increase dramatically.

While doing a Google News search to try to do some fact checking about this bizarre new topic, we learned that on Monday August 11, 2014, (two days after the Michael Brown shooting) Ezell Ford had been killed in a police involved shooting in Los Angeles. We did not hear (to the best of our limited ability to check) any national news reports about this latest police involved shooting in Southern California. It happened 49 years after Marquette Frye got a ticket and all hell broke loose in the form of the Watts Riots.

On Monday, August 19, 2014, we learned that a rally and march to protest the shooting of Michael Brown, was going to be held in downtown Oakland. We went there to provide coverage of the event.

A dramatic confrontation between marching protesters and police in riot gear produced a temporary stand-off. Rather than trying to proceed South through the police cordon, the march abruptly changed directions and started walking West.

When the protesters returned to the starting location (Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland [one of the most famous protest sites in the world?]) the contingent of journalists covering the event had dwindled considerably. There were no police officers visible when the protesters started to block traffic at the intersection of Broadway and 14th St. A local woman confronted the demonstrators and, pointing to the adjacent sidewalk, urged them to “take your protest over there so that (as she put it) I can get my f*****g bus!” A short while later the demonstrators were complying with her order.

In her broadcast for Tuesday, August 19, 2014, Rachel Maddow pointed out that the air space over Ferguson MO had been declared a “no fly zone” and TV helicopters were unable to provide aerial views of the nightly demonstrations. That was a feat that was not achieved by the authorities in Los Angeles during the coverage of the events following the announcement of the verdicts in the Rodney King beating cases. We couldn’t find a way to send a news tip to Ms. Maddow about the Ezell Ford case.

On Wednesday, August 20, 2014, we called a news tip about Ezell Ford in to the Getty and Armstrong radio show. They subsequently didn’t seem interested in the least about that case and continued to obsess on the Ferguson shooting.

Later that day, we searched for the Ezell Ford case on the New York Times website. After earlier searches had produced a link to a New York Times story, suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, the searches asked “did you mean ‘Edsell Ford’?” and the previous links to the Ezell Ford story were not eadily available. Isn’t that adorable?

Readers of this column are invited to do Google News searches for Ezell Ford and also do Google New searches for Dyllon Taylor, John Crawford (of Beaver Creek Ohio), Michelle Cusseaux (in the Phoenix area), and Darius Cole-Garrit of Chicago. While you are at it do a Google News search for University of California’s “Deciding Force Project.”

On Friday, August 22, 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle carried an AP story about the beating last week of L. A. Sheriff Deputy Brandon Love. A good Samaritan intervened and was credited with saving the officer’s life.

While doing some Google News searches about Ezell Ford, we learned that a site called Deadspin asserts that there is no centralized data base with statistics for and about police involved shootings and they seem to be determined to start such a data base.

Did any of the main stream media point out that the shooting of Michael Brown on August 9 was two days short of the 49th anniversary of the day in 1965 when Marquette Frye got a traffic ticket and all hell broke loose? Thirty four people died in the concomitant results of what is often called the Watts Riots. Which means that the shooting in L. A. of Ezell Ford happened 49 years, to the day, after the incident that spawned the Watts Riots.

If the highly praised American Free Press chooses to obsess on the Michael Brown case and completely ignore a case that allegedly involved a kid who was either: laying on the ground and was shot in the back or he was trying to grab a cop’s gun; there is not much that the World’s Laziest Journalist can do to rectify the situation. You will get the stories that the conservative owners of main stream media want you to get and after that; you’re on your own. We might just as well write about other more innocuous topics such as the recent accordion festival in Cotati. (Google hint cotatifest dot com)

The Pacific Film Archive has announced their September and October schedule and they will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Free Speech Movement with some special showings of movies such as “Berkeley in the Sixties” and “KPFA on the Air.” They will simultaneously be presenting Stanley Kubrick and Jean-Luc Godard retrospectives. (Google Hint: Pacific Film Archive.)

This is an auspicious opportunity for us to mention that we are reading “American Fun,” by John Beckman, and will be referring to its underlying premise in future columns. If we understand the author correctly, he is making the assertion that participating in political protests adds zest and spice to a young couple’s courting ritual and sometimes brings about change.

Speaking of books, we missed our chance over the weekend to get photos of John Waters doing a promotional appearance at the Beat Museum on Saturday for the movie director/writer’s new book titled: “Carsick.”

Here is the homework assignment: Since one case got massive coverage and the Ezell Ford case was ignored; write a thousand word essay on why that discrepancy occurred and what you think is the meaning of the disparity in coverage that is usually touted as being “fair and balanced.” Post the results on some social networking site and grade your own efforts.

Forty nine years ago, the media was covering the Watts Riots, the possibility of mission creep for the boots on the ground in South Vietnam, and whatnot.

[Note from the photo editor: Believing St. Ronald Reagan’s philosophy regarding redwood trees (If you seen one; you’ve seen ‘em all.) applies to protests of Police brutality; we went to a protest in Oakland on Monday, August 18, 2014, and got some adequate images to use with to illustrate this week’s column.]

On page 225 of “The Armies of the Night,” Norman Mailer wrote: “He (Jerry Rubin) had also run for Mayor of Berkeley on a platform opposing war and supporting black power and the legalization of pot, collecting in the process 7,385 ballots or 22 percent of the vote.”

George Carlin said: “I put some money in a machine that said: ‘change.’ Nothing changed.” If we can summon the energy we’ll be back next week, same bat time, same bat channel with more of the usual.

Now the disk jockey will play Eric Clapton’s “I shot the sheriff,” Cher’s “Bang Bang,” and the soundtrack album for “A Clockwork Orange.” We have to go see “Sin City.” Have a “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!” type week.

crop of block Intersection

August 15, 2014

Dog days of 2014

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:32 pm

crop of relaxed fan

Robert Ripley drew attention to an incident from the past that involved a doctor in Europe who was confronted by a new patient who was despondent and suffering from depression. The doctor cheerfully informed the new patient that by a great coincidence, one of the world’s greatest comedians, Grimaldi, was in town and that the morose fellow would certainly cheer-up if he went to see the show. The patient gravely replied to the doctor: “I am Grimaldi.” We were reminded of that story this week when we heard the distressing news about Robin Williams.

In late 1978, ABC video taped a special titled “Battle of the Network Stars” on the campus of Pepperdine University in Malibu and the paparazzi swarmed over certain personalities, such as Farrah Fawcett, Lynda Carter, Howard Cossell and Telly Savalas. Some of the stars were virtually ignored in the frantic search for photos of the hot personalities that would earn big bucks from various fan magazines and weekly news publications.

A student from Orange County, who attended a high school that featured both an AM and an FM radio station, got some of the stars who weren’t in high demand to record a promotional sound byte for those student radio efforts.

One of the stars, who had been a well known TV personality in the Sixties was very accommodating and charming. Perhaps those two student radio stations still play the promo sound bytes featuring William Shatner.

One fellow, who was a rookie TV personality, arrived driving himself in a battered old MGA (as we recall). He didn’t interest the paparazzi because of his lack of celebrity draw. He was very gracious to the high school student and provided his contributions to the student stations. It seems that the word “gracious” is ubiquitous in all the personal anecdotes being told this week about Robin Williams and this anecdote reinforces our similar impression of the star of “Mork and Mindy.”

Robin Williams’ death unleashed a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment that refuted the star’s personal feelings of complete alienation. It is poignant and ironic that a person who was so beloved could fail to register the high esteem accorded to him by family, friends, and fans.

In another example of bitter irony, during the week, the Berkeley contingent of liberal peaceniks were becoming more and more bitter and cynical because their perception of the news about a new contingent of troops being sent to Iraq was that the President was possibly guilty of being the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to also be a war criminal because he was providing a continuing endorsement of former President George W. Bush’s war crimes and belligerent foreign policy.

Conservative Trolls please note: In the era of austerity budgets in the newsroom, very few writers seem to have been assigned to fact check what is and is not a war crime. The World’s Laziest Journalist interviewed an Australian woman who spent all of World War II collecting information and evidence for use in a war crimes trial. When we asked her if Dubya was a war criminal, she snapped: “Of course he is!” Thus our use of that assertion is based on fact finding with a war crimes investigator and not a personal opinion.

It is up to the individual Berkeley peacenik to decide if the sudden U-turn whereby Obama became the forth American President to order the bombing of Iraq means they will continue or withdraw their enthusiastic support of Dubya’s successor.

Obviously, political pundits and columnists, who relentlessly criticized Dubya for committing war crimes, will have to decide if they now owe a profuse and sincere apology to Republicans or if they will have to laugh off their former pose of righteous indignation and endorse Obama’s retroactive approval of the Bush foreign policy. We suppose that the peaceniks could just indulge in hypocrisy and say that they actually have always enthusiastically supported the invasion of Iraq and just used a devil’s advocate response.

After years of wondering if and when America’s main stream media was going to buck the austerity budget trend and pay a staff reporter to fact check the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, the World’s Laziest Journalist had to slough off indolence and inertia and look the information up in the Santa Monica Public Library during Bush’s second term in office.

After being mesmerized by the mantra “he didn’t know there were no weapons of mass destruction,” it turned out that the lead American Prosecutor, a Supreme Court Justice on temporary assignment in Germany, emphatically declared that any invasion was a crime against peace. By a strange coincidence, after we posted a column containing that particular bit of a historic footnote, the Conservatives seem to have abandoned the lame “He didn’t know” style rebuttal.

America fought to bring Democracy to Iraq and the fact that their elected leader was unacceptable to American policy makers just means that like a beginning music student the Iraqi voters will have to follow the teacher’s advice: “Begin again!”

We bet most readers had never heard of the Yazidi brach of the Muslim religion until the day they learned that their tax dollars were being spent to protect some of that subcategory. Did the American military come to the aid of the Catholics who were being shot in Northern Ireland or are the Yazidis entitled to special preferential treatment?

If a Republican initiates a foreign policy that includes war crimes, a pundit should look askance at it. If his Democratic successor endorses and continues the use of war crimes, then the basic point of view of being critical of war crimes should continue. If the pundit condemns war crimes authorized by a Republican president but then endorses them if they are retroactively sanctioned by a Democratic President, well then that is an example of partisan propaganda and will destroy the writer’s credibility.

Since President George W. Bush was not using hyperbole when he informed America it was a participant in the Forever War, then the Liberal Peaceniks in Berkeley (and the rest of the country) had better figure it out that they best drop the Christmas “Peace on Earth” nonsense and realize that they are going to have to vote for the best candidate in either party who can continue conducting the Forever War while managing to deliver a cost effective austerity budget domestic agenda.

The World’s Laziest Journalist will deliver criticism of the politicians from any party who deserve some sarcastic comments while we still can. Our trusty old, refurbished, lap top which was bought used many moons ago, is giving hints that the constant flow of harsh down-home truths (to use a Brit expression) may soon come to an abrupt end. If the laptop becomes obstreperous, there may be a week or two when the weekend round-up goes AWOL. Not to worry. We may even miss a weekly deadline by rushing off to some foreign event just for the heck of it.

This week, we would dearly have loved to go down to the Monterey Peninsula and to see and take some shots with our trusty Coolpix (lugging the Nikon F bodies and various lenses made us very sympathetic to the plight of pack mules) of the exotic classic cars that will be flooding that area this weekend.

We have read that one Ferrari may fetch more than $50 million at auction. We would like to get some photos of that vehicle. We could adopt the St. Ronald Reagan philosophy regarding the redwood trees (if you’ve seen one; you’ve seen ‘em all) and run some available shots of other valuable Ferraris but that’s a bit of a (auto pun alert!) cheap dodge and we won’t stoop that low.

Our budget did permit a trip to San Francisco to take photos of Mrs. Doubtfire’s digs, which has become the hot new tourist stop in Frisco.

For this week’s closing quote we’ll use a line from “The Dead Poets Society”: “Carpe diem.”

Now the disk jockey will play Country Joe MacDonald’s “Fixing to die rag,” CCR’s “Run through the Jungle,” and the “Apocalypse Now” soundtrack album. We have to go to “get your head right, Luke” training. Have a “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” type week.

tye dye

August 8, 2014

The ballad of the Oakland/L. A./Oakland (/L. A. ?) Raiders

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:26 pm

crop of nader

A photo of Ralph Nader giving a talk to protesters at the Berkeley Post Office supporting their efforts to prevent the sale of the downtown Post Office building had news value and could be used as part of the week in review the weekend after the event occurred but after that, unless it was work done on assignment for a monthly magazine, the images had lost their news value and only had residual value as a stock shot.

Businesses supplying stock shots for various publications used to be an integral part of the magazine industry but now that the internet supplies photos for free the stock shot businesses are being diminished by the trend.

A long fact checked story about the demise of the stock shot agencies would have a very limited audience and most of the general public would glance at the headline and move on to other content.

A long and detailed think piece using the incredible shrinking stock photo world to support the assertion that journalism and the free press tradition in the United States are suffering the death of a thousand cuts might attract the attention of reporters who happened to stumble upon it, but the rest of the audience would shrug their shoulders and say: “So what?”

If the World’s Laziest Journalist takes some photos at an event this weekend titled “Naked Girls Reading: Dearly Departed,” happening in San Francisco, the images might have some news value and would possibly attract some curiosity seekers to next week’s installment of our week in review column. (Google hint: sexandculture dot org) They might have more residual stock shot value than the Ralph Nader photos. If he runs for President again, we might get to use the photos as mug shots to go with future columns.

While he was in Berkeley, did Nader notice that the Liberals’ wildly enthusiastic support for President Obama seems to be diminishing lately?

If journalism is dying; some might say: “So what?” Police and politicians might be anxious to see the free press go the way of covered wagons, but voters might want to think about it before endorsing that eventuality.

Back in the day, when the weekly news magazines were expected to tout the Establishment’s values, the staff could pull an end run on the owners by doing trend spotting stories about the counter culture. If, for example, an outlaw journalist ran for the office of sheriff in Colorado and if the staff of some New York based Establishment publications wanted to ditto his point of view; they couldn’t, but by covering that story as an aspect of the pop culture scene, they could say what he was saying and thus get it into their publication.

Austerity budgets and staff cuts have reduced to a considerable degree the window of opportunity for the staff of an Establishment publication to run counter culture material as part of a trend spotting story.

Liberal talk shows on radio seem to be going the way of Wolfman Jack on XERB. Back in the day one man on one radio station was heard regularly in 38 states. Whew! He had “clout.”

Recently the World’s Laziest Journalist, who has very little interest in sports, stopped into Pappy’s Sports bar on Telegraph Ave., in Berkeley (they have a good buger deal that fits our austerity budget requirements) and the one conversation we overheard was critical of the quality of journalism available in the USA. (In a sports bar?) Imagine how mundane TV would be if there were no expressions of traditional sport rivalries permitted.

Will Boston Red Sox fans be ecstatic if it turns out that our prediction that the seventh game of this year’s World Series will be decided by a walk off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth hit by Derrick Jeter in his career’s last time at bat?

So if a TV network can be relied upon to blame Obama for all the misfortunes in the world today, who is going to waste their time watching that? To quote a line from a Rolling Stones song: “You’re so predictable!”

What the hell ever happened to top 10 radio? We skimmed through a copy of Billboard magazine last weekend and didn’t know any musicians on their charts. When does a person become too old for a “Good Guys” T-shirt?

The novelty value of Liberal punditry and/or (as George Carlin used to say): “Last week’s pick hit of the week, this week’s no. one, and next week’s Golden Oldie” style radio would be enough to attract a goodly number of listeners who just want to get away from the all propaganda all the time nonsense.

Didn’t a European country try out the “One politician, one political philosophy, one nation” approach to pop culture? How did that work out for them?

Speaking of sports, what’s with all this subsidizing the sports moguls crap?

Los Angeles hasn’t had a local professional football team for about twenty years. Now a team owner in Oakland wants the citizens to think that subsidizing a move to their town is a crucially important idea.

What’s wrong with this picture: If Los Angeles subsidizes a new sports venue as a way to lure a money hungry team owner to the city of angels, they might then donate generously to the reelection campaigns of the cooperative politicians. The politicians will then, in turn, buy ads in conservatively owned media, to win reelection. The conservatively owned media will avoid any criticism of the shenanigans and loudly proclaim what an honor it is for the local voters to become eligible to spend vast amounts of their hard earned dollars to go and cheer for the new guys in town. Everyone will conveniently forget that those same suckers provided the tax revenue which funded the new stadium. Texas Guinan used to use the same greeting for all her customers: “Hello, sucker!”

Meanwhile, back in the Bay Area the 49ers are moving to a new stadium in Santa Clara, a few miles further South of San Francisco’s city border. If the after game traffic jams continue to be nightmarish, who will pay for more traffic officers to be brought into the area on game day?

Oakland just had to do handstands and back flips to keep the A’s there. Now the basketball team is threatening to move over to San Francisco. When the Raiders moved back to Oakland they incurred some financial obligations that seem to have been forgotten and or forgiven. Are homeowners getting the same kind consideration from the banks that want to foreclose on homes?

Now the folks who play college athletic games want to get paid. Just because they could get hurt and ruin their lives, they think they should get some of the cash that they help generate. Isn’t that just the kind of philosophy that Sen. Joe McCarthy was trying to protect America from thinking? At long last, have the college players no sense of altruism?

If as some cynics on the campus of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (which needs a tax payer subsidized employees sports stadium) are correct in their assessment, team owners, media owners, bankers, (and the clergy?), and politicians have formed a mutual defense treaty organization which practically guarantees that in the country that fights and dies for freedom of speech, no Establishment publication or broadcast program is going to alert the audience that they are being had. (Not even Jon Steward?)

Could it be that in a town where they have two (counting the one that’s just been sold) professional basketball teams, an ice hockey team, two professional baseball teams (counting the Los Angeles Angels who play in Anaheim), host the Rose Bowl every year, have the UCLA and USC football teams, and the college basketball team that did so well when John Wooden was the coach, could it be that the politicians are a wee bit afraid to try to convince the locals that they just “have” to subsidize a football stadium to bring the Raiders (who were in L. A. from 1982 through the 1994 season) back to “tinseltown”?

Learning how to track down and use photos in the public domain that are available on the Internets sounds like too much work. Going out among them and getting some photos that have some relationship with a column that is being written is a bit more challenging than searching for the perfect stock shot in the public domain but wandering around Frisco with a Coolpix is definitely much more fun.

There used to be a poster for sale in California that showed St. Ronald Reagan in a cowboy costume, holding a six-shooter, saying: “Thanks for the votes, suckers!”

Now the disk jockey will play Bobby Bare’s “Drop Kick Me Jesus,” the Beach Boys’ “Be true to your school,” and “the Blind Man in the bleachers.” We have to see if we can buy a West Coast Eagles T-shirt on the Internets. Have a “tape of the play is being reviewed” type week.

August 1, 2014

V. A. bill MIA?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:37 pm

crop of Gatz




Gatz Are

crop of Broke


Broke Art

The rivalry between two of Berkeley’s top graffiti artists, Broke and Gatz, might, at first, not sound like a topic worthy for consideration. People would be very disparaging regarding an attempt by the World’s Laziest Journalist to chronicle that aspect of obscure pop culture. What if they learned that he was working on assignment for the New Yorker magazine? According to an urban legend, there are more subscribers to New Yorker magazine who live in Berkeley than there are on Staten Island. It could happen, just like a bill to help the Veterans could have been passed before the summer recess.

Suppose that a prestigious New York art gallery were to feature a show with work done by Broke; how long would it be before one of their rivals was holding an opening night gala reception for Gatz?

An exhibition titled “Nite Owl the Pursuit of Slappiness,” will open in Oakland on August 1st.

Eventually some New York based publication will be open to the possibility of using a story that outlines what slap art is, who is doing it, and running photos that show examples of the work being created. Editors are voracious in their search for new and interesting topics but they don’t want to be too innovative either.

If the Republicans are successful in the fall mid-term elections and get a better chance to impeach and convict President Obama does that mean that Joe Biden would then have the incumbent’s advantage for getting the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016 and that metaphorically speaking Hilary would be “left at the alter” lamenting her bad luck?

In an era when news is a pastiche of headlines and little else, repercussions of a new Impeachment story are mostly ignored.

Since the dog days are upon us and since we try to pick up the table scraps stories that don’t fit into the austerity budget methods being used by the national media, we’ll mention a few of the missing long term effects impeachment would have on the United States.

If the Republicans win a majority in the Senate they could start impeachement proceedings with blitzkrieg speed. If the Republicans rush through the process (think lynch mob speed); then what? The President would be removed from office and the Vice President would be sworn in to be President until the 2016 Presidential Election.

If Joseph Biden becomes President via such a partisan political scenario, then his prospects to get the nomination would change dramatically. A sitting President can deal out some favors and in return get some strong support at the next nominating convention. Hilary could lose her frontrunner advantage.

A sitting President operating from the Oval Office would have some built-in advantages as far a publicity is concerned and editors would be courted for giving favorable play to stories that stress the President’s selling points for winning re-election.

Could the Republicans be so anxious to deal out a sever punishment to America’s first President of African-American heritage that they might not be bothered to be concerned with the long term effects such a move would have on the future biographies of Joseph Biden that are yet to be written.

It seems quite likely that Hilary and her political advisors are aware of just how much of an impact on her decision about running (or not) for President an impeachment would have. It would be to her advantage to surreptitiously do what she can to sabotage any attempts to impeach President Obama.

Now, suddenly, innocuous trend-spotting feature stories become more than fodder for the dog days of August. Would Hilary & Co. be inclined to stress the amusement value of a Broke vs. Gatz story for a magazine editor in Manhattan rather than something which might jeopardize her frontrunner advantage?

On Friday, July 29, 2014, we had our fist encounter with the Rachael Maddow TV show on MSNBC. We were delighted (but not surprised) to learn that due to the Republican sit down strike in Congress, a quarter of all U. S. Embassies around the world are operating without an Ambassador. When we did a Google News search on Monday afternoon, we learned that the Korea Times ran a story with that same bit of news.

She also predicted that it seemed very likely to her that Congress would go on its summer vacation and not send a bill to the President for improving the medical services provided for military veterans.

If Rachael Maddow can report those two stories and the backup she gets is from the likes of the World’s Laziest Journalist, would it be “Elementary, my dear Watson,” to conclude that journalism in the USA is approaching flat lining status?

Perhaps the staff at the World’s Laziest Journalist New Organization is monitoring the wrong media, but it seems like, in the summer of 2014, an alarming case of “not connecting the dots” is occurring in the journalism arena in the USA.

As the world headed toward the start of August 2014, in the USA, news media started the week with stories indicating that a compromise between Republicans and Democrats was being crafted and that a bill to improve the health care provided for military veterans would be sent to the President by the end of the week. Cynics were expecting that some minor “parliamentary procedure” would be used to derail that expenditure of funds.

The Republicans were quick to rush to the TV cameras to provide eloquent sound bites that urged support for America’s wounded heroes but then they sit around like they are participating in a sit down strike and waste time until it’s time to vamoose for the summer recess.

Didn’t Bessie Smith die because she couldn’t get to a hospital that treated people of African-American heritage? How will the rednecks react if the same thing happens to a Medal of Honor winner this summer?

Many moons ago, when veterans held a sit-in in the lobby of the Veterans Hospital in West L. A., we mentored a young college kid majoring in photo journalism and helped him cover that story. When the police finally came and carried the vets away, the young man provided AP with coverage that got good play.

If the Veterans start a new Occupy the Lobby protest at that hospital, maybe that photographer can provide some assistance to a rookie and help a new generation of photographers get a break.

There’s and old saying that asserts things never change. We’re beginning to believe that might be so.

Isn’t there an adage that says don’t tell me what you’re going to do; show me what you do? Actions speak louder than words but sound bytes on the Evening News help bamboozle the rubes and win re-election campaigns. If the Getty and Armstrong radio show wasn’t running on “Best of” status this week, you can bet they would have been urging Congress to do something . . . but they were so they didn’t.

In “The Armies of the Night,” Norman Mailer wrote (on page 54): “Either the century was entrenching itself more deeply into the absurd, or the absurd was delivering evidence that it was possessed of some of the nutritive mysteries of a mirror which would yet feed the armies of he absurd.” (WTF?)

Now the disk jockey will play some songs for the veterans who are anxiously awaiting the chance to donate to the re-election campaign of their local Congressman. He will play: the 1939 song “Old Age Pension,” for those who die before they can get the medical services the Republicans wanted to approve, the WWII song “Smoke on the Water” (not to be confused with a different recording using the same title done by Deep Purple), and the obscure (of course it’s obscure it uses Liberal talking points!) Arlene Harden recording titled: “Congratulations (You Sure Made a Man Out of Him)” and plenty more. He’ll do a grand finale finish by playing Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black” (“I wear the black for mournin’ for the lives that could have been”). We have to get to the art opening in Oakland tonight. Have an “adjourned for the month of August” type week.

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