“Swing,” Rupert Holmes mystery novel about the adventures of a musician in a swing band who is also an amateur detective investigating a death at the 1940 Worlds Fair held on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, left the World’s Laziest Journalist with an extreme case of regret about missing out on visiting that year’s West Coast alternative World’s Fair, which had to strive mightily to be noticed in the media shadow of the other one in the New York area. The chance to rectify that gap in the columnist’s cultural resume had been relegated to a place in the “things to do when time travel becomes a reality” file, but then we recalled reading somewhere that the final vestiges of the Fair was available in the form of the Treasure Island Museum which was supposed to still be operating on the site.
On the morning of Wednesday, March 30, 2011, there was a plethora of column topics demanding immediate attention. Listening to the Stephanie Miller radio show, it seemed like using the day to write a column in support of the Mooks’ right to castigate the President for giving his approval to the continuation of the Bush Crime Family agenda was a top priority.
A column making comparisons between the new adventures of the Legion of Libya Liberators and the Bay of Pigs fiasco would need some fact finding. There would be an ironical difference: the Bay of Pigs was lost because the United States failed to provide the rebels with air cover and the setbacks being suffered by the rebels in Libya, are happening despite the fact that the new rebels are being provided with their own Air Force, courtesy of the current Regan Democrat in the White House. Such a column could be produced if a fact finding trip to the Berkeley Public Library’s Main Branch was conducted followed by an afternoon of intense keystroking.
If the columnist spent the sunny spring morning (March had produced 21 rainy days in the Berkeley area) rereading and jotting down pertinent information from Ian Patterson’s book, “Guernica and Total War,” the afternoon could be devoted to producing a brilliant and perceptive column comparing the Spanish Civil War with the efforts of the American led Libyan Liberation Falangists. Can Gaddafi be compared to Franco? Do civilians in Libya refer to the American air cover as something involving “the Condor Legion”? Would that sobriquet sting the German contingent participating in the war for humanitarian reasons?
Should we write a column noting that Australia, which has provided troops every time they were asked to do so by America, was given a pass this time because they were not invited to participate in this new American military adventure?
Should the day be spent pounding out a column urging popular support for Monday’s Day of Action in support of the unions in Wisconsin?
Would it be spurious to inject a plug for the efforts of a fellow Berkeley based photo blogger at the What I saw in Berkeley today website, into a three dot journalism style column?
Our desire to explore the last traces of the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939 – 1940 overwhelmed our dedication to duty and so we yielded to temptation and called in sick for the day so that we could travel there and gather information for a column on that non-political topic.
Treasure Island was built by the Army Corps of Engineers specifically to serve as the site for the Exposition and was expected to serve as the location where Pan Am Airline’s China Clipper would be housed after the Fair closed. When the United States was pulled into World War II, the island provided a convenient location for a large new navy base.
Some conspiracy theory nuts are very skeptical of the fact that Treasure Island just happened to become available at the very same time when America needed to build a big naval base on the West Coast to conduct the Pacific faze of WWII. Apparently they just don’t appreciate the fact that some coincidences come along at a very appropriate time.
The fairgrounds, on Wednesday, March 30, 2011, were deserted and void of tourists and walking down the empty streets was reminiscent of the opening sequence in the movie “Twelve O’clock High.”
Late fair visitors can find a coffee shop and a pizza (was that invented by 1939?) place called the Oasis Café and two small convenience stores.
We did wind up in the Naval base brig, which now is the site for The Fat Grape Winery, where the congenial staff (owner Patrick Bowen) welcomed this Fair visitor and gave us a brief tour of the facility even though the writer hasn’t had an alcoholic drink for a good number of years.
We were disappointed to learn that Sally Rand’s Dude/Nude Ranch didn’t deliver and hedged by featuring a cast of ladies who were “almost” naked.
The Fair headquarters building is the location of a leasing office, today, and the surrounding area features a variety of sports fields which have had the same effect on real estate developers as a waving a red flag has on high strung bulls. We were told that next month residents will learn what the next step toward in a redevelopment movement, with promises of high rise apartments with spectacular views of either San Francisco or the East Bay, will be.
Like most tourists, we took a good number of snapshots with our trusty Coolpix before hopping on the two busses which would return us to the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office.
When we got back there we began to have some feelings of guilt about (figuratively speaking) calling in sick for the day and felt inclined to bang out a column on a topic that would be more appropriate for use as content that would be posted on sites that feature political punditry.
However, President Obama has effectively put professional liberals (such as Stephanie Miller and Randy Rhodes) into a bind or what chess players would call a fork dilemma because they can no longer criticize George W. Bush and ignore Obama’s duplication of Bush’s war and torture policies. Does that mean that Democrats can accurately say that they are being forked by Obama? Liberals must either condemn both Presidents or drop the topics of torture and wars initiated by a President without Congressional approval.
Republicans see no contradiction if they condemn Obama for doing the exact same things that their hero, George W. Bush, did. Liberals are hesitant about praising the one and condemning the other for identical conduct. If they do, they will appear to be hypocrites susceptible to the charge of being racists unfairly disparaging the President from Texas while condoning the conduct of another President from Illinois.
Drat! War and torture would have made such nifty campaign issues in 2012, but, thanks to Obama’s precious stunt regarding the Libyan Civil War, the topic is now moot. Will the El Segundo Blue Butterfly become the hot debate topic in 2012?
We will have to stick with our decision to go with a column about a rather tardy visit to the 1940 event.
Dang! If we actually had been able to do a real time travel visit to that event, we would very much have also wanted to stop at a Ford Dealer on the way home to buy a 1940 DeLuxe Ford convertible coupe.
We did the best we could under the circumstances and enjoyed our “sick day” anemic attempt at time travel immensely. The man made island was named “Treasure Island” because the author of that adventure classic, Robert Louis Stevenson, had been an area resident in the past for a portion of his life. Perhaps, some other day, we will write a column about the long list of authors who have spent some time in or around the San Francisco area.
Pierre Jean Francois Joseph Bosquet, who died in 1861, may have made the best prediction of President Obama’s philosophy regarding the humanitarian effort involving helping the Libyan Rebels, when he said (he was referring to the Charge of the Light Brigade): “It is magnificent, but it is not war.”
Now the disk jockey will play “In the mood,” “A nightingale sang on Berkeley Square,” and “Age of Aquarius” (Just to see if you are paying attention). We have to go send a “Mook Power!” e-mail to Jim Ward. Have a “strange days, indeed, mama” type week.