This photo of protesters in San Francisco was taken Monday, August 29, 2011 near the Embarcadero BART station.
This photo of protesters in San Francisco was taken Monday, August 29, 2011 near the Embarcadero BART station.
For an individual attempting to provide web sites with both news stories and photo coverage of the continuing series of protests against the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police Department by the group called “Anonymous,” the inherent dangers to the art of journalism are becoming apparent.
On Monday, August 22, 2011, this columnist went to the BART Civic Center station to get some news photos. Through a combination of experience, intuition, luck and skill we took, and subsequently posted, photos that illustrated the events from the early part of that night’s events.
To augment our after event fact finding process, we attended the Special Meeting of the BART Board of Directors held in Oakland on August 24, 2011. That provided us with background information from both sides which will help improve the quality of any subsequent news stories. We took photos of the massive media coverage of the meeting that started at 9 a.m. According to statistics provided by one reporter, there were 32 members of the media, 18 BART PD officers, and 14 members of the public who submitted speaker cards, and a Board of Directors quorum in attendance.
We took photos that illustrated the heavy TV presence at the Board meeting, but since the board took no direct action, we didn’t see any news value for making the effort to post photos of a bunch of video camera operators at work.
At that meeting a protest spokesperson, Kristoff, said that the protests would continue, so on Monday August 29, 2011, we traveled to the Civic Center station to take photos if something newsworthy occurred.
The protesters changed tactics and no arrests were made in that station.
The protesters moved above ground and the responsibility for security changed from the BART Police Department to the San Francisco Police Department.
Various people spoke to the multitude of reporters about the Anonymous and No Justice No BART criticism of the BART PD. Several representatives of other protest groups (such as nudists and Native American Rights) with other causes, tried to avail themselves of the easy access to the large media contingent on hand to draw attention to their issues.
The protesters decided to walk to the Powell Street BART station and did so.
When it seemed to the World’s Laziest Journalist that the evening was drawing to a conclusion, we took a bus to the downtown area to catch an AC bus back to Berkeley. As the bus approached the Embarcadero BART station area, we observed another phase of the BART protest and took some more photos.
For an individual writing about the event has to be a subjective report. You can’t take photos of arrests and talk to the PIO (Public Information Officer) at the same time. You can’t be on the scene and get an overview from the sidelines simultaneously. When another reporter says that arrests were made earlier at the Embarcadero station ticket booth, you can’t categorically state hearsay evidence into a news story without either your own visual confirmation or an official police statement. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in its edition for Tuesday August 30, 2011, that two arrests were made at the Embarcadero station.
In the old days, a photographer would have to go develop the film and have an editor “AKA the photo desk” select a frame to make a print which would then “move on the wire” if it was good enough to meet their standards of excellence. Now, a digital photographer has to get to a computer, download his work, and for vertical shots, rotate the appropriate files. Then he edits his own work. We know of one instance where an editor used the opinion of a stringer to confirm “the desk’s” selection from the available frames.
A photographer can’t do the digital file clerk work and (if he is working at ome an lacke internet access) simultaneously monitor Internet news organizations at the same time. KCBS news radio indicated that the protesters had changed tactics for their protest on August 29, 2011.
We will use the ominous implications for the Journalism Industry that we see in the shrinking number of professional journalists as a topic for a future column. We will revisit the BART PD vs critics’ dispute as events warrant. We will, as time permits, use the topic of online photojournalism for some future columns, as time and inspiration permits.
Taking photos of the arrests that occurred on Monday August 22, 2011, provided a bit of nostalgia and the sense that “we still got it,” for a photographer who was reminded that some things haven’t changed much since doing similar work in the L. A. area in the seventies.
Covering the BART board of directors meeting was similar to covering Santa Monica city council meetings back in the days when Clo Hoover was the mayor and covering Culver City council meeting when that group shared their building with a branch of that city’s fire department.
Liberal media relies on altruism to provide content. Conservative media uses money to tailor their content to their ulterior motives. In an extremely long and extended contest, human nature tends to indicate which group will survive an endurance contest.
Collectively, most of us Americans seem to be experiencing the same common thread running through our lives right now — we used to have a whole lot of stuff but are now facing a future with not so much. And almost each of us has a story to tell about his or her own personal loss of stuff. And almost all of us also have stories to tell about our childhoods, our expectations for when we would become grownups, our reality today and what we think will happen to us in the future.
This week I too went on a quest for my past. My first stop? Brad Pitt’s latest movie, “The Tree of Life”. Pitt’s film could have been based on my own childhood experiences too, back in the 1950s, when we all had a whole lot of stuff (Somalian famine victims would have LOVED to be you and me back in 1953) — but somehow, back then, a lot of us were miserably unhappy as well.
My mother used to sit on a fancy leatherette couch in our spiffy new tract house front room and cry her heart out. She cried every day for a whole year. My sister tried to run away from home. My father lived for the moment when he could walk out our door and go back to his job the next morning. I was an outcast loner who had no friends at school, even in kindergarten. And in the midst of all this 1950s prosperity, we all suffered in silence and tormented each other — just like in “The Tree of Life”.
For the next stop on my journey back into the past, I actually went off to visit my old childhood home. My strict old elementary school had gone all Montessori. My former neighbors had mostly moved out or died. All the new residents have remodeled. No one is a McCarthy Republican any more. The bowling alley is gone but the ice cream shop is still there (only with new owners and a new name). I couldn’t see any signs of foreclosures, however, because my former home town is still sort of posh in its own small suburban way.
Next I stopped by the big house across the street from where I was raised, met its new owner and told her some of the history of her house. “This whole housing tract was built for veterans returning from World War II,” I said, “but before that, your big old home used to be the only one for miles around, built by some wealthy gambler in order to live next to Green Hills Country Club so that he could play golf. Then he died of a heart attack while hitting his ball onto the first green.” I also heard that the gambler was from Texas, drove a new yellow Cadillac convertible and had ten slot machines installed in his front room.
“Then Col C.W. Jones and his wife Rita moved in. She used to be an FBI secret agent.” How exciting that seemed to me, just a bored, awkward and lonely little suburban kid. “The colonel and his wife served as a haven for all us kids in the neighborhood who had no place else to go.”
After that, I went off to visit my parents’ graves. Much as I hated my mom growing up, I always visited her grave first. “Hi, Mom. How are things going wit’ you up in Heaven?”
Next to my mother’s grave, workers had dug out a large pit and lined it with copper in preparation for a funeral later that afternoon. What? They think that if they line their grave site with copper, it will keep out the worms? Not.
And like we all have our own individual pasts, every single one of us Americans also has a future. What will that be? Of course we’ll all die in the end, but before that happens, over 300 million different American stories will be lived out.
What will the rest of my story be like? And what will the rest of your story be like too?
What I am hoping will happen is that whether it turns out that we are to be well-off and surrounded with stuff in the future or poor and surrounded with little more than cardboard boxes and shopping carts, that on the inside, deep down in our souls, that we will all be living a meaningful life and be relatively content with what we have — just the oppose to what happened to Brad Pitt’s family in “The Tree of Life”. And also the opposite of what happened to me back in the 1950s.
PS: I just finished watching “Citizen Kane” as well. Charles Foster Kane’s story fits right in here nicely. Material stuff isn’t the end-all and be-all in that movie either.
PPS: The moral of this story? Americans might consider the benefits of ceasing to live in denial about the future and then actually start preparing to not only survive but to thrive in a future that contains a lot less stuff. We all seem to be still living in the fantasyland that our whole happy future depends solely on the accumulation of things. However. If we continue to think that our entire happiness rests on how much stuff we have, what will happen to us if we start to have less stuff? We’re screwed.
And another big fantasy that we have is that America’s future happiness is based solely on getting its annual gross national product to grow. If we think that this fantasy is ever gonna be true in the future — when it was hardly ever even true in the past, then our reality is definitely swimming upstream for sure.
And another moral here might be that Americans need to start becoming much nicer people if we are ever going to survive these coming hard times ahead gracefully. My country’s current “I’ll do anything for money” attitude has gone on for far too long. “Lie for money? Steal for money? Kill for money? Sure!” Are we sick of that yet? Obviously not.
And the most important moral of all? We need to start getting rid of the corporatists and oligarchs who got us into our current economic mess and our slavish dependence on stuff in the first place. Let’s start taking away their “stuff” too. I personally would love to see how gracefully they can live their lives like the rest of us do — without a billion extra dollars to prop them up.
Their greed has gotten us into our current economic folly — but their greed ain’t gonna get us out.
PPPS: In mid-September, I am lucky enough to be going off to St. Louis to attend the annual BoucherCon http://bouchercon2011.com/ convention, where mystery writers and fans will honor Colin Cotterill for his excellent (and humorous and exciting) murder mystery series which takes place in Laos in the 1970s.
Laos at the time of the Vietnam war was the most frequently-bombed country in the world — thanks to the warped morality of Henry Kissinger. And in my new and hopeful American future, I would also love to see Kissinger finally go to jail for dropping 280 million bombs on Laos (yes, that’s .84 tons of explosives dropped per person) — and who is still busy killing and maiming Laotian children even to this day https://legaciesofwar.org/resources/walt-haney-papers/ with his left-over evil and deadly unexploded cluster bombs. Damn his eyes.
…or, how to get hired in corporate America.
A businessman was interviewing applicants for a corporate position. He devised a simple test to select the most suitable person for the job: he asked each applicant, “What is two plus two?”
The first applicant had an economics degree. He thought for a moment and then said, “This bearish market indicates it could be as low as 2.5 and as high as 5.6, but it depends on what Bernanke says tomorrow and what the EU does with the valuation of the Euro.”
The second interviewee was a former Fox News political pundit. His answer was a confident, “Twenty-two, of course.”
The third job seeker was an ex-Microsoft phone tech. His answer was, “4.0, but you really should upgrade to the new 4.8 version! You can’t even get patches for 4.0 anymore!”
The next person was a former corporate lawyer. She stated that in the case of Malarkey v. Mathematics Professors of America, two and two seemed to be four, but that answer was contingent on any lawsuits that might arise from the inference that that answer was absolute, any subsequent riders that might be attached to the contract, any tort filings or motions currently under review, and any liens that might be imposed on the answer by the IRS. In any event, the lawyer refused to be responsible for her answer while the matter was still being negotiated out of court.
Next was a recently retired Republican politician. He said it depended on whether both twos belonged to a wealthy person or some poor schlub. In the case of a rich man, two plus two equaled “Tax cut”; in the case of the poor wretch, the answer was “Go to hell.”
Then there appeared a former Blue Dog Democrat. He said he would go along with whatever the Republican said while pretending he had a different answer.
An economist from the libertarian Cato Institute then entered. His reply to the question was short and sweet: “Unfettered free market capitalism is always the answer!”
Then a Messiah College graduate came into the office. She responded that two and two was whatever God said it was, unless it was something with which she didn’t agree — then it was socialist and evil.
The next-to-last applicant was a Teabagger. After many minutes of long thought he said, “Could you ask me an easier question?”
The final applicant had previously worked for Enron and Standard and Poor’s. The now rather frustrated businessman asked him, “How much is two plus two?”
The applicant got up from his chair, went over to the door and closed it, then came back and sat down. He leaned across the desk and said in a low voice, “How much do you want it to be?”
He got the job.
2011 RS Janes, rewritten from another joke.
Right now I am down here in San Jose, California — yet another hot American tourist Mecca. But seriously, folks, there really are lots of interesting things to see in San Jose — including The Cinebar, an authentic hole-in-the-wall neighborhood drinking establishment located at 69 East San Fernando Street.
First opened in 1929 and named in honor of the now-defunct New Almaden cinnabar mine http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/santaclara/alm.htm, the place started out as your typical working-class urban dive bar — comparable to something out of a Hammett novel or Bogart flick. Then back in the early 1960s it became a haven for radical progressives — professors from the local university, grape-strike organizers, new wave artists, prototype hippies, former Beatniks, victims of Joe McCarthy purges, and latent Joan Baez wannabes. Odd ducks for 1963.
In other words, The Cinebar is a venerable landmark (with cheap well drinks).
So I stopped by to see if the Cinebar was still there — and it was. Although these days it is a bit redecorated with movie-themed wall murals, big-screen TVs playing early Sean Penn movies and a pool table — but it’s still there.
And while I was checking the place out, I got to talking with a Vietnam vet at the bar who had learned all kinds of technical skills while in the Navy back then. And my conversation with him also got me to thinking about America’s veterans today.
When I was over in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, the main thing that I learned was, “Love the troops, hate the mission”. All the soldiers I met there were brave, well-trained and outstanding people, a cut above. They all worked as a team and they did their work well. Impressive men and women. Best employees in the world. I’d hire any Iraq veteran in a minute if I were a boss.
Sure, the U.S. military killed people. They still do. Lots of people. Millions of people would be alive today if the American military hadn’t done their jobs so well. “Hate the mission.” But still. Whatever the evil reasons or sick motivations are that drive American war-profiteers, they have also (probably accidentally) managed to create one of the best work forces in the world — and they still keep grinding these well-trained and highly-skilled employees out at great rate.
And then what happens? All these well-trained and hard-working men and women come back home to America and melt back into society here — like butter melting into mashed potatoes. And then, like butter on mashed potatoes, their amazing job skills just get eaten up, digested and then flushed down the toilet.
I’m not saying that we should put trained killing machines into more positions of authority here in America. But I am saying that U.S. veterans have a lot to offer, that there are millions of them back home here now, and that America’s so-called “jobless recovery” should have started with benefiting them — not corporatists and banksters. And I’m also saying that our major priority right now, now that our economy is pretty much screwed, should be to take advantage of all these highly-trained workers and, duh, PUT THEM TO WORK.
PS: Speaking of missions, I also toured Mission Santa Clara yesterday. It’s completely impressive, what Fr. Junipero Serra accomplished back in 1776. And if he can walk all over California while building lasting, meaningful and beautiful stuff way back then, then so can we now. Screw gasoline-combusted engines. Everyone remembers Fr. Serra. No one remembers that you just bought a new Ford.
PPS: My son Joe is currently producing a new film entitled “Seeking Solace,” directed by Holly Chadwick http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/wnt/community/122531219.html. “Seeking Solace” tells the story of a returning Iraq veteran who lives on Whidbey Island out on Puget Sound and who is suffering from PTSD. She then meets a Vietnam veteran with the same experiences and problems as her. And then they help each other work things out.
“Since service men and women are fighting on our behalf, the mental health of our soldiers should be everyone’s responsibility,” Chadwick said. “As a civilian, doing this movie is how I support our troops.” And I supported the movie by loaning Joe my flak jacket for some of the flash-back scenes. And folks in Washington DC can also support our troops by giving them jobs — instead of just orchestrating massive giveaways to banksters, oligarchs and bag-men.
PPPS: The dictionary definition of the word “inane” is “lacking significance”. Isn’t it time that we stopped making our returning troops “inane” and started making them more significant than the ungrateful minions on Wall Street who just take our money and run?
The massive police presence at the site where the Anonymous demonstration against the methods used by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) was scheduled to take place on Monday August 22, 2011, made it obvious that there was a high likelihood that a large number of arrests would be made. The first clue was the buses standing by to transport more arrestees than would fit in a squad car.
The first arrests at the Civic Center station came soon after the demonstration scheduled for 5 p.m., started.
Flyers proclaiming: “Anonymous Does Not Regret This Inconvenience” were handed out to commuters.
The demonstrators who were not arrested in the station left and walked down Market Street to the Embarcadero. They requested permission to enter the Ferry Building but the San Francisco Police Department stonewalled that option.
The demonstrators continued their efforts late into the evening.
According to reports on KCBS radio, about two dozen demonstrators were arrested about 9 p.m.
(Originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet – http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2011-08-17/article/38267?headline=Nancy-Pelosi-Workers-are-people-too-)
When I was in Minneapolis in June, I was fortunate enough to attend the kick-off event for this summer’s “Speakout for Good Jobs Now” tour, sponsored by http://action.progressivecongress.org/t/5854/content.jsp?key=3369, wherein various members of the progressive caucus of the U.S. Congress spoke to their constituents regarding the desperate need for creating more jobs in America. At this first event, Rep. Alan Grayson and Rep. Raul Grijalva fired us all up.
And so when the Speakout tour arrived in Oakland this week, I really wanted to go to this event too. And Reps. Grijalva, Mike Honda and Barbara Lee would be speaking this time. Doesn’t get much better than that.
At the Acts Full Gospel Church on 66th Avenue in East Oakland where the event was being held, the parking lot was jammed but I found a space. Inside, perhaps 700 people were already in attendance. I was late. And the warm-up speaker was already asking everyone to stand up if they had been laid off, were jobless, had college loans they couldn’t pay, couldn’t even get into college, who had no health insurance, who’s home was threatened with foreclosure or had already been foreclosed upon, who had lost their benefits, who felt that their Social Security was threatened, was currently on unemployment, etc. Almost everyone there stood up.
Then the speaker asked everyone to stand up who thought that the current Republican-dominated Congress was doing anything to help all us Americans — not just helping rich people. Two people stood up.
Then Barbara Lee spoke about how she was fighting as hard as she could to get Americans more jobs. Yay Barbara Lee!
Then Nancy Pelosi spoke too — and said all the right things about how progressive she was and how hard she too was working in Congress for us. We all applauded. And then she made one little slip. Should I forgive her for that? Can’t yet decide.
Pelosi said, “They claim that corporations are people? Well, workers are people too!” Too?
Guess what, Nancy. “Corporations are NOT people.” Never have been and never will be. Repeat after me.
On the morning of August 18, 2011, while the cable channels with new were delivering non-stop monitoring of the numbers for the Dow Jones industrial average, people who were more concerned with automobiles were pouring into the town of Monterey California where their attention was focused on more esoteric topics such as the pre-auction estimate that a privately owned Ferrari would sell for two to three million dollars.
Anyone who asks why someone would be willing to pay that much for a car that had been driven in the 1952 La Carrera Panamericana race by Alberto Ascari and Giuseppe Scutuzzi should generate such expectations would probably not comprehend the answer.
Recently in both Berkeley and San Francisco, the ranks of the homeless asking for spare change seems to be growing exponentially, so which bit of news tells the true story about how the economic picture for the USA looks this week?
Journalists who focus on one aspect of contemporary culture can be compared to a gourmet critic who goes to a smorgasbord takes one bite of one offering and then basis his entire evaluation on that isolated bit of factchecking.
A writer with a sharp sense of irony might find it curious that at a time when more and more people are becoming homeless, the story for travelers arriving in Monterey was a modern variation of the “no room at the Inn.” A single at a nationally know chain of hotels was available for $309. The local hostel was booked solid.
In a predicament like that a columnist might envision writing something that Chuck Thompson, author of “smile when you’re lying: confessions of a rogue travel writer,” would be proud to submit.
A Hunter S. Thompson wannabe might find enough material to make an expedition to this year’s installment of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance sound like it should be titled “Beer and Loafing in Monterey.” Would “Champaign and Loafing” be more appropriate?
In an era when austerity measures have nearly crippled the concept of “paid vacation” assignments, if the Ferrari (serial number 0226 AT) with Vignale coach work sells for considerably more than the pre-auction estimates, the resulting sensation will trigger a desperate scramble at various news organizations that had failed to send someone to the weekend event.
If, on the other hand, the vehicle fails to meet expectations, the various news media that skipped the costs of being on hand just in case will breathe a sigh of relief.
There is a journalism legend that asserts that when a LIFE magazine photographer (back in the Eisenhower era) turned in an expense account for shooting a story onboard an ocean liner, he included an amount for taxi fare. The accounting department challenged the item and was informed: “It was a big ship.” They paid him the money.
Shouldn’t a columnist who posts on web sites that monitor the news and information about political issues be devoting his efforts to producing a column that challenges the reader to consider the possibility that the recent BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) computer snafu which shut down the system during a recent commute hour and preceded the recent series of news stories about the agency’s struggle to contend with computer hack attacks (allegedly from the Anonymous group) might (potentially) have been spawned via a hack from their adversaries? To which the hypothetical writer would probably respond: “What’s the policy for paying bloggers Over Time?”
Didn’t there used to be a ubiquitous vulgar suggestion about how an overworked and underpaid employee could sweep the floors while simultaneously contending with an already crowded “to do” list? Isn’t a complaint about being overworked now considered a quaint example of obsolete folk humor? What means it when journalists exclaim: “this afternoon, the ME wants to go waterskiing”?
Rather than waxing eloquent about a 750 Monza Scaglietti Spider (s/n 0492 M), which had been driven in various competitions by John von Neumann, Phil Hill, and Harrison Evans and “won” the fictional “Australian Grand Prix” in the movie “On the Beach,” shouldn’t a political pundit be speculating about the possibilities that Col. Qadaffi, who responded to President Reagan’s bombing of Libya by instigating the bombing of a Pan Am airplane over Lockerby Scotland, might retaliate even more vigorously to this year’s continued drone attacks on his own life and country? Probably.
Editors who have to contend with an obstreperous columnist, who shoots more than 800 photos on a Nikon Coolpix in a 40 hour period, rather than churning out 800 words on a more pertinent topic, know the concept of “high maintenance employee” very well. Wouldn’t the recent pathetic and anemic (with the notable exception of Mike Malloy) tone of progressive talk radio be more appropriate than the selling price of a mint condition Bugatti? Don’t the progressives urging the reelection of the incumbent in next year’s Presidential Election sound as strained and insincere as the assurances a wife gives regarding the admirable qualities of her husband who is notorious in the local community for conducting numerous simultaneous love affairs? (I.e. wouldn’t you love to get a buck for every time they reassure their audiences that “he really is a progressive and not a stealth Republican”? So why not elaborate that metaphor in the new column?
However, it’s not bloody well likely that the BBC would be interested in the (perceptive?) insights of a rogue American blogger about the fact that the Anonymous grope hackers seem to have no problem gaining entry to various computer systems while advocates of the unverifiable results from the electronic voting machines still stoutly maintain that those machines are immune to hacking efforts. On the other hand, if the magic aura of Ascari drives (15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike punning) the price of the Ferrari well above pre-auction estimates, then it is conceivable that the columnist’s shot of the aforementioned car would the editor in charge of selecting the BBC’s reader submitted news photos be glad to see a file containing an image of the race car in his e-mail in box?
The World’s Laziest Journalist has had one photo published on the Jalopnik website. Do images of valuable Ferrari race cars interest their photo editor? Does lightening ever strike twice in the same place?
As the appropriateness of Bush’s term “the forever war” becomes more and more apparent to American voters would it be easier for a columnist to write a sarcastic evaluation of shrinking school budgets using the headline “Does cannon fodder need a state subsidized college education?” or to produce a column that would convince “Jersey Bill” that if he doesn’t get to see an installment of the Pebble Beach event before he dies; he will regret his poor decision for all eternity?
Ian Fleming wrote: “They have a saying in Chicago: ‘Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it’s enemy action.’”
Now the disk jockey will play “Hey, Little Cobra,” “Little GTO,” and the theme song from “Goldfinger.” We have to go and try to make some hostel accommodation reservations for one year hence. Have a “be careful of that button” (as Q once said to James Bond) type week.
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