December 31, 2011
December 30, 2011
Eat, Sleep, Occupy
Who will go to jail? The war criminals or the protesters?
Summer Nats will be held next week in Canberra
Disciples of Existentialism are eagerly anticipating the New Year convinced that 2012 will be a remarkable year to be savored like a fine wine regardless of what happens in the Straits of Hormuz. Others of a more cynical nature might see next year as a binary choice: People can let the Republican Party plunge them into the “Kidnapped” plot or they can adopt the bootstrap philosophy and go searching for “Treasure Island.” Fans of Robert Louis Stevenson (AKA RLS) conveniently forget about one of his more obscure works titled “The Dynamiter,” which promulgated the concept that people should accept without hesitation the next invitation to adventure that is offered to them. If 2012 isn’t an invitation to adventure, then what is?
It’s hard to deal with pirates and mutiny if a person is being driven mad by hunger. In the book “Hunger” (by Knute Hansen) the writer notes that his pencils are organic and wonders if he should eat his pencils now and thereby destroy the potential of earning some future funds with his trade, or if he should persevere and continue to offer the world his take on things.
For readers on the brink of desperation, the World’s Laziest Journalist will offer a few disparate (not desperate) items of pragmatic information for those who due to dire circumstances can not fully appreciate our usual smorgasbord of arcane and esoteric facts and obscure cultural references.
The Awesome Foundation offers money for cash strapped entrepreneurs who feel that with a few dollars more, they could achieve greatness during hard times.
The man who wrote the Samuel Addams beer “start from scratch” story is developing a program to help other would-be self made business success stories happen.
You can start by logging in to their home page.
Maybe you could get a government grant? Start looking by clicking this link
For those who lament that the Sixties are over and they don’t have the option of running away to join a hippie commune, we suggest that they click these links:
If the prospect of writing the great American novel, if only the artist can find a remote and inaccessible work area, appeals to this column’s readers, then perhaps they might want more information about becoming a volunteer lighthouse keeper.
In the materialistic realm of a country that is the world capital for capitalism, the constant addiction to getting more money may seem vital to happiness. If money does buy happiness, then greed seems reasonable and logical, but if it does not . . . .
Once upon a time, there was a young boy who wanted to travel to distant lands, meet fascinating people, and see the marvelous splendors that the world beyond what the Dunder Mifflin hometown’s borders offered.
He had been told that all things are possible through prayer, so when he informed an Auntie Mame type figure that he would pray to win a large sum of money (to subsidize his dream quest), it was pointed out to him that many others would also be praying to the lotto god for a winning ticket in the Irish Sweepstakes (lotteries inside the USA lay in the future at that point in history) and since there might be more people praying than there would be winning tickets, the boy might have to wait a long, long time for his prayers to be answered.
In Hollywood parlance, he cut to the chase and said prayers asking for a swashbuckling life that would make Earl Flynn jealous.
It’s been more than thirty years since we have seen Francis Ford Copula collect his Oscar™ and so the World’s Laziest Journalist is thinking maybe it’s time to apply for a press pass to see if the annual ceremony has changed noticeably in the intervening years.
If we are going to self-subsidize a fact finding trip to Hemingway Days in Key West, perhaps we should go all out and apply for a journalist’s visa from the State Department for permission to travel to Cuba and see Finca Vega and the Floridadita bar?
Has anyone ever written a “Guidebook to the World’s Best Dive Bars”? The Banana bar in Amsterdam reminds us of a line from a song sung by Jim Morrison: “I wonder what goes on in there.”
In “Back to the Future” did the clock on the tower always say 12:30? Where was that tower? Did someone write a song about that long before the movie was made?
Maybe we should budget some time next week to stand by because the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is operating on Condition Red. The counting of the Iowa caucuses will be done at a remote, secure, secret location (Dick Cheney’s home?). If the results of the Republican Caucuses in Iowa don’t reflect the pre elections polls then they will release a new theory the very next day.
That, in turn, will immediately be denounced and discredited by the Corporate owned media with the usual “round up the usual clichés about crazies shooting off their mouths prematurely” explanations. Ironically the conservative propagandists will be on the air as the results are announced making convoluted explanations of what Americans were thinking when folks in Iowa cast their votes.
Speaking of counting votes, next year maybe we will squeeze in a political punditry column that asks the question, can Republicans use the ranked voting process to cast three votes for their candidate? For example, if a stubborn, obstinate Republican (is there any other kind?) thinks there is no other choice could he list his guy as the first, second, and third choice for the office? Wouldn’t that mean casting three votes for the candidate he thinks is the only viable choice?
Does the New Hampshire primary really count? Didn’t President Obama loose in New Hampshire? Didn’t George W. Bush loose there in 2000? Didn’t Ronald Reagan loose there in his 1980 Presidential campaign? Isn’t trying to remember who won there a lot like trying to name the US’s first ten VP’s?
In one of Waylon Jennings’ songs he offered an optimistic take on failure: “at least you got the makings of a song.” If life hands you lemons, then write a Country and Western song about the experience. Do you wanna hear a song about a despondent cowboy who goes to Paris to get a job because he thought a photo of the Eiffel Tower depicted an European style oil rig?
In preparing to write about the question “What ever happened to the TV series ‘Long John Silver’?” we learned that Robert Newton also made a film titled “Long John Silver.” Got a new addition to the “Bucket List” over here boss! Are those two items available on tape or DVD?
Wherever the World’s Laziest Journalist goes, he will try to have his trusty Coolpix camera at the ready because it’s easier to take and post “photographer errant” images to go along with the columns than to do all the clerk work necessary to get permission to use someone else’s photos.
Nikos Kazantzakis wrote (in “Zorba the Greek”): “All that is required to feel that here and now is happiness is a simple, frugal heart.”
Auntie Mame said: “Live! Life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
“Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.”
However, as far as an insurance prayer to the lotto god is concerned; Robert Louis Stevenson (in “The Merry Men”) also wrote: “ . . . generous prayer is never presented n vain; the petition may be refused, but the petitioner is always, I believe, rewarded by some gracious visitation.”
We say: Bring on the New Year! We intend on having a wild and bawdy year on a very limited budget and we will try our best to scratch a few more items off our Bucket List in the process. Which isn’t to say that we won’t buy a few lotto tickets and say some appropriate prayers to the lotto god.
Now the disk jockey will play both versions of the only song recorded by both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones: “Money (that’s what I want).” He will also play Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” and the Eagles’ song with the line about living your life locked up in chains only to find in your last moments, that the key was always right there in your hand. We have to go say a prayer to the lotto god. Have a “Eureka!” type Happy New Year.
December 29, 2011
December 27, 2011
Christmas at Occupy San Francisco
Is that the local or the express?
Political pundits will fill their annual New Year’s columns and broadcasts with grandiose pronouncements about the importance of the choices that voters will make during the Presidential election process in the USA in 2012. When JEB Bush gets the Republican Party nomination in Tampa Beach next summer, the upper echelon of the political punditry world will then be invited into the boss’ office and be given a choice of their next assignment. They can either be a part of the national dialogue that sheepishly concedes “Wow! Nobody saw that coming!” and write columns asserting that American voters have absolved the Bush family of any misdeeds, and will (like the return of the prodigal son) welcome them back to the White House, or they can clean out their desks and prepare themselves emotionally to do the necessary gonzo-journalism style research for a book titled “Living among the homeless of America.”
What reporter’s family wouldn’t become very emotional about the chance for the head of the house hold’s opportunity to become a word-slinger’s version of Dorothea Lang or Walker Evans who did epic pioneering photojournalism during the Great Depression?
Most will choose the former rather than the latter. (Didn’t Waylon Jennings sing a song with a line about climbing a ladder that leads to a hole in the ground?)
Any cynic will be quick to point out that there are always exceptions to the rule. Was George Orwell married when he did the “been there done that” aspect of the fact gathering process for his book “Down and Out in London and Paris”? Was Kerouac married when he went on the road with Neal Cassidy?
For any obscure blogger who just happened to start making predictions in 2010 about JEB Bush being the President-elect at Christmas time in 2012, the choices to be faced in 2013 will be different.
No! It won’t be which lucrative offer from the mainstream media to accept. Such an oracle will have to decide how to handle a tsunami of indifference. Obviously a year of “I-tried-to-warn-you” columns would be a major audience turn-off. Feigning surprise at something that the World’s Laziest Journalist has been predicting for two year would be more of a stretch than his lamentable acting ability could cover.
Obviously if the JEB prediction is spot-on, we’ll have earned the right to indulge in fun feature assignments; if we are wrong, a few dozen regular readers will be annoyed with our misplaced confidence in our predicting abilities. Either way there won’t be much of an effect on the stock market or the reader’s retirement funds.
So what sort of columns should a cynical pundit write during the last year on the Mayan Calendar?
The columnist’s quandary was brought into sharp focus during the recent holiday weekend because of several serendipity walkabouts in San Francisco. We discovered some marvelous feature material and also stumbled upon some noteworthy facets of the contemporary political maze.
On Friday, December 23, 2011, we chanced upon the Tenderloin National Park. On Christmas we took photos of a spaceport in San Francisco. A visit to the art installation titled “Defenestration” would produce some eye-catching images.
Obviously, we could weave some political commentary to accompany the photos of those noticeable urban visuals but at this point it seems redundant to dabble in clichés about the tumultuous scramble to become the Republican Party’s Presidential Nominee.
We could race around the country and try to document the effects of the economic slowdown on the average citizen because it seems that the cash strapped Government isn’t going to subsidize a new version of the work done in the Thirties by Dorthea Lang or Walker Evans.
We could just do fact checking on feature topics and know that the amusement and entertainment provided by the process will be our only reward.
How likely is it that some liberal publication with “deep pockets” will step in and subsidize a brutally frank examination of contemporary American culture during these hard times? Will Rolling Stone magazine find a young firebrand like Hunter S. Thompson and send him (or her?) out on the road with a generous attitude about the writer’s expense account?
What ever happened to the old expectation that “edgy” would be the norm on the Internets? Have conservative corporate websites imposed stodgy and timid limits on their contributing writers? If so, how will they expect to attract the young audience that wants (like the hippies in the Sixties) to embrace audacity, artistic innovation, and uniqueness?
After having an Italian style snack in the City Lights Bookstore’s neighborhood, during Christmas Eve afternoon, we chanced upon an urban tableau which might help us land a car-spotting report on the Jalopnik website. We took about two dozen photos of a parked Ferrari that rightly belongs in a major car museum.
The next day while proceeding from the Landmark’s Embarcadero Cinema Center to the Transbay Bus Terminal, we noticed that the Occupy San Francisco folks were having Christmas Dinner in front of the Treasury building. One of the few journalists there was a woman reporter for a newspaper in Chechnya.
Later, we realized that our brief attempt to explain to her why, during a period of extreme dire economic decisions, it was absolute(ly) [Vodka pun alert] necessary to spend money to pay a large contingent of police officers to stand by and make sure no member of the Occupy Wall Street political movement gained access to a public park, could be the basis for a new political punditry column.
Apparently in the old Soviet Socialist Republics it was of utmost importance for the people to have access to public parks.
The reporter from Chechnya noted that since converting over to capitalism the quality of life had deteriorated noticeably in her home country. For her, seeing the homeless being fed while bankers raked in this year’s round of bonuses was a distressing talisman of what the future held for her home county under the capitalist system.
The decision about how to play the material we had gathered on the Christmas weekend will be emblematic of the same choice to be made for all of 2012.
Should the World’s Laziest Journalist go off to Iowa, spend precious funds from the bank account to run around like a puppy chasing his own tail, and be shut out from access to knowledgeable sources, and maybe even apply for credentials to cover the Republican National Convention?
It’s a bit annoying to deal with the Republicans who say that they will let the general assembly in Tampa Bay next summer decided what the platform will be and that no one speaks on behalf of their group because they all will have a say in the denouement for the quest for a candidate.
Isn’t equivocating and sidestepping questions rather tedious and boring if you are not the media superstar being paid to have an orgasm over a non-denial denial?
If the Mayan Calendar is correct and the world is going to end next year, why bother worrying about an audience? Why not (to use another phrase from another Waylon Jennings song) be like the people in Texas and go out and live for all it’s worth?
The odd thing about 2012 already is that none of the highly paid mainstream media journalists seem to really care about who will get the Republican nomination. The use of highly accurate exit polls has been abandoned in the USA. They still use them in Europe. Have you seen any polls of top ranking influential Republicans about the most likely pick?
They all seem more concerned with portraying the selection process as being up for grabs. What happened to the old “confidential sources tell us” style of heads-up journalism? If the stage is set for a dramatic “no one saw it coming” development as the climax of the Republican convention, what’s not to love about a JEB Bush nomination?
Bernard DeVoto, in the first chapter of his book “The Year of Decision 1846,” (on page 4) wrote: “A moment of time holds in solution ingredients which might combine in any of several or many ways, and then another moment precipitates out of the possible the at last determined thing. The limb of a tree grows to a foreordained shape in response to forces determined by nature’s equilibriums, but the affairs of nations are shaped by the actions of men, and sometimes, looking back, we can understand which actions were decisive.”
Now, the disk jockey will play “Just Keep Walkin,’” and Duane Eddy’s “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” and then do what Rev. Dan can’t do and play Elvis’s “Old Shep.” We have to go find a scoop. Have a “hail thane of Cawdor” type week.
December 26, 2011
December 25, 2011
December 24, 2011
I just started work at a part-time telecommute job that involves writing text for various online websites. And since my new gig only pays approximately one-fourth of a penny per word, I’m obviously not in this for the money — but I do enjoy its challenge. The boss sends me a subject to write about knowledgeably and I do it.
Here’s a hot topic to write about: “Why we live in interesting times.” In 500 words or less? I can do that.
We live in interesting times because World War I was a mistake and it killed off millions of people and polluted the air and gave us Stalin and Hitler as a result.
We live in interesting times because after the Great Depression finally made Americans thrifty for a change, we once again began wildly spending money on war, pollution and other useless junk. World War II was another big mistake. From Nanking, Tokyo and Berlin to London, Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima — hundreds of millions more useless dead bodies, hundreds of millions of tons of more polluted air.
Then came the 1950s and the rise of suburbs, the Cold War and the corporate hit-man. More death abroad and more pollution at home. More interesting times.
Have I reached my 500-word requirement yet?
We live in interesting times because the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and the various recent Middle East wars — Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. — have brought us even more senseless death and irreversible air pollution. And now the Pentagon, Congress and the White House have started beating their war drums against Iran, Syria and China. World War III? Seriously? http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28254
We live in interesting times because now we are going to have to explain to our grandchildren how we willingly squandered their patrimony on a century of brutal destruction, death, repression, and planet-wide pollution — when we could have been building an earthly paradise for them to inherit instead.
We live in interesting times because we are handing off to our grandchildren the mere shell of a planet that used to be rich in resources beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and a sentient world that is apparently facing extinction http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/05-8
And we also live in interesting times because, even as we speak, the military-industrial complex that now owns our government is still happily destroying what is left of our grandchildren’s patrimony while even more happily entertaining itself with fond dreams of more and more violent death and rank pollution to come.
But I’ve clearly written more than 500 words on this subject. Sorry about that.
PS: Here’s a photo from one of my granddaughter Mena’s several recent “Movable Feast” birthday parties. Mena is four years old already — and doesn’t hate me so far!
December 23, 2011
More Political Good, Bad and Ugly
Good: Your husband has decided to get more involved in politics.
Bad: He’s running for president as a conservative Republican.
Ugly: He’s Rick Santorum.
Good: Your wife is a nationally-known political figure.
Bad: She’s Michele Bachmann.
Ugly: After thirty-three years of marriage, she still doesn’t know you’re gay.
Good: Your husband landed an important job in a presidential campaign.
Bad: He’s an advance man in Iowa to the hard-core Christian Right.
Ugly: He’s working for Newt Gingrich.
Good: Your wife has a new job that pays well.
Bad: Working for Mitt Romney.
Ugly: It has something to do with inserting a crank in his back in the mornings.
Good: Your daughter just got a new job.
Bad: She’s working for Ron Paul.
Ugly: Editing his newsletter.
Good: Your son’s new book is about to be published.
Bad: It’s a biography of Rick Perry.
Ugly: He’s started talking like him.
Good: Your wife just got a good-paying job.
Bad: With the Herman Cain campaign.
Ugly: He invited her to his hotel room for a private conference.
Good: Your son just got a new job.
Bad: He’s working for FreedomWorks.
Ugly: He admits he’s doing ‘coke’ but not the drug.
Good: Your daughter just landed a job working for PolitiFact.
Bad: She’s been instructed to make sure her ‘facts’ are ‘fair and balanced’ between Republicans and Democrats, even if the facts show that the Republicans lie far more often than the Dems.
Ugly: She has to come up with misleading headlines that don’t match the facts in the story.
Good: Your son was just employed as a top staffer to an important politician.
Bad: It’s House Speaker John Boehner.
Ugly: He’s tasked with making liquor store runs and applying tanning lotion.
Good: Your daughter has decided to devote herself to working with the OWS Movement.
Bad: She’s working undercover for a right-wing website owned by James O’Keefe.
Ugly: Jimmy has invited her to his parents’ house for the weekend.
Good: Your son has just received a full four-year scholarship to attend college.
Bad: The college is Penn State.
Ugly: His tuition is being paid by the Jerry Sandusky Boys’ Foundation.
Good: Your son was just hired to work for a national celebrity.
Bad: It’s Rush Limbaugh.
Ugly: His job is to oil Rush every morning and then screw his clothes on.
Good: The ideas of Thomas Jefferson are being discussed on TV.
Bad: By Gretchen Carlson on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”
Ugly: Carlson insists the liberal Deist Jefferson would be a conservative Christian if he were alive today and join her in condemning those who say ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas.’
Good: You’re not feeling well and your friend says he will find you a good doctor.
Bad: You’re flat broke and have no job or health insurance.
Ugly: Your friend is Paul Ryan.
© 2011 RS Janes. www.fishink.us
Sophie in San Francisco
There is a statue in San Francisco named “Sophie” (in front of the hotel at Geary and Mason) and we have always thought that it should have been named “statue of a weary Christmas shopper.” We made an effort to get another photo of it to use with a Yuletide column that will be the columnist’s equivalent of a bunch of “stocking stuffers” because going and taking a new photograph was easier than trying to sort through a massive amount of digital files trying to find an existing image file of that statue.
As Christmas day approached we learned that the San Francisco radio station that presents liberal talk radio was about to change its lineup and format. It will go for a balanced format that will diminish the effectiveness of the few liberal radio programs available and help the conservative majority of radio gain even more air time. Glen Beck will become their 6 – 9 a.m. morning drive time show. Stephanie Miller will be moved from that time slot to an evening tape-delayed rebroadcast time of 7 to 10 p.m.
Mike Malloy will be moved from being a live feed from 6 to 9 p.m. on the West Coast to being a taped delayed version at 1 – 3 a.m. We have thought about doing a column comparing Malloy to other legendary radio personalities from the past. If you haven’t heard his show you are missing a contemporary American culture phenomenon.
We have also dabbled, many moons ago, in conjecture about the possibility that liberal radio might eventually be relegated to the “underground press” mode of existence and become a clandestine pleasure/source of real news. We imagined that in America’s drift towards fascism, true journalism might be forced to revert to the use of a high power signal originating from a transmitter in Mexico.
It would be as if the concepts of Combat newspaper (of French resistance fame) and the Wolfman Jack radio program were combined to provide Americans with news that can’t be heard in a country that is world famous for its free press.
That, in turn, made us wonder if the concept of Liberal political punditry has become extinct. If that is true, then it seems expedient that the World’s Laziest Journalist should concentrate on mundane matters and expand the scope of the columns to include topics such as speculation about the Oscars™ (look for a heavyweight championship bout between Spielberg and Scorsese this year), automobiles, travel, and feature photography.
Recently we raised a concern that the Occupy protesters might receive a much more harsh treatment than usual and wind up occupying some of the privatized prisons cells. We were assured that such concern was unwarranted alarmism. Now we see where some of the folks from Occupy Los Angeles are making an appeal to get financial help with their bail. They have to come up with several thousand dollars each. Is bail for trespassing usually that high? For more information on the topic of how to contribute, click this link:
Did the news coverage of the “tax cut” issue leave you feeling like you had been played in a manner that brings to mind the song Pinball Wizard? Were you alarmed by the fact that the (Murdoch owned) Wall Street Journal and Karl Rove brought the teabag congressmen in line very quickly?
If our concerns two years ago that JEB would be the Republican nominee in 2012 are summarily dismissed as the work of a conspiracy theory nut-job, then perhaps the few regular readers will be quick to encourage this columnist to apply for the press credentials needed to cover the annual 24 hour endurance race at Le Mans in the middle of next year.
If we are going to deemphasize political predictions and focus on feature stories, perhaps we could get a column out of a visit to the 941 Art Gallery in San Francisco (Geary St. at Larkin) and do a story on Blek le Rat, the artist who is credited with being a major influence for the British artist named Banksy.
(If Blek le Rat was in San Francisco preparing the exhibition that ends January 7, 2012, then perhaps he did the recent works in Berkeley that we have noticed and assumed to be from the Banksy school of contemporary art. Whatever happened to the old tradition of signing a signature on an artists’ work? If Broke does that, why can’t Banksy and Blek le Rat also provide that help for their fans?)
Would the time that it takes to write a column that contains some spot-on political predictions for a few dozen readers, be better spent by reading Hans Falada’s novel “Everyman dies Alone”?
If this columnist predicts that the Yankees will play in the World Series next fall, will friends or foes accuse him of being out of line? Do they use the electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail to select the participants in the annual baseball competition? How is the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame done?
Speaking of Christmas gifts, we are wondering if it is time to do a trend-spotting column about a new candidate for addition to the list of winter solstice holidays. It seems that the Native American culture is now promoting the Winter Pow-wow. It will celebrate peace and the brotherhood of all tribes (i.e. humanity). Native Americans have always been strong supporters of non-pollution. You can find the “Iron Eyes Cody” PSA on Youtube. The Apaches were anti-consumerism and believed that if a possession couldn’t travel with you on your horse, then you didn’t really need it.
In 2011, we missed our chance recently to do a column about Herman Cain, Citizen Kane and the fellow in the Columnists’ Hall of Fame named Herb Caen.
If it is a far, far better thing to drop political punditry, then perhaps we should do a column comparing and contrasting Los Angeles and San Francisco and use a headline referencing “Tale of Two Cities.”
Were more people killed during the riots at the 1968 Republican convention or the 1968 Democratic convention? Our fact checking department says that two people were killed during the Florida convention and none during the fracas in Chicago.
We thought that next year’s Republican Convention (as it was in 1968) would be held again in Miami, but upon further fact checking, we learned that it will be held in a Florida city where the Police Department has acquired a vast amount of military style equipment (just in case?).
Australians celebrate Christmas in their bathing suits at the beach. Do the Kiwis in New Zealand follow the same tradition? Not bloody well likely since New Zealand has just had two new earthquakes and will be busy with cleanup.
If, as we have been predicting, JEB Bush wins next year’s Presidential Election, we don’t intend on being the political punditry version of Hans Brinker. We will (like the tea bagger congressmen) accept Karl Rove’s decisions and focus our columns on feature topics and not kvetching about the restoration chapter in the continuing saga of the Bush Dynasty.
We note with great sadness that George Whitman of the famed Paris bookstore “Shakespeare and Co.” died recently. If, as we have been urging, the Existentialist Philosophers of Paris ever make up their minds to start work on the Nihilists’ Hall of Fame, there should be a plaque with this bit of the philosophy of life from Treasure of the Sierra Madre: “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! Ha! The gold has gone back to where we found it!… This is worth ten months of suffering and labor – this joke is!”
Now the disk jockey (who dabbles in Existentialism himself) will play Duane Eddy’s version of “Ghost Riders,” the Rolling Stones’ “contractual obligation album,” and Edith Piaf’s “Le vie en rose.” We have to go buy a ticket for “The Wizard of Oz,” which will be playing in Oakland next Friday. Have an “It’s a wonderful life” type week.
December 22, 2011
December 21, 2011
December 19, 2011
December 18, 2011
New exhibit at Beat Museum
Michael Moore speaks to Occupy Oakland
Calling the new exhibit at the Beat Museum as our top selection for the top ten news stories of the year may seem to be an arbitrary and capricious example of poor journalism, but the same people who would get very upset at such a choice by a blogger on some liberal web sites, don’t seem to mind that Rupert Murdoch runs his journalism endeavors with a similar dysfunctional level of personal involvement in the editorial decision making.
How likely is it that any of Murdoch’s lackeys will say that one of the top ten news stories of 2011 is the fact that the integrity of America’s much vaunted Free Press has been compromised and that the Murdoch hacking scandal is Exhibit A on the list of evidence?
Time Magazine named “the Protester” as the Newsmaker of the Year. Will Murdoch concur or will he direct his subservient surfs to ignore reality and spin it with the absurd interpretation that: “It’s about time the liberal media acknowledged the achievements of the tea baggers!”?
During 2011, we heard one reporter on CBS radio news state that JEB Bush has his campaign headquarters in a hotel in Miami (where by a big co-inky-dink the Republicans will hold their Nominating convention). If that fact hasn’t been reported on Fox, is the withholding of that news evidence of an arbitrary and capricious example of poor journalism, or is it indicative of something more ominous?
At one point during 2011, this columnist/photographer was stopped dead in his tracks by a tableau in the lobby of the Shattuck Hotel in downtown Berkeley CA. There were three young men having breakfast together and that wasn’t remarkable in a town that provides a worthy rival for the UCLA baseball, basketball, and football teams. What was astounding was the visual of thee young guys ignoring each other and peering intently at their own laptop computers. We took a photograph of the scene that illustrates the paradoxical aspect of contemporary society whereby friends ostensibly feel more connected to the world by being isolated from each other.
The fact that the image is somewhere in among a vast number of digital files of frames taken with our Nikon Coolpix brings up the fact that now with computerized photography we can shoot the equivalent of several 36 exposure rolls of 35mm color film and not freak-out over the price of the material and subsequent development costs. The down side of the freedom to do an extensive amount of shooting at a news event is that there is a massive amount of boring clerk work for a photo librarian to be done.
The fact that a California housewife won a Pulitzer Prize in Photography for taking a photo of a highway accident, can be used to segue into another story from 2011 that will be ignored by Murdoch’s marauders: Citizen journalists will not (based on preliminary legal precedents being set in 2011) be accorded the same legal safeguards that are available to professional journalists carrying a Press Pass.
That, in turn, brings up another development in the journalism world that will be ignored by Murdoch’s wage-slaves: the increasing number of times when legitimate members of the press are treated like the protesters being rounded up.
That brings up yet another important but unlikely candidate for inclusion on the top ten stories lists: If, as we have been assured, protesters, who are arrested for trespassing, have committed a routine misdemeanor and will not have to worry about anything but a minor fine; why then are people now collecting funds to be used by arrested protesters facing expensive court proceedings?
Will Murdoch’s propagandists include stories about abuses by the privatized prison industry on their list of the year’s top news stories?
Will horrific prison conditions, as revealed by the events at Attica about forty years ago, become one of this year’s top ten stories or will the Project Censored group be the only ones drawing attention to obscure stories such as the one the Los Angeles Weekly ran recently denouncing the conditions in the L. A. County Jail for prisoners with handicaps?
Is the “Island of Trash,” caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan, which is slowly drifting towards the USA’s West Coast, going to have any radio active trash when it arrives? Why was fighting the recently ended War in Iraq during 2011 more important than spending money on efforts to minimize the “Island of Trash” threat?
Will any of Murdoch’s practitioners of “fair and balanced” journalism castigate the Jubba the Hut legislative style of Republican Politicians during 2011 or will they ignore the conservatives’ sit down strike and pretend that it’s all President Obama’s fault?
Recently storms on the West Coast have caused some trees in Sequoia National Park to fall down. Is it true that some well known conservative executive with ties to the lumber industry has paid to acquire the fallen timber and will use it to make gavels for various conservative judges around the USA?
Will the Oscar competition for the Best Picture of 2011 produce a heavy weight championship battle between Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg?
Will “No taxes; no mercy” (i.e. no taxes for the rich; no mercy for the poor) be the bumper sticker summary of future historians for the year 2011?
If we had gone to Occupy Oakland, Occupy San Francisco, and Occupy Cal events and taken some photos which would be appropriate for use with a Year-in-Review column, that would tend to indicate that our news value judgment was in synchronization with the editors of Time magazine and that we were only being facetious when we went to San Francisco on Friday December 16, 2011, to take a photo of their new exhibit to use as an illustration for our top ten news stories of the year column.
Wouldn’t that be a bit overboard even for a guy with an Irish-Apache heritage (and most likely related to Che Guevara) or would that be spot on?
Will the quote of the year be: “This is what a police state looks like!”?
The disk jockey should probably pick a song by Amy Winehouse or Lady Gaga as the one tune that will always evoke memories of 2011, but since he is a bit of an old foggy who is blissfully unaware that the Sixties are over, he will play us out with the Stones, “Satisfaction,” Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” (because they conjure up vivid memories of better years). We have to go see if we can get tickets for a revival of “Hair.” Have a “Beggar’s Banquet” type week.
I was just told by my dentist that I need three cavities filled, two teeth crowned and two root canals. We’re talking at least $10,000 here, probably more. But who has that kind of money these days? Looks like pretty soon I’m going to have to go toothless. But I won’t be alone. 99% of the rest of America may be facing toothlessness too. What an ugly country we will become — nothing but gums.
Also, I pretty much can’t afford to travel any more, but that’s okay. Scottish journalist David Pratt now does most of my traveling for me — and sends his reports from all corners of the world back to the Glasgow Sunday Herald, which then forwards them to me.
Pratt’s latest report is from the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, where women and children live in such unbelievable poverty that even I can’t believe it. As part of a series entitled “Women of the World’s Worst Slums,” Pratt spells it all out for us. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/the-women-of-the-worlds-worst-slums.16118795
“I wanted to find out for myself what it’s like for the women here who lead a life of fear, unremitting toil, and who worry constantly over the disease and hunger that stalks their children. In the back alleyways of [Nairobi's two largest] slums I was to meet four such women, young and not so young. What follows is a glimpse into their hopes, fears and above all fight for survival in the heart of this human abyss.”
The first woman that Pratt interviewed was 21-year-old Purity Atieno, who lives in little more than a wooden crate, in a neighborhood flooded with human feces, sewage and rats. Hardly out of her teens, Purity is already the mother of three sons. Pratt didn’t actually comment on whether or not Purity’s babies were a result of her having to sell her body in order to buy food, or of the constant rapes perpetrated against women here night and day — but he did state that she constantly had to deal with the rapists who prowled through her community each night.
Next, Juan Gonzalez of “Democracy Now” interviewed Yanar Mohammed from Baghdad, who informed us that Iraq is currently one big hot mess as a result of Junior’s stupid and unnecessary war. “And the biggest loser out of all of this are the women…. At a women’s organization, we daily meet women who are vulnerable to being bought and sold in the flesh market. We see widows who have no source of income, and nobody to get them IDs for themselves and their children, because they have been internally displaced. So poverty and discrimination against women has become the norm.”
She then goes on to state that there is now a whole generation of women in Iraq who are totally illiterate — as compared to all the many female college graduates there under Saddam Hussein. http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/16/iraqi_womens_activist_rebuffs_us_claims
And then there’s the good old USA. I don’t have to travel widely here at all — because I can see what is happening to women in America just by traveling to nearby homeless encampments. And a lot of women at the encampments are toothless too, just like I’m going to be soon.
And if Republicans have their way, American women will also be hungry, illiterate, jobless, barefoot and pregnant as well.
But as Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” Isn’t it time that freedom’s arc started bending toward justice for women too?
No, ladies, that arc is never gonna bend toward us voluntarily. If we ever want that to happen, we alone are gonna have to stop the killing, stop the raping, stop the war machine and stop the war-on-women all by ourselves.
And to paraphrase a famous cautionary quote about Nazis, “First they came for our daughters — and I did nothing. Then they came for the crones and then they came for all women. And I did nothing. And now there is no one left to reproduce the human race.” Too bad for you.
PS: So how, exactly, will we women — never outnumbered but always out-gunned — still manage to fight back? Perhaps by copying guerrilla tactics used recently by Occupy Portland: Retreat and advance like the wind, don’t ever let them pin us down — and do it all to music, especially rock and roll. http://www.portlandoccupier.org/2011/12/15/occupy-portland-outsmarts-police-creating-blueprint-for-other-occupations/
PPS: Forget what I just said. If we women ever do start to fight back against injustice, then every woman on the planet will be instantly labeled a terrorist — not to mention being charged with committing “economic violence,” whatever that is.