January 31, 2012

Press passes? Press passes? We don’t gotta show you no stinkin’ press passes.

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 9:33 pm

In the late Seventies, after a PSA jet crashed in the San Diego area, Time magazine sent a writer from their Los Angeles bureau, Doug Brew, down to San Diego to cover that news event. When he approached the wreck area, there was a police perimeter line and he was stopped and challenged. He showed the officer a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office Press Pass saying he was a reporter for the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers in Santa Monica and the officer said “You’re OK, boy, you can go on through.”

The fellow had dual citizenship in the world of Journalism. He was the editor of the weekly Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers and simultaneously functioned as a reporter for Time Magazine’s Los Angeles bureau on a “stringer” basis. Without a Press Pass he would have been in a difficult dilemma but with it, he had no problems about getting the story for Time Magazine. Good thing he had the Press Pass.

Initially Doug Brew had been reluctant to do all the bureaucratic work necessary to get Press Passes for the news staff at the weekly Independent Journal Newspapers in Santa Monica, but one day, after being challenged by a Santa Monica Police Department officer, while riding his bicycle to the IJ office, he relented and agreed it might be good to have the Press Passes “just in case.” The other fellow on the news department staff had been very enthusiastic about getting the Press Passes and made the suggestion about getting them.

After the PSA incident, Brew was glad that he had been convinced to make the effort to secure the Press Passes and verbally expressed that sentiment to a co-worker. Little did he know that would provide the led for a column on the Internets about 35 years later.

“♫Those were the days, my friend, we thought they’d never end . . . ♫”

The process included being fingerprinted and photographed and having the editor’s application submitted by the Publisher.

In 1973, there were three young men who worked for the IJ newspapers. One went on to become one of the people listed toward the top of the Playboy masthead; Brew went on to become Time Magazine’s White House correspondent during the Reagan administration. The third one went on to International Fame as the World’s Laziest Journalist.

According to Gavin Aronsen’s first hand account of the events (for the Mother Jones website[Click this link: that occurred in Oakland on Saturday night, a woman reporter with a Press Pass issued by the San Francisco Police Department was detained by Oakland Police Department. The OPD pointed out that she was in Oakland not Frisco before arresting her.

Initial reports state that there were six reporters who were taken to various jail facilities in the Alameda County area as part of the mass arrests in Oakland.

Subsequently the reporters were released.

Apparently the principle of “Interline Courtesy” among various Police agencies has changed since the Seventies.

Has Oakland Police Department unilaterally adopted the Las Vegas philosophy of “What Happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” or is there something else more ominous and disturbing going on all across the USA, that could form the basis for a trend-spotting story?

If William L. Shirer, who wrote “Berlin Diary,” were still alive this writer would try to contact him and see if he could provide any insights or make any comparisons to events he witnessed years ago to the events that happened Saturday night, but we can’t do that. He is dead and so we will let it go at that.

The reader is invited to formulate whatever “jump to conclusions” analysis he (or she) wants to accompany this report.

Won’t Uncle Rushbo, and other talk show hosts of that ilk, try to whip up a hysterical level of schadenfreude concerning the trials and tribulations of the reporters and then goad the rubes into voting for a Conservative?

To be continued . . .

The Lying of the Right: The Bush Taboo


January 30, 2012

God Bless Republican Swingers?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 9:30 pm

Some recent tidbits of information which have landed in the World’s Laziest Journalist’s inbox indicate that it may be time to write a column about the possibility that Republican Party may soon need to redefine their stand on the Sanctity of Marriage.

Item no. one is the fact that after admitting that he had asked his wife for an open marriage, Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina Primary.

Item no. two: Playboy magazine is about to begin marking the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the Playboy Philosophy series.

Item no. three: A caller to the Norm Goldman radio talk show pointed out that the Republicans discredited Herman Kane because of clandestine love affairs, but the Republicans are giving Newt the old “See no evil” response for his request for an open marriage. The caller automatically accused the Republicans of being racist in their diverse reactions. It never occurred to that caller that the difference is the transparency of the need for diversity. Kane relied on deceit. Newt prefers the philosophy of openness and Swinging.

Item no. four: We found our paperback copy of Gay Talese’s book “Thy Neighbor’s Wife.”

Since a large portion of journalism in America these days is based on celebrity gossip wouldn’t a Swinging couple in the White House be a godsend to the Political desks in newsrooms all across the USA? Can you just imagine how enthusiastic the coverage of a visit by a Swinging first family to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s home would be?

Newt could elicit (not to be confused with the word illicit) comparisons to JFK by quipping to the press: “I’m the man who is accompanying Callista to Paris.”

Didn’t the wife of a Canadian Prime Minister generate extensive gossip and criticism of her husband by being a fan of the Rolling Stones band, a few years back?

Reality TV is very popular on cable these days. Perhaps it’s time for an adventuresome production company to make a deal with a swingers group? How about a series titled “Return to the A-Frame”?

If you think that despising the boss is a universal manifestation of a natural workers’ tendency then you have never talked with writers who have gotten a check from Larry Flynt Publications. Some Conservative Compassionate Christians may not (openly) agree with Flynt’s liberal attitude toward sex, but isn’t it remarkable when all of a fellow’s employees speak well of the boss?

Do people who get a chance to visit the Playboy Mansion brag about the experience or do they treat it as if it were a shameful incident which must quickly be forgotten? Who doesn’t want an invitation to visit there? Would Bishop Sheen have turned down such an opportunity?

Are Hugh Hefner’s employees inundated with requests for a chance to see their boss’ home? Is this year’s Playboy Mansion Halloween Party already booked to capacity?
Remind us to ask a former co-worker at the Independent Journal that question the next time we visit Santa Monica.

On page 220 of the Dell Book paperback edition of “Thy Neighbors Wife,” Gay Talese wrote: “The Berkeley Free Speech Movement in 1965, which forged its slogan from the initials of a four-letter word (“Freedom Under Clark Kerr”), as well as civil rights protests in the South, and the subsequent anti-war demonstrations and marches on Washington – the sit-ins, the teach-ins, the love-ins – all were manifestations of a new generation that was less sexually repressed than its ancestors and also less willing to respect political authority and social tradition, color barriers and draft boards, deans and priests.”

Wouldn’t the people who graduated in the Class of 1965, just now be getting to be Presidential Candidate age? What college did Newt attend? Could it be that the flower power generation is just now getting its chance to do what they said LBJ and Nixon couldn’t or wouldn’t do?

Is Newt just now getting ready to bring the party that once included George Romney, into the era of the Playboy Philosophy . . . or has Newt been “brainwashed”?

While we are on the subject, aren’t all the top Republicans encouraging the current field of candidates to tear each other apart? Crocodile tears? Where are the candidates spending their campaign funds? On ads, right? Who owns the newspapers and TV stations around the USA? Usually it’s conservative Republicans, eh? If the top Republicans are raking in the ad revenue stirred up by the continuing series of Primary cage matches and if the same media moguls plan to pull a fast one and substitute someone else as the candidate, then, metaphorically speaking, aren’t a lot of donors to the various Republican candidates “getting their ashes hauled” by the “three card Monte” style subterfuge?

We thought that all the boys in the One Percent Club had mutual non-aggression pacts with each other and the idea was to be relentless in squeezing every last dollar from every last bank account of the Ninty Nine Percenters.

If (hypothetically alert!) there is some kind of nefarious plan to put someone other than the fab four at the top of the ticket, then aren’t some members of the One Percent Club committing a fraud that will relieve some of their fellow club members of some serious amounts of money? Why donate to a fellow who is predestined not to get the nomination? Why should a candidate who is being cheated out of any fair chance to be nominated spend ad dollars to try to get spurious (if you don’t know what that word means ask a Fox News fan) votes?

It’s OK for the Republicans to fool Democrats into thinking that the Presidential elections (2000 and 2004 for instance) are not rigged, but wouldn’t it be dishonest for someone to rig the Republican Primary Election process? Isn’t there a secret “honor among thieves” clause in the Republican Party secret handbook that precludes such a fiendish double-cross?

On Monday, January 30, 2012, the New York Times featured a story on page one (above the fold), written by Jeff Zeleny, that drew attention to the curious fact that Jeb Bush, has remained curiously silent (above the fray?) about endorsing any candidate to help draw votes in Tuesday’s Florida Primary. Isn’t it intriguing that such an influential Republican who served as that state’s governor isn’t making an endorsement?

Is this an example of the B’rer Rabbit’s “Please don’t throw me in that briar patch” philosophy being applied to politics?

Haven’t Romney and Gingrich destroyed each other’s ability to represent the entire Party membership? Doesn’t that indicate that a spectator on the sidelines who didn’t get into the mudslinging free-for-all would be much better qualified to use the word “we” when giving an acceptance speech to the 2012 Republican National Convention?

Meanwhile returning to this column’s topic: Did Gingrich see and enjoy the heist flick “Bandits”? A trio of bank robbers had an unconventional love relationship. It sounds like just the kind of action adventure movie that would appeal to open-minded folks. What does Mitt think about that flick? We’d love to hear his review of “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.”

The other most likely person to get the Republican nomination is a fellow who belongs to a religion that permits polygamy. Either way, it seems that the Republican Party has to realize that if their candidate wins the Presidential race, the Grand Old Party is going to have to reconfigure its policy on the Sanctity of Marriage .

This column’s closing quote was provided by someone who shall be called “an anonymous source,” and was heard as it was uttered by the World’s Laziest Journalist. “When I saw a picture of my wife in her underwear, sitting on Mick Jagger’s lap, I knew my marriage was over.” (Wasn’t the Stones’ best selling single, “Angie,” written about David Bowie’s wife?)

Now the disk jockey will play Jimmy Buffet’s song “Let’s get drunk and screw,” the Beatles’ song “Let’s do it in the road,” and Francis Albert Sinatra’s album “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers.” We have to get back to reading a fabulous book titled “Velvet Underground.” As the leader of the rat pack would say: “Have a ring-ding-ding” week.

Newt ‘n’ Mitt: Republican Populists?


January 29, 2012

Threats & Bribes: Why U.S. troops will never leave Afghanistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Jane Stillwater @ 9:33 pm

I read somewhere that if you want your children to do what you tell them to do, there are only two things that actually work: Threats and bribes. Well, the same thing should be true with regard to international relations — but it’s not.

Internationally speaking, threats and bribes have obviously gotten American corporatist leaders absolutely nowhere.

After decades and decades of administering extremely serious threats and fantastically huge bribes (involving both Cold Wars and hot), American corporatists still aren’t even close to being obeyed — or even respected — by most other countries on this planet. American corporatists nowadays are just simply being hated.

Instead of having other countries instantly obey Washington and Wall Street like they were a bunch of obedient and/or traumatized children, all these so-called “kids” obviously have become passive-aggressive haters instead — and sometimes not all that passive as well.

Take Pakistan for instance. In 1947, shortly after it had become a nation, Pakistan willingly and happily signed on to become one of America’s most important allies in the Great Game. And now, as of May 2011, diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the U.S. have completely disintegrated — but only after a very long time (60 years-plus) spent with Pakistan being the recipient of a whole laundry list of heavy-duty threats and almost-obscene bribes from American corporatists.

I just got back from a friend’s birthday party — where I received the entire 411 on Pakistan from a Middle East expert standing over by the hors d’oeuvre table. “When American troops entered Pakistan in [alleged] pursuit of bin Ladin, then Pakistanis considered that as an invasion.” Okay. Invasion seems like a rather large threat.

“So now Pakistan has finally stopped being our close ally and, thanks to Washington’s bad timing, has become a rogue state with a nuclear bomb — a loose cannon — instead.”

In the matter of US-Pakistan relations, threats and bribes clearly haven’t worked. Oops. Sorry about that.

And then there’s Iran. Currently, our corporatist-controlled mainstream media is busy spreading erroneous rumors that Iran has a nuclear weapons program — and should be stopped at any cost. Even Elizabeth Warren, who surely should know better, is swallowing up this falsehood hook, line and sinker. What nuclear weapons program? Iranians don’t have one. But even if they did, who could blame them for wanting one after having spent the past 45 years at the business-end of corporatist America’s threats and bribes.

But we all know that the corporatists’ latest flurry of war-drum-beating is, once again, not about nuclear weapons or other WMDs– it’s all about oil. But even so, threats and bribes clearly haven’t worked with regard to stealing Iran’s oil either.


And then there’s good old Macedonia. “Huh?” you might shrug. “What’s Macedonia got to do with all this?” Well, American corporatists, at considerable expense to us ever-gullible American taxpayers, has just built a HUGE new military complex in Macedonia — because it is within bombing range of the Middle East. So. Did you know that American corporatists now have an exciting new vacation home in good old Macedonia? I thought not.

Now let’s take a look at the total mess and disaster that corporatists have created by bribing Israelis and threatening Palestinians.  Ugh.  What ever happened to “Repair the World”?

Plus don’t forget Afghanistan. According to that expert I met at the birthday party over guacamole and cheese sticks, American corporatists’ interests (as compared to the interests of just poor slobs like you and me, mere voters and taxpayers) will NEVER let U.S. troops leave Afghanistan. “Why is that?” I asked, while reaching for the Gouda and rye.

“Because of its strategic location, right next door to both Pakistan and Iran — and, of course, to Russia and China.” Four countries who have the chutzpah to withstand American corporatist takeovers.

So American corporatists now have huge bases in Afghanistan and Macedonia (and don’t forget Israel, Iraq and Kuwait) — whose main purpose seems to be to surround Iran, Pakistan, Russia and China with huge threats.

And there’s one more country that I forgot to mention where corporatist threats and bribes may not be working either — America itself. Even despite all the recent tear gas in Oakland and New York City and all the happy promises offered by Fox News, Americans are also starting to wise up and act like rebellious children — Hansel and Gretel to be specific.

Carrots and sticks. Threats and bribes.

However, American corporatists are NOT dealing with little kids here — but rather with adult human beings and sovereign nations. And so their authoritarian theory of threats and bribes — a theory that appears to work well on easily-cowed kindergarteners — is not doing so good when forced down the throats of grown-up countries like Iran, Pakistan, Russia, China, and even the U.S.

As evidenced by the failure of Washington’s and Wall Street’s multi-trillion-dollar post-WWII foreign policies that have forced the rest of the world’s 99 percent into today’s sorry state of disequilibrium between uber-rich and downtrodden, threats and bribes just don’t work all that well in the sphere of international relations. Cooperation between nations and peoples works better.

And, come to think of it, encouraging cooperation also works better on real children too!

PS: The birthday party turned out to be a great success. A birthday was celebrated, deep ideas were discussed — and there was plenty of food. And speaking of food, I also talked to an expert on America’s failing food production system. Apparently our lack of food supply sustainability is gonna screw up America’s future bigtime, happily giving us cancer, among other things. [Monsanto & Cancer Milk: Fox News Kills Story and Fires Reporters]

And I also talked to someone who stated that the future of America ultimately depends on the success or failure of its small businesses — not on placating huge greedy corporations who will do anything for money. “Did you know that WalMart opens approximately 30 big-box stores per month? And that each one of these monsters causes at least ten small local business to fail because they can’t compete with WalMart’s artificially-lowered prices, sweat-shop imports and tax breaks received for outsourcing?”

He also lamented the fact that, over in Afghanistan, authorities openly ask for baksheesh because baksheesh is an accepted custom, understood for what it is: A bribe. “But over here in America, these same bribes are disguised and made legal by being called various fog-enshrouding names such as building permit fees, business licenses, liquor licenses, tax codes requirements, parking charges, payments to for-profit health insurance companies, etc. that nickel-and-dime American small businesses to death. But baksheesh is baksheesh, no matter what you call it.”

Threats and bribes. Not working! Let’s try cooperation instead.


Ye Olde Scribe Presents: Inventions We’re Unlikely to See

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ye Olde Scribe @ 6:35 pm

Political Brand Duct Tape

Tired of all the gunk pouring out of candidates mouths? Like actual duct tape, political duct tape doesn’t work on ducts…  or actual ducks. (Feathers get in the way, though classic movies like Horse Feathers or Duck Soup can be heard through it. Hail Freedonia!) But political duct tape is engineered to hold in all the foolish bile pouring out of the candidates, pundits and pols mouths. Can only be spoken through if the words are respectful and make an ounce of sense.

Guaranteed to make it a  more peaceful, quieter, world.


The Dyson Sack-less Penis


The arrests started early at Move In Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:47 pm

The first arrest
Marcher prepares to step off at Ogawa Plaza
Protesters at Ogawa Plaza watch events live-streamed from elsewhere

Those, who have made the prediction that Oakland will be the place that will provide a plausible reason for conservatives to assert that martial law is needed in the United States to maintain order, just got a specific newsworthy example of how things could hypothetically get so out of control that the only possible remedy would be a brief experiment with martial law.

Stories have been emerging in the regional news media that predict that the budgetary crisis in the city of Oakland will soon require a need to bring some national control over the Oakland Police Department.

Since the topic of what happened in Oakland starting at noon on Saturday, January 28, 2012 will be a popular subject for use on the Internets during the coming week, and since a columnist/photographer, who contributes regularly to this website, was a witness with a Nikon Coolpix for the first four hours of the Move In Day Protest, we will provide readers with a subjective report on Oakland’s latest contribution to the evolving history of the Occupy Movement.

Since the World’s Laziest Journalist is particularly fond of the coffee sold at De Lauer’s Newsstand (you read that right it’s an old fashioned store that specializes in newspapers and magazines) we went to Oakland and arrived about a half hour before the noon event was scheduled to begin.

There was about a hundred protesters gathered on the North side of Frank Ogawa plaza when we arrived. We took the opportunity to take some photos of the signs and artwork because, even if the event turned out to be a total non-story, pictures of the signs would be the kind of feature photos that one website could use later.

Just before noon a fellow came up to the World’s Laziest Journalist and requested that we not take photos that showed protesters’ faces.

At morning coffee earlier in Berkeley, a fellow in Berkeley predicted that there would be no arrests would be made at the day’s event.

The OPD (Oakland Police Department) got the first arrest on the scoreboard before the event was five minutes old thus giving writers the opportunity to use a sports metaphor such as a kick-off return that produces a touchdown.

The protesters took a winding march route that led them to the campus of Laney College where it looked like, to this columnist, they were cordoned off. Then protesters who were passing by reported that local news media was reporting that the protesters had moved to a new location to the north of the College.

At the college one police officer advised citizens to stay as far away from the event as they could. Recently in similar news events in the greater San Francisco Bay area, reporters with press credentials have been detained along with protesters and so the advice seemed, to a fellow who no longer carries a current press pass, like sound advice.

If nothing else, the police and protesters seem unanimous on the idea that photographers should get lost.

When this photographer covered an event known as the Venice Canal Riot in the Seventies it didn’t seem like fatigue was a factor in the day’s events.

Why then could that same photographer now claim that after only four hours of walking around Oakland, going back to Frank Ogawa Plaza to catch a bus going back to Berkeley, might cause some negative comments on his next job performance report?

In the old days when carrying a Nikon F and needing the skill of loading 35 mm film onto a Nikor reel was part of the job qualifications, it was necessary to be aware of deadline limitations. The photographer had to be aware of the time not only in Los Angeles, but in other cities in the USA.

A sports photo that moved at 9 p.m. PST, would arrive in sports departments on the East Coast at midnight, which was deadline time for getting material into the next morning street edition.

It was a commonly accepted rule of thumb that if a photographer didn’t see his work move on the wire before 6 p.m. Pacific Time, it didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of being used by the Los Angeles Times.

There are, we understand, some state of the art digital cameras that can download onto the Internets directly and instantaneously from the scene where news has occurred. We understand that live steam video “live from the scene” is being provided to some people with the right computer equipment.

We got a feature style photo of a hand held device showing a teargas attack somewhere in Oakland to the protesters at back Frank Ogawa Plaza. No deadline lag there.

Santa Claus has not yet delivered any computer hardware that would drastically shorten the amount of time that the World’s Laziest Journalist requires to post any material online. We have to go back to the laptop, download the files from the Coolpix, edit the images and select the best ones, then go to a place where a wifi connection can be accessed, and then post photos and a story on the Internets.

A quick check of the Internets on the way back to the laptop in Berkeley provide a glimpse of some excellent images on the Contra Costa Times website and that had the effect of slightly diminishing the World’s Laziest Journalist’s level of enthusiasm for the process of posting.

On Saturday night, we noted that KCBS’s hourly CBS radio network news was very focused on the fact that Herman Kane had endorsed Newt Gingrich. While we were listening and editing the digital images, KCBS reported that the Protesters had entered a WMCA and interacted with some people there who were exercising.

Obviously the explanation of just what going into that place had to do with the day’s announced goal of entering an abandoned building and establishing a claim that such a move was a humanitarian effort to provide shelter for the homeless will have to be elaborated by the nebulous Occupy Movement protesters, who take pride in featuring no management hierarchy that can provide authoritative replies to any reporter’s inquiries.

Initially, the unexplained visit to the YMCA, which KCBS reported added another one hundred arrests to the scoreboard, might seem inappropriate as part of the argument that action has to be taken to prove that empty office building might be a viable alternative to the Occupy Campsites which drew extensive criticism attributed to local business men.

By 6 a.m. Sunday morning, KCBS was reporting that the total number of arrests had risen to the 300 level.

The Sunday 7 a.m. PST CBS radio network newscast made a brief mention of the Move In Day arrests in Oakland.

Some protesters entered the Oakland City Hall on Saturday evening. Initially KCBS was relaying the information that photographers at the City Hall had noticed that the protesters did not have to force entry to the facility. By Sunday morning, reports stated that Occupy protesters had broken into the City Hall and then trashed the place.

On a quiet Sunday morning in Berkeley, the columnist/photographer wrote up his subjective report on the newsworthy Saturday protest and then planned to travel to a place where he could post it.

What makes it worthwhile for a fellow to spend all that time and effort to produce something which conservatives will ridicule as glorifying thugs and liberals, other than the ones who stumble across it where it is posted, will ignore? . . .

Can we get back to your later with the answer to that question?

Young Mitt: Mormon Gambler


January 27, 2012

Joey Biden, Alexey Brodovitch, and Bon Scott together again (for the first time) in this weekend wrap-up column

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:39 pm

Statue in Fremantle
Flower power!
Snapshot collecting is a trend in Berkeley CA

[Note: In an effort to enhance the reading on the humor scale, this column will be found to contain trace elements of braggadocio and fabricated verisimilitude.]

Due to the fact that a member of the Fortyniners did his imitation of Bill Bruckner style clutch performance twice in one game last Sunday, we are obliged [It’s never fun to lose a bet] to start this week’s weekend wrap up by plugging a blog (
{did she say it was the Cadillac of blogs or a blog about Cadillacs?}) for a Giants fan and then proceeding on to our regularly scheduled ration of amazingly perceptive and insightful political punditry interwoven with unique observations about pop culture.

Are the mainstream media pundits pointing out the absurd spectacle presented by the fact that a year long cavalcade of clichés proclaiming that the most important Presidential election ever? It is starting with a concerted effort by top Republican personalities to discredit the two leading candidates. How dare the Republican rank ’n’ file voters think that they can select the nominee! Isn’t the core principle of a Republic that only qualified persons (such as men who own land) can vote? Well then only folks like Bob Dole and Karl Rove should be consulted when it comes time to write a news story that will refer to “the Republican frontrunner.”

If it ain’t gonna be Romney or Gingrich, then who will it be? If the experts on the weekend shouting matches can’t tell you that, do you really expect the World’s Laziest Journalist to make an accurate prediction which will spoil the surprise? Here’s a hint: what totally qualified Republican has the initials: J. E. B.?

The Republicans lately have been rather insistent about starting a tiny, quick war with Iran. The Republicans always harshly criticize everything Obama does. If President Obama starts a war with Iran; will that force the Republicans into making a tough fielder’s choice decision? They can either cheer him on in the conduct of a blitzkrieg in the Gulf or they can denounce him for doing what they wanted to do.

Even if President Obama starts a new war they really want, and even if he personally goes into battle and wins a Medal of Honor and the war is won in thirty minutes, the Republicans would sincerely ridicule that as being a despicable inept spectacle that has brought shame and dishonor to the country.

Where can we get a photo that contrasts flower power with a soldier’s weapon to illustrate the dilemma facing the USA this week? There was an iconic Sixties image that showed a hippie guy placing the stem of a flower into the barrel of an M-1. That image is rather common on the Internets, but we won’t use it because we don’t know who owns the rights to the famous shot, so that makes getting permission to use that shot a moot question.

Berkeley CA is rather synonymous with both flower power and anti-war demonstrations and, as luck would have it, to promote the current production at the Ashby Stage (home of the Shotgun Players) a relevant new mural is being used to tout it. It is a graphic design featuring an M-16 with a flower dangling from the gun barrel. Click. Voila! We now have in our possession, a digital file of an image that makes getting permission to use it seem like a schizophrenic’s soliloquy .

Who knew that being an online columnist would eventually require a fellow to acquire a stockpile of stock photos and a handbook full of information about the art director’s job?
(Most columnists online or in print journalism have probably never heard of Alexey Brodovitch, let alone aspire to his level of art direction achievements in page layout and photo illustrations to supplement the text on the page.)

Did other political pundits report that on a fundraising visit to San Francisco, the columnist’s old grade school classmate Joey Biden suffered a verbal malfunction that revealed his lack of sports expertise show? The gaff landed Biden on page one of the San Francisco Examiner the next day for saying that the Giants were going to the Superbowl. Wouldn’t a photo of the security detail assigned to the Vice President be an example of an anemic illustration for a weekend wrap up that runs more than a week later?

It’s tough enough to get up early, pound out a column that the writer hopes is entertaining and informative augmented by (occasionally) topics that are subsequently used in the main stream media, and then go to a public library to get access to the Internets to post it; but when you add on the duties of a photographer and an amateur art director to the “to do” list, that makes it all the more time consuming. Herb Caen, who wrote a daily column in San Francisco for sixty years never had to spend time finding a photo that was relevant to his column, did he?

What if the columnist’s stock photo files have some nifty photos of Bon Scott’s statue in Fremantle Western Australia, but he didn’t get any images of the Occupy the Cal Library news story during the week? Will UCB students be upset that the library story wasn’t covered by the photographer? Do kids these days even know who Bon Scott was? Well, such a shot would be sure to draw about one Google searching person somewhere in the world to the site every day for years to come. Unfortunately no American website would be willing to reimburse the photographer for the expenses that would be incurred in the effort to get such images.

What if the journalist’s trend-spotting radar picks up a regional anomaly? If snapshot collecting is not becoming popular anywhere else but in Berkeley and if the columnist gets caught up in the “hobby,” does it deserve to be a trend-spotting column topic? Is a decades old photo print considered to be in the public domain? Would the topic of snapshot collecting be a valid excuse for running an intriguing old snapshot with no caption material?

The columnist seems to find images featuring old automobiles irresistible even on a tight budget. Someday, if we ever write a trend-spotting column about snapshot collecting, we will probably have several eye-catching images to go with it.

A homeless writer in Berkeley CA caused a bit of a small sensation online this week by challenging Mitt Romney to do a Prince and the Pauper routine and trade places. The Berkeley fellow, James Richard Armstrong II, is on Facebook and looking to expand his fan base by adding more readers to his list of friends, so folks who want to follow his progress can go to that site and send him an invitation to be an e-friend. A good portrait of him would have been a good photo illustration for this column.

If Corporations are going to have the same rights and privileges as people, then when will they be permitted to compete in the Olympic Games? Wouldn’t the New York Yankees kick ass in the baseball competition? Life magazine has collected the 100 best sports pictures for a gallery on their website.

We were introduced to a fellow in Berkeley this week whose claim to fame was being “Louie the Turkey” on some Frank Zappa recordings. Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of the fellow.

On Saturday, Occupy Oakland is planning an event which, if the World’s Laziest Journalist goes, might provide some acceptable accompanying news photos for a weekend warp-up column that will get posted next Friday.

The quest for good photos will continue . . .

Alexey Brodovitch has been quoted as saying:
A. “This disease of our age is boredom… The way to combat this is by invention – by surprise. When I say a good picture has surprise value, I mean that it stimulates my thinking and intrigues me.”
B. “A good picture must be a completely individual expression which intrigues the viewer and forces him to think.”
C. “If [an artist] is to maintain his integrity, he must be responsible to himself; he must seek a public which will accept his vision, rather than pervert his vision to fit that public.”
D. “If you see something you have seen before, don’t click the shutter.”
E. All of the above.

Now the disk jockey will play “Kodachrome,” Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite,” and Ferrantey and Teicher’s “Canadian Sunset.” We have to go find a movie theater showing “Hugo” in 2-D. Have a “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” type week.

Newt ‘n’ Mitt’s Future?


January 26, 2012

Cartoon: How Mitt Romney Was Hired at Bain


January 24, 2012

The GOP Master Debaters Updated


Elizabeth George: Murder mysteries are more than just crime novels

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Jane Stillwater @ 6:20 pm

Before this month, I had never even heard of Elizabeth George. But then I read where she will be the featured guest of honor at next year’s BoucherCon mystery writers’ and fans’ convention in Cleveland — so I sorta felt obligated to read some of her stuff. And boy am I glad that I did. George is not only a master of the crime novel genre, but she’s also clearly the master of almost any fiction genre you can name.

So when Books, Inc. in Alameda announced that George was giving a talk the other day, I just had to go. And after George had talked for about two minutes, it became instantly clear that she was saying important stuff and so I started taking notes as she expounded on what it means to be a writer — and how to do it too. Here are my notes:

“When writing, the most important thing involved is not what the author thinks — but what the characters are thinking. Some novels are plot-driven but most are character-driven, and so paying attention to your characters is paramount.

“I prefer to write crime novels because the crime itself serves as a vehicle to get through a book’s need for a plot. I trick people into thinking that it’s a crime novel — but actually I’m writing social commentary and so can explore issues broader than just the crime.” Aha.

“The reason that I write about the British is because of the challenge involved. When you use that old formula ‘Write what you know,’ you run the risk of writing the same book over and over, and I never want to write the same book twice.” Plus we all know that learning new things is good for one’s brain cells — and mine could use all the help they can get.

“And writing about a place where you don’t live is also easier because it’s easier to see the nuances of a place that you’re not familiar with. And since the setting should always be considered a main character too, you can also be more objective. Plus I’m lucky that my editor encourages me to make every book different instead of demanding the same cookie-cutter approach to all my characters and locations.”

One of George’s most well-known books is, “What Came Before He Shot Her,” which tells us how Inspector Thomas Lynley’s pregnant wife Helen came to be gunned down on her own front doorstep. “My challenge was to make Joel Campbell, the boy charged with the crime, to be as sympathetic as Helen Lynley.”

Several of George’s books have been used as the basis for a Masterpiece Theater series on the BBC. How does she feel about that? “I am a novelist. That is my art form. So I don’t get caught up in the motion picture aspects. I’m not involved, so it’s no big deal what the BBC does or doesn’t do with my characters — although I was disappointed that they turned my novels into straight mystery stores and left out so much of the social-commentary nuances.” She also mentioned that she’s not interested in doing another BBC series again.

And why did George choose to write books? “I wrote my first novels simply to entertain myself, but I had known that I was a writer since I was age seven. When I began to write this series, I didn’t know much about my characters but, as I wrote, the information slowly appeared. For instance I originally didn’t know that Inspector Lynley even had a brother — let alone that he was an addict. Or that there was a gulf between him and his mother. And I found all that out only as I was writing the books. It’s all about creating a character in fiction.”

How did George master the Caribbean-flavored dialects she used in “What Came Before He Shot Her”? Lots of research. “I wanted to write about characters doing the best that they can under very difficult circumstances. That was my first goal. Then I went to the Black housing estates themselves in order to learn the dialect spoken there, that Joel Campbell would have used. Writing dialect is tricky. If you write everything in dialect, it is quite hard to read — so you look for and use only key words that only illustrate that a dialect is being used. For instance, Joel uses the slang version of ‘Isn’t it’ a lot here.”

Readers were apparently incensed when George killed off Helen Lynley, comparing it to when Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes. “But I knew several books before she finally got shot that Helen Lynley would have to die because I couldn’t deal with her pregnancy. A baby would have closed the story down. There ain’t much more boring to write about than a baby. At first I thought that a serial killer would bump her off, but that’s just too convenient. Plus in Britain today it’s more common that someone just shoots you for no known reason at all. So that’s what happened to Helen. And although the reader is finally able to see what caused the shooting, the police never do find out either who really did it or why.”

Writing and babies? George may be on to something here. Just look what happened to poor Sylvia Plath. Have you ever tried to write something deep and earnest while a four-year-old is bugging you to watch “The Backyardagans”? No easy task. Moral here? That if Helen Lynley had lived, she would have had a really hard time becoming a novelist?

“How do you go about writing and what would your typical writing day be like?” someone then asked George (that would be me).

“I grew up Catholic and am thus incapable of enjoying life because I feel so guilty if I’m not doing something. So I get up at 4:30 am, go running, and then put in six hours of writing in my office. I try to write at least five pages a day, and am currently working on two novels at the same time — one that takes place in DeLuca, Italy, and one that’s a young-adult novel which takes place on Whidbey Island, where I live. And then I eat lunch and work in the garden or learn Italian in order to clear my head.”

George also swears by Alfred Hitchcock’s famous refrigerator test. “That’s when people are still talking about his film even after they’ve gotten home — and are looking in the refrigerator for a snack and still saying to themselves, ‘Ah, come on. Nobody’s going to do that…’ Will a plot of mine pass the Refrigerator Test?”

What about setting a murder mystery in America, based conflicts here between the One Percent and the 99 percent — similar to the class conflicts in Britain that Inspector Lyndley often deals with?

“No — because the barriers between classes here are permeable, but in the UK it’s virtually impossible to pass through class barriers. For instance, the UK tabloid press absolutely hates that Kate Middleton, whose grandfather was a coal miner, may become queen. It would be harder for me to make class differences in America as believable.”

No problem there. All she would have to write about is how hard it is to penetrate American corporatist dynasties like the Rockefellers, Bushes, Morgans, Rothschilds, Gettys and Waltons (of Wal-Mart fame). I rest my case!

And what about research? “Never let it get in the way of your story. I always write about what I want to learn about — not what I already know. I like to have a challenge when I write.”

So how about this for the ultimate crime-novel-writing challenge: To write about who killed democracy in America and how the corporatist bad guys almost got away with the murder — until Inspector Lynley solves the crime, gets the evil-doers convicted and then puts all these slimy corporatist bastards in jail where they belong.

And then George could definitely have fun combining this murder mystery plot with a LOT of social commentary.


January 23, 2012

Rebels, Outlaws, and Occupy Protesters vs. Republicans?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 9:21 pm

Is it worth the effort to write a column that ties together the W. C. Fields slogan “Never Give a Sucker an even Break,” Ross Thomas’ book title “The Fools in Town Are on our Side,” and the old locker room adage “my wife’s married; but I’m not” and present something that will amuse the hardcore Fox Views audience who believe that they are people with inquiring minds who won’t get fooled again?

So which of the Republicans are the Foxkrieg troops going to embrace this year? Will it be the Rich guy who made millions liquidating American businesses while trying to palm himself off as a Woody Guthrie-ish man of the streets? (Why didn’t he just say “I’m the Wall Street guy”?) Will it be the studly family values = open marriage guy? Will it be Rick “say hello to my little friend” Santorum?

Aren’t contemporary efforts to assess the Republican scramble to select a 2012 Presidential Candidate similar to trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle while participating in the stampede to depart from a sinking ship that has sounded the abandon ship alarm? It is an impossible task so the pundits should embrace the insanity.

Is America ready to do a mind melt with Rupert Murdoch and select soccer as the official American pastime? If anyone can turn soccer hooliganism into a display of American patriotism, surely it will be the Fox analysts, eh? Isn’t Superbowl Sunday going to start with a Manchester United match? Wow! Will all the Tottenham Hotspurs fans tune in to see the Manchester boys get their noses bloodied (figuratively speaking, of course!)?

Have any of the news organizations done an update on the brain cancer victim who was sent to the hospital for daring to root for an out-of-town team at a Hockey match recently?

Don’t sports fans believe in “One sport – One Team – One star player”?

Can’t we all get along and subscribe to a philosophy that asserts “One CEO!” as a (metaphorically speaking) way of supporting whoever gets elected President in November? The Republicans all agree that the Democrats should think that way.

Don’t the skeptics who get so upset with the Occupy Movement urge the protesters to get a job because work will set them free? BFH! (Isn’t that the Brit-texting way of saying Bloody Far-out Hell!”?)

Only Democrats see a contradiction in continuing the foreclosure trend and then telling the homeless families that they can’t sleep in tents in public parks and they can’t stay in abandoned office buildings either. Duh! Ya can’t create jobs in office buildings that have become de facto slum tenements. They have to be ready to house new businesses when the Republicans use the electronic voting machines (with unverifiable results) to replace the incumbent President.

If a Republican is elected President won’t he, like George W. Bush did previously, take military spending off the national budget’s balance sheet and then “abracadabra!” quick as a flash, there will be no deficit and the road to recovery will be smooth sailing for the rest of his term.

To hear the Democrats tell it, if George W. Romney gets elected, he will liquidate the New Deal as fast as possible. Duh, again! If the Republicans scrap the Social Security Program, there won’t be any need to tax the rich, eh?

The Democrats worship Obama to an uncomfortable degree. Isn’t it time to send Willard up there to replace him in the White House? BFH! Are Obama’s methods unsound? Ask some Republicans and they (and their subservient old ladies) will tell you: “I don’t see any method at all!”

What’s the difference between a punk, a rebel (with or without a cause), an outlaw, a rocker, a soccer hooligan, and an Occupy protester?

If there is no difference why don’t some punk rockers, rebels and outlaws hold a benefit concert to raise funds to buy foreclosed buildings to house the tent cities protesters? Do they think that if they raise the money, the banks won’t sell them the abandoned unused office buildings?

A lot of musicians have made a considerable amount of money posing as punks, rebels, and outlaws. If they are going to talk the talk, shouldn’t they be willing to walk the walk?

The Rolling Stones band once made headlines in Great Britain by proclaiming: “We’re the Rolling Stones; we piss anywhere.” Was that a sneak preview of the Occupy Movement? All they gotta do is play one benefit concert, one time and then the Occupy Posse will have enough money to buy foreclosed office buildings in (guessing) twenty five strategic cities?

Have the boys from Altamont suddenly become The Rolling Stones Inc.?

When the Rolling Stones got into some legal troubles (over a closed men’s room?) in Great Britain, the Who went into a studio and cut a cover of a Rolling Stones song as a show of solidarity. (We’ve seen a copy of the record in Dr. Demento’s private collection.)

Back in the day, the Stones had a legal obligation to deliver an album and so they did. Unfortunately, the material they delivered was unsuitable to their corporate masters and so the project was shelved. The name of the album can’t be printed in a family newspaper. Try a Google search for the “Rolling Stones” and “contractual obligation album,” if you want to find the name the band suggested.

Jerry Lee Lewis had one song with a line that asked “How much would you pay to hear a living legend sing?”

Is it true that Guns ‘n’ Roses, who opened for the Rolling Stones during the Steel Wheels tour, will be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame this year? Who recorded the song “Time slips away”? Or was it titled “Where Does the Time go?”?

How much money could a benefit concert raise if the lineup featured (hypothetically speaking) Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Who, the Kinks, and Furthur (the band formerly known as The Grateful Dead)? This columnist paid $8 plus change for a ticket to see the Rolling Stones in Anaheim in 1978 (or so); concert tickets would probably cost more these days. (Just guessing.)

[Note: the World’s Laziest Journalist assumes that if a band didn’t play a gig before January 1, 1970, it is too new and untried to merit serious consideration – although the guys with the band called “U2” are showing some promise.]

Good conservative musicians don’t seem to hesitate when Sean Hannity puts out an invitation to play an annual benefit concert to help the Marines. What up with all the rock musicians who make sizable fortunes singing about the salt of the earth and working man’s blues? Can they get their accountants to grant them permission to play just one Occupy Aid type concert gratis?

The Republican debates are getting the Republican viewpoint out to the public. Why aren’t the Democrats having debates during the primary season? Are they subscribing to the “No dissention” among the ranks philosophy these days?

No concert. No debates. No hoopla? How do they expect to win in November?

President Nixon, President Reagan, and President George W. Bush all seemed to intuitively know the wisdom of W. C. Fields’ advice about a second term: “If a thing’s worth having; it’s worth cheating for.” The last two Democratic Presidents elected to two full terms in office were Bill Clinton and FDR.

Now the disk jockey will play the Cowsills’ “We Can Fly,” Them’s “Here Comes the Night,” and the Zombies’ “Is This the Dream?” We have to go see what’s happening with Occupy Oakland. Have a “Feeling Groovy” type week.

Newt’s New Newtie Magazine


January 22, 2012

The S.C. Campaign Trail After Dark


Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress