August 5, 2011

May you live in “Interesting Times”

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

Now that President Obama has checkmated the Republicans and can coast to reelection, it seems that while Congress takes its summer vacation the folks who write political punditry can also kick back and use the dog days of summer to churn out some content on other more mundane matters.

Some recent items from the Beatnik file have been accumulating on our desk and so we will use this weekend’s opening of the “Magic Bus” (Ken Kesey’s search for a cool place) movie as an excuse to do a roundup of items from the reporter who collects those tidbits of news and information about being “on the road” and lump them all together in one column.

We’ve been accumulating some new “road” books and are in the process of reading Alistair Cooke’s “The American Home Front,” which presents the story of that Brit’s road trip throughout the USA in the early stages of WWII. Cooke was one of the few journalists who covered the war’s effect on civilians while most of the countries journalists flocked to the various battle fronts.

At the beginning of John Steinbeck’s book “Travels with Charlie,” he talks about an encounter on an airplane trip with John Gunter and how they compared notes about how their two styles of gathering material differed. Isn’t it odd that at the beginning of Gunther’s book “Inside the USA,” he tells readers that he used the itinerary of his crisscrossing road trip around the USA to gather the book’s material as the outline for his way to present his material in the book? Does that make it a “road book”?

At the Berkeley Public Library Main branch book store we discovered “It isn’t a Bus,” by Martha French Patterson and Sally Patterson Tubach, which is about Charles Everett Patterson’s (no relation to this columnist) pioneering efforts to turn a Flexible bus into a motorhome and tour the USA in it, after World War II.

We are still plodding through a borrowed copy of Douglas Brinkley’s “Majic Bus.”

On Thursday, we learned that President Obama intends to go on a campaign style bus tour in August. Sarah Palin did a brief bus tour publicity stunt earlier this year.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist’s efforts to become the pundit that other pundits read first has stalled out, then it might be time to post a terse ride wanted notice on Craig’s list: “SWM seeks ride: SF – NYC” and see if we can join the vast number of journalists taking America’s pulse during this historic summer. If we catch a transcontinental ride on a band’s tour bus, a chronicle of that journey might make us almost famous.

We noticed items on Kevin Roderick’s L. A. Observed web site recently noting that at least two writers have started an effort to walk across the USA.

What’s with all the bus trips? What ever happened to hitchhiking? Should we attempt the Berkeley to Boston thumbing marathon? In 1968, we used that method to get from Chambersburg Pa. to Tonkawa Oklahoma. Perhaps a nostalgic series of columns could report on how the USA has changed (if it has) in the interim.

We’ve missed Hemingway Days for this year, but the Oshkosh Flying will be happening soon, and the 25th Annual Farm Aid Concert is coming up in Kansas City on the weekend of August 12 -14. Would a trip to Burning Man produce some worthwhile columns? Will this be the year we finally get to see some aspect of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance?

Jack London wrote a book about traveling about the USA in 1898. Is Jack London’s book, “The Road” a road book? Could Mark Twain’s “The Innocents Abroad” be considered a road book?

Some critics of the World’s Laziest Journalist might think that the shtick of mentioning an attempt to get a speaking gig at the Beat Museum in San Francisco during Litquake is pathetic and getting tired and old. Is it a genuine authentic bid for such an opportunity or is it a classic example of a subconscious effort to sabotage the request? Can you picture the World’s Laziest Journalist doing all the work that would be required to give a talk which would promote the venue’s bookstore offerings (of road books and beat literature) as well as extol the virtues of the author’s memoirs which he intends to write someday when he “gets a round tuit.” (Bah dump bump)

Slowly, during the summer of 2011, the number of folks who are getting on the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factor employee’s shuttle bus (used to move folks about at their secret rebel encampment) seems to be growing. People are beginning to put things together. If you add 2 + 2 you get 4; but if you put 2 and 2 together, you get 22.

Can the Murdoch hacking scandal, the profits from the endless wars, the stolen 2000 and 2004 Presidential Elections, the blind faith in unverifiable election results, the voter rebellion in Wisconsin, the Republican assertions that they are on the little guy’s side, the suspicion that Republican politicians are guilty of dereliction of duty (which would get them a courts-martial if they were in the military), the fact that Obama’s odd (but highly acclaimed) “reach out across the isle” style of negotiating closely resembles total capitulation, and the glaring SFW (So F*****g What?) aspect of the FAA fumbled ball story all be used as ingredients for a massive Liberal recipe for truth? The result will serve as the answer to the standard conservative dodge: “Something’s happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear . . .”

Are people beginning to suspect that the Republican refrain about how everything is unexplainable and that none of them are to blame when (not if) things go wrong, and that any conjecture about anything is automatically to be discounted as an unreliable conspiracy theory sounds just as phony and suspicious as O. J. Simpson’s adamant assertion that he was not guilty? Or does it sound like Captain Queeg’s deductive reasoning process that lad to the conclusion that there was another key to the wardrobe?
When will Americans get to hear Michelle Bachman say: “Tell Mr. De Mille, I’m ready for my close-up.”? Do Democrats think of “the Ballad of Lucy Jordan” when they hear the latest Republican spin?

In the summer of 2011, would there be a market for T-shits that proclaim: “Only certified millionaires should spout Republican talking points!”? Would that cover the recent Internet fuss over the allegation that David Gregory continues to pepper his (loaded) questions with Republican talking points?

Ken Kesey has been quoted (Bartlett’s 125th anniversary edition page 913) as saying: “Now, you’re either on the bus or off the bus. If you’re on the bus, and you get left behind, then you’ll find it again. If you’re off the bus in the first place – then it won’t make a damn.”

Now the disk jockey will play: Ray Charles’ “Hit the road, Jack” and Willie Nelson’s “On the road again,” and his duet with Lacy J. Dalton’s on the song “Where has a slow moving, once quick draw, outlaw got to go?” We have places to go find out more about Willie Nelson’s new Tea pot Party. Have a “real gone” week.

May 6, 2011

On the road to the Beat Museum?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:50 pm


The idea that certain bath salts can be used in a pipe as a substitute for hash or crack is slowly trickling upwards from the drug culture underground to the mainstream media and that story will soon be getting the attention of the assignment editors at the various evening news broadcasts and that, in turn, means that the chess match clock will soon be measuring the conservative reaction time. Once conservatives realize (by doing a Google news search for “smoking bath salts”?) that it is a legitimate current events problem topic, Uncle Rushbo and his wannabe imitators will be (like a pit crew changing all four tires) expected to instantaneously produce irrefutable Republican talking points asserting that the new outlaw fad proves that the Democrat in the Oval Office has performed poorly.

Objecting to too much government is one thing, but letting bath salts be sold without legal guidelines is incomprehensible. Write to your Senators and congressional representatives and demand action now! Or better yet, show up at a townhall meeting and, when you are sure the TV cameras are rolling, ask what will be done about the bath salts problem. One Congresswoman in Florida is ready to take action. Why are other states lagging behind?

Does that make it sound like the Summer of ’68 isn’t really over yet? Well put this in your Magritte style pipe and smoke it: some imaginative scoundrels have discovered that if they go through the paperwork to be accredited as a patient in pain with a legitimate need for medical marijuana, they can turn around and sell their “medicine” at a slight profit to some people who may not want pesky paperwork in existence linking them to the “devil weed.” (Would it be a “cop out” for us to fail to provide an example of people who might prefer to remain “off the books” as far as being a legitimate registered pot head is concerned?)

Older nostalgia prone assignment desks might like that flashback topic, too. Think any one of them would be too embarrassed to steal an idea from “the World’s Laziest Journalist”? Me neither too.

The concept of being a topic rustler brings us to another flashback topic: At the Berkeley 7 flashback film series, we saw for the first time last night, the classic film “Scarface” starring Al Pacino. All the gangster activities called “rub-out,” “whack,” or “hit” at various times in the annals of the gangster genre movies reminded us that the President seems to be imitating the gangster mentality with his foreign policy. Col. Qaddafi is becoming an annoyance? Bomb the snot out of his living compound. Send “the boys” over to bin Laden’s place and have them rub him out.

Will Qaddafi’s and bin Laden’s gang be able to tell the ref: “I know where I am. I know what round it is. Don’t stop the fight!” or will they get a TKO?

Can’t you just picture President Obama telling his posse: “Everything north of State Street is O’Banion’s; we got Afghanistan and now Libya.”? Were bin Laden’s last words: “Mother of God, is this the end of Ricco?” Or did he snarl: “Top of the world, ma!”? Did the Seals yell: “Osama, say hello to my little friend!”?

For over ten year, the World’s Laziest Journalist has been motivated to write political punditry for various online sites by a “Man of La Mancha” delusion that it was worth while to get up at 6 a.m. pound out some words such as a column that ridiculed the contention that some dumb aluminum tube was irrefutable evidence that the invasion of some country was imperative and then make the effort to get online and post it. There was always the hope that the next column would (somehow) hit a nerve and cause all of America to question the Bush junta’s sanity.

Now that George W. Bush’s successor from the opposition Party has endorsed the Bush war policy, writing critical political commentary is an unnecessary foolish self deception and is an example of inefficient use of time. Rather than continuing the futile railing, long neglected book length projects can be reconsidered and perhaps revived with renewed enthusiasm.

What’s not to like about sleeping in until 7:30 a.m., doing the same amount of writing, and then, instead of hustling off to get a turn on a Berkeley Public Library computer connected to the Internets, taking a long leisurely stroll (and perhaps having a serendipitous encounter with a bargain bin priced intriguing used book), and stopping off at Pepe’s Pizza to indulge in their Pizza buffet for lunch?

Obviously, a timely topic, such as the wide spread notion that the world will end on May 22, can be a compelling occasion for a column chock full of cynical skepticism. After that date has passed, perhaps the World’s Laziest Journalist can parlay the fact that he, as an ordained minister, prayed that God would stay his hand and delay Judgment Day for a good long while, into a selling point to gain some lucrative speaking engagements?

Perhaps we could get an immediate start on participating in this year’s San Francisco Litquake festival by sending a query letter to the Beat Museum? We would note that we had not only interceded and prevented the End of the World, but that as a well read Kerouac wannabe who has not yet completed his memoirs manuscript, we would not selfishly use the occasion for self promotion of a new book we had written, but would, instead, be able to speak knowledgeably (on the pseudo intellectual level) about many of the books by other writers that are for sale in the gift and bookstore section of that venue.

Would San Francisco’s literati find “An Evening with the World’s Laziest Journalist” a refreshing change of pace from the usual “I’m begging you to buy this book” type of disguised boorish sales pitch? What would be the best way to find the answer to that question?

Heck, by the time this year’s Litquake gets started, if we have interceded and convinced God to postpone the End of the World for a little while isn’t that worth something? Is a speaking engagement at the Beat Museum too much to ask?

Allen Ginsberg (at a poetry reading in San Francisco, long before the first Litquake) said: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for a fix . . . .” All they had to do was buy some bath salts. Who knew?

Now the disk jockey will fix us up with a chance to listen to “Harlem Nocturne,” the soundtrack album for “Kiss Me Deadly,” and “Night Train.” We have to go find some new tidbits of news that will make it worth while for the aforementioned assignment desk editors to “tune in again next time.” Have a “fa-a-a-r out!” type week.

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