February 17, 2013

Leashes = animal cruelty?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:36 pm


Note: Fox and Humor are exempt from Fact Checking, so this pathetic attempt at humor haint been fact checked.

Finding a new Liberal cause to preach in Berkeley CA may be a tougher assignment than “Find an Atheist in the College of Cardinals,” but if you work at it long enough, eventually you will find a tableau of conduct on the streets that looks like it has been ripped from the pages of a textbook for Fascism 101.

Baron Siegfried L. von (with a small “v”) Richthofen III was a larger than normal example of a Husky and German Shepherd mix and the first time, when he became full grown, that we attempted to pull on the leash to indicate that we wanted to walk in a different direction, he responded by giving the leash such a powerful yank in the opposite direction that we where knocked into a prone position. Siggy then ambled over and positioned his cold wet nose a few inches in front of our face and, through clinched teeth, growled: “If you ever do that again, I’ll chew your face off!”

Ordinarily Siggy was just a big old pussycat, but we were aware of the Jekyll and Hyde transformation that would occur when he got drunk. He could be a mean S. O. B. (no disrespect to his mother) when he got soused and so we adopted a walking style that always included some slack in the leash (jut to show that we were adhering to the local leash law) and never used a quick jerk for a silent command.

Walking around in Berkeley, we assumed that, in a city where protests against animal cruelty in laboratories is as old as the cry “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids didja kill today?,” the folks who were walking small breeds of dogs would not make a change of directions look similar to footage of a helicopter rescuing an injured skier in the wilderness. We were astounded to find plenty of visual evidence to indicate that the shift from dog collar to a shoulder harness was not getting full enthusiastic support in the famed “People’s Republic of Berkeley.”

The writer Céline (not to be confused with a singer with the same name) once said that a dog only knows what it can smell. He would not be surprised to notice that on a walk most dogs will teach the lesson that the world is a smorgasbord of interesting and intriguing odors and each and every one has to be thoroughly investigated. If you don’t want to stop and smell the flowers along the way (as the old hippie advise goes), then don’t bother to go for the walk.

Back in the day, my roommate and I would have to spell out the word “leash” because if you said the word, Siggy ran over to where the leash was hanging on a hook, and point to it with his nose. You didn’t use the word in a caviler “just in conversation” manner if you didn’t want to go for a walk. Then, one day, it became obvious that Siggy had learned what “l-e-a-s-h” spelled.

Berkeley CA has one store, Paco Collars, which specializes in dog collars. We have, to the best of our memory, never seen another dog collar store in all our travels, which have taken us from Paris and Casablanca in the East to Fremantle on the shore of the Indian Ocean as the Western boundary of our inventory of world geography.

The unique store in Berkeley offers, from what we could gather form a quick visual inspection of the interior, some of the harnesses which transfer the leash stress to the dog’s chest, but most of the items were dog collars. We asked if some customers bought any dog collars for their girlfriends, but the fellow avoided a yes/no answer.

A columnist’s mission is not to find an issue and then proselytize to make converts for one side or the other; rather a columnist must find new and unique items of interest and, after putting them in a column, continuing on with the quest for the next example of amusing unique information.

The yank the dog phenomenon might seem like an apropos metaphor for a critical look at the way John Boner is bringing the Democratic Party and White House occupant to heel.

Was it our imagination or did we see the Boner repeatedly hold up a doggy litter bag to signify “that’s a load of crap!,” while the Democrats were applauding wildly during the recent State of the Union diatribe? (We always thought at a diatribe designated a group of Apaches who wanted to loose weight. [Bah-dump bump.])

We noted with interest that during the recent cruise ship debacle, the passengers had to use liter bags to defecate and then had to contend with leakage and spills. Why didn’t they just throw the damn things over the railing into the middle of the ocean?

That, in turn, brings us to the problem of what to do with a retired pope. Will he be subjected to “de facto” house arrest conditions or will he be permitted to go on the late night talk show circuit to promote his new book?

Some canine experts make the assertion that dogs intuitively understand human through voice tone and body language. Others with a more whimsical philosophy will tell you what books their dog reads and what his latest quip was. We learned from Siggy, that all German Shepherd dogs are “law’n’order” style Nixon Republicans on the day that the shooting at Kent State took place.

[Note: We had digital photos of the Paco Collars store, a dog with a harness for attaching the leash, and a B&W print of a snapshot of Siggy, but after an attack of Spring Fever, we decided to give the Photo Editor the day off.]

For those who are skeptical about a dog’s ability to understand human language, we propose a pragmatic experiment. Go up to a docile large all black dog and utter this column’s closing quote: “Black dogs taste best!” If he suddenly becomes belligerent, please explain how the transformation occurred without indicating that he was trying to refute that extreme foodie opinion.

Now, the disk jockey will play Iggy Pop’s song “I want to be your dog,” Elvis’s extremely sad “Old Shep,” and (on the opposite end of the emotional bell curve) Peggy Lee’s “How much is that doggie in the window.” Now we have to go and buy a copy of Chihuahua of the Baskervilles, for a certain dog who lives in Concordia KS. Have a (attention Waylon Jennings fans) “Reno just howled at the moon” type week.

September 24, 2012

The Internets = Nihilist’s Valhalla?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:47 pm


The Shuttle passes over Berkeley CA.

A photo op for taking pictures of the Space Shuttle Endeavor delivered a St. Paul moment to a columnist at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory in Berkeley CA.

Due to a work dispute, this column has not been fact checked.

Would it be worth the blood, sweat, and keystrokes necessary, if an online political pundit wrote a column comparing the passive aggressive tactics of the Republicans in the House and Senate to the autoworkers sit down strikes in the Thirties and then kicked back and waited to see that metaphor “go viral” on the Intenets?

What’s the payoff if a writer posts a column online about Germany’s Pirate Party three or four days before the New York Times publishes a piece about it on the OpEd Page?

After a severe cold interrupted the string of consecutive weekly political punditry columns, the World’s Laziest Journalist made a rash decision to go “cold turkey” and spend a week without accessing the Internets and to write the next column about the experience of going a week without a digital “fix.”

Don’t most Americans love to experience addiction vicariously? Maybe a week offline would produce something like “The Lost Weekend Column,” “The Man with the Golden Arms Deal Column,” or William Burroughs’s lost masterpiece, “The Naked Bunch” column?

Staying off the Internets for a week would mean delaying the opportunity to inform our audience about an update regarding the California Pirate Party . The California residents have a weekly chat room on Monday nights and theNational Pirate Party has a nation wide chat room on Tuesday nights. Maybe we could suggest a mock “Jack Sparrrow for President” movement and if they thought it would bring them publicity from the national mainstream media that suggestion could go viral. If no one else is going to offer them that idea won’t the “better late than never” rule apply?

During the “week in the penalty box,” we got the bright idea of sending an e-mail to Norm Goldman alerting him to the idea that we would write a column comparing Bishop Romney to MacHeath in “The Three Penny Opera.” If Norm liked the possibility of an opera that portrays beggars as thieves being a variation of Bishop Romney’s political philosophy, then maybe we’d hear a reference to the World’s Laziest Journalist on Goldman’s nationwide radio show. Aren’t the chances of that happening just about the same as our chances of getting an on air mention on the next Wolfman Jack broadcast?

What would happen if we wrote a column that asked the question: “Is the controversial online movie critical of the founder of the Muslim religion being used as a rationale for staging riots that are payback for the killing of Osama bin Laden?”

After buying the book “No man knows my history,” by Fawn M. Brodie (Alfred A. Knopf 1963), the World’s Laziest Journalist was intimidated by the task of reading all that material just to get a thumbnail sketch of the life of the founder of the Mormon religion; so we went to an encyclopedia in the Berkeley Public Library and learned that Joe Smith (will there be Mormon riots in the Middle East if this column is perceived to be disrespectful in its regard for that religion’s founding father?) kept the details of his biography well obscured and that he co-mingled the concepts of religion and politics with a political philosophy he called “theodemocracy” and that he left some investors feeling cheated in the wake of a church-bank experiment. Could Mitt be trying (consciously or unconsciously) to make the story of his life a duplicate of Joe Smith’s biography?

Many conservative commentators are completely disregarding St. Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (“Never speak ill of a fellow Republican”) and dishing out some severe criticism of Bishop Romney’s campaign tactics. Should we pound out a column asking “What up wid dat?” or should we try something more unique such as attempting to find a common thread connecting the Republican Presidential Nominee’s political career with those of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt and America’s Senator Paul Wellstone?

With the music group, Puss Riot, getting extensive news coverage, we noticed that Der Spiegel also reported recently that Honor Blackman, who played Pussy Galore in the movie “Goldfinger,” has a supporting role in the new film “Cockneys vs. Zombies.”

Didn’t a famous newspaper columnist (Herbus Caenus?) in the era of Julius Caesar X once state that all web content falls into one of two categories: either bread or circuses? Hell’s bells, it ain’t no fun waiting around to become a nationally known pundit.

As the week progressed, we became more and more aware that getting access to the Internets was often a cure for boredom and that if we filled the lulls with books, we wouldn’t really have much need for going online.

We were beginning to think that for every perceptive and insightful posting online, there are tens of thousands of inane and asinine entries that praise some acquaintance’s effort to post a link to a video of a kitten dancing on a typewriter’s keyboard and tapping out a carbon copy of the first page of “Tropic of Cancer.”

On the night of Thursday September 20 to Friday September 21, we caught a local TV news broadcast that delivered the information that the Space Shuttle Endeavor would do a fly-by at the Golden Gate Bridge between 8:30 and 9 a.m. on Friday morning. We calculated that if we got up early and took some busses, we could be in position for a great news photo opportunity before mid morning.

Fatigue, which may have been a residual effect of the aforementioned cold, convinced us that some extra sleep might be a better executive decision.

We had breakfast and then aimlessly wandered over to the area in Berkeley where the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory “campus” is located and had a chat with a fellow who was on a smoke break enjoying his cigarette amid some magnificent Indian Summer in Berkeley weather.

We heard an airplane and when we looked up there was the Space Shuttle Endeavor on top of a Boeing that was banking west for a landside approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. We wondered if the airplane’s itinerary had been selected as a way to pay tribute to the hard working staff at the Amalgamated Factory. Would the Government say they were paying tribute, instead, to a nearby weapons laboratory?

We pulled out our beloved Nikon Coolpix and commenced to avail our self of the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. The Nikon Coolpix viewing screen in daylight is not as clear and sharp as is the viewfinder image provided by a Nikon F, but that old reliable workhorse doesn’t fit into the front pocket of our jeans; so you go with whatcha got.

We have always been vaguely aware that watching something happened and taking photos of the same event are two different activities and so while we scrambled and fumbled with the various factors (such as a the telephoto zoom option and the hard to see screen) that needed our immediate attention, we sacrificed the option to just stand there and “drink in” the spectacle.

Simultaneously we had a variation of the St. Paul moment and our lifelong fascination with the category of philosophy called nihilism snapped into focus because we realized that we had thee options: A. We could suspend our weeklong experiment with Internets avoidance and immediately start the process of editing, preparing, and posting the images we had taken. B. We could maintain our boycott and post the results on Monday. C. We could skip over the results and put them away in our digital shoebox photo storage area. That was when we had the St. Paul epiphany moment. Ultimately, in the grand scheme of “the History of the World,” the result for all thee options was (in Texting talk) IDFM. (It Doesn’t F****** Matter!)

Posting on the Internets and Solipsism have a great deal in common. Often, posting a column is like delivering a grandiose soliloquy at a dress rehearsal.

LIFE magazine had been posting the best newsphotos of the day on their website, but they dropped that feature awhile back. We have been intending to write a column lamenting the lack of one major resource for still photos online.

The San Francisco Chronicle had a magnificent photo of the flyby at the Golden Gate Bridge on their front page Saturday morning. The shot will probably win more than a few regional photojournalism clip contest awards and become a historic image (similar to the shot of a Pan Am China Clipper doing the same thing) in the future. Our humble efforts pale in comparison.

The weeklong experiment provided the World’s Laziest Journalist with a reality challenge. In a country where a fellow who’s business experience seems to mimic the antics of the cartoon character Snidely Whiplash, and where that same fellow becomes the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee, who consistently gets fifty percent of likely voters to say they will vote for him; then the tendency to rely on nihilism to provide the narrative thread for the writer’s lifetime becomes expedient again. IDFM.

So why continue writing columns? We find it amusing to think that in the future some unknown (but pop culture savvy) historian will chortle over a snide online comment that asserts that Bishop Romney’s secret plan to end the Recession will ultimately remind some folks of a Twilight Zone episode that ended with the line: “It’s a cookbook1”

Now the disk jockey will play Bobby Darin’s song “Mack the Knife,” the Doors’ “Alabama Song,” and the Three Penny Opera. We have to go do some fact checking for a possible column on the current state of football in the USA. Have a “so what?” (Just like a noteworthy NY Daily News front page headline?) type week.

April 6, 2012

Do Kerouac fans overlook Berkeley?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:41 pm

People’s Park
Legendary Berekely cafe
Do the Beatnik fans going to San Francisco overlook Berkeley?

After the New Downtown Berkeley Launch Event was concluded on Tuesday, April 3, 2012, a reporter from KGO radio in San Francisco was walking on Adeline Street with John Caner, the Executive Director of the Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA), when one of the homeless people in front of John’s Ice Cream challenged her to talk to him and get both sides of the story. She declined the invitation to get a balanced picture of the situation and scampered quickly to her Mercedes Benz and drove off informing him that she had all the information she needed.

In the current issue of the East Bay Express (April 4 – 10, 2012) on page 12 of the hardcopy edition, reporter Robert Gammon recaps the skepticism that Joe Debro faced when he criticized the deal which was utilized to bring the Oakland Raiders back to Oakland from their temporary rebel encampment in the Los Angeles area. Debro was vastly outnumbered by sports fans, journalists and politicians who heartily endorsed the efforts to lure the absent rascals back to the Bay Area.

Debro’s objections seem more credible now that the city is in financial crisis mode and the football team might need to be reminded of the particulars of a loan that was instrumental in getting them to (like the prodigal son) return home because it is Debro’s continued position that no payments on the loan have been made and none are scheduled to be made. If families can live paycheck to paycheck, can’t a $53.9 million dollar loan be forgotten if a team is living from season to season?

Time magazine’s Reagan era White House correspondent, Doug Brew, advised reporters to take the time to listen to what people were trying to tell them and not prejudge the quality of their information based on their appearances or apparent financial status. How (you might ask) could the World’s Laziest Journalist possibly be the recipient of advice from such a highly qualified source for opinions on the art of Journalism? We were coworkers on the staff of the weekly Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers in the Los Angeles area. That brings up the question: “How well did you get to know him?” When he was welcomed into this columnist’s humble abode in Marina del Rey, Brew expostulated: “My God, Bob, this is a hovel!”

Could KGO’s gal reporter have possibly missed a good Berkeley sidebar story in her haste to get . . . some place else?

On Tuesday afternoon, we were informed by some of the folks in People’s Park that (irony alert!) the beloved guy known as “hate man” had been issued a stay-a-way order from the public park that he calls “home.”

The ten years that Mark Hawthorne (AKA Hate man) worked for the Metro Section of the New York Times were also known as “the Sixties” and we would pay good money to hear him tell his stories and just maybe get some advice on how to produce quality journalism. Hawthorne’s suggestions would probably be just as good as those provided by the fellow who worked for Time magazine.

If UCB’s school of Journalism can’t get hate man to teach there, perhaps they could get Hawthorne to do one guest lecture per semester? Hate man prefers to be outdoors and it is not unprecedented for some UCB classes to be held outside (like perhaps at People’s Park?).

How is that fair and balance act working out for Rupert Murdoch? Maybe if we learned how to do Journalism Fox style, we could wind up driving a Mercedes Benz? Don’t they always put their best sly digs in the form of a question?

Is it true that Rupert Murdoch is trying to buy a major league baseball team and get the town fathers in Foxboro Massachusetts to build a stadium to serve as home for such an enterprise? Could they call such a stadium “The Hen House”?

Could anyone convince the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors to build a brand new football stadium on county owned land in Marina del Rey and let a football team move in for little or no rent? Isn’t Los Angeles the biggest metropolitan area without a major football team? Shouldn’t the board be happy to build a stadium and make loans that can then sit abandoned? Where are the Brookly Dodgers Football team playing these days?

Whatever happened to the pro football teams that used to play in the Los Angeles area?
Is there a C&W song titled “You’ve got a cash register heart”? If not; why not?

Isn’t the University of California Berkeley renovating their football stadium? Aren’t college football games always played on Saturdays and aren’t pro football games always played on Sundays?

If the Berkeley Downtown Business Association really wants to bring shoppers and travelers to their town, why don’t they float a bond issue, take over management of the UCB football stadium and give the Raiders a better deal than a loan that doesn’t have to be paid back? They could pay the Raiders gigantic bonus to move a few miles north and become the Berkeley Raiders!

If Monterey can be world famous as the town where one writer (John Steinbeck) use to live and if Key West Florida can hold an annual Hemingway Days series of events because just one writer used to live in their community, then why don’t book readers from all over the world flock to Berkeley where Ursula K. LeGuinn was born, and Philip K. Dick, Alan Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac used to live?

Since the Mediterraneum was open when Dick, Ginsberg, and Kerouac all lived in Berkeley, isn’t it natural to wonder if they ever had a brief chat there?

Charles Dickens, when he came to the United States to visit, made a particular point of going to visit Lowell Massachusetts because of its literary heritage because a famous magazine had been published there. That was years before Jack Kerouac’s father brought his family to that town. Isn’t the Berkeley Barb mentioned repeatedly in “Smoking Typewriters,” which is about the history of underground newspapers in the USA?

Last fall, when the high school finalists in the freedom of speech essay contest read their winning entries didn’t it get coverage on the TV networks by holding the event on the Mario Savio steps at the Sproul Plaza area of UCB?

Doesn’t the guy who runs the Daily Kos website for liberal online commentary live in Berkeley?

Is there a DBA suggestion box for ways to bring attention to Berkeley?

If the Journalism students at UCB were to produce a TV show all about Berkeley every day, wouldn’t it be quite likely that in this era of “low cost is no cost” broadcasting if they offered such a product to a cable TV company gratis, they would take it and offer it to viewers all over the world? (Fox seems to be ubiquitous in Australia. Lottsa sports.) Wouldn’t that be a career boost for the participating students and wouldn’t that win the DBA seal of approval?

Doesn’t Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia, lure visitors from all over the world with just one word? Gold! How far from Berkeley is Sutter’s Mill?

[Note: It was a challenge to find a way to illustrate this column. We used material from an abandoned photo project titled “On the road with a copy of ‘On the Road.’” Since Berkeley is specifically mentioned in “The Dharma Bums,” that might have been a better choice, but the photo editor had to go with what was available.]

National columnists’ Day is rapidly approaching and the World’s Laziest Journalist intends to write a column for the occasion about a fellow who was born in Berkeley (about a hundred years ago) and became one of the Bay Area’s top contenders for the right to call himself “Mr. San Francisco.” UCB has the Hearst School of Journalism and that particular Berkeley rascal was personally fired by William Randolph Hearst . . . twice. That notorious columnist might provide the basis for one installment of the aforementioned hypothetical student TV show “Berkeley Tonight” (or whatever).

Didn’t the Sixties officially start (in Berkeley) when Mario Savio said: “There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” [Can you believe that that quote is not in Bartlett’s?]

Now the disk jockey will play Janice Joplin’s “Oh, dear Lord,” Ry Cooder’s “Crazy ‘Bout an Automobile (Every Woman I Know),” and Woody Gutheris’s “Go For a Ride in the Car, car.” Speaking of cars, we have to celebrate this weekend by watching “Rebel without a Cause” one more time. Have a “See the USA in your Chevrolet” type week.

February 10, 2012

The Case of the Missing Journalism

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:36 pm

KTVU got there Thursday
Tents popped up again onSproul Plaza Thursday
Little tents seen on Frank Ogawa Plaza

As the first full week in February ends, the overwhelming temptation for political pundits is to compare the chaotic process of getting the Republican primary elections voters to choose the man who is ultimately going to get the nomination to Bach’s Little Harmonic Labyrinth, and so the World’s Laziest Journalist will skip that because it is too obvious. The executives for the Democratic Party know who their nominee will be just as surely as Karl Rove knows who his party will select.

Isn’t it obvious to non pundits that Romney is a Potemkin candidate? For most Republicans the situation is like when they learn beforehand that they will be honored via a surprise party and that they will have to act surprised when it happens right on schedule.

The paid pundits in the mainstream media know this but their weekly (“Yeah, I get paid weakly – very weakly”) paycheck is whatcha might call “hush money.” When the inevitable happens watch and see just how authentic the surprise is on the faces of TV’s regulars on the weekend analysis shows. It’s like they say in Hollyweird: “If you can fake sincerity, you have it made in Hollywood.”

Didn’t Republicans fight hard to get ranked choice voting established and now aren’t they using the Liberals’ arguments against the change to discredit Romney who isn’t getting much more than about 50 percent of the voters in any one primary?

Speaking of Republican inconsistencies; what about the possibility of sending Americans into Syria to help them win freedom and democracy? Is it an oxymoron when Republicans staunchly endorse sending American youth to die in a war to establish a democracy overseas? Shouldn’t they want to establish a Republic and not a Democracy?

The Oakland city council at their regular Tuesday night meeting voted down a measure to order the Police to use more stringent measures when dealing with the Occupy protesters.

Some cynics question spending money for keeping people out of a public park or plaza or from seizing a vacant building on a weekend when five murders are committed in other areas of Oakland. Isn’t the answer that there is always going to be gang violence but cleaning up the downtown shopping area makes business associations happy?

Periodically at Frank Ogawa Plaza tiny teepees will appear. Apparently they are meant to be a gesture of defiance regarding the ban on the use of tents in that area in front of the Oakland City Hall.

This week the Guardian weekly newspaper in San Francisco ran an article, on page nine of the February 8 to 14, 2012 edition, written b Shawn Gaynor, about new legislation which is designed to prevent the San Francisco Police Department from working with the FBI to investigate local citizens.

Isn’t it one thing for the police to tell a fearful wife that they can’t do much about a husband’s threats until he actually does something unlawful, and another thing for a country that might send troops to Syria to investigate the possibility of future reprisals inside the USA?

This week the New York Times in a lead story on page one reported that the USA plans to downsize the number of diplomats stationed in Iraq. Were they trying to hint that the massive Embassy constructed under war conditions in that country was an example of overspending that precipitated the numerous cuts to welfare programs inside the USA? If that’s what they wanted to imply, why not just come out and say so in an editorial?

How can it be that there isn’t a week that goes by without some liberals protesting the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Prison but the allegations of prisoner abuse in the Los Angeles County Jail gets little (if any) notice outside that gigantic county?

On Thursday, February 9, 2012, Occupy Cal held a rally on the Mario Savio steps at Sproul Hall.

The World’s Laziest Journalist went early to the noon event and, while waiting for the start time to arrive, chatted with a local political activist, Russell Bates, who attends many of the political events in the area.

Bates (who emphasizes that he is not related to the mayor of Berkeley) related a version of the events in Oakland on January 28, 2012, that didn’t quite mesh with the way it was reported in local news media.

According to Bates, the marchers who trampled a fence down at the Kaiser Center in Oakland that day were trying to move away from police aggressive police officers and when the marchers encountered the fences the crowd movement away from the police was a greater force than the fence was engineered to withstand.

Bates went on to assert that the people who were arrested for burglary entry into the YMCA later that night, were merely trying to avoid being arrested in a kettling maneuver by the police and that the marchers were merely rushing through the only avenue of escape. Bates alleges that of the 408 people arrested that day, only twelve were charged.

Bates claims that the news media is complicit in spinning the events of that day because they did not provide aerial coverage from their news choppers of the kettling process.

On Thursday, news coverage of the attempt to restart the Occupy Cal movement initially could be described as meager. A camera man from KTVU was covering the noon rally as well as reporters from the student newspaper, radio and TV studio.

Last fall Occupy Cal received news coverage from a much larger contingent of journalists.

A police officer informed the protesters that the tents they were erecting on Thursday afternoon were not permitted. The police did not take action immediately and attempts to learn about subsequent developments by listening for news reports on KCBS news radio were unproductive.

The columnist functions as the writer, typesetter, editor, fact checker, for this column but also has to do the computer work necessary (download from the Coolpix, edit the photos and transfer the ones selected for possible use to a memory stick and then posted online in a place where the html process can find and fetch it for use when the column is posted on Friday morning) to add photos to the column.

[Note: there is a labor dispute in progress at the World’s Laziest Journalist’s headquarters and the proofreaders have been locked out until they give up their silly demands for wages and other benefits.]

Would it be appropriate if the World’s Laziest Journalist were to be well paid to not cover Occupy Cal? How can “hush money” be spun so that it sounds commendable?

On Friday morning, KCBS news radio was not making any mention of the Thursday student protest and so the World’s Laziest Journalist will have to take a circuitous rout to the computer which will be used to post the column online and check to see if the tents are still making their mute protest or if the protesters have folded their tents and faded away into the night.

On Friday morning, that news station was reporting about a Thursday night public meeting in Oakland where members of the public made charges of police brutality against the participants in the Occupy Oakland events.

Recently this columnist has suggested that there might be a need for an unofficial meeting place for a Berkeley Press Club. Apparently the columnist misjudged the level of enthusiasm such a suggestion might generate. Only one reader responded to the idea of such a group.

On Thursday, the news media seems to regard Occupy Cal as a fad that has faded.

This just in: On Friday morning the tents were still on Sproul Plaza and more TV news crews had arrived and interviews were being conducted. The story on Friday morning seemed to focus on the symbolism of a mushroom as indicating regeneration. The World’s Laziest Journalist will try to file updates next week.

To be continued . . .

California Governor St. Ronald Reagan once said: “If it takes a bloodbath to end this dissention on campus; let’s get it over with.”

Now the disk jockey will celebrate the Beach Boys reunion by playing their “Smile” album. Tuesday in San Francisco there will be several events to mark the 50th anniversary for Tony Bennett’s original studio session for making the recording of “I left my heart in San Francisco,” so the DJ will play that song. He will also play “Desert Caravan.” We have to go and see if we can watch the Grammies. Have a “nothing to see here” type week.

February 3, 2012

A Nation of (Silent?) Sheep?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:41 pm

Cops follow protesters last week in Oakland
This is how a news photographer accessorizes
Is this sign posted in every Press Club in the USA?

“A Nation of Sheep,” written by William J. Lederer has been on our literary radar screen for many years just because of the catchy title. When we were presented with the chance to buy a used copy in BU (Brilliant Uncirculated) condition recently, at a bargain price, we snapped it up quickly. Among the usual suspects list of places in Berkeley CA where a thrifty fellow can buy desirable additions for one’s personal library at prices that won’t destroy a tight budget, the number of available books that criticize American Journalism seems astoundingly high, until a proper assessment of the phenomenon is made. The University located in Berkeley has a School of Journalism, so there is going to be a goodly number of teachers and students reading up on that subject. There is also a number of folks who work in and around the San Francisco Bay area Journalism community who live in Berkeley. There are also a few people still living in Berkeley who can tell stories about the golden age of underground newspapers because they worked for the Berkeley Barb and the Berkeley Tribe.

That, in turn, reminded us of the fact that the World’s Laziest Journalist has intended for some time to write a column about the fact that Berkeley has no Press Club. If some enterprising coffee shop owner (apparently the Berkeley Barb was started by a coffee shop owner who wanted a small “poopsheet” to hand out to his regular customers) wanted to fill his place on an “off” evening, he could set aside one night a week to make a special effort to attract “newsies” and start a de facto Press Club, where a herd of the boys could gather around and talk shop.

[We can use the sexist word “boys” because we heard a recent report about a new book on KCBS that reports that there is a paucity of women in the clique of reporters covering this year’s Presidential Campaign.]

Recently Police officials have been making decisions based on the fact that they don’t consider some reporters for Internets based publications to be eligible for Press Pass status at news events. That could be a lively topic for discussion at the aforementioned hypothetical gathering just mentioned.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the big topic among journalists for the past week, was not the Romney victory in the Florida primary, but the detention of reporters in Oakland. Some of the detained journalists had valid Press Passes issued by the San Francisco Police Department. Maybe, if well informed voters are a legitimate goal, it is time to include web-journalists on the list of those eligible to apply for Police issued Press Passes?

Citizens and media owners seem eerily silent about this latest trend in journalism; could it be that they don’t care about the health and welfare of America’s free press?

It would be a bit easier to write a weekend-update column, if a fellow could compare notes at an impromptu Press Club. Macy’s may not tell Gimbel’s what’s going to go on sale next week, but journalist do talk to each other on an “this is off the record” basis and swap some information which can help determine the newsworthyness of some topics.

For instance, what if an online columnist noted that during the past week there had been some headlines online that indicated that a nuclear facility in Illinois had a bit of trouble with their hardware, the San Onofre nuclear plant in Southern California had a radioactive leak, and a big shot in Washington had announced that the next terrorist attack on the USA might come in the form of a hack attack.

Wasn’t there a story recently alleging that somebody had used computers to sabotage and slow down Iran’s program to develop nuclear weapons?

If there was an informal Press Club in Berkeley, a columnist could do a bit of a mini-opinion poll about the feasibility of seeing a connecting thread for those bits of information? Could the nuclear malfunctions be an example of “paybacks are hell”?

If other journalists thought that all these separate bits of information could be lumped together legitimately, then OK, but if they said it didn’t pass the smell test, then it might be prudent to pass on the idea.

On line, anything that isn’t stamped USDA approved mainstream media style patriotic information will be branded as sounding suspiciously like something being prepared for test marketing by the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory boys (rumored to be headquartered in an abandoned railroad car manufacturing facility in Emeryville CA?) and not worthy of a mention. The catch phrase for the teen years (of this century) might be: “You’re on your own, pal.” [Bust the unions and stress rugged individualism.]

Didn’t a legendary pioneer blogger, whose handle was Plato, once predict that eventually journalism would become a game played by guys sitting in their man cave looking at a computer screen thinking they were grasping reality and making cogent remarks in a process known as “live blogging”? Don’t they deserve to get a night out to break the shackles of solipsism?

Sure, it is wonderfully invigorating to see younger journalists tilting at windmills, but don’t they need to hear a crusty old reporter reminding them: “Ya can’t fight City Hall, kid!”? A Berkeley Press Club would help keep such idealistic young j-students grounded in reality. The flip side of the coin would be that the students could help the old war horse scribblers fathom the mysteries of the laptop.

There is one other stealth advantage to having a local Press Club where journalists can talk shop. If a writer tells his colleagues about a story he is writing and if something happens to him while he is digging for that story, then the others will be able to continue the (hypothetical alert!) the crusade that cost a life.

Wasn’t columnist Dorothy Kilgallen working on an angle to the Kennedy assassination when she died suddenly?

Has IBM abandoned their use of plaques that displayed the word “THINK”?

On page 31 of the Crest Book 1962 paperback edition of “A Nation of Sheep,” William J. Lederer quotes a Prince/editor from Thailand as saying: “You Americans are the easiest country in the world to propagandize. You believe anything. I could give a lecture here in Honolulu and say that the king’s mother had two heads – and that is why she isn’t seen in public. Most of the audience would believe it and the papers would probably print it as a factual story – without even checking to see if His Majesty’s mother is still alive.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Defiant Ones’ 1961 recording of “Defiant Drums,” Elvis’ “Rock-A-Hula Baby” and Johnny Cash’s “Guess Things Happen That Way.” We have to go read Edward Jay Epstein’s 1973 book “News from Nowhere.” Have a “Cross my heart and hope to die” type week.

November 15, 2011

Seems like old times in Berkeley

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:01 pm

Striking students pass through Sather Gate
Striking students gather on Sproul Plaza Tuesday.
Music was part of the program at Sproul Plaza Tuesday

The fact that broadcast news media want to cover an issue in about 90 seconds works to the advantage of the Conservatives because most voters don’t want to get a complete picture of a complex issue and the student strike at University California Berkeley will provide an example of how the rush to oversimplify destroys journalism’s reason for being.

In the Sixties the University system in California was an outstanding opportunity for young people in that state to acquire an affordable education.

In the Seventies, Prop 13 was sold to home owning voters as a way to save money. The property tax had provided the funds for affordable educations. When Prop 13 passed, businesses saved large amounts of money when that tax was eliminated from their overhead expenses. Did they pass the savings along to consumers?

Wealthy families are used to expecting that their kids will be college educated and become industry management. The potential for middle and low class families sending their children to college may have seemed like the underclasses were stealing opportunities for large salaries from them so it behooved the wealthy to put the cost of education beyond the capability of the middle and lower class.

The fact that Prop 13 benefited business immensely made its passage a double payoff for the wealthy.

Can an explanation of how the passage of Prop 13, more than 30 years ago, caused the current student unrest, be reduced to a few words that fit on a bumper sticker?

Can the opposing force’s message of “Reduce taxes, increase jobs” be refuted on a bumper sticker?

So today students strike to make the point that they want the opportunity for an affordable education just like there was in the Sixties and the people who don’t want to restart a tax burden they managed to eliminate just say “trickle down” and dupe the voters who don’t examine the history of an issue.

To the best of this photographer/columnist’s ability to cover the start of the UCB student strike on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, we can report that we did not see a single instance of any student burning his draft card.

Doesn’t that prove conclusively that change has been delivered, just as promised?

November 10, 2011

“Badges? Badges? We don’t gotta show you no stinkin’ badges!”

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:30 pm

These tents were gone by Thursday morning.
These steps are a famous protest site from the Sixties.
This tent was taken down minutes later.
The media (mostly) missed the incident that was part of protest history.

On late Wednesday afternoon, events at UCB went to warp speed. Police moved in and arrests were made. Protesters assert that videos that showed Police brutality are available online. Things had calmed down by early evening. Some protesters asserted that the police were not wearing their badges during the arrests.

Old Berkeley protesters might remember a time when a similar allegation resulted in a political cartoon in the Berkeley Barb that used a famous line from the movie “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” as a caption.

According to reports on KCBS news radio, tents were removed and more arrests were made about midnight.

Thursday morning, things were calm again.

A tent was set up and occupied by Naomi SantaCruz close to the Mario Savio historic plaque. Students were told to move it. They complied. The tent was set up at the very edge of Keay Davidson’s class on the relationship between University of California and the nuclear weapons laboratory.

About 10:36 a.m. PST on Thursday, November 10, 2011, an incident occurred and a scuffle ensued. A protester was led away by officers. Students began to chant “Police brutality, police brutality” but the law enforcement officers chose to ignore the students’ suggestion.

When Thursday’s incident occurred the TV crews being paid to record any news as it happened, were (apparently) caught off guard and the event had occurred before they could start “rolling.”

Could the tumult possibly have been much greater if the school had fired it’s football coach?

November 9, 2011

Occupy Mario Savio Steps

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 7:30 pm

Protester speaks to students
Bankers get blame again
Sign says it all.
Just like old times?

On Wednesday, November 09, 2011, students at University of California expanded the OWS protests to a location that has earned a place in the Protestors Hall of Fame.

The steps in front of Spraul Hall, where Mario Savio made history, were where the Students as University of California Berkeley decided to hold their OWS activities and rally.

The early afternoon phase of the new protest was calm and under heavy police observation.

February 15, 2011

Phony-spotting guide?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:26 pm

Imagine how exciting it would be to be walking around in Berkeley CA (excitement galore, right there) and you saw on the ground a dollar size piece of greenish paper that said “Fifty Dollars”? Your joie d’vivre might diminish considerably when you notice that the portrait on the front side is of a bearded fellow who looks like he might have been one of those misguided clergy men who wanted to make the Hawaiian natives put clothes on and is identified as “Hoffarth.” Then you notice the disclaimer: “for Motion Picture use only.” Drat!

This columnist has, many moons ago, on two different occasions, found a genuine 100 dollar bill and so the first thought when we laid eyes on the Hoffarth bill was to immediately take a picture and start to debate weather we should submit the item to the Berkeley Daily Planet or the Berkeleyside web site. They must have been filming a movie in Berkeley recently and that is the kind of hot news both of them like.

Is that name some kind of joke? Is it a phony name like the one used in a famous e-mail that faked-out a legendary stand-up comedian working for Fox News?

In the era of hit movies from the Jackass crew and the word Punk’d has slipped into the mainstream American vocabulary, who wouldn’t love the irony of finding a Hoffarth bill?

Don’t all Americans appreciate a good practical joke? Lately, we have noticed some political pundits are analyzing the new Obama budget proposals and slaping their own foreheads and saying: “Oy vey! We thought he was a progressive!” The joke that the Reagan Democrat fooled voters into thinking he was a progressive is another hilarious example of Punk’d-ing for fun and frivolity. Young Internets citizens might not remember the time when an American President and his pals concocted a clever ruse about something that had to do with aluminum tubes that were positive proof that a new war needed to be started.

The President went though all the effort to cook-up a clever reason never realizing that all he had to do was ask.

[We’ve heard an urban legend about an attractive young lady who had a very close male friend and when he had to move to a different geographical area he asked her whey they had never hopped into bed together and she responded: “Because you never asked!”]

Some pundits are groaning about the apparent buyers’ remorse factor that the far lefties are experiencing as the Reagan Democrat President reaches out his hand to the far righties in the Republican Party.

Cynics are asking: Shouldn’t a President who works so assiduously to be a one term President get what he wants?

This columnist tends to emulate the taciturn nature of saloon owner Ricky Blaine in the movie Casablanca and thinks that the Australian bandit Ned Kelly was spot-on when he said: “Such is life.”

Is it time to inject some obscure and esoteric (but relevant) items? Watching some newsreel footage from 1953 we saw and heard Adlai Stevenson chide his successful rival for the Presidency for being in charge of a political party run by businessmen. Wasn’t Harry Truman the last President with businessman experience?

We digress. Speaking of digressing, did you know that a bunch of writers from one very successful liberal web site have their own page on Facebook? Why isn’t Eric Hoffer one of that group? Wasn’t he big on liberal causes? Didn’t a famous communist coin the phrase “One for all; all for one.” Don’t the Hell’s Angels say: “A fight with one of us is a fight with all of us!”?

This columnist wishes he could contact that group of scribes because we’d love to ask them: “Is it better for a columnist to tell his readers what he wants them to think or is it better to throw some apparent contradictions at them and let them think it through for themselves?” It’s just like when George W. Bush said: “You teach a child to read, and he or she will be able to pass a literacy test.”

When dealing with writers like that Facebook group shouldn’t their boss ask them the classic question from the Fifties: “Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”?

Wasn’t “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!” a famous communist slogan in WWII?

We’ve read: “In a Communist state a love of neighbors may be classed as counter-revolutionary. Mao Tse-tung counts it a sin of the liberals that they will not report the misdeeds of ‘acquaintances, relatives, schoolmates, friends, loved ones.’” Where did we read that?

In “The Ordeal of Change” (Perennial Library paperback 1963 p. 5), Eric Hoffer wrote: “Things are different when people subjected to drastic change find only meager opportunities for action or when they cannot, or are not allowed to, attain self-confidence and self-esteem by individual pursuits . . . . The substitute for self-confidence is faith, the substitute for self-esteem is pride; and the substituted for individual balance is fusion with others into a compact group.” Was Hoffer a founding father of the teabag movement?

If you see something suspicious report it. Buy War Bonds today.

Now the disk jockey will play “Stickin’ to the Union,” the “Cool Hand Luke” soundtrack album and Roy Orbison’s “Workin’ for the man.” We have to go and file a grievance with the shop steward. Have a “contract approved by a vote of the membership” type week.

May 22, 2010

Arnieville pops up in Berkeley

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:50 pm



Activissts in Berkeley have set up a tent city, called “Arnieville,” to protest recent budget cuts in California. Photos were taken on Saturday morning, May 22, 2010.

May 16, 2010

Them’s fightin’ words . . .

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 4:36 pm


Is this sign, seen recently in Berkeley, from people who are for or against gun control?

March 5, 2010

Watching student protest

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 11:22 am


In Berkeley, police watch the students at the Sather Gate on the UCB campus, protest budget cuts.

Students protest budget cuts

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 11:18 am


Photos of the students at Sather Gate on the University of California Berkeley campus have become an comon news media icon of Thursday’s protests.

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