July 18, 2014

Are 12 Senators better than 2?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm

crop lifeguard station

An initiative that qualified to be on the ballot in California this fall will get little, if any, coverage in the national media which is operating on reduced staff status because of austerity budgets. In the era of the “smaller is better” philosophy becoming ubiquitous in the political arena conservatives will be obliged to ridicule the idea of dividing (like the loaves and fishes shtick) the California state government up into six groups. The conservatives will be quick to remind voters that mom and pop businesses will need to print new stationary if the change is approved and therefore the little guy can save a few bucks if he (and his wife since women got the vote) defeats this change which is bound t be labeled as just another nutty California idea.

California sends a large contingent of representatives to Congress along with two Senators. If the change is approved, there would be twelve Senators representing the same geographical area that now gets only two.

Isn’t California always depicted as a “stronghold” for the Democratic Party? Obviously if one of the new states included Orange County, they wouldn’t send Democrats to the Senate, but statistics for the whole of California tend to indicate that over the long haul, most of the new Senators would be Democrats thus urging small business owners to save a few bucks and staying with their old stationary would be an economically appealing way to let selfishness determine a difficult and complex issue.

On Wednesday, July 17, 2014, the San Francisco Chronicle, which was once owned by Presidential hopeful William Randolph Hearst, was featuring a story headlined “State of confusion over 6 Californias” on its front page.

Conservative media owners are not going to let the voters become convinced that California needs more Senators than Delaware or Rhode Island, so don’t waste any money betting on the measure passing.

Initially, Berkeley and Venice Beach may seem like identical twins separated at birth but don’t jump to any conclusions before you take a closer look. Political activists in the Venice Beach area are very concerned with the activities of the California Coastal Commission, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and the effect global warming will have on raising the tide line. Berkeley has other issues to concern political activists. The Coastal Commission is ignored in Berkeley as an irrelevant diversion. UCB students can vote for a politician who wants to be a Berkeley City Council representative. Decisions regarding the University have a large influence on local residents in Berkeley. Folks in the Venice Beach area let the schools (such as Pepperdine, UCLA, Santa Monica College, and USC) tend to their own business.

Sports fans in the San Francisco Bay area are very different from sports fans in Southern California.

Conservatives who believe less government is best, will want to maintain the status quo so that the huge state has only one government entity to worry about shorelines, forests, prisons, highways and the state parks.

People from outside the area (such as the ones that work on the staff at the New York Times) would do well to skim through Curt Gentry’s book, “The Late Great State of California,” and Jon Winokur’s collection of quotes about the vast and very diversified state (“The War between the State”) before they sit down to write (ex cathedra) an editorial telling California voters what to think on this complex issue.

Literature from California is as diverse as the people and geography. Many critics consider “Grapes of Wrath” to be the greatest novel written in America. Mystery novelist established a cottage industry genre based on a lone detective. Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade worked in San Francisco; Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe worked in L. A. County.

A driver can leave San Diego head North and after a full day of driving still be in California. People who live at Lake Tahoe refer to going shopping as “go into the City.” It takes (if memory serves) about four hours to get from the casinos to the cable cars.

Music in Cali is also very diverse. The L. A. sound is best exemplified by the Doors and the San Francisco sound means “crank up the Jefferson Airplane.” What country music fan doesn’t think Bakersfield and Buck Owens are synonymous? Doesn’t Merle “Oakie from Muskogee” Haggard live somewhere in California? In Santa Monica an apartment house once owned by Lawrence Welk dominates the skyline.

Ansel Adams was born and raised in San Francisco.

Didn’t Clint Eastwood become mayor of Monterey? Didn’t Sonny Bono wind up as a Congressman from So Cal? Wasn’t Richard Nixon born and raised in Southern California? St. Ronald Reagan changed American politics starting with his manipulation of the protesters at Berkeley. They were a convenient foothold for his climb to the White House.

Innovation and growth are important when it comes to the people known as corporations, but as far as administering the services needed by the voters in California the conservatives will dust off the references to the wishes of the founding fathers and stress that a lot of expenses for new stationary can be avoided with a “No” vote in November.

If less is more, maybe political activists from California should urge the consolidation of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia into one state?

Dividing California could have dire repercussions. Are there ten local politicians in Delaware or Rhode Island who wouldn’t be glad to become a repetitive in the United States Senate?   If a state is so small that it gets only one Congressional district doesn’t it make sense to divide it into six smaller states so that the same geographical area will suddenly have six people in Congress?

The media in New York can’t completely ignore this developing political story because the conservative media owners will want to stifle innovation at the git-go and sending a top notch reporter to cover the bowl of granola aspect of the story will be as good as giving them a big cash Christmas bonus.

People in flyover country (such as Concordia Kansas) love the jokes that make fun of California such as: Why is Los Angeles like a bowl of granola? (It’s all nuts, fruits, andf flakes!)

Since California would (most likely) fit into the Southwest corner of the W. A. (AKA Western Australia), it might be best to quash this break it into smaller pieces political trend right here and now before the voters in Kalgoorlie start to get some strange ideas from America.

[Note from the photo editor: we dug into the archives to find some photos from the Venice Beach area and some tourist type pictures from Frisco to illustrate the point that both areas are far apart physically and (upon closer inspection) politically too.]

William Hjortsberg has written: “The future remains an unwritten book, its cryptic pages blank, and no crystal ball wizard, palm reader or Tarot deck manipulator can accurately provide a sneak preview of what’s coming in the next chapter.”

The disk jockey will play the Doors “L. A. Woman,” the Jefferson Airplane’s “Plastic Fantastic Lover,” and the CCR (from “near” Berkeley) song, “Run Through the Jungle.” We have to go see where the Buffalo Springfield is playing this weekend.   Have a “Point Break” type week.

crop of SF heart


September 6, 2012

Got rigged election results?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:38 pm


Are pop culture stories fading from the Journalism scene?

In the annals of Los Angeles Political History there is a half century old story about a fiery challenger who, in the best David vs. Goliath tradition, issued bold and provocative challenges to a powerful incumbent to hold a debate. The conventional wisdom at the time held that the fellow in office had nothing to gain by sharing the spotlight with an unknown underdog. Finally the exasperated hopeful bought some local TV time and debated an empty chair. This bit of extreme stunt campaigning helped deliver a stunning upset victory for the outsider.

Since Clint Eastwood, who was born in San Francisco in 1930, started a Hollywood acting career that was underway in the late Fifties, it could well be that he was trying to imitate that obscure, but successful, bit of political strategy when he spoke at the Republican National Convention last week.

The media storm caused by Eastwood’s speech may have been partisan payback for the “meltdown” allegations that were hurled at Howard Dean when he let out an enthusiastic yell at a primary election victory rally.

The fact that the critics of the Clint Eastwood’s empty chair shtick were supposed to be journalist and not partisan political hacks made the omission of a mention of the Los Angeles precedence, and its relevancy to last week’s event and the subsequent analysis, seem shoddy and inadequate. Some of the Eastwood speech did seem to be a bit rambling and disjointed and thus provide a basis for the comparisons to Grandpa Simpson but the L. A. connection with the chair was just too obscure to be appreciated by folks who were not well versed in L. A. political history. Repeated efforts to find out what L. A. personality successfully used the debate with a chair ploy were unsuccessful.

The first time this columnist encountered the phrase “a senior moment” was in a movie line delivered by Clint Eastwood.

As this year’s Presidential election draws closer the atmosphere in journalism is becoming very partisan and that makes the World’s Laziest Journalist reluctant to attempt to deliver snide remarks about either or both candidates.

A columnist who works with limited access to the Internets has to rely on instinct and personal preferences to select the material to be included. It could be that while pounding out the keystrokes for a column that mentions an obscure bit of political history in Los Angeles, people have been inundated with similar mentions of it among the vast variety of commentary available to them. Or not.

If the World’s Laziest Journalist stumbles across a mention somewhere (Muy Interesante magazine perhaps?) of the photos being made by South American artist Cecilia Paredes and they, in turn, remind us of some trompe l’oeil work featured in Popular Photography magazine a few decades back; would it be worth the effort to do all the work necessary to get permission to reprint some of her work plus examples of the images from American media past? Isn’t it easier to let interested readers do their own Google Image search? (Google Image hint: Cecilia Paredes Photography)

Form follows function and to produce a variety of items quickly, a columnist has to use the “put it on a bumper sticker” attitude to get the column posted and get the collection of material for the next one started.

If the readers of this column have had numerous encounters with the news stories about the “Euthanasia Coaster,” which is supposed to be a design for an extreme roller coaster ride that will kill the riders, and it is mentioned here; it is up to them to say “Can’t this columnist find something new?” or, if this is their first encounter with that news item, they can choose to do a Google Image search and “be the first on their block” to make a reference to it on their Facebook page.

One wag suggested that the Euthanasia Coaster could be a conservative scheme to give folks a cheap solution to use when the Republicans start using death panels to cut medical costs.

If Bishop Romney announced that his plan to solve the recession problem was to wave a magic wand, saying “Poof! Be gone” to unemployment, would that generate any skepticism among journalists with a national audience?

Since it should be obvious to this columnist that he will never deliver a column that is a tie breaker for a Presidential race that is continually reported to be a virtual photo finish race, we will settle for doing the work necessary for amusing a small online audience.

What if doing the necessary fact checking also provides a chance to cross an item off the columnist’s bucket list? It could be that writing columns is the excuse for the worker going out, taking pictures, seeing interesting things, having fun and that writing about the process and posting the results online is just a bonus for readers who want to enjoy the process vicariously. We like to think that Hunter S. Thompson would approve.

Eventually one photo op for pictures of protesters getting arrested looks like the next and so some weeks the columnist with a Nikon Coolpix may have to settle for getting one image that includes kink, pop culture, and a shopping destination for tourists. Is the pop culture scene being shortchanged by journalism because the smaller news staffs are often overworked?

We have written a column about walking around the ATT ballpark in San Francisco while a World Series Game was being played. Would a report on the hi-jinks going on inside the press room at a World Series Game provide some juicy reading for both the regulars and new arrivals in the audience? Maybe we should start to apply for a press pass for any AT&T Park World Series games this year?

Should we self-subsidize the expenses that would occur if we apply for and get a press credential to go back to the Oscars™?

Most Americans (both Liberal and Conservative) don’t want to read about the implications about the quality of the results that the electronic voting machines produce. No one seems concerned about the possibility that “they” might steal another election. If, as some people assert, “they” stole two, why the heck would they want to do it again?

The Conservatives don’t want to see or hear any reports that cast aspersions on Republican candidates or even on Ayn Rand.

The Liberals want to make a concerted effort to get out the vote and not be distracted by the possibility that the electronic voting machines may render their efforts ineffective.

Apparently the slim number of people concerned with the question of whether the Euthanasia Coaster or the Electronic Voting Machines has a better reliability rating means that those topics are only worth a quick mention. If the Euthanasia Coaster and the Electronic Voting Machines were important topics wouldn’t either one or both be mentioned on the Jon Stewart Show?

Do people in other areas of the world want to read about the debate in Berkeley this fall over a proposed sit-lie ordinance? Probably not.

Do citizens want to read a column about a new book that reports that the FBI got very involved in investigating the anti-war protesters at the University of California Berkeley campus in the Sixties? In the era of Homeland Security are over zealous security measures from fifty years ago important? Maybe not. (Google News Search hints: “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals and Reagan’s Rise to Power” and “Seth Rosenfeld”)

Recently we noticed that the Mediterraneum Café in Berkeley offers a beer float. Not a root beer float, but a regular brewski with a scoop of ice cream in it. We checked online and found a few mentions of the concept so we figure it is worth a mention.

That made us wonder about the news items about beer being brewed by the Obamas. How much does one bottle cost? Who gets the proceeds? Do any profits go to the daughters’ college fund? Are bottles sold at outrageously high prices to campaign donors? Does the Democratic Party profit? Are the answers to these questions available in print or electronic media or is quality journalism deteriorating that badly?

What topics are left for a columnist who puts a high priority on the “just for the fun of it” factor of fact finding and material gathering? That is the recurring challenge.

In a country that seems to be on the brink of electing Bishop Romney President, perhaps a series of columns about the general atmosphere in the USA in the fall of 2012 will be of interest to future historians who want material that wasn’t part of the wolf pack journalism produced at the two Political Conventions.

Samuel Johnson wrote: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” We have a suggestion for those ads for a certain credit card company because an “all access” backstage pass to a Rolling Stones concert would be (let’s all say it together) Priceless .

Now the disk jockey will play the Inconcevables song “Hamburger Patti,” The Daddy O’s “Got a match?,” and Hayley Mills’ “Johnny Jingo.” We have to check to see what effect sit-lie ordinances are having in San Francisco and Santa Monica. Have a “hurray for our side” type week.

February 7, 2012

The Case of the Distinctive Voice

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

A distinctive voice coming from a man walking in the shadows is a set-up if most of the people in the audience can identify the voice’s owner. The voice fans in the audience might identify the source before the actor steps into the light and be pleased they didn’t need to see the guy’s mug to I.D. the perpetrator. The celebrity dominated culture in the United States would have been sorely disappointed if the image of the speaker’s face didn’t solve the “who dat?”” puzzle of the familiar voice.

If, thanks to computer wizardry, Rod Serling had stepped out of the shadows most of the viewers on the younger side of the age demographics for the Superbowl audience would have known that it was the Twilight Zone guy.

What would the reaction to a technological cloning have been if it turned out that the voice and the face belonged to be Edward R. Murrow? How many kids on the outside of a School for Journalism would have recognized the “London calling” voice and associated it with daredevil reporting of the highest caliber?

Obviously using the voice and image of W. C. Fields would have had a sabotage effect. Would today’s hipsters recognize, let alone appreciate, Fields’ voice? Do they still sell the posters featuring the once famous comedian? They were ubiquitous in the late Sixties, don’t cha know?

If the computers had produced that Superbowl ad with St. Ronald Reagan stepping out of the shadows, Republicans all across America would have wept openly. It’s morning in America, again, folks and a cinematic cowboy is here to make you feel safe and warm.

Could the folks who want to see the Bush gang hang possibly misinterpret the Cling Eastwood commercial and see it as an endorsement of Dirty Harry tactics that include a complete disregard for the rules of war that were proclaimed at the Nuremburg War Crime Trials?

In some long ago news broadcast we heard a news story that asserted that female infants would pay more attention to the voice of a male stranger than they would to their mother’s voice.

According to a reliable source, over a decade ago a young UCLA coed, who was working as an interviewer for a phone survey, called the provided phone number and started to convince the young man who answered the phone to participate in the poll. He heard her voice and offered to come from New York City for a date in L. A. the following weekend. Since she wasn’t hurting for male attention, she politely declined.

When Johnny Carson made a casual comment about “the late John Carradine,” he got a phone call from the actor saying: “John, at my age it’s hard enough to get work without you announcing to the world that I’m dead.” Carson noted the quality of the voice he was hearing before he moved along to the fact that he then issued an invitation to come on the Tonight Show. Carradine got subsequent invitations to return to that show.

We have read somewhere a story that alleged that David Brinkley one time called into a Washington D. C. contest seeking a David Brinkley sound-alike. He came in second place.

When future radio fans look back on the Post Dubya era, we wonder which voices from 2012 will be the most recognizable.

Uncle Rushbo, of course. Who else?

We have, in past columns, lamented the fact that there seems to be room in the smorgasbord of contemporary culture for a competition for would-be voice over actors, but, alas, our suggestion has fallen upon dead ears.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has begun to do the preliminary fact checking needed as preparation for doing a column on story telling competitions. As luck would have it, the only item produced by several Google searches is something called the Porchlight competition held in San Francisco CA. So maybe we can enter that contest and get some material for a “been there done that” first hand account column about that competition.

Maybe some reader will have additional information to add to the comments for this column and thereby adding to the potential for doing a future column on story telling competitions.

We note that the Liars Hall of Fame seems to be an example of a variation on the tall tales in the field of exaggeration variety rather than an actual Hall of Fame whereby someone who spread the WMD alarm is accused of providing an entry for consideration by the Liars Hall of Fame induction committee.

Don’t some (all?) of the best raconteurs have bits of Irish ancestry in their blood?

Rather than a closing quote per se, we will recount a story that we heard St. Ronald Reagan tell in 1980. While he was campaigning in Iowa, he knocked on a farmer’s door. The man was flabbergasted. “I know you! You’re the actor. I forget your name.” Reagan suggested that as a hint he would supply his initials. The man heard “R. R.” and immediately turned toward the interior of the house and called out: “Mama, come quick and meet Roy Rogers.”

OK you won’t let it slide? You want a real quote as the closing quote?
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets out his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more’ it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

A friend in L. A., chef Teddy B. Owen, may have provided the best closing quote for this column when he said: “The voices in my head have the call waiting feature.”

Now the disk jockey will play Carly Simons’ “You’re So Vain” (Tell me you can’t hear Mick Jagger’s distinctive voice singing backup), Clint Eastwood’s recording of “Born Under a Wandering Star,” and Judy Collins’ version of “Amazing Grace.” We have to go gargle. Have a “stifle talk about unionizing” type of week.

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