September 27, 2013

One hand washes the other

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:31 pm

Team Oracle teaches the “Never say Never” lesson

On Saturday September 21, 2013, film director William Friedkin was scheduled to do a book signing, for his new autobiography “The Friedkin Connection:  A Memoir,” at the Pacific Film Archive before a screening of “Cruising.”  Going there and taking some photos seemed like a relatively easy way to get some shots to use as the lead-in photo for this column.  After taking some paparazzi style arrival photos, our enthusiasm for the busman’s holiday work nosedived.  Instinctively we knew the frames we had were lousy and that to get “the shot” for this event we would have to go into the book signing and that could be accomplished only by paying the price of admission for the first film and we were intimidated by the prospect of shelling out our money just for the privilege of helping a guy who arrived in a limousine sell extra copies of his new book.  We balked at the opportunity but at least he got the lead position in this book wrangler’s wrap-up column.

Three years from now, there will have been three more World Series played and three more Superbowls will be in the history books, but the next American Presidential election will still be more than a month in the future.  Three more installments of the Oscar™ Awards TV special will have been broadcasted before the Election Night coverage goes on the air.

It seems to the World’s Laziest Journalist that even if any of our hero writers, Hemingway, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson were still alive and churning out content, they would have a serious problem with the challenge of writing material from now until then that would hold readers’ interest and be worth the effort.

Fox will have no trouble churning out simultaneously criticism of both President Obama and the front runner, Mrs. Clinton, but could Hunter S. Thompson sustain the “game day” level of intense enthusiasm for that long?

Could a long sustained series of very discouraging news broadcasts cause a country to suffer a collective nervous breakdown?  Maybe by the time the 2016 Presidential Election is being held the “Top Forty” radio format will be experiencing a revival.

If a photographer with a blog had access to getting good close up photos of famous personalities such as the President and/or the former First Lady every day for the next three years, wouldn’t the hypothetical photog eventually run out of motivation to sustain the effort?

Obviously, if some potential aspect of pop culture is going to motivate a writer for one more week, or for three more years, there is going to have to be a great deal of indulgence for personal preferences as the explanation for various self appointed story assignments and topic selections.

For example, if a writer tried and failed to get press credentials to cover the 1968 Democratic National Convention it seems unlikely that a good connection between then and now will hold the writer’s or readers’ attention, but if that same fellow saw Jimmy Clark, Phil Hill, and Lorenzo Bandini compete in Formula One car races, then it is quite likely that he will find a flimsy pretext for slipping a plug (or a full length column as film review) into the mix when “Rush,” the new Ron Howard movie about auto racing, is released.  Heck, the mainstream media crowd seems content to use the horse race analogy every four years; maybe a column about the guys who drive Ferraris could be used as a metaphor for the 2016 Presidential Election.

Our friend writer Dennis Etchison is plunging into the Facebook world with some posts touting his new writing project, so why not help a friend?  The book “Mathison by Mathison” is the transcript of a two-and-a-half hour conversation Etchison had with Richard Matheson about his career.  It will soon be available from Bad Moon Books.  Their web site offers advanced copies autographed by Etchison and Mathison’s son.

“Turtle on the Fencepost Finding Faith through Doubt,” by Richard B. Patterson, has been mentioned in a previous column and, odds are, it will be plugged again before the results of the 2016 Presidential Election results are broadcasted.

“Eat, Drink, Vote,” by Marion Nestle gets a plug just for the clever title.

“Humboldt” by Emily Brady should be of interest to folks looking into the topic of marijuana.  Speaking of counties in California, Modoc and Siskiyou counties have voted to secede from the state of California and are starting the process of forming a new state.

Sunday, September 22, 2013, looked like it would be the day that New Zealand would win this year’s America’s Cup racing trophy and we considered going over to San Francisco and getting some grab shots that would help lure some new Kiwi eyeballs to the humble offerings of political punditry by the World’s Laziest Journalist, but then, once again, we suffered an attack of motivation starvation.  Even if we learned conclusively that the Prime Minister of New Zealand read our column about the inevitable victory . . . so what?

A sports editor taught young reporters:  “Never say never.”  We wanted to get a bet down on Joe Nameth and the Jets so much, but we couldn’t find a bookie.  The fellow at the desk next to us was reported to be a bookie who didn’t lay off.  We never saw him again.  Are there any books about Judge Crater?

If we write the first column that brings up a new topic and that topic (with no reference to where it originated) that goes viral . . . so what?  Has a book full of illustrations of “slap art” been published?  What art museum will be the first to hold a show spotlighting the “slap art” in contemporary culture?

Low level functionaries like Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden used their ability to access all sorts of online information and then put that information online for what they perceived to be altruistic reasons.  We wonder when someone will resort to the good old American way of thinking and use their access to all things Internet to make some money.  Does Macy’s tell Gimbels’ what their game plan is?  Would the executives at Gimbels’ pay a fellow to help them read the e-mails of the high level management at Gimbels’?  You bet your bippy they’d fork over some big bucks for access to that material.

The New York Times Book Review Section tipped us to the new book “The American Way of Poverty” by Sasha Abramsky.  It would probably provide us with a basis for a good column but we won’t run out a buy a copy, we’ll wait and see if the Berkeley Public Library gets a copy.

The South Branch of the Berkeley Public Library does have a copy of “Deadline Artist – Scandals, Tragedies & Triumphs: More of American’s Greatest Newspaper Columns” edited by John Avlon, Jesse Angelo, and Errol Louis.

“Never Odd or Even” by O. V. Michaelsen features limericks and word play.  A revised edition is available by advanced sale on Amazon and we are looking forward to reading it because we know the author.

If plugging books written by friends is a human trait, what happens in Washington D. C. when nationally known journalists have to wheel and deal with powerful politicians to get access to personally delivered “no comment” responses to their questions?    Could it be that they trade in favors to achieve fair and balanced plugs?

The “On the Road” subgenre of literature is a personal favorite and so we were delighted to get a copy of Larry McMurtry’s “Roads:  Driving America’s Great Highways,” which is a transcription of some soliloquies he composed while driving on some of America’s best known highways.  We suggested that the Beat Museum stock that item in the bookstore section of their tourist attraction in San Francisco.

The management at the Cadillac automobile restoration firm run by Frank Nicodemus in “upstate” New York mentioned that they were sending a 1954 restored convertible to their client in California’s wine country but we missed out on a chance to collect some column material (and scratch an item off the bucket list) by getting a ridealong on the coast-to-coast road trip.

The San Francisco Public Library’s fall used book sale, where we were delighted to find a copy of Stephen Bates’ “If no news, send Rumors: Anecdotes of American Journalism,” continues through Sunday at Fort Mason.

[Photo editor’s note:  News photos taken this week at the America’s Cup Final will have a high stock shot value because the event (and the topic of subsidies provided by taxpayers) will be discussed for years to come and will be the subject for many books.]

In “The Best of Herb Caen 1960 – 1975” we noticed this passage about the arrival of Spring in 1964:  “At this time of year, I always remember the blind man on Market St. with a sign around his neck reading ‘It is Spring and I am Blind’ . . . .”  That made us wonder if Republicans pretended they didn’t see him?

The disk jockey will play “Tell Laura I love her,” “Leader of the Pack,” and “Deadman’s Curve.”  We have to rush out to see “Rush.”  Have a “checkered flag” type week.

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