June 13, 2014

Hemingway, Cadillacs, and college reunions

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

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Back in the days when Marina del Rey was famous for being the center of the “swinging singles” phenomenon, we knocked on a neighbor’s door searching for a temporary cure for a sever bout of ennui. We asked “What up?” and learned it was Sandy’s 21st birthday. Voila! (Do bartenders still ask to see your draft card to prove that you are old enough to buy drinks?) “Put on your hat, grab your purse; let’s go!” We were off to a dive bar in Santa Monica for the auspicious occasion known as the “first legal drink” ceremony.

The years flew by and now, approximately forty years later, she is getting married and knowing that the World’s Laziest Journalist is functioning in Golden Age of Austerity Budget mode she has made a rather unique wedding gift request. Her wedding will put her into the forefront of the esoteric subject of restoring Cadillac cars and so she asked us to write a column about this new phase of her life.

She suggested we spice up the column with a list of all the great movies that have featured a Cadillac car. In addition, she wants the columnist to find a movie theater that used to be a Cadillac new car showroom.

We immediately contacted our e-buddy, British film critic Mike McCahill (Google hint: Mike McCahill’s blog) to get his suggestions, and then we set about making up our own list of the best movies featuring a Cadillac in a supporting role.

“The Solid Gold Cadillac” from 1955 has to start off the list. “Cadillac Man” and “Cadillac Ranch” were quickly added to the list. We Googled “Cadillacs in movies” and got a very long list of contenders.

Since film festivals are becoming ubiquitous, we had a light bulb moment when we started to think about the list and the need to find a movie theater that used to be a car dealer’s showroom for that particular brand of GM product.

Introducing a girl who has been a good friend for a long time to your girlfriend sounds like something that would be the basis for a question in the Playboy Advisor column. (Do they still use that feature?) Eventually all three of us saw the “No Nukes Concert” together, but we’ll save that story for another time in another column. (Can you believe that at the end of this summer, Bruce Springsteen will be old enough to cash his first Social Security check?)

Since our friend is marrying Frank Nicodemus, who is considered to be the leading expert on Cadillac car restorations and since we have been getting some calls picking our brain about how to write press releases, we began to put two and two together (getting 22?). Cadillac restorations, movie featuring Cadillacs, and a movie theater that used to be a Cadillac showroom?

We have a very strong premonition that as soon as we tell her that the AMC Van Ness 14 movie complex in San Francisco was originally built to serve as a Cadillac dealership, we are going to hear the question: “When you were a kid, did you ever dream of becoming an ‘impresario’?”

Didn’t many of Clint Eastwood’s films feature a Cadillac? Wasn’t he born in Frisco? Doesn’t he live in the Big Sur area?

If we write a column extolling the idea of something that would be “the Cadillac of Film Festivals” and if some young and energetic entrepreneur steals the idea, that might save the World’s Laziest Journalist a great deal of work.

Didn’t Sandy recently ask questions about how one would go about finding a film school student with video equipment and an interest in cars who might be susceptible to the idea of a cable TV show about running around the USA looking for barn finds? It would be a Barnfind Searching Safari, so to speak.

Hmmm. Recently there has been some excitement in the automotive world over the fact that the Chrysler once owned by writer Ernst Hemingway has been found in Cuba and is being restored. Wasn’t Hemingway a famous Cadillac owner also?

Would car aficionados like it if a cable TV show about finding barn finds drove a 1959 Cadillac convertible to Key West for Hemingway Days as a way to stir up interest in the whereabouts of Hemingway’s Cadillac?

Since a 1955 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz convertible that her husband-to-be owns has been used by the Rolling Stones for a publicity event, we suggested that she and Frank Nicodemus get married in that same car as it rolls along on an open highway. Couldn’t the minister drive and recite the wedding ceremony words at the same time? Wouldn’t he and the bride and groom, and the two witnesses all fit into the car? Wouldn’t local news teams go wild to get footage of that event? Heck if TV can provide coverage of a freeway car chase twenty years ago, they sure as heck could cover a freeway wedding, this weekend.

While fact checking around to try to locate where Hemingway’s Cadillac might be hiding, we came across an online challenge for writers to measure the “Hemingway-ness” of their words. The New Yorker magazine is offering wannabes a Hemingway meter reading. (Google hint: “New Yorker Magazine Hemingway Test”)

Didn’t Native American leader Geronimo drive a Cadillac? What happened to that vehicle? How difficult would it be to buy up cars once owned by Elvis, Hemingway, Geronimo, and Al Capone and build a “Cadillac Hall of Fame” tourist attraction?

Is this 28 year old columnist getting too old to put together a pilot episode for a cable TV reality show titled: “On the Road, in a Cadillac, looking for barnfinds”? If so, does that mean that we are too old to do some gonzo punditry about attending our college class’ fiftieth reunion?

George Clayton Johnson, who wrote episodes for the first season of the Twilight Zone TV series (and currently is looking to expand his list of Facebook friends), could probably get a modern episode if he chronicled the trials and exacerbations of a fellow who shows up at his college class’s fiftieth reunion and he doesn’t look like he is a day over 28. What if he is accompanied by a 28 year old female companion? Didn’t Bram Stoker leave a chapter on that challenge out of his best book? Or did that happen to Dorian Gray?

Could a scribe with a great imagination write an entire column speculating about what was in “The Mexican Suitcase”?

We had been planning on banging out a quick column for this week predicting that something reminiscent of The Fall of Saigon would soon happen but we can pencile that in for next week’s column.

The Le Mans race, the start of the World Cup competition, Father’s Day, and assessing blame for the fall of Baghdad will be dominant topics on American TV this weekend so a column about a friend’s wedding will offer us a chance to stress the “Fresh Start” symbolism of a June wedding and a chance to wish our friend well in her new life.

Who knows? If we do a really great job on this column, maybe we will get a job offer and a chance to become the Castle Cadillac publicity agent.

Car buffs like the humor that says “Rolls Royce is the Cadillac of automobiles.”

Information found online indicates that there are thousands of songs with the word Cadillac in the title and ten times as many with that word in the lyrics and so the disk jockey will play Huey Lewis’ “Still the Same,” Elton John’s album “Yellow Brick Road,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” We have to go share the link to this column with all of our posse on Facebook (and ask them to please do the same). Have a “Fall of Saigon 2.0” type week.



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August 16, 2013

“ . . . do you look in the mirror and wish you had hair? . . .”

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

Will next year’s defending America’s cup champ be New Zealand? 

If the mainstream media is ignoring the plight of the Los Angeles county assessor, the story of how San Francisco taxpayers got hustled by the yachters, and any potential link between a California Senator’s husband and the bullet train that voters don’t seem to want, shouldn’t the World’s Laziest Journalist extend an example of interline courtesy and join with the big names in journalism by blowing off those topics?  We won’t harp on the idea that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors seem to be envious of the situation in Marina del Rey that has critics of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors alleging that the unique situation there handed the politicians a cash cow for their reelection campaigns.  Mum’s the word.  Why spoil the surprise for the voters in the San Francisco Bay Area if they are in for an expensive example of “getting blind sided” (again!)?

There is an old folktale (which we just made up) that tells the story of a columnist from the Leprechaun Journalism tradition, who is driving late at night in the industrial section of a large university town and sees an automobile accident occur.  He rushes to the car which is starting to burn and pulls a beautiful damsel from the wrecked vehicle.  Since she has magical powers and she doesn’t want to demean his integrity with offers of numerous writing awards, she makes him an offer that cuts to the very core of his being.  She says he can either win the lottery but must never write again or he can have a very limited online audience which will include the newsrooms at the New York Times, the Columbia Journalism Review, CBS Evening News, and the Berkeley Barb.  If he chooses the latter, he will see some of his most unique insights into national politics in rewritten form used by those august news media but he won’t get any royalty checks.

The World’s Laziest Journalist was reminded of that grim fairytale recently when he noticed that Jalopnik ran a story about taking a flight in the Goodyear Blimp and, a week later, another about a taking a flight in a B-17 G WWII bomber.  We had written about experiencing both modes of transportation many moons ago while functioning as a staff writer for “Just above Sunset” online magazine.

It might seem foolhardy for a columnist, who can wonder if his newest offering will be read by folks at the Sydney Central Backpack Hostel, a film critic in Great Britain, and the 1961 SPHS Scranton Pa. guy, who is one of  the Vice President’s best friends, and, if we send him the link, one of the top editors at Playboy Magazine, to mention the possibility that the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) may go on  strike because they would have the Rhett Butler reaction to such a remote labor dispute.  If, however, the columnist goes to extensive lengths to provide evidence that bolsters a contention that a continuing effort to bust unions and reduce wages is exemplified by that very local bit of labor strife, then such a hypothetical effort might, at least, get a closer read by the denizens of the New York Times newsroom.

Back when the pundits were discussing the possibility that President George W. Bush would order troops to go to Iraq, some wags mentioned “the Pottery Barn” rule.  Now that things in Iraq are spinning way out of control again, we await the resurrection by the war hawks of that principle and a debate about urging President Obama to send some new troops back to Iraq to insure Democracy for the Iraqi people there and to uphold America’s commitment to that country’s freedom fighters.

After noting that Edward Snowden did not seem to reveal any information that was new and heather to, completely unknown by the American public, we have started to wonder if a pundit on the Internets could get into hot water by commenting on facts already known to the American public.  There was a small item online that indicated that Snowden had accused America’s Free Press of complete dereliction of duty after 9-11.  That story was ignored by the mainstream media.

With all that in mind, the World’s Laziest Journalist is starting to think that it might be prudent to search for other more innocuous tidbits of information that would be much less likely to instigate patriotic American Republicans to bandy about the word “traitor” and the phrase “war criminal.”

Would it be an example of irony if some over zealous American Patriot recklessly labeled Edward Snowden as a war criminal for doing what the lead American Prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trails, Robert Jackson, said must be done when an individual perceives that his country is perpetrating some immoral actions in world affairs?

Wouldn’t a columnist be much better off using items such as the information that the San Francisco Beard Papa outlet is a local franchise for a company in Japan that specializes in French pastry and that they are on the verge of expanding into the Hollywood section of Los Angeles?

Folks who regularly read the material produced by the World’s Laziest Journalist know that the columnist has a high regard for the events that took place 79 years ago when Ernest Hemingway and thousands of troops for the Allied Forces liberated Paris might expect that after he finishes reading Michael Neiberg’s new book “The Blood of Free Mena:  the Liberation of Paris, 1944,” a full column review may follow.

This book describes the scoop columnist Alice Moats scored when she sneaked into Paris more than a month before D-Day.  Hemingway got much more publicity for claiming that he arrived in the City of Light a day or two before the other soldiers.

Speaking of WWII, fans of the fifty year old novel “Catch-22” will want to consider reading the new book by Patricia Chapman Meder titled:  “The True Story of Catch-22” (the real men and Missions of Joseph Heller’s 340th Bomb Group in World War II).  The author was the daughter of Willis E. Chapman, who was “Col. Cathcart” and she provides the fact finding keys for the classic war novel romain a clef.

Fans of Heller’s novel may well want to learn all the background information knowing that this new book will increase their enjoyment of the half century old classic and, perhaps, inspire them to go back (to their college days?) and reread Heller’s book.

That reminds us, we should go back and search for the passage that explains how Yossarian bought eggs for a nickel each and sold them for three cents each but still made a profit.

The Occupy the steps of the Berkeley Post Office Building effort was still continuing as this column was being posted.

Recently, we bought a used bargain copy of “Beyond Coincidence” by Martin Plimmer and Brian King.  Chapter two, which is a series of examples, opens with a story of a woman in Berkeley CA, who went outside her home and became locked out.  While fretting about her dilemma, the postman arrived and handed her a letter from her brother in the state of Washington.  He had visited recently and sent the letter to return a spare key he had been using.

Speaking of obscure but influential, one might think that there would not be an example of the concept “an obscure recording by Elvis Presley” but since these are the dog days in the news (and punditry?) business when the Congressional summer vacation means that there won’t be much political news and since Friday August 16, 2013, is Elvis Memorial Day, we’ll try to listen to the laughing version of “Are you lonesome tonight.”

While a performance in Las Vegas was being recorded, Elvis changed the lyrics and broke himself and the band up with laughter.

The musical group Daddy Yankee has posted a video on Youtube for their song about gasoline.  Since the anniversary of the day Elvis Presley (supposedly) died will coincide with the publication date for the next World’s Laziest Journalist “the week in the rearview mirror” column, we found that the Elvis track, allegedly proclaimed by Paul McCartney to be the best recording ever by Elvis, had less views than the ditty about what makes cars go.  The laughing version of “Are you lonesome tonight” was at the 70,000 hit level when we checked.  “Gasolina” has racked up more than 38 million hits.

New words for 2013?  How about “selfie”?  It means a self portrait and usually referrs to something of the kind of tourist snapshot plus mug shot combined that are posted by young folks on Facebook.  It seems like a gimme to think that this word will land on the list of new words for this year.

[Note from the photo editor:  The sports world extravaganza known as the America’s Cup Yacht Races is being assessed as a fiasco for this year, but the media is overlooking one important aspect of the minor sports news story:  taxpayers in the Bay Area, thanks to some contract lawyers who earned their fees, will be obliged to cover any financial shortfall.  News photos of the sporting event may have some stock shot value for political pundits if the citizens ever decide to make a retroactive fuss over the fact they have been hustled.]

“Kim” Hubbard said:  “Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature.”

Now the disk jockey will play a song that tells the story of Elvis set to music in Bill Parsons’ (Bobby Bare) song “The All American Boy,” Elvis’ saddest song “Old Shep,” and the laughing version of “Are you lonesome tonight.”We have to go see if we can purchase a Kangaroos Football Club t-shirt.  Have a “do you look in the mirror and wish you had hair” type week.

August 29, 2011

The Unholy GOP Three and He Who Must Not Be Mentioned Except in Disdain


January 21, 2011

Republicans: “My way or the highway!”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:39 pm

After writing a column speculating about a way to get some Conservative friends to listen to Mike Malloy’s radio program, one replied and said that he would offer me a wager about my effort to read Ayn Rand because he knew I hadn’t read any of her novels and he also offered the opinion that I should listen to Glenn Beck because his philosophy is remarkably similar to Gandhi’s. It was at that point that I became aware of the fact that I should accept the lesson that President Obama refuses to learn: the conservative version of open-mindedness is a binary choice between “my way or the highway.”

Will the subtle message conveyed by the fact that Gandhi’s autobiography was “The Story of My Experiments with Truth” escape my notice? Is that the basis for the comparison to Beck? Does Beck do with facts what Houdini did with elephants?

Dialogue with Conservatives is impossible. This columnist would be better served by applying his energy to the task of getting press credentials for the next 24 hour race at Le Mans or finding a copy of “Atlas Shrugged.”

Why did we specifically pick Mike Malloy rather than some other less acerbic liberal talk show host? The answer would be because we were including results from a test suggested by Bill O’Reilly. Back when he had a radio program, the Billster suggested a method to use for selecting reliable sources of information. O’Reilly, at that time, was crusading against Kitty Kelly’s book about the Bush family and he urged readers to select three items and fact check them. He pontificated that she would fail such a test and that her book was an unreliable smear job.

We had to go to the research Library at UCLA to find such esoteric resources as a way to check the accuracy of what Kitty Kelly said about one particular story published by a New York newspaper on July 30, 1941. We not only learned that she was correct, but also we picked up additional facts about Fritz Thyssen, Knight Wooley, and the Union Banking Corporation which came in handy later when Conservatives were discussing arcane items from the Bush family history.

Doing fact checking about New York newspapers printed in 1941 was possible in Los Angeles and can also be done in Berkeley, but we have some strong doubts about the access to that kind of fact checking resources for residents in Concordia Kansas.

We checked out the source for the Kelly claim that George W. Bush had, as a child, tormented frogs. (Kelly blatantly ignored the possibility that the frogs presented a credible security threat.) [In the past, we have read John Douglas’s book “Mind Hunter.” He helped pioneer the FBI profiler program. He said that kids who tortured animals were more likely to become serial killers.] Her source corroborated Kelly’s contention. (What does Glenn Beck’s philosophy have to say about the word “corroboration”?)

A third example of fact checking (about the time when Poppy Bush bailed out of his bomber during World War II) was successful and thus by O’Reilly’s own standards, readers could continue relying on “The Bush Family” for accurate information. Ironically, that simultaneously proved that O’Reilly’s insistence that any such test would discredit the Kelly book was itself wrong and thus O’Reilly was discredited by his own criteria about reliable sources performing at the “no hitter” level of quality.

At times, when we have fact checked Mike Malloy, he has passed the O’Reilly test and so we believe that if Malloy passes random fact checks that means (by O’Reilly’s own standards) that Malloy can be trusted. Furthermore, if Malloy’s facts are valid then the Republican track record veers toward war crimes, favoritism (for the rich), and union busting which indicates that the average working man may not get a fair deal.

Therefore we jumped to the conclusion that since Malloy passed the O’Reilly test, he would be the best basis for a recommendation that conservatives should give him a test listen to get a reliable different point of view.

All the foregoing is predicated on the idea that Conservatives might be interested in knowing accurate specifics about opposing points of view. Wrong! Weren’t Germans who listened, during World War II, to news not disseminated by the official government news source, automatically considered to be disloyal citizens? In the conservative mind, isn’t listening to Malloy comparable to urging Germans during World War II to listen to unapproved news? Reading resistance newspapers in Paris during the occupation meant that the reader would risk his (or her) life to get the information provided. Would you take that risk just to get an opposing point of view that’s wrong?

Speaking of Combat newspaper, Camus, and Sartre; how far is Le Mans from Paris? Are their any good hostels close to the race course?

After JEB is inaugurated (in January of 2013) will he reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and use that to knock Malloy off the airwaves? (Would any conservative dare assert that Malloy is fair?) If so, why waste time and energy now getting conservative friends to listen to Malloy?

The very same liberals who do not see the philosophy of Gandhi in the words of Glenn Beck are the very same people who would assert that Malloy would not be adversely affected by a Republican sponsored measure to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine and eliminate unfair biased political punditry of the kind that Mike Malloy delivers to his audience.

Speaking of JEB and his inauguration, we have to do some more fact checking. The casinos in Las Vegas apparently don’t take bets on political races. British bookies are reported to accept bets on items outside the realm of sports. Can good patriotic red blooded Americans legally make an online wager with a British bookie from California? If not, can Americans send a bet to a bookie in London via snail mail? If not; perhaps it’s time to start searching for a short duration crash pad in Great Britain before going to Harry’s New York Bar (cinq rue Daunou) and the Le Mans race?

Cynics are implying that things are bad and that the USA has become a nation of sheep. Conservatives will respond with a trivia question about what fictional character coined the phrase “Silence of the Lambs” and how much was that imaginary guy to be trusted?

Are the same standards applied to what Don Imus says and what Rush Limbaugh says while imitating the comic genius of Sid Caesar?

If the liberals are going to misconstrue the pacifist teaching of St. Glenn into an example of inciting a riot, communication between the opposing factions of the American political scene is impossible and a columnist would be better off researching and writing columns about less factious topics such as the growing popularity of snapshot collecting.

Ayn Rand, in “Atlas Shrugged,” wrote: “Man has the power to act as his own destroyer – and that is the way he has acted through most of his history.” OMG! Doesn’t that sound to you like something a Global Warming theory nut, might say?

Now the disk jockey will be sure to please Conservatives by playing the Elvis version of these songs: “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “Known Only to Him,” and “Edge of Reality.” [Note: we asked the disk jockey to play Elvis’ “Old Shep,” but he claimed that his rare and valuable copy of that particular song was out on loan to Rev. Dan in L. A. thinking that we couldn’t fact check that, but the Music for Nimrods program is now available for download so we can do some fact checking.] We have to go to the Zoo and take some snapshots of the polar bears (Ursus Maritimus) because those photos might be collectors’ items someday soon. Have a “Satori” type week.

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