April 11, 2014

Tanks, cars, and books

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:27 pm


Napoleon learned the hard way that waging war during winter in Russia is a brutal ordeal.  Hitler disregarded his military advisors advice and dawdled for a few weeks before implementing their strategy.  The postponement caused the German army to relearn Napoleon’s military lesson that was readily available in the history books.

American news reporters and political pundits apparently aren’t aware that Vladimir Putin would be much more versed in Russian history than they are and led their audiences to think that after the winter games were concluded the Russian leader would immediately make a military move in the Ukraine.  The American journalists’ eager anticipation of doing voiceovers for dramatic video of new hostilities in that region is getting bogged down in the spring thaw mud.

If the newsies would read up on military history they could sound authoritative and knowledgeable if they advised their audience to expect any military movement in late spring or very early summer.  Televised news thrives on expediency and so they disregard practical considerations and emphasis that Putin could send troops into the Ukraine any minute rather than taking the spring thaw into account.

[For a different perspective on Putin try reading Christian Neef’s commentary “It’s time to stop romanticizing Russian” in the English language section of Der Spiegel’s web site.]

Some folks think that a guy who was community organizer will not be pushed around by a former KGB agent who was born in Leningrad.  This columnist is prepared to bet otherwise.

While we are waiting for the news readers’ time schedule for life-and-death drama to unfold on dry ground, we seized an opportunity to see the exhibition of French Impressionist paintings at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco while simultaneously reading Christopher Moore’s speculative fiction novel “Sacré Bleu” about the same group of famous artists.

The San Francisco show may lure some French Impressionist enthusiasts from “shakey town” up to the Bay area just to see that particular exhibition and we don’t think they will be disappointed by the effort.  It is closer and cheaper than a trip to Paris, eh?

Since Christopher Moore is publicizing his newest book, “Serpent of Venice,” and he is coming to the Bay area to do a book signing event at 7 p.m., at Books Inc. on April 22 later this month, we sent him a suggestion that he might like to see the show at the Legion of Honor and we are attempting to perhaps interview him while he is in Frisco, so that we can get some exclusive information which will give us another chance to plug his newest novel again in a future column.

While sensation seeking journalists eagerly anticipate Putin’s next move, for columnists, April is a smorgasbord of topics.  The Titanic, the century old run-up to WWI, the similarity of events in the late Thirties to the show down in the Ukraine, and yet another chance to write about National Columnists’ Day (April 18) and see if we can enlist the aid once again of Jim Romenesko, who runs an “inside baseball” website for journalists, to help us in our annual effort to raise awareness of the date which marks the day when famed columnist Ernie Pyle was killed in action during WWII.

Meanwhile car enthusiasts are busy preparing to celebrate the Ford Mustang’s 50th birthday.

Since coast to coast journeys always get our attention, we will plug the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Beer Camp effort to promote a celebration of hand crafted beer even though we haven’t had a brew in several decades.  Do they need a designated driver/columnist?

Willie Nelson is famous for playing musical gigs at American Honkey Tonk bars and since he will be playing two shows at UCB’s Greek Theater this weekend, we will henceforth be tempted to think of the local world famous learning establishment as being “Honky Tonk U.”

The Ambush Review is holding a poetry reading at the Beat Museum in San Francisco on the night when this column will be posted and so we may feel obligated to cover the event in the hopes that it will become a milestone in literary history similar to another one  that happened in that same city many years ago.

This month we intend to do some fact checking on the pop culture beat to learn more about “the Spleen” from the Mystery Men.  It seems the fellow’s super abilities are unleashed when he gets a positive response to his signature challenge:  “Pull my finger!”

NBC has caused a sensation this week by starting a search for new sit-com talent by issuing an opportunity to make an online pitch.  (Google hint:  NBCComedyPlayground dot com)

War usually gets such bad publicity that we were very glad to see that the premise for the new book “The Love-charm of Bombs,” by Lara Feigel is that the Battle of Britain provided an exciting and romantic backdrop for Great Britain’s social elite to have extra-marital love affairs.  Wasn’t it called the “live life to the hilt” approach to contending with impending doom?

If American news media stations assign some correspondents to go to Perth to monitor the MH 370 search efforts, does that mean that they will, during the wait, be expected to start filing feature stories about the charms and tourist attractions available in the W. A.?  The million square mile state known as Western Australia is called “the W. A.” by locals.

Maybe some of the visiting journalists will note that a large number of local vehicles feature snorkels and that indicates a high likelihood for some freelance assignments from America’s 4wd publications?  What journalist doesn’t love the prospect of some extra loot via a bit of freelancing done on the side?

Speaking of “appropriate setting,” Kalgoorlie is the perfect place for an American to hear Bobby Bare’s “Five Hundred Miles” song.

Fans of the film “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” might want to read about the Prospectors’ Hall of Fame which is located in (relatively speaking) nearby Kalgoorlie.

[Note from the columnist:  We have been posting a column almost every week for 15 years but due to some temperamental vintage computer equipment, we might be forced to go AWAL one of these weeks.  We’ll start taking preventative measures, but there are no guarantees in life, eh?]

[Note from the photo editor:  We illustrated the 50th birthday for the Ford Mustang by running a file photo taken a few years back at the Los Angeles Shelby American Auto Club’s annual car show.]

In “hip: the history,” by John Leland, readers are informed that George W. S. Trow wrote:  “To wear a fedora, I must first torture it out of shape so that it can be cleaned of the embarrassment in it.”

The disk jockey will play Wilson’ Pickett’s “Mustang Sally,” the theme music from “Un Homme et une Femme,” and Marianne Faithful’s “Ballad of Lucy Jordan.”  We have to go inquire about how to get a press pass to cover this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race.  Have a “why do we do this, Buzz?,” type week.

March 9, 2012

Is Reality Extinct?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:33 pm

With video a player can become a virtual Juan Manuel Fangio
Seeking out the Red Baron
Andy Jordan reports from Moscone Center for the Wall Street Journali

The events of the first full week in March of 2012 can all be used to provide evidence to support the theory that in the future historians and psychologists will look back at this week and conclude that Super Tuesday week was when reality became extinct in the USA.

While waiting for Monday morning’s installment of Uncle Rushbo’s parade of propaganda to begin, we played the new San Francisco game of “find the program.” Radio stations in fog city have started to play an audio version of three card Monty and it is a challenge to find out which station is now carrying the program you want to hear. Thus we inadvertently tuned in to Armstrong and Getty who were asking if the Fatherland Security Agency was intended to be a means for hassling Americans and teaching unquestioning subservience and not doing much to help prevent any terrorist attacks.

Was this week’s story about a basketball game that featured the chanting of “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” an example of evidence that helps to prove that the United States is slowly adopting the philosophy of “One Fatherland, One Conservative point of view in the media, and One Political Dynasty”?

Then Uncle Rushbo made his clever apology for apologizing, which precipitated an avalanche of commentary about Limbaugh’s level of sincerity. By the next day, Super Tuesday, Uncle Rushbo was asserting that the Republican Party is not waging a war on women. You think they are? “Get your mind right, Luke.”

Then came the Super Tuesday results which didn’t prove anything and only unleashed a torrent of speculation about who would get the nomination if none of the guys, who have spent vast fortunes for ads in/on conservative owned media, get enough delegates to cinch the nomination. The consensus of opinion seems to be that if the Republican Party can’t get a nominee from the selection of those still standing in the elimination process, then they will have to give the nomination to someone else who is tan, fit, and well rested.

Norm Goldman, the radio talk show host who has conniptions when the Republican Party calls their opponents the “Democrat Party,” played a sound byte of conservative talk show host Mark Levine using the dreaded “c-word” (One of George Carlin’s Seven Deadly Words) to make a reference to President Obama. (So why not call the Fascists the Republic party? What’s the difference between a Republic and a Democracy?)

The FCC is disregarding the reality of the sound byte that contains Levine saying that word which calls for an automatic drastic response from their agency and is, instead, acting as if it is a case of “no harm, on foul.”

The Armed Forces Radio is ignoring calls to dump Limbaugh. It would be different if he were an offensive liberal voice.

The series of several preliminary primary elimination elections around the USA will be inconclusive so why is the news media obsessing over the nitpicking irrelevant details and not focusing in on the charade by Republicans aspect? Why are they ignoring the possibility that the eventual nominee is going to bring back the clichés about “shady deals made in smoke filled rooms”?

The media is following its trained dog and pony show orders and also skipping over a debate about the pros and cons of sending drones to bomb Syria to protect its citizens from slaughter just as they avoided such debates before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The possibility of bombing Iran to prevent that country from developing nuclear weapons is being treated by journalists as if the start date is the only news. The particulars about the how and why of the war are unimportant, the big news will be when it actually starts. Revealing that the war has started will be just like one of those regularly scheduled big announcements from Apple Computers. The war is in development and when it actually becomes available to the journalists there will be a big press conference to make the announcement and elaborate on some of the distinctive features of the new war.

There was a major announcement from Apple this week in San Francisco. The Wednesday morning news conference just happened to coincide with the World’s Laziest Journalist’s weekly excursion to San Francisco and to Molinari’s Delicatessen for an Italian sausage sandwich; so we tried to squeeze a visit to the news conference into the day’s to do list. Even though we knew one of the security guards we were unsuccessful in our attempt to pull off a Gonzo crash the gates maneuver at the event which was “by invitation only.”

We were able to use Gonzo Journalism methods to get into the Game Developers Conference (GDC) at the Moscone Convention Center and discovered a smorgasbord of evidence to support our contention that reality has become extinct.

The object of video games is to acquire virtual assets which can be sold “in the real world” (and also to have as much fun as possible in the process).

To the World’s Laziest Journalist, “imaginary adventures” immediately conjures up one iconic image: “Here is the WWI ace standing by his Sopwith Camel about to go seeking an aerial dual with the Red Baron.”

The military experts (one American, one British, both tankers) at War Gaming dot net quickly informed us that we had only one game as a possibility and that would be “Rise of Flight.”

The British chap also helped clear up one of our misperceptions about a military legend. British General Bernard L. Montgomery could not have possibly sent German General Erwin Rommel the message “I read your book (you bastard!)” because Rommel had, at that point in history, only published one book, which was about the Infantry and not armored vehicles.

We immediately commenced a recon patrol to find “Rise of Flight.”

In the search we came across folks from the University of Pittsburg promoting the game “Doctor Transplant,” which is a game which teaches players all about the topic of organ transplants. When we were young playing doctor was very verboten territory.

We came across a man who had just retired from a career in banking and was now helping promote a video gardening game called Garden Quest. Players will learn things which will deliver practical knowledge which can be transferred into real life and enthusiastic replies to the question “How does your garden grow?”

We participated in a virtual roller coaster ride that was augmented by a very expense chair that delivers the sensations of physical movement and thus makes the ride feel like an authentic amusement park experience. We suggested that they should offer a copy of the game and one of the chairs to the Playboy Mansion in L. A.

Someone somewhere was bound to start a video games museum and sure enough, we encountered the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment and it just happens to be located in Oakland CA and so we might devote a future column to their story.

When we spotted a large red case decorated with a black Maltese cross, we honed in on that like a heat-seeking video missile. “Curse you, Red Baron! We will meet again someday and when we do, you will rue the day!”

There is (to the best of our ability to ascertain) no video game about journalism, let alone a Gonzo Game. There is a game for a simulated paperboy peddling his route experience.

Pub Games (from Melbourne Australia) got its company name when the guys working there discovered that they did their most creative work after they rang out for the day and adjourned for the day to the local pub. (What about a combination video-drinking game for use in pubs?)

On Wednesday, while we were exploring the Game Developers Conference the pundits were reacting to Senator McCain’s suggestion that the USA unleash a wave of drone attacks on Syria to help protect that country’s citizens. Apparently he, like most members of the Republican Party, think that collateral deaths is a virtual entity in a video game and not a country full of real life dead and wounded civilians.

Speaking of the nasty Republican Party, since we are big fans of Ernest Hemingway, and since the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica (April 26, 1937) is coming soon, perhaps we should have looked for a Spanish Civil War Game? Even whilst it was happening many Americans couldn’t figure out which side deserved cheers for being “the good guys.” Were the Republicans also called “the Falangists,” or was that the other guys? Essentially it was the Commies vs. the Nazis, wasn’t it? Which of those two opposing factions would you pick as being “the good guys”?

We didn’t see a video panning for gold game, either, come to think of it.

What’s not to like about a game where Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), in the “Treasure of the Sierra Madre (at the very top of our list of best movies of all time)” offers this challenge: “I’ll bet you . . . $150,000 you fall asleep first.” Now there’s a game!

Now the disk jockey will play the theme song from the movie “The Vikings,” the theme song from “El Cid,” and the theme song from “The Twilight Zone.” (Is there a licensed Twilight Zone game?) We have to go investigate some schools offering a degree in game design. Have a “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!” type week.

June 3, 2011

That’s how extortionists roll

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:33 pm

The American Heritage Dictionary says that one meaning for the word extortion is “the criminal offense of using one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage to which one is not entitled.” It can also mean “the exaction of an exorbitant price.” No nationally known and respected political pundits are using that word to describe the political maneuvering that the Republicans are using to get the Democrats to agree to some harsh budget cuts. One or two radical bloggers who are jealous of the media attention given to the nobility of journalism, such as Bart the Bright, might bandy that word about recklessly in the hopes of landing a guest expert gig on a fair and balanced political TV debate program, but such rogues would also be prone to be card carrying members of the Associated Secret Society of Konspiracy Investigation Scholars and Students (You figure out their acronym) and the transparency of their grandstanding attempt would be apparent.

The National Lampoon magazine cover that depicted a cowering dog with a gun aimed at his head had the headline: “Buy this magazine or we’ll shoot the dog!” That was a funny example of extortion but to use that word with regard to what the Republicans are doing is reprehensible.

Is it extortion if the threat of reprisals is only implied? At this point, the Democrats have to ask themselves one more question: “Do I feel lucky?”

Is the military action against Libya listed as an active “war”? In all the excitement of the Arab Spring, we’ve kinda lost track of the exact count. Is it two or thee active wars?

The Scientists have learned how to manipulate the media to their own advantage by using polar bears (Ursis Maritimus) to extort alarmist reactions from the journalists and now they are doubling down with a crazy story about cell phones causing sterility in human males. Really? “Don’t worry, baby, we won’t need a condom because we are protected by my constant cell phone use!”?

Recently Karl Rove was a guest on Shaun Hannity’s radio program and when he was asked to evaluate all the Republicans trying to become their party’s next Presidential candidate, he forgot JEB Bush. Rove has worked for the Bush family since 1973 and he forgot JEB. How come journalists think Rove is a master of political strategy if he can forget JEB? . . . Say, you don’t think that was what the real political pundits call a “ploy,” do ya?

As the 2011 anniversary of D-Day approaches, the USA’s population of homeless is growing even as the number of empty homes that have been foreclosed increases rapidly.

When President Obama said that the bombing of Libya to protect its citizens from a ruthless leader wouldn’t last for days or weeks, was he trying to say that he knew then that it would take months?

If the part of the Constitution that says that Congress must vote to approve any new wars is obsolete, what other parts of that document are no longer viable?

What ever happened to the news reports from the folks who started releasing information about radiation levels in the USA following the nuclear disaster in Japan? Would it be accurate to make a snide reference to “Gone With The Wind,” if the prevailing weather patterns might actually be increasing the amount of atomic fallout?

Speaking of the all time greatest movies, has any political pundit pointed out the window of opportunity for a sequel to “The Blob”? The monster is flown to the artic and put in a de facto state of suspended animation. The victims agree that they will have no worries “as long as the Artic stays cold.” This columnist has been told that there is at least one palm tree living (in retirement?) in Paris (France, not Texas).

The residual good will generated by the American led efforts to liberate Europe in WWII, is rapidly diminishing. Could it be compared to a melting snowman?

Are America’s claims to being “the Good Guys” perceived in The Hague much like the spectacle of an old woman traipsing down Main Street in scanty attire?

Wouldn’t being a paid staff member of an American news organization stationed in The Hague be an example of a sinecure? (Note: being a lazy journalist requires doing some work; doing none at all disqualifies a person from competing in any lazy journalism competition.) Was using a story that warned an American that he would be arrested if he showed up in Switzerland for a speaking engagement an example of journalism or a tip-off? What is President Obama’s status as far as a visit to The Hague is concerned? If you don’t know, then we rest our case.

Speaking of Freedom of the Press and the Normandy Invasion, did you know that there was one printing plant that transitioned from printing Wehrmacht to producing the Paris edition of YANK? We culled that tidbit of information from the Introduction to “The Best from YANK the Army Weekly” (E. P. Dutton & Co. hardback 1945)

The American TV program “Boston Legal” used to feature some eloquent oratory that questioned the wisdom of America’s invasion of Iraq. What ever happened to that program? We liked the traditional “balcony time” closing sequences.

On Memorial Day, the morning shift DJ on KALX threw an excerpt from President St. Ronald Reagan’s first Inaugural Address into the mix. He thoroughly denounced deficit spending before he started doing just that. The Republicans made fun of Senator John Kerry for “flip-flopping.” It’s only bad when a Democrat does it. Double standards can be so convenient. Life is so much easier when your theology is extrapolated from the novels of Ayn S. Rand.

On Thursday, June 2, 2011, liberal talk show host Mike Malloy was aghast at the fact that folks from the Food Not Bombs organization had been arrested in Orland Florida for feeding the homeless. To him, there was a massive amount of irony involved in compassionate conservative Christians passing the law that was broken.

Malloy has made references to George Orwell’s novel, 1984, but he has obviously failed to master the basic concept of double think. Mike, baby, when ya going to learn? If thine enemy strikes thee, turn the other cheek . . . then commit war crimes!

Ayn S. Rand, in Atlas Shrugged (was Atlas a nihilist?), wrote: “Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions.” Didn’t Capt. Queeg use logic to prove conclusively that there was another key?

If you don’t think that arresting people who think they are Jesus doing the loaves and fishes routine isn’t a rational move to protect the public interest, then there’s no hope for you. Hunger is eternal. Is there a final solution to the problem of hungry homeless people? Isn’t removing the symptoms (from view) the same as curing the disease?

Now the disk jockey will play: “Faithful Forever,” “I Poured My Heart into a Song,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Wishing” (all of which were nominated for the Best Song Oscar™ in 1939). We have to go use the time machine to buy some Tono-Bungay. Have a “Fred C. Dobbs don’t say nothin’ he don’t mean” type week.

March 16, 2011

Nihilism for fun and profit

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:31 pm

As a child, this columnist found a hypnotic allure to all things nihilistic even though the thought that “it’s all an exercise in futility” was completely incomprehensible to a kid who was living in a world where all things were possible. Was my classmate Joey Biden there when one of the nuns told us that anyone of us could become President of the United States? At the end of the movie “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” the old prospector and one of his young protégées laugh as the fruit of their year of labor blows away in the wind. Really? People can do that?

Sitting in Berkeley waiting for the authorities to say again that the events in Japan will have no impact on this California city, knowing that if they candidly admitted that the outlook was bleak there would be nothing that could be done except to begin a search for any possible “end of the world orgy” nearby, brought to mind the words of the old guy in the aforementioned movie. He advised his young partner to laugh and make the most of the situation. Now after a lifetime full of stolen elections, broken campaign promises, and endless petroleum wars, suddenly the message of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” has snapped into clear focus.

Why listen to news? Why not slap an old tape into the player and listen to Jerry Lee Lewis wish that he wasn’t middle age crazy but actually was 18 again. “Going places I’d never seen.”

What would you give to see a living legend sing? We’ve had the experience of seeing old Jerry Lee perform at the legendary Palomino in North Hollywood. That famous night club is long gone and we don’t know where the hell our Pal T-shirt is. Oh, well, it’s like the line in one of his songs: “If I had the time, I’d do it all again.” We all know what memories can bring; they bring diamonds and rust.

“We lost cousin Davey in the Korean War; still don’t know what for”

Liberal bloggers spent hours pounding out columns pointing out that Bush was duplicating the Nazi War Crimes. Along came Barry and he retroactively approved the Bush methodology and urged the Democrat voters to forgive and forget.

Now, we might send troops to Libya. The spirit of George Bush lives on!

We heard an news item that indicates that General Patraus will ask for more troops for the war in Afghanistan. I once was blind but now I see. You go, Barry, and remember the old John Wayne philosophy: “Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

The American government spokesman says there is nothing to worry about regarding radio active fallout from Japan. Libya? Tell ‘em the Marines are coming to protect BP’s oil.

Voting to give Barry a second term seems like it will give this columnist a much greater appreciation for all those nihilist movies we’ve enjoyed so much for so long. Would Barry appreciate the nihilistic irony if we don’t actually go to a voting machine and validate his continuation of the Bush policies?

In the broadcast for Tuesday, March 15, 2011, listeners to the Mike Malloy radio show, heard about a teacher in Milwaukee who had donated $2,000 to Barry’s Presidential campaign. The fellow wished he had his money back. Do you think that Barry’s corporate donors have buyer’s regret? That teacher needs to rent “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and memorize Howard’s speech.

The tree-huggers are rather upset that Barry isn’t ordering a reevaluation of nuclear plant safety measures, as Germany has done. Both Barry and Uncle Rushbo agree that doing that in the USA is unnecessary. Perhaps the treehuggers need to read up on Nietzsche’s thoughts on the need for a revaluation of reevaluations?

The tree-huggers are rather alarmed that some pixy dust from far away will fall on their heads, especially in the West Coast area of the USA, and cause some medical problems. Barry and Uncle Rushbo agree that such alarm is just a fairy tale story gone out of control. Eventually the treehuggers will come home wagging their tales behind them?

Some goody-two shoes types are upset that Barry hasn’t changed the Bush war policy. Well, if he sends more troops to Afghanistan, they can’t say that then, can they? If war is good, isn’t more war better?

George W. Bush was upset that the Democrats didn’t give unconditional love to him and his agenda. Barry came along and played the role of Judas goat and brought all most all the Demorcrats into the war mongers tent. Thus, retroactively, George W. Bush finally gets full approval of his record.

Mike Malloy played an old sound byte that featured Barry saying that if workers’ rights were threatened, Barry would put on some comfortable shoes and join them on the picket line. Malloy indicated that an implied verbal contract had been broken by Barry’s recent absence in Wisconsin.

Malloy, on Tuesday, repeatedly referred to Bush’s successor as “President Crazy.”

What’s the title of the song where Willie Nelson sings the words: “there’s nothing I can do about it now”?

Barry let George W. Bush walk. Are any members of the clergy urging Barry to turn Dubya over to the world court? Barry has sanctioned the continued torture of Bradley Manning. Is it any wonder that Arianna Huffington didn’t think it worth while to pay folks for material that disapproved of George W. Bush’s political agenda? Wink wink nudge nudge. You go right ahead and rant about “war crimes” all you want.

If the nuclear accident in Japan precipitates the end of the world, there’s not much use in trying to live blog the process. If it’s just a big boo-boo that will intrigue historians centuries from now, there’s no use wasting time scribbling out alarmist columns that will ring hollow in the future. What’s done is done. Like the croupier says: “No more bets!” Just watch the ball bounce around on the roulette wheel, now.

Who said: “the writing hand writes, and having writ, moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, nor all your tears wash out a World of it.”?
Wasn’t that the same guy who also advised: “Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, beforfe we too into Dust descent; Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie, Sans Wine, sand Song, sans Singer, and – sans End!”

It used to be that this columnist actually advocated a renunciation of George W. Bush’s war crimes. Now, we hear the voice of Judy Collins, explaining the Barry Obama philosophy: “through many days of toil and strife, we have already found that grace . . . and faith will lead us home . . . when we’ve been there 10,000 years . . . than when we first begun . . . I once was lost, but now I’m found. Once was blind but now I see.”

After all these years, it still boils down to what Howard said at the conclusion of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre:” “It’s a great joke played on us by the Lord, or fate, or nature, whatever you prefer. But whoever or whatever played it certainly had a sense of humor! Ha! The gold has gone back to where we found it!… (Curtin joins Howard in boisterous laughter.) This is worth ten months of suffering and labor – this joke is!” or as Ned Kelly once said: “Such is life.”

The disk jockey will now play:
Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets”
Little Richard’s “Bama Lama”
Patsy Cline’s “I was so wrong” and “Crazy” (written by Willie Nelson)
Joan Baez’s “Simple Twist of Fate”
Frank’s version of “Quarter to Three” (Do the young readers want to know: “Who was Frank Sinatra?”)
Doors “The End”
David Carradine’s “Cosmic Joke” song
Roy Orbison’s “Communication Breakdown”
Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” album
Willie Nelson’s “Nothing I can do about it now” and “Living in the Promised Land.”
The Mickey Mouse Club song (why not?) and the “You’re nothing but a nothing” song which (we learned as mouseketeers) contains the lowest note ever sung by a human voice.
Last, but not least, Kris Kristofferson’s “What ever gets you through the night.”

We have to go find an “End of the World” Orgy.
Have a “rock, shock, jay-hawk” type week.

February 17, 2011

Talk radio and Existentialism

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:28 pm

Since the World’s Laziest Journalist’s home office is devoid of Internet access, a TV set, and phone, the staff winds up listening to the radio or playing old musical tapes when it comes time to kick back and chill out. Since there ain’t a hella (note to AARP site editor types: that may not sound right to you but that’s de rigueur jive for the young folks) variety of choices on the radio, we tend to go to extremes. Uncle Rushbo is fascinating listening because he keeps pushing towards the limits to gain the inevitable liberal media publicity. Every time he comes close to going over the edge, he winds up landing safely and thus brings to mind a segment of the movie “Rebel Without a Cause.” (“Where’s Buzz?”) On the other end of the spectrum is Mike Malloy who is just as fully committed to his beliefs as is the King of Oxycontin. (If you had to spout Republican spin all year long, wouldn’t you have an insatiable appetite for pain killers, too?)

Lately Malloy seems extremely distressed about the prognoses for democracy. He may need a refresher course on the philosophy of the guys who wrote for the underground newspaper, Combat, which was published in Paris during the German occupation.

Would it be too esoteric and arcane to assert that listening to both Uncle Rushbo and Malloy would be comparable to reading both the Paris Zeitung and Combat?

Recently we attended a screening of the film “Casablanca.” We knew that Humphrey Bogart’s role as Fred C. Dobbs in “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” had made a lasting impression (and had an influential effect?), but we had not been aware that his role as Ricky Blaine had also made itself felt long after we first saw it. Blaine was existentialism in action.

If there was a book title Zen and the Art of Existentialism; we’d recommend it to both those radio personalities. Ricky Blaine learned the laissez faire attitude in Paris (home of existentialist thinking) and, after that, pretty much kept away from partisan politics. When a group of boisterous members of the German military attached to diplomatic duty in Casablanca sang a patriotic song, Ricky tried to balance things out by advising the band leader to play the Marseilles just to keep things on an even keel.

Some of the best segments of the Malloy program occur when he and his screener/producer/wife Kathy quibble over fact finding bits of trivia. It’s obvious that their emotional relationship doesn’t impinge on their attempts for hair-splitting bits of factual accuracy. One assumes that they have read Robert L. Stevenson’s essay on how to conduct a stimulating but civilized conversation. Are they trying to become the modern equivalent of Tex and Jinx Falkenburg? Unfortunately that’s one bit of radio history we missed.

We might, if we had a phone, call Rush and suggest that he listen to the Malloys and then think about putting his wife on the air with him. Then we realized that wouldn’t work. Equality in marriage is a Democratic Party type thing and Rush would lose so much street cred, his ratings would plummet. Haven’t we read somewhere on the Internets that Uncle Rushbo’s audience is diminishing?

Some nights Malloy comes perilously close to being a Xerox copy of the fictional TV journalist Howard Beal. Recently he was lamenting the fact that there seems to be two systems of justice. One for über-wealthy Republicans (like Uncle Rushbo?) and another for “Just Us.” We were tempted to call Mike (if we had a phone) and suggest that it might be an appropriate time for his wife/producer to play the Waylon Jennings song that has the lament about “if I’dda killed her when we first met; I’d be outta jail by now.” The guy in the song mustta been a Republican, eh?

Since Malloy does repeatedly reference Mario Savio’s most famous quote, if we had a phone we’d call Malloy and suggest that he read Albert Camus’ “The Rebel” because Malloy would be sure to find a shipload of hand-dandy quotes. If the Republicans are going to rely on existentialism to bolster their program, it might be a good bit of self-defense preparation to read some Sartre and Camus.

His recent steak of pessimism would be the perfect opportunity to play the perfect example of nihilistic/existentialistic commingling contained in Howard’s speech at the end of “Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Fate has played a practical joke on liberals. Get over it.

If Malloy did read up on the existentialists, wouldn’t he eventually encounter the cusp area where Zen and nihilism overlap? Didn’t Jean-Paul Sartre practice Nietzsche’s amor fati lesson i.e. “So Be It!” when he was a German prisoner of war and he used the time to write a new play?

Folks love to portray college professors as “pointy-headed” intellectuals with far left political opinions who bandy about references to obscure books such as “Nausia,” but didn’t all the teabaggers do a marvelous job of stifling their amusement recently when John Boehner snuck a crafty allusion to the amor fati lesson from Nietzsche into a press conference? Didn’t the teabaggers love it when he was paraphrasing the existentialists and the liberals didn’t even notice? What teabagger couldn’t savor the delicious irony of that?

[Note: for those intellectuals who quibble over the pronunciation of the name of the Speaker of the House, we have one question: Isn’t Boeotia phonetically bee-oh-shah? Do Republicans use the word Boeotian (bee-ocean) in it’s stupid or boorish person meaning to denote a Democrat? Shouldn’t the Speaker’s name be pronounce as if (phonetically) were bee-ner?]

If some teabagging existentialist troll has read this far, we will counter the objection that this column is a shameless example of a partisan attempt to “suck up” to Malloy, we would point out that it is being posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011, and that means that when Malloy broadcasts tonight, the audience in Berkeley CA will hear women’s college basketball and this columnist will be at the Berkeley 7 watching “The Fifth Element.”

In “The Rebel,” (Vintage Book paperback page 41) Albert Camus wrote: “In politics his (i.e. Marquis de Sade’s) real position is cynicism. In his Society of the Friends of Crime he declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating. It is the same impulse that makes the lowest form of criminal vote for conservative candidates.” In the Republican Party, isn’t cynicism one of the seven cardinal virtues? Don’t most teabaggers recognize the fact that Boehner knows his Camus, while the liberals sit and listen to him with dropped jaw incredulity?

The disk jockey will now play: “Helter Skelter,” “Street Fighting Man,” and Waylon Jenning’s “Out of Jail.” We have to see if folks in Berkeley can pick up the XERB signal because we’d love to hear the Wolfman again. Have an “of all the gin joints in all the world, she had to walk into mine” type week.

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