May 22, 2015

Philip K Dick, Jack Kerouac, and Pauline Kael

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

Broke fense

Scribes for the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory are going all out with no restrictions on overtime over the confluence of the biker fracas in Waco, the potential for retaliation against the local gendarmes, and the fuss over the potential for Jude Helms to provide an opportunity to install martial law in the USA, they have been feverishly pumping out polysyllabic diatribes alerting the unsuspecting populace to the conclusion this ain’t just another conspiracy theory but is a genuine heads-up for a real approaching catastrophe for the inhabitants of the land of the free. As far as consternation is concerned when the Supreme Court of the United States announces its decision concerning gay marriage, the supporters for the losing contingent to overact and start the long hot summer early.

Writing and Berkeley go together like printing and “roll change!” so it is with great anticipation that we prepare for next weekend’s “Bay Area Book Festival” (to be held in Berkeley [Goodgle hint: BayBookFest dot org]) in partnership with the San Francisco Chronicle” to be held on June 6 and 7, and since, in the past, we have greatly enjoyed the Los Angeles Times’ Book Fair when it was held on the campus of UCLA, we expect to get some good photos and to gather material for a great column from the similar Nor Cal event.

The pioneering underground newspaper the Berkeley Barb started publication in August of 1965, and so we will try to cover any anniversary events commemorating that milestone in the pop culture milieu. For more on the subject of underground newspapers read “Smoking Typewriters” by John McMillian.

A comprehensive history of Berkeley’s literary heritage would take a massive amount of fact-checking to compile. Suffice it to say that some of the most prominent entries would be those for Philip K. Dick, Jack Kerouac, and Pauline Kael.

Due to some clever machinations Philip K. Dick used to feed his family, the Lucky Dog Pet store (formerly on San Pablo) provided the inspiration for starving artist type awards.

According to a story we saw in the Berkeley Daily Planet, some time ago, Jack Kerouac was living in Berkeley when he had his first bookstore encounter seeing “On the Road” for sale.

We have not yet fact-checked the assertion that the Berkeley home for film critic Pauline Kael may be declared a historic site.

Promoting book sales is getting increasingly difficult in the digital era, and that has led to a rather interesting development that illustrates the premise that having a sense of humor is becoming an extinct trait in the realm of pop culture in the USA. The world’s laziest journalist has approached several book stores (and one museum) with the idea that our effort would be aimed at promoting the autobiography we intend to write some day.

The response was near apoplectic because the book store managers want a speaker with a product to promote. Apparently the fact that we could promote various books which have influenced our attempt to travel the world, meet interesting personalities, and cross various experiences off out Bucket List, didn’t occur to them.

Craig, at Vagabond Books of Los Angeles, was asked to authenticate a signed hard cover edition of “On the Road,” and after he learned that on the night Jack Kerouac was on the Tonight Show to promote his new book, and since one of the other guests was Marilyn Monroe, reputed to be an avid reader, Craig authenticated the autographed book with an exotic history.

The World’s Laziest Journalist was very influenced by that book and was trying to emulate Kerouac when we walked out to the western edge of Chambersburg Pa. and stuck out a thumb and said: “San Francisco, here I come!”

To adequately promote our hypothetical autobiography, we would have to give credit to a vast array of books, but alas and alack, this elaborate ego-boost is not meant to be.

Our unsuccessful attempts to land a speaking gig has provided anecdotal evidence that the beatnik trait of pulling off elaborate pranks is now extinct.

In a similar vein (as the vampires say), when we heard the Getty and Armstrong radio show expressing their bafflement over the fact that John Hinckley may become the first person to be paroled after attempting to assassinate one of America’s Presidents.

We wanted to fwd the information that we have heard reports that Hinckley’s father was employed by Haliburton and was a close associate of Dick Cheney and that might explain the lenient treatment for the man who murdered Jim Brady. Our efforts to contact the radio show hosts was inconclusive and so (unless they stumble across this column) they will remain blissfully unaware of the need to fact check that possible explanation of the “kid glove treatment” that most Presidential assassins are denied.

“The Establishment” has various methods of filtering out information which might foster resentment or animosity towards the one percent, and so the World’s Laziest Journalist is forced to rely on intuition, hunches, and a massive amount of “show prep” to find material to use in our columns.

Occasionally we luck out and can relate personal experiences as a way of explaining our line of reasoning that has led to our hunches and expectations. For example, it may sound preposterous for an online political pundit in Berkeley to apply for press credentials to cover the next installment of the Oscar Awards Ceremony, but how many of the press corps who will have access to that event will be able to compare and contrast it to what happened backstage when “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” collected numerous gold statuettes? We hope that the unique qualification of being able assess how much the event has changed in the last forty years will be a trump card and get us the opportunity to take another look at the famous news event.

If we had not yet celebrated our 28th birthday, we would be lean and hungry as afar as achieving career boost scoops is concerned, but since we have no such long-term goals on our “to-do list,” we have no compelling need to even try to contact our grade school classmate, Joe Biden (first and second grade at St. Paul’s in Scranton) and ask him a “gottcha” question.

Recently the Isis forces held a victory parade and the precision of the drone strikes has been repeatedly reported in American media, but (to the best of our effort to ascertain it) no TV talking head has mused about why no drone strikes were used to decimate the victory parade.

If (subjunctive mood alert!) our claim that the World’s Laziest Journalist election desk’s decision to make the call that JEB has won the 2016 Presidential Election is prescient, we might be perceived as being clairvoyant, but no mainstream media writer has the leeway to make such a claim.

If JEB wins; and if the mainstream media will be required to report that it was (in retrospect) a referendum on Dubya’s war policies (just as Dubya said after it was completed, that the 2004 election also was), then Americans will be presented that conclusion on a “take it or leave it” basis. There would be no alternative assessment of the win available.

If that is a unique insight, we are entitled to say “Taaah-dah!” If not, we can just shrug it off. We don’t get much chance to see TV commentators, so we can shrug it off and say: “S’en loi, G. I.!”

When Berkeley resident/author Michael Parenti was told about the topic for this column, he responded that by saying that it would be a propitious opportunity for us to plug his newest book, “Profit Pathology and other indecencies.” We concurred.

[Note from the Photo Editor: we used art done by the Berkeley artist known as Broke as an illustration for this week’s column.]

The most famous quote to come out of Berkeley was: “Never trust anyone over thirty.”

Disk jockey will play Vera Lynn’s “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square,” Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” and Alice Cooper’s School’s out!” We have to go and fact check the assertion that Jack London was (briefly) a student at UCB.   Have a sesquipedalian type week.

crop more beer notched neg

October 22, 2014

Not again!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:53 pm

crop of Titanic

The bargain bin at Half Price Books in Berkeley has yielded some literary treasures but since our “In” stack of books is a formidable reading challenge, prudence dictates that any additions to the unread pile should be chosen very judiciously and so, recently, we were leaving the store empty handed. We were wearing some jeans with holes in the knees and must have looked a tad like one of Shattuck Avenue panhandlers which may have inspired a local citizen to engage us in conversation. He quickly cut to the chase (as they say in Hollywood) and delivered the essence of his philosophy of life: “If you want nice things in life (such as the books being sold inside the store), get a job and earn the money to buy them.”

Rather than take a pragmatic approach and respond with some logical facts and statistics about how the nation is in the midst of The Great Recession and jobs are hard to get and hold, we challenged the validity of his premise. What’s wrong with the old song’s belief that “the best things in life are free”? In the specific case of the World’s Laziest Journalist that would include: a ride on the Goodyear blimp (Bucket list item since high school days), a ride on a B-17-G WWII bomber (dittio), a chance to cover the Oscars (ditto again), a 1965 ocean voyage to Casablanca and various European ports of call, and talking our way into a closed automobile museum. Total expenditures: Nada.

He was flummoxed. He had failed to shame us into a painful admission that we were an abysmal failure in a capitalistic society. We travel around having a shipload of fun and are too dumb to realize that we should have embraced Oscar Levant’s concept of the treadmill to oblivion.

There’s an old adage that says anybody who has kids has given hostages to fortune. We may wind up with an anemic memorial service (such as Jay Gatsby’s) but we console ourself with what Hunter S. Thompson said: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”

Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson wanted to become world famous writers. They got what they wanted and it made them miserable.

The Berkeley Public Library offers a tool library service and the library in Boulder City in Western Australia offers a toy library. Don’t kids go through toys like a voracious reader goes through books? Buying toys keeps the toy factories (“made in China”?) busy and if a kid is going to obsess on his Hoppalong Cassidy holster and cap gun for just a short burst of time, why do the parents have to buy it? A toy library is logical but basically a Communist concept, n’est ce pas? How often do you use the sander that you got for Christmas several years back?

A happy-go-lucky bachelor is the antitheses of family values. A vagabond who can throw all his gear under a hostel bunk and explore exotic locations can easily identify with an Apache who can pick up all the necessities and move on at a moment’s notice but for the father of a modern family, life demands an unchanging home and social structure.

When the (future) World’s Laziest Journalist was warned about the hazards of indolence, we (being of Irish heritage) immediately assessed the value of lazy slobs in society. For one thing, it gives mothers an example for what can happen if a kid doesn’t strive for excellence in kindergarten and all subsequent educational endeavors. Then again, it also reinforces the moralistic message that all good little boys grow up and become responsible citizens and a cinder block for building a solid social structure.

Nonconformists might do more for helping the proles become assured that they have made the correct life decisions than the possibility that they will inspire dissent and unrest.

Who, in their right mind, would want to experience what it is like to stand at a forlorn highway intersection, see no traffic, and realize that a thunder storm will soon leave you cold, wet, and miserable? On the other hand, what diligent father wouldn’t want to read a passage about such a dismal night on the road (at this point hipster know that the disk jockey will play Red Sovine’s song “Phantom 309”) to his kids? There’s a line in a Waylon Jennings song that cheerfully reminds listeners that when life serves you a shit sandwich “at least you got the makings of a song.”

At this point, as the column is being written, the columnist recalls a debate among three neighbors in South Lake Tahoe in the summer of 1970 that tried to determine which is more difficult: life “on the road” or the challenges of working the same job year after year just to provide for a family? The red or the black? Family or Adventures? The Lady or the Tiger?

There is one very dangerous aspect to picking the Jack Kerouac trail to fame and forturne. Well, two, actually. First you might not become rich and the author of best sellers and two: you might become so addicted to the process of collecting material for the greatest autobiography ever written, that you don’t actually write the damn thing. It would be a case of contraccting the wordsmith’s version of “White Line Fever.” WHAT-ev-ah!

One thing is for sure at this point in life. We know we aren’t capable of writing a column that clearly outlines the parameters of the turmoil in the Middle East, let along write a column that (somehow) ends it. Sooooo? This weekend we will not post a week-in-review column, but will provide tour guide service for a fellow who will be visiting the San Francisco Bay area.

You want more? Google “The Myth of the Unbiased Media,” by Robert Gammon in the latest editor of the East Bay Express (dotcom).

Recently a political activist in Berkeley (Ironically the home of the world’s best weapons lab happens to be a city where the peace symbol is ubiquitous) asked us: “Are you in favor of World Peace?” We responded “F*** no! War means jobs.” It also means that we will feel obliged to reassess the situation again next week when the Forever War will again instigate a need for perceptive and insightful (and cynical?) commentary.

The World’s Laziest Journalist realizes that Howard Beal was spot-on in his criticism of the way things are going, but we also realize that if after many years of producing criticism of the system we can get our closest friends to “share” the link to our latest column on Facebook only on rare occasions. We have concluded that the best we can do is adopt the throw the glasses into the fireplace and imitate the philosophy in the “Is that all there is?” song and try to have an “eat, drink, and be merry” fling that would have made the Red Barron proud.

Recently we heard a report on the radio (probably on KCBS) that President Obama was going to rely heavily on scientists for advice on how to contain the threat of an Ebola epidemic and we marveled that the conservative media didn’t quickly ask: “You mean the same loons who cooked up the Global Warming conspiracy theory?”

We expanded our search for the meaning of life to include some (new to us) nineties style pop culture endeavors by activating a DVD player and in a documentary about the life of film director John Huston learned that his modus operandi was to have a much fun as possible. Second the motion.

We have always tried to emulate the people who made “having fun” a leitmotif for their biography. We have even found a way to include that proclivity into a portion of our personal views on theology.

If life is a gift and if the people who seem to enjoy living the most are the ones who have the most fun, then perhaps (we speculate) when we die and face St. Peter on Judgment Day, he will ask everyone the same question: “Did you have fun during your time on Earth?” If the answer is “Yes!” then their reward will be a chance to be reincarnated and have more fun; if they answer “No!” then their punishment will be another go-round to see if they can figure out how important it is to improve their “fun quotient.”

Herodotus wrote “If a man insisted always on being serious and never allowed himself a bit of un and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.”

Now the disk jockey will play Waylon Jennings “He went to Paris,” the Beatles’ “Follow the Sun,” and Duane Eddy’s “Movin’ N Grovin’.” We have to go buy a “Yes on D Berkeley vs. Big Soda” T-shirt for our history archive. (Dang! We wish we had bought a souvenir T-shirt from the kids who were on strike at Columbia back in 1968.) Have a “Kick on third down!” type week.


July 11, 2014

San Francisco values proliferating

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


crop of Hometown touristsIn mid-July of 1939, few Americans had international events on their minds. A century ago, by mid summer, the war to end all wars was inevitable. Fifty years ago, as the class of 1965 prepared to start Senior year, only worrywarts were concerned about the future of South Vietnam. To some, ignoring this summer’s tense world situation may seem foolhardy, but for the connoisseurs of nostalgia, a whimsical innocuous column about a holiday weekend in San Francisco (AKA Fog City) seems mandatory.

“Carsick (John Waters hitchhikes across America)” became available as an autographed new item at Pegasus Books in Berkeley at the same time that a high school classmate called and said he had bought that book and thought we would enjoy reading it, so we’ll read it and review it after he sends us his used copy. It will be the latest installment in a literary genre that has fascinated us since Jack Kerouac went on the Tonight show to plug his latest endeavor titled “On the Road.” (Do you remember: Marilyn Monroe was also on that episode?)

The World’s Laziest Journalist has, like Ricky Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), been to both Casablanca and to Paris France. We prefer Paris. Going on the road usually is made to sound like an impulsive lark.

Our illusions of grandeur have been taunting us with some delectable possibilities for going on the road this month or next. Bastille Day, July 14, is like the overture for the festivities that will accompany the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Paris that will be happening there next month.

Realizing that we can’t just run out onto the center field in Yankee stadium for the opening day game, we decide to do a bit of “Spring training” by paying AC Transit the senior fare that would get us to San Francisco to see “What’s the haps” there on the Forth of July weekend in 2014. Is it just a co-inky-dink that one of this summer’s new songs is “I’ve got a lot of Travelin’ to do” by Willie Nelson? Or is it a sign? (Because of the line “I can’t forget the sh** you’ve put me through,” you’re never gonna hear that song on the radio.)

Recently the news reported the results of a survey done to find the best hamburgers in America. Sam’s Pizza in the North Beach area of Frisco serves burgers that have been proclaimed by a cable TV food critic as one of the top three in the world. Since chain burgers were the only eligible candidates for selection for the newsworthy survey. Nothing like stacking the deck in favor of the people known as corporations, eh/

Whist in the vicinity of the Beat Museum, we stopped by. Full Disclosure: our goal of becoming one of the guest lecturers there is rapidly approaching “scratch that off the bucket list” status. More Full Disclosure: Since the Beat Museum doesn’t charge admission to attend an installment of their guest speakers lecture series and since that means we shouldn’t expect a speaker’s fee, our agent is rather skeptical about being enthusiastic about this career opportunity (some time this fall?). Hangfire! If we get a good column from the experience; why not give a go?

We encountered a wide variety of tourists in the North Beach area over the Forth of July weekend. For a family from Melbourne, a trip to Fog City, where it was a cloudless day with balmy temperatures, was a chance for them to get away from the howling winds and deep snow drifts of the Australian Winter. Later we learned that FBi radio down under was going to give a listener a trip to up to Iceland in the Northern Hemisphere were it is time for a summer vacation. (Google hint: FBi radio. [Note the lower case is used for the last letter.])

On Sunday, of the July Forth weekend, we decided a return to Golden Boy tavern was a good lunchtime decision. We arrived at opening time and had a few minutes to chat with the bartender slash pizza slinger duo known as Lisa Pizza and Killah K. (Is she a Jerry Lee Lewis fan?) Then when the clock struck noon, things got too hectic to hold a conversation. (We shouldda asked what ever happened to the ubiquitous tavern pastime called “Liars’ Poker”? It seemed to be everywhere in the Sixties.)

Recently at Pegasus bookstore, we noticed copies of “Another Great Day at Sea,” by Geoff Dyer, which tells about the author’s experiences aboard the U. S. Navy aircraft carrier George H. W. Bush. It is one of the best sellers for the summer of 2014. If the Dyer book is brand new, why did it sound “old hat” to the World’s Laziest Journalist?

Ernie Pyle, who wrote a book of road adventures titled “Home Country,” became a Pulitzer Prize winning war correspondent whose name was synonymous with coverage of the soldiers and Marines who fought WWII. Pyle had included a chapter titled “Life on a Flat-Top,” in his last book, “Last Chapter.” We pulled out our copy to refresh our memories of Pyle’s version of life at sea. Pyle gives only veiled hints as to the ship’s name: “She was known in the fleet as “The Iron Woman,” because she had fought in every battle in the Pacific in 1944 and every one to date in 1945.” Subsequently, we did some fact checking online and found out that Pyle was referring to CVL 28, the Cabot.

Recently Dan Saltzstein wrote an article for the Sunday New York Times Travel section that looked at San Francisco through the eyes of a noir mystery fan. Our default viewpoint is from the eyes of a Beat writers fan. While we were gathering material for this column, we spotted some people doing the Go-car tour of Fog City. We asked them where they were from and they said they lived in San Francisco.

An ambitious writer would find plenty of material to review for inclusion in a book about the history of column writing in San Francisco. America’s (the world’s?) oldest radio station is just part of The City’s history. Much to the consternation of the World’s Laziest Journalist, Bruce Bellingham has authored a book about being a Herb Caen wannabe in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Dang!)

No one challenged the accuracy of Don Sherwood’s claim to have been the greatest disk jockey of all time. If you find world events unavoidable, then you might like to know what part Frisco played in the history of the United Nations. Did the music world have a category just for “the San Francisco sound”?

San Francisco values, which seem to cause great distress for the conservative pundits, seem to be becoming ubiquitous in the USA. “We don’t wear our hair long and shaggy like the hippies out in San Francisco do.”

In “Bellingham by the Bay,” Bruce Bellingham wrote (on page 12): “Later the White Line sent bills to the families of the musicians (on the Titanic), demanding payment for the players’ uniforms.”

Now the disk jockey will play Tony Bennett’s “I left my heart in San Francisco,” Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair),” and the Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to love.” We have to go back to reading “The Dain Curse.” Have a “save water, shower with a friend” type week.

crop of 3 Dot J column


March 4, 2013

Life is short; eat dessert first

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:58 pm

“Dogging Steinbeck:  Discovering America and Exposing the truth about ‘Travels with Charlie,’” by Bill Steigerwald, was reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday and we stumbled on that review just after we had decided to write a column lamenting the fact that books about traveling on the road in the USA have become an extinct subgenre of literature.  It was accompanied by a review of Dan Baum’s new book “Gun Guys: A Road Trip.”

Last week, we had just glommed on to a bargain bin copy of “Home Country,” by Ernie Pyle, which describes his search all across the USA for good feature stories. It was in mint condition at the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library’s bookstore. We intend on writing several columns this year about the topic of roaming about in the USA for several reasons and so finding out about two brand new books that fall into a category that we find irresistible didn’t discourage us; it strengthened our resolve to write several columns on this rather esoteric topic. Maybe that sub genre isn’t dead, maybe we just had to change the lead.

Pyle, who wrote approximately a million words about traveling around in America, sort of like a pitcher warming up in the bullpen, later achieved international fame as a war correspondent during WWII.  In “Home Country,” he wrote a piece about Adolph and “Plinky” Topperwein, who were a husband and wife team of famous shooters who worked for the Winchester Arms Company. We wondered if they were mentioned in Baum’s new book.

“Travels with Charlie,” and Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” had whet our appetite for the open road while we were in school.  Not long after finishing college, we had stuck out our thumb in a rural area in Pennsylvania and hoped to catch a ride to San Francisco hoping that maybe literary lightning could strike twice.

Two of our high school classmates had made different, more rational, decisions about the course their lives would take.  One of them is a retired Army colonel now living in Germany and the other is a retired teacher living across the Hudson River from NYC.  Both of them have decided to drive across the USA this year and since the World’s Laziest Journalist has accumulated a vast supply of travel experience, we have offered both of them our opinion on how to maximize the enjoyment of their adventure.

There are so many books we would like to recommend that they read.  Here are some of the lesser known “on the road” books we wish they could read before shoving off:  “I see by your outfit,” by Peter S. Beagle, “America day by day,” by Simone de Beauvoir, Alistair Cooke’s “The American Home Front 1941 – 1942,” and “It isn’t a bus pioneering motorhomers cross the USA,” by Martha French Patterson and Sally Patterson Tubach (no relations).  This columnist has read the Beagle book and is halfway through all of the others.

The school teacher (AKA “Jersey Bill”) has strongly recommended that we read “Blue Moon Highway,” and some day we intend to do that.

Jersey Bill has driven from his adopted state to Oregon and another time he went the southern route and got as far as Joshua Tree National Park just inside of Cali, but he has studiously avoided exploring California.

The Colonel wants to drive the Southern route but notes that this trip of a lifetime will be a one time only, “get ’er done” operation.  He has budgeted only two weeks to achieve his goal.  He wants to follow a portion of Route 66.

Jack Kerouac concentrated on the personalities he met while on the road.  Our first night in Paris (France, not Texas) we went to Cactus Charlie’s and had a marvelous conversation about the specifics of the politics in California.  As we walked out, we regretted our decision.  “We could have had a great conversation about local politics at any bar in L. A. but we wouldn’t have had to buy an airplane ticket to get that payoff.”  So we resolved to “go native” and shun the ex-pat scene and see the things that are only available there.  We still follow that philosophy when traveling.

If the Colonel wants to talk to fellow Americans he can visit some wounded soldiers at the Landstuhl hospital.

My advice in both cases will be something they won’t want to hear, so maybe if they read it in a column posted for all the world to see, it might have a better chance of making a point and influencing their thinking (and if not, at least the Managing Editor [M. E.] will get a new batch of Google bate to lure others to the sites where this will be posted).

Jersey Bill and his wife like “the great outdoors,” nature and the like.  If a city slicker like the World’s Laziest Journalist can be profoundly impressed with Yosemite National Park, just think how much the teacher and his wife will like it.  Oh, yeah, California also has another park with big trees that are very old.  He might like that, too.  Some alarmists think that park will suffer if new bullet train routs are built.  Isn’t zipping past those trees at 100 mph better than never seeing them at all?

Jersey Bill likes automobiles and so we wonder why he has hung back from visiting a state that has two world class car museums in the L. A. area (across the street for each other) and two others that are still on our bucketlist.  Is he saving the best for last?

Jack London (reportedly) called the Monterey Peninsula the finest example of seashore scenery in the world.  We concur.

Our tourist exploration of Australia lasted ten fun filled weeks and we know that we barely scratched the surface of the subject but the colonel intends to make his jaunt across the USA a two weeks long venture.  Yikes!  We have to say that we strongly recommend that he forgets about an epicurean ten course meal approach to the task and cut directly to dissert and drive night and day until he gets to the state that offers Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, the redwood trees, the Golden Gate Bridge, and some last vestiges of beatnik history.  Or he could make the arrangements necessary to extend the time spent on making the trek.

Telling a colonel what to do is one thing but someone who can remember his mom telling a story about how a baseball hit by Babe Ruth fell into her lap might get away with offering him our very strongly felt opinion base on experience.  [We have hitchhiked from Pennsylvania to Tonkawa and traveled by Greyhound coast to coast at least three times.]

Getting him to read “Watergate The Hidden History: Nixon, the Mafia, and the CIA,” by Lamar Waldron (from Counterpoint in Berkeley CA!) before the next round in our continuing Nixon vs. Kennedy debate will be a bit more of a challenge.

Our hope is that the colonel will change his own ground rules and take longer to do the trip or perhaps make the trip in annual installments of two weeks each for the next several years.  If he wants to see as many American icons as possible, we can’t offer much of an opinion about what to see until he gets to Route 66in Oklahoma, but we can strongly recommend that if he wants spectacular scenery, he should get to the Grand Canyon ASAP, and then budget time to see Yosemite, the redwoods, Lake Tahoe, and the Monterey Peninsula.  California is a very big state and it will take a few days just to skim the highlights.  At that point he can run down PCH and see Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and the Bixby Bridge.  He’ll wind up in Santa Monica, where he can visit Venice Beach before going to the airport, turning in his rental and jumping on a plane back to Germany.

Our hope for the teacher is that he will get to California, have a St. Paul’s moment and when he returns to his luxurious home within sight of the Manhattan skyline sell it, put the money in a safe investment, and then jump back in his motor home and become a motorhome vagabond inside the California borders for the next 12 months (or more).

The hippie will (we hope) get to some California towns we have never seen and finally get to live out his Fred C. Dobbs wishes to find some nuggets of gold in a miner’s pan.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote (Ibid page 136):  “We do not see much of San Francisco because we stay only four days and don’t know anyone.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Cantina Band’s song “Out in California,” Glenn Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman,” and “Living on Tulsa Time.”  We have to go and contact the National Parks people and ask two questions:  “What state has the most National Parks? And “How many National Parks are in California?”  Have a “life is short; eat dessert first” type week.

December 31, 2012

Now what?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:51 pm

After posting a column on Friday December 28, 2012, in which we criticized the CBS Evening News for relying heavily on videos of people crying, we tuned in that night to the broadcast and saw a crying man who went out and actually begged for a kidney for his wife, a crying woman who lost her house to the bankers (banks don’t foreclose homes people working for those banks do [?]), and a crying man who was part of a couple whose effort to adopt a Russian orphan had come to a halt because of a new Russian law.  On the NBC Nightly News broadcast for Saturday December 29th, we saw a feature story with a video of a fellow who plays soccer and might get an offer from an American Football team to come and work in the USA.  The video had gone viral on the Internets and we wondered if a video of a crying pundit would “go viral” if it was posted on Youtube.  Did we just sabotage all (and we do mean all) our chances for becoming a late addition to the list of famous journalists known as “Murrow’s Boys”?

Slightly after four p.m. on the day we published the column criticizing CBS for tarnishing their legacy that was established by Edward R. Murrow, we heard Norm Goldman criticize, on his radio broadcast, a brand of banks (think of a 1939 movie that was a career breakthrough for John Wayne) because a recent decision by the Ninth Superior Court seemed to legitimize some unscrupulous accounting practices that always favored the bank and screwed the public.

While preparing to write a new column, we suddenly remembered the old oriental parable that ends with the punch line:  “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet (those damn drones at it again?).”  Voila!  We had a Sutter’s Mill Moment.  An epiphany, as it were.

We didn’t need to envy CBS their ability to send a reporter and (union) camera crew out to video a person who was having tough times during post financial cliff period of uncertainty, if we wanted to get a video that would go viral on the Internets, we needed to get a video of a bank official who, wracked by guilt, was crying while contemplating the damage he had wrought.

Then what?

Everybody would see it.

Then what?

One thing seems certain.  If we get a video of a banker crying because of his complicity in a business practice that destroys hundreds of lives, CBS Evening News sure as hell ain’t gonna do a feature about how the World’s Laziest Journalist made a video that went viral on the Internets.  Dang!  It’s a tad late in the game to start searching for a new career . . . but . . . it will be a new year soon.  It will be a new year in some places when this column is posted.

Whatever happened to the guy who was America’s oldest porn actor?  Did he retire?  Could we do some Gonzo style reporting about walking a mile in his moccasins?

Speaking of the cinema, since we do love movies and since a goodly number of young folks like the movies made by Quentin Tarantino and since he has a new film just out, perhaps we could go see it and write a review as a way to rekindle our career as a film reviewer.  (Google Richard Ebert’s review of “Van Wilder” and read the last two paragraphs.)

Perhaps since we are not fully versed on the Facebook fad, we can just designate everything the World’s Laziest Journalist posts as “open to the public” and give George Taki (of Stark Trek fame) a run for the title of the most popular guy on that website.

We have heard of one woman in L. A. who went to a director to ask for a loan and was told:  “Write a sentence on this sheet of paper.”  She was totally perplexed but did as she was asked.  He threw the results in a drawer and jumped on the intercom and instructed his secretary to draw up a standard amount check for buying the film rights (to that sentence).  There are people in Hollywood who make a decent living just by selling ideas (known as “a pitch”) for films.

Didn’t one of those specialists become a director with offices on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica?  Hmmm.  If he is busy maybe we could track him down and start a new career in pitching and sell him an idea for a new film?

Hey, bro, do you want to buy the story (with a few more specific details supplied) of a nurse who successfully escaped from a POW camp?  Yeah, yeah, yeah we know about the guy who used a motorcycle to escape from a POW camp in WWII but this is another “based on a true story” adventure with a chick as the protagonist.  What actress could turn down a chance to walk a mile in Steve McQueen’s moccasins?

Our columns rarely get comments but isn’t the topic of which young actress could evoke favorable comparisons to Steve McQueen rich with the potential for astute suggestions?

On the same program that he castigated bankers, Norm Goldman proceeded to tackle the legalize pot issue.  Back in the Seventies there was a novel, titled “Acapulco Gold,” that hypostasized what American culture would be like when (not “if”) marijuana became legal.

Wouldn’t it be odd if Washington’s repressive attitude forced the NRA and the legalize pot advocates to agree to a mutual assistance/defense treaty and seek refuge as a coalition group in a third part such as the Pirate Party?

Maybe after the bankers repent and ask forgiveness and the gun control issue is settled once and for all, maybe then the lobbyists representing America’s pharmaceutical companies will permit the politicians to address the legalize pot issue but in Thirteen the chances for that happening fall below the “slim and none” level down to the Australian category labeled “not bloody well likely, mate!”

In our efforts to select a photo to accompany this column, we remembered an image we acquired while doing some fact checking for a possible trend spotting story about snapshot collecting.  It showed a woman on a ship and carried the cryptic caption “Spring 1942.”  In the Spring of that year, the world was in turmoil but someone was making an effort to improve their lot in life.  Aren’t all journeys manifestations of optimism?  Couldn’t that woman be a metaphor for the USA at the start of 2013?

Maybe in an effort to achieve “fair and balanced” news coverage, CBS will hire a pundit to criticize the efforts of mainstream media in the USA?  They could feature a televised version of the media criticism made popular by A. J. Liebling.  Maybe not.  Maybe we could get a job at the American Studies Center at the University of Sydney helping them understand contemporary culture in the USA?  Maybe not.  Maybe now that Wolfman Jack has gone to the great sound booth in the sky, XERF needs a replacement announcer on the night side?  Maybe not.

All three of our writing heroes, Hemingway, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson, seemed to find the obligations accompanying fame very disagreeable so maybe we can reconfigure  the old F. Scott Fitzgerald wisdom to read “Living well (in obscurity) is the best revenge.”?  If you don’t believe us, then ask author William Kotzwinkle if there is any truth in that amended quote.

Isn’t it amazing that the political commentators are making the assertion that the congressional representatives and the Senators are feeling pressure for the members of the 112th  Congress to reach a fiscal cliff agreement now because of concerns about possible resentment for not getting a bipartisan plan to avoid the cliff, playing  a role in their reelection as members of the 113th Congress.  Isn’t there an old political adage that states that American voters have a short memory?
Winston Churchill may have predicted the fiscal cliff political stalemate when he said:  “We conferred endlessly and futilely and arrived at the place from whence we began. Then we did what we knew we had to do in the first place, and we failed as we knew we would.”

Now the disk jockey will play “As Time goes by,” “the Alabama song,” and the Eagles song about James Dean.  We have to go post a link to this column on Facebook.  Have a “good night and good luck” type of new year.

November 2, 2012

Lies, smiles and unverifiable election results

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:53 pm

John Allen Cassady

The 2012 Election Day in the USA may well become known as the day that Journalism died because no matter what happens the actual results will be the subject for an eternal debate. Brad Friedman, who is the leading spokesman for the critics of the unverifiable results produced by the electronic voting machines, has, in a preemptive move, been labeled as the voice for a conspiracy theory and thus all skeptical responses to the final counts will have been neutralized before they can be printed in the next day’s newspapers.

If Mitt Romney wins, there can and will be no criticism of the outcome. Any Progressive voice who dares to contradict the news will be trashed as a conspiracy theory lunatic by the conservative noise machine just as Friedman was.

If President Obama wins, the conservative propagandists will discredit his win without in the least way casting any doubt on the electronic voting machines.

Either way partisan gridlock will ignore any attempts to let fully fact checked journalism play the roll of umpire or referee. Then on one side or the other major segments of the American population will have serious doubts about the validity of the next President’s right to occupy the White House.

If Journalism per se is DOA, what then will columnists, who don’t want to be a cheerleader for either side, write about?

Lucy, the building in Margate, New Jersey, which resembles an elephant, apparently escaped major damage in Hurricane Sandy. That fact may not be of much importance to readers in Western Australia, but anybody who flocked to the Jersey Shore during their formative years, will be glad to know about Lucy’s good fortune. Folks who have never heard of this bit of unique American architecture, will probably appreciate the chance to click on a link that will produce a photo of the storm’s photogenic survivor.

The folks in France and Germany may possibly get some reliable journalism about the election, but will the people in Australia and Great Britain get unbiased reports in their national media which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch?

We could write a column that asks what happens to the personal belongings of people who lose their homes when banks foreclose. If the personal belongings and furniture are not moved, do the banks have a legal right to sell the items left behind? Are the people who buy those goods still known as shinnies or is the use of that word forbidden in the land that was built on the principle of freedom of speech?

In Berekley CA, the voters will decide about enacting a sit-lie law. According to information we received from a member of the city council, Berkeley has, in the past, enacted a sit-lie law and lost a sum of money when the ACLU took the municipality to court. Berkeley lost that past case and perhaps could become the target for some “those who forget the past” criticism if history repeats itself.

Has the national news media reported that California Governor Brown has stated that the California Highway Patrol may be used to supply some law enforcement services in the cash strapped cities that are struggling with smaller local police forces? Would using the California Highway Patrol that way be similar to sending members of nationally known baseball teams to substitute for the professional hockey players who have been locked out by the team owners? (Just asking.)

The debate in California over Prop 32 has us asking this question: If businessmen can not run ads which make fraudulent statements, why then can the people known as corporations run political ads which make fraudulent claims? If two political PACs run contradictory statements, wouldn’t one of those ads have to be making some false statements?

If Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2008, would FEMA already have been disbanded? If so, would America see the wisdom of cutting taxes for the billionaires while simultaneously dividing the job FEMA does among 50 different state levels of bureaucracy? What’s not to love about duplicating the miracle of the loaves and fishes using bureaucrats?

If Mitt had been elected President in 2008 would the government be sticking its nose into the management decisions of a Massachusetts pharmaceutical company or would a sincere apology to the victims’ families have already been issued and the matter dropped by now?

Has the Los Angeles county assessor finally raised bail money or is he still in jail? If so, why haven’t his campaign donors rushed to help him? Will his plight be used as leverage to put pressure on him to cooperate with Federal investigators in return for leniency?

San Francisco politicians are hinting that it might be nice if Superbowl L (what the hell is “L”?) is played in their fair city.

In a country where having a prominent political father was enough of a resume to make Al Gore, George W. Bush, and Mitt Romney qualified Presidential candidates, we were doing some prep work for a column that would ask if John Allen Cassady is a genuine Beatnik.

John Allen Cassady is named John because his mother had an affair with Jack Kerouac. He is named Allen because his mother had an affair with Allen Ginsberg. He is named Cassady because his father was Neal Cassady.

We were talking to Cassady at a recent event held at the Beat Museum in San Francisco and mentioned that we had read somewhere that Kerouac had met Hemingway at a party. A fellow who was listening to our conversation said: “Oh, that was in my book.” It turned out he was Gerald Nicosia, author of the Kerouac biography titled “Memory Babe.” He offered to sign a copy of his new book “One and Only: the Untold Story of ‘On the Road,’” which was for sale in the gift shop section of the Museum. We bought one, had him sign it, and then asked John Allen Cassady to sign it as “witness,” which he graciously did.

Nicosia’s Kerouac biography reported that the fact that the famous beatnik had met Hemingway at a party in the Greenwich Village section of New York City in the late forties had been supplied to him by Kerouac’s wife and he felt safe in putting that bit of hearsay evidence in the book. Kerouac fans can learn more about Gerald Nicosia at the Mill Valley Lit website.

For recreational reading, we have been perusing “The Wolves are at the Door: the story of America’s Greatest Female Spy” by Judith L. Pearson and the title reminded us of some liberal pundits cynical assessment of Mitt Romney’s quest for the Presidency.

Some cynical California pundits are promoting the easy way out by urging “Vote ‘yes’ on all odd numbered ballot propositions and ‘no’ on the even numbered ones.”

[Note from the Photo Editor: If citizen journalists have limited access to Presidential candidates for getting photos, then you have to go with the photos you can get. If photo op access for citizen journalists is very limited; does that same principle also apply to the facts available for pundits to use in their assessments of the candidates?]

John Quincy Adams said: “I can not ask of heaven success, even for my country, in a cause where she should be in the wrong.”

Now the disk jockey will play Hank Williams Jr.’s “I’ve got rights,” Nancy Sinatra’s “Boots,” and Jacob Dillon’s song “War is kind.” We have to go over to Frisco to see the art exhibition, by Wes Anderson, at the Spoke Art Gallery, titled “Bad Dads.” Have a “just following a family tradition” type week.

April 6, 2012

Do Kerouac fans overlook Berkeley?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 30, 2012

Visions of Hjortsberg

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:24 pm

William Hjortsberg
Jack Kerouac Alley is adjacent to the City Lights Bookstore
The Vesuvius Cafe is mentioned in “jubilee hitchhiker.”

When William Hjortsberg started reading chapter twelve, “frisco,” from his new book “jubilee hitchhiker: the life and times of Richard Brautigan” (Counterpoint Berkeley hardback $42.50), and got to the lines about the role the City Lights bookstore played in the start of the Beat era in the city at the South end of the Golden Gate Bridge, it seemed rather appropriate to be hearing it with the audience in the poetry room of that very same bookstore.

In an era when perpetual growth, unlimited opportunity, and boundless optimism made it seem like America was driving a stake through the heart of poverty and that the starving artists of San Francisco were serving as artist proxies who would voluntarily submit themselves to the rigors of destitute living so that the middle class in the Eisenhower years would have some interesting and entertaining novels available to help amuse those who were enjoying the start of the era of infinite prosperity to know what life as a starving artist would be like rather than experiencing the American Dream firsthand.

The story of Richard Brautigan and a legion of others who would become the roster of celebrity artists who converged on San Francisco in the Fifties and Sixties has been fertile ground for almost all of the participants in the events that provided a gold rush opportunity for those luck enough to be there.

The World’s Laziest Journalist first heard Hjortsberg’s name when the mystery book sub-genre of vampire detectives became an obsession. Two decades ago, Hjortsberg’s books had become prized collectors’ items and so obtaining a copy of his “Falling Angel” became both a challenge and a necessity. Our quest led us to Vagabond books, back when they had a brick and mortar presence on Westwood Blvd., in Los Angeles. We asked if they had the book and they did. It was a mint condition copy. We balked at the price but mentioned how a New York Times review indicated that book was an outstanding example of the new sub-genre we were investigating. The clerk said: “Oh do you just want to read it?” We said yes and she scurried off and returned with a battered edition. It was just a “reader’s copy” and much less expensive.

That, in turn, led us to read several other Hjortsberg’s novels that were not about a vampire detective.

When we passed by the City Lights bookstore on Tuesday, March 20, and saw a flyer indicating that later in the week, Hjortsberg would be reading and signing his new book about Richard Brautigan. We decided that the event would be a twofer because we have also read some of Brautigan’s work.

Since our political punditry columns predicting that JEB will be the next President seems to upset both Liberals and Conservatives and since JEB endorsed Mitt Romney the next day, it seemed like the twofer reading and autograph party just might provide a timely and convenient opportunity to produce a column that veers away from partisan politics but still retains the right to be classified as news appropriate for use in the pop culture section.

The book was facetiously described as 50% a Brautigan biography, 50% a novel, and 50% Hjortsberg’s memoirs and that may sound like inaccurate mathematics until you see the gigantic book. The book could easily be described as an Encyclopedia of facts for fans of the Beat Generation.

The new book may revive the dormant debate about who precisely is and who is not a beatnik writer. Many of the authors mentioned in this new book are irrefutably classified as founding fathers of the Beat Generation. But some, like Brautigan, may not seem to qualify to be on the list.

One member of the audience at City Lights was a woman who was acting on behalf of her Brautigan fan husband who was out of town. One fellow came equipped with a large variety of Hjortsberg material to be signed by the author. He even had vintage copies of Playboy magazine with stories by Hjortsberg. The topic of writers’ autographs and getting books signed would provide enough material, such as the signed copies of the Philip K. Dick book that was published posthumously [signatures from his returned checks were pasted into numbered copies of the book], for an entire column.

Since Hjortsberg mentioned that James Crumley was among the vast array of writers that the author knew personally, we used that as an excuse to ask Hjortsberg during the Q and A segment of the evening a question that we had previously (at the Ocean Front Bookstore on the Venice Boardwalk) asked Crumley: “What is your favorite dive bar?” Hjortsberg responded by noting that his favorite bar in all the world did not qualify as a dive bar and that was the legendary McSorley’s Bar in New York City.

It turned out that Hjortsberg’s father owned a different bar in New York City. Later when Hjortsberg was signing copies of the new book, one member of the audience compared Brautigan unfavorably to Gene Sheppard and that caused Hjortsberg to elaborate on being influenced, as a kid, by the New York late night radio talk show hosted by Sheppard.

Luckily the massive book (Will it be compared to Boswell’s Life of Johnson? [It just was in the last sentence.]) has an Index and that will make it much easier for students of literature who want to read this new book as a source book for possible thesis material. Crumley’s name gets three pages listed and he appears in a caption in the selection of photos in the book. As best as we can recall, Crumley’s response to the question was a bar named “Mother’s” somewhere in Montana.

At this point, the fact that many of the beat writers used their own life experiences as the basis for their books, such as Brautigan did with “Willard and his bowling tropies,” caused this columnist to notice a distinct similarity to the “New Journalism” style of writing that emerged fifty years ago immediately following the Beat era. Where does the Beat style end and the New Journalism style begin? Will this new book provide fodder for a debate about that very topic?

Jack Kerouac wrote about one particular San Francisco poetry reading in 1955 in his book “The Dharma Bums.” Kerouac fictionalized the names of the participants in the actual poetry reading at the 6 Gallery. Kerouac also included some of the participants, Neal Cassady and Alan Ginsburg, with yet other fictionalized names, in his classic beat novel “On the Road.” Tom Wolfe, one of New Journalism’s founding fathers, wrote about the exploits of Neal Cassady in his work of nonfiction titled “The Electric Kool Aide Acid Test.”

When the line of those getting items autographed disappeared and we noticed that there was one copy of the new book left, we decided that it was time to start our Christmas gift shopping (Is this a manifestation of doubt concerning our claim that when JEB wins the November 2012 Presidential Election, we will do our Christmas shopping in Paris [France not Texas {should we put a visit to the town in Texas on our Bucket List?}]?) and buy the last copy and have it inscribed. (The recipient will never know we read it before giving it . . . unless they read this column and that’s not bloody well likely.)

Hjortsberg said that a great amount of material had been cut from the original manuscript to pare it down to the massive volume which was printed. During a period of skimming through the book, we encountered several topics which might warrant use as a subject for a full column in the near future, so we appreciated the challenge of the task of figuring out (as the song goes) “what to leave in and what to leave out.” If this new book becomes a runaway best seller, does that mean that sometime in the future Beatnik fans can clamor for a “director’s cut” edition which will be twice as big?

We noticed that many of the complaints of the poets and writers described in this new book sounded very familiar. That brought up a question for another potential column topic: Are the Occupy Protesters recycling the Beatnik’s criticism of “the Establishment”?

The Vesuvius Café, which is just across Jack Kerouac Alley from the City Lights bookstore, is mentioned in the book but not listed in the Index.

One of the passages Hjortsborg read described a Brautigan project that combined poems with plant seed packets “published” with the title “Plant this book.” Brautigan gave them away in the late Sixties and Hjortsborg said that ones in mint condidtion are now valued at a thousand dollars by collectors. This columnist lived in San Francisco in 1969, but we don’t know how valid our “oh yeah, I remember seeing that” memories are because this column’s closing quote is the current folk axiom: “If you can remember the Sixties; you weren’t really there.”

Now the disk jockey will play “The Age of Aquarius,” Country Joe’s “Fixin’ to die rag,” and “Big Bad Bruce” (that may have been a regional hit played only on San Francisco jukeboxes). We have to go and search for a way to exceed our life time best (in a letter to a high school classmate in Vietnam) of a quadruple end parentheses punctuation. Have a “solid!” type week.

January 6, 2012

Fear and Loafing on the road to the 2012 Election

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:34 pm

This is not a candidate’s campaign bus!
Riding a few miles in Jack Kerouac’s moccasins?
The 7 cees bus is visiting beatnik territory

Beatniks, Republicans, and Commies may sound like a list of ingredients for a surefire recipe for an Eisenhower era example of political analysis but an evaluation of this week’s news stories, from the 2012 Presidential Election process, at the World’s Laziest Journalist home office produced a similar roster of potential topics for use in the first weekend wrap-up column of the new year.

Glenn Beck has replaced Stephanie Miller on the (formerly?) progressive radio station in the San Francisco Bay area, so when we turned on the radio at the beginning of the week, we decided to sidestep the issue of lodging a complaint about the abrupt change in the station’s tone and just listen and see if the Beckster would give us a gift rapped easy column item.

He casually noted that the Communists were making a concerted effort to enroll (enlist?) recently discharged members of the American military and that sent us scrambling for our copy of “Lenin for Beginners” (Pantheon Books) to see if we could make a viable prediction that the Republicans would be framing the Occupy movement as a new version of the battle of Patriotic Americans to protect young citizens from being seduced by the Communist Party’s tendency to wage class warfare in the clever disguise of worker exploitation by the rich and greedy bastards at the top of society.

Will Beck suggest a Congressional Investigation into this new trend?

The fact that the possibility that the Occupy Movement echoes past labor struggles indicates that the Republicans might be tempted to save some voters the extensive effort necessary to read up on some very complex issues by oversimplifying the debate by resorting to some clever bumper sticker slogans. That strategy has worked very well for them in the past.

Some German guy advised: “All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to.”

That worked well for the Germans, the Russians and the Republicans. The Democrats, however, still think that a scientist can do a better job of explaining the treat of global warming and so they tend to fail in their attempts to draw attention to a long beautifully written article in some academic journal.

If the Republicans, on the other hand, wanted to use the Global Warming issue to win elections they would just quietly state their case by directing the attention of the “limited intelligence” voters to the current spate of news coverage of the barren ski areas that are desperately trying to cope with a lack of snow and skiers.

The so called Liberal media (that is usually owned and operated by a conservative billionaire) may not run too many stories about the desperate ski areas as a sort of “interline courtesy” gesture among the wealthy who are unanimous Global Warming deniers.

The pundits assessment of the results of the Iowa Caucuses made us wonder if the people, who are rumored to be preparing a new roster of actors for a fresh installment of the Three Stooges comedy franchise, could possibly pay for a weekly (or daily?) half hour of cable TV political commentary featuring their new trio of sincere but bumbling fellows.

They would be able to approach the Republican Primary Elections with a credible “we could do that” voice. Perhaps they could inject some sound effects and “nyuck, nyuck” laught track bytes? Can’t you just imagine a Stooge voice saying “Listen, numbskulls . . .” before they play a sound byte of the Newtster denigrating his opponents?

That, in turn, caused us to wonder why a diabolically clever Republican candidate did not hire the writer Tom Wolfe to come along on the campaign bus in Iowa and portray (for example) Mitt Romney as the modern, lovable incarnation of someone channeling the rebellious “man of he people” spirit of Neal Cassidy?

Wouldn’t a modernized road trip through Iowa with a Republican President wannabe be a very slick way to present the older business man as a palatable choice to the young voters who have made Jack Kerouac a member of the Rebel’s Holy Trinity (along with Elvis and James Dean)?

Wolfe could portray the Republican as the embodiment of the spirit of America’s restless young voters of today just as he catapulted a bus full of beatniks to fame back when he wrote about riding along on the bus going from San Francisco to the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

It could be an insider’s look at the boys on the bus on the road convincing Iowa voters that Global Warming was just a frat-boy prank to fool them. Maybe they could call a book about that hypothetical journey “The Eclectic Kool Aid Global Warming Test,” eh?
Thus they would be equating the Democratic Party voters who swallow the scientists’ ghost story of Global Warming as being “cool-aid-drinking-dopes” with bumper stickers asking: “Are you experienced enough to doubt scientists?”?

We were still wondering about the feasibility of such a literary project on Thursday, while on a walkabout in Berkeley CA. Do young folks these days still hold the same philosophy as the wandering beatniks in the past did?

Would kids grok to the idea that if he were still alive today, Jack Kerouac might (hypothetical example alert!) be assigned by “Sixty Minutes” to take a film crew and go on the Road in Mitt Romney’s campaign bus traveling in New Hampshire? Kerouac (or Hunter S. Thompson?) could compare and contrast Romney’s anti-establishment philosophy with his own in the Fifties when he was gathering material for his literary “Fear and Loathing in Bourgeoisie America” project.

Do young folks still go on the road these days like the Beatniks and Republican Presidential Candidates?

Our question was answered when we met the artists from Madison Wisconsin who are traveling around the USA in a bus called 7 cees After finding them parked on a side street in Berkeley CA, they invited the World’s Laziest Journalist aboard the modern phenomenon for an inspection tour. We were glad to see that the Kerouac Quest is still a viable option for young people.

It turned out that while we were doing our fact checking with the 7 cees bus crew (their clearance is 13’3” and they had contended with a 13’6” challenge that very day), some of the Protesters for Occupy Oakland were trying to restate their case inside the Oakland City Hall. Should we have been down in Oakland covering that Occupy Movement update?

The threat of subversive Communist activity in the Fifties was a “game changer” for the Republicans. Perhaps, if the Occupy Movement were portrayed as the new Communist threat, the Republicans can use it to their advantage in the November elections?

One of this week’s online stories that we noted was one that said that on the Martin Luther King Holiday, some people will promote the “Occupy the Dream” concept as a new phase of the Occupy Movement.

Will Glenn Beck be fair and balanced if he covers the “Occupy the Dream” phase of the continuing history of the Occupy Movement or will he be content to ignore that and just see the Occupiers as a chance to challenge and repulse the latest attack by the god-less Commies?

Will the Beckster use obscure and forgotten facets of history (such as the story of Grover Cleveland Redding) to frighten and intimidate the Archie Bunker faction of the Republican voter base?

To see just how Beck will portray that part of this year’s unfolding history, all we will have to do is turn on the radio, tune in to the formerly all progressive station, and drop out of the time consuming task of thinking about how things were better back in the good old beatnik days, and we will have a new constant supply of potential column topics all fresh and ready for analysis.

Then again, maybe for the sake of quality control for future columns, it would be better to break into the piggy bank and do some Making of the President 2012 reports from on the road?

Are the Occupy Protesters using new ways to rephrase old ideas? Noam Chomsky used Rousseau’s words when he said: “It is contrary to the law of nature that ‘a handful of men be glutted with superfluities while the starving multitude lacks necessities.’”

Now the disk jockey will play “Skip a Rope,” the Grateful Dead’s “Please Don’t Murder Me!,” and (we hear that the announcement of a new tour is imminent) The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers.” We have to go check the roster of Republican candidates being listed on the Florida Primary Election ballot. Have a “hella flower power” type week.

August 7, 2011

Visions of Kesey

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:17 pm

When morning for Monday, August 8, 2011, arrives on America’s East Coast, the financiers will have already coped with their response to the Asian stock markets, the military will be replying to the weekend’s helicopter attack in Afghanistan, and the President will be meeting with his advisors to implement the Obama Administration response to the credit downgrade. Voters in the USA will be visiting various web sites to learn the political pundits explanation for and analysis of last week’s news and that will be one step behind the playing out of this week’s reality and so the curious citizens might just as well be reading a subjective response to one of the new movies that opened this past weekend and by a remarkable co-inky-dink that is what this column contains.

The film “Magic Trip” contains home movies made by novelist Ken Kesey of a cross country trip he and his acolytes made in 1964 to visit the New York World’s Fair. The 16 mm home movies, almost 50 years old, used to provide the bulk of the movie’s images, may provide an inadvertent and very accurate prediction of what the USA would be like in the summer of 2011.

Ostensibly the documentary provides a nostalgia laden look back at a more innocent time when the USA was poised to grow and prosper and provide workers with a consumer’s paradise full of mod clothes, exciting new music, and inexpensive travel opportunities. Unfortunately a closer look at the adventures of the Merry Pranksters may provide a metaphor for the dazed and confused America that is trying to figure out why their own government social services must be eliminated to provide a balanced budget that will permit the continuation of some capricious and perplexing military adventures in far away lands.

The film starts with the shot of a microphone which provides film aficionados with a visual pun that refers back to promotional material made for “Citizen Kane.”

Successful novelist Ken Kesey (who was enjoying success from “One Flew Over the Cookoos’ Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion”) spent some money in early 1964, to acquire a 1939 International Harvester bus that had been transformed into a rolling dormitory room. He envisioned using it to take his friends on a quest for an insightful movie about their journey. The group of road acolytes were accompanied by Neal Cassidy who had already achieved fame as Jack Kerouac’s on the road traveling buddy.

What the movie actually shows is a group of social misfits and fuck-ups lurching through a series of travel disasters, a string of social faux pas, several encounters with American Literary legends Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg, an anticlimactic visit to the World Fair, a bumbling inept visit to Timothy Leary’s estate, a series of numerous dispensations from their marriage vows, a return to the West Coast and coping with their leader’s jail term which was (magically?) truncated by a promise to denounce the use of the growing popularity of the experimental psychedelic drug called LSD.

Is the Tea Bag movement the political equivalent of LSD for conservatives?

The new century has seen the USA become embroiled in questionable examples of democracy in action, a series of unprovoked wars, an imitation of Hitler’s distain for the Geneva Convention rules of war, the principles America established at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials, and the standard American dream of a home surrounded by a white picket fence going into foreclosure.

Simultaneously, America has turned on Fox News, tuned into the Republican talking points and dropped out of being well informed about political issues.

When the USA bombs Libya constantly for more than four months to protect its citizens from their leader of forty years at the same time that the President turns his back on the Syrians who are being shot down like rabid dogs in the street, no responsible political pundit takes notice of the dichotomy.

Why should they? Aren’t they being paid to reassure the voters that the radioactive sites in Japan, the economic turmoil, the endless wars, the unexplainable election upsets, and the rapidly dwindling 401K accounts are no cause for alarm? Chill out, dude! You’re just having a bad trip.

After seeing “Magic Trip,” we went to the Berkeley Public Library and borrowed a copy of Tom Wolfe’s book, “The Elecgtric Cool-aid Acid Test,” which was about what happened to Kesey’s posse

The book is highly regarded as a pioneering example of gonzo journalism, which was the label given to the trend in journalism whereby the writers injected themselves into the story they were covering. From the vantage point of more than forty years later, the tone of the beginning of the book is more like a sales pitch at the entrance of a freak show. Wolfe provides the ordinary folk with an alter ego for a journey into the land of pathetic drug fiends.

Will he actually drop acid later in the book? Perhaps, as the long hot summer of 2011 continues to play out, we will have a chance to finish reading the Acid Test book and write a column on its efforts to be a valid example of gonzo journalism.

Wolfe’s newspaper article and subsequent book anointed the Merry Pranksters to a high level of fame and notoriety. Perhaps with some lucrative book deals some influential future historians will be able to depict the summer of 2011 as a time full of warm and fuzzy sentimentality when folks walked out of their recently foreclosed homes and went off in search of their inner Woody Guthrie?

Wasn’t the Great Depression chock full of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies, Amos ‘n’ Andy radio shows, and Black Mask magazines that were just so much fun? Won’t the future look back at this summer with so much envy because they will have to settle for a vicarious participation in the antics?

CBS radio news’ hour long weekend recapitulation of the week when the debt crisis was settled and the USA’s credit rating was lowered is available on line at radio etc. The political pundits’ analysis of this week’s current events should be available next weekend.

According to a popular urban legend, Kesey’s bus was the subject for a request from the Smithsonian Institute that it be donated to them. In real life, it became a rusted out hulk on Kesey’s Oregon farm. Future historians will know if the suggestion that the bus was a metaphor for America’s Democratic process was valid or not. How does the binary choice of “Four more years!” vs. JEB, grab ya? In the “Magic Trip” movie, someone is heard dispensing the advice: “Enjoy the chaos!” Could there be a better epigram for capturing the zeitgeist for the summer of 2011?

Tom Wolfe wrote: “They get the feeling that Kesey was heading out on further, toward a fantasy they didn’t know if they wanted to explore.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Mellow Yellow,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “Puff the Magic Dragon.” We have to check the current flower power level. Have a do svidaniya type week.

May 6, 2011

On the road to the Beat Museum?

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:50 pm


The idea that certain bath salts can be used in a pipe as a substitute for hash or crack is slowly trickling upwards from the drug culture underground to the mainstream media and that story will soon be getting the attention of the assignment editors at the various evening news broadcasts and that, in turn, means that the chess match clock will soon be measuring the conservative reaction time. Once conservatives realize (by doing a Google news search for “smoking bath salts”?) that it is a legitimate current events problem topic, Uncle Rushbo and his wannabe imitators will be (like a pit crew changing all four tires) expected to instantaneously produce irrefutable Republican talking points asserting that the new outlaw fad proves that the Democrat in the Oval Office has performed poorly.

Objecting to too much government is one thing, but letting bath salts be sold without legal guidelines is incomprehensible. Write to your Senators and congressional representatives and demand action now! Or better yet, show up at a townhall meeting and, when you are sure the TV cameras are rolling, ask what will be done about the bath salts problem. One Congresswoman in Florida is ready to take action. Why are other states lagging behind?

Does that make it sound like the Summer of ’68 isn’t really over yet? Well put this in your Magritte style pipe and smoke it: some imaginative scoundrels have discovered that if they go through the paperwork to be accredited as a patient in pain with a legitimate need for medical marijuana, they can turn around and sell their “medicine” at a slight profit to some people who may not want pesky paperwork in existence linking them to the “devil weed.” (Would it be a “cop out” for us to fail to provide an example of people who might prefer to remain “off the books” as far as being a legitimate registered pot head is concerned?)

Older nostalgia prone assignment desks might like that flashback topic, too. Think any one of them would be too embarrassed to steal an idea from “the World’s Laziest Journalist”? Me neither too.

The concept of being a topic rustler brings us to another flashback topic: At the Berkeley 7 flashback film series, we saw for the first time last night, the classic film “Scarface” starring Al Pacino. All the gangster activities called “rub-out,” “whack,” or “hit” at various times in the annals of the gangster genre movies reminded us that the President seems to be imitating the gangster mentality with his foreign policy. Col. Qaddafi is becoming an annoyance? Bomb the snot out of his living compound. Send “the boys” over to bin Laden’s place and have them rub him out.

Will Qaddafi’s and bin Laden’s gang be able to tell the ref: “I know where I am. I know what round it is. Don’t stop the fight!” or will they get a TKO?

Can’t you just picture President Obama telling his posse: “Everything north of State Street is O’Banion’s; we got Afghanistan and now Libya.”? Were bin Laden’s last words: “Mother of God, is this the end of Ricco?” Or did he snarl: “Top of the world, ma!”? Did the Seals yell: “Osama, say hello to my little friend!”?

For over ten year, the World’s Laziest Journalist has been motivated to write political punditry for various online sites by a “Man of La Mancha” delusion that it was worth while to get up at 6 a.m. pound out some words such as a column that ridiculed the contention that some dumb aluminum tube was irrefutable evidence that the invasion of some country was imperative and then make the effort to get online and post it. There was always the hope that the next column would (somehow) hit a nerve and cause all of America to question the Bush junta’s sanity.

Now that George W. Bush’s successor from the opposition Party has endorsed the Bush war policy, writing critical political commentary is an unnecessary foolish self deception and is an example of inefficient use of time. Rather than continuing the futile railing, long neglected book length projects can be reconsidered and perhaps revived with renewed enthusiasm.

What’s not to like about sleeping in until 7:30 a.m., doing the same amount of writing, and then, instead of hustling off to get a turn on a Berkeley Public Library computer connected to the Internets, taking a long leisurely stroll (and perhaps having a serendipitous encounter with a bargain bin priced intriguing used book), and stopping off at Pepe’s Pizza to indulge in their Pizza buffet for lunch?

Obviously, a timely topic, such as the wide spread notion that the world will end on May 22, can be a compelling occasion for a column chock full of cynical skepticism. After that date has passed, perhaps the World’s Laziest Journalist can parlay the fact that he, as an ordained minister, prayed that God would stay his hand and delay Judgment Day for a good long while, into a selling point to gain some lucrative speaking engagements?

Perhaps we could get an immediate start on participating in this year’s San Francisco Litquake festival by sending a query letter to the Beat Museum? We would note that we had not only interceded and prevented the End of the World, but that as a well read Kerouac wannabe who has not yet completed his memoirs manuscript, we would not selfishly use the occasion for self promotion of a new book we had written, but would, instead, be able to speak knowledgeably (on the pseudo intellectual level) about many of the books by other writers that are for sale in the gift and bookstore section of that venue.

Would San Francisco’s literati find “An Evening with the World’s Laziest Journalist” a refreshing change of pace from the usual “I’m begging you to buy this book” type of disguised boorish sales pitch? What would be the best way to find the answer to that question?

Heck, by the time this year’s Litquake gets started, if we have interceded and convinced God to postpone the End of the World for a little while isn’t that worth something? Is a speaking engagement at the Beat Museum too much to ask?

Allen Ginsberg (at a poetry reading in San Francisco, long before the first Litquake) said: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for a fix . . . .” All they had to do was buy some bath salts. Who knew?

Now the disk jockey will fix us up with a chance to listen to “Harlem Nocturne,” the soundtrack album for “Kiss Me Deadly,” and “Night Train.” We have to go find some new tidbits of news that will make it worth while for the aforementioned assignment desk editors to “tune in again next time.” Have a “fa-a-a-r out!” type week.

March 12, 2011

The Tattlesnake – Defending Charlie Sheen Edition

Is it crazy to stand up to corporations and media parasites that are trying to tell you how to live your life?

Charlie Sheen’s gotten a bum rap from the media lately because he refused to play the corporate and tabloid-TV game: the Shamed Celebrity is supposed to enter rehab and emerge contrite and chastened and just so gleefully grateful his corporate employer stuck by him during his time of need. Instead, Sheen called CBS and his producers on their ‘we care’ bullshit, and told the media hypocrites that parasitically cover celebrities to stuff it where the moon don’t shine. Here’s a news flash you won’t see on the MSM: When celebs enter rehab, it’s mainly for PR, career, or project-insurance purposes and there is no shortage of drugs and alcohol at any of the well-known rehab ranches that cater to the famous. What are they going to do, kick them out and lose all of that money? No, they turn a blind eye and cooperate in the fraud that the celebrity is ‘cured,’ and everybody goes home happy. Charlie Sheen just refused to indulge in this fetid game and, for that, he should be applauded.

Is he crazy? Maybe, but no more than most of us, and he’s not advising that we hurt or hate anyone. If you read his quotes below, he often makes considerable sense and he frequently lampoons himself, which the TMZ-style media are apparently too obtuse to recognize. He’s certainly more honest and lucid than the demented wolfpack of politicians and pundits that appear on Meet the Press every Sunday and are treated as sane and reasonable.

If a Hunter S. Thompson had given Charlie’s recent interviews, some of the same people pointing the ‘nutjob drug addict’ finger at Charlie Sheen and ‘tsk, tsk’ self-righteously shaking their heads over his sure demise, would be laughing with or praising him. But because he’s known as a film/TV actor, and many of them don’t want to offend Viacom/CBS for professional reasons, they toe the corporate line that Sheen is spinning out of control and needs help. Haven’t we learned by now that large corporations do not have compassionate souls that take pity on their employees, and neither do the heads of Hollywood production companies? It’s all about the money.

Aside from that, when did Charlie Sheen’s personal life become the concern of anyone but himself and those around him? How would you like your personal problems exaggerated and splashed all over the TV beast and the Internet?

As you read the poem below, pretend they are the words of a beat poet rather than a movie star. It might give you a whole different perspective; “Droopy-eyed armless children” by itself is a line worthy of a Jack Kerouac novel or Allen Ginsberg epic.


The words of Charlie Sheen edited into poetry

I so desperately wanted to be
Mr. Somebody.
Instead, I was the little brother…
As kids we’re not taught how to deal
with success; we’re taught how to
deal with failure.
If at first you don’t succeed,
try, try again.
If at first you succeed,
then what?
C’mon, bro, I won best picture at 20!
I wasn’t even trying.
I wasn’t even warm.

Fame is empowering.
My mistake was that I thought
I would instinctively know
how to handle it.
But there’s no manual,
no training course.
The run I was on made Sinatra,
Flynn, Jagger, Richards,
all of them look like
droopy-eyed armless children!
Sure, I did a lot of things in excess.
But if you look at the core,
the foundation of what I pursued,
what red-blooded young American
male in my position wouldn’t?
But you can’t focus on things
that matter if all you’ve been
is asleep for forty years.
Funny how sleep
rhymes with sheep.


February 23, 2011

Blogger battles bogus ballots

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


Just as we were noting a possible rise in the number of homeless people, we encountered a new worthy cause seeking donations. The Suitcase Clinic has been a “humanitarian student organization and volunteer community” which offers free health and social services to the underserved population since 1989. They are a source of items such as toothpaste, razors, safety pins, aspirin, and other such “household items” for the homeless. We offered to add some buzz boosting their efforts rather than donate an insignificant buck because isn’t that what being a Gonzo Bloger is all about?

According to Doug Brinkley (as quoted on pages 125 – 126 of “Gonzo: the Life of Hunter S. Thompson” Little Brown and Company hardback edition 2007): The Internet is full of bogus falsehoods propagated by uninformed English professors and pot-smoking fans about the etymological origins of ‘gonzo.’” Brinkley adds that it comes from Cajun slang in the New Orleans jazz scene and means “to play unhinged.” (Ibid.) This we know because we scored a mint condition copy of that book on one of our frequent book safaris in Berkeley CA, which we contend (mindful of the Golden Days when the Book Row of America was located in New York City) is the used book buyers Valhalla.

The legendary Cody’s Books in Berkeley is closed. That gave us an opportunity to write a column headlined “Memories of Cody’s Books,” which helped lure some Jack Kerouac fans into our realm of Gonzo blogging. There are other marvelous bookstores still available for the seekers of the great white whale of books.

Every time we go into the Shakespeare and Co. on Telegraphy Avenue, we wonder if the charming fellow who owned the similarly named store in Paris is still offering writers a rent free year in an apartment in the City of Light. We learned about that marvelous opportunity while visiting Paris in 1986. Do Gonzo Bloggers qualify as writers? We’ll get back to you on that.

Are the young folks asking for money on that Berkeley street aging beatniks? Kerouac and Ginsberg lived in Berkeley CA during 1955 and some familiar street names pop up in the “Dharma Bums” book. We refuse to take this opportunity to besmirch Berkeley’s image by speculating about any possible walking around DNA evidence of the “free love” philosophy those writers promoted. (We missed a great opportunity a few decades back when a coworker in Santa Monica claimed that his mother had been a member of Kerouac’s SF Posse.)

Sometimes when there is an anti-war demonstration in Berkeley, you have to wonder: which war are they protesting?

We scored a trade paperback copy of Rupert Holmes big band era mystery titled “Swing” and learned that students in Sproul Plaza had demonstrated in the Thirties against the FDR foreign policy which (they asserted) would lead to involvement in the war in Europe.

Living in Berkeley has taught us the futility of bragging. We recently stopped to chat with a young film-head photographer and when we tossed in the fact that Paul Newman had once asked for our autograph, the kid responded: “Who is Paul Newman?” (Look it up on the Internet, kid. Maybe he can’t if he isn’t into digital photography?)

Did you hear Uncle Rushbo make a reference to the World’s Laziest Journalist today? Me neither too.

We have recently asked some Berkeley students if they knew who Mario Savio was. A streak of negative responses quashed our enthusiasm for continuing work on that informal survey.

What was it that the kids at UCLA used to say (back in the pre-Bush era)? “If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there.” That reminds us of a passage we found in our bargain bin copy of “Johnny Cash.” He wrote (HarperPaperbacks 1998 page 49): “Sitting down with pen and paper (or tape recorder and Microsoft Word), the words ‘I don’t remember’ and ‘I’m not sure one way or the other’ don’t seem adequate, even if they do reflect reality more accurately than whatever you are about to write.”

Getting up at 6 a.m. to bang out another blog column berating bogus voting machine ballot results is getting very boring, especially when it becomes obvious that should the predictions be judged to be very accurate in retrospect, the fact that all liberal media will have vanished in America will mean there will be no chance to post any “We tried to warn ya” columns and gloat.

Do readers of liberal blogs care if the first time a columnist sees a Rolls Royce in Berkeley CA it has a flame paint job? We double dog dare you to look at a photo of that and not think of the Beatles band member named John Lennon.

We’ve only seen one Ferrari in Berkeley CA. We can’t locate the digital file for the photo showing the time that we spotted two Ferraris sitting side-by-side at the traffic light at Windward and Pacific in Venice. In L.A., no one else noticed that co-inky-dink. Is Uncle Rushbo referring to our car-spotting efforts on our photo blog when he mentions the drive-by journalists?

It may be boring to be the blogger battling bogus ballots, but we becalm ourselves by the thought that we are on the brink of a boredom busting breakthrough.

George Noel Gordon (AKA Lord Byron) wrote: “I’ll publish right or wrong: Fools are my theme, let satire be m song.”

Now the disk jockey will play the Blues McGoos “Psychedelic Lollipop” album, Johnny Bond’s “Hot Rod Linclon” album, and Molly Bee’s “Swingin’ Country” album. We gotta go look for the new Johnny Cash album featuring rarities such as the B-sides of his hit singles records. Have a “Biutiful” week.

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