January 24, 2014

Gonzo punditry from a sidecar

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


“My Man Godfrey” starring William Powell and Carole Lombard from 1936 was selected to be the first film in the Pacific Film Archives new Funny Ha-Ha series and was shown on Thursday January 16, 2014.  Since the film is a screwball comedy about efforts to rehabilitate a homeless guy, we made an attempt to try to get one of Berkeley’s panhandlers to be our guest at the nostalgic look back at a Depression era depiction of the life of a pauper.  The film confirmed the cynical view that the more things change the more they don/t.

While walking back to our base of operations, we chanced upon a new addition to the Berkeley business scene and opted for a nosh and a late night coffee.  We were operating in the guise of a Herb Caen wannabe searching for column items that would be interesting, amusing, and informative.

Did you know that football injuries are not a new topic?  One of the clerks at Pacific Cookie Company on Telegraph Avenue informed us that the subject had caused her grandfather,  Dave Meggyesy, to quite his job as a professional football player and write a book on the subject.  He was given the opportunity to go on the Dick Cavett TV show to promote his book (isn’t such video content called “promobabble”?).  It turned out, according to the clerk, that a fellow guest that night was Janice Joplin and the singer, we were told, came on to the author.  We then had the chance to view an excerpt from that episode that was available on the Youtube website.  The St. Paul moment when Meggyesy heard a bone snap sounded familiar.  Seeing the snippet of the show made us realize that we had seen that particular installment of the Dick Cavett Show when it was originally broadcast.  Is it time for a paperback publisher to reissue Meggyesy’s  book, “Out of their league”?

Extreme Pizza on Shattuck Ave. seemed like a logical place to look for a new entry in our attempts to find the best pizza in Berkeley.  What we weren’t expecting was a chance to cross an item off our Bucket List.  While returning to the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory at its secret location in the vicinity of the UCB campus, we noticed a motorcycle with a sidecar attached.  It was in front of the pizza parlor and a nearby panhandler informed us that the owner worked inside the pizzeria.  We have done a story about the replicas of a 1939 BMW motorcycle (Google Imz-ural) but a ride in a motorcycle sidecar was an item that still lurked on our Bucket List.  We learned that the cycle’s owner was connected to the Shattuck Ave. source for a pizza fix.  Since he did not have a spare helmet with him, he offered the chance for the World’s Laziest Journalist to return on Saturday for a ride in a sidecar.  We have ridden in a biplane and the view from the sidecar is better because it isn’t restricted by wings and a fuselage.

What does a whimsical description of a trip through Berkeley in a motorcycle sidecar have to do with insightful and perceptive political commentary?  Americans are avid advocates of the idea that the free press in the United States delivers the important information to the citizens that permits them to make informed decisions about which political candidates are the best choice.

Unfortunately the poor saps don’t get any news about the situation at Fukushima and the most likely scenario for the attempt to contain the damage.  The suckers don’t get much specific information about the Target hack or where it originated.  For complex political reasons, it is best if the free press just totally ignores the end results produced by the George W. Bush military adventure in Iraq.  The cost effectiveness of the money being spent to support American military operations in Afghanistan is too complex for the listeners of Patriot radio.

Soap opera news that gets viewers all choked up watching a video clip that is the TV version of a classic Dorothea Lang still photo of a Depression era woman looking all forlorn and bedraggled, is now considered the modern equivalent of “This is London calling” journalism.

Journalism in the United States today might best be compared to the experience of asking a buddy about the hundred dollars he owes you and in response getting the question:  “Did your mom get out of the hospital yet?”

The Pacific Film Archives retrospective of classic American Comedy moves, on Sunday January 19, 2014, featured the 1933 Marx brothers “Duck Soup,” which tells the story of how a rich woman was able to coerce the fictional country of Freedonia into accepting Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) as the country’s Prime Minister.  He promptly starts a war.  The film seems to be a prescient parable prediction of the Presidency of George W. Bush and that idea could be expanded into a complete column.

Would a column about poor officiating and bad sportsmanship in a football game be a suitable topic for use in the realm of progressive punditry?

In the Golden Age of skim reading and the short attention span, the challenge for someone who is expected to produce a steady stream of attempts to refute the Republican strategy of disparaging Hillary by providing sexist humor (where were the sexist Republicans when Sarah Palin was in the spotlight?) that questions the wisdom of giving the vote to (to use Frank Sinatra  terminology) frails, the challenge will be enormous because you can’t refute a funny one liner with a classroom lecture on liberal values.

The only valid way to fight a humorous attack is to “top” the one liner.  For example, when a woman said to Prime Minister Winston Churchill that if he were her husband, she would put poison in his coffee, he replied that if he were her husband, he’d drink it.

If the Republicans want to make Hillary the butt of their jokes for the next two and a half years, then the Democrats need to respond with ridicule for the Republican candidates.

The Brad Friedman’s Bardblog website pointed out a marvelous bit of Chris Christie humor by showing members of his audience a duet done by Jimmy Kimmel and Bruce Springsteen.  (Google hint:  Jimmy Kimmel Born to Run Spoof)

The Republican strategy for the Presidential Election seems to be a repeat of 2012.  They will let the media grind a series of Republican front runners into mincemeat and then at the last minute provide an unsullied “savior” candidate who has been waiting in the wings.  Our prediction for the last minute reluctant Republican candidate is JEB Bush.

We will annoy the snot out of a good conservative friend and ask if he can sees truth in this question:  Is the quality of journalism on Fox similar to the level of excellence rating given to the security provided for the audience at the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont?

Would skepticism about Global Warming cause biased media to ignore San Francisco’s January “heat wave”?

Political issues are a lot like the weather.  Everyone talks about them, but neither party actually does anything to solve the problems.

As Janis Joplin once said; “Tomorrow never comes.  It’s all the same fucking da-a-a-y, man.”

Now the disk jockey will play Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get you outta my head,” Brad Buckland’s “Boomaroo Flyer,” and Slim Dusty’s “Lights on the hill.”  We have to go find a good Australia Day party to crash.  Have a “Get it while you can” type week.

June 12, 2013

The Fall of Paris, the Magic Bullet, Mick Jagger’s Birthday

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 3:34 pm

Cut social programs; spend billions in Afghanistan

In 1940, on June 14th, the German Army rolled into Paris and a photograph of the Nazi soldiers marching down the Champs Elise would be an appropriate metaphor for illustrating how many rank and file members of the Democrat Party felt this week as they watched the President and some important D-Senators put a retroactive stamp of approval on George W. Bush’s Patriot Act.  Obama has done what Dubya could not.  Obama has gotten the Democrats to go along with the Bush war policies.

In the book “Paris in the Third Reich,” by David Pryce-Jones there is one particular photo that shows a very somber and sullen group of people listening to music in a park in the fall of 1940.  You could take a similar picture at the local Democrats club this weekend, eh?

Due to a commitment to act as tour guide of San Francisco for a fellow high school classmate and his wife, we decided to post our week in review Friday column a bit early this week and as we prepared to do so we thought about how it might have been a tad premature to retire “write for Combat Newspaper” off our bucketlist.  Perhaps we will get a chance to (someday) cross-post our columns on a digital Combat 2.0 version of that history making newspaper.  On the other hand perhaps we will (someday) be offered a lucrative chance to become a columnist for the Paris Zeitung.  (“Bevus, did he just say “Huffington Post”?)

While doing the fact checking for our custom tailored tour of San Francisco, we have been desperately trying to revive the mental set we held when we first arrived in the area and so we have been reviewing the music from that era.  Head shops, hippie paraphernalia, and psychedelic posters were just as ubiquitous back then, as was the song “Age of Aquarius.”

At the beginning of this century, we often heard the kids at UCLA say:  “If you can remember the Sixties . . . you weren’t really there.”

How the heck can we possibly resurrect the vibes that made San Francisco in the late Sixties so special?  Can a retired school teacher from New Jersey possibly understand what it was like to be in the vortex of the pop culture scene?

We never did look up the guy from our college who had been a fellow worker on the college newspaper and yearbook.  We heard he was working in San Francisco and had devised a thing called the “A-Z pub craw.”  Later we learned that he had been working on a small local magazine devoted to (mostly) Rock’n’Roll music.

Our fellow alumni had a wide assortment of duties for that publication and (allegedly) one of them was to act as “handler” for that magazine’s most illustrious writer who described the unique experience that was San Francisco in the late Sixties in a book that was about beer and loafing in Las Vegas.

How can we possibly help our guests to recall the crazy time when it was unpatriotic to question America’s involvement in a war half a world away?  Now, of course, America and the politicians know that only a matter such as taking a side in the Sunni vs. Shiite religious question is worth the investment of time, money, and military resources.

A member of Berkeley’s art community (ironically?) recently gave some tour guide advice to the World’s Laziest Journalist which made the assertion:  “Don’t take visitors directly to the City Lights Bookstore.”  Of course not!  First we’ll take them to the Golden Gate Bridge . . . then we’ll head directly to the North Beach area.

Unfortunately we must gently warn our pal, Jersey Bill, that one of his strongest tourist requests will have to be eliminated from the agenda.  Due to the unbelievable work load daunting the staff at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory (located at a secret location in the Berkeley Hills area) campus, we won’t be able to provide a stealth visit to the legendary underground facility.

A conspiracy theory bubble is being experienced during 2013.  It is a bull market for conspiracy theories.  Not only is the staff busy with commemorative work during the fiftieth anniversary of the Magic Bullet, they are being overwhelmed by work focusing on recent current events.

A radical element of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory staff is (respectfully) suggesting that the fellow called “Edward Snowden” is actually a fictional creation designed to serve in the capacity of a Judas Goat to Legitimatize the Democratic Party’s implementation of the Bush Administration war policies.  What if Snowden is a combination Trojan Horse, false flag, clandestine operation all rolled into one that will soon do the Cheshire Cat disappearing act and never becomes available to answer such perplexing questions as why the hell didn’t the bloke just get filthy rich by writing a self help book for people who in the Golden Age of Austerity Budgets desperately want to parlay a high school dropout life into a 17 grand a month cushy gig?

Even the top rated members of the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory Research and Development Department are baffled by the question:  “What the hell can a dropout do that’s worth that much austerity budget era salary?”

Are Americans expected to believe that the guy was a very highly paid example of a digital rent-a-cop who just sits at a desk and waits for an alarm notice to appear on his computer screen?  At which time, like a second baseman in a double play, he will notify his boss that the megadata has hit the fan?

Speaking of the mainstream media dropping the ball, the astrologist at the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is still just about the only person in the universe predicting that a conservative majority Supreme Court will earn the undying gratitude of critics of (as Mike Savage calls it) San Francisco Values by declaring gay marriages unconstitutional.  In the spirit of “Dewey Wins!” journalism, shouldn’t some of the mainstream media be doing contingency feature stories about the potential for a tsunami of legal nightmares if gay marriages are declared unconstitutional?

In the era of skeleton news staffs, maybe it makes sense for them to avoid wasting time on a hypothetical and thys should just stand by to do a “breaking news” emotional meltdown approach to a “no one saw this coming” SCOTUS decision.

Paris Fashion Week will celebrate its 70th birthday this year (just like Mick Jagger) but history buffs will recall that the first Paris Fashion Week was held in New York City due to the fact that many thought all the bunting with swastikas would class with the new dresses.

Who knew that when the first Paris Fashion Week was being held that eventually both the Republicans and Democrats in the USA and New York City would eventually embrace preemptive invasions, waterboarding, and “If you see something suspicious, report it!”?  (We have seen reports that Chancellor Hitler became very annoyed with the number of people who filed phony “suspicious activities” reports just to cause neighbors to spend extra time contending with all the subsequent paperwork that had to be filled out.)

[Note from the photo editor:  What could be more patriotic than eliminating the Social Security program while spending billions in Afghanistan?]

The World’s Laziest Journalist has, in the past, been a wee bit cynical and sarcastic regarding the potential for Obama to join FDR and JFK in the Democratic Party Hall of Fame, but we that it is obvious that the fellow is a Republican, we’ll exercise our freedom of speech and go to warp speed to express some reservations.  If Uncle Rushbo and the Republicans want to impeach Obama we’ll stand by to provide some unbiased sarcastic remarks about the process as it unfolds.  We’ll go along with whatever happens, data gathering, impeachment, ideological stalemate, whatever but we’ll stay in the boat.  The prospect of a tiger scares the bejesus out of us.  Approving the data gathering reminds us of the old Winston Churchill quote:  “Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount.  And the tigers are getting hungry.”

Now the disk jockey will play Moby Grapes “If you can’t learn from my mistakes,” the Electric Prunes’ “I had too much to dream last night,” and Janis Joplin’s “Get it while you can.”  We have to go find our MTA map of Frisco.  Have a “fa-a-a-r-r-r out” week.

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