January 27, 2012

Joey Biden, Alexey Brodovitch, and Bon Scott together again (for the first time) in this weekend wrap-up column

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:39 pm

Statue in Fremantle
Flower power!
Snapshot collecting is a trend in Berkeley CA

[Note: In an effort to enhance the reading on the humor scale, this column will be found to contain trace elements of braggadocio and fabricated verisimilitude.]

Due to the fact that a member of the Fortyniners did his imitation of Bill Bruckner style clutch performance twice in one game last Sunday, we are obliged [It’s never fun to lose a bet] to start this week’s weekend wrap up by plugging a blog (
{did she say it was the Cadillac of blogs or a blog about Cadillacs?}) for a Giants fan and then proceeding on to our regularly scheduled ration of amazingly perceptive and insightful political punditry interwoven with unique observations about pop culture.

Are the mainstream media pundits pointing out the absurd spectacle presented by the fact that a year long cavalcade of clichés proclaiming that the most important Presidential election ever? It is starting with a concerted effort by top Republican personalities to discredit the two leading candidates. How dare the Republican rank ’n’ file voters think that they can select the nominee! Isn’t the core principle of a Republic that only qualified persons (such as men who own land) can vote? Well then only folks like Bob Dole and Karl Rove should be consulted when it comes time to write a news story that will refer to “the Republican frontrunner.”

If it ain’t gonna be Romney or Gingrich, then who will it be? If the experts on the weekend shouting matches can’t tell you that, do you really expect the World’s Laziest Journalist to make an accurate prediction which will spoil the surprise? Here’s a hint: what totally qualified Republican has the initials: J. E. B.?

The Republicans lately have been rather insistent about starting a tiny, quick war with Iran. The Republicans always harshly criticize everything Obama does. If President Obama starts a war with Iran; will that force the Republicans into making a tough fielder’s choice decision? They can either cheer him on in the conduct of a blitzkrieg in the Gulf or they can denounce him for doing what they wanted to do.

Even if President Obama starts a new war they really want, and even if he personally goes into battle and wins a Medal of Honor and the war is won in thirty minutes, the Republicans would sincerely ridicule that as being a despicable inept spectacle that has brought shame and dishonor to the country.

Where can we get a photo that contrasts flower power with a soldier’s weapon to illustrate the dilemma facing the USA this week? There was an iconic Sixties image that showed a hippie guy placing the stem of a flower into the barrel of an M-1. That image is rather common on the Internets, but we won’t use it because we don’t know who owns the rights to the famous shot, so that makes getting permission to use that shot a moot question.

Berkeley CA is rather synonymous with both flower power and anti-war demonstrations and, as luck would have it, to promote the current production at the Ashby Stage (home of the Shotgun Players) a relevant new mural is being used to tout it. It is a graphic design featuring an M-16 with a flower dangling from the gun barrel. Click. Voila! We now have in our possession, a digital file of an image that makes getting permission to use it seem like a schizophrenic’s soliloquy .

Who knew that being an online columnist would eventually require a fellow to acquire a stockpile of stock photos and a handbook full of information about the art director’s job?
(Most columnists online or in print journalism have probably never heard of Alexey Brodovitch, let alone aspire to his level of art direction achievements in page layout and photo illustrations to supplement the text on the page.)

Did other political pundits report that on a fundraising visit to San Francisco, the columnist’s old grade school classmate Joey Biden suffered a verbal malfunction that revealed his lack of sports expertise show? The gaff landed Biden on page one of the San Francisco Examiner the next day for saying that the Giants were going to the Superbowl. Wouldn’t a photo of the security detail assigned to the Vice President be an example of an anemic illustration for a weekend wrap up that runs more than a week later?

It’s tough enough to get up early, pound out a column that the writer hopes is entertaining and informative augmented by (occasionally) topics that are subsequently used in the main stream media, and then go to a public library to get access to the Internets to post it; but when you add on the duties of a photographer and an amateur art director to the “to do” list, that makes it all the more time consuming. Herb Caen, who wrote a daily column in San Francisco for sixty years never had to spend time finding a photo that was relevant to his column, did he?

What if the columnist’s stock photo files have some nifty photos of Bon Scott’s statue in Fremantle Western Australia, but he didn’t get any images of the Occupy the Cal Library news story during the week? Will UCB students be upset that the library story wasn’t covered by the photographer? Do kids these days even know who Bon Scott was? Well, such a shot would be sure to draw about one Google searching person somewhere in the world to the site every day for years to come. Unfortunately no American website would be willing to reimburse the photographer for the expenses that would be incurred in the effort to get such images.

What if the journalist’s trend-spotting radar picks up a regional anomaly? If snapshot collecting is not becoming popular anywhere else but in Berkeley and if the columnist gets caught up in the “hobby,” does it deserve to be a trend-spotting column topic? Is a decades old photo print considered to be in the public domain? Would the topic of snapshot collecting be a valid excuse for running an intriguing old snapshot with no caption material?

The columnist seems to find images featuring old automobiles irresistible even on a tight budget. Someday, if we ever write a trend-spotting column about snapshot collecting, we will probably have several eye-catching images to go with it.

A homeless writer in Berkeley CA caused a bit of a small sensation online this week by challenging Mitt Romney to do a Prince and the Pauper routine and trade places. The Berkeley fellow, James Richard Armstrong II, is on Facebook and looking to expand his fan base by adding more readers to his list of friends, so folks who want to follow his progress can go to that site and send him an invitation to be an e-friend. A good portrait of him would have been a good photo illustration for this column.

If Corporations are going to have the same rights and privileges as people, then when will they be permitted to compete in the Olympic Games? Wouldn’t the New York Yankees kick ass in the baseball competition? Life magazine has collected the 100 best sports pictures for a gallery on their website.

We were introduced to a fellow in Berkeley this week whose claim to fame was being “Louie the Turkey” on some Frank Zappa recordings. Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of the fellow.

On Saturday, Occupy Oakland is planning an event which, if the World’s Laziest Journalist goes, might provide some acceptable accompanying news photos for a weekend warp-up column that will get posted next Friday.

The quest for good photos will continue . . .

Alexey Brodovitch has been quoted as saying:
A. “This disease of our age is boredom… The way to combat this is by invention – by surprise. When I say a good picture has surprise value, I mean that it stimulates my thinking and intrigues me.”
B. “A good picture must be a completely individual expression which intrigues the viewer and forces him to think.”
C. “If [an artist] is to maintain his integrity, he must be responsible to himself; he must seek a public which will accept his vision, rather than pervert his vision to fit that public.”
D. “If you see something you have seen before, don’t click the shutter.”
E. All of the above.

Now the disk jockey will play “Kodachrome,” Ferde Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite,” and Ferrantey and Teicher’s “Canadian Sunset.” We have to go find a movie theater showing “Hugo” in 2-D. Have a “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” type week.

March 16, 2011

Nihilism for fun and profit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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