January 13, 2012

Do Republican Candidates have Vertigo?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 1:30 pm

Is the Republican Presidential nomination “the stuff dreams are made of”?

Has the Democratic process in the USA become a zombie sham that will remind mystery fans of the plot for the classic film “D. O. A.”? Thanks to the magnificent voting machines that leave no paper trail, Democracy seems to be alive and well just as Frank Bigelow (Edmond O’Brien) did at the beginning of the classic noir movie. A closer look reveals that he has been poisoned and his days among the living are numbered. Is voting in the USA also an example of “dead man walking”?

The lofty goal of gaining the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination seems to be scaring some away from the selection process. Should the Republican attempt a cure of this curious example of political Vertigo by hiring someone who will remind them of the glory days of the past and the achievements of the Bush Dynasty? Would JEB Bush fit the bill?

Perhaps the Republicans should, as Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor) did in the Maltese Falcon (1941 version directed by John Houston), and seek the help of Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) and hire him to solve the case of the missing acceptable frontrunner?

All of these potential column themes presented themselves in disguise as the art exhibition at the Bancroft Library on the University of California Berkeley campus, which marks the beginning of that library’s centennial anniversary. We went to see the exhibition, which will continue into February, as a way of doing some fact finding in preparation for the Noir City Film Festival which will begin with showings (separate admission required) of “Dark Passage” and “The House on Telegraph Hill” on the evening of Friday January 20, 2011 at the Castro Theater.

Part of the Bancroft exhibition is a DVD presentation of a cinematic fugue of highlights of noir films shot across the bay in San Francisco.

How many times can a columnist get away with being the only pundit predicting that JEB will be the guy who not only gets the nomination but will see the win check mark by his name on Election night later this year? In all the excitement about the turmoil of the primary season, we’ve lost track of all our attempts to do with political commentary what Hans Brinker did with loud shouts. Have we posted five warning columns, or was it six?

How many times can a mystery fan/car buff be thrilled by the spectacle of a Mustang going airborne in the streets of San Francisco? Especially if the green machine is being driven by Steve McQueen? Particularly if the columnist lived in the Pacific Heights area of that city at approximately the same time that movie (reportedly the first Hollywood feature to be filmed entirely on location [San Francisco]) was being shot. Furthermore, what if the writer had been a passenger riding around that city, in his high school and college buddy’s car which was an identical twin to the one seen in Bullitt?

The Noir City Film Festival is presenting this columnist with an existentialistic budget crisis. Should we buy a series pass and see all the movies (some of which we have seen before)? Should we buy a pass and see enough of the films to make it an economically feasible choice? Should we carefully asses the series schedule and only see the crème de la crème of the selection and wind up spending less than the pass would cost?

Recently, choosing a column topic has caused us another existentialistic panic attack. If we write a column featuring some aspects of the contemporary political scene, such as pointing out how the American media seems to be singing a very coordinated chorus questioning Mitt Romney’s lack of universal appeal within the Republican Party, will we lose our audience for not running with the wolf pack of jackals who apparently want to help do to Romney what was done to Howard Dean in the 2004 primary season?

Howard Dean became an inconvenient frontrunner and so the press was ordered (“and ask ‘How high?’ on the way up”) to declare the man for whom the Republicans had made extensive preparations (like the legal paperwork for the swiftboat groups?) to defeat the new “frontrunner.” The press responded in “your slightest word is my command” fashion.

Could America’s diverse and independent voices of political commentary, in the corporate owned realm of mass media, be coached on what they can and cannot say in America’s Free Press? We seem to be the only one saying: “You bet your sweet, weekly paycheck that can happen!”

If, however, we write a column about contemporary culture that features some new information about a celebrity (such as some possible Banksy [or Blek le rat?] murals spotted recently in Berkeley CA) then in the one venue we get perceptibly more hits.

If we write a column with a unique bit of political opinion and/or information, that gets more hits which type of column suits us best?

What if, among the anemic hits the digital auditors notice that it got some log-ons from the New York Times computer? Well then maybe the site management can overlook some anemic total hits numbers and give the columnist the amount of tolerance for eccentricity that Dirty Harry got? Does it impress the site M. E. if a writer scoops the great gray lady?

In the solipsistic world of content providers, who knows?

We recently talked to a well informed political activist who predicted that not only is fascism and martial law coming to the United States, but, she warned, it will start with some newsworthy events in Oakland CA. The way she sees it, things will spiral out of control there and the authorities will (like Watts in 1964?) be forced to call in troops to restore order. The crisis will be prolonged and the troops will stay in place with little or no voices of alarm coming from the (allegedly) pro-Liberal media.

If a writer is the first to mention a prediction that comes true, does that count as a scoop?

What if a columnist peppered his work with obscure cultural references that meant that (hypothetically) half of the Google searches that landed new readers on the site were a result of his idiosyncratic “Google bait”? What’s not to like about luring fresh eyes into the tent?

According to an urban legend in the photojournalism community, LIFE magazine offered to pay $100 per roll for undeveloped film shot in Watts during the civil unrest of 1964. Young and daring photographers had the opportunity to use that dangerous photo op to make good money and firmly establish the foundation for a lifetime career in photojournalism.

Young photographers have the attitude: “We can run over to the scene of the action and shoot a few pictures and make some money!” Older photographers tend to employ the philosophy that “we can walk around San Francisco on a warm winter day and get some good feature shots and if Jalopnik doesn’t use them, so what, we will have had the fun of being there and taking the pictures.”

Scoops, predictions, commentary, feature photos, and news pictures all fall under the classification of content. Have “hed counts” become as extinct as the American Buffalo?

The citizen-journalist fad means that some content providers will function as a one-person news organizations and thus have the chance to fulfill the early Intenets hopes for the development of unique voices.

The obsession with finding items that will go viral tends to indicate that the trend is toward a digital popularity contest and the likelihood of a thought provoking column from a unique voice, getting a massive amount of hits is considerably diminished. “Go viral or die!”

Speaking of “going viral,” did we miss an online video that purported to show banksters urinating on some mortgage loan adjustment modification applications?

In the time that it took to write this column and take some photos for possible use as accompanying illustrations, we could have cranked out an alternative column that lamented the pathetic possibility that a hand full of voters in two small states have put the Republican Party’s seal of approval on someone who is perceived by some cynics as being “a member of a cult.” Instead, we choose to go searching in San Francisco for something that could (metaphorically speaking) be considered as the columnists’ McGuffin of accompanying column illustrations.

We would like to thank John’s Grill for their permission to take a photo of “the Black Bird.”

We’ll post a few links for those readers who might like to do the work to find some additional facts and information about the month of noir events in the Bay Area.
(There is a reason we are called “The World’s Laziest Journalist.”)

Since none of the Republicans attacking Mitt Romney have said “Mr. Romney, you are a card, sir,” we will have to resort to a closing quote from Auric “the ultimate 1 percenter” Goldfinger: “Mr. Bond, you are a card, sir!”

Now the disk jockey will play the Vertigo soundtrack album, the Birdman of Alcatraz soundtrack album (if it exists) and the Jefferson Airplane album “Surrealistic Pillow.” We have to go see if we can find Bill Cosby’s recording about driving around in San Francisco. Have a “stuff dreams are made of” type week.

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