June 15, 2012

Are (some) homeless claustrophobic?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:33 pm
Is Christmas Week the time to go strolling on the beach at sunset?  For folks in Fremantle, Western Australia, it is and the columnist has photos to prove it.

Is Christmas Week the time to go strolling on the beach at sunset? For folks in Fremantle, Western Australia, it is and the columnist has photos to prove it.

Friday June 15, 2012, is Johnny Hallyday’s birthday, Saturday, June 16 is Bloom’s day, the Monterey Pop Festival celebrates its 45th anniversary and the word “Watergate” triggers 40 year old memories. For a columnist who has the “write about anything” assignment, the world is a movable smorgasbord feast and all the writer needs to do is fill in the blank assignment sheet. For instance, if attending the annual aviation event in Oshkosh is on the bucket list, then all that the modern day Ulysses has to do is take his mobile command center (his lap-top) to Wisconsin and he is in business. On the other hand, expenses might be a consideration. Perhaps moseying down to Palo Alto for the Concours d’Elegance, which will be held on the grounds of Stanford University, on Sunday June 24, would be a better choice from the low budget is no budget point of view.

Is wandering around in your own hometown just as exciting and adventurous as roaming the world? For an Irishman, a day in Dublin might provide the same classic adventure as any of the Vikings’ Odysseys. It would just be up to the writer to make it sound like a stop in a Dublin pub could be just as invigorating and refreshing as a drink in Hurley’s bar in Rockefeller Center, Quinn’s bar in Papeete Tahiti, or the Floridita bar in Havana.

Some time ago, the World’s Laziest Journalist visited and wrote a column about a day spent roaming around in Dublin CA, so, rather than settle for a been there done that retread travel experience, we decided that our dress rehearsal for Bloom Day would be a one day excursion to Pittsburg CA. A one day local bus pass in the Pittsburg/Antioch area for seniors cost $1.35, which is in our price range.

Would anyone, other than a native of Scranton Pa., be curious about the origin of the name of Antioch’s Black Diamond Street? Obviously, Huell (California Gold) Howser won’t be the only one to see a feature story potential for the place in downtown Pittsburg CA that is a combination of a Merchant’s Bank branch and a coffee house. This columnist can not remember ever seeing a similar business combination anywhere else in our travels.

The bookstore in Pittsburg offers local memorabilia in many forms; one of which is cutting boards for chefs made by carpentry students in the local high school, whose football team is called the Pirates.

While in the Pittsburg/Antioch area we encounter a clerk in a local CD store who was able to update us with an extensive amount of information that would be necessary to participate in the continuing debate about the quality of analogue vs. digital music. It has been several years since we have done any fact checking on that topic and apparently there have been some technical advances in the interim that would have relevancy for reevaluating the merits of digital music.

The Pittsburg Antioch area is the home of the “Forensic Philosopher” who is a champion exponent of using local transportation services as a way to increase the greening of the Tourism industry and his efforts cause us to wonder if the computer era will spawn a way for local tourist offices to offer integrated area transportation information.

Here is an example. San Francisco attracts large numbers of tourists from outside the United States. Citizens of Germany have been conditioned to expect a very high level of achievement from automobile museums. California has three car museums that are capable of meeting the Germans’ very high standard of excellence and one of them, the Blackhawk, is accessible to visitors staying in San Francisco, but the challenge of using the resources available to get there and back in one day are formidable even for a local who is familiar with the various transportation companies that would have to be used. The challenge of tracking down all the necessary time schedule information that would be needed to make such a day trip would be overwhelming.

Wouldn’t a one-stop computer site which offered all the integrated information necessary to make such a museum visit be theoretically possible? Well, then, why can’t some group, or association of groups, subsidize such a site which would increase and maximize the level of tourist satisfaction for foreign visitors to the San Francisco bay area? Doesn’t it seem likely that more tourists from Germany would appreciate a top notch auto museum than would enjoy the chance to see the Giants attempt to play another perfect game?

Isn’t it obvious that the appeal of using the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train system and a Pleasanton area bus to visit a world class car museum is much greater than the idea of running the bureaucratic obstacle course that someone with a foreign driver’s license must complete to rent a car (and cope with the complicated map reading task) that could also get them to the same destination? Not to mention being less expensive.

One of the rewards of traveling is a cross pollination effect on ideas.

In order to prolong our Pittsburg experience, we played hooky from the Tuesday night meeting of the Berkeley CA city council meeting which was going to feature input on the issue of putting a sleep-lie measure on the ballot for the city’s voters this fall. We figured that since we were already in Pittsburg, we could pick up a one sentence summary of the council meeting later. (They approved the measure to put the sleep-lie matter on the November ballot for Berkeley voters.)

The question of the homeless reminded us there could be Paris Hilton angle to the problem that isn’t being considered. We were living in the L. A. area when Paris Hilton was permitted to use a GPS tracking device and house arrest as a substitute for a cell in the county jail because she had acute claustrophobia issues.

When we offered to buy lunch for the Berkeley’s (beloved) homeless fellow called “hate-man,” he asked if the offer could be in the form of a take-out meal from a nearby restaurant which would be enjoyed in the familiar surroundings of the People’s Park (this was before he got a stay-away order). We immediately wondered if the guy’s odd behavior was part of his way of coping, on a lesser scale than Ms. Hilton’s solution, with claustrophobia and then we wondered how many other of the homeless might be carrying out compulsive behavior because of that malady.

That, in turn, caused us to wonder why some group of students at the University of California Berkeley campus haven’t used the readily available material for an extensive study (say a psychological evaluation of the homeless) that would shed some new light on the local problem with similar challenges being present in many other American cities.

During the week, we heard a report on KCBS news radio that the New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was going to offer some of his personal fortune to help publicize and promote innovative and imaginative solutions to urban problems.

Berkeley mayor Tom Bates has mentioned that his city leads the nation in providing services to the homeless. At specific times during the week, one of the municipal swimming pools (that is permanently closed for swimming) uses the locker room facilities to let the homeless take a shower. Could other cities adopt this program?

Unfortunately the fact that Berkeley has such programs tends to bring additional homeless to the region and that carries with it a danger that the innovative programs could become over used and thus (metaphorically speaking) die of suffocation.

If the members of the Berkeley city council are very busy coping with this problem would it be logical to think that they might not have sufficient time to check to see if any programs Santa Monica used to cope with the same problem might be used in Berkeley?

In an era when information is available rapidly online, that has created a new problem. How can voters in Berkeley know what progress has been made in other cities? If a class in Berkeley studies solutions in Santa Monica how can the students bring their knowledge to the attention of the Berkeley City Council?

If Mayor Bloomberg’s cash awards help promote the cross pollination of urban ideas, he will have made a valuable contribution to the improvement of urban living.

Speaking of travel, while we were walking on Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley, Kimberly reminded us that Environment California is trying to draw attention to the fact that the tsunami trash that has traveled from Japan to America’s West Coast isn’t the only junk floating around in the Pacific Ocean.

[Note from the Photo Editor: we will use a sunset shot from Christmas week 2008, taken on the beach at Fremantle Western Australia at 9 p.m. because that is their summer time to illustrate our point about how different locations perceive things differently. Do folks in New York City think of a picnic dinner on the beach at Christmastime?]

While folks are reading this column, we gotta start wrestling with next week’s blank assignment sheet.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote: “For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”

Now the disk jockey will play Johnny Cash’s “I’ve been everywhere,” Johnny Paycheck’s “The running kind,” and Waylon and Willie’s “Clean Shirt” duet. We have to go check the rideshare section on Craig’s List. Have a “the world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings” type week.

August 5, 2008



Vote for Paris!

Hilton ‘enters’ election race with spoof ad

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Paris Hilton has thrown her hat into the US presidential race, declaring her desire to campaign against “that wrinkly white-haired guy” and threatening to paint the White House pink if elected.

The blond socialite responded to Republican candidate John McCain’s controversial use of her image in a campaign television spot last week with a satirical ad of her own posted on the website  on Tuesday.

(see video @

In the ad, the 27-year-old appears reclining on a sun lounger beside a swimming pool, dressed only in a skimpy leopard-print bathing costume.

“Hey America, I’m Paris Hilton and I’m a celebrity too,” Hilton declares breezily. “Only I’m not from the olden days and I’m not promising change like that other guy. I’m just hot.

“But then that wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I’m running for president. So thanks for the endorsement white-haired dude, and I want America to know I’m, like, totally ready to lead.”




Paris Hilton’s mom takes offense at McCain’s humor

WASHINGTON – Paris Hilton’s mother doesn’t share John McCain’s sense of humor.

McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, said last week that his campaign ad mocking Democrat Barack Obama with images of Hilton and singer Britney Spears was part of an attempt to inject humor into the presidential race.

On Sunday, Hilton’s mother, Kathy Hilton, a McCain donor, registered her disapproval.

“It is a complete waste of the country’s time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs,” Kathy Hilton said


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