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

August 2, 2013

In search of temps perdu in Berkeley

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:29 pm



Council person Kriss Worthington addresses a “Don’t sell our Post Office” rally on Saturday July 27th.

As political protests in Berkeley go, last Saturday afternoon’s rally of citizens protesting the sale of the Post Office facility in the downtown area didn’t seem to be a chance to watch history in the making but then we were told that something else would happen after the speeches and music were concluded.  We were provided a hint that it would be similar to an Occupy event.  On a summer day, when it is cloudy and chilly the appeal of going to a political protest in Berkeley that wouldn’t be something that folks would be talking about for years to come (the fiftieth anniversary of Mario Savio’s speech from the top of a police car is rapidly approaching) was not exactly overwhelming but on the other hand no other choice seemed better.

There were three TV trucks there and that indicated that the event did have some news value.  The number of TV trucks can equate to the news level of an event and we have seen perhaps as many as 10 trucks in Oakland for an Occupy Oakland event.  We lament our lapse in penny pinching judgment that caused us to skip the chance to buy a souvenir T-shirt at the “Camp OJ” convention of TV trucks in Los Angeles, some time back.

Experience from Occupy events indicated that any effort to remove the tents which were pitched on the Berkeley Post Office front steps would come either after dark or perhaps at dawn on Sunday, so we considered the array of possibilities our solo news organization efforts could select because it was obvious that eventually there would be a photo op for the removal of the protesters.  When not if.

There was a lingering feeling of familiarity to the impending news event and it wasn’t just the Occupy events we had witnessed.

We weren’t too enthusiastic about the possibility that we could inadvertently need a friend to post bail if we got too close to a melee on a quiet Sunday morning, but we seemed compelled by more than curiosity to take a look-see early the next day.

Then we had a flashback.  Vietnam Veterans camped out in the lobby of the Wadsworth Veterans Hospital in the Westwood Section of Los Angeles back in 1981.  A summer co-worker at the Santa Monica Independent Journal Newspapers was a young fellow who was majoring in photojournalism in college and we advised him to monitor the events at the hospital very closely.

Leaving for work an hour early to swing by the protest and see what new developments had occurred became a part of the daily routine for both of us.  One particular morning, two or three TV trucks but no still photographers were documenting the removal of the vets from the hospital lobby.  Our young coworker took some photos and they were used by AP.  In his Junior year he had a portfolio that included his work appearing on the front pages of the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Los Angeles Times.   He got a summer intern job at a daily newspaper in the L. A. area the next year.  We took a shot that turned out to be the only news photo (that we know of) that we’ve taken that appeared in the New York Times.

Didn’t the Wadsworth event bring world wide attention to the lack of care that was being provided to the Vietnam vets?   We thought that perhaps our next column might ponder the fact that the “never again” meme is always forgotten, new wars are started, and vets always have to protest to get better care despite the patriotic sentiments expressed as they marched off to the various battlefields around the world.

There have been stories online indicating that the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plants was much more serious than reported and we thought that skipping the plight of the Berkeley PO and writing about the thereat of radioactive water in the Pacific Ocean might be an good alternative.  Then we realized that the radio active debris story is being totally stonewalled by the mainstream media.  Could it be that the story is so negative that the chance that young folks might, if they realized “we’re all gonna die!,” go completely out of control and precipitate an “end of the world” orgy of excess is the real underlying cause of the news embargo on radioactive leaks?

While attending the Saturday event at the Berkeley Post Office we noticed that several other activists tried to hijack the media’s attention with their cause.  Postcards were collected and sent to Bradley Manning.  The prisoner hunger strike was mentioned.  Concerned voters were encouraged to support the efforts of workers promoting the gay marriage and abortion causes.

During the week we listened to Armstrong and Getty and noticed a curious phenomenon concerning money.  The “hottest show on the West Coast” pointed out the hilarious aspect of the Detroit going bankrupt story and the possibility that workers would lose their pensions.  Detroit’s financial plight can be, according to conservative thinking, traced back to the greed of the union workers.  The “greed” motive is being mentioned as the ultimate cause of the need for a resumption of the BART strike in the San Francisco area.  The BART strike will resume on Monday.

Unions tried, in the past, to get money so that union members could live comfortably while raising a family and sending their kids to college and then enjoy retirement living.  Now, however, union workers who want a living wage are deemed greedy but billionaires who have more money than they will be able to spend in their lifetime need to be given more tax breaks so that they can have even more money.  Perhaps we should write a column elaborating this economic disparity.

We noticed this week that Uncle Rushbo has been eliminated from the lineup of about forty radio stations around the country.  (Is the classic rock format making a comeback?)  We wonder if he ever noticed our column that warned him that when all the liberal leftist voices are eliminated from the American pop culture scene, the fat cats won’t want to pay Uncle Rushbo his enormous salary if there is no socialist propaganda that needs to be drowned out.

Won’t the tax cut hungry billionaires eventually deem Uncle Rushbo’s annual salary as an example of worker’s greed?  Can’t the radio executives find a new younger voice that will deliver the same seductive propaganda for a much smaller salary?  Isn’t Uncle Rushbo in a union?  Wouldn’t he, philosophically speaking, endorse an effort to disrupt his career and retirement plans by replacing him with non-union talent who would do the same pronucicating for a lot less money?

Recently we decided that it was time to take a night off and get away from political disputes, so we journeyed to a meeting of a local club for folks who like to pan for gold.  The effort of Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart), to pan some gold, as seen in the movie “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” has been a leitmotif in our life since childhood.  The club meeting that we attended was devoted almost entirely to examining legal issues of the utmost importance to the club members.  Out comes the pen and the reporter’s notebook.  Scratch the idea of a night off.  There is one web site where many of the legal issues are listed and so now we have another topic in our “future columns” in box.  To get an idea of just how legally complexities are getting the attention of those hobbyists, take a look at the issues being discussed on the Western Mining Alliance (dot com) web site.

One professor at Berkeley has done a remarkable job of collecting information about the history of what the WPA did during the Great Depression (Please do not call it the Republican Depression!).  We’ve mentioned, in a previous column, that he is trying to promote the idea of a brick and mortar location for a New Deal Museum.  Perhaps if we do an entire column devoted to that topic then the feature assignment editor at the New York Times might give the effort some national publicity?  His scholarship can be seen on the livingnewdeal dot org web site.

Some of the peaceniks in Berkeley think that Bradley Manning should have been commended for following the moral advice delivered to the German war criminals in the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials but they conveniently overlook the fact that Manning isn’t in the German Army!

More than fifty years ago, Berkeley resident Philip K. Dick was writing novels predicting a fictional government spying on its own citizens.

As of 10 a.m. PDT on Friday August 2, 2013, the Occupy the Berkeley Post Office steps protest was still protesting the proposed sale of the property.

[Note from the photo editor:  For a photographer, who was told “it’s a great picture but it generates too much sympathy for the anti-war crowd” when AP passed on the chance to buy a Vietnam War protest photo in December of 1966, the potential of taking some career making protest photos in 2013 only evokes a strong déjà vu reaction.]

St. Ronald Reagan is reported to have said:  “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.”

Now, since the theme of nostalgia has been recurring in this column, the disk jockey will play some songs that get automatic memory associations from the World’s Laziest Journalist.  Hearing Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t get you outta my head” will always make us feel like we are back in Australia.  The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer in the city” always takes us back to NYC in the summer of 1966.  Then he will play Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay.”  We have to go see the Peter Stackpole photo exhibition at the California Museum in Oakland.  Have a “Temps perdu” type week.

June 22, 2012

A Pulitzer Prize for Heckling?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:36 pm

Members of the Carpenters Union local 180 were handing out information fliers critical of bankers on Wednesday on Market Street in San Francisco.
The media came out to cover a parents protest in Oakland this week.

Some news such as the potential for a Hackgate scandal is being completely ignored by mainstream media, while a rude conservative instantaneously becomes a celebrity journalist. Between the two extremes of Hackgate and Hecklegate, lies a vast array of news stories of differing degrees of newsworthiness that should be getting more media attention. The staffs of various national news organizations have been cut back to alarmingly low levels and stories that have great trend spotting value are being ignored by the various media that might have provided massive coverage if these same stories broke back in the day when manpower was plentiful for large newspapers and TV networks.

On Thursday, June 14, 2012, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) held a press conference to release their reaction to the the Frazier Report which criticized the OPD
conduct in response to protesters at Frank Ogawa Plaza on October 25 of last year.

On Friday, the Lakeview elementary school in Oakland was closed permanently. Over the weekend disgruntled parents and teachers began a sit-in on the school grounds.

On Monday morning, the Oakland Police delivered to protesters the information that they were subject to arrest on the charge of interfering with the operation of a school, which is a serious matter.

As the week progressed it was unknown if the Oakland Police would adjust their response to the Lakeview school sit-in in a way which indicates that they have heeded the message of the Frazier Report or not.

Critics of the OPD would have other Americans believe that a new local version of the Algiers Motel Incident is almost inevitable.

If Oakland is becoming a microcosm of the problems and challenges facing many other American cities during the summer of 2012, then perhaps national news media (usually owned and controlled by conservatives) should be covering the political maneuvering in that city. The politicians are trying to provide a miracle of the loaves and fishes style solution for the rapidly expanding list of budget shortfalls and municipal challenges.

News stories during the week indicated that Oakland would hire a Los Angeles based firm to manage the Oakland Coliseum as long as the agreement contained an iron clad clause that the company would not indulge in team poaching. That brought to mind the old quote about “I don’t want lawyers who will tell me what I can and cannot do; I want lawyers who will get done what I want done.”

At the same time that a Republican Senator, who owns several homes, is staunchly asserting that it might soon become very necessary for the American military to become involved in a civil war in Syria, the Republicans, who have established their brand identity along the “for the sake of the children” style of thinking, seem to be willing to decimate public education nationwide rather than miss out on the chance to completely disregard the “never again” post Vietnam philosophy and plunge America directly into a shiny new war (AKA quagmire) in the Middle East region.

It seems as if the Republicans who were fearless of the deficit problem during the George W. era are now willing to sell off kids’ education and instead provide them with basic training and an M-1 (or the modern equivalent) in deference to deficit spending.

While student activists were objecting to generous raises for the UCB executives and trying to gain wage and benefit increases for the members of the AFSCME union’s local 3299, they had to contend with the possibility of massive cuts in the library service available to the students. The Republicans seem ready to manipulate current students into a much higher interest rate for their student loans.

A recount of the votes for the smoking tax initiative in California’s June primary election were still being conducted as the week started, and the tally was “still too close to call.”

Financial markets around the world seemed to react favorably to the pro-Conservative results in the elections in Greece. Pre election news stories indicated that the voter sentiment was leaning toward a socialist agenda.

Some skeptics were questioning the legitimacy of the election results in Egypt.

It seemed like the only journalist who was concerned about the legitimacy of the voting results in Wisconsin was Brad Friedman, who has provided extensive coverage about the reliability of the electronic voting and vote tabulating machines being used nation wide. He was the only person drawing attention to the implications that if the recall results in Wisconsin were questionable, then conservatives might have used the contentious recall election there as a dress rehearsal for sliding more skewed results past the media in November. (Google News search hint: “Brad Friedman” plus “Command Center”)

In the past, reporters in the group known as Murrow’s boys (Yeah, we’ve read The Women Who Wrote the War” by Nancy Caldwell Sorel so we know that the war correspondents weren’t all guys) risked their lives to bring a very high standard of excellence to American Journalism during World War II. Media owners (who are usually conservative) would like Americans to assume that is still the norm. Unfortunately that is just as unrealistic as believing that Paul Josef Goebbels was a champion of freedom of the press.

These days it is much easier to get a major career boost from rude and boorish conduct at a President’s press conference than it is to do so via high quality reporting. Who doesn’t love a class cutup from the Spicoli School of Journalism who can disrupt a President’s speech just as easy as he used to toss snide remarks at the teachers giving lectures at Ridgemont High?

How difficult would it be to convince high school dropouts (via cleverly disguised political propaganda?) that teachers don’t deserve to get the pension benefits they spent a lifetime earning?

The state of the art for Journalism in the USA has become so wretched that American journalists are happy to manufacture drama and uncertainty about how the Republican majority United States Supreme Court will rule on a case that could subsequently provide Republican propaganda specialists with an opportunity for asserting that there is no basis for speculating about the legacy of the first President with a pan-African heritage.

The world of conspiracy theory connoisseurs is buzzing with rumors that the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory is conducting a competition that is offering a cash prize for the first employee who can come up with one single, all encompassing, narrative that includes three diverse items from the current events beat.

There is rumored to be a wealthy journalism media mogul who used wire taps and e-mail hacking in Great Britain to accumulate material which was then used to blackmail politicians for unspecified ends.

Brett McGurk’s e-mails were posted on a web site called Cryptome and caused the fellow to withdraw his efforts to become the American Ambassador to Iraq.

Some recent news stories reported that the e-mails of Mitt Romney, who is expected to be given the Republican nomination for President, have been hacked.

It is doubtful that even Philip K. Dick could concoct a logical narrative connecting the dots using those three items of public record, but if he were still alive and if he did concoct an entry for the competition and labeled it “Hackgate,” it is very unlikely that news media would take any notice.

Famous con man Frank W. Abagnale, in his autobiography, wrote: “Almost any fault, sin, or crime is considered more leniently if there’s a touch of class involved.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Charlie Brown,” Chuck Berry’s “School Days,” and the drinking song from Sigmund Romberg’s “The Student Prince.” We have to go see what odds the British bookies are giving for bets on the Supreme Court’s decision in the Obamacare case. Have a “not drunk he is who can from the floor can rise alone to still drink more; but drunk he is who prostrate lies with power to neither drink nor rise” type week.

[Note from the photo editor. A good deal of time was spent on Monday trying to get some adequate news photos from the Lakeview school sit-in in Oakland. A return trip on Tuesday produced a better result. A casual encounter with carpenters’ local 180, which was handing out information leaflets on Market Street in San Francisco on Wednesday, produced better (but less relevant?) photo images.]

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 16, 2012

Is New Journalism getting old?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:36 pm

Photo of the 2012 Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance by (and courtesy of) William “Jersey Bill” Hitzel

The conflict in Afghanistan had its Tet Offensive moment last Sunday, when a soldier, whose name wasn’t initially released by the Ministry of Truth, went on a shooting rampage. Just because the Peaceniks believe that proves that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, they are ready to call it quits. President Obama can now sound like George W. Bush and urge the folks to continue fighting the war in Afghanistan for no appareanet reason or he can mimic Lyndon Johnson and decline the Democratic Party’s nomination. By mid-week, President Obama was recycling many of the Bush clichés about staying the course.

On Tuesday, Rick Santorum won two more primaries and thus underscored the sourceless contention that Mitt Romney is not a member of the Herrenvolk and thus ineligible to receive his Party’s Presidential nomination.

The Republicans believe in a Republic which means that only eligible people (men who own land according to the Founding Fathers) can vote and thus they will have no philosophical objections if the Party elite perform an intervention and deliver the Party’s Presidential nomination to someone who is a member of the Herrenvolk and is obviously qualified to reestablish the Republican domination of the White House. (A Republican has been in the White House for 28 of the last forty-four years or 36 of the last sixty years.)

During the week we saw an item online that asserted that in England two reporters involved in the Murdoch-gate phone tapping scandal had attempted suicide. Don’t the Brits call the investigation Operation Weeting?

The Porngate scandal in India doesn’t seem to be getting much play in American media.

On Tuesday, Uncle Rushbo fresh from a day off for golfing, started his program with a meticulous examination of the meaning of the numbers for oil prices and oil production. Since there had been an item online reporting that a Canadian study asserted that Conservatives tended to be less educated and more insecure than Liberals, we marveled that the man who flatly stated that there is no Republican war on women, was able to mesmerize his audience, reputed to number 20 million, with facts and figures that might tend to bore all but a very specific college classroom full of students ready and eager to join the BP assault on undersea oil reserves around the globe.

Does Uncle Rushbo’s disk jockey have permission from the artist to play the old hit “I’m the Pied Piper”? We ask that quesiton because, apparently, he has the magic touch and can lead his vast audience into some very arcane and esoteric facts and figures and not suffer any perceptible amount of listener defections.

On Thursday, Uncle Rushbo was mesmerizing his millions of listeners with a discourse on the history and purpose of the strategic oil reserves. That, in turn, made us wonder what would Lenny Bruce have said about Limbaugh’s “slut” slur?

Speaking of adventuresome college radio, this week we heard a well done report on KALX (the UCB student radio station) from North Gate Radio about fecal transplants. It was one of those unusual bits of news that usually shoots to the top of the list on odd news websites such as Fark and/or Obscure Store.

The World’s Laziest Journalist has noticed that using a photo to illustrate the columns usually means a better chance of catching the reader’s eyes, but the challenge (and time consuming nature of the task) of finding an appropriate still shot and then getting the photographer’s permission to use it is very daunting, and so (after struggling with learning to include the photos with the posting) we often resort to taking an appropriate photo and using that.

It works out rather well if the columnist manages to get some shots of some news worthy events that are mentioned in the column, such as arrests at a “No Justice; No BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)” protest, or some events at Occupy Oakland or Occupy Cal; but for a week when there are no high news value images available, that means either running a mundane weather shot or mooching an extra shot from a former high-school classmate who covered the Amelia Island Concours D’Elegance, a high profile car event held in Florida, for the Just Above Sunset Photo website or not using any and losing a chance for the column to be more noticeable.

The World’s Laziest Journalist missed such a photo op in Berkeley last weekend, when Louis Frakaan delivered some controversial comments at a speaking engagement at the University of California’s Berkeley campus.

Wasn’t there some concern in the early days of the Internet media revolution that quality content would be accorded diminished value as “bells and whistles” graphics were added to various web sites?

Here is a hypothetical example of how an item without a very noticeable graphics can loose reader appeal. Recently we picked up a copy of “The New Journalism” by Tom Wolfe (“an anthology edited by Tome Wolfe and E. W. Johnson” [Harper and Row paperback edition]) and began to assemble some information for writing a column about the 50th anniversary of the start of the “New Journalism” branch of news reporting. The publication of “Joe Louis the King as Middle-aged Man” in Esquire magazine in 1962, is cited by Wolfe as a significant milestone in the demarcation of the birth of the trend.

The anthology includes all of the essential examples of the New Journalism (called “Gonzo Journalism” by Hunter S. Thompson) but it also piqued our curiosity. Does You Tube offer a hilarious obscure example of “Parajournalism” (as Wolfe dubbed it) that consisted of video of Hunter S. Thompson interviewing Keith Richards? We learned that several versions have been posted there and a still shot from that tsunami of mumbled unintelligible syllables would serve as bait for luring unsuspecting new readers into the latest example of this columnist’s attempt to preserve the traditions of “thee dot journalism” . . . if we could figure out how the heck to insert such a still shot touting that interview before the (self imposed) Friday morning deadline.

In the past, the World’s Laziest Journalist has made efforts to draw attention to the idea that Philip K. Dick, in his speculative history work of fiction titled “The Man in the High Castle,” seemed to accurately predict Hunter S. Thompson’s life and writings.

Our efforts to draw attention to that coincidence have been just as successful as our Hans Brinker-ish efforts to warn Liberals that Karl Rove will use delegate gridlock at the Republican National Convention as a smoke and mirrors diversion to hand the nomination to JEB Bush.

The Conservative pundits will ignore the JEB angle because they don’t want to tip Rove’s hand and the Liberal commentators can’t or won’t acknowledge that scenario because . . . they receive their generous paychecks from media owners who don’t want any spoiler material put into the national debate . . . until it’s too late.

Perhaps some folks who have a rare form of diarrhea and are in need of some therapeutic bacteria are not the only ones who qualify for fecal transplants? Could that concept be used as a metaphor for the Liberal voices employed by Conservative media owners?

The topic of objectivity vs. a reporter’s emotional involvement with a news story got an example of the inherent dangers on Thursday night when a KALX reporter on the evening newscast became overcome with emotion and had to hit the cough button. The story was about an event at a zoo in Germany to draw attention to the arrival of a new bunny. Unfortunately during the course of the media event, the bunny was trampled to death by the attending journalists. The reporter seemed on the verge of tears when she deactivated her microphone for a few moments.

In “The New Journalism,” Wolfe describes the task facing subservient “wordproles” (on page 44): “The reporter . . . (manifests) behavior that comes close to being servile or even beggarly. . . . They supply mainly ‘vivid description’ plus sentiment.” Then they are free to (as Liberace once put it) “cry all the way to the bank.” (Do you honestly think that any on-air personality at Fox would dare show any sign of disapproval if JEB gets the Republican nomination?)

Now the disk jockey will play Roy Orbison’s “Workin’ for the Man,” Gene Autry’s “Here comes Peter Cottontail,” and Bing Crosby’s “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . . . .” We have to go find our green T-shirt and green Branch Motor Express jacket. Have an “Erin go Bragh” (Ireland forever!) type week.

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