February 6, 2015

Harry Street, Sal Paradise, and Raoul Duke

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

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[Note: To increase the humorous quotient for this column portions may contain fictionalization and/or exaggerations.]

When we entered grade school in Scranton Pa., our fist life lesson was to realize that since we were too young to buy an Irish Sweepstakes ticket, it would be futile to pray to the “Lotto God” for a winning ticket. Hence we encountered our fist experience with the advice: “Get a good lawyer!” We did and his first question was: “Why do you want a winning ticket?”

“So that we can have money and afford to travel around the world, meet celebrities, and have interesting and enjoyable experiences,” we replied. “Well then, you should address prayers to the creator of the universe, asking for those items. The lotto god gets more prayers than there are lottery prizes and he has to disappoint many supplicants. However if you ask directly for what you want, perhaps he isn’t being overwhelmed with similar prayers and can grant your request.” We took his advice and started to pray as per his clever wording and the payoffs started immediately.

In grade school, one of the nuns told us that in the United States of American anyone present in the class room (she didn’t exempt the girls even back then) could become President of the United States and if that happened in first or second grade (which we think it did) then one of the students in the room was Joseph Biden and the point was well taken. We noted that particular moment when it happened because we had a odd premonition that some time in the future we would have a need to write about it.

As a kid, we noted that to have an adventurous, glamorous, and exciting life, we could help the creator of the universe grant our prayers by preparing for a career as a writer and or columnist.

The lawyer was right, of course, because we didn’t want a bundle of money and the responsibility of accurate tax records and the need to hire accountants, we just wanted to cross a bunch of things off our bucket list, such as: working on a ship, flying in the Goodyear blimp, attending the Oscars, having a celebrity (Paul Newman as it turned out) ask for our autograph, a flight in a B-17 G WWII bomber, having a drink (diet Pepsi) in Hemingway’s favorite bar in Paris, living out scenes from our favorite movies come to life, a trip to Australia, and so on and so forth.

Once, while shopping in Beverly Hills on Christmas Eve, a fellow, attired in white pants, a blue blazer, and a yachting cap, got out of a Rolls Royce, stopped at the adjacent parking meter and, after fumbling though his pants for coins, turned to us and asked if he could borrow a quarter. To us, it was Fred C. Dobbs asking: “Say, mister, could you stake a fellow American to a meal?”

While trading banter with the South Lake Tahoe Police Department’s watch commander, we heard the fellow tell a story about how, in his rookie days, on one of his first calls, he had investigated the sudden death of a local resident. He elaborated how and why he had suspicions that the dead man might actually have been the fellow who, while serving as the Chief of Police for San Francisco, had disappeared. It took us almost forty years to put that news tip into use, but we may have been the first blogger to make a reference to the case of Chief Biggie who vanished in 1908 from a police launch which was crossing the San Francisco Bay.

After becoming determined to go see the endurance race at Sebring, in the Sixties, we realized as the week of the race began, that unless someone called us out of the blue and offered us a ride from Scranton to Florida and the race in particular, that item was predestined to remain on our Bucket List a bit longer. At 1 p.m., someone who knew how to reach us while we were at our Aunt Dorothy’s house, placed just such a call. We sold a photo to Sports Car Graphic that was used in their picture page report on the race.

Watching weekly episodes of “the Twilight Zone,” when they were fresh out of the box, it never occurred to us that some day we would be chatting about a problem with a story idea and that one of the guys who wrote episodes for that famous TV series would ask us if he could use the fictional story premise we had just outlined. We said “Yeah” and added a stipulation that one of the characters in the story should share our name.

Then there was the time we went to the Forum and when we got to the “Today’s event tickets” window, we said it would be OK if the sales clerk put us in the front row . . . and she did!

Collecting a series of memories that rival the product of a very vivid imagination is fine if you intend on writing an autobiography or even a fictionalized version of your struggles coping with life, but is it a valid way to become qualified to write political punditry?

Are we trying to join the ranks of the fictional characters Harry Street (as played by Gregory Peck), Sal Paradise, and Raoul Duke?

Does a vast array of interesting moments qualify a person to make predictions about the restoration of the Bush Dynasty being inevitable?

Years ago when we were reading Albert Camus’ “the Rebel” for the first time, we thought we saw a passage that made the assertion that society usually disarms serious rebels by making them an integral part of the Establishment.

Waylon Jennings had one obscure song about the incongruity of being a cowboy with a briefcase. Was the song writer an uncontrollable free spirit or was he a corporate entity that owned buses and trucks and other things that made loud noises and had business obligations that couldn’t be shirked?

Does the Rolling Stones band still speak out for the pain and anguish felt by the members of the working class (aka the salt of the earth)?

JEB Bush is now being described as the Republican front runner. Do the members of the media report primary results and/or survey statistics to prove their contention or do they serve up the dramatic surge in JEB’s standings strictly on a “it’s true because we say it is true” basis?

Shouldn’t the media soon start providing images of JEB cutting brush on his Texas ranch, even if he doesn’t own one and ignore the fact that if he did he wouldn’t do the manual labor himself? Is it true that in the Thirties there were photos made available to the press showing the German leader clearing brush on his private ranch in Berchtesgaden ?

A happy-go-lucky life that takes a person to New York City in the Sixties, San Francisco later in that decade, Lake Tahoe in the Seventies, and then a long stint in Tinseltown after that is a fine way to live if you want to write a picaresque novel but shouldn’t a person who was destined to become an online blogger specializing in political punditry spend a decade writing for the New York Times Washington Bureau before launching into making fearless forecasts in the political realm?

Usually our columns are written with the intention of being stand alone items that don’t have to worry about continuity but this week we will wind up with a teaser for next week when we will explain what a vagabond’s life has to do with the inevitability of the Inauguration of JEB Bush in January of 2917. The hook for that column will be the story of how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave us the best Valentine’s Day gift we ever got.

[If a columnist has to be his own Lacerda, he has to be ever vigilant for photo ops as for example last week when we noticed guy in camouflage pants and combat boots who was all enthusiastic about a newly acquired pair of black stiletto high heeled shoes. We took some photos of the incongruous juxtaposing of the two extreme foot styles and it turned out that we could run that shot with the column that would plug the Two Spirits Powwow to be held Saturday, February 5, 2015, at the Cow Palace in the San Francisco area.]

In the movie “Way of the Gun,” actor James Caan delivers a line that is this week’s closing quote: “ . . . the only assumption you can make about a beat-up old man is . . . he is a survivor.”

Now the disk jockey will play a medley of Waylon Jennings’ music including “He went to Paris,” “Clean Shirt,” and “I’m a ramblin’ man.” We have to go buy a lotto ticket. We hope you have an “un-f*****g-believable” type week, because that’s precisely what we intend on having for our self.

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