April 30, 2015

The more things change . . .

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 5:49 pm

crop of Lolita glasses notched neg

Playing sound bytes that promote opposing points of view and then making the assertion that presenting facts and letting the audience form an opinion might be manipulation via flattery but it seems to be too esoteric and limiting for journalists to ask a long time Irish Catholic Democrat how might a Supreme Court Justice with a similar history vote on the issue of gay marriage. If the object is to let an announcement just before the Forth of July holiday catch many Americans by surprise and achieve maximum dissatisfaction and precipitate another chance to build a contentious atmosphere that will end with the (temporary) establishment of martial law, then feigning an inability to accurately assess the most likely ruling that will end the debate seems like a smart gambit.

If a writer can do research that produces an overwhelming picture of mismanagement and inappropriate conduct by Hillary Clinton that involved the Clinton Foundation while she was serving as Secretary of State few reporters will use that curious new development to ask why then couldn’t investigators find out who profited from the 9-11 events by short sales of airline stocks?

Presenting facts and letting the audience decide sounds like an admirable mission statement so John Stewart would be the only well know personality who could casually mention that the civil unrest in Baltimore was caused by a death while the Watts riots of fifty years ago, which led to many deaths and extensive property damage, was precipitated by a single traffic ticket.

Did the recent photos from Baltimore of a phalanx of soldiers remind older folks of a similar photo (cover of LIFE magazine?) taken in L. A. in June of 1965?

Is it prejudicial to note that after many thousands of lives have been terminated by collateral damage caused by drone strikes the loss of one American life has caused the journalists to seriously question the need for drone strikes? Does that disparity constitute prejudiced reporting or is it just subtle racism in action?

Remember Agent Orange? Isn’t a large protest against Monsanto scheduled to take place in May?

Do the anarchist protesters from Berkeley stand out by wearing tie-dye handkerchiefs over their faces?

American media seems to relish showing forty year old footage of the evacuation of Saigon in 1975 while ignoring the poignant scenes surrounding the commencement speeches given in May of 1965. How would the optimistic words from those speeches play in today’s world when politicians enthusiastically suggest sending American troops all over the world, and riots are plentiful? Would those speeches sound nostalgic today or would they sound very relevant?

What’s happening to the ship that Iran intercepted?

If you liked the video of the mom slapping her kid around that went viral this week, then you will get your jollies from a vintage video on Youtube. Search for “women self-defense 1947.” The actress, who has a passing resemblance to Alice Kramden (on the Honeymooners TV series), knocks around a thug just as easily as she would toss around a rag doll.

The college class of 1965 entered a world that was just about to witness the Watts riots and the start of military action in Vietnam that wasn’t sanctioned by Congress. We wonder if members of the class of ’65 would get a feeling of déjà vu from this week’s events in Baltimore and recent military actions in various countries in the Middle East.

There is one thing certain in today’s world: If people are still debating the same old topics fifty years from now, the World’s Laziest Journalist won’t be writing columns that recycle the same old facts in a new order of presenation.

If you think voter fraud is a new topic, please make an effort to see “The Great McGinty,” from 1940.

If Hillary Clinton sees Bernie Sanders get the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination, will she feel like a jilted bride (for the second time)?

The flap over a prisoner’s death in Baltimore seems to be a moot topic now after the authorities have found that a second prisoner is saying that theFreddie Gray fellow died of self-inflicted injuries. Will the Amalgamated Conspiracy Theory Factory public information officer issue a press release Friday hints/suggests/asks about the possibility that a quid pro quo agreement involved an immunity deal in return for the “walk off” revelation?

The mainstream media will immediately issue a “game over” assessment of the debate over the incident that incited civil unrest.

Has the mainstream media become extinct in the land of free speech? For folks in Berkeley who read the New York Times, it may seem that “the Great Gray Lady” has become the modern day substitute for the Berkeley Barb. If you aren’t reading that daily paper, then you don’t have a clue as to what’s happening to the country.

On Sunday, April 26, 2015, we put on our Aussie hat, mirror sunglasses, and activated the required cigarette holder (with the same unlit cigarette that we have used for the last three years) and plunged into some fact finding and photography efforts at the How Weird Street Faire held on (pun alert!) Howard Street in San Francisco. It was worth the effort.

Roaming around the San Francisco Bay area with a Nikon Coolpix may not be making America safe for Democracy but it is an effective (temporary) cure for boredom.

If gay marriage is ruled to be un-Constitutional, will dissention in San Francisco be more newsworthy than it has been in Baltimore?

Making snide remarks about national politics may not sway one single vote, but it sure is therapeutic for a perennial malcontent.

This week’s column is being posted earlier than usual because on Friday May 1, we intend on going to San Francisco to cover various May Day activities such as the tip that a member of the Merry Pranksters will announcean attempt to become Frisco’s mayor.

For the class of 1965, they could relish the feelings liberals experienced when, on Nov. 7, 1962, Richard Milhous Nixon said: “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore, because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.”

Now, for members of the class of ’65, the disk jockey will play Iggy Pop’s “I’m (the Chairman of the) bored,” Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Life,” and Lynn Anderson’s “I beg your pardon (I never promised you a Rose Garden).” We have to hustle back to the Fortress of Solitude and resume our binge watching of “Rocky and Bullwinkle and friends.” Have a “self inflicted injuries” type of week.


October 17, 2010

The Political Pundit’s Weekend Off

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , — Bob Patterson @ 12:34 pm

This column will not contain any political commentary and, instead, will be about a fan’s reaction to attending Bouchercon 41 in San Francisco Oct. 14 to 17, which is the annual convention for mystery writers and fans and is named after William Anthony Parker White (AKA Anthony Boucher) who was a pioneer in the fields of both writing hard-boiled fiction and reviewing mystery novels.

The annual event is held in a different city each year and the selection of San Francisco as this year’s host city was appropriate because “Baghdad by the Bay” has a rich history for fans of detective novels starting with the fact that both Daschiel Hammett and his PI (Private Investigator) Sam Spade worked in the northern California city that is located at the Southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge.

A large subgenre of detective novels features an amateur sleuth who works full time and solves mysteries on a part time basis. The day job background is an amazing smorgasbord of fascinating jobs, which often reflect the novelist’s past work history. While at the Bouchercon we learned of novels featuring a detective who is a geologist (Susan Cummins Miller), a scrap booker (Joanna Campbell Slan), a travel writer (Hilary Davidson), and a former nun (Alice Loweecey).

Many police procedurals are written by former cops. A sizable number of lawyers have decided to augment their retirement fund by writing fictional crime novels base upon their real life experiences.

This columnist noticed a woman in a very conspicuous hat and asked her: “Are you Miss Marple?” It turned out she was Jeanne M. Dams whose next book will be titled: “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.” When she said she wanted to write a Tea-cozy thriller novel, we blurted out a concept for a plot that her phrase conjured up. She said it had merit and would take the suggestion under advisement.

We encountered four folks who were part of the staff of the Mystery Book Store in the Westwood section of Los Angeles, which has been a personal favorite of ours since before they moved to that particular section of town. We learned from one of them that the Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books which has been held annually at UCLA will be held in 2011 on the campus of the Bruin’s cross town rivals at USC.

We have been a fan of Doug Lyle’s non-fiction books about forensics and chatted with him several times during the SF event. We intend to conduct an investigation into his new series of fictional adventures by a sleuth who is well versed in forensics.

It was at the aforementioned L. A. book store that we became aware of the novels of Tim Dorsey, who writes about criminals living in Florida, and so we were delighted to find a copy of Electric Barracuda in the goodie bag.

Lee Child was honored at Bouchercon 41 for Distinguished Contributions to the Genre. Now we are going to add his novels about the knight errant named Jack Reacher to our “Must Read” list. He was born in Great Britain but has become sufficiently Americanized to predict that the World Series will be a match-up between the Yankees and the Giants. Although he himself is a Red Sox fan.

Rebecca Cantrell writes mysteries set in Hitler era Berlin (she knew about the evening TV newscasts during the Third Reich period) and so we will want to read all her novels.

Cara Black lives in San Francisco but her crime novels are based in Paris and so we put all her books on our literary “to do” list.

James R. Benn writes mysteries featuring a soldier in World War II and since one of our personal obsessions is life in occupied Paris, we’ll have to take a test drive (read) in one of his novels.

For a variety of reasons (to be elaborated in a future column about some news from the Maynard Institute), this columnist has become interested in the topic of prisoners who are innocent of the crimes that caused their arrest and so we spoke with Laura Caldwell, who took up the cause of a fellow who spent 5 years in a Cook County (Chicago) holding cell without a trial. She and others proved him innocent. That inspired her book Long Way Home.

A segment of the mystery genre is occupied by former newspaper reporters who use the legends and lore they picked up on their beats to add authenticity to their tales of crime. A smaller number are veterans from the wire services. We were surprised (and showing our age) to learn from a former AP employee that AP is no longer Headquartered at 50 Rock. Time marches on!

What political pundit wouldn’t be proud to boast that he (or she) had attended Nancy Drew’s 80th birthday party?

The titles for the Bouchercon 41 panel discussions were a bit baffling until it was revealed that they were titles of episodes from the TV series Streets of San Francisco.

An odd tidbit of information, for this columnist, is that a reference to a personal TV series favorite, San Francisco Beat, was not heard once during the weekend event. Then again, neither was Paladin.

San Francisco was touted as leading the nation in two categories: the number per capita of Independent book stores and the per capita number of barrooms.

Due to a clerical error on the columnist’s part, we botched the chance to meet and talk to Kelli Stanley about her novel City Dragons, which is about events in San Francisco’s Chinatown, during the 1940’s.

The 2011 Bouchercon will be held in St. Louis and it will be held September 15 to 18. The following year it moves to Cleveland followed by Albany New York in 2013, and then Long Beach in 2014.

There were folks at Bouchercon 41 promoting the Ninth Annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival (AKA Noir City), which begins January 21, 2011, but the list of films to be shown has not been announced yet.

Mystery fans and columnists had to contend with a tsunami of information and so any write-up (such as this column) will have to be subjective, random, and capricious in nature and thus be a disservice to the many deserving authors who didn’t get a plug. (Sorry!) Such a column will, however, be a way to set out some Google bait which will cause a great number of mystery writers to find this particular web site.

There is enough information about crime fiction set in San Francisco to fill a book, which is precisely the reason why the book titled Golden Gate Mysteries is being published by the University of California at Berkeley.

The 125 Anniversary edition of Bartlett’s saw fit to include this quote from Dashiell Hammett’s hard-boiled classic, The Maltese Falcon: “That’s the part of it I [Sam Spade] always liked. He [Flitcraft] adjusted himself to beams falling, and then no more of them fell, and he adjusted himself to their not falling.”

Now the disk jockey will play the soundtrack albums from the movies: Bullitt, Vertigo, and Dirty Harry. We have to go to the Berkeley Public Library and start whittling down our now gigantic sized “must read” list. Have a “Go Giants!” type week.

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