December 31, 2012

Now what?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 2:51 pm

After posting a column on Friday December 28, 2012, in which we criticized the CBS Evening News for relying heavily on videos of people crying, we tuned in that night to the broadcast and saw a crying man who went out and actually begged for a kidney for his wife, a crying woman who lost her house to the bankers (banks don’t foreclose homes people working for those banks do [?]), and a crying man who was part of a couple whose effort to adopt a Russian orphan had come to a halt because of a new Russian law.  On the NBC Nightly News broadcast for Saturday December 29th, we saw a feature story with a video of a fellow who plays soccer and might get an offer from an American Football team to come and work in the USA.  The video had gone viral on the Internets and we wondered if a video of a crying pundit would “go viral” if it was posted on Youtube.  Did we just sabotage all (and we do mean all) our chances for becoming a late addition to the list of famous journalists known as “Murrow’s Boys”?

Slightly after four p.m. on the day we published the column criticizing CBS for tarnishing their legacy that was established by Edward R. Murrow, we heard Norm Goldman criticize, on his radio broadcast, a brand of banks (think of a 1939 movie that was a career breakthrough for John Wayne) because a recent decision by the Ninth Superior Court seemed to legitimize some unscrupulous accounting practices that always favored the bank and screwed the public.

While preparing to write a new column, we suddenly remembered the old oriental parable that ends with the punch line:  “I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet (those damn drones at it again?).”  Voila!  We had a Sutter’s Mill Moment.  An epiphany, as it were.

We didn’t need to envy CBS their ability to send a reporter and (union) camera crew out to video a person who was having tough times during post financial cliff period of uncertainty, if we wanted to get a video that would go viral on the Internets, we needed to get a video of a bank official who, wracked by guilt, was crying while contemplating the damage he had wrought.

Then what?

Everybody would see it.

Then what?

One thing seems certain.  If we get a video of a banker crying because of his complicity in a business practice that destroys hundreds of lives, CBS Evening News sure as hell ain’t gonna do a feature about how the World’s Laziest Journalist made a video that went viral on the Internets.  Dang!  It’s a tad late in the game to start searching for a new career . . . but . . . it will be a new year soon.  It will be a new year in some places when this column is posted.

Whatever happened to the guy who was America’s oldest porn actor?  Did he retire?  Could we do some Gonzo style reporting about walking a mile in his moccasins?

Speaking of the cinema, since we do love movies and since a goodly number of young folks like the movies made by Quentin Tarantino and since he has a new film just out, perhaps we could go see it and write a review as a way to rekindle our career as a film reviewer.  (Google Richard Ebert’s review of “Van Wilder” and read the last two paragraphs.)

Perhaps since we are not fully versed on the Facebook fad, we can just designate everything the World’s Laziest Journalist posts as “open to the public” and give George Taki (of Stark Trek fame) a run for the title of the most popular guy on that website.

We have heard of one woman in L. A. who went to a director to ask for a loan and was told:  “Write a sentence on this sheet of paper.”  She was totally perplexed but did as she was asked.  He threw the results in a drawer and jumped on the intercom and instructed his secretary to draw up a standard amount check for buying the film rights (to that sentence).  There are people in Hollywood who make a decent living just by selling ideas (known as “a pitch”) for films.

Didn’t one of those specialists become a director with offices on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica?  Hmmm.  If he is busy maybe we could track him down and start a new career in pitching and sell him an idea for a new film?

Hey, bro, do you want to buy the story (with a few more specific details supplied) of a nurse who successfully escaped from a POW camp?  Yeah, yeah, yeah we know about the guy who used a motorcycle to escape from a POW camp in WWII but this is another “based on a true story” adventure with a chick as the protagonist.  What actress could turn down a chance to walk a mile in Steve McQueen’s moccasins?

Our columns rarely get comments but isn’t the topic of which young actress could evoke favorable comparisons to Steve McQueen rich with the potential for astute suggestions?

On the same program that he castigated bankers, Norm Goldman proceeded to tackle the legalize pot issue.  Back in the Seventies there was a novel, titled “Acapulco Gold,” that hypostasized what American culture would be like when (not “if”) marijuana became legal.

Wouldn’t it be odd if Washington’s repressive attitude forced the NRA and the legalize pot advocates to agree to a mutual assistance/defense treaty and seek refuge as a coalition group in a third part such as the Pirate Party?

Maybe after the bankers repent and ask forgiveness and the gun control issue is settled once and for all, maybe then the lobbyists representing America’s pharmaceutical companies will permit the politicians to address the legalize pot issue but in Thirteen the chances for that happening fall below the “slim and none” level down to the Australian category labeled “not bloody well likely, mate!”

In our efforts to select a photo to accompany this column, we remembered an image we acquired while doing some fact checking for a possible trend spotting story about snapshot collecting.  It showed a woman on a ship and carried the cryptic caption “Spring 1942.”  In the Spring of that year, the world was in turmoil but someone was making an effort to improve their lot in life.  Aren’t all journeys manifestations of optimism?  Couldn’t that woman be a metaphor for the USA at the start of 2013?

Maybe in an effort to achieve “fair and balanced” news coverage, CBS will hire a pundit to criticize the efforts of mainstream media in the USA?  They could feature a televised version of the media criticism made popular by A. J. Liebling.  Maybe not.  Maybe we could get a job at the American Studies Center at the University of Sydney helping them understand contemporary culture in the USA?  Maybe not.  Maybe now that Wolfman Jack has gone to the great sound booth in the sky, XERF needs a replacement announcer on the night side?  Maybe not.

All three of our writing heroes, Hemingway, Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson, seemed to find the obligations accompanying fame very disagreeable so maybe we can reconfigure  the old F. Scott Fitzgerald wisdom to read “Living well (in obscurity) is the best revenge.”?  If you don’t believe us, then ask author William Kotzwinkle if there is any truth in that amended quote.

Isn’t it amazing that the political commentators are making the assertion that the congressional representatives and the Senators are feeling pressure for the members of the 112th  Congress to reach a fiscal cliff agreement now because of concerns about possible resentment for not getting a bipartisan plan to avoid the cliff, playing  a role in their reelection as members of the 113th Congress.  Isn’t there an old political adage that states that American voters have a short memory?
Winston Churchill may have predicted the fiscal cliff political stalemate when he said:  “We conferred endlessly and futilely and arrived at the place from whence we began. Then we did what we knew we had to do in the first place, and we failed as we knew we would.”

Now the disk jockey will play “As Time goes by,” “the Alabama song,” and the Eagles song about James Dean.  We have to go post a link to this column on Facebook.  Have a “good night and good luck” type of new year.

March 3, 2011

Inverse Logic takes over in America

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 6:59 pm

Since we had always meant to see “The Magnificent Seven,” but have failed to catch it for fifty years, when the recent chance to see it in downtown Berkeley popped up on our amusement radar screen a little while back, it only took a New York minute for us to jump at the chance to fill that gap in our cultural accomplishments list.

It tells the story of how a bunch of loners band together to respond to an appeal by a group of Mexican peasants whose village is being periodically pillaged and robbed by some nasty bandits who act as if they have a divine right to the fruit of the poor people’s labors. The story is based on an earlier Japanese film about how some freelance samurai warriors helped out some poor farmers in their country.

“The Magnificent Seven” featured a young Steve McQueen and some ideals that have disappeared from the contemporary American culture.

We tried to imagine how a realistic new remake of that old film would look.

A collection of beleaguered American home owners reach the breaking point via a budget that is stretched to the limits by employers who exploit the workers by refusing to increase wages for years and years yet add unreasonable increases in production goal figures and by local merchants who have to boost prices just because they can. The victims see a bunch of banksters ride into town and offer to protect the worn out workers and their little remaining cash . . . by taking it all and keeping it for themselves.

In the new version, the Seven Cardinal Virtues would be lying, cheating, stealing, etc., etc. Hypocrisy would be something a Boy Scout honors and practices so that he can become a successful politician or bankster himself.

Honesty and Diligence would be a sucker’s idea of attractive qualities.

Bushwhacking and ambushes would be clever winning moves. Robert E. Howard, creator of “Conan the Barbarian” wrote a few obscure western novels in which the bad guy might mysteriously wind up dead when the lights were suddenly doused and no one could see what happened or who did the shooting. It wasn’t Garry Cooper waking down the middle of the street to confront hired thugs, it was very different in Howard’s books and the color of a hat didn’t tip off the audience to who was good and who was “one of the bad guys.”

The Zen of a continual war would produce a peaceful addictive complacency that would be expressed by hipsters via the slogan “War is Peace.”

At the end of a remake, the banksters would take everything they could get from the villagers, kill them all – maybe take scalps to use for boasting in the next boardroom meeting – and then so that there could be no final trace of the wasted lives, burn the foreclosed homes to the ground.

The cavalry would be assigned to protect the raiders from the workers and assert that they were there to uphold law and order.

Isn’t pulling the covered wagons into a circle to hold off an Indian attack comparable to forming a union to help maintain possession of worldly goods that the attacking capitalists want to strip away from the pioneers in this new inverted logic world?

Are the teabaggers the backbone of the new Republican Party? Does that mean that “Ignorance is Strength”?

Freedom is Slavery! If you let people have freedom of speech they will abuse it and you will have to listen to their hate-speech just as if they were the plantation master and you were their eager and enthusiastic slaves.

In the antique film, when the villagers don’t have much money to offer the renegade knights and they react to the attempt to short change them for their labor by saying: “We fight for the principles not the coins.” (or words to that effect.) These days the prevalent good guy philosophy is: “Show me the money!”

Don’t some conspiracy theory crazies suggest that the guy who pulled off the Enron scam, faked his death and after the best witness protection program style disappearance, went to Tahiti to live out his life in decadent splendor? Would the President of the USA authorize such a travesty of justice for an old friend? If you think that, then you might want to consider enrolling in a rehab for cynics program.

Is it truth or an urban legend that Owen Wister offered to pay good money for a newspaper article reporting a “High Noon” style draw-down in the middle of the street encounter. The shoot-out at the O. K. Corral was a brief intense close quarters fire-fight and not a variation of the slap leather and shoot-in-self-defense reaction of an attacked victim. No one ever collected the money from Wister.

(Note: according to one historian the contemporary newspapers which carried the account of that skirmish contained ads indicating that there were four telephones in the town at that time.)

The Western movies painted a distorted view of history. When the Sioux nation was restricted to South Dakota, it was assumed that it was OK to let them have that bit of geography because the American settlers couldn’t imagine any use for that land . . . until they discovered gold in the Black Hills. Then, it was time to rip up the peace treaties and take away the gold!

Reportedly only one tribe did not get a peace treaty which was broken by the Great White Father in Washington, all the Nez Pierce Indians were killed before they could sign a treaty.

Don’t forget the disease ridden blanket chapter of American charity for the Native Americans.

American strategy has remained consistent from the massacre at Wounded Knee to Mi Lai, so tell the Libyans: “The Marines are coming!” and they better get while the gettin’ is good. Don’t Republicans believe that American can never have enough wars?

Some folks will tell you that things have changed around completely since “The Magnificent Seven” was filmed and released in theaters and others will say that things were never like that at all. It’s just putting spin on history to catch a new generation of victims off-guard.

The American business man adheres strictly to the W. C. Fields’ famous business maxim: “If a things worth having; it’s worth cheating for.” In the Magnificent Seven one finds this line: “If God didn’t want them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

Now the disk jockey will play “Do Not Forsake Me” (the Oscar winning song from High Noon), the theme from “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” and Cher’s “Half-breed.” We have to go count coup. Have a “smoke the peace pipe” type week.

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