On the morning of August 18, 2011, while the cable channels with new were delivering non-stop monitoring of the numbers for the Dow Jones industrial average, people who were more concerned with automobiles were pouring into the town of Monterey California where their attention was focused on more esoteric topics such as the pre-auction estimate that a privately owned Ferrari would sell for two to three million dollars.
Anyone who asks why someone would be willing to pay that much for a car that had been driven in the 1952 La Carrera Panamericana race by Alberto Ascari and Giuseppe Scutuzzi should generate such expectations would probably not comprehend the answer.
Recently in both Berkeley and San Francisco, the ranks of the homeless asking for spare change seems to be growing exponentially, so which bit of news tells the true story about how the economic picture for the USA looks this week?
Journalists who focus on one aspect of contemporary culture can be compared to a gourmet critic who goes to a smorgasbord takes one bite of one offering and then basis his entire evaluation on that isolated bit of factchecking.
A writer with a sharp sense of irony might find it curious that at a time when more and more people are becoming homeless, the story for travelers arriving in Monterey was a modern variation of the "no room at the Inn." A single at a nationally know chain of hotels was available for $309. The local hostel was booked solid.
In a predicament like that a columnist might envision writing something that Chuck Thompson, author of "smile when you're lying: confessions of a rogue travel writer," would be proud to submit.
A Hunter S. Thompson wannabe might find enough material to make an expedition to this year's installment of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance sound like it should be titled "Beer and Loafing in Monterey." Would "Champaign and Loafing" be more appropriate?
In an era when austerity measures have nearly crippled the concept of "paid vacation" assignments, if the Ferrari (serial number 0226 AT) with Vignale coach work sells for considerably more than the pre-auction estimates, the resulting sensation will trigger a desperate scramble at various news organizations that had failed to send someone to the weekend event.
If, on the other hand, the vehicle fails to meet expectations, the various news media that skipped the costs of being on hand just in case will breathe a sigh of relief.
There is a journalism legend that asserts that when a LIFE magazine photographer (back in the Eisenhower era) turned in an expense account for shooting a story onboard an ocean liner, he included an amount for taxi fare. The accounting department challenged the item and was informed: "It was a big ship." They paid him the money.
Shouldn't a columnist who posts on web sites that monitor the news and information about political issues be devoting his efforts to producing a column that challenges the reader to consider the possibility that the recent BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) computer snafu which shut down the system during a recent commute hour and preceded the recent series of news stories about the agency's struggle to contend with computer hack attacks (allegedly from the Anonymous group) might (potentially) have been spawned via a hack from their adversaries? To which the hypothetical writer would probably respond: "What's the policy for paying bloggers Over Time?"
Didn't there used to be a ubiquitous vulgar suggestion about how an overworked and underpaid employee could sweep the floors while simultaneously contending with an already crowded "to do" list? Isn't a complaint about being overworked now considered a quaint example of obsolete folk humor? What means it when journalists exclaim: "this afternoon, the ME wants to go waterskiing"?
Rather than waxing eloquent about a 750 Monza Scaglietti Spider (s/n 0492 M), which had been driven in various competitions by John von Neumann, Phil Hill, and Harrison Evans and "won" the fictional "Australian Grand Prix" in the movie "On the Beach," shouldn't a political pundit be speculating about the possibilities that Col. Qadaffi, who responded to President Reagan's bombing of Libya by instigating the bombing of a Pan Am airplane over Lockerby Scotland, might retaliate even more vigorously to this year's continued drone attacks on his own life and country? Probably.
Editors who have to contend with an obstreperous columnist, who shoots more than 800 photos on a Nikon Coolpix in a 40 hour period, rather than churning out 800 words on a more pertinent topic, know the concept of "high maintenance employee" very well. Wouldn't the recent pathetic and anemic (with the notable exception of Mike Malloy) tone of progressive talk radio be more appropriate than the selling price of a mint condition Bugatti? Don't the progressives urging the reelection of the incumbent in next year's Presidential Election sound as strained and insincere as the assurances a wife gives regarding the admirable qualities of her husband who is notorious in the local community for conducting numerous simultaneous love affairs? (I.e. wouldn't you love to get a buck for every time they reassure their audiences that "he really is a progressive and not a stealth Republican"? So why not elaborate that metaphor in the new column?
However, it's not bloody well likely that the BBC would be interested in the (perceptive?) insights of a rogue American blogger about the fact that the Anonymous grope hackers seem to have no problem gaining entry to various computer systems while advocates of the unverifiable results from the electronic voting machines still stoutly maintain that those machines are immune to hacking efforts. On the other hand, if the magic aura of Ascari drives (15 yard penalty for unsportsmanlike punning) the price of the Ferrari well above pre-auction estimates, then it is conceivable that the columnist's shot of the aforementioned car would the editor in charge of selecting the BBC's reader submitted news photos be glad to see a file containing an image of the race car in his e-mail in box?
The World's Laziest Journalist has had one photo published on the Jalopnik website. Do images of valuable Ferrari race cars interest their photo editor? Does lightening ever strike twice in the same place?
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