(Venice CA) For a columnist, the chance to visit an area where he lived for several decades seemed like a surrealistic opportunity to write a lighthearted bit of gonzo adventures, but the visit has become a reality check where it is obvious that he may be in way over his head with a story that needs someone with a heavyweight's credentials.
Leaving Los Angeles, after a being a local resident for several decades, a return visit, was the setting for a conversation with a long time friend, John Rizzo, President of the Marina Tenants Association. When we used the word "kleptocracy,"- John asked for a definition. Briefly, it means a country run by crooks.
John responded by making reference to a legal case that has caught his interest because of a class action suit, he, the group, and his lawyer have been working on for a long time. The particular case, he said, involved a bit of circular logic where (if we understand it right) some judges were suspected of improper conduct. The California legislature absolved them of all wrongdoing (real or imagined) and then the judges sealed the case protecting it from public scrutiny. The Tenants Association, though, feel that the particulars of that case are very relevant to their class action suit and would like to use the facts from that case for inclusion in their own case.
The Tenants Association lawyer, according to what John tells us, has been jailed for contempt because of his interest in the other sealed case. If we understand the situation rightly perhaps it is one of the judges who acted improperly who doesn't want the Tenants Association to try to imply that he wouldn't treat them and their case fairly, because of his involvement in the other case.
The true journalist would be willing to devote hours, if not weeks, to reading about the legal proceedings up to this point, and reading the court paperwork that would help the reporter understand what basic issue is, and then interviewing (if possible) the people who are part of the proceedings such as the judge and the lawyer who (most likely) needs some reassurance that he hasn't been left abandoned and unnoticed in some obscure jail cell.
For a blogger who has only the limited cash resources of the World's Laziest Journalist Inc.'s bailout funds (should a warning that Irish people sometime exaggerate be inserted here?), spending weeks tracking down the particulars might be an example of ineffective use of the resources available because even if he produced a magnificent post, that wouldn't do much good unless or until some heavy duty main stream media reporter came along and "seconded the motion"- by doing his (or her) own version of the story.
Odds are that they would, in the effort to spare their reader's any wasted time, not mention where or how they learned about the story and thus the net effect for the lone blogger who got the ball rolling, would be a negative cash flow and a warm feeling of accomplishment that only he could enjoy.
The other option is to make a limited effort to track down the particulars of the Tenants Association case and get some interviews (we've never visited someone in county jail) while having a grand old time writing columns about some of the interesting folks he has met while staying in the Hostel California. (The alternative headline for this column would have been: Postcard from the Hostel California.)
Among the guests at the hostel are: a kiwi from Amsterdam working on a documentary film about basketball, a musician from Houston, an excellent guitarist from Berlin, soccer fans from Great Britain, and a couple from Fremantle.
When the fellow who is writing this column grew tired of Los Angeles, he took some of the money from his Gonzo Grant from the Hunter S. Thompson Foundation, packed up, and traveled half way around the world and wound up sitting in Gloria Jean's Coffee shop in Fremantle. At the Hostel in Venice, Ca., he met Andrew "Goldfish"- Meredith, who had become bored with his hometown and so he traveled half way around the world to see new and exciting things such as: Hollywood Blvd. and the Venice Beach. When he asked the World's Laziest Journalist if he had ever heard of Perth, the reply was "Do you ever go to Mojo's in Fremantle?"- It turns out that Goldfish lives within walking distance of that music venue. Does that provide enough material for a great "The grass is always greener . . ."- column or what?
Getting back to the Marina Tenant's Association and their lawyer, the best we can do is issue a call for backup and see if someone (Madigan? Steve at Playboy? Kim's husband? One of the teacher-advisors at the Daily Bruin? The assignment editor at the New York Times?) who reads this column can get a chance to do all the digging necessary to see if this is just a bit of exaggerated, misunderstood legal paperwork mumbo-jumbo or if there is indeed a lawyer who is being held as a political prisoner in a country where that's never supposed to happen.
Fred Allen said "Los Angeles is a fine place to live - if you happen to be an orange."-
Meanwhile, it's going to be hot as blazes in L. A. today, the Venice beach will be a tourist magnate, and the folks at LASAAC.org will be anxious to get some assistance publicizing their next "open track"- event, so it's time to have the disk jockey play Randy Newman's "I Love L. A."- and we'll head out to the beach. Have a week that will make you scream: "Cowabonga, dude, it doesn't get any better than this!"-