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Life Arts

Things are not what they seem . . .

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A column describing the events of Saturday, March 3, 2012 experienced and witnessed by the World's Laziest Journalist might prove how and why the parable of the six blind Hindus is still important in the Internet era.

[Six blind Hindus touched an elephant and were asked to describe their reaction.   The one who felt the tail thought elephants were like a strand of rope.   The guy who touched the elephant's trunk, said elephants were just like snakes.   The fellow who touched the ear observed that elephants were just like a big leafed plant.   The man who felt the elephant's stomach was very convinced that elephants were a subcategory of walls.   The guy who touched the tusk, knew that elephants were like swords.   The guy who felt a leg concluded that elephants were very similar to trees.]

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On Saturday morning, we met up with James Richard Armstrong II, the homeless columnist who lives in Berkeley CA.   This writer wanted to brainstorm some possible column topics and have a morning cup of coffee.   James was, among other things, concerned about some generalizations a reader had made regarding one of his columns about the plight of the homeless.   People who live in houses (glass or not) tend to be very certain of their perceptions as do all of the six blind Hindus.

Since the homeless writer uses Hunter S. Thompson as a role model and since Thomson's public persona often displayed a cavalier attitude about money, we criticized the Berkeley resident's tendency to imitate Thompson when making financial decisions.

We suggested that perhaps Thompson's attitude was part of a fictitious "image" that was deliberately manufactured.   This was met with a vehement denial of that possibility, which, unfortunately, was impossible to fact-check.   The World's Laziest Journalist explained that he was basing his assertion on one actual encounter with one of the founding fathers of the Gonzo school of Journalism.

At an appearance at the Viper Room in Los Angeles, in 1996, Thompson had made a conspicuous display of having security eject hecklers.   What many in the venue did not notice is that subsequently the persons who had been 86'd would be seen again in the sold out event, quietly observing the proceedings from the very back of the auditorium.   The victims had the material for a personal encounter story that they would still be telling many years later, Thompson had bolstered his Wildman image, and the audience had been treated to an entertaining example of Thompson's lack of tolerance for dissention.

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We suggested that (perhaps) Thompson (who owned real estate in the Aspen area of Colorado) was just helping to create an image of an outlaw journalist when he seemed to act irresponsibly about financial matters.  

We have been reading a recently acquired copy of "The Kitchen Readings:   Untold Stories of Hunter S. Thompson" (by Michael Cleverly and Bob Braudis Harper Perennial paperback) and have become aware that often the reality of stories about Hunter do not match the legend and that the tendency is to use the Rio Bravo advice:   "print the legend."

Hence we strongly asserted that the famed father of Gonzo may have been playing a role when he used an expense account to subsidize living large.

Next we discussed the bogus aspect of the image of the homeless as free wheeling "king of the road" people who could come and go as the mood strikes them.   Unfortunately the reality is the complete opposite.   Often their movements are very restricted because they have to worry about finding a place to temporarily store their possessions if they want to   move about during the day.  

We volunteered to do a column delineating the problem.   If (for example) a homeless woman wants to go into a public building and use the women's rest room, the backpack and bedroll is an open invitation for hassling.   If she can leave her gear with a trusted friend, she can run off, use the facility, and return very quickly.   The problem is exponentially more complicated if the homeless person wants to stash their backpack and go across to San Francisco for a day.   Where can he or she leave the backpack for a whole day?

Storage lockers are a quaint reminder of the past.   (We will expand on this topic for use as a full column in the future.)   So where can a person leave all his worldly possessions while taking a one day trip over into San Francisco?   Taking sleeping gear and a heavy backpack will certainly put a damper on any one day outing in San Francisco.   What's with these practical restrictions vs. the image of "go anywhere when the mood strikes you" freedom?  

A few hours later we were at the opposite end of the social spectrum.   We were in Marin County as the guest of a woman who has devoted her life to helping women's causes and helping philanthropists decide where and how to make their contributions.   She has lived the "those who can, do" aspect of the story; now she also does coaching and teaches about that and related subjects.

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As it turns out, the woman had met Hunter S. Thompson at the wedding of one of her close relatives.   The philanthropy coach corroborated our impression of Thompson as a fellow who created a public persona that was very different from the private person.  

The prolonged economic "recession" has added some additional new challenges to the task of encouraging wealthy citizens to make well informed decisions about making philanthropic donations to an every growing list of worthy non-profit organizations.  

As it turns out, on that very day that we were discussing the particular financial needs of various organizations devoted to women's causes, radio personality Rush Limbaugh may have inadvertently drawn added attention to women's causes in particular by apologizing for calling a collage student a slut, earlier in the week.   Liberal pundits noted that the apology was "out of character" for the bombastic radio talk show host.

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BP graduated from college in the mid sixties (at the bottom of the class?) He told his draft board that Vietnam could be won without his participation. He is still appologizing for that mistake. He received his fist photo lesson from a future (more...)

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