Berkeley T-shirt by Bob Patterson
Modern style tilting at windmills
The real winners in this week's national embarrassment will be the pundits. The Tea Party got concession after concession. President Obama got a walk-off last minute settlement. The talking heads will get the chance to give their sages' opinions to bigger than usual audiences this weekend even if they have to play the "too close to call" card when the host/croupier calls for a halt to the equivocating on the question of "Who was the real winner?"
Pundits employed by the mainstream media will ignore the fact that the Teabag Republicans attempted to go outside the Constitution to defund a law that had been passed by a previous Congress and concentrate on the idea that the Republicans will have a major challenge to reelection next November. They will not go into territory where they might have to admit the possibility that if the Teabagers went outside the Constitution to attack Obamacare, they might use the electronic voting machines (with unverifiable results) to produce an undeserved win.
Competing with the well publicized and well connected pundits who refuse to consider anything but points of view that have been blessed by billionaire media owners (kosher-ized?) is an assignment for a columnist who is "the man" at on the La Mancha Times because, it would seem, the ultra rich are the unbeatable foes.
On the Columbus Day Holiday, the situation was: The negotiation tactic of moving the goal line will be effective up until the clock runs out. Then it will be time for both political parties to kick the can down the road and start the blame game as part of the preparations for the mid term elections in November of 2014.
Some cynical pundits (moi?) wonder when voters in the USA will realize that there is a vast credibility gap between the effusive patriotic enthusiasms the Republicans display when the military goes off to participate in a new quagmire and the hypocritical lack of attention they pay to the fiscal needs of the lesser known veterans' programs. Which group does the Tea Party love the most: the disabled vets, the unemployed, or the hungry children?
Long before the Tweet fad started, the World's Laziest Journalist noticed that the switch to the Internet media seemed to indicate that a digital version of the three dot journalism method of column writing might work well for the short attention span audience coping with the computer age. Heck, the TV show "Laugh In" introduced the quick cut rapid pace to TV and changed that game many moons ago. Since long reads online don't seem to attract copious amounts of hits, it seemed like there would be a natural selection process that would favor the digital version of three dot journalism. We forgot one aspect of the pop culture in the USA: it takes tons of publicity to provide a convenient short cut to success.
When book publishers discovered that their product sold better when the authors appeared on network TV talk shows, all of a sudden, they were ubiquitous on the Tonight Show.
When the proprietor of a Los Angeles book store was asked about the authenticity of a copy of "On the Road" that was autographed by Jack Kerouac and inscribed to Marilyn Monroe, he started doing his homework because the two had never been linked in Hollywood gossip. Eventually he learned that when Jack Kerouac appeared on the Tonight Show (when Jack Paar was the host) to promote his new novel, one of the other guests that night was the famous actress who was (according to her PR agent?) an avid reader. He authenticated the item which then jumped a considerable amount in value.
The accountants in Hollywood grew envious of the authors' free air time and the trend of supplying Hollywood stars to talk shows to promote new movies was started.
If, in 1962 when "From Russia with Love" was being talked about, would anybody have believed a prediction that eventually the spy genre would morph into a tale about a rugged looking Chicano illegal alien who prefers a machete rather than a Walther PPK? Has the lead actor, Danny Trejo, hit the talk show circuit yet?
German style potato pancakes are difficult to find in the Los Angeles area and so the World's Laziest Journalist was very delighted to stumble on a place in San Francisco that listed that item on the menu. We could write an entire column about that elusive treat. Our third effort, on Columbus Day, to have a nostalgia laden foodie experience with that rare item was unsuccessful as the first two had been but it was a beautiful example of Indian summer weather and thus provided a pleasant setting for the futile effort.
Coffee houses are plentiful in San Francisco but the Cup-a-Joe on Sutter was notable because they also offer a choice of 10 brands of draft beer. Their coffee and buns were very enjoyable but they didn't have potato pancakes.
Ezekiel Tyrus, who is a clerk at the Beat Museum, had offered us a review copy of his new novel "Eli, Ely" and we decided that reading the entire novel and devoting a full column to a review was not our style, but a quick item in the column about him would work as a history hedge. Wouldn't it be remarkable if Tyrus eventually became more famous than any of the original members of the Beats? Our effort to supplement a photo of Tyrus' tattoo with a mug shot was unsuccessful on Columbus Day.
Five years ago when we went to Australia to satisfy our curiosity about that country (and scratch a visit there off our bucket list) we still harbored a desire to become a pundit with a vast worldwide audience. After becoming a resident of Berkeley CA we began to reacquaint our self with the writings of our three most influential role models: Ernst Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson. We noticed that all three worked long and hard to become world famous writers. All three were very uncomfortable with being world-wide fame when they achieved it. Maybe being an autonomous anonymous columnist isn't so bad after all. Invincible foes? "Bring 'em on!"
We noticed this week that Jim Romenesko, who's website caters to the practitioners of journalism, is featuring sponsored content. In a world where Senator Dianne Feinstein maintains that real journalists draw a weekly paycheck, the paid content innovation could be a game changer. Is that a newsworthy example of a precedence setting innovation on the Internet? If so we could do a whole column about it. We'll keep that option in mind when we post our annual National Columnists' Day.
On a day, such as Columbus Day this week, when we are laying starring at the ceiling and trying to decide if we want to award our self an all expense paid (one day) vacation in San Francisco, we don't use the prospect of fame and fortune to motivate the effort; we use the possibility of getting some material for the column as an excuse (not a reason) for doing a walkabout in Fog City . . . if the BART and AC buses are running. As of Friday October 18, 2013, a strike was complicating the choice.