Just Above Sunset
June 13, 2004 - Going "beyond the black stump" for our audience...

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World’s Laziest Journalist


By Bob Patterson


Did you get enough coverage of the funeral last week?  This columnist lives rather close to the Santa Monica mortuary that was the focus of world attention, so why didn’t he go over and cover it for Just Above Sunset online magazine? 


Geoff Parkes, an Australian writer and blogger and perhaps the most famous book reviewer living in Toowoomba, Queensland, hipped me to a term I’d never heard before: cultural imperialism.  Yeah, they’d like to have coverage of the Oscars, especially when an Aussie is a strong contender to win one of the top awards, but it seems they chafe a bit when the American media force-feeds them stories that have no interest down under.  In American media an especially gruesome murder in New York City can be given more editorial weight than a multiple murder in flyover country.  Sometimes the local newspapers and TV stations in the other states get a bit surly about the preference given to the event in the Big Apple.  It’s the same principle applied on an international scale. 


Sometime you have to go “out among them” to find something worth running.  As the Aussie posse would put it, you go beyond the black stump.  It’s an Aussie expression that means going into unmapped territory.


If you see something in Los Angeles, that you think is really cool, maybe you could submit it to Steve Harvey for use in his “Only in LA” column and get some publicity for Just Above Sunset in the process.  Our journalistic hubris maintains that our decks are awash with good material, but the many, many new readers produced by a mention on the L.A. Observed website, indicates that our Publicity Department’s work has just begun.


You can shoot several different frames of a good feature picture and sell one to someone else.  Road & Track has been using a humorous automobile oriented photo on the PS page since before I started reading their magazine in 1964.  The issue I bought had coverage of Jimmy Clark at Watkins Glenn.  You can use a substantially different shot for your own publication.  That’s fair.  Road & Track say they want an exclusive picture and not an exclusive on the story.


An unusual building in Los Angeles might interest our Aussie posse readers just because it something the likes of which they have never seen.  How often do you see a store that looks like a flying saucer has crashed into it?  Doesn’t that make an interesting picture no matter where you live?  Who knows maybe the real story is something else.  Should we have asked the guy in the purple jacket if he was a world famous writer?  In Los Angeles, ya never know.  He could be. 

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Do folks in other countries want extensive coverage of the funeral?  Heck, some Democrats in the USA think it’s an end run for the Republicans to avoid the equal time rule and get an extended plug for their side.


Folks in London know that the supporters of the Tottenham Hotspurs are cultured, refined gentlemen and that it is the Manchester U fans that besmirch all the enthusiasts with the “soccer hooligan” label.  Americans might not know about such subtleties, because soccer is not “their bag.”  Well, turnabout is fair play.  Why would the folks in Perth care about a World Series baseball competition where the possibility that the local Freemantle Dockers (an Australian Football team) might make the cut, is as realistic a hope as they can muster for a local team.


Do American news organizations watch foreign media looking for items to bring to their English speaking audience?  If not why not?  Is it part of an arrogant cultural imperialism or is the more tawdry explanation that in the age of cost cutting, when accounting departments rule supreme.  The bean counters don’t want to spend one frivolous franc (let alone a farthing) to get a good story.  How do you find non-American media?  One way is to start at the black stump and go from there.


If you must have a mention of the last week’s news from the land of the gringos, our favorite anecdote was found in Al Franken’s book Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot (page 143 of the Island Books paperback edition): “Reagan is standing with several of the seniors, who have been invited to pose for pictures with him.  He chats up each of the graduates, and to one of the boys says:  ‘My name is Ronald Reagan.  What’s yours?’  The boy says:  ‘I’m your son Mike.’”  The incident occurred in 1964, long before the onset of the Alzheimer’s disease, so maybe it’s just an example of the Republican application of their family value philosophy that they revere so highly.


Have you seen anything about a story from South America about a fellow who claims to be an 18th Century Frenchman and the first bona fide time traveler?  We saw a story about that but the ever parsimonious head of the JAS accounting department (AKA Mistress de Sade) would only laugh cruelly if we requested the funds to purchase the publication where we found the item.  It doesn’t matter if it is true or an elaborate hoax, either way it’s a top-notch human interest story.  If it’s true historians will have a treasure throve of material to ask about; if it is a well constructed hoax then psychologists will be scratching their heads for years to come.


Google searches by one of the fact finders reveals that maybe my French language abilities aren’t quite as good as I thought they were.  Or maybe English-speaking media just don’t care?


Our Spanish isn’t what it should be, but we monitor some shows here in LA to see if we can find something for our social conversations, if not our columns.  We recently saw a feature on an orchestra that uses organic instruments to produce classical music.  They make flutes by carving out carrots and so on.  They use things like coconut shells for percussion instruments.  If an American CD company releases an album of their work, then the flacks may magically command some English language coverage to appear, but odds are (unless they read JAS) you won’t see about that in any other American based media. 


[ Editor’s note: The First Viennese Vegetable Orchestra was indeed reviewed in these pages here - October 12, 2003 in the column on the right of the page. ]


When was the last time a foreign recording was on the Pop Music charts in the USA?


Kyu Sakamoto had a 1963 hit with Sukiyaki (which isn’t in the original lyrics), and Dominico Modugno had a 1958 hit with Volare (do they use it on the Sopranos)?  Ivo Robic had a 1959 hit with a German song titled Morgen.  Was Dominique done in 1963 by the singing nun, the last foreign language hit in the USA?  Does The Macarena Song count?


Chris Harris has been quoted (page 26 of Jon Winokur’s The Traveling Curmudgeon) as saying:  “Frankfurt is a large, unfriendly financial center filled with dirty, gray office high-rises, thus earning it the title “the most Americanized city in Europe.”


Now, if the disk jockey will play one of my favorite German songs, Claudia Jung will sing Je T’Aime Mon Amour – yeah, I know, the song is in German and the title refrain is in French, it’s too complicated to explain it, right here, right now – we’ll take a French leave, caio for now.


Text and Photograph Copyright 2004 – Robert Patterson


We asked veteran journalist Bob Patterson for a bio and he sent this along:  

Bob was born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania.


Graduated from the University of Scranton in . . . make that "way back when."


He has worked as a reporter and photographer for daily newspapers in California, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.  During the "way back when" phase of his life.


Did photo stringing for the AP’s Los Angeles bureau in the seventies.


Has done some freelance work.


Held other jobs to pay the rent and provide meals money.


Has written book and movie reviews, and columns for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine for the last four years.


Recently the DOA management reportedly traded him to the Just Above Sunset online magazine team for an undisclosed sum and two future draft choices.


He is known to be in the LA area and is considered dangerous.  If you see him, call for backup before attempting to get his autograph or some such fanboy nonsense.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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