Just Above Sunset
July 11, 2004 - "I don't try to describe the future. I try to prevent it."

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World’s Laziest Journalist

July 11, 2004

By Bob Patterson


[The framework for this column has been fictionalized so that there is a format that accommodates weaving different disparate tidbits into one continuous narrative thread.  Which are the plain unvarnished facts?  Which are the steroid-enhanced facts (exaggerations) and which are the fabricated facts (fibs)?  Sorting that out is why the professional fact checkers such as the ones at the Columbia School of Journalism’s website covering the campaign get the big bucks.  We’re just a poor but egomaniacal columnist and all we hope to do is amuse and entertain.]


We were lounging on the employees’ rooftop spa and pool at the JustAboveSunset World Headquarters Building, when the online magazine’s beloved editor and publisher, Alan, turned on the radio to Hugh Hewett’s radio show for Tuesday July 6, 2004.  The conservative radio maharaja was discussing (what else?) John Kerry’s selection for his running mate with the same enthusiasm as a Park Avenue matron who is using a cellophane glove to pick up her dog’s waste. 


[ Editor’s note – the pool at the JustAboveSunset World Headquarters Building is actually firmly in the ground – see the photos last week in Photography: The geometry of leisure… where the pool with the white edging is the one.  The pool with the brown edging is next door, directly under the wide east-facing windows of the JustAboveSunset World Headquarters Executive Offices.  But back to Kerry-Edwards….]


Alan noted that everyone would be churning out material about that particular topic.  “Your ghost of Philip K. Dick column was ahead of the curve on conjecture about security at the two national political conventions.  Was that a lucky shot or can you do it again?” 


That got a shrug.  “Americans aren’t too enthusiastic about jobs going overseas to cut costs.  Wait until they find out about how Consolidated Silesian Steel Corporation saved on labor costs.” 


The editor threw down his copy of the morning paper that indicated that things weren’t going well in Iraq and grumbled:  “Gees, you’re not going to go there, are you?” 


“Hey, maybe the Bush campaign ad showing the German chancellor for life was just an inside joke, kinda like the Hank Williams Jr. song ‘Carryin’ on a family tradition.’  Why worry about doing business with Arabs when your family was working with the guy who wrote I Paid Hitler.   It was published in the US in 1941 by Farrar & Rinehart, who weren’t exactly on the fringe.


The editor did his best Brando impression:  “That was nothin’ personal.  It was just business.”  He dropped the phony accent:  “You’re not going to dredge – or should I say drudge up – the old bit about Vesting Order 248, are you?”


“Naaaah.  That’s as shop worn a topic as the Kerry VP choice.  I’ll come up with something else that will get big play elsewhere after we give the heavy duty cats in journalism a free ‘heads-up.’”


Obviously, the chances that an online magazine will get a scoop on the Olympics, the Democratic Convention, the other one, the “call to the wall” in Malibu, or the Comic Con in San Diego are very small.  The best strategy will be to avoid the pack and come up with something the others haven’t noticed while they are concentrating on the topic de jour.


“If you can be first with a big story, we’ll let you use the company roadster for a weekend run to Vegas.”  Alan taunted.


He went back to attend to the galley slaves in editorial department in his usual “The emperor wants to go water skiing” mode of enthusiasm leaving me to conjure up something to inspire some “catch-up” style scrambling at the west coast office of Time and/or Newsweek.


The idea struck us that it seemed incongruous that, after the September 11 attack, someone let some Arabs, reportedly including members of Osama’s family, sneak out of the US because of concern for their welfare and then use extreme methods of questioning to quiz individuals in Iraq.  Do they think that the low level Iraqis know where Osama is and what he is planning and that his family doesn’t have a clue?  That might be a good column topic, but maybe Howard Stern has already covered that anomaly.


There’s a new TV series coming up that will be set sometime in the future and takes a nostalgic look back at the series lead characters when they were young kids living in the summer of 2004.  It’s titled Jack & Bobby.  (It seems to be subtitled: It’s not about the Kennedys.)  Time travel has always been a subject that fascinates this particular writer.  We’ve done some other speculating (in a previous column incarnation elsewhere) about what things will be like in the future. 


Our predictions for life in 2044: the Bush dynasty will continue and elections may have been eliminated in a cost cutting effort as “unnecessary?”  Two time academy award winning actress Lindsay Lohan will be on the cover of the AARP magazine.  The Rolling Stones will be tuning up (music pun) for a fall tour.  The 100th Anniversary of D-Day will be mostly ignored by the world’s media.  The Tonight Show will be looking for a new host to take them into their 90th year on the air. 


This fall, on September 27, (it falls on a Monday this year) the Tonight Show will be celebrating its 50th birthday and with a heritage like that, what’s to stop it from going another 50 years? 


There have been various and sundry folks as host:  Steve Allen, Jack Lescoulie, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, and Jay Leno.


(Bonus question:  When was Al “Jazzbo” Collins the host?  He was host in June and July of 1957 according to page 636 of The Complete Directory To Prime Time Network TV Shows [I have the 1979 edition.])


So while others were filing stories furiously about Kerry’s choice, we were recalling various and sundry items from the memory bank.  We saw the show the night Jack Paar had an aspirin bottle spew all over.  We still chuckle thinking of the time Dean Martin and a slightly inebriated George Goble were the guests. 


A friend who deals in rare books, reports that at one time he was offered a first edition hardback of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road that was autographed and inscribed to Marilyn Monroe.  Was there ever any connection between the two?  The fact checking process turned up the information that they both appeared on the same installment of the Tonight Show, when Jack Paar was the host.  (I can almost convince myself that I remember that particular show.)  The book dealer accepted that copy as an authentic item.


Recently this columnist has been actively seeking the loan of a Ford Cobra for two weeks so that a round trip from LA to New York and back can be accomplished and chronicled for posterity.  Jay Leno has a large collection of cars.  (Eventually won’t he have to house them in a museum that charges the public for admission so that he can pay for the expenses of their upkeep?)  Isn’t one of them a Ford powered Cobra?  We could call the NBC publicity people and be the first journalist to request a 50th anniversary interview and while we talk to Jay, suggest the trip as something one of his film crew could cover like Tom Greene’s searching segments?  Well, we could help publicize his 50th anniversary show (how about a prime time special?) and use the transcontinental stint to gather the material for the Ford powered version of On the Road in 2004.


Visiting journalists with access to Lexis/Nexis search power can see if this is the first reference to the upcoming video milestone or not.  If it is, my weekend use of the company car might be like warm up pitches for the cross-country trek.  This may not be of mind-boggling importance to our regular readers in Australia, London, and Germany, but it has to be a tad more interesting than the zillions of stories about the selection of John Edwards (which we suggested in a column elsewhere that ran March 1, 2004.)


Ray Bradbury has said (The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations page 359):  “I don’t try to describe the future.  I try to prevent it.”


Now, if the disk jockey will play the song 2525, we will move out of here and forward into the future, so that we can write the next column.  Until then, have an unbekümmert week.


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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