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World’s Laziest Journalist


By Bob Patterson


[This is another one of Bob’s columns.  If the professional fact checkers (such as the folks at campaigndesk.org) find anything that resembles a fact, please let us know.  Proceed at your own risk.]


The story had a bit of déjà vu to it.  A rich man’s son become a flyer and then plays the game of corporate shenanigans like a natural born pinball wizard.   Who does that sound like?  Well, if you are of a certain age, when somebody says “The Sixties,” you probably think of a great many other examples of the culture of the time before you get to The Carpetbaggers, written by Harold Robbins. 


“Never walk away from the table after you win a man’s horse without letting him win back at least a stake for tomorrow.  It didn’t diminish your winnings by much and at least the sucker walked away feeling he’d won something.”  That was old style American business philosophy with a heavy ring of nostalgia.  Harken to the new style that came in with the depression:  “Never give a sucker an even break.”


Robbins’ book was rumored to be based on the life of Howard Hughes, but if that were true it would mean that best seller was all about oil, wouldn’t it?  Is everything all about oil?


If Hollywood ever films the story of Howard Hughes, they will probably use some handsome actor to play the part, but if you take one of the few existing authentic photos of the famous aviator and hold it next to a picture of the former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini  - you might jump to a startling conclusion.  (I’ve never met anyone who saw the two together in the same room at the same time.  Gees, Lois, did you ever notice how consistently Clark Kent misses Superman’s spectacular stunts?) 


Speaking of making the family fortune in oil drilling, what was the name of that guy whose grandpappy bought into Dresser Industries, which eventually became … what was it called?  Holly Burton’s or something like that. 


I thought Edna Ferber covered the subject of the trials (that makes it sound like stock manipulation scheme, dudnit?) and tribulations of Texas oil dynasties.  Did she get royalties for that TV show with Larry Hagman? 


Are there any good stories left to mine from that fertile field of entertainment material?  The exploits of the Harken success story have been chronicled haven’t they?  I think that subject is “played out” as the wildcatters would say.


It was hot in Los Angeles.  I work here.  I’m a columnist.  Daaah Daaa Dot Daaaah.  It was almost lunch time when I got a phone call from the Just Above Sunset mansion, where all the famous parties (with all the girls featured in the pictorials) are held, the beloved editor (El jefe, called Heff for short) wanted to know what my next column would be about.  He challenged me: “Did you hear from The Tonight Show crew?  Are they going to let you borrow the Cobra?” 


Last week, I had written that The Tonight Show was rapidly approaching its 50th birthday celebration.  I plan to try to request a “birthday” interview with Jay Leno to gain access to the famous host/car owner, so that I can pitch him on a shtick where I would drive his Ford powered Cobra from LA to New York and back as a publicity stunt for his anniversary celebration.  “I haven’t heard from them, yet.” 

“Well let me know when you do.”  Then the editor cackled.  “Meanwhile, I like it when you avoid the crowds.  Everyone is on this deal about postponing the elections, you’re not going to do that bit that’s so ‘last week’ are you?”  On the phone, he couldn’t see me shake my head “No!”


“So what will you write about?” he asked.  “How come you never get any good celebrity stuff?” 


Abracadabra!  When the boss asks for something, a good (albeit lazy) employee doesn’t waste too much time producing it.  Did you know that George Clayton Johnson, who wrote the first episode of Star Trek to appear on the air (not the pilot, the first episode), still doesn’t use a computer to write.  (Note to Playboy’s fact checker: Maybe he’s just trying to see if I’m gullible, because he does seem to ken how much information a Google search will produce.)


I told the chief that I was wondering about the Saudi amnesty deal.  Last week, some old dude in a wheelchair turned himself in.  What happens if Osama decides to take the offer?  Isn’t he a Saudi citizen?  If he turns himself in?  Voila! It’s time to forgive and forget.  He may be getting a little worn out by that camping out in the mountains routine in Pakistan.  With an amnesty deal, he could retire to the Sheik Retirement Home and write his memoirs, about his “associates” from the good old days before BCCI folded.  He could bring us up to date on his old pals who helped him with that “caper.”  If he’s in Pakistan, how can he turn in himself in Saudi Arabia?  (Has anybody checked out that new tall guy in a three-piece suit who’s been ingratiating himself with the “in” crowd in Monte Carlo?)


The word on the street is that Osama was connected with a massive “rub out” operation in the New York City area, but an amnesty deal is an amnesty deal.  If he takes the Arab offer, it’s fagedaboudit as far as any New York City cases are concerned. 


That got me thinking.  “Great Caesar’s ghost, chief, after the Twin Towers were destroyed on September 11, of 2001, everyone was doing stories about the firemen.” 


“Well?” he prodded. 


[Know why it’s FDNY and not NYFD?  Because if it were, it would be pronounced:  “knifed.”]


Firemen work hard.  Firemen play hard.  Is there an annual competition for fireman skills?  If there is, the American media must have done tons of stories about it, right?  Well, not exactly. 


The Firemen’s competition for 2003 was held in Dallas.  Did you see much about it?  This year it was held in Devon England.  Next year, it is scheduled to be held in the city of Hamilton New Zealand.  (I’ve heard of Hamilton in Ontario province, but one in New Zealand is a new one on me.)  The World Rescue Challenge will be held October 11 to 15, in 2005, in Hamilton New Zealand.


I could write a column item now, and then when Time and Newsweek cover the actual event, we could just do a story with a pastiche of facts from their stories.  Being the world’s laziest journalist requires the same crafty skills used by those clever fellows who make money on businesses that are just about to fail.  (Harken!  Did you say Enron?)


In his poem The Day Is Done, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote:


“And the night shall be filled with music,

And the cares, that infest the day,

Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,

And as silently steal away.”


[Yeah, just like Enron employee pension funds did.  Old Wall Street saying:  “The money had to go somewhere.”]


Now, if the disk jockey will spin The Ballad of Jed Clampett, written by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, we will, like the old soldiers in the barracks ballad, just fade away.  Y’all come back in seven days for the next column.  Until then, have a week filled with Texas tea.


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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