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July 25, 2004 - A sacred pilgrimage for a Hemingway wannabe...

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World’s Laziest Journalist


By Bob Patterson


[The Just Above Sunset (JAS) editor wanted this columnist to stay away from one particular subject for a week just to see if it can be done and so that the folks who check on the accuracy of the campaign journalism can just relax while they read this week’s installment.  I can’t swear on Geronimo’s skull (where did it go?) that I will, but I’ll try.]


The audiences for Just Above Sunset online magazine and MetropoleParis website have a cusp area and recently some of those folks shared memories of Christmas in Paris. This columnist has not been in Paris (France, not Texas) during that particular time of the year.  The Christmas nostalgia triggered a stream of consciousness series of thoughts that reminded me of my ultimate Paris moment that happened in November of 1987.


As a Hemingway fan, I had wanted to go to Harry’s New York Bar (Cinq rue Daunou) since reading Moveable Feast during my first year in college.  As part of the preparations, I bought a T-shirt featuring a photo of the author.  Eventually the moment arrived, I pushed open the door and stepped into a time machine.


The place was quaint and old.  Obviously it had not been closed for prohibition.  The decor featured college pennants (including one for Hamilton in upstate New York) and a hot dog machine from the Chicago World’s Fair.  Everything about the visit was special.  The experience was similar to one a religious person would have visiting a sacred shrine.


While wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere, an old man approached and pointed to my T-shirt.  “You wear the T-shirt of my friend,” he said.  Aware that a scrupulous fact checker would not want to take a chance that he knew the T-shirt manufacturer, I asked: “You knew Hemingway?”  He replied that he had inherited the bar from his father and that, as a tike, he had sat on Hemingway’s lap while the writer verbally sparred with the other drinkers.  (A Newsweek article with photos on the wall confirmed the authenticity of the old man’s claim.)

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... author's personal copy

I was nonplused by the event and missed the journalistic opportunity of a lifetime when I failed to ask him if Hemingway had (according to legend) or had not arrived back in Paris before it was liberated (wasn’t it the Brazilian army that lead the way?)  Fans and other writers would have us believe that somehow the war correspondent had turned up in Paris three days before the soldiers from coalition of allies arrived.  If any would know for sure, it would be the locals who had known him since he was an unknown writer there in the 20’s.  I didn’t ask and have regretted the error ever since.


My favorite Hemingway newspaper story was Tancredo Is Dead written for the Toronto Star Weekly of November 24, 1923.  He describes how Tancredo made his living.  The guy would stare down a charging bull.  After the third bull, Tancredo would stand in the ring and they would release a bull, who would invariably charge at the guy.  “But the bull always stopped….” According to the story the guy got $5,000 for each appearance.  That was a considerable amount of money back then.  Can you imagine him doing that on a reality TV program for scale?  [Ernest Hemingway Dateline: Toronto (Hemingway’s Complete Dispatches For the Toronto Star 1920-1924) edited by William White. Paperback page 381.]


I read someplace some time ago, (we have to give the fact checkers of the world some work to do) that some scholars trace Hemingway’s famous terse style back to his correspondent’s days when it cost fifty cents (pre-depression dollars) for each word he sent to his editor.  The philosophy boiled down to:  “Make it count, son.”  At that same time, other writers were producing material for pulp magazines where payment was based on a per word basis, hence they tended to prefer long and convoluted sentences that increased the value of the work.


Hemingway scholars have always theorized about where he got the names for the characters in his stories and novels.  Scholars have unsuccessfully combed the real estate records for the neighborhood where his parents lived while he was growing up in Oak Park, Illinois.  (Have they gone to the bother/expense of doing a similar search for the names of the folks who were the neighbors near the Hemingway family’s summer cottage at Lake Walloon in Michigan?  It might be worth the effort.)


I worked with a young lady who was from Ketchum Idaho and she claimed she went to school there at Ernest Hemingway High School. 


According to Gerald Nicosia, in his book Memory Babe (page 112), Jack Kerouac met Hemingway one time at a party in the village in New York City.


Do you want another Hemingway item?  This columnist used to belong to an online newsgroup of Hemingway scholars (I sneaked in) and their consensus opinion was that as far as a writer who used himself as the source material for his choice of subject matter (Don’t they say write what you know?), the closest example in contemporary society was Hunter S. Thompson.

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... author's personal copy

The Hemingway Days celebration in Key West Florida was scheduled for the weekend when this column was due on the editor’s desk.  Maybe next year we’ll go and get some pictures from the look-alike competition and other festivities at that annual event.


We had been hoping to get approval from the aforementioned penny-pinching branch of the Just Above Sunset Industries operation to travel to Paris again this year to cover the Second annual Le Mans classic event (also this weekend) and get into position to report on the events marking the sixtieth anniversary of the Liberation of Paris. 


Dorothy Parker (The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations edited by Robert Andrews, page 401) wrote:  “He (Hemingway) has a capacity for enjoyment so vast that he gives away great chunks to those about him and never even misses them.”


It’s time to signal the disk jockey and have him play Beki Hemingway’s song “You Never Last Where You Land.”  Merde!  The disk jockey isn’t complying.  He’s holding up a 78 rpm relic.  OK.  Sing along to The Last Time I Saw Paris [lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and music by Jerome Kern], which was inspired by the German occupation of the City of Light,  and we’ll march on out of here.  If you just can’t wait for the next column, then read the last one. 


Have a “true gen” week.






Editor’s note –


From Paris Obs - (The Paris insert to the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur…)


Thursday, July 22nd


Ernest Hemingway - Rhum-enquête 

Débarqué comme correspondant de guerre sur les plages normandes, l’écrivain américain participa à la libération de sa ville fétiche, Paris. Et surtout de ses bars.


Drapeaux, embrassades , effusions. Ce 26 août 1944, les Parisiens célèbrent leur liberté à corps et à cris. Loin de la liesse, Ernest Hemingway a, quant à lui, déjà repris ses habitudes au bar du Ritz. Arrimé au comptoir, il siphonne, en compagnie d’une palanquée d’aventuriers et de journalistes, les grand crus de la cave, précieux butins sauvés des pillages allemands mais pas de la descente légendaire de l’écrivain américain. Et lorsqu’une des convives se lève pour aller au défilé de la victoire, papa Ernest la rembarre: «Ma fille, reste tranquille et bois ce bon cognac! Tu pourras toujours voir des défilés, mais c’est la dernière fois que tu célèbres la libération de Paris au Ritz!»

Dès 1942 , l’auteur du «Vieil Homme et la mer» participa à l’effort de guerre à sa façon, traquant à bord de son yacht «Pilar» les sous-marins allemands au large de Cuba. A la mi-juillet, il pose ses godillots sur le sable normand, en tant que correspondant de guerre pour le magazine «Collier’s». Furax car devancé d’une semaine par sa troisième femme, Martha, embarquée à bord d’un navire-hôpital. Il suit les combats de Saint-Lô. De l’avis de beaucoup, les papiers qu’il en tire sont assez mauvais. Enfin ceux qui arrivent à temps. Car Ernest, en bon adepte du rhum-enquête, trempe plus souvent sa plume dans l’alcool que dans l’encre.

Ancien de la guerre d’Espagne , Hemingway à 46ans brûle de rejouer au soldat. Flanqué d’Archie Peckley, un gros bras ancien militaire, il décide de partir marauder, à bord d’une jeep, en avant-garde de l’armée régulière. Et tant pis pour les conventions, surtout celles de Genève! Mi-août, il déboule dans un Rambouillet déserté par les Allemands. Une cinquantaine de résistants locaux, d’irréguliers, de FFI intronisent ce Bacchus bronzé chef de bande. «Parce que je suis si vieux et si laid», dira-t-il. Autoproclamé gouverneur de la place, Ernest donne audience, rend la justice, interroge les prisonniers comme ce petit soldat allemand à qui il menace de brûler les orteils avec une bougie. Un jour, deux femmes suspectées de commerce avec les Allemands lui sont amenées. La foule veut les tondre. Il préférera les affecter à ses cuisines.

Eternel hâbleur , il se flattera longtemps d’avoir été le premier à pénétrer dans Paris. Un mensonge éhonté. «En contrebas s’étendait, belle et encore grise, la ville que j’aimais le plus au monde», s’extasie-t-il, le 25 août, place de l’Etoile. Avenue Kléber, il hèle un passant: «Place Vendôme, c’est par où?» Au moins, être le premier à libérer le Ritz! Il y fait irruption, mitraillette à la main. Ne trouve rien mais tire une rafale sur de pauvres draps. Avant de décréter une tournée générale de Martini dry. Paris est redevenu une fête.


- Vincent Monnier


Of course…  C’est la dernière fois que tu célèbres la libération de Paris au Ritz!




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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