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September 12, 2004 - Conservatives Forgive the Sins of the Sixties

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World’s Laziest Journalist

September 12, 2004

By Bob Patterson


If musicians can make a career out of singing a hit from the Sixties over and over and over for thirty-five years, why can’t a columnist revisit topics that may have been mentioned in a previous installment?


Kids in high school traditionally report to the survey teams that they don’t read newspapers.  It seems no one has ever done a study to investigate the possibility that kids do read the newspaper, but they lie about it to the folks asking the questions because they (the kids) have the perception that if they admit to reading a newspaper (just like their moms and dads do) then they will loose face with their peers.


When the class of 1961 (home of the Crusaders) was in the formative stages, one of the guys had a mom who would very meticulously remove any items from the morning paper that were suggestive and carried material that might appeal to prurient interests.  She would cut it out - so that her son’s mind would not be besmirched by the offending material.  That gave the other guys in the class an absolutely bulletproof reason to say they read the newspaper and weren’t geeks.  We were compelled to read the Scrantonian in the morning and the Scranton Times in the evening because we had to (just HAD to) be ready to fill Bill in on the contents of the excised stories.


This was like being able to fight the censors of communism in our very own homes - a local version of the Voice of America.  It felt so good to be so worldly. 


What did we know?  During luncheon meetings at “Uncle Vince’s Candy Store,” we talked about getting a boat and going to Cuba to help the rebels fighting the strongman ruler, Fulgencio Batista.  (You show us a despot and we’ll show you the humanitarian side of “regime change.”)  Getting to Cuba from Scranton in a row boat was a bigger problem than our young minds could surmount and so we moved on to more important topics, such as Sigmund Freud’s question “what do women want?” - and left it up to the president and his cronies to help bring democracy to the island 97 miles south of Florida.


The Tonight Show managed to use the latest technology to broadcast a few episodes live from Havana after the rebels were successful.  As I recall Jack Paar did interview Fidel Castro.  Did “Friends” ever get Fidel Castro as a guest?  [Our fact checker is still slavishly working on the question:  “Was Che Guevarra ever a Tonight Show guest?”  A spokeswoman at NBC could provide neither conformation nor a denial.]  We seem to remember that Jack Paar did interview him during that week that they originated from Havana.


Is any other columnist going to extend warm 50th birthday wishes to The Tonight Show?  We won’t miss the September 27, broadcast.  Oh, wait!  We forgot.  What happened in the Sixties (let alone the Fifties) doesn’t matter this week because all the conservative talk show hosts say anything from the Sixties is just rehashing the past and an exercise in futility.  How good was last night’s installment of The Tonight Show?


So, Bill’s mom was directly responsible for members of our class reading both the morning and evening newspapers very assiduously.  We had a duty to keep our “fraternity brother” abreast (“Heh, heh, he said ‘breast,’ Bevis”) of any news item that smacked of sex, drugs, or rock’n’roll.


Most kids want to know what’s going on in their hometown.  The guy who jumped around like a coochie dancer played the CYC, but tickets cost more than a record album and the guy could be seen on The Ed Sullivan Show a few weeks later.  Boy, did they think we were dumb in Scranton, or what?  Pay to see Elvis or watch him on TV for free?


If Bill’s mom started my habit of reading the newspaper everyday, maybe I should credit her as being responsible for my career (such as it is) in journalism?


Do people change?  Old habits die hard.  Now, Bill reads the New York Times every day.  We still read the papers trying to find some obscure tidbits of information to amuse and entertain the Aussie posse, “the pack” in Beijing, the passel of Parisians,  the group in Germany, and the Jersey junta (not to mention the stalwarts in Tornado Alley.)


Recently we noticed a plethora of information about John Kerry’s tour of duty in Vietnam.  When the media finally turned their attention to George W. Bush’s accomplishments (moi facetious?) during the same time, we tuned in to the Twilight-No Spin Zone and were caught in a vortex of the “twister completely levels the playing field” strength when he said:  “Who cares?”  John Ashcroft and Aunty Em?  Zounds, man, when born again folks can disregard “gaming the system” after having near apoplexy over the extent of a candidates war wounds, can things get any more crazy?


As a writer I’m struggling with a story of about a rich kid, think prodigal son here, who lives the reckless frat boy existence in college, goes into the service during Vietnam, is given a commission as an officer – no OCS, no ROTC, nothing – just given the commission, goes to flight school, for a short period of time straightens up and works diligently at his studies and is proficient at skills that require coordination, dexterity, and concentration, and then after successfully completing that phase of his life returns to his profligate ways.  There is a concept called “suspension of disbelief” that means that, to be successful, a work of fiction has to be believable.  I think this story of a Rocky Balboa style student, who successfully meets and surmounts the challenges of flight school and then reverts to his party hardy life style “won’t fly.”  To be salable, the story would have to qualify as logical, believable, and coherent.  Isn’t there an axiom about a leopard changing spots?


A friend who is very obsessed with the subject of serial killers called and was very enthusiastic about the possibility of a second Bush term in office and subsequently a CNN special of “Shock and Awe Comes to Iran.”  My buddy, Chef Teddy, who doesn’t have to worry about getting drafted, thinks that Charles Manson should get a pardon and become a foreign policy advisor.  “Who cares what someone did thirty five years ago?  It’s what they do now that counts.”  That’s what Bill O’Reilly was saying last week.  Manson fans fully concur and are ready to put that into practice.  Chef Teddy says that Manson never went to the house to effect a “regime change.”  Leslie Van Houton and Susan Atkins et al were just bad apples who acted independently.  They just wanted a catastrophic success for Manson’s philosophy. 


What makes people vote the way they do?  Is a candidate’s war record a crucial factor to be considered before making a decision?  Hugh Hewitt was insisting on that very criterion just two weeks ago.  Should voters consider other factors that are more important to make their choice?  A friend who was a naval officer and a UDT guy (they are more likely to be called SEALS now) summed it up quite nicely:  “I didn’t vote for Jack Kennedy because he commanded the PT 109; I voted for him because he was pretty.”


Now, if the disk jockey will play Helter Skelter, we’ll provide the fact checkers with some forged documents to discredit our opponent and we’ll cut and run.  Go forth and rejoice your psychedelic sins have been forgiven.  Have a groovy 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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