Just Above Sunset
June 26, 2005 - Cold Pizza and Warm Beer for Breakfast

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World's Laziest Journalist

June 27, 2005

By Bob Patterson


[Humor warning: This column contains a pathetic attempt to achieve humor and so the fact checker may not be able to verify the existence of some facts such as the employees commissary, let alone the broken dishes.]


Recently, after a donnybrook in the Just Above Sunset employees commissary, we were picking up the broken dishes and cleaning up the mess, when the editor took a long thoughtful pull on his tobacco pipe and referred to our online magazine's mission statement: "We test drive this year's Zeitgeist for you." 


Assessing the 2005 Zeitgeist (especially when we don't have the resources available that Road & Track does when they do a test drive) is a challenge.  Sometimes Zeitgeists are fiendishly tricky devils to assess, especially when they are new. 


Take 1955 for instance.  Odds are when the columnist says that year the audience does a knee jerk response of: James Dean, beatniks, Elvis, Rock'n'Roll, Thunderbirds, Corvettes, and The Honeymooners on television.  Maybe you think that sums it up quite succinctly.


Now, what would you list for this year, 2005?  How would you sum it up?


First, let's go back to the 1955 Zeitgeist.  That assessment above is all wrong.  In the last week of June, in 1955, James Dean was alive and working on his third movie, Giant.  The reading of Alan Ginsburg's Howl in San Francisco (that some regard as the birth of the beatnik movement) wasn't until October 7, of that year.  Elvis hadn't had a big hit yet.  Chuck Berry was just making his first recordings.  Ray Charles was just releasing I Got a Woman.  Mr. Sandman and Bo Diddley were on the pop charts.  Rosa Parks wouldn't be arrested until December 1 of that year.  The first episode of The Honeymooners was broadcast on October 1, of that year.  It had become a spin-off from a series of skits done on The Jackie Gleason Show.  On February 12, of 1955 the US agreed to train South Vietnamese troops. 


All the things that would become synonymous with that year were bubbling beneath the surface.  Yikes!  If that's any indication, assessing the events of 2005, as they were happening was going to be a tough assignment. 


What musical groups that start their career in 2005 will go on to become major stars?  Your guess is as good as mine.  The staff reviewers for Rolling Stone magazine might do a bit better at predicting success.  Don't some mathematicians say you can do well with a stock portfolio by throwing darts at a list of companies in the newspapers' financial pages?


What future literary superstar is publishing a first novel in 2005?  It's like the croupier says: "Ladies and gentlemen: Place your bets!"


Being a columnist and picking topics may be analogous to handicapping horses for that newspaper that covers nothing but horse racing.  Looking back, will future journalists and historians be interested in the fact that on the weekend of June 18-19, in 2005, someone said they had a good idea where Osama was?  Will folks look back and see that there is a bit of an inconsistency when the team that invades another country because of a (illusionary) threat, and implements methods of intense questioning, fumbles the ball on apprehending the guy who (reportedly) started it all because he is inside the boundaries of a country that is one of our allies?  Will any of the profusion of pundits in 2005 notice that discrepancy?  Will folks little note nor long remember what Goss said, or is it a case of "We can't get Osama; so let bygones bye bygones"?


In a speech made June 22, 2005, Karl Rove accused the Democrats of being soft on terrorism.  Yeah, it sure looks like the Democrats let Osama slip out of Afghanistan and refuse to get him now, even though they "have a good idea" where he is. 


Last week, there was a news story on the radio saying that Kodak will stop production of black and white photographic paper at the end of this year.  All fans of Ansel Adams will cringe when they hear that news.


Yes, a digital camera can take a picture and record it as a black and white image, but it can't do it in such a way that Adams would approve.  The famous photographer could write a book about technique because he developed (photo pun alert!) many of the most common methods that became popular.  He refined the process of taking readings with a light meter and the use of a gray scale.  As a matter of fact, he wrote a series of books that codified the process.  You want a magnificent B&W print?  Try over exposing the black and white film and under developing it.  For a much clearer explanation of the precise methods, read the books written by Adams and go see an exhibition of his work if you can.  Then compare his images to those digital images rendered in black and white.  In the digital image, there's not much detail in the shadow area is there?


[Editor's Note: Click on either image to see it full size…]

Bob Patterson, Black and White Study

Bob Patterson, Black and White Study

If we were in a leprechaun mood, we'd urge you to write to your representative in Congress and urge him/her to work to prevent this artistic catastrophe, but he/she has too many serious items on the agenda (such as funding for NPR) to bother with an innocuous matter such as Ansel Adams' legacy.  (Is there an Ansel Adams postage stamp?  What about a stamp that uses the famous Ansel Adams image of Half Dome?  Maybe they could authorize that?)


Will the online columnist, who asks owners of Ford Cobras if he can borrow their car so that he can drive from LA to New York and back and write about it, succeed in his quest during 2005?  At least two Cobra owners at the Rodeo Drive Concourse d'Elegance were good sports about fielding that particular question.  (A photo album of that event has been posted on an LA based blog.)


On August 6, of 2005, some intrepid newspaper in Manhattan will probably do an update on the case of the missing judge named Joseph Force Crater.  He disappeared before the runaway bride was born.  August 6, 2005, will be the 75th anniversary of his disappearance.


The year 2005 was when (according to a report on NPR) baseball players in Korea were forbidden to put frozen cabbage on their heads while playing the game.


Back in 1955 on American TV you might catch a performance of the Apache dance, but these days one wonders if they even do it in Paris. 


Why is it that when the President tries to sell his "Repeal the New Deal" Social Security "reform," this columnist imagines he hears him singing Lonnie Donegan's 1955 hit The Rock Island Line?   (You know it.  It has the line about "I fooled you.  I fooled you …")  If the private account measure doesn't get passed this year that just means it has three more years to pass.


What would happen if one of the Democratic hopefuls for 2008 countered the "The Democrats don't have a plan" gambit by saying they do have a plan:"We'll capture Osama" - then keep saying that's the plan for the next three and a half years.  If Osama ain't in the slammer by the 2008 election the Democratic guy would look like he might deserve a chance to do what Bush couldn't or wouldn't do.


The Chris Matthews show on NBC has featured Hugh Hewett, the author of the book titled Blog, but how prescient will it look if Matthews occasionally, during 2005, adds a blogger to his panel of verbose pundits?  [What if he chose fred C. NietzsCHEguevara, the staff photographer for Delusions of Adequacy online magazine to represent the internet community?]


Historians looking back on 2005, may see some faint traces of interest in the case of Mukhtaran Bibi, but, during that year, few folks seem to care.  The guy running the country that's giving her grief is, after all, a good ally   What did Roosevelt say:  "He may be a sonofabitch but he's our sonofabitch."? 


Sometimes, you gotta work with what you got.  If you get up in the morning, are very hungry, and there's only some of last night's pizza left over and some half finished bottles of beer sitting around, and you have no cash for a meal at the diner, then … can you guess what your gonna have for breakfast?


The Democrats are going to realize that Bush won't be impeached, the troops will stay in Iraq, and Osama will be the Zorro of the Middle East.  Maybe the aforementioned hypothetical Democratic candidate could adopt the slogan: "Support the Troops; Ignore the War News."


Stephen Decatur said: "Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations, may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong."


Gilbert K. Chesterton later commented: "My country, right or wrong is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying 'My mother, drunk or sober.'"


We used to work with a guy who always recited some lines of poetry:


Not drunk is he, who from the floor

Can rise alone, and still drink more;

But drunk is he, who prostrate lies,

Without the power to drink or rise


(fact checkers can find it in the works of Thomas Love Peacock)


Now if the disk jockey will play "Sunday Morning Comin' Down" by Chris Kristofferson (you know it has the line about "And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad so I had one more for desert") we'll lift our glass in a toast to the president: "To the president!  May he catch Osama before he starts his third term!"  Tune in next week when our column will be headlined: "Buy the ticket; take the ride."  Until then, as they say in Hawaii: Okole malune!


Is Pogue Mahone the way the Irish say it?




Copyright 2005 – Robert Patterson, text and photos



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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