Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Same Old Same Old Just Keeps Rollin' Along

Foto by tgw, Coney Island (before its destruction), 2010
Obama Hath Turned On Us (We Correct Thinkers) Once Again
In his campaign rhetoric, Obama stood firmly, chin up, with a determined look on his face and he said he was going to defend Internet neutrality right down to the bone. This affects every citizen, he spouted out, and by golly I'm standing firmly...blah, blah, blah." (The word "blather" would fit nicely in there, too.) Today (Tuesday, Dec. 21 (the first day of Winter...not Johnny Winters)), Obama's handpicked FCC chairman is going to fuck We the People and contradict President Obama's campaign rhetoric...well, to put it bluntly, there's gonna be an Internet tier system whether we like it or not. AT&T and Verizon and Comcast, the big dogs in the Internet service provider industry, have had their goons doing some backroom dealing with Obama's handpicked FCC chairman and as a result...well, let's see...the old Internet connection methods--dial-up or DSL or CABLE--will still be under neutrality, BUT...and here come the butts again...BUT the Wireless Network, which, by the bye, is the future of the Internet (wireless laptops, iPads, Notebooks, etc.), is going to be BIASED (the opposite of neutrality). Yep, the big Wireless providers--guess who? If you said AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, you are correct sir or madame (parodying old Ed McMahon, remember him?). Obama's handpicked FCC chairman says letting these communications behemoths price Wireless service any way they want to is necessary in order to bring big-buck investors into the Internet--that means the Wireless Internet is going to be TIERED. Priced according to what sites you'll be trying to get on the most. The big buck sites--yep, they'll speed you to those for a certain price; but say you want to go on a blog--hold on to your hat, that service is going to be oh-so slow. So Obama, that son of a two-faced bitch, has compromised with the big communications companies--and he soon will stroll out in front of his microphones when he has a press conference tonight about the matter and he'll say, "OK, I've fulfilled another campaign promise. Internet neutrality has been saved...well, er-ah, half of it has, at least. I mean, come on, I couldn't save the Wireless network...shit, I mean, come on, AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are going to fill my campaign coffers with some big bucks for my 2012 campaign, a campaign I'm currently concentrating on, fuck what I promised in my successful campaign in which I raised about $300,000 from regular old US citizens, but $700,000 in corporate campaign contributions, mostly from our too big to fail corporations, which I saved from bankruptcy...blah, blah, blah, and a lot of that $700,000 came from AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast [and yes, as an aside, Obama will allow Comcast to buy NBC's Universal Sports Network]. Therefore, I'm proud to announce that there will be Internet neutrality still on the old dial up, DSL, and CABLE connections, but, as to the Wireless network...well, investments in the Wireless network are very important in recovering our economy, which I have done. We are no longer in a recession and you people will now have plenty of disposable bucks so, hell yeah, prices are going up...get used to it." So Obama breaks another campaign promise, which by now is no big deal. It's obvious: HE'S GOING TO BREAK ALL OF HIS CAMPAIGN PROMISES EXCEPT ONE: TO BE A GREAT COMPROMISER IN THE REALM OF HIS HEROES, HONEST ABE LINCOLN (who really wanted to send all Blacks back to Africa--hell, he offered 'em one-way tickets to Liberia) and RONNIE "FLYING TO TOKYO IN THREE AND A HALF HOURS" REAGAN. Obama's faithful are still holding on to his coattails--their hope is Obama has something trick-baggy up his sleeve--though they're fingers are losing their grip on those coattails. And come the second week in January Crybaby Johnny Bonehead will take over as House Speaker--just two slots away from being president--and then the fun will begin. The compromising will be over and soon, HOT DAMN, we'll be a totally National Socialistic nation. I would get used to saying "Sieg Heil!"...oh, and by the bye, have your papers ready when you're stopped as suspicious by the FBI, your local police, or your state's Homeland Security cops and charged as an enemy combatant. Such a shame this all is. Is Obama a little boy trying to be a big man? Wish I could go one-on-one with the guy over some beers.
The rest is Sunday's post
Say Goodbye to:
Walt Dropo, 87, American baseball player (Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox). I had a chance as a 10-year-old kid to meet Walt Dropo while visiting one of my superintelligent but crazy as a bedbug cousins while he was a student at Texas A&M, where Walt was a member of the Aggie baseball team. Big Walt Dropo he was always tagged.

Phil Cavarretta, 94, American baseball player (Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox), complications from a stroke. I first remember Phil when he played first base for the never-winning Cubs--then later when he was manager of the Cubs and the Dallas Eagles minor league team was a farm club of the Cubbies. Check out how baseball players in the main live long lives--Bob Feller who died last week was 92, Big Walt 87, and Phil 94.

And, of course, another goodbye to Captain Beefheart. We're no longer using the Captain's heart as an ashtray.

Don Van Vliet
Gone Are Their Days
I sadly watched a sad show on sad television. On stage were three at-one-time top-of-the-heap journalists: Pete Hamil, Gay Talese, and Liz Smith. Ugh. They were hard to watch. They are all sagging badly. The men bearded. Think of the pocked-marked skin under those beards. And Liz, well, she's sagging, too, getting dog jowls and noticeably osteo-hunched--though Liz always was rather low-hung and mannish in her presence. And they were all gabbing away about their careers--I looked at 'em with a jaundiced eye as is my nature and, yes, they had fabby lives due to their local and national identities--Pete Hamil was the Brooklyn boy who pandered his journalistic wares (at the New York Post) as a guy who was deeply identified with the old neighborhood life that once was but is no more in New York City--now a moveable feast, like Hemingway signed off on Paris in his last book before he blew his brains out. Gay Talese is the former New York Times feature writer, a New Jersey Italian-American boy, said to be the mind behind the "New Journalism," said to have invented literary journalism before both Lillian Hellman and Truman Capote, though of course the latters use of literary journalism made them more famous and richer than Gay Talese, though Gay ain't no poor slob; he's married a long time to Nan Talese, who has her own imprint with Doubleday. Gay had one good quality: he loved baseball and wrote well about it. Liz Smith? Well, you can have Liz Smith. I care nothing about her. She's a Fort Worth, Texas, girl who went to the University of Texas and majored in journalism and bisexuality coming to New York City in the 50s as a news producer on Mike Wallace's staff in the CBS Newsroom. Liz, however, an old crow now, by the way, 87 years old, who recently suffered the New York Post dropping her inane gossip column--that's Rupert "Aussie Asshole" Murdoch's losing-money newspaper. Rupert, an old fart himself, was polite about dumping Liz and said it was due to cost cutting--but more than likely Liz is getting a little addlepated at her advanced age, though, hey, good for her living 87 damn fun years in this damn rat race world. Of the three, I've read more and know more about Pete Hamil (he wrote for the Post and the Village Voice) than I've read or know about Gay Talese. I have never read a Liz Smith column ever. To be wolfishly blunt, I can't stand Liz Smith. Though I'm more familiar with Pete Hamil's work and only know Liz from her time on NYC teevee doing her boring and sloppy-snobby-bitchy gossip shit, of the three, I have the most respect for Gay Talese both as a journalist and as a writer. I read an interview with Talese way back in the 60s--I think it was right after he gained fame for an Esquire article he wrote called "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" (on Gay's Wikipedia entry this article is called one of the greatest journalistic pieces ever written). In that interview, Gay caught my attention when he said after he'd finished his day's writing, he would tack the pages up on a bulletin board and then read them through a pair of binoculars. I mean that caught my young writer's attention and the next story I wrote, by golly, that's what I did, I pinned it to the long curtains in my studio and looked at it through my binoculars. And YES. It worked. It was so easy to see where I needed a rewrite or an edit or a cut. And the story sold.

Anyway, I watched these three now OLD people going back over their careers but soon one of them said, I think it was Liz, and I paraphrase her, "Well, let me tell you what saddens me today about the newspaper business, it's just that now with the Internet and anybody and his dog having a blog or a Website, you can't trust the information these amateurs are putting out there." The same old story. Poor old newspaper people--they are seeing an end to THEIR kind of newspaper and therefore journalism. As authors, they are also seeing the old NYC publishing scene disappearing--going the way of all flesh--most of the major publishers sold off to European publishing giants.

I've admired journalists since I was a kid and my brother was a reporter on my hometown newspaper and I was by that newspaper office all the time and like I've mentioned in past posts, I was privileged when my brother became a sports reporter to tag along with him to sporting events as his spotter at football games and as his scorekeeper in basketball games and free passes to all the home games of my hometown's Class D minor league baseball team. Then when I went off to college 30 miles north of Dallas, Texas, my brother became a columnist on the afternoon Dallas paper--the largest newspaper in Dallas at the time. After I graduated college, I lived with my brother until I found a job. Every day I would end up my daily jaunts into downtown Dallas to look for a job by going over to my brother's paper and hanging there until he headed for home. I knew all that paper's top journalists; I could go all over the paper from the city desk area to the various departments and even down into the composing room or out on the back platforms where the papers came sliding down off the big presses to be stacked and bound and then thrown on the backs of the trucks to be delivered all over the Dallas metro area. I would watch the men and women reporters pounding away with brilliant speeds as they rushed to get their copy ready to be sent to editorial for approval, revisions, cuts, and things. Every day except the weekends that place was a madhouse. By this time, yes, I knew I liked writing, I liked the arts, music and painting also, but I got my most kicks trying to write. However, for some reason, and I can attribute it to many factors that developed while I was still an adolescent, I developed a rather antagonistic view of newspaper work. I took a journalism course in college but didn't do well in it because I really wasn't interested in journalistic writing. This even though my writing hero at the time was Ernest Hemingway for whom newspaper work had made it possible for him to live in Paris giving him a steady income as long as he sent featured articles in to the Toronto Star, this after serving time on the famous Kansas City Star as an apprentice reporter. Hemingway never put down his newspaper work. It sustained him all of his writing career. Though his novels brought him fame--and money, don't get me wrong--his journalism experiences got him into covering the Spanish Civil War and then World War II and also gave him license to travel all over Europe...eventually even taking him as far off as China. But Hemingway's celebrity came as a novelist and short-story writer and those were the ways I met Papa, not through his journalism.

My other writing hero, Henry Miller, also had newspaper experience, though not as a journalist, but rather as a proofreader for the Paris office of the New York World Tribune.

Me, I never worked for a newspaper. My brother published one of my book reviews one time in the Dallas afternoon paper and my first published poems were in the Paragould, Arkansas, newspaper's poetry page. I was proud of those poems because Hemingway had a connection through his wife Pauline Pfeifer with Paragould, Arkansas, as that was her hometown. Hemingway visited Paragould one time--in fact, he did a little bird shooting with Pauline's father there.

Now. Now, I must admit, I don't buy or read newspapers--the only time I buy one is like if I'm out on the street and suddenly caught in an unexpected gully washer rain and need a quick and cheap umbrella. As an umbrella, I prefer Rupert Murdoch's New York Post. The Post was once a well-thought-of liberal well-run and edited newspaper. Union problems at the Post and the death of the paper's long-time owner (Dorothy Schiff) sent this once great paper on the road to newspaper hell, first when a nutjob, Abe Hirschfield, bought the paper and began firing people right and left--so bad was Abe at owning a newspaper, he was soon out the back door and from out of nowhere came Rupert "the Aussie" Murdoch to bail the paper out of the doldrums, though currently the Post loses several million bucks a year--money, given his continuing free ride in terms of not having to pay taxes, Rupert has plenty of to burn. Murdoch's goal at the time he came to this country was to buy up as many US media companies as he could, something he was able to accomplish with relative ease and big-shot privilege, buying the New York Post, eventually buying Twentieth-Century Fox from which he formed his spin-off Fox television network--a network whose first success (and it still is a success) was a cartoon show, The Simpsons. Murdoch's latest confiscation was buying the Wall Street Journal a few years ago. [Note: Language Hat (www.languagehat.com) wrote a brilliant comment giving the straight facts about what really happened at the Post back in the days it changed from progressively liberal to outright contentious Aussie Conservative, but this comment was accidentally lost when we updated this post from Sunday to today. LHat reminded us that Abe Hirschfeld, not Al the cartoonist, didn't takeover the paper from the Schiffs--it's more complicated than I presented it--Peter Kallikow the bigshot developer who had intentions of wrecking an East Side community by building a big hi-rise condo development over there also bought the Post only to go bankrupt...which is how Rupert "Aussie Asshole" Murdoch got back into the deal. My reply to LHat's fact checking was, "Hey, L Hat, remember, our fact checker is a horse."]

Now all over the Internet the journalists are starting their own blogs. Their newspapers and magazines, too, carry blogs and Twitter and Facebook (I don't understand the interest in either of these "social networking" tools) editions for their top journalists.

I quit reading the New York Times when computers and the Internet came along. I came to New York City with a great respect for the New York Times. I had read the Sunday editions from the time I was in high school and worked in my brother's newsstand. When my wife and I got to New York City, we immediately got into buying a New York Times every day but especially going out Saturday night around 9:30 to the newsstands where the first editions of the Sunday Times were delivered and being assembled by the newsstand dudes and taking them home and then making a big deal the next morning over coffee and doughnuts (or cream puffs from Bloomingdale's pastry shop). I got my first jobs in NYC (as a copyeditor) through the Times Classifieds. It was where you went to look for a job in those days (1969). In those days, too, we read the Times from stem to stern--I mean even their Sports section was good--but especially their Entertainment section and the New York Times Review of Books was required reading for both my literary-minded wife and me.

It was while my literary-minded wife and I were reading the Sunday Times one Sunday afternoon in late January of 1974--I was reading it while listening to Bach on my stereo headphones--that my wife kicked me aware with her delicate foot--and when I took off the headphones and said, "Yeah, Toots, what'ya want?" She replied, "I want a divorce." Ironically, it was in the New York Times that she later read about how it was cheaper to get a Haitian divorce in New York than it was to get a NY State divorce. It was also in the Times that she found the way to go about obtaining a Haitian divorce...and on a bright spring day in March of '74, my wife and I, just as chummy and natural looking as we always had looked as a couple, boarded the Metro-North train and ended up in Bronxville, New York, in drawing up the divorce papers that later in that month I took with me to Haiti, where in the National Palace I got divorced from my beautiful young wife of 10 years--and I ended up staying in Haiti for over a month to allow my grief at the divorce to disappear and my newly freed self to begin the wonderful task of finding another "perfect" woman that I could pop the old question to. Soon I was married to another woman and she and I, too, were devoted to buying and keeping up with things through the New York Times.

As of right now. Sadly, and it is sad, I haven't bought an NYTimes in maybe over a decade. When I got my first Mac computer at the job I was working at, I did read the Times on line. But that ended when I lost my last job. Today, I never go on the NYTimes on-line site. Besides, now the Times is so desperate for money (income), that they charge you to read their on-line edition. Plus, I can't forget the damage to this nation Judith Miller's NYTimes CIA-controlled articles did by leading us into this economy-wrecking Iraq war. That pretty much turned me off of journalists. Journalists can only be free to write what their editorial boards approve of them writing. The freest form of American journalism now is found amongst the millions of blogs and the thousands of on-line commentators and newsy analytical posts.

We here at The Daily Growler kind of consider this as journalism--though it isn't. It's nonfiction-fiction. It's like a New Journalism effort. It's a Gonzo journalism effort, too; and I was one big Dr. Hunter S. Thompson fan after reading the amazing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which to me, along with Lolita, is one of the funniest god-damn pieces of writing I've ever read.

for The Daily Growler

No comments: