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World's Laziest Journalist

March 13, 2006

By Bob Patterson  

 

Recently, this columnist has been doing some research on life in New York City during the period of September to the end of December in the year 1943, by reading copies of Time magazine at a library on the campus of a large university in the Westwood Section of Los Angeles.  While making notes about various items, the columnist noticed that, while the particulars may change, the basic topics for a nation at war then, seem quite similar to the things being noted in the news media now.

 

Has the war gone on too long?  Cecil Brown of CBS news stirred up a hornet's nest when he said on air that "a good deal of the [U. S.] enthusiasm for this war is evaporating into thin air."  Should journalists have opinions?  Well, Hans von Kaltenborn said this - "No news analyst worth his salt could or would be completely neutral or objective."  Newsmen were described in the October 4, 1943 issue of Time as doing "warcasting."

 

Prince Feisal and Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia visited Washington and the speculation was that the topic they were discussing with the Americans was either the Palestinian issue or how America could get more oil from their country.

 

The newsweekly noted that a college professor was in trouble for not pleasing one particular political party when they wrote - "The Republican Party, which with blood in its eye, has often gone gunning for professors…."

 

Columnist Drew Pearson was concerned that the government was making him a victim of a wire tap.

 

Would a time travel trip back to the Big Apple as 1943 drew to a close be a chance to see a literary phenomenon in the flesh?  Gypsy Rose Lee was making news with the offers movie companies were making for the film rights to her play The Naked Genius.  The play was being advertised as certain not to win a Pulitzer Prize.

 

Other items available to theater goers back then were the chance to see a matinee with kids performing all the roles for Arsenic and Old Lace.  There was also a production of Othello with Paul Robeson playing the lead role.

 

Cary Grant's latest movie had raised eyebrows.  The thought of seeing husky men wearing an apron in the kitchen seems to have been very disconcerting.  The film was titled Mr. Lucky and not Brokeback Kitchen.

 

Movie fans also had a chance to see Swing Shift Maisie.

 

Travelers who left New York and arrived in neutral Lisbon were often confronted with the prospect of locals offering to buy American newspapers at very high prices.  The speculation was that some German agents might have been eager to glean what they could from the homefront news.  One copy of the New York Times was alleged to have earned sixty dollars for the owner. 

 

The NFL had been whittled down to just eight teams and the rivalry between The New York Giants and the Washington Red Skins (being led by Sammy Baugh) was keeping fans and betters on their toes.  Reportedly the Detroit Lions franchise had recently been sold for $200,000.

 

A song titled Paper Doll, written by John S. Black, had been written twenty-four years earlier, but had just become a big hit.  Black had died in 1930 and the record company had to search for a relative who deserved the royalties.  They found the composer's father, John L. Black, alive in an old folks home and delivered the check to him.  The photo of the father carried a credit line that would delight photo buffs; it had been taken by Eugene Smith.

 

Think press criticism (such as presented online by the CJR daily website) is new?  Time pointed out that the when the Italian king visited Naples, the New York Herald Tribune carried the headline "Italy's King Receives Ovation On Tour Of Streets In Naples," while their rival the New York Times had proclaimed "King Visits Naples Finds Public Cool."

 

In September, Time tried reporting one cultural item in hip talk, with a translation.  In December, when they carried the news that Thomas "Fats" Waller had died at Christmas time, they explained what a musician's "gig" was. 

 

In Jersey City a shipload of Americans, who had been caught in China and other parts of Asia by the advancing Japanese armies, arrived.  They had been exchanged for a ship load of Japanese citizens who had been in Allied areas when hostilities broke out.

 

On the last page of the last issue for 1943, Time noted a phenomenon that had been noted by Navy psychiatrists.  They had had noticed some recruits were truculent with a "chip-on-the-shoulder attitude."  According to an article in the New York State Journal of Medicine, the shrinks had learned that the recruit "is not necessarily a psychiatric personality unfit for service."  The study had determined that fellow might be "a perfectly normal guy from Brooklyn" and had christened the harmless social pattern as the "Brooklyn syndrome."  You got a problem with that?

 

When asked about being a "stooge" Winston Churchill was quoted as responding "I am not prepared to answer a question couched in such very unseemly terms."  The "non-denial denial" would not be perfected for thirty years, but such clever repartee would have to suffice until it did.

 

Now, the disk jockey will play Elmer's Tune (by Dick Jurgens, Sammy Gallop, and Elmer Albrecht, from the film Strictly in the Groove) and we will bop out of here for this week.  Have a good week and buy war bonds. 

 

 

Copyright 2006 - Robert Patterson

Email the author at worldslaziestjournalist@yahoo.com

 































 
 
 
 
Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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