SMITHEREENS: Reflections on Bits & Pieces

Gar Smith
Sunday September 02, 2018 - 01:43:00 PM

Roll Out the Barrels

Alarmed that pot-puffing might lead to a decline in suds-sucking, beer-brewer Heinekin has announced plans to purchase Petaluma's Lagunitas Brewery Company, a firm that produces non-alcoholic sparkling water infused with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. (The brewery's "Hop Water" gives new meaning to the phrase "potable water." Remember, kids: It's important to remain HIGH-drated. Presumably these pot-water bottles will be labeled and thirsty customers will need to be carded before making a purchase.)

We're happy to report that the cafe at the Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley is already a jump ahead of Heinekin. There were four specialty brews on tap at the coffee counter this week including Lavender Lemonade and "Cannabliss." 

Lest there be any mistake, a nearby card touted the benefits of toking CBD (Cannabidiol) via a tasty beverage. According to the signage, CBD is an antidote for fatigue, pain, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and nausea and it also "fights cancer, may treat seizures, lowers incidence of diabetes, and promotes cardiovascular health." 

What Was that Word Again? 

KCBS offers a daily "Commute Cash" contest wherein a common, every-day word is announced on-air and listeners are invited to text the word to KCBS for a chance to win $1,000 in a nationwide contest. 

On Friday, July 20, the word was "school." On Thursday, July 19, the word was "habit." But on Wednesday, July 18, the contest took a disturbing turn when the female newscaster announced that the chosen word was . . . "Terror." 

First thought: Could this have been part of some kind of secretive, government-sponsored mass-media psychological experiment? 

Favorite Quote of the Week 

"As one reporter pointed out: 'Now Trump's campaign chairman, national security adviser, and personal lawyers are all admitted or convicted felons.' So much for draining the swamp." -- Nancy Pelosi 

WarSpeech Watch 

On August 21, Robert Cruickshank, the Senior Campaign Manager at Democracy for America "fired off" a "targeted message" to his email audience. The subject line read: 

"Elizabeth Warren just dropped a bombshell." 

Trumpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall… 

Faced with his lawyer's testimony that hush-money was paid to a porn star and a Playboy bunny, Donald Trump has gone from denying that he knew anything about the buy-off to confessing on Fox & Friends that, yes, the hush-money "came from me." He pointed out that this admission would exonerate him from charges of violating campaign financing laws. 

Moving from "didn't happen" to "didn't know it happened" to "didn't pay" to "paid but it wasn't illegal" covers a lot of wiggle room. 

I'm anticipating that Trump's next fall-back position will be to grudgingly admit his guilt—but in a classic self-referential statement: "Frankly, everyone makes mistakes. Nobody is perfect. But, believe me, I'm the most imperfect person you've ever met. I make the best mistakes. Nobody makes mistakes better than me, that I can tell you!" 

Trump's Space Force Farce 

Mike Pence recently test-launched Donald Trump's Space Force farce, calling it "an idea whose time has come." But Pence's use of the Fear Card (citing "a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation") ignores history. 

The US was the first country to plot the militarization of space. In 1959, the Pentagon's "Project Horizon" proposed building a military base on the moon. In 1985, the US was the first nation to attack and destroy a satellite in orbit. 

China has 57 military satellites in orbit. Russia has 83. The US has 157. 

In January 2018, the US refused to join China and Russia in signing a treaty to assure the "Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space." 

The Pentagon—which has been unable to win wars on Earth—now wants to toss additional tax-dollars into the black hole of space. Specifically, Trump wants $8 billion to kick-start his new Military-Celestial-Complex. 

Note to the Mike Pence and the White House: Peaceful, freedom-loving nations don't wish to "dominate": that is the core verb favored by totalitarian military dictatorships. 

We're Doomed… I Mean "Domed" 

Now that Donald Trump has called for a Space Force—armed with arsenals of costly orbital weaponry—I think I know what his new 2020 presidential campaign promise will be (assuming he's not impeached, indicted, or otherwise dispatched in the meantime): 

"Forget the Wall. If we want to keep the aliens out, we need to build a big beautiful Dome over the entire country!" 

And he will promise to make the Martians pay for it. 

Donald Trump Channels James Garner 

I just saw a quote from Der Trump that suggests the Reprimander-In-Chief is not only a narcissist and a misogynist but a plagiarist, as well. 

"Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score," Donald J. Trump likes to brag. "The real excitement is playing the game.

Well, it turns out that line appears in a 1963 movie called The Wheeler Dealers in which James Garner declares: "You do it for fun. Money's just the way you keep score." (Film note: "James Garner scores big as Henry, a flimflammer who lands in New York City after his Texas oil well comes a duster.") 

Two other Big Money notables apparently used this quote well before Trump: 

"Money is just a way of keeping score." -- H. L. Hunt 

"Life is a game. Money is how we keep score." -- Ted Turner 

Snapp Decisions 

I rarely visit Facebook but recently I found a note from long-time East Bay journalist/columnist Martin Snapp who announced: 

"Making end-of-life decisions and considering cremation because it's cheaper than burial. Can anyone recommend either a) a good, cheap cremation service or b) another alternative, like turning myself into a tree? Thanks." 

One friendly Facebook couple recommended donating your mortal remains to a medical school. "After a year, the cremated remains were returned, to do with as you wish." 

An SF-based writer offered a caveat: "I had an elderly uncle in New Jersey who just died (he was just short of 95). He tried to make arrangements for his body to be donated to science, as his wife's had been about 10 years ago. But they told him there is now a fee of $800 to donate the body! He opted out of THAT!" 

Former Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll modestly responded: "I'm not sure they want my body." 

And, wouldn't you know, the Facebook side-panel featured a prominent ad for a burial service. But it was kinda cool: "Better Place Forests are America's first spreading-forests. Instead of graves and tombstones, return the ashes of your loved one to the earth under a permanently protected, private family tree. Our first memorial forest is a redwood forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Mendocino County, CA." 

This left me wondering: Can you auction your corpse on eBay? In the meantime, I'm contemplating an after-life in a planter box. 

Couldn't Be Sweeter: Willie Brown Tweaks the Tweeter 

In his August 19, Sunday column, Willie Brown wrote: 

Trump says the press should not be reporting "fake news." . . . We could start with his endless tweets, which are sent out over the cable news channels as if they were the golden words of a supreme ruler, rather than what they really are, the childish blather of a sleep-deprived narcissist. 

Maybe we should also boycott Trump's appearances. At least until he gets his facts straight. 

Fair enough. Automatically passing along (and, thus, amplifying) Trump's Tweets is not the proper role of a free press. That isn't journalism: it's an unprofessional public relations exercise. 

Here's one deal the media could offer: No more automatic reprinting of Oval Office Tweets until Trump grows up, agrees to act "presidential," and submits to regular press conferences where he will respond directly to members of the media. 

The Tweeter Cheater Misses the Meter 

Following up on Willie's rant: Since Trump's 24-7 Tweetstorms already have a huge built-in audience, there's really no need for the press to repeat Trump's Tweets. 

As Trump himself Tweeted on June 16, 2017: "The Fake News Media hates it when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media—More than 100 million people! I can go around them." 

There's only problem: Trump doesn't have 100 million followers. A CNN check at the time found that Trump had only 32.4 million followers. In February 2018, only three celebrities had more than 100 million followers—Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and (sorry, Donald) Barack Obama. 

More bad news. When it comes to the top 100 Twitter celebs, even when Trump was claiming 52 million followers, that only placed him in spot #18. Adding to the humiliation: Trump trailed CNN, which was ranked #17. 

In June 2018, Trump's Twitter-rep took another hit when 15 million of his alleged followers were deleted when it turned out they were fictitious accounts. (Would you call that "Fake Views"?) 

As Long as We're Renaming Football Teams…. 

I'm all for renaming the Washington Redskins but, while we're at it, how about addressing the Pentagon's grisly habit of naming military helicopters after indigenous Native American nations wantonly slaughtered by US Army troops? 

It's a long list: Apache, Arapaho, Black Hawk, Cayuse, Choctaw, Chinook, Comanche, Creek, Iroquois, Kiowa, Lakota, Mescalero, Mohawk, Navaho, Seminole, and Shawnee? 

And if Jeep wants to keep selling those Cherokee Chiefs, maybe they should offer a free SUV to anyone whose ancestors suffered through the "Trail of Tears"—a notorious forced march that sent the Cherokee Nation on a 1,000-mile trek from their ancestral homelands to new settlements in "Indian Territory," west of the Mississippi. 

Spoiler Alert 

I think I know why Kevin Spacey's latest (and probably last) film only brought in $126 in ticket sales on opening day. (That's like, what? Ten tickets sold nationwide?) 

Message to the Marketing Department: If you're going to feature a super-wealthy actor who's made headlines for being outed as a sexual abuser of young men, don't call your film . . . Billionaire Boys Club