Let’s All Kick In for Kam; Gandalf Meets Conan


When it comes to contributions for good causes, the tightwad tyrants who manage the Calbuzz Department of Budget, Finance and Kicked Back Expense Accounts make Leona Helmsley look like Bill Gates.

As far as this miserly pack of scumbags is concerned, ketchup is still a vegetable, cat food can be an excellent substitute for sirloin and Scrooge had it right on that whole prison-workhouse thing.

So you can imagine the buzz of astonishment that raced through the newsroom as word spread Tuesday that the green-eyeshade types have decided to dip into our vast endowment and make a low four-figure donation – the first in Calbuzz history – to the newly established Kam Kuwata Award for Political Involvement.

“Serving political junkies is our core business,” said Controller I.M. Penny, known as “Pinch” throughout the industry. “In furtherance of that mission, it’s difficult to imagine a more worthwhile cause than an educational award honoring Kam Kuwata, who was as hard core as they come.”

Led by Bill Carrick and Jeff Millman, Kam’s friends established the award at USC, his alma mater, following his untimely death on April 11. The purpose is to honor Kam’s singular career and “inspire young people to continue his legacy of public service and political advocacy,” they said in announcing the award:

Beginning Spring 2012, the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC will offer an annual award for a student or students whose academic work, political involvement, and civic engagement has prepared him/her for the valuable experience of working on a political campaign. The Kam Kuwata USC award will be given to a student or students who have demonstrated a strong interest in campaign politics and provide them with financial support to work on behalf of a candidate or cause that inspires them.

You can learn more about the deal here. Just don’t forget to write a check once you do; hey, if Calbuzz can afford One Large, you sure as hell can, too.

“Just don’t start thinking this is going to be some kind of regular thing,” Controller Penny added.

It’s all about Jerry: If you haven’t read it already, don’t miss old hand Adam Nagourney’s lion-in-winter profile of Governor Gandalf in the New York Times magazine,  a lovely piece that doesn’t break new ground but that provides the best up-close-and-personal look at Brown in recent memory, along with some good insights and behind-the-scene atmospherics about his performance in the budget fight:

A few weeks after introducing his budget proposal, Brown met privately with Democratic legislators. The spending cuts were, as expected, causing distress among Democrats, though they were going to pass them. The tax extensions were even more of a problem; the Republican votes were still not there. When he was done making his presentation, according to people in the room, someone asked: “What happens if Plan A fails? What is your Plan B?” Brown didn’t flinch. “I believe in the Hernando Cortes approach,” he said, invoking the Spanish conqueror. “When you hit the shore, burn the ships. There is no Plan B.” The lawmakers sat in disbelieving silence. But that remark was borne out after the collapse of the budget talks; it was not clear that Brown knew what to do next.

Hernando Cortes, indeed. Personally, our favorite part of the piece derived from a cheap lunch interview Brown did with Adam and Times politics and cultural sniping columnist Maureen Dowd.

Eighth decade or not, Brown’s mental acuity can be imposing. Sharing a turkey sandwich with me and Maureen Dowd, the New York Times Op-Ed columnist, at a hotel meeting room in Anaheim not long ago, Brown started reminiscing about his 1992 campaign for president. “In 1992, I gave a speech in Philadelphia — which you didn’t cover, I remember you were not there,” he said, looking at me pointedly. He turned back to Dowd. “Neither were you,” he said. Brown not only remembered the year of the first New York Times Magazine profile of him (1975), he remembered who wrote it (Richard Reeves) and the theme of the piece, or at least the way Brown read it (Brown was smart but unlikable).

We like the anecdote because it brought back memories of the 1992 New York presidential primary, which top Calbuzz executives back then fiercely competed in covering. After tagging along with Brown for a couple days, the buzzards broke off briefly to follow Bill Clinton, when he went to Levittown for a big rally and a terrific speech.

A few hours later, we again caught up with Brown, who by this time was in Soho, in the middle of conducting the first online chat in an American political campaign, one of a number of ahead-of-his-time events dreamed up by Brown manager Joe Trippi.

When we walked in, Brown was tapping away on his keyboard, but glanced up, saw us and asked, in all sincerity: “Where have YOU been?” making clear his world view that if you aren’t hanging with Jerry, you don’t really exist.

Maria hits the road: Far be it from us to sound insensitive, but amid all the commentary about former First Lady of California Maria Shriver dumping ex-governor Arnold Schwarzmuscle, all we can say is: what took so long? TMZ’s coverage seems to have the ring of truth.

Maria Shriver has been “miserable” in her marriage for a long, long time, sources connected with the couple tell TMZ … and it’s all about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “craziness.”

Well, duh.

That said, we have to admit that the big lug’s made some really entertaining movies, as indisputably proven by this terrific 10-minute You Tube video reprising Arnold’s top 160 big screen quotes.

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There are 4 comments for this post

  1. avatar Ernie Konnyu says:

    I did not I like Maria Shriver ever since she did one of those cold and distant impersonal master of ceremonies introductions of me before a Washington speech (something she probably saved exclusively for Republicans). But the person in her family I reserved the greatest disdain for was her husband, the unreliable and ideologically unfaithful-to-Republicans Arnold “The Governator Failure” Schwarzmuscle.

    When I told him during a one-on-one photo op in German that this Hungarian’s grandmother was born in Graz, Austria, Arnold’s birthplace, he replied with ignoring all my words. That’s when it was confirmed to me that I made a mistake in backing him. Unlike another movie star Republican, Ronald Reagan…who consistantly treated me nice and supported me in deed…the Terminator played his nasty Mr. Egomaniac role with this former Congressman.

    Finally, Maria realized that Arnold was hopelessly lost in playing one of his movie characters instead of himself and sent him away to a well deserved separation probably saying, “Good riddance!” underneath her breath.

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Ernie – Thanks a lot for sharing those stories. You’re absolutely right about the contrast between President Reagan and Conan the Barbarian. Another huge difference, of course, if that Reagan actually knew and liked politics, and certainly paid his share of dues in the game; Musclehead, on the other hand, knew nothing and, by most appearances still doesn’t. Like so many other rich people candidates who have found success in another field – Whitman, Checchi and Huffington to name three – he seemed to have contempt for people who’d worked in and covered politics for years, mistakenly believing it was easier than it looked.

    • avatar chrisfinnie says:

      Dear Dr.,
      Reagan knew politics? The guy who believed in trickle-down economics? The actor who read lines about tax cuts and then raised them three times? The fellow who thought he could fool around with U.S. laws and sell arms under the table? The man who didn’t know who or where he was for the last couple of years he was in office? That Ronald Reagan?

      And what dues did he pay? Governor was his first political gig that I recall, unless you count SAG. Seems to me the rest of us paid the all the dues. I remember UC fees skyrocketing then too. The mentally ill roaming the streets. Mortgage rates at 19.5% Off-the-book wars. Exploding deficits. And much, much more.

      I’m glad Ernie has rosy memories of the guy. Having lived through his terms as governor and as president, I do not!

    • avatar pjhackenflack says:

      Don’t confuse POLICY with POLITICS, ferhevvinsake…as for paying his dues, check out Lou Cannon’s “Governor Reagan: His Rise to Power.” http://www.amazon.com/Governor-Reagan-His-Rise-Power/dp/1586480308

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