A Big Business Tries to Quash a Tiny Business
On Oct. 5, 2007 two stories ran in The Wall Street Journal—and on its Web site—about the huge Los Angeles Hammer Museum’s effort to bury Dave Pahl’s Hammer Museum, which displays his collection of 1700 hammers in a tiny house in Haines, Alaska, 3,098 miles to the north.
The top brass at the Los Angeles museum is following slavishly the brutal, bully-boy tactics of its founder, Occidental Petroleum President Armand Hammer (1898-1990), whose philosophy of life was codified on a plaque in his office that proclaimed, “He who hath the gold makes the rules.”
In any publication or broadcast news story, what the L.A. Hammer Museum is doing to Dave Pahl’s teeny museum of hammers in the boonies of Alaska would generate outrage.
Yet The Wall Street Journal treated this David vs. Goliath struggle as a giggle—”a fun Page-One WSJ story on a bubbling trademark spat” is how law blogger Peter Lattman describes it in his oh-so-cleverly-titled story, “Will The Hammer Bring Down the Hammer on The Hammer?”
On page 1 of the Journal that day, Laura Meckler titles her smarty-pants story, “Why Two Museums Are Now Going at it Hammer and Tongs.”
Her subhead—equally cutesy-poo: “One in Alaska Shows Tools, One in Los Angeles, Art; Will Mr. Pahl Get Nailed?”
I only wish I were 40 years younger with plenty of money so I could engineer a PR campaign—pro bono for Dave Pahl, who has no money—that would dump so much manure on the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles that visitors will want a hot shower when they exit.
I cannot wait until Rupert Murdoch gets deeply involved in the newsroom of the Journal—his newest acquisition—and brings the snotty little elitists who are, laughingly, journalists, back into the real world, or better, out the door.
Dave Pahl Opts Out
In 1973, Dave Pahl decided to chuck life in Cleveland’s fast lane and moved to Haines, Alaska, 775 miles south of Anchorage in the Chilkat Valley on the shores of the longest, deepest fjord in North America. Pahl and his wife, Carol, homesteaded for a number of years with no electricity or indoor plumbing.