Site navigation

My neurons at work, for all the Web to see


Thursday, November 06, 2003

Dukes of Earle

Just read an Editor & Publisher piece on alt. country-rocker Steve Earle, and his penchant for being a news junkie (he once was a junkie of a far more nefarious kind).

I feel motivated to paste in two quotes from the article. Quotes that I agree with, wholeheartedly:

"It's not that (the media is) right-wing or left-wing, it's just that they're doing the same thing radio is doing -- doing market research and pandering to a market they've identified. I'm ready to do the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox this month, but equating that with a real political discussion is like believing pro wrestling is real. It's just pandering to our worst instincts, and it works. They've just identified a market and can sell to it. It sells more beer. "


"I don't have a problem with the existence of the right, but the right has a problem with my existence. We just have a different definition of patriotism. One day this country will be remembered maybe for rock 'n' roll, maybe for baseball, and a few other things, but our Constitution is going to be like Hammarabi's code. It's a hipper document than its framers intended it to be."

Praise Be To Joan Of Arc..hes!!

Today it is being revealed that the late Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, is bequeathing $200 million to NPR.

That's almost double NPR's annual budget.

NPR is a shining light in a sea of pandering crap- fright-wring squawk radio, focus-tested playlists, stations broadcasting canned feeds from remote production facilities of their conglomerate owners.

With eye on waistline, I stay away from Mac... but I will have a Big Mac today in honor of Joan Kroc.

Bobby Hatfield

Bobby Hatfield, the alto voice of the Righteous Brothers, died today. His was one of the great radio voices, and was a milepost on my music-loving journey from a kid with a transistor radio to an adult who wrote about music for national publications.

When I was a teenager, and both my parents were at work, there was one song on the radio that I turned up and sang my heart out to: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers. The song gave me chills, and nearly 40 years later, it still does.

Belting out those words provided catharsis for those troubled times in my life. Not because of the words themselves, (for I was too young to have experienced love gone cold) but the gymnastic vocal workout involved in trying to accurately mimic the deep voice of lead singer Bill Medley (who struck me as a kind of blue-eyed soul Herman Munster) and the alto voice of Bobby Hatfield.

I also tried to emulate Hatfield's voice by singing along to such radio hits as "Unchained Melody" and "Ebb Tide."

Then, I remember the old tv music show "Shindig" playing on our kitchen tv. My father, who had a very good "standard" voice, used to ridicule the voices of rockers. The Righteous Brothers came on, singing the vocally demanding and rousing "You'll Never Walk Alone." My father, who sang along, was very impressed.

Bobby Hatfield has sung his last note on stage, but his voice remains on the radio, and in the mind's ear of tens of millions.

My Thoughts On CBS and The Reagan Biopic

As far as I know, I am the only person in history with a degree in Political Science who has served as a contributing editor at two broadcasting industry trade newspapers. So, I kind of feel qualified to talk about the Reagan biopic controversy at CBS.

I see both sides. There are some types of people more predisposed to becoming screenwriters than others.Those with hierarchical mindsets, people who are easily controllable via fear or machismo, generally do not enter art forms where an unchained mind is necessary. So what you had here are liberal screenwriters who probably didn't vote for Reagan, taking big liberties and passing off assumptions such as his condemnation of AIDS sufferers as facts.

There is also a certain lack of grace to doing this while Reagan is still alive, but is not in a position to defend himself.

When conservatives screamed, though, CBS owner Viacom wussed out, making changes and relegating the movie to Showtime. Viacom is a very acquisitive media properties owner, who would love to own more. The executive, regulatory and legislative avenues of government are all in the hands of those who adore Reagan. So, when other conservatives yelled, CBS backed off.

Reminds me of when, under previous ownership, CBS backed off on broadcasting a 60 Minutes an interview with a whistle-blower who was about to deliver the goods on tobacco companies. CBS had some regulatory issues in play then as well, and big tobacco has some powerful friends.

Reagan is due an objective biopic treatment, but his adoring fans will never be happy, and by the way their brains and political assumptions are unwired, most screenwriters are constitutionally unable to deliver a fair production.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Cyclists Don't Listen To Clear Channel Stations

Apparently, radio hosts at three stations owned by monopolist Clear Channel kidded listeners to throw bottles at cyclists, or hit them with open car doors.

I encountered a rude cyclist this evening, but that's not the point. The first thing you should realize is that at Clear Channel, everything, including the songs, the jokes, etc., is centralized and focus-tested.

You also need to realize that Clear Channel is a right-wing outfit, not so much because of ideology but because they are acquisitively greedy, and the Republicans are the ones most likely to favor the type of deregulatory envirornment to let them buy up almost all the stations they want.

As part of this conservative bent, Clear Channel stations across the country sponsored Iraq war rallies, and stopped playing Dixie Chicks music after they criticized the President.

What does this have to do with bike-riders? Everything. There's an undercurrent in this country that associates urban bike riders with alternative transportation, and alternative transportation with environmental and left-wing political leanings. Many of the more profound urban bike riders will tell you they ride rather than drive because it saves the earth.

Those are the type of people who voted for Nader, not for Bush (although, as it turned out, a vote for Nader was a vote for Bush).

These are the type of people who listen to Radiohead, not radio that's dead.

So whacking cyclists is another way to get guffaws from your macho, conservative male listeners.

If you want to make it up to me, tell us to give the finger to those guys (and they are mostly guys) who drive Hummers.
Bigot In The Parking Lot

Friday night, I saw and heard something in the parking lot of Albertson's in Beaverton, Ore., that absolutely disgusted me.

Some guy got out of a pickup and was yelling foul invective at what sounded like a contractor who did faulty work, and would not get paid.

OK, that happens all the time, but the guy with the pickup then started to insult the guy's ancestry. Here's a loose paraphrase:

"You haven't a legal leg to stand on. You are talking about my legal system, and my country. You haven't even been in the country long enough to read or write English. You can barely speak English." On, and on, it went.

I was not in a position to view the rear of the aggrieved party's pickup truck, but I'd just bet it had an American flag. There's nothing wrong with the American flag, only with some of the people who brandish it.

Judging by the demographics of the area, the recent immigrants being bawled out is Mexican-American. He probably came here in search of a better life. He isn't standing on the corner, drinking Tecate all day. He learned a trade. I ask the pickup driver what if the situation were reversed? What if you had to take your wife and kids to Monterrey, Mexico, learn the language and a trade?

There are also a fair amount of Russian emigres in Portland, and the "incompetent" contractor could be one of them. I am sure the redneck screamer in the parking lot has been indoctrinated to hate Communists. If the object of his wrath was a Russian emigre, well, he hates Communists, too. That's why he was here...he came here with his family to escape Communism, or more likely, its economically crippling aftermath.

Maybe he did shoddy work. That's what courts are for. Someone's ethnicity or lack of skill with the language should not play a part in it.

Sadly, I drove away from that supermarket parking lot thinking that this guy is a right-wing, bigoted xenophobe. He probably voted for Bush... not that doing so makes one a bigot, but here is an administration that takes a dim view of family planning assistance to other nations. Maybe contraception education would have resulted in a smaller family for the immigrant contractor who roused your ire.

Wonder why so many people hate us around the world? People like you are part of the reason, you asshole.