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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Other Things Relating to the 21st Century Music Industry . . .

So, I'm content-less at the moment. Instead I'll turn towards things music.
I'm perusing the Times today and see this. Literally a few minutes later I'm checking my press feeds and I spot this item:

"ASCAP Launches Infringement Actions against Establishments Performing Copyrighted Music without Permission
Monday January 24, 1:27 pm ET
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 24, 2005--Today, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers filed 24 separate copyright infringement actions against nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in 15 states and the District of Columbia. These establishments (listed
below) have publicly performed the copyrighted musical works of ASCAP's songwriter, composer and music publisher members without receiving their permission to do so, resulting in lost income . . . " (snip)

Amazing timing, no? Let's all hope that the publishing side of the music industry wakes up and sees what's going on here. Methinks they won't, however. My god, a relatively cheap, flat-rate fee, that's not painful, that allows your favorite bar or restaurant to have a couple of nights/week available to let patrons "share" their favorite music? This is, like, a total no-brainer.

'course my limited experience with the "music industry" is that potential for really knotty problems is going to come from the publishing side of things, not the artists or distributors.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Greetings...

Among other things that I do at my day job is to track larger media trends. This development was one of those "trends" my cohort, Allen Weiner, and I wrote about last year.
This move is a no-brainer. Yahoo's got an important, but not unique, set of attributes that make them a clear candidate for what Allen and I call "media titanhood."
The mere fact that the company was smart enough to cut an exclusive with jibjab is more than ample evidence that Yang and Semel (despite what many say he did to Warner Music etc.) are moving into important new territory...
What I'm really curious about, though, is what Yahoo's going to do with its music properties???

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Beast(s) Must be Fed

No, no, no. We liberal types have to understand what an enormous sacrifice POTUS-on-a-Stick and his hench-people are making by forging ahead with inauguration/coronation festivities. Even though taste, decorum, a sense of proportion and budget might dictate otherwise, it's very important that the good folks at Haliburton, various media potentates, Wall Street types all get their money's worth by having a great time. No matter what.
Yes, there will be Marines, Army personnel, Navy personnel, AirForce flyboys/flygals, many folks working with NGOs in Irag who are likely to be shot at, bombed etc. while happy shiny people in tuxes and gowns cavort in D.C. But it's important that the world sees that our leaders -- political and business -- are pressing on.

Remember, if Bush girls and Laura can't wear Dolce Gabana or Versace on innauguration day/night, the terrorists have won.

File this Under: Crow, Eating OR Clue, Can't Buy One

My job is interesting. I get to mingle with designers (hardware, software), entreprenuers, academic researchers and the like. In my past life, I used to have to hang around computer company executives. Many were very interesting. Some brash. Most were/are just process-wonks. You know the type: if they could save $.02 on a screw and then turn around and screw a supplier they'd been with for xx years, it was a great day. If the old supplier even cried or yelled when they were given the heave-ho, it was an even better day.

Now the new CEO of Dell (who is actually not named Dell) says the iPod is a fad. Just like the Walkman was a "fad." Um, Kevin, the Walkman (cassette and CD versions) had shipped a cumulative 206 million units between 1979 and 1999. Has Dell shipped that many PCs in its existance? I suppose it's possible, but I doubut it.

Then again, he could be correct. I suppose Apple could screw up the iPod and Mac. That's possible, too. I'm sure that's what Kevin is really hoping.

Monday, January 17, 2005

If I actually cared about the 49ers anymore . . .

. . . I might have actually cared about this item.
Since I don't really care about professional football or the Niners, about the only thing I can think of saying: wow, another underappreciated white guy gets another head coaching job? One that his father held, no less.


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Vegas

Had to go to CES last week for work. Vegas is a tough town for me to like, let alone love. When they tore down the El Morocco, the last vestiges of any sort of funky coolness the town had were ground into so much dust.

It's now just too weird, too big, too antiseptic and too lame. No riverboat gamblers in Vegas. Just a bunch of pasty, pudgy 30-ish WM who think they can make a living at the tables. It's really just depressing.

But entertainment can be had. If you're into vocalists you can choose between Celine "Lungs of Leather" Dion here or you can really expand your mind by going to see Paul.
Me?
There's no way I'd ever listen to Celine Dion let alone pay $87.50. Believe it or not, that's the cheapest ticket you can get to see her at Caeser's. The most expensive? $225 for front orchestra seats. I have seen Paul. Two-drink minimum is not bad a bad price to pay for a glimpse at a crowd that I consider the soul of Vegas. And I mean that as a compliment.

Why 'blogs matter, Part 235

Guys like Williams are doing their part to undermine what little trust in the media the citizenry might still have. Read the piece and you'll see a reason my work partner, Allen Weiner, and I are pursuing our research. 'blogs as megaphones for the collective voice of the citizenry will be how we as a society fight for some cultural and social equilibrium.
The irony is that now that Tribune Media Services gave Williams his pink slip, the guy will probably start using 'blogs and RSS tech to deliver his unique view of the world.
Just like us...

Monday, January 10, 2005

DSCN0586 

Where was I ? ? ?

South of Poipu, Kaui
Originally uploaded by m2mcguire.



Here's the jottings from the trip...Promise, the next entries will be a bit more, ahem, timely. Like the picture?

Dec. 11-12
The two days days leading up to our trip to Kauai, HI . . . Things are winding down at work. It’s been a mixed years in some respects. I guess mixed years are all they’re ever really are…But soon we’ll have a week to lose ourselves.
In the meantime, I’ve been able to catch two Los Lobos shows at the Fillmore. Although both were strong shows, the second show was definitely the stronger of the two. Real variety.
Dave Alvin and his new band, including D.J. Bonebreak on drums, opened the first night with an all-Alvin (+ blasters) show. As one might expect, he did a version of the song “Somewhere in Time” that he co-wrote with Hidalgo. Turns out it’s on Alvin’s new album (forgot the name. Sorry, dave) and Lobos’ new album, “The Ride.” As a native Californian, Alvin’s mix of Texas blues, western Swing/The “Bakersfield Sound”, and straight roots rock resonates with me directly. I “see” or have seen every image Alvin uses in his work.
Lobos? Friday night was a very good show – great by any other band’s standards – but not a GREAT show. Good mix of song, heavier on the straight-ahead rock. Pulled out the metal – “Viking”(w/ david’s sons on a third guitar and drums) and a full-on breakdown on “Manny’s bones.”
Second night was by far more energetic. Few more Mexican folk/traditional songs, great “Cumbia…” etc. The wife didn’t want to go that night – she was performing the second night of the annual two-night San Francisco Skating Club “holiday” extravaganza. Of course, this being SF, there could be no real direct references or evocations of the biblical Christmas – or even the result of 20th century marketing, “Xmas.” So instead there was my wife dancing to an Egyptian folk song she typically used in here belly dancing act in a hot little red number and, I’m not bullshitting here, her finger cymbals. (Yes, finger cymbals. For something like 15 years before I met her, my wife made spending money as a professional belly dancer at restaurants and private parties given by Arab-American families. She’s won contests and everything. She used to have a business card with a full-color picture of her in one of belly-dancing outfits.)
So, she didn’t want to go. Called my friend Dave – a 7th grade teacher. His wife Katie is about to give birth and, as a result, Dave’s been cutting back on the live music and wisely sticking close to home the past few months. This was a real break for him. Katie, being the trooper she is, gave the OK.
Dave got to see a great show. Great mix of songs, high energy and the boys seemed to have a great time. Culminated in two encores, the second being an excellent cover of “Cinnamon Girl.”
On our way out, Dave blurted out something I’ve felt for the past 25 years of Lobos shows: “Los Lobos, perhaps the most underrated GREAT band going.”
Amen.

Dec. 13-16 –
At the Kiahuna Plantations, Poipu, Kauai, HI

Just been hanging. A little surfing, snorkeling. Hiking around, but nothing like last time. My ankle’s still sore and weak from the horrendous sprain 1.5 months ago as a result of a mountain bike crash. This means we’ve been keeping to the flat hikes.
Kauai is great this time of the year because it’s in between busy seasons. There’s a slightly greater chance of moisture, yes. On the other hand, that moisture can create some beautiful mist-swirled views of the “sleeping giant” and other mountains on the island.
Trips like these, where we’re just together without a schedule, make the inevitability of our marriage SO obvious to me.

I’ve been reading a terrific new non-fiction book, “The Hammer” about Tom DeLay. Why I never thought reading about a right-wing idealogue would be important is beyond me. If any of my two readers wants to really understand just what the fuck is going on in Washington, D.C. right how MUST READ THIS BOOK. If you’re worried about POTUS-on-a-stick, or Condi or Rummie, that’s all well and good. What DeLay is doing will keep you up for weeks on end. To call him a WBSPOS (weasely, back-stabbing pieces of shit) would cast grievous aspersions on all the WBSPOS you’ve ever known.

Why read the book? One of DeLay’s objectives is to transform the Democratic Party into a permanent majority. The redistricting fiasco of 2003 and 2004 was almost entirely his doing and it had nothing to do with creating “more equal” voting districts. It was to marginalize the Democratic Party wherever possible.

There are many examples of DeLay’s simple idiocy, inarticulateness, piousness, treachery, but mostly what you come to realize is the guy’s just mean, petty and vindictive.

My favorite DeLay-ism is found early on in the book when, while attacking Clinton as a draft dodger, somebody asked him why he managed to get deferments to avlid serving himself. His response: he felt that he could not in good conscious take a spot that was so important to so many African-American and Hispanic who were lining up in record numbers to serve their country and get a well-paying job etc.

So, let’s see if we’ve got a clear picture of the Republican leadership’s military service achievements:
a) POTUS-on-a-stick: didn't feel the same need to serve as his dad, so he got Poppy and associates to get him a slot in the Air National Guard. After getting in, there appears to be some discrepancies regarding his actual service. Or lack thereof. Whatever.
b) The Antichrist, aka Vice President Swingin’ Dick Cheney: “I had other priorities.”
c) Powell – Though no longer a member of the Bush Reich, he did serve with distinction.
d) Condi Rice – Too young? Or was she too busy learning classical piano pieces, figure skating and overachieving?

More hanging around. Every time I come to any of the islands, my sense of “place” is fully integrated into the physical surroundings. The water. The air.

We ran over to Hanalei and Kiluea, where the brother of my brother-in-law owns a bakery/pizzeria. It is, by the way, a tremendous bakery. If you like scones, if you like éclairs, or if you like unique bread – such as Tom’s Hawaiian sourdough – you have to go to the Kiluea Bakery. It’s in the xxx-Lung Center in Kiluea, right next to the XXX Candle Shop. Nice lunch. Briefly stopped in to say “hi.” (No forewarning. Knowing how busy Tom and Katie are with the business and two teen-aged daughters, but mostly keenly aware of how vacation exacerbates our inability to adhere to any schedule, I didn’t call ahead. I’m hopeful it wasn’t too inconsiderate.)

Anyhow, we kayaked up the Hanalei River. Very mellow. We do these sorts of things – running (my wife), surfing (me) and kayaking early in the morning. Like between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. The only other people up that early are parents with kids. Fortunately, not many parents are capable of, or interested in, taking their kids on a kayak trip. Doesn’t matter how mellow/flat the river might be, most parents just don’t think any good comes from putting together the phrases “kayak trip” and “the kids.”

I recommend the trip if you’re looking for a couple of hour diversion that let’s you sit in a vehicle you’re powering w/ your own body parts, listen to the wind slap the water against the hull of your kayak while you stare at cloud-shrouded mountains in a comfortably moist 74 degrees. Oh yeah, and after you turn around past the bridge (heading west out of the rental shop hard against the Hanalei) and head east towards the ocean, you can hear the waves knocking down out in Hanalei Bay . . .

When we got the bay, we pulled up on a sand bar where a young man and his daughter were fishing and frolicking, respectively. She was maybe 3 or 4 years old and running around, splashing, talking to us, asking us to go swimming with her, talking to her dad, checking the line of her fishing pole, all while running in a sort of circle formed by the points of our kayak, her dad’s truck (which was pulled up onto the sandbar along with several other trucks), the river and the spot where the river meets the ocean. We stared at the beautiful 8-10-foot waves out on the bay – a few of the locals were really lighting it up – the glassy cool river and the mountains. Moments like this make me prone to thoughts such as “OK, so I quit my current gig, convince my wife to sell the house and move to Hanalei and . . . Do what besides get better at surfing? Or identifying the flora and fauna of Kauai?
‘Course, I tend to think those two things are fairly honorable life goals, all and all.

Dec. 19 – Headed back tomorrow.
So, for all two of my readers, here are the very fine restaurants on Kauai:
 breakfast:
o Baked goods, coffee, ambiance (Hanalei/Kilauea) = Kilauea Bakery—XXX Pizzeria
o Eggs and Stuff (Hawaiian style): Oki Palace, Lihue. Really, if you want a really well-prepared breakfast with things like fried rice instead of hash-browns and fresh mango-orange juice or passion-mango juice, avoid all the big hotel brunches etc. Just go to the Oki Palace. It’s the best. And they actually have a functioning juke box!
o Lunch: Brenneke’s in Poipu Beach. Kilauea Bakery (Hanalei).
o Dinner: Gaylord’s (between kapaa and Lihue, out by the Kauai Community College) for outstanding presentation, ingredients, execution and a very good wine list; Coconuts, Kapaa (seafood with Pacific Rim overtones, very well done); Casa Blanca (btwn. The “east” and “west” entrances of the Kiahuna Plantation resort in Poipu) for unique Meditteranean takes on local seafood, with a few Morroccan dishes thrown in.

Dec. 17-20
Small-world episode: Out with a surf instructor the other day. (Yeah, a surf instructor. Despite growing up around “surfers” I really only got proficient at body surfing and kneeboarding. While I was able to “really surf” in a technical sense, I always went back to kneeboarding when the surf was REALLY good. By the time I was trying to teach myself how to surf, which takes as much practice and concentration as anything like tennis or football or golf, I got distracted by other things. Tennis, for one, football, for another, and snow-skiing, and all the people that went along with each.)

Anyhow, my surf instructor and I are out sitting in the water yakking. Conversation turns to our respective backgrounds. Turns out that he used to come to Santa Cruz, CA, to hang out with a family that owned “Sweet’s In-the-Nude Furniture Store.” Of course, I knew the family members because they belonged to the same tennis club as mine.

Frankly, he and I chatted as much as we surfed. He was a very good instructor, however, in that he was able to always drop some point about surfing into our conversations. We had plenty of time to chat as the intervals, or lulls, between sets was about 15 minutes. That and the fact that the only other member of class – a nice young man named Jeremy hailing from Arkansas – was overcome by seasickness. (It happens more than you might imagine.) So Ross and I chatted away.

He grew up on Kauai, HS etc. then went on to the Bud or some other major pro surfing tour. In Hawaii, this guy is a very good surfer but to draw a shakey parallel, he’d be a Triple A journeyman baseball player. The difference is, this guy is involved in a sport where you don’t break down, you actually get better with age and experience; and “standing around” in surfing is sitting on your board staring at the ocean and the sky in Kauai, HAW, not the cityscape of, say, Salinas, CA, Modesto, CA or South Philly. Oh, my mistake, one of the two major league team in Pennsylvania has a stadium that overlooks South Philadelphia. The Triple-A team is probably in someplace nice like (fill in the name of a nice place in Pennsylvania here…)

Well now, it's been a long time since my last post.
I'm still recovering from a work roadtrip. It was long. It was in Las Vegas. I don't think I really need to say anymore.
Anyhow, as I'm in recovery mode, and it's been a bit, I'll catch you up. Holidays. Kauai. I'm attaching a bunch of text that's more or less chronological. And you'll notice some pics. above:

Pretty cool, eh?

Flickr 

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

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