As the Aughties* (see below) draw to a close, let others make those lame lists. Lists are for shopping. Provided you remember to take it with you, and can read your own handwriting. Yeah, listen elitist, you use up your toner, that stuff is expensive.
I’d like to take aim at the best phenomena of the Internet Era – the podcast. Everybody and their mom has a podcast. Except for me and my mother, and she wants the Propaganda software for Christmas. Some of these are professionally produced by broadcast industry professionals and bring with them all the positives and negatives of program content, performance and tech savvy. They are not the target for this diatribe which is genuinely intended to be helpful tools for tyros. Cough cough.
No, the pros be pros. I do download some of those shows. NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me is a personal fave. Nothing like well balanced politico bashing and intelligencia poop jokes. This blahg is pointed at the kids in the basement (not the Kids in the Hall, they are old pros). Not all podcasters are actually amateurs or young, they just share some common flaws. Flaws which are not just me being a bitter old unemployed radio worker, which I am. Real problems in presentation.
I am well aware too, of budget constraints. I’m not about to criticize somebody for not owning state of the art, broadcast quality equipment – that stuff costs almost as much as toner! Since most of the podcasts are essentially non-commercial, they are done out of love. Mostly ego, but self love counts in the show biz, or why bother to continue spouting off your opinion on Jar Jar Binks ten years later. Every week. Sometimes twice a week! Luckily for me I’m too spaz for game playing – those geeks are freaks. Though the podcasters who speak Klingon are in the top spot for doofy.
My grind is with untrained extemporaneous speakers. Working from a script sucks – I ain’t no card reader; I don’t want to have things read to me, no matter how interesting. Ad libbing off your notes and knowledge of a subject works for my ear, a few uhs and pregnant pauses won’t kill me. Good show prep is key though. As sharp as it is to have a good outline of topics, and most of these ‘casts do have loads of excellent content, they need to prep some basics too. The kinds of direction you need before the mic is open.
By far the most egregious problem is people talking simultaneously. Its pandemic. This overlapping dialogue can be organic and fun at a party or in an old Robert Altman flick. But as an audio only listen, it is a cacophony. Mostly ca ca. And they are not doing this because they are arguing or fighting. Or stupid. They are just talking at the same time.
This happens because the host(s) and/or guests are typically in different parts of the world. Tough to get physical cues from the panel when one of you is in LA, one in Hong Kong and another is in a car on the Long Island Expressway, eating a taco. Even if it is a video/cam show, it takes sophisticated equipment and engineers to synchronize audio/video. I’m just talking about the talking. So, I can tell who actually is. That and being able to delineate what they’re saying.
Here’s a helpful tip. Prior to the show (or before their segment), tell your guests you and they, must take an audible beat when you are finished speaking. That’s their cue – a beat is clear and fast, and a bit longer than a natural breath and some practice is required. A host can always cleverly cue a response by saying the person’s name he’d like to speak next. This does control the flow and sometimes is not as natural sounding as we’d all love. But it’s @#%&*! a lot better than the wall of sound effect. Never ever forget what happened to Phil Spector and his hair.
Next point of contention is a technical issue. Not everyone can afford a Gentner, or ClearOne studio phone-in system (a specialized PBX). Voice levels can be adjusted to match the level of the studio program microphones and callers. Well, it can, when its installed properly. Don’t ask. Hey! I know I couldn’t do it. But I am NOT a highly paid radio engineer. It wasn’t my fault. . ..
Even if the podcast is archived from an actual radio broadcast, the levels can be way off. Yeah, sure, I know I’m lucky to get anything at all. I also know they are not paying an engineer twice so he or she can go back and do the audio for a freebie podcast. I can’t pay for them so I wouldn’t know. In fact, I regularly listen to maybe a dozen different, mainly weekly podcasts. But there are probably several thousand to choose from in existence. Severe download speed limitations keep me from many good ones. I have rejected some due to size. The reason I drop many is due to my complaints about their performances.
Oddly, Howard Megdal, one of the more intelligent and witty sports personalities emerging from the Pod Era, just corrected some of the over-talking on his Perpetual Post Radio show (I’m listening to it as I type – I am all about the multitasking), by employing the technique I described. Did I mention he was smart? and yet while the media may indeed be the message still, when its garbled, it’s mess only.
No doubt the strait laced and older listeners might have a problem with the flagrant usage of obscene language in some podcasts. The F bomb gets lots of play in certain genres – that being the drunken young dude’s ranting one. Or the young dudes talking about life i.e. drinking, chicks, sports and more drinking. Think the show Jackass, sans the visuals and stunts. A few of them are entertaining while having true insight into media. I don’t mind those words – I was using them before most podcasters were born and getting in trouble for it too. What I do mind, besides misogyny, is the mother fucking laughing at everything they say shit.
The laughing problem is not genre, age or subject specific. I like movie reviews and commentary on TV series. I tried one podcast. The two 40 something guys laughed so much I had to think they’d smoked a doobie or three. They likely were not under the influence – they were much too articulate and made sense in between the yucks. But holy crap – every remark was punctuated by extended guffaws. OK -this is judgmental, but what they were saying wasn’t funny. I tried a really well produced Science Fiction media ‘cast. Same thing, with the too many laughs.
I’m not against having a good time, or laughter. Does anybody remember laughter (insert Jimmy Page guitar riff here)? I gave them a second try, new episode. They were at it again. Only this time it was a ratio of one comment::two laughs. Sigh. I dropped a few F Bombs. And that podcast. Speaking of which, depending on the bandwidth the podcast uses, it can take me anywhere from three to five minutes of download time to get one minute of program. After not being able to do anything but watch my ISP crank, and possibly disconnect me, for 5 or 6 hours, I gots to have mo show, yo, than ho ho ho (see how I worked Christmas in there? which I can do because I am not PC. I’m a Mac).
Previously, I’ve admitted I’m a know it all, who knows I don’t know it all. Though overall, I know more than most sportscasters. My usual opinion of the majority of those people are, they were the kids who fell asleep in class beginning with 6th grade. If they made it to senior year or astonishingly to college, they cut out the middleman bullshit and stayed home to do their sleeping. Books were for propping up the couch with the missing leg.
Not only do they routinely mispronounce words, in One Hundred Monkeys style, they all say the same ones incorrectly! They also misinform. The most egregious statement I ever heard was a former NFL player at Fox Sports fool(who shares the same name as an older UK actor) say, on the occasion of President’s Day, “Lincoln owned slaves” well, that and the rest of them calling Lindsay, Lo – Han. She’s not Asian, though she is aging. It is Low – un. BTW she’s still relevant in a look at me look at me! kind of way, if a new photo shoot is any gauge.
I’m not against informal speech or playing with language either. I enjoy mixing in some patois with my huge vocabulary – my patois de foie gras is legendary. When I do it, its ironic. When they do it, its moronic. Sure sports ain’t the Algonquin. Yes, it is not. But as Yogi once said – “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him a Man o’War.” You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you can fire his dumb ass and get a smarter dog.
Oh well, do what you will podcasters. I’ll take what I can get. I might just be in a blue mood exacerbated by a seasonal disorder. The first half of December includes the birthdays of five of my former girlfriends, none of whom are in contact with me. Not even a card. You’d think with all those Sagittarians, one of Cupid’s arrows would’ve hit something above the belt. It’s not because I’m a prick – it’s because I am a poor prick.
Ho ho ho
* Or the Naughties if you had lots of fun. I tried to copyright Oties. But it was too esOteric…
Having recently re-subscribed to the “Less is best” school of life grad program, here is my burn out—I mean — burnt offering for the coming holidays. These are the things which can still make me laugh out loud, long and so hard, I risk a ruptured gut. Pretty sure you’ll agree.
My life is finally one with the universe. Well, the universe as I perceive it anyhow. Spike Lee, peanut head film auteur & Knicks fan, spoke out recently—no breaking news there, he does it a lot. That he called the works of Tyler Perry buffoonery, suggesting it was setting the cause of African-Americans back faster than Oprah can load a dish at an all you can eat buffet, is the shocker. Not sure I can live in a world where Spike Lee and I agree, so I’ll add the following—Tyler Perry is setting the entire human race back. Now that’s a race problem!
Perry’s partner in a recent movie release, Winfrey, has announced she’ll be ending her TV show in 2011. This one made me laugh so hard I might have to sue her for the sutures my sides required. 2011?!… Hold on, maybe she knows something! [see below] Regardless, she’ll no doubt pull a Leno and turn up on a night time version. Let’s see, I bet it will be called O! What a Night. I like O! What a Load.
The 2009 Major League baseball season ended the way it always should, so no gloat-fest here. Two things do need addressing. One is the phrase “bought players.” Teams sign players to contracts—- often for huge money. Yes, they all have the option to do so. While the jaded fan may choose to esteem that process as “buying,” they are morons. Abe Lincoln freed the slaves with that old Emancipation Proclamation. Nobody ain’t buyin’ nobody no mo’. To claim the Yankees bought C.C. Sabathia is racist. BTW did I mention THE YANKEES WIN! THE_UHHHHHHHHH YANKEES WIN!!
As for Bud Selig, 80 year old used car salesman/baseball commissioner (@ $20 million per annum). He just noticed the time lag between playoff games is a bit extreme. Wow! 20 mil doesn’t buy the quality brains does it. Of course, LA of A Angels manager of the year Mike Scioscia complained about it. Mainly due to the Angels losing. If Yankees mgr. Joe Girardi had bitched, a fresh round of anti-NYY sentiment would have filled the airwaves in red hot parallel pinstripes to the yowls of “Yankees bought another World Series” bullshit. Those fellas need some new slogans. I have one for them — STFU.
Read some history you a-holes. Sports has always been this way. You can’t sit around smugly saying life ain’t fair – deal with it to people having a rough time of it now- and then cry when your team gets whupped. Mainly because they are cheapskates. Why doesn’t Selig donate 18 or 19 million of his take, to the team with the worst record each year, so they can S I G N a big time free agent. AS if that alone assures anyone of positive results. MLB needs a major league overhaul, with a tier & rewards system for team performance. They won’t do it, because suits like Pud & his cronies like it the way it is-stoopit. Don’t blame the Yankees, blame the owners of all the other teams. But you won’t.
Nobody cries but NYY fans when tyro low payroll teams like the Florida Marlins & Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees on a fluke & their owners bank the cake for trophy wives and ocean front property in Palm Springs. Oh! then it’s David v. Goliath and if it’s like a story in the Bible, it’s good enough for Joe Redass. When did douche baggery start ruling the world?
Which dovetails, in an un-dove like way to a socio-religious aspect of the current flick 2012. Seems they are ecumenical in their destruction of world religious symbols. Oh wait, they forgot to blow up any Islamic sites. Wouldn’t want to offend those clowns. Now I think of it, they do a pretty good job of blowing up the world themselves, literally and figuratively. If somebody told them the truth about the virgins (actually it’s a box of raisins – you could look it up), do you think they’d do that reprehensible shameful Bombing for Allahs trick? Still, all that doesn’t excuse the P.C. pandering of the film makers. Weak. Very.
Continuing on in the weak dept., there is a sports talk host on WFAN, New York City. The guy is a man of the people type, he speaks English natively, but he mangles it grammatically. He can barely speak a sentence without stammering and repeating words. Was this a pity hire? Hey! that’s fine on some small radio station in the sticks, not on the seminal sports powerhouse, in the world’s largest and most influential media market. The worst part is, a typical sports talk show attracts limited intellect callers. This guy’s audience takes it to a new low, the mouth breather boxing fans are the most virulent. He’s on now like 8 nights a week. Can anyone say—video of suits with donkeys?
It’s obvious, I’m thankful for all the laughter this has all brought me. I’m looking forward to all the swell things 2010 will bring. After all, we’re at the 2 year warning—the Mayan Calendar ends in 2012. Anybody else notice it’s “the Calendar?” My @#%&*! calendar ends every year. My only hope is every year would end with-
THE YANKEES WIN! THE_UHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
…and to all a good night.
* its a baseball thing, if you don’t know
In the October 16 issue of Entertainment Weekly, there appears a short article in which Tyler Perry reveals he was the victim of extreme abuse as a child. Child molestation and its corollary abuses are criminal and repugnant on any level, to anyone. I hardly lack the compassion to not feel this was a terrible thing. However he and fellow spotlight whore, Oprah Winfrey are set to profit from this muy pronto by wide release of Winfrey’s latest cinematic cash cow.* I’m sure some of the take will go to charities they support. Anyone know how much? Odd they are so circumspect in that arena. Sweet restraint. If only they’d do it everywhere else.
I don’t like those two people. They exploit their pain in the name of helping others. Perry has been very successful wearing a dress & making movies of it. We all know what Oprah does. Though frankly, I’m not sure. She has a magazine which features her on the cover. Every issue. Excessive at best, egoistic certainly. Does she even know O is the title of a major erotic novel. She’s obviously aware it’s the Periodic Table symbol for oxygen, as she’s full of hot air. Regardless, Winfrey was also famously the victim of family horrors. Who knew it could be so profitable? Repeatedly. I’m guessing they did, every chance they got. It separates them from me, I know that for sure.
One has to question the motives of tossing this information out into the media, like chum to sharks. Does it help the sadly large numbers of others who have suffered and currently are suffering? Many of them in silence. Is it going to give the courage to some boy to put on a female family member’s clothing & upload it onto You Tube—in hopes he’ll hit number one, as opposed to being hit by someone. Most likely it will make him or her a target to a larger circle of creeps. Or worse. We’ll have another Tyler Perry. There will of course, never be another Oprah. Thank God & Steadman for that-amen.
They are not the only people to regurgitate their traumatic lives. MacKenzie Phillips just wrote a book and went on some shows to talk about her incestuous episodes with her father, John Phillips aka Papa John of The Mamas & the Papas, a successful folk-rock group in the Sixties. Papa John—not to be confused with the pizza magnate, though there is an awful joke there, I’ll skip it, was known to get doped up & was quite the ladies man. Apparently ( no pun-OK it is ) he had no governor on which lady, all were fair game. Maybe Mac will have a Lifetime movie. I’m guessing Valerie Bertinelli won’t be in it.
So, I’m sorry Tyler, I had no idea you were so fucked up. Listening to you speak, reading about your work, seeing how you want to own an island—I never guessed. But hey Oprah—try featuring something else on the cover of O magazine other than your fat face. You don’t see Malcolm Forbes on the cover of Forbes —what? he’s dead, machts nichts schnickelfritz, you think I don’t suspect you have a clause stating O runs your mug until the end of the universe?
And oh yeah, I was abused. But I don’t wear a mu mu for money in bad flicks. And I wouldn’t. I might use it to dodge a war. But hey, I ain’t stoopit.
* I know the title – I’m not helping them, even with my 3 readers
It’s been a season of win-lose here in Gritropolis. This, so pointedly captured by this weekend—on the court, on stage & sigh, at the movies.
Having a Pyrrhic victory may be fine for some. Not for me. Sure, that fat head no talent Tyler Perry, finally let a woman wear the dress. But his dreck came in number one at the box office. The one solace I have is that all people buying tickets for that movie have been tagged by Homeland Security, as no threat whatsoever to US intelligence.
While Serena Williams blew up at the US Open ( tennis ) for what she felt was an umpire’s wrong call on a foot fault*, Kanye West retained his title as Biggest Loudmouth in Music. Homeboy still believe he can hit that Beyonce groove thang, soon as the girl see he prettier than Jay Z. Or delusional that Taylor Swift has jungle fever & digs stupid guys. Either way, he on crack. One thing I know for certain—Taylor Swift’s videos are better than Tyler Perry’s. Watching hers only get you tagged by the local Fish & Game Commission. And that’s so they can call you for a donation.
If Serena can be fined an amount the equivalent of her tennis shoe allowance for a Grand Slam tournament (just kidding-I know she gets them gratis), why can’t that ahole Kanye get fined by the FCC. Why? for being an ahole in prime time. I bet Mr. Obama’s backhanded smack of Kanye got more play than anything he might’ve said publicly about Joe Wilson (R-Rep. South Carolina). He probably just got an atta boy from Rush Limbaugh—ha ha ha ad infinitum. Times like these I wish James Brown was still alive to advise some entertainers. Not the sports James Brown. Or the other sports James Brown. Or one of the Steve Smiths. The late great King of Soul. Of course!
There’s more, but I like to stick to the headlines. I do feel compelled to inject a future story—Prince Fielder, the really talented & large (+ packing a few more lbs. than needed ) first baseman of your Milwaukee Brewers, is likely to be trade bait over the Winter. Team very interested resides in Boston. Since they are allowed to make any move & be praised for it by buttboys at ESPN, I can’t fight the power. It is true, they have gone too long without a big fat guy to play first for them, since Mo Vaughn left. And Pig Papi Ortiz admitted his ” protein drinks ” only enable him to do one thing well—hit v. the Yankees.
Speaking of baseball, who won the World Series? The season must have ended while I was on my retreat in Nepal, searching for the home of Deechen Lachman.** I had no joy finding it, though I did run into the Dalai Lama.† When I asked him if he knew her, he said vexedly—” she’s Australian, you moron.” If I’d have known the MLB season wound up early so ESPN could go football 24/7, I’d have asked the Dalai Lama about the WS. Hey! he was all ready pissed off, I had nothing to lose there.
All I can get from ESPN is football f*gs, enabling gamblers with point spreads & injury reports & sucking up to coach. They are stat diligent to the point of being anal. I’m amazed they don’t do the Pop Warner games. Must be a licensing fee conflict. Or maybe the authorities draw an age line for boys locker rooms those bozo can invade. Why don’t I just Google? have I mentioned the page-load times for me & this old dial up here on the Copper Line yet this post? Oh look! there’s some mail from the Dept. of Homeland Security. . ..
* it was a bad call
** actor Dollhouse Fox-TV series
† I know I know—the DL is in exile in India
Avoiding the news is a preoccupation of mine. This will not be an exegesis, satirical, tedious or otherwise on that subject. But it is a quick factoid, explaining that the Internet has virtually made it impossible for me to not see the headlines in some side bar. Even when I’m only reading the @#%&*! comics! That’s how I read the news today (August 20). Oh boy. . ..
While I often allude to a boyhood in the Bronx, NY, where I was born ( the hospital a block from Manhattan—which made all the difference ), for purposes of being clear about one point in this piece, I admit I graduated high school in New Jersey. That’s why I will now tell you about Stevie Butler. I went to high school with him and his older brother Brian—Brian and I were born a few days apart in the same year. Their parents had a general store, maybe a football field’s distance away from the school. See, if it were in the Bronx, it would have been called a candy store.
Due to the vagaries of life & my incredible smarts ( mostly incredible for the fact each year I seemed to lose an IQ point ), even though Brian and I were identical in age, I was a Senior, he was a Junior & Stevie was a freshman, as was my sister. The year after I graduated, I was in a band & the times they were a changin’. Their mother was my boss for two summers I worked for the Parks & Recreation Dept. Sadly, there was no colleague the equal of Rashida Jones.
So, there was a connection. Two years after high school, Brian & I went to sign up at the US Armed Forces Draft Board in New Brunswick together. Despite the well intentioned advice from Arlo Guthrie, we did not walk in holding hands & sing a chorus of Alice’s Restaurant, and then walk out. One, because we didn’t want them to think we ” were both faggots ( sic )”. Two, I couldn’t sing harmony to save my ass. Literally. The thread which ties my life to others is so unbelievable, it’s more suited for the novel I never intend to write. I can’t do it here. Which spares us all. For now.
In that era, most guys I knew had grown their hair long, mustache and/or beard optional. For authority figures, it was believed to be a solid tipoff that person was doing some kind of drugs. It may strain credulity, but at 18 ( some of this ground covered in a previous episode ) I chose not to smoke, drink or do dope. Maybe it was the Catholic training or maybe it was I just wanted to save all my resources for girls & music. This was also the year I met another person who played a major part in my music history. His name was David Sutch–he was larger than life, and his did not end well.
I’d see Stevie at gigs & parties, he was affable, generous and blunt. He did have an annoying habit of busting me for not going out into the world & examining every possibility, in every corner. My retort was I didn’t need to, I had an imagination. The irony of my relationship with him will show up later in this. Despite what my so called other friends & acquaintances, family too, thought then, I was out doing other things. It just wasn’t with that old bunch. As a new decade opened, I jointly started a unisex clothing shop in Flemington N.J. with a college buddy, and I’d met several girls from that Hunterdon County area.
A life long habit of personal high impact-short lived jobs began with that store. About a year after leaving the store in a clash over business styles, I heard one of the girls Rita, had been hit by a car, while walking. Her injuries were extensive, but by the time I got the news, she was home and slowly mending. Rita had been a friendly and attractive girl, who came into the shop a lot and any ulterior motives aside, I went to visit her, hoping to cheer her up. She had some bad physical scars, all over. Though she was in decent spirits when I visited, one of her friends told me, she was good day, bad day. Something about her made me think Steve Butler could help bring back a healthy spark to her wounded psyche. He had a way with chicks.
I promised Rita I’d come back and I did. This time I took Stevie, he was up for it too, and because I was interested in one of her friends, Jaye, it was only natural for Steve to hang with Rita. I just knew Steve & Rita would like each other. I was right. Somehow I lost track of Steve after he got involved with her—my attachments to girls sometimes as short as my jobs. Their relationship lasted awhile, and I know he helped her recovery.
Next thing I knew about him, he was traveling with another girl, his hair down to his waist, and according to Brian, they were in Los Angeles. Everybody got excited when word was out, Stevie was going to appear on a popular television game show To Tell the Truth. The hook—lame, but tailor made for that era— He and the girl were placed, standing with their backs to the audience, the panel had to guess who was the boy or the girl. Yikes! We laughed, we cried–my pals got high, I didn’t. I was envious of Stevie being on TV. I can’t recall, but I think he & his gf made it onto the original Price Is Right that same week. It might even be on YouTube now—I don’t know and I don’t want to either.
Steve lived in a cave for a phase, on one of the Hawaiian Islands. Mostly he traveled the world. I’d get picture postcards from all over the planet, many with the same message— ” have you left the house yet?” I resented it after a while. But he wasn’t wrong. Experience had made me even more solitary, writing songs & collaborating with several others. My body lived locally—my mind traveled globally. Then I’d write a song. One made a sentimental reference to a friend like Stevie and a guy like me & a girl. I was sure it would be a hit. Just like me, it didn’t go too far. But it did leave the house, winding up no doubt in circular files from NYC to L.A. with a stop in Nashville.
In 1986 I was doing a thankless gig at a street fair in Frenchtown N.J. I’d invited an old friend, but he had not shown up. Much to my happy amazement, another, very unexpected person, did— Stevie. He’d just come back from Tibet (!), spoken with our friend Dennis ( the no-show ) & decided he’d try to sell some of the items ( no! not drugs ) he’d brought back from Asia. Doing my usual, “ I’d like to buy something, man , but I’m doing this gig free ” act, I shook his hand. Being Stevie, he said—“…just pick out a few things, they’re yours. It’ll be your pay for playing.” Chambers of Commerce could learn from guys like him. Ex-cave dwellers being more giving than say, fat white blowhards. I chose a great cap & a scarf, which I subsequently employed as gifts for two women. I’d told him I might do just that & he smiled. But the third thing, a small wooden slide whistle, resides just a foot away from this keyboard.
That was the last time I saw Steve Butler. Two years later, he boarded a plane in London for NYC. It was Pan Am Flight 103 and it blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland. The story doesn’t end there. That’s why I’m stopping this one. And for the moment, I won’t be leaving the house.