Monday, March 31, 2003

New Radiohead Appears Online Ten Weeks Early

I was shocked to find Radiohead's upcoming album on alt.binaries.sounds.mp3.indie a full three months ahead of it's scheduled release date. It appears to be rough mixes of the disc, though. On first listen, it does seem a bit similar to Amnesiac and Kid A - maybe a bit more tuneful but still "experimental".

Rumor is that the band made the disc available online - they did this with Kid A and against the standard industry belief that it cuts sales it debuted at number one. But that doesn't mean that Capitol still doesn't get it...witness this letter that was sent to a website that hosted mp3's of the disc:

Dear Mr. McGuire:

I am writing on behalf of our Capitol Records label. It has recently come to our attention that you have been offering for download, on your website http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bmcguir/mp3.html, copies of sound recordings containing the performances of Radiohead that are owned or controlled by Capitol Records. Specifically, you have posted on your website copies of the sound recordings entitled "2+2=5," "Sit Down, Stand Up," "Sail to The Moon," "Backdrifts," "Go to Sleep" "Where I End and You Begin," "We Suck Young Blood," "The Gloaming," "There There," "I Will," "A Punch-Up At A Wedding," "Myxomatosis," "Scatterbrain," and "A Wolf At The Door" performed by Radiohead.

We hereby demand that you:

1. cease and desist immediately upon receipt of this e-mail from offering for download the aforementioned recordings; and

2. provide me with:

(i) the name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address of the person or company from which you received or purchased the CDs or MP3s from; and

(ii) a representation that all unauthorized activity with respect to the MP3s ceased upon receipt of this e-mail and will not be resumed in the future; and

3. Return the CDs or MP3s to me forthwith.

Please immediately confirm that you will comply with these demands. Unless we hear from you by Thursday, April 3, 5:00 p.m. EDT, Capitol intends to pursue its other remedies.

This is written without prejudice to any of our rights or remedies, all of which are expressly reserved.

Sincerely yours,

David Helfer, Esq.
EMI Recorded Music, North America
150 Fifth Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY 10011
Office: (212) 786-8107
Fax: (212) 786-8133




Friday, March 28, 2003

CD Recomendations

Shit, I spent a lot of money on CD's. Here's my haul for the last two weeks:

The d4, 6Twenty
The Who, Who's Next (Deluxe Edition)
Vic Chesnutt, Silver Lake
Idlewild, The Rumor Part
The Derailers, Genuine
Joe Jackson Band, Volume 4
Turin Brakes, Ether Song
Radiohead, Palacio Congresos, Salamance, Spain, August 7, 2002 (Bootleg)
Sorry About Dresden, Let It Rest
Stephen Malkmus, Pig Lib
Uncle Tupelo, Anodyne
Cursive, The Ugly Organ

My April Etc. Column: Is Downloading Killing the Record Business?

Writing about music used to have its perks. Besides the obvious
gratification of having your opinion showcased in front of the entire
city, there were many less obvious reasons why I've been writing for
almost fifteen years. It certainly wasn't the money, nor the
opportunity to meet women (one has to actually play the guitar to
attract groupies, not write about guitarists).
There were plenty of thrills back in the Tempest days. I had the
opportunity to interview many of my idols (along with plenty not of
my personal tastes); I shared cocktails with a few of these greats. I
had the opportunity to stand in the sidelines as local bands went
through the usual cycle of meeting, jamming, playing, thriving, and
inevitably calling it quits.
The perk that excited me the most, though, was the sort the mailman
dropped off at my door. The Nineties, particularly the first half,
was a time when record labels desparately wanted their music heard. A
simple call would result in a box of goodies. One label
representative even kept a box in his office that he'd fill with not
only the official releases but rare singles and radio promos. When
the box was full, he'd ship it.
Ah, the good old days. Not that everything was available in
promotional form, nor did it prevent me from spending a good
percentage of my paycheck on music. It was bountiful enough to keep
me going, though, even during times that I had little desire to pump
out 3000 words of copy.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Labels don't care about
little guys like myself. Lately, they've even given up on "real"
reviewers. When members of Linkin Park was called by the Minneapolis
Tribune to promote a recent appearance, the band was reportedly
shocked to hear that the label refused to provide the reporter a copy
of Meteora, which wasn't due for release for a few days before the
interview.
Why are labels so paranoid? The story begins a few years ago when
Metallica single-handedly made Napster a household name. Metallica
had provided a tune for the Mission Impossible soundtrack, and weeks
before the album was released the band discovered that the song was
readily available online.
We all know the firestorm caused by this incident. Metallica sued
Napster. Napster sued back. BMG purchased Napster, only to see their
pay-per-download model die before it's release. Napster closed down,
only to be quickly replaced by Kazaa, Limewire, WinMx, and many
others.
Now downloading is the cliched blame for everything that ails the
record biz. One cannot read a story about the music business without
some blame cast on those darned kids grabbing their music for free.
it's the sole reason why sales are down almost 10%; why concert
tickets have risen by almost 50%, and why nobody cares about Michael
Jackson these days.
I'm willing to accept that downloading may be a small part of these
problems, although there has yet to be an extensive study to support
this position. Many even claim that downloading is leading to
increased sales; that the industry would be in even worse condition
if people weren't exploring the web for new music. This has
definitely been the case in my life. With radio and MTV tightening
their playlists, I've used the web to investigate what friends and
various magazines have suggested I add to my always-increasing
collection.
The industry is going overboard in their whining, though. Consider
this quote regarding Eminem's The Eminem Show by Eric Garland, the
CEO of BigChampagne, an online research company that tracks
downloads. "I think he's clearly been affected. Maybe even his legacy
is adversely affected, because The Eminem Show should have been his
Thriller." Okay, whatever.
It's number crunchers such as Garland that continue to perpetuate the
myth that all downloads are a lost sale. This is clearly not the
case. Sure, there are people that refuse to purchase music. Their
entire collection is amassed through Kazaa and LimeWire. They're the
electronic age's version of those annoying friends in the 70's and
80's who would borrow your entire collection to put to tape. They
rarely bought albums; they were content with crappy cassette versions
of your collection.
What Garland, Metallica, Linkin Park's record label, and Korn's
Jonathan Davis, who recently complained that the appearance of their
latest album months before it's release date was the sole reason for
it's dismal sales, won't even consider is the enthusiasm (and lack of
patience) of their hard-core fanbase. When word spreads that their
favorite artist has an album due for release, they want to hear it
and they want to hear it now.
Of all bands, Metallica should have realized this fact. They're
successful because of a loyal fanbase that would purchase every
t-shirt and would hunt down every over-priced import single. They
didn't lose a single sale due to downloading; those sorts of fans
were standing in line at record stores on the day the album was
finally released.
I may not be the biggest Metallica fan in the world, but I can relate
to this enthusiasm. I scour new release dates for my personal faves,
and immediately start looking for tracks from these albums. I
downloaded the Eminem album for my son a month before it's release;
that didn't stop us from purchasing it...as did four million other
fans (Eminem protege 50 Cent recently repeated this same feat,
selling over two million albums in ten days despite an internet leak
weeks before). Just a few weeks ago, I scored on new albums by the
White Stripes, Jayhawks, and Lucinda Williams. I may sound like a
broken record, but those crappy CDR's will be replaced by the real
thing when they're released later this month.
Luckily, not everyone shares these paranoid thoughts. When Wilco was
having label problems, they placed Yankee Hotel Foxtrot on their own
website for downloading. The result was the biggest seller of their
career. Likewise, bands such as Radiohead and Weezer regularly offer
their fans sneak peaks of upcoming releases. Iceland's acclaimed
Sigur Rios didn't even have an American record deal until their debut
album became a Napster fave.
As stated before, online trading may be a serious issue but it's not
the only one. And it's not the most troubling...nor is it going away.
The record industry needs to look at the burgeoning sales of DVD's
and video games. These products have the same potential for online
theft, but they're thriving. Why? They're giving the public what they
want at what seems to be a reasonable price.
Enough ranting - here's a few albums that everyone should check out:
Jayhawks - Rainy Day Music. After a couple of attempts at
overproduced pop music, the veteran Minneapolis bands goes back to
their roots. Soaring harmonies, acoustic country-rock. Easily their
best album in over a decade.
Uncle Tupelo - No Depression, Still Feel Gone, March 16-20, 1992, and
Anodyne. The entire catalog of this legendary alt-country band has
been reissued with bonus tracks, informative liner notes, and, most
importantly, remastered sound.
Vic Chesnutt - Silver Lake. The acclaimed yet eccentric
singer/songwriter returns on a new label with the album of his
career. Recorded in a large living room in a California mansion, this
is easily his most fully realized release.
White Stripes - Elephant. The full-length followup to the critically
acclaimed White Blood Cells is quite possibly the most eagerly
anticipated album so far this year. There's no major overhauls - why
fix something that's not broken? it's still Jack White's ferocious
blues-influenced garage sound coupled with Meg White's simple yet
powerful beat. But there are some twists to the formula - there's a
bassline on a few tracks, Meg sings one tune ("In the Cold, Cold
Night"), and Burt Bachrach is covered ("I Just Don't Know What to Do
With Myself").
Lucinda Williams - World Without Tears. Those expecting another
version of 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road will be in for a shock.
The Byrds-ish country rock of that album has been completely replaced
by a much rawer sound that's closer to the first-take immediacy of
early 70's Stones and Faces. There's a few missteps, but one cannot
help but be attracted to the naked honesty of her music.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

This Week's Get Out of Town

For those of you not in the Sioux Falls area, every week I go on a
local radio station (KRRO) and kick somebody out of town. This nasty
bit of ranting started a few years ago when I was the music editor of
Tempest Magazine. Once a year, we ran a list of ten people who should
leave our fair city. With that rag long gone, I've carried on the
tradition.

Before we begin, there’s an issue I must address.
Over the course of the last few days, I’ve been dwelling on the
appropriateness of the Get Out of Town segment. With a war in
progress, could I possibly carry on my role as a smarmy, glib,
sarcastic, negative creep? Last night I had to make a decision, and
after downing a couple of whiskey-cokes, the decision was made.
Eliminating Get Out of Town would mean one thing - the terrorists had
won!

This week’s segment is actually more serious than my usual
ranting and raving, and I actually had to put on my reporter’s
cap to come up with the true story. It’s a story of a sick girl,
a bunch of caring rockers, and some money-grubbing Christians
spoiling the good work...and the Good Book.

Unknown to most people, there is a rock club in town. It’s
called Diesel, and it’s run by a Christian organization. You
don’t have to be a Jesus freak to play there, though, and to
their credit they’ve opened the doors for plenty of aspiring
local musicians. I personally know a number of aspiring young
musicians who have had their first shows at this facility.

Not that there haven’t been rumblings of problems at this joint.
Like all good Christian organizations, the operators of this club
have bled these mainly high schoolers of most of the proceeds of
their shows. Many promoters have complained that the rent of this
hall is a good deal more expensive than the Pomp Room was back in
their all-ages heyday, or the other halls that at times are used for
shows. Availability is an issue with places like K.C. Hall, so Diesel
sometimes has to be used.

A few months ago, a friend of mine was approached by a local punk
rock fan. A good friend of hers had a serious illness - I believe it
was leukemia - and this person was asked to organize a benefit show.
Diesel was eventually contacted, and a contract was signed that gave
Diesel 50% of the door money.

In my mind, that contract was a red flag. I’ve been involved in
charity shows in the past, and the general rule is that almost
everything is either donated or provided at a heavily discounted
rate. Volunteers do most of the legwork, including the collection of
donations for auctions and the printing of fliers. Businesses provide
other needed items, from sound equipment to food and drinks. Bands
play for free. And most importantly, the halls generally donate their
facility. Not these Bible-toters!

With the date finalized, bands literally lined up for the opportunity
to play. Some were familiar to the Babafest crowd; others were the
cream of the underground punk circuit. The show was a resounding
success, reportedly packing the club. Three hundred twenty five
people paid four bucks a head. That’s thirteen hundred bucks,
which should have netted the sick girl over six hundred fifty. Well,
in my opinion it should have netted her thirteen hundred, but a
contract’s a contract.

After the show was over, my musician buddy saw the sick girl’s
friend crying. She was handling the door with her mother. Someone
from Diesel had taken the entire proceeds from the women, leaving
them with the thirty bucks that was in a little donation bucket that
was in the foyer of Diesel. You can imagine the anger that resonated
from the band’s that had just rocked their socks off.

The owners were confronted by a contingent of musicians, who claimed
to know nothing of the contract or the details of the cash breakdown.
They claimed they needed the money for rent. They were then
threatened with a call to the police if they didn’t leave
immediately.

I heard about this story a few days later. At first I didn’t
believe it; there had to be more to the story. But after talking to a
number of people who would know the truth, it appears to be true.

I’ll say it again - never trust Christians with money. It’s
their ultimate salvation. And it’s a shame. This could have been
the show that empowered this facility. The good vibes of hosting a
benefit show featuring a good percentage of Sioux Falls’ finest
musicians could have turned Diesel into a thriving non-alcoholic,
all-ages rock club. They could have carried on their mission for
years to come. Now I don’t know a single soul who will set foot
in the joint. Short-term greed overcame long-term financial and
spiritual growth.

There is a happy ending to this story, though. There will be a second
benefit show for Amanda Rempher on Sunday, April 13th at the VFW on
Minnesota Avenue. This time one hundred percent of the door proceeds
with be donated to her family to help cover the costs of cancer
treatment. The show starts at three, it costs five bucks, and some of
the bands who have agreed to play include Suffer, Blinding Light,
Psychosomatic, Deadline (one of their last local appearances),
Chronic Mass, and many others.

Monday, March 24, 2003

Thank God for Michael Moore

For the first time in years, I actually sat through the entire Oscar broadcast. What a bore! I'm sure Chicago is a fine movie (but not one that I care to see) but is it really so great that it deserved to basically sweep the awards? All day I've been saying that it's the Oscar's version of Norah Jones. A few awards seemed worthy - Chris Cooper for Adaptation, a couple of tech awards to Lord of the Rings, Eminem's surprise win with Lose Yourself (now let's retire that song, though, I've heard it enough), and the guy from the Pianist seemed to be deserving. But everything else seemed to go to Chicago.

When it was announced that Moore had won for Bowling for Columbine, I knew something was in the air but I never dreamed it would be so controversial. Leave it to the non-thespian to bring some drama to the festivities. I especially loved the line about Bush should know he's in trouble when both the Pope and the Dixie Chicks are his enemies. That's witty!

War Is Not Must-See TV!

The war as a mini-series is offically a disaster. Saturday night I was about to go to bed when all three news networks switched to Sky TV, the British news network owned by Fox. Although the hyperbole-filled announcer made it sound like an all-out battle was iminent (or is it eminent?), I watched for over two hours for nothing. Sunday was similar - just hours of repeated stories about the POW's. Speaking of which, I have a question. I'm not trying to sound disrespectful of the troops, but why wouldn't Saddam show these guys? This is not a war about land and borders, which is where I'd expect the Geneva Convention rules to be taken seriously. This is a war with one objective - to get rid of Saddam. The first shot was directed right at him. Why would he then play by the rules? Again, I'm not taking his side but what does he have to lose? (If for some reason you want to see the tapes, go to www.ogrish.com).

Generals Say the Damndest Things!

The dumbest comment of the weekend has to be from the pundit that sat in with CNN on Saturday night. When word came that one of our own soldiers had tossed some grenades into the officer's tents, this guy went on a rant about how this guy probably got some bad news from home; maybe even a "Dear John" letter. Yeah, that's right. Blame those slutty women. So much for the politically correct military.

Just Say No to Burger King

Not that I'm a big fan of the joint, but this whole "freedom fries" saga has me so pissed that I'll never eat their shitty food again. I'm all for patriotism, but this is pure pandering. I do like the following story I found on the web a little bit ago - "The Saturn Cafe in Santa Cruz is temporarily changing the name of their french fries to "Fuck George Bush Fries" and 5 % of the profits going to the Impeachment Fund."

NP Means "Now Playing"

I've had a couple of people asking what "NP" means at the end of my posts. It stands for "now playing"; just a silly tag to let you know the soundtrack to my latest set of babbling gibberish.

NP: Camper Van Beethoven, Live in Chicago 1/15/03 (I think that's the date)

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Interesting twists to some of the anti-war protests today. The so-called "liberal media" is being targetted by protesters for acting like cheerleading pawns of the Pentagon. What's interesting is that Fox News is left out of the protests...I guess it's a given how they're going to act. I have to agree - this around the clock coverage of ten minutes of action is way over-the-top. And our local news isn't doing much better. I predict by the end of the war every single family who has some kind of connection with the war will be profiled.

While we're on the subject, can something be done about the cutesy slogans they've come up with? I don't ever need to hear the phrases "shock and awe", "Operation Iraqi Freedom" or "Rolling Thunder" again (unless they're referring to Bob Dylan on the last example).

Today is what you'd call a wasted day. I awoke at 9 but don't get out of bed until after noon. I waste some time at the coffee shop (surprise, surprise) and the record store, and then take a nap and watch trash television the rest of the day. I'm supposed to go see a couple of bands tonight but I'm sure I'll do my usual habit of not showing. My day of non-activity has just been too exhausting.

NP: Joe Jackson's new album

Thursday, March 20, 2003

We're now almost 24 hours into our "war" and I'm already sick of the tv coverage. There's just not enough going on yet to justify the non-stop broadcasting being put on by not only the cable news channels but the networks. You can only view the Baghdad skyline lighting up so many times, and all talking heads should be locked up until something legitimate happens.

Last night was just bizarre. The networks came on even before the forty million bucks worth of tax dollars were dropped on Saddam's house. Baghdad's skies barely lit up, and the little action there was happened miles away from the cameras. After an hour, I tried to escape to MTV for that silly reality show about frats and sororities but then they cut away to war "footage". What a joke. John Norris changed clothes every few minutes for a live update, but otherwise they just showed the same footage they've been showing for weeks. Somebody please tell the Weezer lookalike dude that just because he did a special in Kuwait he's not an expert on the subject. It was a joke. Why didn't they just chime in during commercial breaks that something was happening in Iraq and direct them to the channels that had some actual information?

By 11, the story was over for the night. CBS and NBC switched to Letterman and Leno; ABC showed a Jimmy Kimmell rerun after Saddam's is-it-live-or-Memorex appearance on Iraqi TV. I continued to watch CNN for awhile - of the three news channels they were by far the best.

I think for the next few days I'm just going to use Headline News as my television source. I'll tune in every hour or so for the latest news and then find something else to do.

NP: The Clash, The Essential Clash

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Finally, I have this page (sort of) figured out.

There's definitely something wrong with me. Every day I seem to find myself watching something on the tube that is nothing short of appalling. Tonight I'm forcing myself to watch American Idol. My God, what a train wreck! How did this show become one of the most-watched shows on television? No wonder the radio airwaves are derived of talent.

First off, Paula Abdul needs to go away. Far, far away. How can someone who was sued for not singing on her records judge talent? Randy Jackson isn't much better. And I find that the Simon guy isn't nearly so "mean" as he's billed. Here's their typical attempt at judging - Randy says the "dawg's" got it. Abdul repeats what he said, and Simon then adds a bit of a voice of reason. Then the "talent" responds to Simon, which has got to be the stupidest thing I've ever heard. My least favorite response - "let's see you do what we're doing". You don't have to be a singer to pick out soul-less, off-key performances performed by plastic people with no personality.

And let's not forget that horrific host. Up With People on crack. Jesus, right now they're singing "Footloose". I thought I'd never have to endure that song ever again. I've seen high school choruses with more soul.

Enough of this garbage - it's time to change the channel. Are we dropping bombs yet? I remember the moment the first war with Iraq started. I was still married at the time, and like the rest of the world we had CNN on. I'll never forget the green streaks on the night vision screen. Although the war really had little effect on my life, at the time it felt like the world was changing...we were scared. I'm sure I'll have those same feelings this time. Actually, they'll probably be a bit worse, as the world is much less stable than it was back then. I just hope that it's over quickly, and that it doesn't cause the rest of the world to hate us even more than they already do.

On a happier note, everyone should go out and buy the new Libertines album. As I stated before, it's produced by the Clash's Mick Jones, and he did a great job. It sounds like it was recorded in my living room, complete with a bum note here and there. The first couple of songs aren't that great, but around the fourth song I find myself in awe. Imagine the attitude of the Strokes mixed with the attack of the Clash, the energy of the Jam, and the pop skills of mid-60's British Invasion.

I just changed back to that silly talent show, and now they're butchering another awful 80's movie song - that I've Had the Time of My Life travesty. Why is this show so popular?
I've now been signed up for an hour and I'm about to give up. For whatever reason, I keep getting a message that my blog is not ready to be published. I just wanted a page where I could babble about whatever; I never realized that I didn't have enough thoughts to fill an opening entry. (Go ahead and laugh.) Hopefully, this last paragraph will bring me over the top. If not, then I've wasted another hour that I'll never have back.
As I stated earlier, I provide occassional commentary for KRRO, a local radio station. One of my spots is called Get Out of Town, where I rant about local politicians, news people, newsmakers, etc. Occassionally, I also go after national pop culture faves. Here's what I recently said about this damned reality television trend:




(February 19) As everyone knows, I’m a huge fan of white trash tv. Give me the WWE, Cops, Blind Date, Stern, Springer, even Jenny Jones. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a fan of all things trashy. This week I’m here to put to rest a genre of television that has gone overboard.

Of course, I’m talking about reality television. It’s become an evil beast, threatening to take over the prime time schedule of not only the networks but most of cable. It must be stopped.

Originally, though, I was a fan of some of the original reality shows. MTV basically started the genre with The Real World and it’s half-sister, Road Rules. They weren’t great shows, but the first couple of seasons were, well, real. They just threw a bunch of people into a house or a mini-van and filmed everything. Like every pop-culture success story, however, once the shows became popular the contestants became more and more contrived. Now they’re virtually unwatchable. Each season has the token gay person, the black dude that lives up to the stereotype of screwing anyone and everyone, and a handful of people that believe that the show will launch an acting or singing career. This year’s episodes, along with the newest spinoff, the Real World/ Road Rules Battle of the Morons, feature the most annoying, self-absorbed morons that have ever been put on television.

With the introduction of Survivor a few years ago, the networks got on the bandwagon. Again, the first season was pretty good tv, but who can endure these media whores and/or Jeff Probst, along with the same tired old contests year after year?

Let’s look at the rest of the reality genre, and why they’re the lowest of lowest of television..and that’s saying a lot.

1. Dating Shows. Like I said, I was and still am a fan of Blind Date. Hell, throw in Shipmates and on a good night Elimidate. What I’m bitching about here is shows like the Bachelor, Bachelorette, and Joe Millionaire. What’s troubling about each of these shows is the simple fact that they set the women’s movement back by thirty years. We’ve now gone back to the stereotype that a woman is not complete unless she’s married, and said marriage must be accompanied by jewelry and candlelight dinners. Not that there’s anything wrong with the spoils of success, but these wannabe models care nothing about material goods and not ever having to work.

The worst has to be Joe Millionaire, where this complete dullard of a human is surrounded by a couple dozen of the sleaziest, not-as-hot-as-they-think former stewardess/models/bondage actors. After months of buildup (and further analysis that showed he made much more than ,000), the big surprise that was unveiled last Monday was not only Joe Dullard’s choice and the reaction by her that he was not a millionaire, but a check given to the pair that now made them real millionaires. Funny thing was that the check was for one million total, which actually made him Joe Half-Millionaire.

2. Pseudo-Celebrity Shows. I thought that we had finally gotten rid of Corey Feldman, easily the worst actor in the history of cinema. But no, he’s now the “star” of the Surreal World, a rip-off a Real World featuring has-beens such as Feldman, Hammer, Vince Neil, and the midget black dude that’s not Gary Coleman. In this mess of mediocrity, Feldman stands out as the biggest camera whore currently seen on television. He even rescheduled his wedding, sure to be pure bliss that will last at least as long as Ben and J-Ho, for the finale of the show.

Surreal World is just the latest of a strange segment of the reality biz that features would-be stars. There’s also the boot camp show that was on a few months ago, Celebrity Mole, Star Dates, and celebrity editions of every other game show that was last year’s fad.

3. Talent Contests. This is a topic that’s hard for me to talk about without saying one of the seven words you can’t say on the radio. These are the most vile, repulsive, vomit-inducing shows that have ever aired. I sat through one episode last year, and it was the longest hour of my life. Bad karaoke; wretched songs over-sung by wretched humans. In my opinion, the Simon guy was actually way too nice to these horrible wastes of sperm. When did the ability to hit the highest note and hold it the longest make you the winner? At least we got a consolation prize with last year’s winner as she quickly disappeared, destined to be nothing more than an answer to the 2004 edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Unfortunately, it’s huge success meant that there would have to be ripoffs by the other networks. CBS came out with a new version of Star Search, and pulled Arsenio Hall and the old Judd woman off of the unemployment line. They also rewrote history a little bit, attempting to take credit for the success of LeeAnn Rimes, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Sinbad. Not that anyone would want to admit to that, but there appearances had absolutely nothing to do with their later stardom. God, I’m trembling just thinking about how horror of this show!

Lastly, I have to single out a new sitcom that’s making history by appearing on not just one network, but all of them. And it doesn’t even know that it’s a sitcom. Of course, I’m talking about the weekly appearance of a new Michael Jackson interview on seemingly every channel on the dial. There’s the interview, then Michael’s side of the interview, and then old interviews, interviews with pint-sized friends and egg-donors, and finally interviews with doctors breaking whatever vows of silence they sign onto when they become a doctor.

Why he’s suddenly everywhere is hard to explain. I guess he’s still famous in a Liz Taylor sort of way. But he can’t give away records these days. That’s what really bothers me. History has been rewritten in his favor. The reality is that after one good album, Off the Wall, and a blockbuster album, Thriller, that in my opinion killed the concept of videos by giving them movie-sized budgets, he became nothing more than a joke. Each of his albums sold less than a third of the previous, and they all followed the Thriller blueprint - the high-pitched squeal, the heavy metal guitar solo, the “save the children” ballad, the multi-million dollar video. After twenty years of this, his sales are now less than those for my silly little garage bands. At least those recoup their costs. Jackson spends tens of millions and recoups a fraction. Tommy Mottles not his devil; a bored public is.

And that’s why a part of me believes that this whole saga is as contrived as his music. I think he’s orchestrated this whole episode to keep him in the news. I’m probably giving him more credit than he deserves, but keep in mind that this is the same guy that handed the National Enquirer the shocking stories that made headlines in the late 80’s. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that the British interviewer that supposedly sold him out was actually in his employ, and that he follows this up with an album in the next few months to capitalize on his newfound celebrity. God, I hope I’m wrong.


My first bitch - it's now my feeling (after posting four items in the last ten minutes) that these blog providers should give a person more info before a person is signed up. My plan was to just get this page started, introduce myself, and then throw some more stuff on it later. Now I'm wasting most of my afternoon trying to put enough on here to allow it to be published. Hopefully this will be the last you'll hear from me for a few hours.
Still not enough info. Ok, let's start with some questions. What do you think of the upcoming war? I'm personally against it - I think there's still plenty of other avenues that need to be explored before we begin a campaign that's destined to make the world hate us even more than before. Every bomb we drop will result in another potential terrorist.

What about music? This week was a cheap week for me. I bought the new Stephen Malkmus (it's ok, nothing special), the debut by the Libertines (buy it right now - it's produced by the Clash's Mick Jones) and Sounds Like Dresden, another noisy poppish band on the label owned by the leader of Bright Eyes. This is the first week in awhile where I haven't bought at least a half dozen discs...which is one of the reasons why few people see me out at night. After dropping a hundred bucks a week on CD's, who can afford to hit the bars?
This is a first. My blog provider says that I have not written enough material to publish. Trust me, I've never been told that my copy was too short. So, let's introduce myself a bit better. If you're here because you know me or are a contributor to my message board (http://shudson.hyperboards2.com) you already know that I'm a 40 year old divorced guy with one child that runs the family business but also writes for a silly publication (Etc. Sioux Falls) and contributes commentary for a local radio station (KRRO). If you've somehow stumbled on this page - well, you know my story now.
Ok, this is my second attempt to publish my first blogger post. Rant-a-bit is a forum for me to vent about everything I love and hate about music, politics, television, daily life, movies, and more music. Please feel free to contact me if you have any feelings, good or bad, about anything I place on this page.

And now let's hope that these paragraphs will make it to my site.