Get Out of Town

(October 1) With September now nothing more than a distant memory, many people will start to spend more time lying around on their couch scanning the television dial. In my case, it’s not much different than any other time of the year. But for most people, the change between summer and fall is quite drastic.
With outside activities slowing down, the television networks take advantage and roll out their new season. In the past two weeks, every network has unveiled their lineup. All except Fox, who are tied up until the end of the month with baseball. Then again, when was the last time that Fox put on something worth watching? Probably twelve years ago when the first episode of the Simpsons was aired.
So the last few days I have felt a duty to sit through hours and hours of bad tv. And I’m here to tell you that this season could quite possibly be the worst season in television history. Of course, that has been said about the last few years, but I really don’t think any season could sink lower than what I have witnessed the last few days.
Here’s a few trends that need to be immediately stopped:
1. Reality television. I know, I’ve ranted and raved about these shows before. But they need to be eliminated, kicked off the island, tarred and feathered, tortured at that Cuban military camp. Anything to get rid of these shows.
Thankfully, dismal ratings this summer has spared us of new versions of the kiddy porn version of American Idol and a few other similar shows. But that hasn’t stopped the networks from putting on new versions of Joe Millionaire and The Bachelor. These shows are pure evil, pushing forth that stereotype that a woman is not a complete person unless she’s married. And the guys they choose for these shows couldn’t be any dumber. I never, ever need to see another tearful model-wannabe cry because the soulmate she met three hours ago kicked her off the show. “We had such a connection”. Boo hoo.
And let’s not forget Survivor, which should have never attempted a second, let alone sixth season. Jeff Probst is the devil incarnate, and the words “fire represents life” should never, ever be uttered again. And how is it that every year is the most shocking season?
2. Under-performing, over-hyped, nonsensical new shows. Anyone who watched any network programming this summer was forced to endure promos for shows featuring Alicia Silverstone, that guy from the Sopranos whose head was cut off, a comedy featuring that woman from the Regis show, some drama trying to take advantage of the popularity of the word Matrix, and about a dozen CSI ripoffs. Trust me, I never ever need to hear that fluffy teen-pop song that’s the theme for that Silverstone show.
Nor surprising, but all of these shows suck. An extra special suckage award has to go to Coupling, which has managed to turn a great British show into the worst show of recent memory, even while utilizing the exact same script.
3. Over the hill, way past their prime, former hit shows. Hey Joey, I don’t believe for a second this romance with Jennifer Anniston. Carter, every other star of ER has left, why haven’t you? Frazier, just admit that you and your brother are gay and go count your money. Sipowitz, we’ve seen your ugly naked ass way too many times, and that young blonde cop is way too hot for a fat drunk like you. And I won’t even go into the nonsense that’s called Boston Public and The Practice.
4. Dr. Phil. I just have one question – how can anyone who’s got a belly bigger than mine dole out weight loss tips? Why doesn’t he follow his own guidelines?
Dr. Phil is pure evil. The fact that he got his gig thanks to Oprah, who really is the anti-Christ, is reason enough to fear this fool. He berates people, particularly husbands, after interviewing them for just a few minutes. That’s just not right.
And his tour pimping his book was just embarrassing. Like any good pimp, he traveled form the Today Show to the Tonight Show, from Leno to Letterman. His show during that time period just happened to deal with the issues from his book. Who needs infomercials when you have your own show?
By the way, my silly sister was conned into buying this travesty, so I took a look. He seems to have stolen every weight loss idea from every other book and somehow combined them all together. Every paragraph or so features what he considers a bold statement, but in reality is nothing more than common sense. Save your money; don’t buy anything with Dr. Phil’s name on it.
5. Jessica Simpson. Or Jessica Simpleton, as I heard someone say a few days ago. God, where does one begin? There has never, ever been a more unlikable entertainment subject then this twit. I never thought I’d actually feel sorry for a member of 98 Degrees, but having to deal with Jessica completely absolves him from any musical sins he has or ever will commit.
The girl doesn’t know what rigor mortis is, confuses tuna with chicken, thinks buffalo wings are made out of buffalo, and is scared that she’ll swallow fishheads while swimming. She burps, farts, has pet names for her poop, and bitches and moans even more than Roseanne Barr.
The obvious question has to be whether she’s faking it. Could she really be this stupid? I say yes, but she definitely plays it up. Watch the next time she’s confused by something her husband says. That empty look in her eyes indicates she’s not playing dumb. But it’s also obvious that this moron has lived her whole life with people catering to her every whim. Her silly utterances has always been “cute” and “precious” She’s lived in a sheltered world where she’s the Princess. And now that she’s sort of rich and somewhat famous, people continue to kiss what she likes to call her stinky ass.
But I’ve come up with one way to deal with her show. I propose a drinking game. Every time she says something stupid, you drink. You’ll be drunk in ten minutes.

Last Week's Get Out of Town

(September 24) It was approximately 18 months ago that I upset quite a few folks at a certain large granite building that looms large over this section of downtown Sioux Falls. Thin-skinned beuracrats caught second-hand knowledge of my babbling, and Cade’s phone started ringing off the hook. It marked the first, but hardly the last time, that one of my weekly rants resulted in a few headaches for the fine folks in the Midco building.
A few weeks ago, I was almost willing to grant these folks a pardon. 2003 has, for the most part, been a banner year for the Washington a Pavilion. Schlock artists like Lori Line and Bill Cosby are still the norm, but they’ve also shown a little bit of testicular fortitude in some of their booking. They booked a couple of current country artists, a few rock shows, a bit of reggae, and in a couple of weeks they’re breaking down the hard rock barrier with an appearance by Queensryche. And I am impressed that they have opened their doors to the local punk and hip-hop scenes.
But the show that really made me reconsider my position was last week’s booking of Wilco. Here was a band seemingly tailor-made for the building – a critic’s darling touring behind the biggest album of their career. A band with an extremely devoted following of fans who trade CDR’s of concerts, radio appearances, and studio outtakes.
Personally, I had a lot at stake with this show. After all, this was a band that I quite often used as an example of the sort of band that should appear at the Pavilion. Since this city does not have a club that regularly features national touring acts, I feel that it’s their duty to reach out to those kinds of acts. With that in mind, along with the hope of getting a bit of help in acquiring premium seats, I reached out to Steve Hoffman a few days before tickets went on sale.
In my email to Mr. Hoffman, I acknowledged that I probably wasn’t a person he wanted to hear from…but if he was willing to put all that behind him I was willing to do anything and everything to help promote the show.
Three weeks later, I finally received a reply. Claiming to be out of town when the email came in (but in truth they probably had a series of meetings to determine how to deal with me), Steve claimed to be happy to work with me on this show, and stated that he was forwarding my message to Mary Staddick Smith, the Pavilion’s Director of Marketing. But he also took an opportunity to criticize the so-called “bashing” the Pavilion receives on my website ( Although he claims to “respect” Freedom of Speech, he offered to “fact check” anything I put on my site or talk about on this station. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.
That same day, I received an email from Mary, who requested my phone number to talk about promotion. Within seconds of receiving the message, I replied with both my home and cell numbers.
Once again, I heard nothing from anyone from the Pavilion for the next few weeks. Finally, I sent another email to both Steve and Mary. In that email, I expressed my disappointment that they had yet to contact me and their lack of promotion so far. I included a list of ideas, from papering record stores, coffee shops, and bars with posters and flyers to working with the college radio stations not only in Sioux Falls but Vermilion and Brookings. I pleaded with them to buy cheap cable television or Fox ads, and to also maybe work with the television stations on doing some feature on this unique band. None of these ideas were earth-shattering, but it was time for them to get off their asses and do something. And I was willing to do it for them.
They both sent complimentary emails concerning my ideas, and promised to follow through on them. Days later, Rick Huffman was here to talk about another event, and I begged and pleaded for some posters from him. Although he said they didn’t print many, he promised to provide me a few. Not one was left at the agreed-upon drop-off. Hell, I would have been happy with just one, as I was willing to make more at my own expense.
Still, I heard nothing. What’s worse, they did nothing. Besides a few spots on this radio station, and the daily eight-page ad that nobody notices in the newspaper, they did nothing.
The day of the show, I did finally receive a phone call from both Hoffman and Smith. To their credit, they called to offer me free tickets to the show…although if they had read my piece in Etc. they would have known that I already was in the front row. But I have to admit that it was a nice gesture. I missed Hoffman’s call, but was home when Smith called. While I was pleasant to her, I did admit that I was disappointed in their promotional efforts. She immediately became defensive, first stating that they didn’t have much money to spend, and then finally admitting that while it was no excuse, she “just didn’t have the time”. What the hell is her job then? And why do I see huge stacks of promos, on heavy paper, for the Beethoven exhibit?
Obviously, the show didn’t do so well. 800 people, which is almost a half-full auditorium. But it could, and should, have done better. The over-priced tickets didn’t help, as tickets in Minneapolis and Chicago to see this same band is rarely over $15. But promoting the show is more than slapping yourself on the back. You have to get out on the road and let the people know about the show. When I co-promoted the Replacements at the Coliseum way back in 1987, my partner and I spent a day where we canvassed the entire southeastern portion of the state, from Yankton to Brookings and from Mitchell to Marshall. Every bulleting board and restaurant/bar that was willing was given flyers. We talked one of the local television stations to air a story on their early news promoting the band.
That’s what promotion is all about. You have to reach as many people as possible. There should have been a huge display at Ernie’s and Last Stop. Zandbroz, Black Sheep, Kristina’s, and every other hipster hangout in town should have had fliers hanging in the door. Best Buy should have had Wilco programmed into their background music, just like the Jazz and Blues Society does for their shows. Hell, the day after the show a number of people told me they would have gone if they had known about it. Hell, this past weekend in Minneapolis a handful of fans said they would have made the drive down here for the show (not that I expect them to advertise in the Cities). All of the necessary promotion listed above could have been done for less than the cost of one Argus Leader ad, and would have done more to put butts in the seats.
So instead of a Hudsonland pardon, this week I’m sentencing those fine folks at the Pavilion to once again take a hike. I appreciate the fact that they brought in one of my favorite current bands, but I can’t help but think of the missed opportunity to bring joy to a certain segment of the population that is generally ignored…and I also shudder at the future possibilities for more shows of this ilk.


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