Wednesday, October 7, 2020

On The Perverse Effects Of An Upside Down Music Business


I began reading Mohamed Sadek’s piece A Musician’s White Whale: Perfectly Recreating the ‘Funky Drummer’ Beat with piqued interest as a music maker, session musician, composer, etc. and was, initially, positively intrigued. But as I read on I became less so, increasingly frustrated then ultimately somewhat frustrated with some of the more nascent but now seemingly established aspects within the state of what once was an industry vibrantly comprised of creative players who convene to physically make original magic.

During the largely prevailing process of recording music in that heretofore "classic" era, an ideal was pursued by each session participant.  A respectful and respective appreciation, veneration and appropriation of numerous influences within the cultural canon were part of what comprised a collectively inspired performance-based ensemble effort. I find the new laboratory-like process of seek, scan, scroll, review, formulate, emulate and import of existing sounds to be quite the anathema to that collaborative spirit. It's cold and overly calculated and I doubt that the brand of joy in achieving it's aspired result is anywhere near that found and shared at the completion of a recorded physical live ensemble performance. 

Production processes have steadily and constantly changed due to innovations, adaptations, fashion/style trends etc., then propelled and echoed by larger economic concerns. But, to me, the most brilliant innovators and pioneers (such as the oft cited and reasonably artistically worshiped Clyde Stubblefield) were bringing their own body, mind, heart and soul to render something truly original, albeit informed by vast and myriad influences, such as ever was the case.

Rap and Hip-Hop brought sampling into the process, which led to further “needle-drop” tactics that were, and are still, exciting within the paradigm of anything becoming art, with and to which I truly  agree and occasionally subscribe. Digital recording has accommodated further and admirable “democratization” of music creativity with prerecorded loops that undoubtedly allow less-funded and otherwise under-resourced artists to create on a higher, daresay, competitive level. 

I am a proponent of creativity for its own sake, live and let live, live and let play. But I’m also an advocate for Fair Play/Fair Pay, and have been to Capitol Hill lobbying for the rights of my fellow musicians who’ve been historically screwed out of the performance royalties that US terrestrial radio had never been required to pay, based on a legal loophole unchanged since the 1920’s. Those and other efforts have been somewhat successful despite, perhaps due to, the confluence of transitions in market paradigms precipitated by non-unit based sales, digital streaming and subscription platforms. These developments--beginning in the mid 1990's--and the opportunistically manipulative measures that ushered them to the fore have been the culprit for a tragically decimated income stream for songwriters and musicians. Maybe not as much for deejays, but that’s another story.   

There are, however, forensic aspects of re-conditioning recorded music that have always been fascinating, as any conversation with a “remastering” engineer will bear out, especially those who technically revitalize or restore older, deteriorating ad/or primitively recorded pieces (hello Smithsonian Folkways).

But when this current "blueprint the lick" niche market emerges (and I’m surely not intending to disparage anyone’s admirable work ethic here, much less those that are cultural and arts-based) whose very existence was born from the sonic pursuit of a “more affordable” requisition option other than the statutory norm, thus enabling the "client/buyer/creator" to sidestep higher fees and royalties that would be paid to the owner of the master recording (which would perhaps but alas, probably not-- eventually trickle down to the artists, players, producers, etc.) then proceeds elaborately, intricately further by laboriously recreating as many nuanced aspects of that original artistic expression as possible, the line from homage-like dedication is thereby brazenly crossed into the realm of “just business”-based cultural appropriation and exploitation (all artistic admiration notwithstanding).

I, for one, have repeatedly seen my own work as writer, arranger and player become part of a larger licensed income stream for other business entities. I've seen musical notes that required reverent artistic deliberation and many hours formulating, creating and expressively performing end up as commercially marketed sheet music, the proceeds from which I saw nary a cent. These situations aren’t rare. Artist's recording deals are signed and recording sessions (contracted and not) eagerly occur, but by the time the lucrative “back-end” is in someone else’s pocket, any efforts to reclaim some rightful share would require lawyers, energy and time. As many a struggling (most are) artist might attest, we’ve got more creative things to do. The litigious process can not only sap one’s muse, it can eat one's spirit along with other more wisely spent resources.

In light of all this, I here read of a fellow musician, surely with formidable talent and craft, admirably profiled for his entrepreneurial spirit and industrious efforts in recreating/re-manufacturing/reselling what someone else has already created, thus achieving a conveyable facility that surgically removes its original purveyors, or their survivors, from any potential income rendered from its use. 

On the one hand, it’s quite impressive but on the other, it sheds a scorchingly unbecoming light on our increasingly normalized and lamentably vampiric era. Whose hands made that exact music in the first place?


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Preaching Empathy, Compassion and Solidarity from Boo Radley’s Porch


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Art:Wanda Gág


Preaching Empathy, Compassion and Solidarity from Boo Radley’s Porch

She stands transfixed in the wake of recent turmoil, stilled and swooning in the all-knowing hum of the hot summer night. An ever observant eight year old girl reflects inwardly and outwardly. She takes in the view of her home from a new angle, one that until this night was but a panicked and perilous intersection of fight and flight, danger and sanctuary.

A new and profound knowledge courses through her, bestowed by this wondrous experience: the sight of her house, her entire neighborhood—from that diametrically “other” place. How unimaginable this scene and sensation has been, with nary a hint glimpsed during her few young years. But now, all has changed and from now on, all will be cast anew.

Scout, the young protagonist of Harper Lee’s classic adventure novel To Kill A Mockingbird  expresses her astonishment at the unexpected simplicity of this discovery as she  states with humble certainty, “Just standing on Boo Radley’s porch was enough”.

A  deceptively basic, undeniably stark proclamation: the larger world awaiting would be inhabited by myriad and disparate realities, inconvenient and stubborn, just beyond the reach of most, unless a conscious choice is made to acknowledge, imagine and explore a perspective other than our own.  

The grand effervescent arch of literature is comprised of these hero’s journeys, each culminating in a rewarding homecoming, a return to where all is as it should be and as we want it ever to be: safe, nurturing, unconditionally supportive, understanding, charitable, forgiving and loving. 

It’s a widely accepted and wisely appropriated narrative model in Greek mythology: characters jostled from their “ordinary worlds”, stirred by a call to adventure, who initially refuse the call, then finally accept it before being irreversibly thrust upon their personal odyssey. Along the way they discern and cherish faithful allies, while becoming wary of lurking treachery in enemies. Mentors on high advise and guide them as thresholds are crossed, battles are fought and crises are confronted in every imaginable form of obstacle. They are dared to grow.

We've notoriously identified with one particular protagonist as she gazes down upon revelatory ruby slippers upon her own two feet. Our hearts resonate with this moment as we wait longingly for the one earnest incantation that will launch us with her back to a safer, more sensible, serene and familiar world.

Consistently, and only after learning to rely solely upon their own fortitude and a newly discovered inner strength, the heroes “find” themselves. Yes, they return home, but that is not the ultimate resolution of their quest. They arrive to a newly transformed origin to present the retrieved gift—a magical elixir—for the larger tribe, a salve that enhances new courage with which to brave its larger plights and woes: the no longer hidden codes of redemption.   

This achievement is
not a “return” to what once was, for that would merely be a regressive retreat, but rather the progressive evolution of character and spiritual growth.

We invented the word quixotic to describe a futile effort-- windmill leaning, as it were--for it was Cervante’s anti-hero that endeavored to rediscover and recapture a time when all was right, noble, fair and good, essentially to “find what was once home”, yet failed to realize that his retrospective was illusory. He pursued not transcendent knowledge, but merely entertained a nostalgic obsession with what was at best a vivid aspiration, a fleeting man-made impossible dream which never completely existed.

That is each our own private place of reckoning. Our future is informed with our past, but that past is enhanced with the same creative imagination that fashions our desired future. We’re encouraged to optimism by promises of an imagined reward, yet hindered by wary skepticism born of the still stinging scars of past experiences. We fear first for ourselves before turning a braver gaze outward to others.

Our larger society is comprised of smaller, closer communities. Within them dwells our respective individual realities. An endemic struggle exists between these tiered cohorts as we each experience the varying degrees of loosenings and tightenings of the societal harness, each pulling (or pushing back) his or her share of cynically resistant or civically responsible load, cultivating a future for both our smaller and larger selves.    

As the world continues to be exponentially more humanly populated, an ever more inescapable fact insists: each is not alone but consequentially affected-- often and ultimately profoundly so--by the behavior of others, whether parochially trivial or globally pervasive.

Today, chronic dysfunctional divisiveness increasingly proves to be the competitive currency, baiting individual responses, feeding the larger special interests of consorted commerce and mega-industries.

But there still remains a larger and more reliable truth.

It says that one is all and all are one, whether or not that’s ever consciously perceived. It too often is not, and I, for one, am frequently astonished by our seeming inability to accept even our one common planet as a unifying concept. This truth bears out in the scientific conclusion that everything we do or say begets consequential effects for us all. It's in these ways, from the nuanced and trivial to the profoundly impactful, that we are each other.

Western capitalists may decry socialism, collectivism or any other myriad “taboo” non-competitive systems, but these too are cynical and manufactured precepts. The larger, longer continuum is comprised of individual lives, each beginning and ending at their own respective points within it. Moments become life chapters become lifetimes become historical epochs. Along the way, those who episodically subscribe to an “on your own” meritocratic approach to citizenry are the least likely to consider any extensive exploration of an other’s life circumstance as worth the time and effort. What useful insight might lie within striven for for sympathy? Why bother, when compared to one’s own more nourished state, the revelation may prove to be abject, poignant and unpleasant? Once elements of protective avarice and caste-related guilt are added to the recipe, the resultant mixture becomes a repellant—forcing one to push from the true self those uncomfortable notions until they're out of sight and mind. A handy helplessness is a byproduct of the process, and apathy is disguised with its uncaring cloak.    

Prejudice and bigotry are endemic to the human species as we’re blessed and cursed with a stubborn proclivity to imagine. We perceive through lenses of experience, veils of suggestions and the fluid metrics of convenience, comfort, cause and compulsion. We navigate like animals, ever mindful of possible threats, and we discern these dangers with information that we’ve learned first hand or have supposed from related portrayals and narratives. With these templates we build our personal “realities”, and we rush to defend them whenever they’re threatened, for fear they may be dispelled.

Haven’t we each, since childhood, constructed our own ideas and images of upcoming events, persons or places with no more fuel for fancy than a vague description or notion? We instinctively create the overall tones, settings, faces, voices, feelings— anything with which we can initially relate before actually posting in person for the genuine experience.  
Words create pictures, verbal accounts evoke experiences, either impressively real or vicariously interpreted.
The class trip, the party, the blind date, the audition, the concert etc.—those words alone evoke a faux reality based upon an inner perception we’ve weaved from descriptive yarns and the threads of our own recollection. We treat ourselves to a supposed reality and without these “gifts of expectation” those people, places and sensations lurking before us in time would be quite literally unimaginable, perhaps frighteningly so.

Having taken that trip, having had the experience, we’re bemused at the newly discovered disparities between those “before” and “after” renditions of truth. We only then realize that what we’d imagined (sometimes in spectacular detail) was merely a “stand-in” reality that we could conveniently anticipate. The ‘before’ scene existed purely behind our eyes. The ‘after’ was vividly before us as three dimensional reality. We continue to edit, enhance and shape the experience afterward, as well.

Often we’ve heard “I don’t know what I was expecting but…” or “I wasn’t prepared for that...” , but we indeed did expect something in our attempt to gird ourselves for the unknown.

We compulsively prepare. It’s instinctual, involuntary and survival oriented. We as a species suffer from chronic prejudice, and the fear of losing that sufferance results in chronic bigotry.

As children seeking understanding with limited experience, we asked questions:
Why is that child crying?
Why is that man angry?
What is happening?
Why is it happening? Who are they? Who are you? Who am I?

We received answers from our supreme mentors—our parents and elders—who replied with “explanations”. As youngsters, we’ve no other contradictory information with which to question or challenge, so the explanation is largely accepted and becomes what we anticipate until we learn for ourselves otherwise. With enough verifications within a small number of possible contexts—sometimes only one—we're delivered to an ever more intransigent place where we’d rather our “certainties” not be challenged. We have, unwittingly, embraced our own “confirmation bias”.

We are doing the same as a society. Our legacy is to be the natural victim of hand-me-down partial-truths, convenient misrepresentations, carefully cultivated faux-fact, to put it charitably. More bluntly put, we’ve been lied to, sold myths and kept ignorant. Although hardly a fresh concept, I believe that this societal ignorance, with its critical peaks and nadirs oscillating throughout the eras, has recently gained a chaotic momentum delivering us to a desperate moment. This chaos must be attenuated with reason, knowledge and self-discovery lest the ugliness become a self-manufacturing entity all its own.

In the face of lament or a sincerely expressed grievance, when faced with the prospect that our words, actions, policies or intimations have indeed offended someone’s sensibilities,  we hear time and again the incredulous:
“Who says?”
“I don’t see why they can’t just…”
“After all, what was so offensive?”
“Apologize for what?” …

…all selfish inquiries, pleas for charitable exemption and undeserved clemency.

I’ve one personally peevish button-pusher: “They have all the same rights and privileges as the rest of us. Why can’t they appreciate that and stop whining”, and its many related variants. My reply in such conversations is to encourage more exploration of “the other’s” realities, after which you may not be quite as perplexed.  

As inexperienced children, we created realities with which we could eagerly anticipate a journey. As “experienced” adults, we close the doors and windows, pull up stakes and put down the periscope in order to minimize any new information that may challenge long-held sometimes sacredly cherished beliefs. We may even be offended ourselves when such ludicrous complaints issue forth from theretofore negligible quarters. To acknowledge the challenge, problem or "squeaky wheel" would be an admission of having been wrong or unfairly neglectful. But in the hero’s journey it is knowledge that fuels our forward motion. It is what we learn, more than what we know, that steers us home.

There was prejudice throughout To Kill A Mockingbird, in young and old, within and without, before and probably after. From Scout the weight of her particular prejudice was lifted as if by angels with just one gesture. She’d made a years-long journey to see, hear, learn, feel, try, fail and finally succeed in making her way home only to take a few additional brave steps, delivering Boo to his home. She’d by then learned first-hand that he was not the cryptic monster she had imagined him to be, but a true and caring ally. He had held her dear, being a crucial friend in his unique way. He’d been a vigilant protector for Scout, Jem and Dill for longer than they had realized. He was an ally they’d yet to size up as such. He saved them.

But the larger, more profound reward was earned merely by turning on her heels to take in the scene before heading back home. The street had not changed, nor the houses, but nothing would ever again be exactly as she’d once imagined, for her real experience was now enhanced with a new angle, long denied to her by circumstance, fear and predisposition.

The lesson is the elixir: One must make the journey to the other place to earn it, to have it. We must see it for ourselves—in ourselves. But if that’s not physically possible, we might usher our mind’s eyes a few steps further, prevail upon our natural gifts of invention to consider what we may very well have overlooked.   

Only then can we widen our souls’ horizons to prepare ourselves for other truths before those actual trips. It requires imagination. It requires creativity. Those human gears already turn with each day’s plan-making, but when we’re challenged with an alien concept, behavior or customary tradition or a belief strange to us, we might put aside a bit of knee-jerk caution to take a few steps farther outside our comfortable yards.  

If we can heroically summon the will, we might venture part way into the misty veils of faint plausibilies and imagine how someone else’s circumstance may look and feel from where they live. If you’ve not been there, please refrain from throwing up helpless hands. Take a breath, count to three, take a closer look. You may still be wearing the ruby slippers, and you can make that trip. Upon arrival you’ll have won the reward: a fresh take on the origin of another universal sensibility. The glimpse will look different to you. But you’ll also see something familiar that allows you to relate, even a little bit. And it’s all relative.

There’s  a North Star winking above us all, and we each and all have multitudes more similarities than differences. We all have hearts, and we’ve all been hurt. And we all have imaginations.

But we must take that walk—in our own minds and in our own shoes. When we resist, we shun the challenge. But if we’re to prevail as heroes, we must finally accept that call and make the journey. It may be dark and we may need a lantern, but that light will show the way to where truths exist. If we turn it inward as well, we may catch a glimpse of some fairy tales whose truths aren’t as reliably absolute as we had once preferred them to be.

 We can then return stronger with eyes, hearts and minds opened wider with hard-earned enlightenment. That elixir might help to join some smaller pieces of our world into larger sturdier ones.

We can then “find” ourselves on that other porch that, albeit in the very same neighborhood, offers an altogether fresh view. Sometimes just standing on it and having one gaze is enough to change the look and feel of your own street forever.


Saturday, February 1, 2020

Senate Votes for Lawlessness. Whose Pyrrhic Victory?

In An Unreal Play, Here's Something Real. We're Not Rotten. #NoWitnesses #Sham

Like an overly ripe plumb, it's nearly sickening but still somewhat sweet as it's swallowed. But one post-mortem assessment is worth noting as something of which we might be proud as a justified entity:

After 3+ years of blatant malfeasance, miscreant, abhorrent and at many times undeniably unlawful behavior that to all who bear a shred of dignified moral discernment allowing only scant room for charity in the form of reserved opinion, it was the last straw when the whistleblower emerged.

Most had been frustrated with Nancy Pelosi's and the House's extensive hand-wringing and hem-hawing prior to formal impeachment, their opting to optimize--then emphasize--the "information gathering" phase which would serve to vividly display the abject nature of this dark administrative season replete with as many wince-worthy nooks and crannies as possible for the overall complexion to be regarded as starkly irrefutable.

They did just that, lacking only a probably foolish total counter-intransigence in the pursuit of successful enforcement of subpoenas in the face of a stonewalling, obeisant and corrupt AG William Barr-led judiciary. Challenges to each obstructive non-response would likely be mired in courts for years as per the audaciously designed agenda of the Trump Corp.

Once the decision to impeach was reached, it's my opinion the Democrats did what they could with proper decorum, assertive jurisprudence and clarity and did so as effectively as was allowable under the onerous weight of a win-at-all-costs opposition.  [Note: Yes, the Majority was lawyered to the teeth with celebrity statute benders and murderer defenders with redundantly iterated highly questionable standards of ethics. Merely glance at this emergent story.]

At this moment, we can be assured and perhaps slightly mollified that the right was on our side, the moral spine was ours and a proper posture of respectable forbearance was almost solely exhibited by an honest, thorough and forthright team of House managers each of whom were articulate, righteous, dignified and truthful.

The maddeningly blind dedication of the liberally estimated 30-40% of Trump's GOP electorate is too far gone in their transfiguring ingestion of alt-reality for their re-convincing or re-educating. Alas, they're not worth demeaning any more than they continue to demean themselves.
It should suffice to say that the present day legislative GOP has demeaned itself almost incredibly and probably indelibly.

The rest of us should and shall continue to wage a civil but morally resolute war with compassionate souls and honest fair minds that see to it that this avarice infested and Trump manifested GOP will be held accountable for their moral and legal negligence come this November and beyond. We must however assist them with their political suicide.

Our pride is real and well-founded. We're not bent. Our heads are held high, bearing forward and full on for the bigger battles ahead in this insideously fomented culture war. We will win or go down swinging on the right side of an endemically bent arch of history.


Monday, December 23, 2019

Comment re: Sen. Patrick Leahy's Take on Senatorial Conscience and Responsibility

Responding to: 
What The Senate Does Now Will Cast A Long Shadow

Historians and politicians are quite fond of invoking the "point of inflection" within any active paradigm. There are in fact an infinite number of these. With today's 10 to 20 minute news cycle the epochal benchmarks are ever more frequent and nearer between but, as Senator Leahy points out, this trial phase of this impeachment portends to be the real doozy. 

The GOP appears to have been rather unabashedly building its one-party conscience over the last 40 years, holding party unity and fealty to the cause as its paramount credo and this moment may be the "high-noon" of this insidiously planned and sometimes clumsily implemented campaign.

No one doubts the intent of this majority Senate. It will hold its collective breath in the face of an all-pervading truth storm until every lawyerly slight of hand, word, reason and logic are manifest within an all too pro forma protocol toward their retention of legislative power.

All linguistic orchestration and improvisation, every policy construction and each manipulative gambit has more than affirmed their resolve.

There will be no change of heart or moment of moral relenting. If so it would have occurred by now. The litany of assailable optical demonstrations of this President's moral turpitude had long ago reached the critical point.  They'll stand in there, blue lipped, bug-eyed and swooning until the last gavel strikes.

A small consolation is Trump's narcissistic pathology making this more discomfiting for them. Too small.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Comment on "The Slut-Shaming of Nikki Haley" Op Piece NYT By BARI WEISSJAN. 29, 2018

The legislative Left has--had, rather--for too long insisted on bringing a high and holy frisbee to the knife fight that the Right is unabashedly still waging, praising and perpetuating.

Since those obliquely insidious conservative Republicans are allowed to sling about all sorts of variably encoded to outright blatantly inflamed red meat to their eagerly homophilic base, then wink and chuckle later that it was perhaps "merely politics as usual" and that it's a "dirty business", why then must the Dems-- who rather naively enjoyed the civility and restraint of their last executive branch champion while he chronically opted to not be perceived as the "angry black man"--continue to play nice and trust that their postures, platforms and ideological policies must inevitably "will out" alone by dint of the moral high ground they occupy?

Those same arbiters of low ball politics then rather effectively play the shocked victim as if "they never!" would throw a punch with lower than a dignified trajectory. Please...

Lest the Pollyannas among us are neglecting to notice, our country is in the midst of a constitutional coup and it's time to lose the velvet gloves and begin counter-punching without the Lose What We've Fought For routine. Let's cut to the immediate and real story, the battle at hand and see to motivating those in our ranks toward the polls later this year, vote as many of these guys out as possible, then see to our tomorrows and those of the next generations.


"The Slut-Shaming of Nikki Haley" By BARI WEISSJAN. 29, 2018  

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Net Neutrality & Information Tiananmen Square

If you were born after 1980, you may have not heard of the Tiananmen Square protests. If you were to now live in China, you may not know nor dare ask without fear of acute consequence.

Governments have much power. If you, as I, feel as though powers here have recently become emboldened and unabashed with an agenda that does not include nor represent the best, healthiest and most common interests and concerns of the average American citizen, then read what can happen, what DID happen. And with government (and corporate) control of the dissemination of information, as we've seen ratcheted as of late, factual events can be wiped away as if they never occurred. Much of our conventionally taught history has already been shaped, fashioned and edited. Creationism is still taught in our schools today as if it has scientific groundings.

We've been well underway into a marvelously accessible and mostly open informational (and commercial) era. In America and most advanced nations, citizens are free to easily research, explore and discern truth from an infinite number of deliberately delivered sources. A rescinded neutral internet precept would begin the gradual downhill process of closing it.

We've witnessed mergers and acquisitions of major media organs, (AT&T--Time-Warner, Fox-Disney,  National Geographic is now tied up as part of a Rupert Murdoch & Sons Fox/FX syndicate) not only calling into question anti-monopoly issues but also becoming aware that much of this march toward a new corporate cogency is according to strongly plied agendas that have less to do with humanity and sustainability than with short term gain and entrenched greed. There is scant concern for the broader welfare or common good of the people. It's my belief that it has even less ultimately to do with borders, patriotism or nationalism in any sense. Group think and team-playing tribalism responds to such rhetoric, however, and we continue to lap it up as readily as it's served to us on a subscription-bought spoon.

The Internet--this wondrous and heretofore relatively affordable facility is not invulnerable and can very quickly become limited, regulated, prohibitively priced and yes, policed.

Do you wonder why the present guard, who proudly tauts itself "anti-regulation" is seeing methodically to rescinding as many of these guidelines as "bad for business"? Why wouldn't seats of power here and abroad become dead set on regulating an open internet?

The time of this particular political season in which get involved has passed. Net Neutrality legislation had passed but has now been repealed.

We lost.

During the feverish 11th hour scramble to mobilise, we did call 1-202-418-1000 to reach the voicemail of the Chairman of the FCC. Took 12 seconds. The fix was already in. We're losing our rights, our safety, our civility and the present climate (literally, as well as politically) is widdling away a promising future for our offspring and our one planet.

Read below not only of Tiananmen 30 years ago, but of China's repression to this day of its very presence within their arc of cultural history. Then attempt to successfully convince yourself and another that that very same phenomenon could never occur here. It may be a bigger challenge than what you anticipated.

The main reason for that is the abject evidence that within the Halls of Government, throughout the courts, throughout the corporate worlds and down your street that it's already underway.

“Democracy is direct self-government, over all the people, by all the people, for all the people.” ~Abraham Lincoln

"Public memory of the Tiananmen Square protests has been suppressed by the authorities since 1989. Print media containing reference to the protests must be consistent with the government's version of events. Currently, many Chinese citizens are reluctant to speak about the protests because of potential repercussions. Rob Gifford held that many young people born after 1980 are unfamiliar with the events and are apathetic about politics while some older intellectuals no longer aspire for political change and instead focus on economic issues. Youth in China are generally unaware of the events that took place, of the symbols such as tank man,or of the significance of the date June 4 itself."

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Why I'm Keeping My Sirius-XM Subscription

Thoughts, notions & knee jerk responses on the boycott SXM issue and yes, Steve Bannon's an ass:

There are now, and have been for years, more than a few Fox stations broadcasting on the platform, plus the Patriot channel among others whereon much partisan and bigoted gasconade blows chronically, harshly and steadily. It’s my opinion that many of these “broadcasters" suck at the job. Their style is hackneyed, their elocutionary skills negligible to nonexistent and their efforts to compel are pedestrian, at best.

I am a professional musician, songwriter and artist, have been for nearly as long as I can remember. I’ve performed at Sirius/XM, and my own recordings as well as those upon which I’ve contributed are regularly played on various channels, a few of which are adroitly hosted  with the talents of some my oldest and dearest friends.

I’m somewhat regularly surprised when other fellow artists seem unaware of the existence of some relatively rarified informational/ talk / debate/ conversation/ interview show programming on SXM channels such as POTUS, Insight, PRX etc. Many times and to many bright folks have I enthusiastically explained that after being a faithful and enthusiastic denizen within the comparatively meager listenership of those shows that if they were indeed made available in the “mainstream” media that our country would have already taken a few more evolved, erudite and enlightened turns away from the situational chaotic mess we’re in now.

I was in fact out for my afternoon run on a tour stop in Iowa City this past Summer, when I heard Llewelyn King (whose show, White House Chronicle is albeit a weekly PBS/NPR mainstay, but whom is a regular guest on Stand-Up w Pete Dominick (Insight), Morning Briefing w Tim Farley, and The Press Pool w Julie Mason etc.) as he was assessing insightfully how a White House should NOT be run state: “This is chaotic without historic precedence, and NO GOOD has EVER come from chaos.” I had to pull up my gait and ponder that pensively.

I’ve been a subscriber to XM and Sirius/XM for over 10 years now and I must unabashedly state that my awareness, my social and political scholarship, and political views have been informed, formed and made more than ever robust via more than a dozen truly enriching, elucidating and opinion fortifying (and dispelling) articles, authors, journalists to who I’ve become aware through these AMAZING shows and their programming. 

The number of authors, journalists, pundits, specialized and dedicated EXPERTS (yes, remember them?), provocateurs, satirists, inflective agents from qualified and compelling quarters are far too many to mention here if I were to try to lay out a litany of pathfinding champions that have no better nor more accommodating formats in the post Suskind, Pine, Cavett, King (and now Charlie Rose) age of interview shows. Stephen Kinzer, Matt Taibbi, Eric Segall, Aaron Carroll, Chris Frates, Jennifer Bendry (actually, the Weekly Round Table on Julie Mason’s Press Pool show on POTUS has more unfettered and factually formed opinions than ALL the network Sunday shows combined). Anyone who would like a direct line to the worlds and wile-wary ways of straight up honest to goodness investigative journals need only prevail upon the Twitter feeds of the hundreds of adroit and arcanely savvy and skilled minds heard on the multitude of these impartially dispassionate shows.

I thought it was a joke when I tuned in two mornings ago to hear callers say, on the seminal StandUp! with Pete Dominick show, that they were unsubscribing due to Sirius XM’s gift of a platform to this “monster”. The reason was that they “had to stand for something” and that this was the only way in which they could have their “voice heard”. Again, this was on a show called Stand Up! and they were voicing their opinion on live radio. Oh, well anyway…

...I agree that Bannon's an asshole, but he most certainly isn’t alone. I can tune him out—and usually should and do. BUT, if I were to want to tune in to inform myself of the particular tack and spin being employed by him to his dim minions on any given day (ever read Don’t Think Of An Elephant by George Lakoff?), I would be able to call and challenge he and them directly, or at least do it live and in real time.

Over 16 years ago, when XM & Sirius were slowly birthed as the Gemini twins of the new satellite broadcast technology whose eventual demise was speculated and trumpeted by forecasters and detractors  (XM Satellite Radio's first broadcast was on September 25, 2001, nearly four months before Sirius) there remained terrestrial radio and a slowly emerging 'new-normal’ which we now know as media streaming.

12 years later in 2013, the survival of the companies relied on their merging, and since then Sirius/XM has slowly come literally out of the blue, out of the red and into the great black as a cash juggernaut of an established economic model with 30.1 Million subscribers.

During its touch and go years, though before the merger, both companies were hemorrhaging dollars,. After the merger, one life-saver was the acquisition of Howard Stern’s show. It had already garnered solid millions of faithful listeners. It’s been arguably claimed that Howard and his show which many consider jarringly sexist and otherwise offensive to many, was indeed was one of a few stalwart assets that kept it all going during those formative subscriber-base building fiscal years.

There was one 6-month period of my life when I listened to terrestrially broadcast Howard Stern show (and was sporadically entertained by it). After one or more profoundly offensive allusions therein, I made a point not to continue listening. I see that his show is still carried on SXM, just as Fox carries Sean Hannity and Co. (not to mention White House Briefings) and well, I feel this is not a zero sum gain.

I could reiterate the obvious, stomp my feat and say no, no, no to anyone who is participating in any way in the accommodation or propping up of a truly evil person, but since we’ve been seemingly waltzing at times blindly with the devil himself in so many broader realms in myriad fashions, I choose to stoke up on as much compassion-based knowledge and implementable insight that I proudly receive, ingest, digest and make manifest with my own tools of persuasion therein to make small differences in my daily sentient life and creative art. I choose to stay engaged, informed, enticed, interested and eager to learn and be proven wrong from time to time while arming myself with fact-based insight and germane data with which to debate folks who’ve proudly imbibed and are eagerly regurgitating their various flavors of homophilic Kool-Aid.

I’m keeping my subscription to Sirius-XM. It’s worth every penny. Plus, they pay broadcast performance royalties, which is more than I can say of terrestrial radio. What a country. I do love it, though.