GOOD HEALTH, BASEBALL AND MORE ABOUT SAVING THE WORLD
Went to the Doctor for a routine physical. He said that the fact I lost 70 pounds in 5 months borders on medically impossible. He suggested a book. I’m thinking infomercial…Nah. But I will say it does feel amazing. Now I’m going on a major workout program, now that I have the right approach to my passion for the culinary. Doctor says I should take a stress test first since I tend to OVER do everything. I’m on my “merger health plan”…whatever happens, I’m going to need to be in top mental and physical shape (and don’t ask about the merger---you read the same press releases I do)!
Funny thing about losing weight…it’s painless and really just about re-thinking food. A classic re-think. America is being tricked by the silly fads. It’s all SO simple.
Speaking of food, I’m a Food TV addict. My favorite is Anthony Bourdain. Guy smokes, drinks and has total character. Liked him ever since I read his best seller “Kitchen Confidential” which is a must read for anyone who goes to restaurants. I see that Emeril is joining up with Martha Stewart. Poor guy. She is pure evil. An Oprah wannabe, except she’s a convicted felon, a working wasp Leona Helmsley type who works the room better, but still is much more important than the “little people”. Responsible for hoodwinking the American Mainstream into thinking that here elitist lifestyle is attainable and correct. The ultimate Tele-snob.
Then there's William F Buckley. I always liked him. Also kind of a snob, but had a lot of class, intellect and eccentricity. Hey, the guy chartered a yacht so he could go into international waters to try marijuana to see what the fuss was about. Would have loved to see him sparring with Bill Maher--would kicked his uber-left ass. The guy had character that superseded his opinions. I sat next to him on a Pan Am flight to London many years ago. Couldn't understand a single word he said, but a real nice guy. Too bad he's gone. A real original. We need eccentric originals in EVERY area.
On a happier note…
Baseball season is upon us. Once again we are doing the PLAY BALL Channel for a couple of days leading up to Opening Day. It’s a trip. Classic calls, radio drama, baseball songs and plenty of audio from the classic Baseball Bugs starring Bugs Bunny. It’s THAT whacked. An audio nirvana for any fan. Lou Brutus is doing the legwork. Should be an interesting season. Of course there’s Roger Clemens who with each word, digs himself into a deeper hole than Hillary Clinton. They both need to study their presentation better.
Then there are the predictions. I can usually tell who’s going to suck by listening to the official statements from the team brass. Don’t bet on any team that’s:
Going after speed (Translation: No hitting or pitching)
Rebuilding (Translation: Not a prayer this year or next)
Going after youth: (Translation: The established stars are too expensive)
Confident in our Line-up (Translation: We couldn’t make any worthwhile trades)
Got some good live arms: (Translation: Gonna give up a lot of home runs)
The team is scrappy: (Can't hit a wiffle ball, but they try hard)
And for my White Sox? I am conditioned for the worst…
A team can’t really say “man, we suck”…Important to keep the eternal hope component alive and well that’s in the soul of every baseball fan. In media and music, denial is a real bad thing. Some of my favorite published denials:
“Home taping is the reason record sales are down”
(In the late 70’s---when the next year, Album sales hit an all time high…guess no-one taped anymore…)
“You can’t beat local radio’s coverage of local disasters”
(After Katrina when most of the local stations were blown off the air)
“FM?! You mean to say that an “FM “station will ever beat KHJ in Los Angeles in music?...hardly possible”
(at the Chicago NAB convention in 1969)
“The Internet is a fad…you can’t make any money with it”
...the first step in changing anything is eliminating denial. Gotta watch for that at XM.
How about those marketing short cuts called Slogans….In TV & Radio: They are usually ones that slide off the tongue well, but mean nothing. “The Best Hits”…”In it For You”. I doubt if those have any traction, and in fact might significantly contribute to the sameness and lameness.
In Newspapers: Most of them are old…real old “All The News That’s fit to Print”. Pretty harmless and I can’t imagine that they have any impact one way or another.
The Web: THIS is where they may contribute to definition and differentiation. For example, TheDailyBugle.com doesn’t say much other than it’s the website for the Daily Bugle. Big deal. EVERY newspaper has a website. Maybe a slogan that’s not hokey, marketing speak or typical, could help define the web strategy. I don’t see any papers doing this…it’s always simply the website of the paper whereas in reality, it’s SO much more.
THE UNIVERSE AT YOUR FINGER
EVERYTHING…ALL THE TIME
A “statement” that defines the site. Gives it some “character” and suggests the unbelievable depth of information. NO-ONE is “selling” the newspaper website for the reality of what it is. A slogan/statement” can expedite this…and SET YOU APART.
Making up language: Google is SO perfect because they changed the name search to “Google it”. As new components are added to web sites , you have the OPPORTUNITY to invent words that describe web functions….just as every teen on earth knows what IM is. My point: THINK of words to describe functions.
There’s a new Rock Station in NYC. Hope it does well. the fact that there really isn't a rock station in NYC is symbolic of how radio has helped unwind music appreciation in America. Rock radio in particular has shot itself in the foot. Bowing to “laws of programming” that are insane. New CD by major artist comes out---you hear “the single”. Cool new sound comes out—Uh Oh…can’t play it because it didn’t “test well”. Let’s ‘trick’ listeners with marketing slogans about how we “really rock”! I sure still get a lot of heat for over sciencing radio…but when I was a consultant, it was really more about common sense than the “police-state” radio that exists now…plus there were always alternatives. I look around at how vanilla and junk culture it is now, and it’s sad…then again, it’s opened up the floodgates to amazing new technologies like satellite radio, Internet and I-Pods. BUT---in a hundred years, no doubt that radio’s creative death will be part of the study of American cultural downfall. I blame MANY (though of course not all) of the people running the stations. Sheep. McDonalds radio? No—McDonalds always innovates intelligently...most doesn't. Hell, they don't even WANT to.
Airplane wise, took John Stevens our production guy/musician who is always amusing to fly with as he looks like a cross between Satan and an Al Qaeda veteran. Also brought Liz Speer from our HR Department. Went to Phillips seafood overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. They drank heavily. Being the pilot I was doing straight Diet Coke. Enroute back to DC, they claimed they smelled smoke...twice. I had a little stuffed nose going, so culdn't smell anything. But the idea of smoke is enough to pay attention. I troubleshot every possibility...triple checked every gauge. Nothing. Nome base wasn't far, so I opted to trudge on and leave the plane with maintenance to have them look it over. They did. They kept it for three days and ran every imaginable test. Nothing. I chalk it up to the effects the alcohol had on them at 10,000 feet. Glad they bought lunch since the diagnostics far exceeded the lobster costs.
XM podcasts on I-Tunes are a hit. Just hit the millionth download mark. I do a “Green Room” feature that goes behind the scenes for Artist Confidential and tells the story of the signings and craziness that often goes into these. But I’m guessing that the vast majority of the downloads are for Opie and Anthony.
Sat in on Opie & Anthony show via phone for awhile. They called on me to comment that "the revealing Science of God" by Yes was voted the all time #1 long song that should be shorter. I went into my strong defense of Yes' early music and reminded them that Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed or Interstellar Overdrive by Pink Floyd is more worthy of that award, though Interstellar Overdrive is SO out there, it's cool. Lou Reed? Never liked him. Don’t get it. One of those Rock n Roll Hall of Fame types that the critics like as well as a few New York club types, but that's it. Nothing against the guy, he had an interesting song or three about 40 years ago, but he symbolizes the Patty Smith factor which in turn is why the Rock Hall is and always will be a dismal and sad reminder of how the "boys club" that oversees the thing is corrupt...they actually BELIEVE the Bullshit they put out. I guess you see I have a problem with many rock critics. SO disattached...a "club" that you are in...or not. Most people are not. Then there's the Maxim writer who reviewed the Black Crowes CD without listening to it. You see, the Black Crowes were doomed because they aren't in the club. And you wonder about the music business? It used to be amusing because it was successful. Now it's just plain sick. Savable...but it ain't gonna happen from "the club" members. Oh yeah, back to O&A. I always like going on their show. I can say Fuck...and they always bring up crazed but interesting topics. I'm really trying to get them into early YES and get them in my plane. Ain't gonna happen. DO check out Rick Wakeman on YouTube with his Grumpy Old Men skits. Hilarious. He came by XM many times and did “Rick Wakeman’s Keyboards n’ Komedy”---despite his image of orchestral music and capes, he’s actually one of the funniest guys on the planet…in a kind of John Cleese Brit way.
Inside the Actors Studio. What a great show. So non junk. we model Artist Confidential after it to a certain degree. Gives you a chance to get a feel for the talent and intelligence of some really great actors instead of what you see in the tabloids or watch on most TV shows. I was impressed by John Cusack. He was on the other night. What a shock--the guy had some very smart and insightful things to say. The junk culture merchants are helping ruin the film business too--s-l-o-w-l-y. that’s how junk works. It's a slow torture. Moments of titillation but in the long and big picture...it's a slow burn...out. You'd think that all of Hollywood is mindless, self absorbed and with significant mental issues...but when you see a real intelligent person who treats it like an art rather than a way to get laid and go to parties...it's pretty cool. Paul Newman and Robert DiNiro remind of that...and they're still very much around. There's a reason they are...and it's not salad dressings