Today I tread on new earth. I had studiously avoided musician interviews because … well, isn’t that what the “real DJ’s” at WUSB are for? They do it all the time and often musician-to-musician magic happens. I made an exception this time because: 1) I had attended a Todd Snider concert at CPI's in Hampton Bays, LI in the late 90’s and have stayed a fan; 2) Da Capo Press had him in their catalog under “soon to be completed novel”; I requested a copy; 3) Read his very special stories of “life on the road."
I did some quick math on time zones. Yes, my interview segment usually begins at 1:30PM Eastern; but Todd is in Nashville. So … will this guy be in any shape (ESPECIALLY after reading his book!) for an interview at 12:30PM his time? Well, long story short, I had to “fill” for many minutes while they rousted this rascal from his slumbers. Good thing I had plenty of fine music to play – Todd Snider tunes of course!
He was great fun and told some of his stories from his recently released novel: “I Never Met A Story I Didn’t Like … Mostly True Tall Tales.” He was totally honest about his preference for addiction over “recovering” and likewise about the stereotypes of backstage women - “groupies”. He has met some real characters on the road and has cast a very wide net that keeps him linked to many of them.
Todd set off, as a very young man, focused on being a music biz “lifer” – he loves the travel, the hotels, the venues and most importantly, the stage time, the applause. He loves an audience that knows his stuff; the ones that share or at least understand his progressive politics and lifestyle.
As a WUSB Spring Radiothon gift to the station, Todd is sending us an autographed copy of his book. First 50-buck donation at WUSB.fm wins the book!
Streets! Love ‘em, hate ‘em. The mind-numbing sameness in the burbs has finally pushed this car guy over the cliff. Sure I have access to some fine country roads, but day-to-day errand running is on the same boring and oftentimes dangerous strip of suburban sprawl. This was country when we moved here over 20 years ago!. I want OUT!! Time for an urban experience that takes advantage of great mass transit and “walkability”, one of the sub-topics today on “Everything is Broken.”
I interviewed John Massengale about his book “Street Design … The Secret To Great Cities and Towns” (Wiley Press). He defines walkability with some basic criteria, all starting with the street itself … is it safe from cars, crime; are there “eyes of the street” (windows facing sidewalk and people in there!). He also said that streets should be viewed as outdoor rooms: width of street proportional to the “walls” – people like shaped spaces. Trees help a great deal. People also want an interesting, short block; not some long expanse of wall, but shops and architecturally pleasing buildings. Research shows that people when showed a stretch of street will invariable pick the same spots they find pleasing. And for you capitalists out there: there is a marked increase in ROI (return on investment) for municipalities when the street has these and other features.
I asked John what his favorite street in North America is. Answer: Main Street, Nantucket, MA. His favorite in Manhattan (he lives there folks): it varies from time to time, but right now: Crosby Street/Howard St. Here is a general reference map, but I suggest you go to Google Earth street view and pan around. What do you think?
So today on “Everything is Broken” I tried to keep from being shrill. I chose silly old auto related music, eschewed a strong political theme, and chose an ostensibly more balanced and mentally healthy guest, one J. David Gray. Ok, health is relative.
David and I discussed Sonoma, California. We tried to go beyond the “wine country” label and focus on the history and uniqueness, the beautiful surroundings and the culture. While I was hoping for some war stories about his mid 70’s debauch entry into such a place, David did not disappoint in that he provided the listeners with a picture of Sonoma with breadth and depth. A very lovely little town in a very scenic valley in a very cool place that hasn’t changed so much that it is now a caricature of itself. Sonoma is real; so are the tourists. But enough about the tourists.
I was left wondering if perhaps it is time to move the show beyond the whining and the outrage. Is it time to hit the reset on the radio gig? It’s like what I say to my now very dear friends of the North Country Peace Group: “how are we doing!? We started off protesting a war (invasion of Afghanistan) and to date (13 years later) only more wars and more apathy and more counter demonstrators. Why are we still standing here?” So is the radio program getting anywhere? Are we really an outlet for alternative media? Are we presenting issues that the mainstream media deliberately ignores?
People that don’t wallow in the pathos of politics are truly turned off by passionate ideology; hell, so am I. But what about PASSION itself? hm? I’m passionate about a select few family members, photography, cars, cats, geography, travel and getting the hell out of the boring burbs. So crucify me! But enough about me.
So perhaps it all boils down to a matter of style. The USA culture is big on that I am told. Ok, the USA culture is big on style, appearance, fluff and not rocking boats – got it. We are a bit of an empty suit culture to begin with, eh? So should I be Mister Smooth; Mister Calm and Melllloooo? Time will tell. It was actually great having a leftover cold; there seemed to be a radio voice there – wow! Disease is good!
Ok, that’s it for my day in the office. Now back to mucking about and wondering why my office desk looks the very same as the one I left behind when I retired! Oy.
Oh, and I even figured out a way to work in the theme from Mister Ed. Take that!
Yesterday’s “Everything is Broken” tackled the sorry state of our media moonscape. All roads funnel into 6! Back in ancient times, 1993, 50 corporations had the lion's share of USA media; today it is 6. If Time-Warner and Comcast come together …
A documentary film is being shot at WUSB by Tony Salva – he was set up in the studio with me during the program and then did a more formal interview after. Mixed media indeed!
Back to that bleak road we are forced to travel … an informed electorate was considered a pillar of democracy when Sally Hemings’ pot farmer lover Tom Jefferson held sway. And I quote:
“I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson to Littleton Waller Tazewell, 1805. Well, I guess Rupert Murdock “to a certain degree” informs his readers of the WSJ, and mouth-breather viewers of Fox News, but that for another day.
My featured guests on the program represented the Long Island Media Task Force. They are doing everything they can to muster local resistance to the runaway corporate takeover of our society. I applaud their efforts.
I see 3 principal avenues of toxic fallout from media consolidation: 1. outright government and/or corporate propaganda; 2. corporate product marketing in drag: i.e. everything from product placement to story slant to VNR’s (video news releases that a corporation’s PR firm produced that is presented as “news,” often with video of a “reporter” on the scene); 3. the outright blackout of stories we really need to hear: e.g. Fukishima; the TPP; the drone wars; alternatives to capitalism. Im sure you can conjure up more categories for all of this. drop me a note with your thoughts!
The media mess is one area of “brokenness” that we all should be fighting. Do what you can locally; take mainstream corporate media with a grain of salt; find some online sources that are less ideologically filtered. Lets see if we can open our own roads to information, knowledge and the power that comes with that.
Mix your own media!
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