Thursday, March 31, 2011

It's not April Fool's yet. Right?

I thought what I just read a little bit ago was an April Fool's joke. Then again, it isn't April 1 yet.

And I'm pretty sure this article in Variety is dead serious. I'm equally sure them what's got are convinced that them what's not are blithering idiots.

I wish I were more confident that the greedheads in charge of every level of our society were horribly wrong. After all, if they were, it would be terribly difficult to explain how we got to where we are right now in America.

IF YOU DARE, read what Variety says Hollywood has in store for us gullible simpletons. Read it and weep . . . or read it and think "COOL!" Whatever.
Warner Bros., Sony, Universal and 20th Century Fox are the first studios that have agreed to launch Home Premiere as the official brand under which the industry will offer up movies to rent for $30 two months after their theatrical bows for a viewing period of two to three days, depending on the distributor.

DirecTV will exclusively launch Home Premiere nationally to its nearly 20 million customers, while cablers including Comcast will introduce the service in certain cities for an undisclosed period of time some time around the end of this month.

The first films expected to launch include Warner Bros.' actioner "Unknown" and Sony's Adam Sandler comedy "Just Go With It," sources close to the new service say.

The launch plans come months after studios started to float the idea to experiment with higher-priced rentals of pics closer to their theatrical runs as a way to boost their homevid operations with film campaigns still fresh in people's minds.

WB, U and Fox have already succeeded in fending off companies like Netflix and Redbox, forcing them to wait 28 days after a film bows on DVD to offer those titles for rent through their online services and kiosks. Those same studios wouldn't mind lengthening that window even longer and have considered pursuing such talks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

And cue the SEC in three . . . two . . . one. . . .

I'm not a corporate lawyer, and I don't play one on the Internet, but I have been around long enough to know when something doesn't smell quite right.

And David Sokol's sudden resignation from Berkshire Hathaway when he was in the running to become Warren Buffett's successor doesn't smell quite right. Especially after he loaded up on stock in a company he then prodded Berkshire to acquire.

There isn't a bunch to this Associated Press story this afternoon, but I'm betting there will be a lot more in short order -- especially if the feds actually start doing their job for a change:

Buffett said Wednesday that he received David Sokol's resignation letter late Monday, and noted that it came as a surprise. Buffett said Sokol, who had been serving as chairman of Berkshire's MidAmerican Energy, NetJets and Johns Manville units, indicated that he wants to spend more time on philanthropy.

Buffett said he learned earlier this month that Sokol bought nearly 100,000 shares of Lubrizol stock before recommending that Berkshire buy the chemical company. Buffett said he doesn't believe those stock purchases were illegal, and didn't ask Sokol to resign.
YEP, there's more to this. And somehow, I'll wager it all leads back to Sokol's famous arrogant streak.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Simply '70s: If you can't beat 'em. . . .

Sometimes, out there in the North Sea in the '60s and '70s, "pirate radio" lived up to its name.

In this case, realizing they couldn't beat
Radio Nordsee International's big pirate signal with their little pirate signal, some folks at Radio Veronica apparently thought arson on the high seas might be a winning business plan in May of 1971. As it turned out, it also made for some compelling radio -- just not for Veronica.

AS IT turned out, arson wasn't even that good of a knock-the-competition-off-the-air strategy. RNI went back on the air the next day.

It would take the Dutch government to pull the plug in 1974.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Springtime in Nebraska

Welcome to springtime in the Great State of Nebraska -- 30ish and snowing.

Molly the Dog is wondering about this . . . and missing the 70ish temperatures of a week ago for her trips outside.

How Omaha got its groove back

If all you know about the Omaha indie scene is Bright Eyes, Cursive, the Faint or the whole Saddle Creek Records scene . . . well, podna, you're missing out on a lot.

Like Iowa boy Adam Hawkins and It's True -- and a whole bunch of other artists and groups kickin' it truly indie amid one of the country's most vibrant music scenes.

Exhibit A is It's True's latest video, "Nothing at All" from the "Another Afterlife"
CD (coming April 1) and shot in one take at an old school gym in Avoca, Iowa Neb.

OH . . . and there's this from their previous self-titled album.

HAT TIP: Hear Nebraska

The world I used to know

I just turned 50. That's a blessing and a curse.

The blessing of making it to 50 is the wisdom that comes from remembering 50 years' worth of stuff. The curse is the burden of remembering 50 years' worth of stuff.

See, in some respects, ignorance
is bliss. There is a certain contentment in not knowing what you don't know.

Take the state of radio, for example. It's the little story that tells the big story of life in these postmodern times.

If you don't know anything about what radio was, it's difficult to get all grief-stricken about what radio -- and by extension our society -- has become.

I have loved radio for as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid -- back when music came on records, sound got recorded on reel-to-reel tape and computers were the size of small rooms -- I used to trek up and down the dial of our big five-band transistor set, listening to all the world that would fit in
(and squeeze through) a six-inch speaker.

I would listen to a wonderful world of music -- all kinds of music. I would listen to network broadcasts from New York . . . and the world. I would listen to, and wonder about, life in exotic places like . . . New Orleans. Nashville. Little Rock.

Little Rock? Little Rock. When you're 8 or 9 and growing up blue collar in Baton Rouge, exotic is a catch-as-catch-can affair.

Little Rock was the Mighty 1090, KAAY, with rock 'n' roll in the night. And as I was to learn through the magic of someone long ago hooking a reel-to-reel tape recorder up to an AM radio, Little Rock also was
KARK. Or, as the announcers there said back in 1971, "Kay! A-R-K."

IF YOU'RE a lot younger than my 50 years, the above hour of KARK, circa May 19, 1971, must sound like a transmission from an alien culture. That's because it is.

In 1971, the mass media was just that. While in many respects, we were just as much a tribal society 40 years ago as we are today, all our various tribes were on a first-name basis. Even when we hated one another's guts.

Though alienation was a fact then just as it is today, alienation was not a business model for mass media. Though we often screamed at one another four decades past, radio and television by and large weren't about displacing light with heat.
Or hot air.

Radio stations like
KARK -- those one's parents were most likely to favor -- were all about being the voice of a community. Today, by contrast, the picked-over carcasses of stations like KARK (now KARN) are all about being the cynical voice of an outraged sociopolitical demographic, usually on the far right.

Today, if you don't want to listen to a single thing "The Other" has to say, you don't have to. You can get all your "news" from people who think just like you do. You can listen to radio stations that pull angry voices from the sky -- via satellite -- that tell you exactly what you want to hear.

YOU CAN wander across the AM dial in search of exotic voices from exotic places, only to find that everywhere is just like Nowhere . . . that nondescript backdrop for our unremarkable lives of quiet desperation. The voice from New Orleans is the voice from Omaha is the voice from Little Rock is the voice from the satellite.

The overwrought voice of outrage.

The voice that shouts but never sings.

A few years after the time of our 1971 archived transmission from an alien culture, Harry Chapin sang about a "bright good-morning voice who's heard but never seen." That guy got fired years ago.

Now there's Ryan, or Rush, or Glenn, or Laura, or Sean . . . or the conspiracy theorists selling doom late at night.
They're not from around here.

THE BLESSING of my 50 years on this earth is I can remember a time when I had a working knowledge of subcultures not my own. When the snot-nosed kid that I used to be couldn't help but have broad familiarity with my parents' Squaresville landscape. With their history, their cultural underpinnings.

Memory also is the burden I bear. This curse is born of a half century of learning the hard way that "progress" oftentimes isn't -- that things don't always get better and better.

When I close my eyes and shut off the noise we can't ignore, I hear music. I hear exotic voices from magical places. I hear New Orleans. I hear Baton Rouge.

I hear Omaha.

I hear Nashville.

I hear Little Rock.

I hear 1971. It's right there . . . the troubled but magical world from when most of my life was ahead of me, not behind.

I hear it . . .
I can almost touch it. My blessing.

I open my eyes, and now it's gone.

My curse.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How not to win friends and influence juries

Some people are indeed too stupid to live.

One of these would be Mr. Isaiah Doyle of Jefferson Parish, La.

I'm not a supporter of the death penalty but, frankly, it's hard to say that Mr. Doyle doesn't have it coming. And if I had been a member of this particular jury, as you will see in
The Times-Picayune's trial coverage here, I probably would have insisted that the sentence be, uh, executed right there on the spot:
Hours after he claimed he'd like to kill all the members of the jury that convicted him of first-degree murder in the death of a store clerk in Marrero, the same Jefferson Parish jury recommended that Isaiah Doyle die by lethal injection.

The jury of three men and nine women deliberated just under two hours returning a verdict just before 11 p.m.

Doyle showed no emotion as the verdict was read. His mother, Yvette Doyle, collapsed in tears in the audience and was helped by family out of the courtroom.

Doyle, 28, killed Hwa Lee, 26, on Aug. 4, 2005, even though she complied with his demands that she give him cash from the register behind the counter of her parents' Barataria Boulevard convenience Store.

He blasted her with four .45-caliber rounds and initially told Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office detectives it was an accident. For that, he was convicted of murder by a jury Thursday night.

But, after warning court officials for days he'd take the witness stand, he testified Friday during his penalty hearing that the shooting was no mistake.

"The only reason she was shot four times is because the gun jammed," he told the jury. "Otherwise, I would have emptied the gun in her f****** head."


Doyle testified against the advice of his attorneys and said he had no remorse for what he did to Lee. He said he had no sympathy for her or her family. And he lashed out at the jury.

"I hate every last one of you, especially him right there," he said pointing to a man on the panel. "I wish I could cut his head off."

At another point in his testimony, he said, "If I had an AK-47 (assault rifle), I'd kill every last one of you."
WHEN YOU'RE busy failing at life (and at getting life), it's probably no big whoop to fail at Dale Carnegie, too. In this case, that's probably a good thing.

DIckens 4-5275

Good afternoon, WAIL.

Hello, Marge?

This is Marge.

Hey, Marge. Let me talk to Pappy.

I'll transfer you to the studio.

Pappy? Can you play "Blue Moon"? My newborn baby boy is gonna grow up to really like that song, I think, and I was wonderin' if you could put it on. I'll put that GE table radio I won from you last year next to the crib.

I'll get it on for you.

Thank you kindly, Pappy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

There'$ pow'r, pow'r . . . wonder-working pow'r!

There aren't many things that will drag me out of my flu-fouled sickbed to putter around on the blog.

One, however, is the alleged evildoing of a supposedly slimy Bible-believin' preacher. Another is the latest freak show from the Gret Stet.

So when you put those two things together . . .
cough, cough . . . sniffle . . . moan . . . here I am.

And there be Bishop Ricky Sinclair of Miracle Place Church, headquartered in Baker, La. According to the Louisiana inspector general's office, one of Sinclair's biggest miracles was in getting money out of the federal government on nefarious grounds.

OK, so that's not so big a miracle. It's common, as a matter of fact.

Here we go. . . . According to the Louisiana inspector general's office, one of Sinclair's biggest miracles was in almost getting away with not disclosing his criminal record on documents when he applied to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to run a halfway house.

Hang on. That's not a miracle, either. We're talking about bureaucracy, and we're talking about Louisiana. The miracle is that somebody noticed.

This guy and his church are running short enough on miracles that they might be in Dutch with the Federal Trade Commission, too.

FROM THE (Baton Rouge) Advocate this morning:
The report by the office of state Inspector General Stephen B. Street Jr. said Bishop Ricky Sinclair of Miracle Place Church also used people — ordered by the courts to attend a church-affiliated halfway house — to perform work clearing land and building a new home for Sinclair, his wife and family.

In a prepared statement sent via e-mail, Sinclair denied any wrongdoing.

“I have read the Inspector General’s report, and the accusations against me are simply not true,” he said. “Miracle Place and Ricky Sinclair have been serving the people of this area for over 20 years, and we will continue to serve them to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ.”

Street said Sinclair’s fraudulent activities date to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and continued after Hurricane Gustav in 2008.

“You’re not talking about questionable claims here,” Street said.

“You’re talking about blatant, fabricated and deliberate fraud — from scratch in many cases, where they just made things up.”

He said it was “particularly reprehensible” that the fraud was committed against the backdrop of two natural disasters.

Street said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana State Police and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of the Inspector General assisted with the investigation.

The findings have been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for possible criminal prosecution, he said.

The report alleges that Sinclair collected $121,281 from FEMA for labor costs for operating his church as a shelter during Hurricane Katrina but spent only $39,950 paying workers. He kept the remaining $81,331, the report says.

I HAVEN'T lived in the Gret Stet since Ricky Sinclair still was a two-bit drug dealer, yet I knew the guy is an ex-con. And, according to the story, all his tracts tout that the guy's an ex-con.

HECK, even Pat Robertson told the entire backslidden world, via his 700 Club TV show, that Bishop Sinclair did time for dealing dope. Yet the Gret Stet of Loosiana couldn't figure out a thing until the inspector general noted that Sinclair and some associates "failed to disclose past criminal convictions, as required, when they applied to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals to operate the halfway house program."

Some would call Sinclair a moron for that one. I'd merely say that he was just
(so far, allegedly) implementing the first half of "be ye therefore wise as serpents." In other words, you have to know what you can get away with.

In the Gret Stet, that would be a considerable amount. The "and as harmless as doves" population ain't what it should be.

It's where self-government goes to eat well, clog its arteries and die of a heart attack.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Simply '70s: News for the hard of hearing

In October 1973, Broadcasting magazine reported on how Boston's public-television station would begin captioning the nightly network news for the hard of hearing.

This lasted a while, but a couple of years later NBC came up with a better method of making TV news accessible for those with hearing difficulties.

The new technique certainly beat slaving over a hot Vidifont keyboard for hours and hours every night, and it offered the possibility of real-time translation -- as opposed to every newscast being delayed for hours while being captioned.

Friday, March 11, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: At least there's this

The world has gone to s***, Japan has been laid to waste, thousands of American politicians have yet to be exiled to Siberia, the missus is sick as a dog and I ain't feeling so hot myself.

Let's curl up under something warm, grab a hot cuppa tea, put on 3 Chords & the Truth and make the world go away.

(Timi Yuro, 1963. Eddy Arnold, 1965.)

That's all I can think of to do right now. Maybe that's all we can do right now -- not give up on joy, embrace the music and put on the Big Show. Y'know?

ANYWAY, we have another fine episode for you this week, full of tasty nuggets of pop, alt, jazz, rock, indie and New Wave goodness. Not sure what more to say about it than that.

We got vintage LPs from the 1960s to play. We got local Omaha artists you don't know about but should.

We got the '50s. We got the '70s. We got the '80s, '90s and uh-ohs.

It's the Big Show, so you know we got it all. Is this 300 words, teacher?

WELL, it's good enough for government work. But the show is much, much better than government work. If you don't believe your Mighty Favog, give it a listen and hear for yourself.

Gotta go. Gotta curl up under something. Gotta let the music take me away from what ails us.

Why don't you do that, too?

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.

Swept away

There aren't any words for the cataclysm that engulfed Japan today, only prayer that transcends them.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Flaming Lips or Microsoft Paint? You decide.

If you couldn't see the title of the YouTube video, this would be harder than you'd think.

That says something right there.

Yep, what we have here is MSPaint.exe, as opened in an audio-editing program. The Flaming Lips could have saved so much time and effort . . . and come up with pretty much the same thing as their latest release.

If you're not lame, don't act it

Flyover by Archrival from Nebraska Entrepreneur on Vimeo.

The tragedy of Nebraska is that people in some of the lamest places on earth think the Cornhusker state is lamer.

"Flyover country," they call us.

Our usual response is to act all insecure. Act like it's reasonable they'd think that. Like they're not stereotype-addled morons for being surprised that everything's up to date in . . . Omaha. And Lincoln.

Even Grand Island.

The guys at Archrival marketing in Lincoln have had about enough of that crap. In this video, they suggest a makeover.

ONE CAVEAT, though. The Archrival folks bring up the state's 2011 license plate as a marketing disaster, saying professional designers could have done better and saved the state the humiliation of a completely botched contest to pick the "winning" design.

What folks need to realize is that "professionals" can suck just as badly as anyone --
and cost a lot more. Also remember that, in designers, we're dealing with "creatives." You get what you get. Sometimes, it's Charlie Sheen.

Here, I present Exhibit A, part of the "design community's" protest over the suckage of the plate. I bring this up, because
Clint! Runge and Charles Hull make it sound like the "design community" single-handedly saved us from bumper Armageddon. (I also bring this up because Runge puts an exclamation point behind his first name. Really?)

The "creatives" saved us from nothing. The "dull" old newspaper journalists at the Omaha World-Herald saved us from the abomination of stamped-tin desolation by reporting on the vote-rigging and demanding to see the state's data. The pols quickly got with the program.

Remember, it's all about excellence, not necessarily professionalism for professionalism's sake.

BUT ALL THAT is kind of beside the point, because the larger point of the presentation is dead on. In this world (and our postmodern economy), intellectual capital is destiny, perception is reality . . . and outsiders' perceptions of Nebraska fundamentally conflict with most Nebraskans' day-to-day reality.

If you want the world to beat a path to your door, don't be lame at marketing.

Spaced-age advertising

Who knew people were having so much fun in '61?

The Space Age, indeed.

What? Weed & Company? Broadcast-ad representatives?

Oh. Never mind.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Move over, Nick Nolte

Now this is what I call winning.

Dude in Stamford, Conn., came out at least even Tuesday in a mid-haircut scissor fight, according to police, then absolutely, positively kicked ass with the mug shot. Ladies and gentlemen, in this corner, the po-po Polaroid winner and new world champion . . . DA-viiiiiiiiiiiiiid DAVIS!

And the crowd goes wild.

The newly dethroned mug shot cham-peen, Omaha's own Nick Nolte, could not be reached for comment. Let's just say, though, that Los Angeles-area police are on the lookout for his car being operated in an erratic manner in the wake of the new champ's crowning.

The actual coronation has been postponed while authorities try to fashion a crown that will fit over Davis' new 'do.

LET'S GO NOW to the tale of the tape, as printed in the Stamford Advocate:
A 21-year-old man sitting down for a haircut allegedly grabbed scissors and slashed another in the back Tuesday in the South End, police said.

David Davis, of Cedar Hill Avenue, New Haven, was arrested shortly after the incident when Stamford patrol officers and a police dog found him in a nearby Henry Street apartment. Officers took him into custody when they initially found he was wanted on a warrant for failing to appear in court and later charged him in the stabbing after an investigation, Stamford Police Capt. Richard Conklin said.

The victim, identified as a 21-year-old Stamford man, was taken to Stamford Hospital to receive treatment for his wound. Davis is being held on $5,000 bond and is due in court March 22.

In a statement, police said Davis was getting a haircut at 126 Henry St. when the victim approached in what Davis called an "aggressive manner," so he picked up scissors to protect himself. Davis slashed the man in the back, police said.

Simply '70s: Life is a rock . . .

. . . but the radio rolled me.

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me . . .

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me . . .

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie . . .

Life is a rock, but the radio rolled me. . . .

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Paying the price for Original Stupidity

The incoming editor of the Daily Nebraskan thinks it would be an awful shame if the student body closed the checkbook that covers a seventh of the University of Nebraska student newspaper's annual budget.

Perhaps Ian Sacks ought to have had that conversation with the paper's present student editor before
Jenna Gibson and her staff -- largely comprised of what one now-former columnist described as "hipsters" -- set about endangering their already-tenuous hold on that student assessment by angering lots of students for no good reason.

And when I say "for no good reason." I mean just that. Unless, of course, someone can explain to me how a salacious article about the sexual habits of College of Architecture students and teaching assistants, based purely on anonymous innuendo and gossip, constitutes good reason.

Sacks takes to the
Support the Daily Nebraskan page on Facebook to lament a student's decision to vote no Wednesday on continuing student funds for the newspaper:
I understand architecture students' grievances entirely. However, I do feel I need to say that as next year's editor-in-chief, no one needs to worry about similar stories running again. I know next year's editorial staff is behind me on this as well.

If these students truly feel one story's damage has outweighed all positive coverage both before and after, and that its consequences should be levied upon next year's staff, that's their prerogative. But it seems very "sins of the father" and that's unfortunate.
AS SOMEONE with a few years under my belt, I find it "unfortunate" that an incoming editor of a student newspaper doesn't understand that "very 'sins of the father'" has been how the real world has operated, oh . . . forever. We Christians call it "original sin."

Ever since Adam decided Eve was onto something with that forbidden-fruit
diet, every child born into this fallen world has had to pay the price for the "sins of the father." I suspect that model will hold true concerning the sins of the Daily Nebraskan.

When one semester's DN staff breaks trust with its readers by publishing uninformative, salacious trash --
salacious trash accompanied by a foul illustration -- it, frankly, is unreasonable to expect that a burned student body is going to put much stock in an incoming editor's promises not to be as irresponsible as his predecessor.

In other words, it sucks to be him, because only a fool listens to what people
say in lieu of watching what they do.

And what this semester's staff of the
Daily Nebraskan has done is squander the fruit of more than a century of previous staffs' hard labor for the sake of one prurient story of no news value. It is this sin that may well be held against many DN staffs that follow -- if, indeed, any follow at all if students vote no.

Not that the newspaper's present management has learned anything from its February missteps:

The story began a lot different than it turned out. The original assignment was to write about the sex lives of students who spend a large amount of their time hard at work in Architecture Hall. Instead, what ran was a story that presented the anonymous statements of few students that was misunderstood at representative of all architecture majors. That this misunderstanding occurred is the fault of the Daily Nebraskan — many architecture students have contacted us saying they resent the statement.

On a positive note, this situation has improved the level of editorial oversight on such provocative articles, and we on the DN Editorial Board admit there needs to be more eyes on a story like this one so it could have been improved before running. There will also be more oversight on the art, making sure that any explicit content is not only justified but not distracting to the point of the story it accompanies.

THAT EDITORIAL from Feb. 6 didn't express regret over printing the college newspaper version of Jersey Shore. What it expressed was regret it didn't give a sleazy premise better production values.

What it also didn't say was that Kelsey Lee -- the reporter who has achieved, while still an undergrad, a level of pandering and cynicism to which it takes others many years to sink -- was out of a job. (That's because she's not.) Editors always can manage a staff better and more attentively. What editors can't do is magically give reporters and artists a moral compass and common sense.

Neither Lee nor artist Bob Al-Greene
(who seems to be more of a Bob 2 Live Crew to me) displayed either.

Everybody screws up. Some screw-ups, however, preclude editors from giving the offenders a second chance. Senseless transgressions that may have placed the publication into
mortal jeopardy fall into that category.

NO ONE -- or at least not this writer, an alumnus of The Daily Reveille at LSU who's married to an alumna of the Daily Nebraskan -- wants to see NU's student paper disappear or be crippled for years. That goes double for Mr. Sacks, who already has a hell of a mess to clean up as editor for 2011-12.

But, as we say these days, "mistakes were made." Consequences usually follow.

Though the price Ian Sacks and his staff might pay for the "sins of the father" could be high indeed, it would be hard to say the penalty would be unjust should the student body see fit to mete it out. The reality of this world is that we always pay for "the sins of the father."

Thus it always has been. Thus it always shall be.

Simply '70s: So very '73

This appearance by Marc Bolan and T Rex on the British Top of the Pops show was soooooo very 1973.

On the other hand, so was Sammy Davis Jr.

It was an interesting time to grow up.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Thank God we're not Charlie Sheen. Right?

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.

Here I am, watching Charlie Sheen's psychotic break -- live on tape on Ustream -- and I can't turn away, which would be decent. No, instead, I'm sitting here transfixed as he rants and raves to a sycophantic Baba Booey, the Howard Stern sidekick and executive producer, resplendent in his bed hair, 12 o'clock-the-next-day shadow and snorting a cigarette like it's a line of Colombia's finest.

What I seem to be doing is watching a suicide for my own amusement. I -- we -- may be sicker than the man ranting for the camera about his "tiger blood."

In my defense, feeble as that might be, this is the cultural moment you can't ignore. I'm not entirely sure what that moment is yet, but I know Charlie Sheen is a metaphor for the rest of us -- for our Western society -- in some important manner.

HE'LL END UP blowing his own brains out live for the camera . . . on Ustream. We'll think it's "epic."

Because we're "winners."

Of course, this presupposes that "winner" has been defined down to "Someone who congratulates himself on how clever he is while thinking of ways to leverage a drug-damaged madman's prolonged public suicide into higher brand visibility and a significant profit-making opportunity."

Hey, Charlie! Lookin' good! Dead yet? No?

Duh . . . winning! Let me tweet that. Get the latest update up on my website.

Make sure to make fun of the screwing-a-porn-star thing. That's safe enough. Not that we object to that, necessarily. It's just we know we won't get the chance, so what the hell, you know?

Because we're winners. And Charlie Sheen is a deluded . . . loo-serrrr!

YEAH, Sheen is a loser. But that doesn't make us "winners." We just don't have the fame and the cash to be an "epic" loser.

Unless, of course, you step back and look at us on a societal level. Together, we're "epic." And Charlie Sheen, when you look at it that way, isn't just a train wreck, he's a metaphor. For us.

When you look at all the stats and all the trends and all the crime reports and all the lives of quiet desperation . . . when you look at all the undone husbands and Real Housewives of Exurbia . . . when you look at stressed-out, sexed-out, maxed-out teenagers who decide to check out in alarming numbers . . . when you look at bling and "haters" and paranoiac commentators . . . when you look at all that, Charlie Sheen starts to look a lot more normal.

This is not a good thing.

Carlos Estevez is us. All the immaturity of us, all the lust of us, all the superficiality of us, all the drinking and drugging and bacchanal of us, all the self-importance of us and all the pettiness and madness of us, writ small enough for some voyeur sitting in front of his computer screen to get his little mind around.

Charlie Sheen is a metaphor.

Charlie Sheen is a symptom.

The problem is us.

Duh . . . winning!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This just in: Charlie Sheen wins again!

Here's what we have so far, posted on
"After careful consideration, Warner Bros. Television has terminated Charlie Sheen’s services on "Two and a Half Men" effective immediately," the company announced in a statement.

A source familiar with the decision to terminate Sheen’s contract said that Sheen was informed of the news, “shortly before” the statement was released, at approximately 4:30 p.m. ET. At approximately 4 ET, Sheen tweeted, “#winning.”

"This is very good news," quoted the actor as saying. "They continue to be in breach, like so many whales. It is a big day of gladness at the Sober Valley Lodge because now I can take all of the bazillions, never have to look at whatshisc**k again and I never have to put on those silly shirts for as long as this warlock exists in the terrestrial dimension."
SEE . . . I told you he was winning!

Like, this means they totally will be paying him that $3 million an episode he was demanding to come back. Right? Right?

Oh . . . you mean in the TERRESTRIAL dimension. Well, no, then. In the terrestrial dimension, the warlock isn't doing so well.

Good thing it's not important. If it were, we'd have to define "winning" down to nothing at all.

The cold, hard facts of Monday

There's nothing like starting off a new workweek in the correct frame of mind. In getting up on the wrong side of bed.

In reminding people not to !#&# with me.

After my neighbors read this, there will be real estate bargains to be had in Omaha's desirable Westside school district.
Tell me, punk. Are you feeling lucky?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Simply '70s: It started with a bread commercial

Little did I know, back in 1975, that in eight years, I would end up exactly one degree of separation from the biggest thing going . . . and a whole genre of popular music.

A whole 1970s cultural moment, as it were.

C'mon, c'mon, good buddy, put your ears on and I'm gonna tell you a story.

Remember CB radios? I think everybody had one in the mid-1970s . . . I know we did. Mama's handle was the Black Cat. I can't remember what mine was. I think I got on there once trying to pick up girls.

Come to think of it, now I can't think of a worse place to pick up girls.
Stupidity, your name is 15-Year-Old Male.

BE THAT as it may, there was a moment in the mid-'70s, around 1975-76, where the whole CB/trucker craze met the entertainment industry. It started when the whole CB/trucker thing met the Metz Baking Co., purveyor of Old Home Bread.

It was a match made in advertising heaven. The matchmaker, in this case, was the Bozell & Jacobs advertising agency in Omaha. My late father-in-law was an account executive there, and a colleague there named Bill Fries came up with a campaign revolving around the fictitious Old Home Fill-er Up an' Keep on A-Truckin' Cafe.

Fries, Bozell's creative director, gave life to C.W. McCall, who drove the Old Home Bread truck. And then he gave him his voice.

The ads were astoundingly popular across the Midwest.
The Des Moines Register even printed a schedule of when and on what channel they were to air.

And when the ads became a whole musical genre, Bill Fries, ad man, became C.W. McCall, superstar.

BREAKER, BREAKER one-nine, it looks like we got us a new fad, c'mon.

That's a big 10-4, good buddy! This thing might even end up in Tinseltown. Cement ponds . . . movie stars.

Roger that, Rubber Duck. You mean like Steve McQueen and Burt Reynolds, c'mon?

Negatory, good buddy! I mean like Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw. You copy?

I GOTCHA, there, good buddy . . . read that five by five. Kris Kristofferson and Ali McGraw, roger that. I think you might have somethin' there on that . . . back at 'ya.

That's a big 10-4, roger that. Catch 'ya on the flip side . . . I'm out.

It's a dirty job (snicker). . . .

While you're sound asleep in the wee hours of Sunday morning, your humble Working Boy is slaving over a hot turntable, listening to the grooviest sounds of '68 . . . all for the sake of a little thing we call 3 Chords & the Truth.

I am but your meek servant, toiling away in the middle of the night.

Or, as The American Breed might say:
Yeah, bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me
Long as you love me
It's all right
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me
You got the power
To turn on the light

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Simply '70s: Sucks to be them

1978: Orlando, Fla. -- home of Mickey Mouse and Disney World.

And also the home of the most unfortunately monikered radio station in the history of the world, BJ-105.

Friday, March 04, 2011

3 Chords & the Truth: Winning is a way of life

Click it, listen and win!

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. For the win! Aloha.

Culture shock, demonstrated

I guess word takes a while to reach Massachusetts.

This sometimes results in good-government consultants not having heard, and then in people being shocked. Which, given the reputation of New Orleans and Louisiana, is itself just a little bit shocking.

Anyway, this "turnaround consultant" came to the Crescent City to advise Mayor Mitch Landrieu on how to slide the city an inch or two toward the good side of the "government generally works, people generally care" continuum, and he didn't quite run screaming into the humid night . . . but it was pretty close there for a while.

Really, the guy hadn't seen anything like it. And it's not like he just fell off the proverbial turnip truck or something equally clichéd.

AFTER EVERYTHING had been studied, his recommendations drawn up and his report tendered to Landrieu -- and after he presumably had cried into a few stiff hurricanes at Pat O'Brien's -- David Osborne talked to the Times-Picayune:

Osborne, who has advised dozens of cities on streamlining efforts, said Thursday that New Orleans faces myriad, deep-seated problems, the likes of which he has never encountered.

"I was kind of shocked," said Osborne, who served as a senior adviser to then-Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review initiative. "I think they inherited the least competent city government I'd ever seen in this country and the most corrupt -- a really tough experience. I just haven't run into this level of dysfunction before, and I've been doing this work for almost 25 years."


Other observations about city operations included poor customer service, a focus on relationships rather than results, centralized authority that gives little power to rank-and-file employees, contracting and internal workforce systems that lack rewards and penalties, unnecessarily complex purchasing procedures, a fragmentation of city services among independent boards, and poor working conditions and equipment.

"These people, they feel hopeless," Osborne said of morale among city employees. "It's drinking from a fire hydrant. There's so much work coming at them, and they can't keep up with it, and a lot of it is paper rather than automated. And then there's skill issues: secretaries that can't type. I mean, stuff that you just don't see other places."

NO, you don't.

I have written about this. A lot.

Maybe it could have been fixed if the victorious Union hadn't bailed on Reconstruction after only a decade and a half or so. Nation building, after all, always is a long and messy process, and the Yankees didn't occupy the Gret Stet long enough to even make a dent in the cultural underpinnings of a whole heapin helpin' of dysfunction and non-American thinking.

So there you go. As we in the expatriate community like to say about Louisiana (and this goes double for New Orleans), it's a great place to be from.