Listening to the Cowboys/Eagles Game

While I was in Australia I listened to the Thanksgiving Cowboys/Eagles game online.  I obviously couldn’t get it on TV so it was my only option.  My dad is from Philadelphia and I’m originally from Pennsylvania, so I’m a huge Eagles fan.  Tonight I’m exhausted after four gigs in a row and a day in the studio.  It’s rainy in Austin, and I enjoyed listening to the game in Australia, so I thought I would listen to the game on the radio tonight.  I’m amazed at how much I enjoy listening to the games on the radio.  Watching them on TV is better, but I have to say that listening to them is better than watching them on TV without sound.  I can’t stand it when I go to a bar and my game is on, but it is not the one with sound on. At least for me I’ve realized that the sound of a game is just as important, if not more important than the visual side of it.

When you are listening to something, whether it is music or sports, the imagination takes over.  Radio really is “theater of the mind”.   It’s amazing how the human brain, if you are reading or you are listening to something, can create a whole visual world with simply sound or letters on a page.

Postscript:  It’s amazing how much swearing mere sound can incite.  

Poor People Should Have Things They Enjoy Too

One of my pet peeves is when people complain about poor people buying things they don’t need.  Now this is a different argument from someone buying an item in place of not feeding their kids or something.  It is amoral not to feed your kids no matter how much money you make, as long as you actually have even that much money and aren’t starving.  I am talking about when you see a commenter on TV complaining that we don’t need a safety net in our society because a couple people in the lower economic bracket have a decent TV.

Because someone is struggling, should they be stripped of what small earthly pleasures they do have?  Don’t get me wrong, I find a good deal of what is on TV to be garbage, especially the news. But it is not for me to say what another person should be enjoying, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.  If someone is working a shitty soul crushing job, is a TV or whatever else gives them a couple hours of escapism from the daily grind too much to ask?

What if someone is unemployed, but has a TV or some other item for pleasure?  I can assure you that most people that are on unemployment would rather have some kind of work that brings them a sense of purpose and more money than unemployment does.  And even if not, so what?  Minimum wage jobs in this country don’t pay a living wage, and I am willing to bet the house that nearly all of them are complete soul destroyers.   So you are willing to tell people to go break their backs, still not be able to pay their bills, and when they get home, no pleasure for them?!!!

I was recently in Australia.   Minimum wage there was 17 dollars an hour.  You could actually live on that.  Even if you had to stock shelves all day at least you can provide.

Because here is the other side of this story.  In Matt Taibbi’s book, The Divide, he talks about how you can’t have poor people going to jail for minor offenses,  while rich people get off for robbing millions while working at Wall Street.  You can have one or the other,  but you can’t have both.  To have both creates a dystopia.

Google extravagant purchases by rich people.   You will find all kinds of ridiculous purchases that are unjustifiable when so many people are struggling.  I just read that Nicholas Cage paid 250,000 dollars for a dinosaur skull!  He deserves that, but someone on welfare doesn’t deserve even a TV?  Someone that works for Walmart stocking shelves should suck it up and sell their TV if they can’t pay their heating bill, while a CEO buys a yacht?  This makes no sense.

You only get one life.  I don’t believe everything could or should be equal.  However, inequality has gotten so far out of whack that it has crossed the border into the realm of the absurd.  Should everyone not get some kind of small pleasure in this world?

I have been lucky.  Through sheer luck I have gotten to travel all over the world.  Yet, I know that some people can’t even afford a car, or even a bus pass.  My point is not to stop others from traveling, or even from buying a mansion or a yacht.  It is just that we should have a system that allows even the worst off amongst us to be able to have some bare minimum level of enjoyment in this life.  It is the only one they are ever going to have.  Good societies have a safety net that allows people to only fall so far.  It doesn’t make everyone equal. It only tells everyone that their life is important, that they have a stake in the game.  Hard work will be rewarded, but if you start out life behind, or ill fortune befalls you, the rest of us are not going to let you slide into oblivion if there is anything we can do about it.

Chris Rock Talks to Frank Rich About Ferguson, Cosby, and What ‘Racial Progress’ Really Means

Chris Rock Talks to Frank Rich About Ferguson, Cosby, and What ‘Racial Progress’ Really Means

I’ll be back in the States Wednesday.   In the mean time this is an absolutely brilliant interview of Chris Rock by Frank Rich. 

The Balls of Advertisers

The balls that advertisers have:  Nothing says Australian Cricket like Kentucky Fried Chicken.  In Brisbane reading with the TV on in the background.  A KFC commercial has come on twice that shows a family from the 70’s to the present eating fried chicken while watching cricket.   One is supposed to take away the idea that KFC is as much a part of Australian tradition as cricket.  Think about it, shitty fried chicken from an American company that originated in Kentucky is boldly claiming to be part of cultural tradition in a foreign country.  It is delivered with total sincerity.  The commercial is meant to pull on the heart strings.  When this kind of distortion,  or bold faced lie, can be delivered without blinking an eye during casual viewing, is it any wonder that companies and their politicians can get away with murder? 

Werner Herzog On TV and Commercials

Our grandchildren will blame us for not tossing hand-grenades into TV stations because of commercials. Television kills our imagination and what we end up with are worn out images because of the inability of too many people to seek out fresh ones.”

- Werner Herzog

If you would like to read more quotes by the German director you can find some at:

If you are even the slightest bit interested in Herzog, the book Herzog On Herzog is a completely engaging read. 

Why the Muse is Hovering Over Television

I read the following quote by bassist Jah Wobble today:

To be honest I am turned on more by the renaissance that has taken place in  USA TV and the TV of some European countries over the last few years. Great narratives , great writing multi layered meanings and fantastic social commentary. It’s almost reinventing the wheel; fiction that documents better than documentaries. Against all odds TV has become the medium that makes most sense in and of this crazy post modern, late stage capitalist, samsaric world that we live in. Music, and its intelligent use is obviously a part of that renaissance, but it isn’t the main thing any more. Right now, like the novel, ‘the album’ format seems a bit moribund. I still hear the odd tune that I like. It’s just that ‘the muse’ seems to be hovering over the likes of HBO script writers rather than musicians right now. That’s where innovative stuff seems to be happening.

You can read the full interview here:

Jah Wobble Interview

While I would argue that there are still great albums being made, and that there is obviously plenty of bad TV, it does seem that at its best, television is right now where some of the best entertainment is being made.  There are many reasons for this.  I think that special effects on TV have caught up with films.  TV doesn’t face the kind of censoring it once did.  Television no longer has a stigma for big name actors.  There are many different things in our culture at this place and time which are allowing TV to tell stories better than ever before.  However, I would also bet that economics play a large role in this.  The television industry has done a much better job of protecting their products than the music industry has.  While one certainly shouldn’t need large-scale fame and fortune to commit themselves to an art form, it does help if people can at least make a living at what they are doing.  Also, making really good sounding records is not cheap.  Even a self financed low-fi record can end up costing a couple grand.  I can’t say this enough:  If like me you love music, and you wish that more great records were being made, it is important that you buy records from the artists that you like.  In a capitalist system we vote with our dollars.  If enough of you invest in the artists that you love, you will see those artists make more records and many of those artists will also be given more freedom to create in the studio.