Friday, January 30, 2009

Slacker Friday Cover of the Week: Springsteen at the Super Bowl Edition

Poster folkies for the concept of twee, yet well-played, ladies and gentlemen, Tegan and Sara covering "Dancing in the Dark":

Thursday, January 29, 2009

For Us Rust Belters, D.C. Residents Not Handling Snow Is A Metaphor.

When the President mentioned his incredulity at a snow day in D.C. which wouldn't even be a second thought back home in Chicago or any other Midwestern city, he was speaking as the new out-of-town hire trying to process his new home's culture out loud with his co-workers. Of course, as Leader of the Free World and many media recording it, word gets around.

Which leads to one WaPo columnist whining about how they're not used to Winter driving in D.C. (BTW, nice fedora dude; very "The Front Page.")

And another relating on how an administrator at the Obama girls' school mouthed back at the president for denying the children of D.C. a snow day, with a bonus snarky comment about his schooling in Hawaii.

See, what they don't understand in D.C. is this: just as many Washingtonians and Southerners used the Detroit automakers' financial problems as a springboard to any number of unrelated smears (union workers are spoiled, car companies are stupid, the Midwest is antiquated and should be abandoned, blahblahblah), we Midwesteners look at a seemingly groundless snow day -- so the kids can stay home with the nanny, instead of parents scrambling to figure out who's going to watch them for the day -- as an indicia of Washingtonian out-of-touch-ness with the world -- which does exist -- outside the Beltway.

Let recall that John Kennedy once said, "Washington is a city of Southern efficiency and Northern charm."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Non Sequitur of the Day: Swedish Dance Pop Edition

"My style is di bom digi bom di deng di deng digigi uu uuu … /

Carubuano peer with di bom digi bom di deng di deng digigi uu uuu."

I Would Have Quiero-ed This Case on Contingency

Remember the campaign with the chihuahua jonesing for Taco Bell? A Grand Rapids agency thought their idea got ripped off and won their trial in Michigan a few years ago. Taco Bell then sued their agency in California, and it ended up on appeal there, and on Monday, Taco Bell lost, yet again.

What was a $30 million verdict, with $12 million in interest, continues to tick-tick-tick up with new interest, the final tab running ever higher. TB should bring back the 99 cent double decker taco, sell a few dozen million and settle this thing.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Great Radio Comes, But Not as Often as Radio Goes

For those Detroiters who bemoan the loss of radio programming they love, like the Fan last week, or WDET a few years ago, pause and ponder the loss of L.A.'s Indie 103, which shuttered a few weeks ago. A truly unique broadcasting voice is gone, and my friend, our own Darren Revell, is one of the voices giving witness to the life and death of a great part of Los Angeles and, thanks to the Internets, beyond.

So, fellows citizens of The D, some persepctive, please.

Non Sequitur of the Day (and Cover of the Week)

"I know just just what you are."

Hi-larious; well-played:

He Would be a Good Sportsman, but Could Gandhi Crash the Boards?

Perhaps you've heard about the Texas girls basketball team that won a game 100-0, and was hooting and hollering while doing it. Well, after thinking it was all good, and with some people agreeing, the coach's been fired after defending the victory.

The winning offending team was from Dallas Covenant, which apparently is a Christian school. Which allows me to share one of my favorite quotes, by Mahatma Gandhi:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

This Just In: Gary Bettman Continues to Suck

If you aren't lucky enough to catch Hockey Night In Canada every Saturday night, then you clearly didn't catch their coverage of last night's NHL All-Star Game in Montreal, marking le 100e anniversaire de Les Habitants . Even without any Red Wings playing (and getting suspended for it), the game itself is such a joke that I forgot to watch it, instead catching the SAG awards in the background while working. It's just that I know what a horrible hockey game it will be, and it was: an 11-11 tie ending with the league's bastardized overtime and shootout.

Thanks to the miracle of archived video on The Internets, however, we're still able to see HNIC's Ron MacLean's annual attempt to get a straight answer out of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, which I can't figure out how to embed here, but which you can check out here. I swear, Ron must want to take a shower after talking to Bettman, especially when he gets so smarmy about a billionaire wanting to blow a quarter-billion dollars invest in an NHL franchise so he can move it to the underserved market he happens to live in.

Remember, this is the commissioner who hasn't committed to another Winter Classic, but has investigated putting it in Vegas or the Rose Bowl. Yes, the visuals of breath mist and falling snowflakes, re-connecting the game to its roots, will work so well out west.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

"Rashomon" Has Nothing to Do With Trying to Sack a Quarterback (An OT post)

A centuries-old saying is that "success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan." Except, apparently, when Monday-morning quarterbacking the demise of a much-loved Detroit radio station. So, in very Rashomon-like fashion, various players, current and former, have taken to dissecting the rise and fall of The Fan -- Detroit's first all-sports station, WDFN-AM -- in the midst of Obama's inaugural speech last Tuesday.

=> Former PD Gregg Henson, now out of the radio business but still aware of what the deal is, has long charted the station's up and downs here;

=> Nice guy former morning drive host Jamie Samuelsen weighs in here;

=> His former partner, Greg Brady, writes a great post -- definitely not in the "60 Second Blog" ethos -- here;

=> Now former-PD Rona Danzinger provides her witnessing of the carnage, and rebuts Brady, here;

Another axiom is that you should always follow the money. The loss of The Fan stemmed directly from Clear Channel's being sold, a deal that it was conceived during a bull market, and then ended up closing during the beginnings of the credit squeeze. You can chart the ever-increasing acrimony in what finally evolved into a shotgun wedding:

=> In November 2006, corporate owner Clear Channel agreed to sell to Mitt Romney's old place here and here; some of CC's past shenanigans, like gluttonous over-consolidation and the rusulting possible anti-trust violations, are mentioned in the second link:

=> Then, after all the governmental vetting, credit started to tighten about a year ago, causing one of the buyers to not have much to say in investors, resulting in apologists going into the "all is well" mode.

=> Finally, after an interminable 19-month due diligence process and lawsuits all around, the deal closed this past May, and a whole bunch of belt-tightening was on the horizon.

Now, everyone I ever met from The Fan ranged from at least cordial to downright awesome, a situation you rarely find at any broadcast outlet. Also, let us not forget that many other off-air people at Clear Channel, including friends, got the ziggy, too.

In the big picture, what Clear Channel has wrought has not been good for the industry beyond a handful of its higher-ups. Closer to home, the various takes range from entertaining to informative, and often both, and contain many of the avoidable mistakes and missed solutions which could've made the whole situation better. We forget, though, that while the soldiers on the front lines do the fighting and dying amidst the fog of war business, it stems from the directives from the generals above, playing their little game of Risk or Monopoly, but with real lives.

In the end, I think some essential truths are born out:

=> Terrestrial radio is an awesome business when you craft a product that reflects where it's broadcasting. Homoginizing stations across markets is ultimately a death wish.

=> It's apparent after the last few months, so it's no news flash, but the private sector will screw over everyone but themselves, if you let them.

=> The FCC should take begin to take a long, hard look at these licensees of the public airwaves, and if they aren't doing anything productive for a local market beyond providing syndicated national programming, those licenses should be in jeopardy, if not pulled.

As someone who adores radio and has had some ideas work in the industry, I have long held out hope that these corporate behemoths would ultimately have to divest the stations for any number of reasons, from anti-trust compliance to wanting the tax write-downs to, perhaps, ultimately suffocating from under their own weight. Then, after prices are re-set to a sane market level, local owners will once again be able to craft unique programming visions which are now being relegated to the wonderful, but limited, Internets.

Bottom line, this is yet another example of the path corporate America is now wrongly pursuing to see better days, what I call "downsizing to greatness."

Because, really, have you ever seen that happen?

And now, let us remember that Elvis Costello had this whole scenario sussed out more than 30 years ago:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One Last Breakthrough from a President Obama

On this remarkable, historic day of the Inauguration of President Obama, many have pondered and discussed the meaning of having an African-American as our president and, essentially, as (once again) the leader of the free world.

But these pundits miss a bigger, more macro story because they're blinded by the president's skin color -- while they're talking about whether people will continue to be blinded by his skin color.

The bigger, more general breakthrough is this: not since the days of the founders of our country has a president been the child of a parent who was not born on American soil. The last possibility was Mike Dukakis, and we remember how that went.

That this president's father was born in Kenya -- or for our discussion, anywhere not America -- yet sired (and abandoned) a son who has personified the American dream, shows the progress that our culture has made:

* That a child of a single mother -- notwithstanding the ravings of a lunatic -- can do great things in America;

* That anyone's son, molded from our uniquely America melting pot, can become formed into something great.

So, despite the anti-immigrant hoo-ha that tends to be aimed toward our southern border -- that means you, Lou Dobbs -- it seems that America once again lifts its lamp beside the golden door of opportunity.

Inauguration = Cleaner Blog Layout


The Bush countdown clock is toast.

It wasn't fun while it lasted.

The Definitive Political Song: Soundtrack for the Inauguration

Regardless of partisan positions, Pete and the boys remind us to stay wary:

"Meet the new boss /

Same as the old boss."


"I know that the hypnotized never lie /

Do ya?"

Plans A, B and C for Investigating the Bush Adminstration

While blogers debate whether Obama should or should not give Dubya a shout-out in his inauguration speech, I take solace knowing that even when I flake out and not post for a week, Paul Krugman will take up the slack.

Even if Obama does not want to look like a divisive meanie for prosecuting the prior administration for breaking laws, as a former constitutional law professor, he should insist that the rule of law be enforced.

Remember when Republicans relied on the "rule of law" when they impeached Bubba? Where'd that philosophical backbone go?

If there's no criminal prosecution, may I suggest a giving everyone immunity and doing a version of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which they held to figure out what exactly happened during Apartheid?

The last alternative would war crimes charges against Dubya and Lord Vader Cheney from the UN's International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, which even unveiled a new website last month, perhaps expecting a rush of interest.

The over/under on when charges would come? I give it two years.

But, truly, something has to happen on this.

Add: It turns out Uncle Keith agrees:

Your Really Should Watch the Entire "I Have a Dream" Speech, so Here You Go

"Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

Which makes the "fierce urgency of now" all the more relevant today.

And how cool was it that Rev. King delivered and earlier version of his speech at Grosse Pointe High School?

Behold, and rejoice on this eve of an historic day:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Non Sequitur of the Day: Paint the White House Black

Not only is it a great, timely jam from Detroit's own George Clinton, but it's adorable watching the star of "Are We There Yet?" get all gangsta and stuff.

Life is the Journey, Not the Destination

Yesterday (January 18) was my birthday, and with the holiday and the inauguration on tap, it's a good time to keep things in perspective. So, let's put the late, great Randy Pausch lecture up here, just so it's easy to get to:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Non Sequitur of the Day: Juno Soundtrack Edition

"Don't you remember /

You told me you loved me, baby?"

"This Week" v. "Meet the Press": May the Best Hair Win

With Barack on "This Week" this morning I thought I'd give George Stephanopolous' show a try. Pretty good job, but when George appears to have more gravitas than "Malibu" David Gregory, it only confirms the general suspicion that television news is lighter than air.

Two thoughts, though:

1. The Roundtable consisted of semi-liberal Tom Friedman, George Will, Newt Gingrich and Peggy Noonan. So much for this edition of the liberal MSM.

2. Checking out the panel video, I wondered: does Peggy Noonan take some sort of sedative to take the edge of her grace-infused political evil?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Some Fairly Smart People Think Detroit Is Redeemable

The ass-kicking Anthony Bourdain filmed in Detroit this week for his series, "No Reservations." Though The D will be only one of three cities in an unfortunately-named, in a highly-cliched fashion, "Rust Belt" episode, any Detroit visibility on television other than the Lions, Kwame and animal control cannot hurt. Thanks for coming, Tony, but, really, we know you could've done a whole hour on us.

Second, while some people accuse Mitch Albom of sappiness for his non-fiction writing, that's never really bugged me. Me, I occasionally sense he phones in his column, but when you work for a place that lives to phone it in, how can that be avoidable? Yet, on a bigger stage this week, he writes bigger, approaching the heights he is capable of, with his piece this week in Sports Illustrated, "The Courage of Detroit." Even though some of our local sports positives are overlooked in order to make his Comeback Kid meme work, it puts a face on a problem region that is easily dismissed as a faceless, "just Detroit."

Seriously. If you want to judge our city like this dumbass, at least take the time to do some research and thinking. But then, really, why let the facts get in the way of an opinion, eh?

Non Sequitur of the Day: Media Is the Message Edition

"I can lead a nation with a microphone."

Somewhere, Garth Brooks is Pondering Google's Font Selection

Perhaps you were too busy to notice, but last Spring, Google changed its favicon from its upper-case first "G," to its lower case second "g."

Which prompted me, and others, think that Garth Brooks, and his logo, might have a beef.

And now Google, this week, has added to their lower-case g favicon all sorts of Googly colors to brighten up your Internets searching experience.

Somewhere, someone at Google is earning at least six figures to figure this crap out.

Adventures In Marketing Etymology: Prescription Drugs v. Anne Hathaway

Watching football today, I saw a commercial for the prescription medicine Januvia, which treats Type 2 diabetes.

Which then prompted me to think of Genovia, a major pear exporter and the home of Princess Mia Thermopolis.

I'm thinking that when marketing companies are paid big money to create brand names for medicines, perhaps they should have someone on staff who reads teen chick lit, or at least can do a Google.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Non Sequitur of the Day: Inauguration Countdown Soundtrack

"It's been a long December and there's reason to believe /

Maybe this year will be better than the last"

No Fun: Ron Asheton R.I.P.

Ron Asheton has always been around Detroit and Ann Arbor, so we will miss his presence after his passing this week. For too long, though, our community and the rock world at large missed the presence of The Stooges: the exciting dynamic that Ron and his brother Scott uniquely had as the Stooges with one James Osterberg Iggy Pop.

When the Stooges reunited in 2003, it was somehow appropriate that their now-legendary gig at DTE Pine Knob was interrupted by an enormous regional blackout.

So, should the hugely influential Stooges finally make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the next month, that Ron would miss it is somehow, bittersweetly, unsurprising.

Check out this awesome memory:

When was the last time you looked at a YouTube video and wished you had been there?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Vampires Are Really Popular Right Now, So Ann Coulter Rises from the Dead to Profit

Time to break out the cross, garlic and sunshine: Ann Coulter is arising from the dead starting a new book tour.

Her horrific, hateful political track record speaks for itself. But in terms of questioning anyone's fashion sense, let along Michelle Obama's, Ol' Wire Jaw seems to be in no position to do that when she dresses like she's on a 24-7 walk of shame.

Minnesota Senate Recount: Was It the Dukes? Was It the Dukes?

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, we've finally figured out that enough people voted to make me the new junior senator from Minnesota."

And the incumbent, who said on Election Night that Franken, for the good of the state, should concede? His lawsuit got tossed out today.

I don't know. Sen. Al Franken must still account for the whereabouts of one Clarence Beeks, last seen on a train outside of Philadelphia. Check out the video @ 3:30:

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Non Sequitur of the Day: Today's Agenda Reminder

Man Men should be at Work:

Running the NHL, Gary Bettman is a Blind Squirrel

In the sense of a blind squirrel occasionally finding a nut, that is.

So, despite Bettman (sucks!) being incomprehensibly coy about continuing a twice-successful annual event to number three and beyond, congrats to the league on its successful Winter Classic on New Year's Day, where the Wings downed the 'Hawks at Wrigley. I agree with my friend Hockey Dino that is was a great event: good hockey game, great aestethics, increased TV ratings. There were some pros and cons, like: as great as the unis were (especially the Chicago use of old school off-white), Bob Costas seemed like he was bummed slumming doing hockey outdoors on New Year's Day.

I personally thought the game should've been at Solider Field to get a bigger crowd in, but doing that would've eliminated the perceived North Side / Wrigley cachet, allowed the 'Hawks to keep Red Wings fans out, and, most importantly, would have prevented the NHL and Blackhawks from sufficiently holding up Chicago's season ticket holders.

As much as there are now calls for Michigan Stadium or Beaver Stadium (please, not Sidney Crosby again) to host the event soon, may I suggest that you have to spread this thing around: the next two events should be Rangers / Maple Leafs in New Yankee Stadium, and Bruins / Canadiens at Fenway. (A wild card possibility for next year: the Canucks hosting in the lead-up to their Winter Olympics). This way, there's no better way to go old school, playing outside, than by going with the Original Six.

The Baseball Hall of Fame Balloting is On Fire (Metaphorically, of course)

The Baseball Hall of Fame voting results will be announced on January 12. Some worthy candidates will make it, but one or two won't: Alan Trammell and Jack Morris.

I mentioned Trammell last ballot season, and while my position hasn't changed, I doubt he will make it this year. Nor will Morris, though many are continuing to lobby on their behalf.

This doesn't even get into Lou Whittaker, who was dumped off the ballot eight years ago, an oversight which the New York Times suggested remedying last month by eliminating the rule to require a player to get an annual 5% minimum vote to continue on the ballot.

Only one Hall of Famer exists from the 1984 Detroit Tigers, which was one of the top teams of that decade: Sparky Anderson, and he wears a Reds cap on his plaque. The dearth of representation from that team cannot be because baseball writers vote for the Hall of Fame, and it was baseball writers who looked outside of Tiger Stadium to see, and then walk past, the late (despite this MySpace link) Bubba Helms and his buddies "celebrating" the Tiger Series victory that night.

Can it?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Yo, Happy New Year, Everyone

No offense, 2008, but don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out.

Welcome, 2009. Let's all do everything we can to make it a great one.

You, too, banks.

Cheers to you all.

Enjoy the video from Times Square here.