The Cod Cakes

Felice is into delivery services. It started a few years back with something called “The Fresh Diet.” Little containerized portions of food, you were guaranteed to lose weight, and possibly swear off food all together, that’s how bad the taste was.

Since they delivered every day, and sometimes we went out to eat, there were oftentimes meals left over. She’d ask me if I wanted one. I’d rather starve. They were bland and…

The company went out of business. Holding a good chunk of Felice’s cash. You see no one’s figured out food delivery yet. Companies are constantly falling by the wayside.

Then came the Munchery. I’d read about it, gotten a discount flier.

The Munchery food is actually pretty good. But the dinners are all balanced, you pay for carbs you don’t eat, like potatoes. You don’t eat potatoes anymore, do you? Or rice? My nutritionist calls them “filler foods.” My good buddy laments that no one will go with him to the new pizza place in Brentwood, it turns out I’m not the only one who’s sworn off pies.

Yes, we’re concerned about what we eat, it’s the national obsession.

Kinda like politics.

Hmm… Is it only left-wingers who feel this way? Are all the right wingers addicted to Chick-fil-A?

I’m not touching that one.

Although I’d be dishonest if I didn’t say I loved junk food. Fries (as long as they’re not of the dreaded “steak” variety). And I’d love to be Oprah, with a private chef, serving up delicacies with few calories and few bad elements, but alas, I am not that rich.

And then Felice discovered Instacart, they do your shopping for you. And despite feeling it’s too bourgeois, that I can do my own damn shopping, it really doesn’t cost much and if you’re sitting at home lamenting the journey to the grocery store…

They’ll go to Ralphs, Whole Foods, even Gelson’s. But even better, they’ll go to Costco, even if you’re not a member. I’ve become addicted to Vitamin Water, of the Zero variety, you don’t drink drinks with sugar, right? That’s how we separate the educated from the uneducated (see above). And Costco’s imitation, VitaRain, is almost as good, and with different flavors, I mix and match the two.

And then in a recent “Fast Company” there was an article about a new delivery service, “Methodology.” Felice bookmarked it, e-mailed them, they said they were coming to our area.

And last week they did.

Another food delivery service, but…was it diet-oriented? You need real food, with real taste. But it turns out that Methodology seems to have gotten the memo, their dinners don’t have the dreaded carbs, you can get a plastic tray of protein with two vegetables, just like a westsider wants.

But I was wary.

Until I tried one.

They could use a little seasoning. But…it’s almost like I’ve got a personal chef.

I need some variety, I keep eating the same damn things. And now I’ve got something new.

And although the dinners come in plastic trays, like the dreaded Fresh Diet, the rest of the items come in little jars. That’s right, glass. Like we’re in the 1950s. And they’ve all got cutesy names, along with heating and caloric information. And the cod cakes were called…

“The Codfather.”

With the subtitle: “Wild Cod Cake.”

Now for a long time I wouldn’t eat fish. My dad would come home from the monger with salmon or swordfish. He’d have this tennis racket contraption he’d put over the coals to cook it. But I wouldn’t eat it.

BUT NOW I LOVE IT!

That’s right, I wouldn’t even eat fish sticks, which we had in school every Friday, with no other choice, when religion still impacted public school education, when Tuesday afternoon was “religious release time.”

And I’d see the Morton guy with his raincoat on TV, but no way I was partaking.

And then I flipped.

I always liked shellfish, but now…

So when Felice asked me if I wanted her to heat up some cod cakes for me, I said YES!

Now it’s been an unnaturally cold spring here in SoCal. I know, the sixties don’t sound cold elsewhere, but on Memorial Day weekend?

And it’s been gray. And…

Well, not exactly east coast Cape Cod weather, but when I dug into the Codfather…

My taste buds were titillated and my mind drifted back to the sea, a stiff wind and blustery weather, I like when the elements get riled up.

And on the way back from the baseball game last night we were listening to the Beatles channel on Sirius. And it reminded me how different it was back then. There was only music. And the people who lived through that era expect it to be the same today, but it’s not.

And the people who lived through the nineties and aughts are waiting for some new gadget, when everything’s really about software.

And software is how you hook up with Methodology. Maybe you should try it.

Methodology

Women In The Music Business

Do we want them to act just like men? Aggressive, cutthroat, willing to do anything to make it?

Last Saturday I got into a discussion about a man in the music business. This woman deplored him, I had no problem with him. She said he told off-color jokes, I said men tell jokes like this to each other all the time. She deplored his lack of decorum. I said men who take chances, who are not bound by societal rules, win in the end.

Let’s be clear, this was not a discussion of physical abuse. This was all about style.

As someone once said to me, Mo Ostin, the most respected executive in the history of record labels, had sharp elbows. And he was seen as the mildest! Do women need these same sharp elbows to survive?

I was caught in traffic listening to an NPR show about citing women as experts. The reporters, one a man, the other a woman, said that fewer than a quarter of their quotes were from women. And there were the usual excuses, about men populating the big gigs, men recommending other men as sources, but both reporters agreed that by not being cited, women lost opportunities for recognition, being on panels, advisory boards, and this got me to thinking…

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe this woman Saturday night was right. Maybe women interact differently and instead of convincing them to be like us, maybe we need to be more like them.

Now some women have succeeded acting like men. Most famously, Helen Kushnick, who made sure Jay Leno “ate steak” every night, without knowing how she provided it, which in this case meant keeping A guests from other shows.

And I experienced this in the legal business in the seventies and eighties. Women who acted like men. My biggest threat ever came from a woman attorney, still practicing, I was doing a favor for a friend, he was negotiating for a role on a TV show, and when he ultimately didn’t like the terms and decided not to sign, this woman threatened to sue me! I knew she’d never win, after all there was no deal formalized, but who needed the headache, why’d she have to bring out the big guns? Ultimately my friend agreed to an altered deal, the pilot with a household name was made, but it was never picked up. But when I see this attorney’s name, quoted as one of the best, I not only stay away, I say if this is what it’s come to, what kind of world do we live in?

Now it’s fascinating the world we do live in. The pussy-grabber in chief is surrounded by men, and everybody on the other side, i.e. the left, the Democrats, are decrying his every action. But no one on Trump’s team is listening. Kinda like my Twitter feed. I don’t subscribe to the tweets of anybody I don’t agree with, so it’s an endless echo chamber. At least I get the “Wall Street Journal,” to see how the other team thinks, and tune in Fox News on Sirius for the same reason, but most people are so caught up in their own world that they don’t realize there could be another.

I mean women make up half of the population. Are we doing ourselves a disservice by excluding them from gigs, preventing their ascension because they won’t play our way?

The woman I had this conversation with on Saturday night is compassionate, more than any man I’ve ever come across in the music business. She’s loyal, she cares. And there’s no loyalty at a record label, none. What if we stopped saying it was just business and trotted out compassion and loyalty, and stopped trying to screw each other, take advantage of each other?

And I don’t know where the #MeToo line is. Did Al Franken really have to go? And as Dave Chappelle said, if you don’t involve men in the discussion, there will be no progress.

Then again, I was at dinner with Shirley Manson and she decried the clothing and posturing of so many women in this business. They play to raw sexuality, stripping down to almost nothing, playacting in videos and live, do they really have to do this to sell music? And are they doing it for men? Is it another form of prostitution?

There are many issues here. And it’s not as simple as promoting women, which is an admirable goal. Rather, it’s importing female culture into our business. And I’m no expert, I’m a man. But I’ve been thinking about this discussion ever since Saturday night. The male we were talking about is mega-successful, but does that excuse his bad behavior? Not illegal behavior, not behavior beyond the pale, but behavior abhorred by women?

Think about it.

Computerized Medical Records

How much privacy do you want to give up?

I blew a high creatinine number. Unless you’re old, or approaching it, you probably don’t know what that means. It relates to your kidneys. Although in the waiting room at UCLA I was stunned by the number of young people there, kidney disease knows no age, and there’s your contradiction right there.

You keep on reading about dialysis and donations and you ignore it all until…

It applies to you.

Kinda like Gleevec and my CML. I knew nothing about the wonder drug, but now that I’ve got the Big C I see Gleevec mentioned in the media all the time, it’s the holy grail of cancer drugs. Kinda like the Magnitsky Act, you have read “Red Notice,” right? You should.

So, normally my creatinine is a little high. You don’t want it above 1.3. And frequently I am, but under 1.4, I just blow a high number according to my internist. But in February, it went to 1.69!! Holy crap! I’d been taking voltaren, an anti-inflammatory, for three weeks, which I immediately stopped, but…

I went to the doctor last week and it was still 1.51, which freaked me out.

So I e-mailed my internist…

He went off insurance, his fees might be high, but the service is SUPERB! And he always want to talk music, he raved about Springsteen on Broadway but left early from the U2 show. Anyway, he was very concerned.

And told me it would be nearly impossible to get in to see the big nephrologist, i.e. kidney doctor.

I had a big one, but he left for Yale, it’s rare that a doctor decamps from L.A., the lifestyle is just too good, but Schulam wanted to return to the east coast, his homeland.

Anyway, I did what I always do…

E-MAIL IRVING!

I hope you have an Irving in your life. We all need an Irving in our life. We all need connections, a reference point, a traffic cop, someone who can point us in the right direction.

And Irving asked Skip, the head of urology at UCLA.

And that’s how I ended up at the bigwig nephrologist today.

He was EARLY!

I’ve never ever had that happen. They were still taking vitals. He had to come back.

And I started to tell him my story…

But he put his hand up, he was READING!

My story was on the computer screen.

Not that I could not add details later, it’s just that he had a plethora of data at his fingertips. He sliced and diced it. Compared creatinine numbers over years.

And I thought what a wonderful world we now live in.

There’s been a lot of backlash about this, computerized medical records, people are worried about their privacy, about insurance coverage denials. And I get all that, but…

My dermatologist knew I’d gone for a second opinion. What?? She’s Cedars, he was UCLA!

And the nephrologist knew I’d gone for a heart scan, even though that test was out of pocket, turns out the cardiologist is part of the Cedars system and…

The nephrologist was concerned about my pemphigus. He said my kidneys were fine, not to worry about them, compared to my CML and skin condition.

And at first he needed justification, he didn’t believe I really had pemphigus, it being so rare, but when I lifted my shirt and I showed him the scars…

He knew it was the real thing. He said pemphigus was very serious, and it was the only disease that kept dermatologists up at night. Which is kinda funny, because my dermatologist had told me she’d thought about me and my condition for weeks, had done research.

And really, my pemphigus is pretty good. Actually, I’m going to see the dermatologist tomorrow. I’m supposed to get another infusion of rituxan, she wants to avoid more IVIG, not only because of the kidney thing, she believes the infusion probably made my creatinine number higher, but because now I’ve got eczema on my hand as a side effect.

And you really don’t want to be part of the medical/industrial complex, but just wait, it’ll happen, assuming you live that long.

And the nephrologist lamented spending so much time looking at the screen, when the focus should be on the patient.

And he said how physicians do their best, but I said it paid to have money and he quoted F. Scott Fitzgerald: “I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich. Rich is better!”

How true that is.

But please make health your priority. Don’t hold back, go to the doctor, and if you’ve got a big issue, go to the BIG doctor, it makes a difference.

And be glad all your data is in one place for he or she to look at.

American Idol

It only works if you mint stars.

The finale was the other night. Was it Sunday, or Monday, damned if I know. Then again, probably not Sunday, because that’s when the “Billboard” awards were, another sinking show, just check the ratings. Weren’t live events supposed to save broadcast TV? With their Twitter updates and wars? No, turns out the cultural zeitgeist was captured by Netflix, and awards show theoretically playing to everybody really appeal to nobody, or a very slim slice of the audience. Don’t try to go broad, play to an active niche, and then if you’re lucky it will grow.

We were stunned by the success of “Idol” the first time around. Positively STUNNED, I tell you! It proved the power of television and the power of pop, both of which have waned significantly since.

That’s right, this was pre-streaming. On demand was newfangled. People sat in front of the TV and watched what was served up to them. Furthermore, “Idol” had a gargantuan star, Simon Cowell, who dared to be naughty when you’re supposed to be nice, who spoke the truth when that was considered anathema. He was the harbinger of Trump if you think about it. The boundaries, the rules, were not what we thought they were.

But in addition to Cowell, off screen you had Clive Davis, “Idol” was his crowning moment, his final hurrah. Clive said he had gifted ears and signed all the rebellious acts of the sixties, but the truth is he was a popmeister at heart. From Manilow to Houston. And despite his effort to remake history, we HATED them! Manilow was an AM king when no one with ears listened to transmissions on that band. As for Houston…she happened when rock died on MTV.

But the hipsters who hated these two…the joke was ultimately on them. While they were employing Napster and KaZaA to retrieve deep tracks from the catalog of rock and roll, the generations changed, millennials came of age and so did pop. It was all about Max Martin, not Roy Thomas Baker. And it was hard to deny the hit of the first “Idol” winner, Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” and since she and it were so damn good, we continued to pay attention to “Idol” until, like the record industry itself, it became too bloated and expense-ridden and collapsed.

But what about the success of “The Voice” you say?

The construct of “The Voice” is totally different, it’s about seeing hitmakers on a game show, seeing Blake and Gwen and the guy from Maroon 5 compete while you got a glimpse of who they truly were. As for the singers, they were just pawns in the game, and not a single one of them became a star.

Because TV was losing power, pop was fading and there was no A&R genius employed to ensure hits.

Fame is not everything, sure, Kim Kardashian proved it was, but there’s an exception to every rule, and she wouldn’t be able to do it today, no one can get that amount of attention.

So the dolts at ABC, the same dolts who thought the ESPN gravy train would last forever, just like the dolts running the NFL, thought there were legs in “Idol” and rebooted it.

And despite the relatively high ratings compared to other shows, it was too damn expensive and it never captured the cultural zeitgeist and its audience was a shadow of the Fox show. And speaking of Fox, the Murdochs are savvy enough to get out, isn’t that interesting, they want to sell when Disney wants to buy, then again, Rupert knows it’s about money, just like Malone, and he doesn’t want to be left holding the bag. Rupert also knows it’s about influence, which is why he bought “The Wall Street Journal” and will retain Fox News. Some people know which way the wind blows.

So pop ruled.

And then it didn’t.

Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus…their latest projects stiffed in the marketplace. People don’t want manufactured pop. Adele proves they want REAL pop, but not something that’s following the precepts, with no authenticity, built for dollars.

So “Idol” is pop with no game show amongst the hosts and we all know the contestants are two-dimensional and we’re supposed to care?

OF COURSE NOT!

P.S. You can sit there self-satisfiedly, but the burden is upon you, to create the game, not play it.

P.P.S. Music is best when it tests limits, when it’s different from what came before. Which is why rap killed rock. For rock to resurge it’s got to be more authentic and play to the masses. Include melody along with guitars. Have singers as good as the ones winning the competitions, who write their own material. Songs never go out of fashion, just styles of music.