Judy Budzik

And now she’s dead.

It’s one of my great life regrets, I threw away the invitation to her birthday party. I remember exactly where it happened, dropping it through the grate during recess. I’m not sure she saw me do it. Maybe I blocked it. But somehow she knew, and we were friends.

This was second grade, maybe third. Back in the sixties, before it was de rigueur to invite your whole class to the festivities. You only invited friends. But you got to a certain age where you only wanted the same sex, before you got to that age when you wanted both sexes once again. And somehow, the boys in my class, decided they didn’t want to go. So they threw away the invites, and I did too. Call it peer pressure, call it trying to look cool, but it’s troubled me ever since.

I thought life would go on forever. That I’d ski at every ski area in the world. But time is running out of the hourglass, yet I still believe. Call it blind optimism, like someday I’m going to become rich and famous. You need that carrot in front of your eyes. But when the destination is pulled away…

I got into the internet early, for someone of my age. I got a free subscription to AOL before most people knew what it was. Not that I used it much. I did have a modem, 1200kbps. I had to buy the program “Microphone” to make it work. I printed out conversations on my dot matrix printer. This was too much effort. AOL was less effort, but it wasn’t until a college student read what I wrote in “Pulse” and asked me if I had an e-mail address that I dove in deep. She told me she had a boyfriend. It turned out she’d never met him, he went to a college hundreds of miles away. This was when this was incomprehensible. I’d have experiences online and people would be dumbfounded, they had no idea what I was talking about.

And then I started to look up people I knew.

For a while there, I was the only person findable. An old college buddy, a summer camp friend, they saw me on the internet and made contact, it was groovy, it gave me a little thrill to make these connections, in the late nineties, long before Facebook, long before you realized you’d never lose touch with anybody you ever knew in your life. Oh, you could stop looking for them, but your digital breadcrumbs were searchable, findable, you could not hide.

And then, around the turn of the century, a little while thereafter, everybody started to pop up.

First I looked for old girlfriends. In some cases it took me years, a decade, to find every single one, because they get married and change their names. You’ve got no idea where they’re living. I found my two Camp Laurelwood girlfriends. I found that woman I met on the train to Boston. I never made contact, never ever, I just liked feeling good that whatever we shared was still there in the ether.

And then Facebook hit and zealots started collecting friends, isn’t that why I moved to California, to get away from all that? I hate the pecking order, I don’t want to discuss my SATs, where I went to college was meaningless until they protested Charles Murray and it was all over the news last year. But I like it that way.

But I also like that all my old buddies are still out there, living their lives. I peek in on them from time to time.

My old ski girlfriend ended up very close to where I met her, in Southern Vermont. She’s a teacher, moving from gig to gig.

I don’t think I’d connect with any of them today, we’d relive the old times and lack further conversation. But, like I said, I like that they’re still out there, chugging along.

But not Judy.

Judy was not prissy. Not a girly-girl. And when she finally popped up on the radar, it occurred to me she might be gay.

She didn’t show up for years. There are certain people who live off the radar screen. They don’t play online, whether it be by age or choice.

But there she was, in Aspen. Really? I’ve been to Aspen so many times!

At first I found out she planted flowers.

Hmm… What kind of job is that?

Then I read about her sports adventures, but there was no marriage record, no man involved.

And part of me wanted to apologize to her, not in some twelve step way, but because it continues to haunt me, ’til this day. I acted badly, AND I LIKED HER! She was NICE! She was COOL! She probably thinks I’m a jerk and I’m less worried about her perception of me than…wanting not to hurt anybody.

I don’t want to hurt anybody. If you’re a public figure, acting badly, it’s fair game. But if you want to make fun of a friend, trick somebody, call them a bad name, that’s happened to me too many times, I’m not gonna do it, and when I’ve done it, I’ve felt awful thereafter, like that letter we sent to Brad…

So, with these people who go through my brain, like I said, I check up on them. And I have no idea why Judy Budzik’s name passed through me tonight, I decided to look her up on my phone.

And her name showed right up in the Google results. This had never happened before. Ah, there must be more information!

And I clicked through and found her obituary. I was shocked, she died at the end of 2016.

But the picture didn’t look like her. I knew it was her, because they said she was from Fairfield, she went to Andrew Warde, but then I clicked through to the Connecticut obit and…

It was her. The same smile on her face.

It happened suddenly, she left behind a cat and her friend Kristin.

Now what?

And that’s when I realized, it’s happening, the tribe is being thinned, people are being cleaved off.

Robert took his own life. I think about how much he’s missed. For ten years, I thought about him every damn day.

Chip got the Big C! He used to call me after midnight, he was convinced he was gonna beat it, but now he’s dead too.

Sometime it will be my time. After all, Judy was only 63. And her birthday was only three days after mine.

So now it all doesn’t matter. She’s gone, the only person who might remember, and for all I know, she might have forgotten, even soon thereafter.

And I realized I could go that fast too, in Judy’s case it was sudden.

But even more I realized life is not forever. It doesn’t make sense. You’re young and trying to get ahead, you think it’s a game. Then you get old enough to know the joke is upon you, it’s not about possessions and achievements. Sure, it’s about meaning, but even more it’s about family and friends, laughs and experiences. Which can’t be toted up.

I know, I know, they’re separating babies from their parents. I abhor this as much as you do. But this endless Trumpism has defeated me. We on the left keep crying foul and it makes no difference, and even if we win this one, we’ve lost on the big issues, and it doesn’t look like we’re ever gonna win.

So it comes down to the personal. How we live our lives. How we treat one another.

I treated Judy Budzik badly. It’s haunted me for decades. Should it still?

I don’t know.

Rob Glaser-This Week’s Podcast

That’s right, Mr. RealNetworks himself! You know, RealPlayer, the default audio and video player from the turn of the century, ultimately superseded by Windows Media and…there was a lawsuit over that, Microsoft lost, RealNetworks got paid.

Anyway, Rob grew up in NYC and went to Yale and from there was on the ground floor at Microsoft. He left the Redmond monolith and started RealNetworks, left to become a VC, and then returned. Along the way, there was not only RealPlayer, but purchase of the PBA (that’s right, the PROFESSIONAL BOWLERS ASSOCIATION) a huge chunk of what is now Rhapsody/Napster and a passion for politics.

If you want to know what your life would have been like if you went into tech as opposed to music. If you want to know the vision of a player in the tech world. If you want to know what it’s like playing in Asia, this is the podcast for you!

P.S. Recorded live, at the Music Media Summit in Santa Barbara.
Listen to Rob Glaser on…

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The Greatest Showman

This could be the biggest act in the world.

I was clueless until my buddy Jeff Laufer hipped me to it, singling out the track “This Is Me,” an empowering anthem straight out of the “Fame” playbook, why is this phenomenon getting no ink, despite hiding in plain sight for six months, the flick having been released back in December 2017.

This has been on my mind, because Jeff keeps e-mailing me and because Saturday night as I was hiking in Will Rogers Park they were screening it at Street Food Cinema

Street Food Cinema

and there were more attendees than I’ve ever seen for any screening there.

And then, today’s “Record of the Day” informed me that in the U.K. the soundtrack was number one for the nineteenth time in twenty three weeks.

But we never hear about it!

Then again, the single “This Is Me” went to number three in the U.K. and only to number fifty eight in the U.S., could this be further proof that terrestrial radio in the U.S. has lost touch, that the U.S. is no longer the greatest country in the world?

Yes, if we want to make America great again, maybe we need to start playing the world’s hits, not only “This Is Me,” but “Human.”

Now “The Greatest Showman” is bigger than “Hamilton,” that’s right, it’s got more streams on Spotify, that’s the power of film.

Five out of the eleven cuts on “Greatest Showman” have triple digit million streams on Spotify. And the remaining tracks are deep into double digits.

Not a single cut on “Hamilton” breaks triple digits.

Although both cast albums are released by Atlantic, does Craig Kallman know something the rest of the industry does not?

As for the iTunes Store, “The Greatest Showman” is number three right now.

So what we’ve learned is despite the lauding of hip-hop, it’s not the only game in town.

But media loves a sexy story, which is why there’s a dearth of info on “Greatest Showman.”

And the barrier to entry in music is not as big as we think it is. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul wrote “The Greatest Showman” songs, ever heard of them? I didn’t think so. Then again, they’re not complete unknowns they won an Oscar for their song for “La La Land,” but mostly they’re working off the pop radar, in stage, films and TV. Are they being unjustly ignored?

Seems so.

So everything we thought was kaput, training, dues, melody, it seems the public still has a hungering for all of it. We keep reading in “The New Yorker” and other august publications about beat makers, top-liners, and I’m not saying they’re not successful, but they’re not the only action deserving attention. All the popsters going urban, they’d be better off going “Showman!”

So, you sing along with the tracks to “Greatest Showman.” You’re not going to be offended, you’re not going to want to take it off immediately, you might just get hooked.

But there’s no associated lifestyle, there are no shenanigans featured on TMZ. All the trappings of today’s success are missing, other than the LISTENING!

Beyonce/Jay Z Album

Money or mindshare, that’s the question.

In case you didn’t know, “Everything Is Love” is only available on Tidal, although a single is viewable on YouTube. Distribution is king, and Tidal ain’t got none.

Now let’s go back to the last decade, when the issue was early release, theft of product. Boy have times changed. The issue now is being ignored. And the hip-hop acts have all learned that advance promotion is worthless, you’re squandering attention when you need it most. Best to start at the same starting line around the world on the same day. Ergo, today’s surprise drop. If people are paying attention to you, this is the best way to do it, because news outlets all over the world will detail the release. You could never get this amount of promotion the old drip-drip in advance way. And the public is excited, wants to spread the word, but you can’t LISTEN?

We learned with the launch of Tidal that acts are not as big as they think they are, cannnot overcome market forces. When Tidal was launched, YouTube was still the standard for music. And then Spotify made inroads by having a free tier. And now Beyonce is dissing Spotify in her lyrics, it’s as if someone told you not to buy a Prius because they’ve got a personal beef with Toyota. Consumers don’t have a problem with Spotify, they love it, it’s only acts that are stuck in the past.

Furthermore, ‘Lemonade” is still not available on Spotify, begging the question how big an event Beyonce’s performance at Coachella truly was. You could see it, but not stream it other than live. And you’ve got to strike at the moment. Being available thereafter is so twentieth century.

But you’ve got to applaud Jay for dissing the Grammys. But wouldn’t it be better if this message was available everywhere, so it could have impact? Believe me, if “Everything Is Love” were on all platforms, all streaming services, it would go to number one and maybe even stay there for a while, gaining even more publicity. But now it’s hobbled. By distribution. Kanye’s album got mediocre reviews, but it was streamed ad infinitum. And let me tell you, anybody who’s buying should be forgotten, they’ve missed the memo, they’re not active customers, tracks and CDs are going by the wayside, going down, down, down, furthermore you only get paid once on them, whereas with streaming you get paid in perpetuity.

But Jay wants to prop up Tidal, which he owns. Ever hear of cutting your losses? Learned about sunk costs? Every investor has losers, even Warren Buffett. And Buffett famously stays out of technology and plays for the long term. He isn’t in early, but late. And of course there are exceptions to this game, but Jay made a mistake, and should admit it, at least to himself.

So he’s all about the dollars, when today it’s about cultural impact.

We keep hearing about challenged news outlets, that there’s not enough money in them. But the truth is they run the country. They decide what to write about, what to promote. And they used to own both content and distribution and the recent hubbub about Facebook is a challenge to their distribution model.

Meanwhile, peeps keep thinking the internet is free, that you can play and win online, but that’s so 2009, you can create it, but you can’t make people read, watch or listen to it. Which is why it’s such a conundrum that the Carters didn’t realize while they had the floor, they should give everybody a chance to partake.

So what we’ve got now is a Tower of Babel society where everybody’s in their own niche and inaccurate information is consumed. But Jay speaks the truth on the Grammys and…

If I were the Grammy organization, I’d just ignore the pressure, it will be forgotten. I’m not saying rap should be marginalized, that rap does not deserve awards, but that those in the marketplace infrequently send messages that fade, and the key is to play long enough to outlast them.

Ain’t that a head-turner.

That’s right, it’s a game. You have to learn how to play it, with modern tools.

Trump learned he could win with Twitter, something the oldsters like Hillary completely ignored.

That’s right, you cannot live in the past. Like the Trump voters mad at those who supposedly stole their cheese. The immigrants, the Jews, the Asians, the blacks… It’s the last cry of a dying constituency, when “”Black Panther” is one of the biggest grossing movies of all time, you know that racism has declined and the only ones who have not gotten the message are the racists themselves.

So, when the whole world is watching African-Americans, when hip-hop rules, you can either move the needle, illuminate issues, focus on change, as MTV did in its heyday, featuring a rainbow of colors, or you can look to your pocketbook, a failing strategy employed by the movie studios, the networks and the record companies,

Thats right, the last shoe has not dropped, the labels are about to take a huge hit. Once Spotify starts giving advances…

We learned in the past that the labels can be trumped. By MTV. By iTunes. You’ve got to play the long game. But Sony blew out most of its stock in Spotify immediately, and now the value of the streaming service has gone UP! And why has it gone up? Because of the advances to artists, which they said they were gonna give in their roadshow! It’s not like it was a secret. And if you think Rob Stringer, et al, are any match for Wall Street, you don’t realize Spotify is more valuable than any label and you cannot take away something the public has already become accustomed to.

It does take money to make it, now just as it did in the twentieth century. But money has no loyalty, you don’t need to get it from some specific place. And if you do a deal with Spotify you get much more than you did from the label.

And if you’re exclusive on Tidal, you’re playing that old Billy Preston song, “Nothing From Nothing,” which equals nothing in case you’ve forgotten.