The Power Of One

John Oliver confronts Dustin Hoffman and then Anderson Cooper confronts Roy Moore’s spokeswoman about his misdeeds.

This is a sea change. The press has removed itself from the debate. Trying to be neutral. Allowing heinous behavior and incorrect views to skate.

But not anymore.

We’re influenced by the news. You think you’re an independent thinker but the truth is you’re swayed by what comes over the transom. And it’s not only the newspaper and cable news, but online too, that’s what the Russians hacking the election is all about. You think it’s a tribal thing, MSNBC versus Fox, NYT versus WSJ, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Google and Facebook give different results to different people. We’re losing our commonality, we’re not even coming from the same starting point. At least in music we’ve got charts. What’s wrong with the “Billboard” one is it’s manipulated, in an era of overwhelming b.s. you lead with truth. At least the Spotify streaming chart is accurate, you know what the most popular tracks in America are. And it influenced the Grammy nominations, without the Spotify chart hip-hop wouldn’t dominate. But Spotify demonstrates what people are really listening to.

Kinda like when SoundScan started twenty five years ago and it illustrated how large a market country was, before that people didn’t know.

But these are raw facts in a world where facts are abhorred, or we each have our own, or what we believe to be facts are untruths.

So the hoi-polloi are fighting. The underclass and the powerless are arguing, lobbing bombs from their own bunkers. But above them lives an elite that is completely out of touch. This is how the “New York Times” missed Trump, essentially all the media and insiders, even the right wing outlets did not expect him to win, because they had little to no contact with the actual voters.

It’s a mess.

But the elite camp is all nice and friendly. There’s decorum, there are rules.

And then John Oliver starts shooting at Dustin Hoffman.

It’s always artists who lead, always. That’s the essence of being one, taking risks. And since they have followers, what they do gains attention. If someone other than Oliver, a traditional newsperson, confronted Hoffman, we wouldn’t hear much about it.

But no conventional newsperson would. It takes an outsider to become an outlier.

Personally, I’m shocked. This is kinda like the sixties. Where your heroes take positions and act in a way you’re not fully comfortable with. What youngsters today do not understand is most people were for the Vietnam War before they were against it. It’s these artists and the leaders they dragged along who convinced us to change our opinions.

Similarly, there’s this inane position posited today that we can remove ourselves from the world economy and achieve greatness. Feels good, like the U.S. can defeat any enemy, it’s just patently wrong.

And once Oliver opens the floodgates, everybody else pours through. Suddenly, it’s open season to confront bad actors, untruths. He did it, now you can. The civility employed previously is out the window. Because we refuse to condone bad behavior and we refuse to allow perpetration of untruths. Furthermore, you have to back up what you stand for, which is where facts come in.

So America will become unified when artists take a stand for truth, they’re the last bastion of the American way. Comedians walk the line every day, they can take the heat. Too many other so-called “artists” are so worried about crossing the line that they don’t. Credit the elimination of arts programs in schools. You see a Jackson Pollock painting and you ask yourself where it came from, what inspired him to forgo painting people and start dripping paint. Actually, that’s why Picasso is so famous. It’s not just the pictures, it’s where they’re coming from.

Where do you come from? Are you proud of your ignorance, are you proud you take a stand and don’t change it?

We’ve got some hard questions coming down the pike. Regarding sexual harassment, are you now guilty until proven innocent? Can you be rehabilitated? I’m not saying these guys didn’t do it and shouldn’t be punished for it, just that now that we’ve broken down doors, we need to have a set of rules to proceed.

We’ve been marching without a set of rules for twenty years, since the internet took hold. Google said it was benign, Facebook was allowing us all to connect, but we ultimately found out these entities had more power than any previously. That letting them run willy-nilly in a capitalist way hurt our culture. How much regulation is appropriate? I don’t know, like I said, these are hard questions, which we’re trying to investigate and answer, and all we hear is they’re out to get Trump. I’m far less worried that Trump stays in office/gets away with it than truth is eviscerated online.

We keep hearing about AI, how machines will save us. But the truth is it all comes down to humans. Mark Zuckerberg pursued profits until he might have changed election results.

But then John Oliver comes along and there’s a reset. Anderson Cooper too.

What is truth. Do we ignore it, do we fight it, do we expose falsehood?

Those are the questions we’re asking now.

And we are because one person was willing to cross the line and make a celebrity feel uncomfortable.

Be sure to ask the hard questions and make people feel uncomfortable today.

“John Oliver and Dustin Hoffman Spar Over Sexual Harassment Statement”

“Cooper presses Roy Moore spokeswoman on sexual abuse allegations”

Rumble-The Indians Who Rocked The World

Rumble-The Indians Who Rocked The World

There’s a moment in this movie…

They’ve gone on about Jesse Ed Davis. Showed him playing with Taj Mahal, being flown over to England to participate in the “Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus.” Hooking up with John Lennon. And I know who Jesse Ed is, or was, but these kinds of credits don’t mean much until…

Jackson Browne shows up and says he called Jesse Ed to play on his initial solo LP.

And Jesse Ed says he really doesn’t hear himself playing on that track.

So, Jackson has the engineer cue up another and Jesse Ed says this one will work.

So Jesse Ed goes into the studio, the track is playing, but he’s not paying attention, he’s tuning his guitar, and then when it gets to the space for his solo he rips something off in one take and then is done. Just like that. But what makes this story so great is that was the solo in DOCTOR MY EYES!

I can’t say there’s a plethora of those hair-raising moments in this movie, but there aren’t many solos like the one in “Doctor My Eyes.” Or as Randy Castillo says, you can practice in your bedroom all you want, but you won’t get great until you play with others, he sat behind the kit for Ozzy.

Yup, you learn about all the famous Indians, they seem okay with that word, we whites know them as Native Americans. And of course they have a chip on their shoulder, that’s why they made this movie. The head-scratcher is now it’s the whites who have a chip on their shoulder, believe they’re oppressed. Hell, look at rock and roll, scratch an older white male and you’ll find out he hates rap. Someone took his rock away. But where did the rock come from?

This film posits it came from Indians.

Is that true?

Hell if I know. That’s why you watch a flick like this, to be edified.

And they end up focusing on this one early bluesman Charley Patton. I’ve only heard his name, I’m more familiar with Robert Johnson, but Patton was an Indian and played that sound that influenced all those English musicians, you know, the ones that put rock and roll over the top. And Charley Patton taught Howlin’ Wolf how to play the guitar and when the Stones came to America they insisted on putting him on a TV show with them. You get it when you see the footage. That’s the power of the sound.

You get it listening to Charley Patton too.

Quincy Jones talks about going to juke joints. This was before the internet, if you wanted to get loaded and eat and dance and…this is where you went.

And one of the greatest revelations is the footage of Mississippi, a place most people have heard of and almost no one has been to. I’ve been there barely, when I went to Memphis. It’s different.

You see the countryside and you can envision how this music was engendered.

And there have been a lot of Indians in rock and roll. Famously Robbie Robertson, and Redbone, and many argue that Link Wray started it all, with “Rumble.”

But what this movie does best is provide context.

That’s what we’re missing today. A roadmap. That will tell us where to start, where to go and illustrate the attractions along the way. That was blown apart by the internet.

We were moving along swimmingly, with AM and FM, and then MTV came along to create a monoculture, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowed radio consolidation and then the internet blew it all apart. I guess you just can’t hold the public back that much.

But you watch this flick and you think about music. When you used to play and sing and…

This is what the younger generation doesn’t understand. We oldsters lived through something. The only equivalent thing in my life is the internet. There was essentially nothing and then something came along to dominate, we all got onboard and rode the wave. The Beatles hit and it changed life. Not only were we addicted to the radio, we bought instruments, we went to shows, and you had to leave your house to do it.

Now you can stay home and connect and most people don’t play and you go to the gig to text and shoot selfies.

Not that there is not a music scene today, but music does not drive the culture.

Nor does the internet.

We’re in a strange malaise.

But when you watch a film like “Rumble” you realize there’s a way out, and it’s got to do with story. People have to keep telling their stories, and connecting the dots. Knowing when they’re right and wrong. And in it not for the money but for the experience. We’ve gone topsy-turvy. But when you see “Rumble,” you know they got it right.

Just say if it’s too late for me.

And for those not in the know, that’s the cue for Jesse Ed to wail, a little beyond the minute and a half mark in “Doctor My Eyes.”

Most of you know it by heart.

Evacuation

Should I stay or should I go?

That’s what went through my head after I gained consciousness.

Felice was shaking me, I’d been up so late, I’d ultimately taken a Zyrtec tablet for the itching. Why was she waking me up so early?

Betsy called. She gets up early. There was a fire.

That makes sense, Betsy lives in the North Valley near the hills.

But as I listened to Felice I heard there was a fire near us.

But on the other side of Mulholland.

Yet our next door neighbor was hosing his roof off.

And a policeman had knocked on the door and said evacuation was now optional but if it became mandatory he would probably not be able to come back.

Huh.

My mother thinks she’s inviolate. Nothing bad will happen. Maybe that’s why I’m on the outlook for pitfalls 24/7. When asked about the Cuban Missile Crisis she said not to worry, if they dropped bombs we’d all die.

So my inclination was to stay.

I know, I know, stupid.

It was just too much effort to get out of bed with my sores, and I wanted more sleep.

But then I thought about it being too late to go, and I got up.

What do you take?

Most of my valuables are at my house in Santa Monica, then again, do I have any valuables? Get old enough and you don’t, all possessions become meaningless. What’s even weirder is you can no longer remember certain things. Which is maybe why people leave with their photo albums. But I don’t have any of those, my father was so busy taking pictures of our youth that I haven’t. Even in this modern camera phone world I’m not a big snapper.

Well, I should take my pills. You never know how long you’ll be gone.

And my computer. Sure, I’ve got a desktop at home, but why put all that money at risk.

And a few clothes.

But what route should I take?

The map apps were confusing. Google said to go down Roscomare, but wasn’t that where the fire was?

Apple said to take a convoluted route to the 405, but wasn’t that partially closed?

By time I put everything in the car I decided to check again. Both map apps said the south 405 was open. I made my getaway.

Then again, was I being stupid? I was driving towards the fire. But if I wanted to go further east delays were greater, better to jet down or risk getting caught in the hills if the fire spread?

And traffic was light for this hour, but when I got to Mulholland it was inundated with cops. And firetrucks. The barbecue foodtruck that’s there every day was not.

Cops were directing traffic. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go the way I wanted.

That’s what people don’t understand, Los Angeles.

It’s a giant suburb with a row of mountains separating it. The wealthier you are the more you gravitate to these mountains, where roads are narrow yet views can be spectacular. It’s a self-defining separation between rich and poor. If you’re financially-challenged in Los Angeles, you’re likely not at risk from natural disasters. Oh, that’s not fully true, but the fires start in the mountains, and once you get east of the 405, there’s little spare space.

And how can this happen in a city anyway? You can imagine an apartment fire in New York, but not a whole block going up in flames, multiple blocks, what’s gonna burn?

So I finally get on the 405, which is slowed down by firetrucks. And the northbound lanes are completely closed, which is weird, because they’re oftentimes gridlocked.

And then I see it. The hillside’s smoldering. Looks like they’ve got it under control.

But no, when I get down the hill, near the 76 station in Bel Air, I see flames. That house on the ridge… It seems to be on fire, or close to it.

So it can happen.

But then I’m in Santa Monica and it’s like it didn’t happen at all.

P.S. You used to rely on radio, TV and the newspaper. But in the age of the internet their faults have been illustrated, they’re just not up-to-date. AM news has gone by the wayside, replaced by sports and Latin programming in Los Angeles. And TV can only do a broad overview with pictures. I saw a reporter by the Skirball, what the hell does he know? As for the vaunted L.A. “Times,” the fire is not at the top of the app and it’s cut so many reporters that it is hobbled. Either you double-down and go for it in the internet era or you’re toast. Which leaves you with Twitter. I’d be checking it, but right now I’m out of danger. As for the house..?

This Week’s Podcast

Nathan Hubbard.

Ticketing is the black hole of the music industry. There’s little transparency and little understanding of how it works. Nathan ran Ticketmaster, the company you love to hate, and has deep insight into the ticketing sphere.

Which we get into after I get his history.

I’m always interested where people come from, it explains who they are today.

Nathan is the victim of a broken home who started playing music with his buddy while still in the single digits and continued while he went to Princeton and his buddy went to Haverford under the name of Rockwell Church.

In that incarnation, they were managed by the then fledgling Red Light.

Upon Rockwell’s desire to go to graduate school, Hubbard ultimately did so too, at Stanford, and then ended up back at Red Light running Musictoday. You can take the boy out of the music industry but you can’t take the music industry out of the boy.

Live Nation bought Musictoday and Nathan went with it and ultimately ended up as the head of Ticketmaster.

Then he moved on to Twitter.

Now he’s in stealth mode, when he’s not fulfilling his role as an intern at “The Ringer”:

Nathan Hubbard –┬áThe Ringer

Now this is a long one, but we cover a lot of ground, I believe you’ll find it interesting. Nathan’s part of the young guard taking over this business, he’s only 42, and the baby boomers aren’t gonna rule forever, despite what they think.

Also Nathan is smart.

And smart wins, especially in this education-free, hustle business known as music.

Not that all intelligence is evidenced in book-learning and degrees, that’s just a way of saying you’ll enjoy listening to Nathan speak, you’ll gain insight and be primed for further conversation.

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