Lyor Cohen-This Week’s Podcast

So I’m sitting there, with the headphones on, listening to Lyor talk, thinking this is GENIUS!

That’s one of the myths of creativity, that you don’t know when you’ve done something great. ABSOLUTELY YOU DO! My favorite story on this comes from Al Kooper, he got a call from Skynyrd just after the first album came out, the band had a new song, could they come to Hot Lanta and cut it? They did. It sat on the shelf for a year before it was released. I asked Al if he knew it was gonna be a hit. Al looked me in the eye and said IT WAS SWEET HOME ALABAMA!

I don’t care what you think about Lyor, what you think about the supposed “value gap” at YouTube, you’ll be fascinated by his story, how he went from Bank Leumi to concert promoter to road manager for Run-DMC.

And so much more.

Now Lyor is optimistic on the future of the music business. He says the infrastructure is in place. All we need are some geniuses, people who can’t work for anybody else, square pegs in round holes, and the business will flourish!

Like Lyor. Like all the music business titans.

Most didn’t graduate from college. Most worked for someone else briefly, if at all. You see they had a vision, and a personality that could not be constrained.

This is not like going to work on Wall Street, where you’re a cog in the wheel.

This is not like working in Silicon Valley, where you’re a team member reporting to the VC.

This is make it up as you go, fleet on your feet innovation by larger than life people.

They sniff the money, the excitement, and they act.

You will too after listening to this podcast!


Google Play




Facebook/Cambridge Analytica

Don’t trust anyone under thirty.

I debated renewing my subscription to “New York” magazine. In case you haven’t been paying attention, with the drop in advertising, periodicals are raising their rates. Used to be subscribing was a no-brainer, the cost of a couple of issues on the newsstand. Now it can be the better part of a hundred dollars. And to cut costs “New York” went to biweekly publication, and so much is NYC centered, but I hate going backward so I ponied up.

And I’m glad I did.


I’m an inveterate news-checker, especially in these troubled times. I’m going from Twitter to the NYT to the WSJ to the LAT on a regular basis, could be dozens of times a day, I want to know what’s going on. That’s why you shouldn’t publish a book. Unless it’s fiction. It disappears immediately. I laugh when these reporters go on book leave, so they can collect a paycheck from ignorant publishers who crippled digital so they could maintain their antique business model and then get reviewed by all their meaningless peers and sell no tomes. Whereas info online is not only immediate, it can be seen by MILLIONS! Which is why cultural impact is more important than money. Don’t ever forget that. Although you can combine both like the Mercers and go to the head of the class. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

With my subscription to “New York” comes access to its app. And its news feed. The self-righteous are all about the “New Yorker,” but its app analysis is hard to access and too self-satisfied. Whereas “New York”‘s is current and brief and if you want to know what’s going on…

You check the app. I do. It’s become one of my go-tos.

And you can also get this info online, for free, in your browser. But the dirty little secret is that’s a passe game, like CDs, like files, everyone’s on their mobile. Which is why you must buy the largest mobile screen available, because it’s not a phone, it’s a computer!

And all of this is to point you to the definitive article on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, I found it in the “New York” app, you can read it via this link:

What You Need to Understand About Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

So here’s what happened. Employing subterfuge, Cambridge Analytica hired 270,000 people via Mechanical Turk to answer questions in an app they installed on Facebook. And then Cambridge had access to their friends, whereupon they scraped the data of 50 million people.

That’s right, you’re guilty. You gave up your privacy without a wink, so you could post pictures of your kids, cats and vacations and boast how great you are even though you’re dying inside.

What’s worse is Facebook built a whole business on this. And keeps saying IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT!

The Russians invade Facebook. Facebook says it didn’t happen.

Cambridge Analytica gets all this data and Facebook says IT’S NOT A BREACH! Yup, that was their response, although it’s now been deleted from Twitter, you see Facebook PERMITTED companies to do this. And then it sent Cambridge a note saying to delete the data. Which is kind of like e-mailing spammers to stop. Huh?

That’s right, Facebook was so busy making money that it didn’t care about ethics, didn’t care about people, didn’t care about our country or YOU!

And all the while Mark Zuckerberg is a hero. Sheryl Sandberg too. What did they do other than go to Harvard and use their connections and smarts to make money? Teachers need to get outside gigs and are harassed for forming unions to try to get a decent wage but Silicon Valley stars get a pass. WHY?

Same deal with the Mercers. In our no-tax country, and believe me, the richer you are the less you pay, percentage-wise, and there are so many loopholes and shelters, never mind the carried-interest rule, the billionaires get a pass and the poor are pissed upon. Forget that fiction that the poor pay no tax. They’re paying up the yin-yang. Maybe not income, but sales, gas, all kinds of other taxes. But you don’t want to hear that, because the poor don’t matter. They should just pay fealty to the rich.

But this is not the baby boomers who grew up with a background in equality. No, today’s young ‘uns grew up in an era of clear-sailing, they believe they’re entitled to their path and their payment, it’s their god-given right.

And we pay the bill.

What is Facebook delivering for all that cash? An advertising platform based on our info. It’s almost a scam, I tell you.

But worse are the values and insights of the team.

Maybe Zuckerberg should have finished college. Maybe those focused on STEM education need to take more liberal arts courses. Because these wankers are undeveloped, they can’t see the playing field. But they’re rich and powerful so they get a pass, WHY?

This is the story of the era, not the Second Amendment. I’m not saying people should have guns, I’m not saying there should be school shootings, I’m just saying if you think you can protect yourself from government overreach via arms, you’re dreaming, you’ve never used a computer, today all the power comes from chips, not clips.

But ain’t that America. The rank and file are worried about a dog dying on United and the rich and powerful are raping and pillaging. And those are the accurate words in our #MeToo era. No one is paying a price in Silicon Valley, just like no one paid a price on Wall Street after the 2008 crash. Hell, THEY ARE THE GOVERNMENT!

But like the Parkland students the onus is upon us to foment change. Believe me, D.C. is sold out to the usual suspect corporate bigwigs. They think no one is watching, no one is listening. But when you shine light upon their shenanigans and bad behavior the weight of the country is behind you.

We need a national NO FACEBOOK day. NO INSTAGRAM! You can live without them, believe me, they’re not bread and water. We need to let these social networks know THEY WORK FOR US!

Wild Wild Country

Wild Wild Country

I was not going to watch this. But after flipping around from one lauded comedy series to another and being unsatisfied I tuned in.

And got hooked.

It’s six hours. Three yesterday, three today. It gave me something to look forward to, we all want something to look forward to.

And I don’t know whether I’m at the advent of something bigger, like the hubbub surrounding “Making A Murderer,” or whether the sheer volume and pace of this documentary means it will get little traction.

What do I know about the Rajneesh? Weren’t they the ones with all the Rolls Royces? Or was that Maharaj Ji. Or both? Who knows, I’ll never join a cult, I’m a skeptic, not a seeker.

But so many are.

The sixties were all about standing up to the establishment and our elders. But the seventies were about personal fulfillment, EST, the Me Decade. And to tell you the truth, this didn’t penetrate my consciousness, I had to read about it to know about it, no one I knew was going to a seminar or joining a cult, that’s what happened in California, before I moved there.

And Hollywood has a big part in this saga.

But before that…

All those people going to India… They were unhappy, looking for something more. And there are always people with answers, always. When someone tells you they’ve got the way out, to spiritual happiness, to fulfillment, beware, they’re usually charlatans.

Was Osho a charlatan?

I think so, but I’m not sure. That’s the game of modern documentaries, they don’t take a side. Well, the political ones do, but after “Capturing the Friedmans,” the progenitor of this genre, you’re usually left leaving the theatre wondering…were they guilty or not?

Same deal here, only instead of ninety minutes it takes six plus hours. That’s one bad thing about Netflix. Used to be a flick had to be viewable in a theatre, in one sitting, on Netflix it can go on FOREVER! Why does every documentary have to be “The Sorrow and the Pity,” the four and a half hour story of France during World War II. That film could justify its length. I’m not sure “Wild Wild Country” can. At some points it’s like watching paint dry, it’s so slow, but you can’t turn it off, you not only want to know what happens, you want to know who is at fault.

So the Rajneesh move to nowheresville Oregon and the residents, all fifty of Antelope, freak out. People are suspicious, they can’t handle the new, they’re afraid of losing their way of life. Kinda like what’s going on in the country now, those damn foreigners are gonna take over and ruin it for all of us.

Only in this case maybe they are. Were they taking over the town in reaction or was that always the plan, you’ll never know.

But the more the Rajneesh are oppressed, the more they strike back, to the point of illegality.

And I’m not giving anything away when I say the government wins, the U.S. and Oregon governments, not the Rajneesh one that ran their town, that’s history.

And speaking of history…

We’re in a new era. You see there’s VIDEOTAPE, DOCUMENTATION! It’s no longer left to speculation, you can view the footage itself. This presages today’s security cam world.

And it’s hard to believe I lived through the eighties, which seemed so modern and up-to-date at the time, but we were disconnected then in a way we will never be again.

And this doc does a good job of showing the inhabitants of Oregon. Live long enough in L.A. or New York and you think everybody else is subservient and paying attention to you, but life goes on outside the metropoli, and smart, educated people are doing honest work.

And speaking of work…

The Rajneesh lawyer was the number two litigator at Manatt.

And Al Ruddy’s ex-wife joined the cult. And got immediate attention because of her “Godfather” money and connections. You see fame and cash opens doors everywhere.

And where did all the cash come from?

And what did everybody do to survive?

On one hand it looks like a utopia. Free sex and love.

On another it looks like brainwashing.

We all want answers, we all want enlightenment. Hell, Pete Townshend wrote about it:

I’m a seeker
I’m a really desperate man

But that was back when rock stars were looking for answers, when the Beatles went to India, when we looked up to musicians, before they all pledged fealty to God, as if he had anything to do with their success, and focused first and foremost on cash. What if cash is no issue?

That’s what it was like in the sixties and early seventies. I know it’s hard to believe, but you could make it on minimum wage. So you were looking for something more:

I’m looking for me
You’re looking for you
We’re looking at each other
And we don’t know what to do

I look for my answers in art. I try to form my own opinions. But God help me if they contradict those of the mob. With the concentration of the world via technology we’ve gone to mob rule, the edges have been burnished off.

And sometimes the edges are whacked, like the Rajneesh.

And sometimes they’re the path to enlightenment.

So if you’re part of the Netflix cult, if you’re willing to go down the rabbit hole, if you lived through this era and were oblivious, thinking the Rajneesh was a far off cult in Oregon…

You should watch this.

To see how people age. To see how smart people fight. To see the power of the government. To see the fear on the faces of the townspeople.

To see…

People come and go but concepts remain.

What is the meaning of life?

Damned if I know.

“The Seeker” – Spotify

“The Seeker” – YouTube


Live vs. Recordings

That is the lesson of the Grateful Dead.

Forget all this hogwash about the penumbra, the tape trading, the community, the free music, it really came down to the show. You just couldn’t get that experience anywhere else. The records were imperfect, not a reasonable representation of the band. And although the gigs were spotty, you could see the band was on a journey of exploration, trying to achieve different heights every night. This was not a tour by an act with the show on the laminate, choreographed to a click track, this was a living, breathing thing and although it took decades to build to its pinnacle, it gained acolytes along the way and only became bigger and bigger, to the point where remnants of the old act can still tour today following the same paradigm, can you say Dead & Company?

There’s too much focus on Spotify and recordings and revenue. That’s a game, some people are playing it very well. But if you can’t win there, and believe me, the Dead could not win at pop, they were barely played on FM radio, you must run the other way, and in that case today it’s live performance.

Everything you’ve heard is wrong. The opportunities are rampant.

Assuming you see the landscape differently.

Kinda like a Silicon Valley startup. You’re not playing for today, but tomorrow. You’re investing now for revenue later. If you want it to work immediately, focus on recordings. But when everyone else is zigging, you’re better off zagging. Furthermore, all the money is in performance now anyway.

So what is it you’re doing?

Well, the EDM acts have it right. It’s about the experience, the rave, the audience is not only part of the culture, but part of the show.

As for other styles of music…

There are many ways to crack this nut. You can be theatrical, you can improvise, but one thing’s for sure, you can’t do it the way everybody else does.

The good thing is the internet allows the word to be spread.

The bad thing is there are so many marketing messages that it’s hard to gain traction/spread the word/go viral.

But if you’ve got something different, and you keep experimenting, you can win.

This is the opposite of the recording paradigm, where you hire the usual suspects and make a record by committee. Sure, you’ll release recordings, maybe artifacts on YouTube, but that won’t be your focus.

Everything we’ve heard is passe will come back. The ability to play first and foremost. If you haven’t got the building blocks, you can’t construct the edifice.

So focus on chops.

And focus on honesty and integrity, which are rare in this world. You’re the anti-committee. You’re not playing for everybody, but somebody. You’re singular. That’s your message. This is where you can get what I’m doing, you can’t get it anywhere else.

Assuming somebody wants it.

They don’t want your sour grapes. If you get no reaction, the problem is you. Either you’re ahead of the game or wrong or bad, or all three. So either believe in yourself and pursue, or pivot or give up.

And you can’t be following in footsteps. It’s about your vision, which is new.

And you can’t sell out at the first option. You can’t be a judge on a TV show, you’ll sacrifice all your credibility.

This is the alternative future. This is what’s coming.

We need like-minded believers to lead the way.