Manchester Minute One

I kept thinking of the Kinks song…it took me ALL day and ALL of the night
to get here!

Where it’s raining.  Manchester being Manchester!  The Seattle of the U.K!

Fascinating flight to  Chicago.  The woman sitting next to me was a
Christian.  We read about this shit, but when you experience it it blows your mind. 
She went to a religious college…you know, one with a name you’ve never HEARD
OF!  And she got married at 19, since you can’t have premarital sex.  Hell, you
can barely even touch.  But then she committed the cardinal sin.  She got
DIVORCED!  Now her parents will have nothing to do with her.  Yup, she’s 26, no
children, not only self-sufficient, but she paid for college herself, and now
she’s going straight to hell and they can’t be associated with her.  I heard
her story.  Her ex constantly put her down, did some creepy things, you’d get
divorced too.  But now she’s starting over sans emotional support.

She moved to Chicago with her college roommate, whose family is on THE
AMAZING RACE!

That was one of the things she asked me.  Did I watch "Survivor".  She sent
four audition tapes, but they haven’t selected her yet.  Now, her FRIEND,
following HER lead, is on television!  She’s PISSED!  I tried to explain to her the
cost of fame, but she didn’t get it.  She told me she had a thing for
Chandler Bing, she wanted her chance.

But, she’s got a new love now.  And he’s slowly making her CDs for every day
of the week.  He got up to Thursday for her trip to California.  He’s got a
thing for Wilco, he’s even driven around Jeff Tweedy’s neighborhood trying to
catch a glimpse.  I asked her what was on the compilations, but she didn’t know,
because she’d lost the labels.  But she told me for this trip he’d burned
Joni Mitchell’s "California".  And the song by that name by Phantom Planet.  Oh,
she felt like she was living in the dark ages with her CD player, she was
afraid to show it in the waiting area, and she was embarrassed about her Justin
Timberlake CD, but she loved music.  Even though she was just getting into it
now.  All these years later.

And sitting there, hearing her wax rhapsodic, I thought what a great world we
live in.  One wherein people can exchange their favorite tunes, turn their
friends on to stuff, CONNECT through music.  This is what the major labels want
to eviscerate.  They know what is happening not at all.  As the driver to the
hotel told me about the problems with a bad neighborhood on the outskirts of
Manchester, the horse has already left that barn.  It’s a new world.  To think
that you can kill trading and burning is laughable.  If only these companies
would EMBRACE technology.  See that if they licensed trading EVERYBODY would be
a music fan and revenues would SWELL!  But they’d rather live in the past. 
Ruminating on the way it used to be.

And on the plane from Chicago to the U.K. I read an article in the "Wall
Street Journal" about the price of digital photo printing.  You see the old wave
companies, like Fuji, they don’t want to be killed by HP and the other
companies purveying home photo printers.  So now you can buy a print for a dime. 
If one or two rather than bulk, it might cost you up to fifteen cents.  And I
thought of the iTunes debacle.  With the labels wanting to raise the price.  They
just don’t get it.  You lower the price to sell MORE!  You don’t raise the
price to make more money on each transaction.  God, if tracks were a dime, who’d
download P2P!  Not that they should sell them by the track, that’s what I
don’t get about Edgar’s position.  If you’re selling ones and twos, you’re going
out of business.  You’ve got to sell a BUNCH at a time.  Hell, can you buy ONE
RAZOR BLADE AT A TIME??

But now I’m back in the old world.  The TRULY old world, but with more modern
cars than you ever see in the States.  It’s an automobile wonderland.  Not
only are manufacturers like Renault and Peugeot represented in iterations that
are positively stylish, there are models of every household make you’ve never
seen.  BMWs and Mercedes with diesel engines of all sizes.  Hell, I got a ride
in a Mercedes VAN!  God, think of all the rich people in the U.S. that would
want to own one of THESE!  (Not the minivan just introduced, but something
closer to the VW Vanagon.)

And I got a whole education on the social system of the U.K.

You can live on the dole and make twenty to thirty thousand pounds a year. 
Does the public bitch?  No.  Well, not according to my driver Jon anyway…

And National Health Care.  There’s a patient’s bill of rights, you’ve got to
be seen in 48 hours, and sure, the rich have private hospitals, but at least
the poor are COVERED!

And I still can’t completely understand the educational system.  With the
comprehensive schools and the grammar schools and the A levels and the O levels. 
And, as a Californian , it’s hard to think of living somewhere where it’s
gray every day, but it is eye-opening, it is fascinating.

So, Tony’s arriving at the hotel around 10:30, we’re going to go to the
library to kick off In The City by telling youngsters how it all works.  (Then
again, could they tell us!)  Tony’s a constantly entertaining whirling dervish, I
treasure my time with him, for the history of Manchester, the life philosophy
and the music philosophy.  Nobody this educated is working in the music
business in the U.S.  Hell, last year he took me to City Hall where there are giant
murals depicting Manchester’s history.  He took half an hour, maybe more, to
explain it all to me.  The advent of the industrial revolution to today.  God,
if only those kids being taught the Bible could be exposed to Tony Wilson. 
Nahh, never happen.

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