Trump

He can’t win and he shouldn’t…

But it’s mindblowing to watch the pundits and players react to his statements.

I’ve got no love for John McCain, but he’s an untouchable. You can’t question the man because of his war hero status. But what if you questioned that itself? What if you refused to play by the rules?

Then the political class would call foul and ask for your ouster.

But there are no ejections in politics, never mind yellow cards.

I’m utterly fascinated by Donald Trump’s inability to apologize, his willingness to double-down on his controversial comments.

But I’m also laughing as I watch those who perceive themselves to be in power utterly flummoxed by him.

You see America is all about authenticity and identity, and those are sorely missing in the twenty first century. As soon as you gain traction, as soon as you gain personal power, you’re supposed to make friends with everybody else who’s a rung up the ladder and play nice. You can’t criticize your brethren. You must stay above the fray. You’re a member of a club, akin to a country club, and you’ve got to wear the appropriate clothing or else you get kicked out.

It’s even worse on college campuses, those theoretical bastions of debate. Comedians won’t play there for fear of being ostracized. You see young ‘uns can’t take a joke. But the truth is a few can’t take a joke and the rest are afraid of them.

So everybody goes to rehab, a kind of Free Parking for faux pas.

And everybody’s chummy.

And the rest of us sit on the sidelines wondering what happened to our country, how we got here. While you’re all yapping it up at the Correspondents’ Dinner, we’re worried about putting food on the table now that our unemployment benefits have run out.

And tech is not immune. Never forget that Steve Jobs famously hatched an illegal anti-poaching scheme. The rich and powerful want to stay that way, and they do it via collusion.

So you’ve got a blowhard real estate developer who’s neither as rich nor as powerful as he says, but believes his own b.s. and is running for President.

That’s right, Trump lives in a bubble. He’s not the only one. Grow up in Manhattan and attend an Ivy League school and chances are you too know nothing about how the disadvantaged truly live, despite doing charity work so you could beef up your college application.

But Trump is famous as a result of self-promotion and a TV show and he’s leveraging that fame to run for President. Sound delusional? Never forget that Minnesota elected a wrestler to be governor and California elected a body-builder. And I’d like to tell you that they both achieved great success, but the truth is running a government is a skill, akin to an athletic competition. Jerry Brown could never win in the ring, but he’s accomplished more than Schwarzenegger ever could, because not only does he know the players, he understands the game.

Which is why it’s a mistake to believe Trump could rule effectively.

Then again, a President is just CEO of the country, why do we elect one on a popularity/beauty contest basis?

And it’s great the entertainment/media complex put Trump in the penalty box for his immigration comments. You’ve got to hit him where they live, in this case on TV and at the bank.

But this McCain thing…

Trump spoke and every news outlet said he was toast.

There you go again Donald, you hit one outside the line, you touched the third rail. Your consolation prize is continued fame and a great story, take your parting gift and go.

But the truth is the proletariat, those who actually vote, don’t employ these same rules. Judith Miller gets in bed with Bush and his cronies and convinces “New York Times” readers war is a good thing. But where is the trusted source for those supporting Trump? Furthermore, the well-educated know that seemingly everybody is serving somebody, and maybe the media is not to be trusted.

I’d tell you to pivot, to admit your mistakes, because we’re all human, we’re all capable of being wrong, we’re all able to learn new things.

But I’d also tell you we need heroes. People to look up to and believe in.

And I certainly don’t believe in Donald Trump. But a lot of people do, the same way we believed in the Beatles.

That’s right… You’re smoking in interviews? Saying you’re more popular than Jesus? Breaking the code?

Trump is playing by rock star rules. Which is I’m so rich I can do whatever I want, the rules don’t apply to me.

And this antagonizes those who’ve spent their whole lives sucking up, playing the game. Because if the rules don’t apply their efforts have been worthless.

That’s America, where everybody’s mealy-mouthed and can’t speak their personal truth. Hell, you read about it all the time in the business pages, people writing in for advice about their bad bosses, their duplicitous coworkers. They want to tell them off, say take this job and shove it, but they’re afraid.

Donald Trump is not afraid.

And that’s why he’s resonating with his constituency.

We used to look up to artists. They played this role.

But once we decided that money was the definitive arbiter and artists didn’t make enough we shifted our attention to businessmen.

And most businessmen are about breaking rules as opposed to obeying them. Hell, no Napster without rule-breaking, and then no Apple iPod, never mind iTunes and the resulting iPhone.

Everything great has come out of people who say they just don’t like what’s going on.

So I’d say hate the player, but love the game. The one Trump is playing. Where he’s confounding the pussyfooting political cabal.

How is it Donald Trump knows it’s all about the voters and everybody inside the Beltway thinks it’s all about them?

Maybe he’s on to something.

Trainwreck

That it was.

Don’t go see this movie, not unless it’s ninety degrees and you want good a/c, not unless your standards are so low you’ve got time for good.

I certainly don’t.

With a cornucopia of entertainment options at my fingertips I don’t want to waste time before I die. I want to eat up the best, which there’s a whole history of. Used to be it was locked up, behind gates, but now I can hear every song ever recorded online and see every movie and to waste time at formulaic crap like “Trainwreck” frustrates me to the point where I’m not so concerned about getting my money back, but my TIME!

Amy Schumer. The funniest new comedienne to hit the boards in half a decade. Maybe the funniest COMEDIAN!

And that’s important, the battle of the sexes. You see it at affairs like this. The country is run by men who don’t understand women, but nearly seventy percent of the attendees in Century City were females. And they came out in abundance. I literally got the last seat left in the upper deck (and no one wants to sit in the lower deck, it’s the equivalent of Siberia, only close to the screen…Equatorsville?)

Going to the movies is a frustrating experience. We live in an on demand culture. And to have to be there at an appointed time and experience twenty minutes of commercials is to be infuriated to the point where you want to yell back at the screen. At least at the ArcLight they only have two trailers. But there’s no respect for the audience at the AMC. I get it, we’re a captive audience. You can expose me to previews for movies I’m completely unaware of. It’s not the seventies, wherein films permeated the culture. Did you know there was a new film with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as sisters? Get ready for the hype, it’s not arriving until Christmas.

Kind of like with “Trainwreck.” We’ve been hearing about it since 2014. And unlike “Pulp Fiction,” it was not worth the wait.

Judd Apatow seems to have lost the plot. His films are always twenty minutes too long and infrequently funny. I’m sitting in the theatre wanting to laugh but there are no guffaws. Is this a comedy or a drama?

As for the story arc…

High concept dreck. Party girl falls in love with real guy. Literally, just that simple.

Now I know Amy’s act is based on playing the field, being a guy’s girl, talking raunchy and doing the do. But unlike Lisa Lampanelli, who’s the Queen of Mean 24/7, in this flick Amy shows her sensitive side. And her intellectual side. So many sides you’d think she was Sybil. If this film is autobiographical, Schumer is an enigma.

Amy Schumer flew on my radar because of her tour-de-force at the Charlie Sheen roast.

Roast Charlie Sheen – Amy Schumer

That’s right, in today’s world, if you hit it over the fence, we’re all ears, we want to glom on to you. Because we’re inundated with mediocrity. People who test the waters before they speak and are more interested in being famous than talented. Schumer hung it out so far, not worried whether you liked her or not, that you clung to her. Sheer authenticity and balls in a world laden with phoniness.

And then there was her performance on Howard Stern, where Apatow discovered her. Amy was real in a way so many are not. She could be funny, but could also reveal her truth. But this does not make her a movie star.

How come everybody wants to be something else? Isn’t it good enough that you do one thing well? Chris Rock has never been great in a movie, but he’s the best funny man plying the boards. Sure, Jerry Seinfeld had one of the best TV shows ever, but the truth is the genius was injected by Larry David, who’s great at creating TV shows, most notably his own, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but is not good in front of a live audience.

But everybody wants to be something bigger. Kinda like Marc Maron. He’s got one of the biggest podcasts extant, he interviews the President, but leveraged this to star in his own IFC show. Hey Marc, are sitcoms still a thing? Does anybody know what channel IFC is? Does anybody even surf through the unknown stations now that there are 500? Are you building a resume or trying to capture the zeitgeist?

That’s what Amy Schumer did, she was the woman of the moment.

And then the media had to remind us again and again for nearly a year.

Make me puke. I was already sold, now you’re turning me off.

But when I saw the good reviews I decided to go anyway.

And what I found was that Bill Hader is the best he’s ever been in a flick.

And I finally get that woman Vanessa Bayer, who seems to be overacting on SNL but fits naturally here.

And who knew Colin Quinn would ever survive “Remote Control”? He’s great here, until he dies.

But Amy…

She’s dieted down to the point where she’s somebody else. She does shtick where she claims to be 160 pounds and still f___able, but here she looks just like everybody else.

Amy Schumer Glamour Awards Speech

She picks up every man, but works at a lowbrow magazine and then sells an article to “Vanity Fair”? Isn’t that like Artie Lange publishing a story in the “New Yorker”? How does that work?

It doesn’t, which is why this film doesn’t either.

The arc is so overworked, such a cliche, that you almost wince. We know she’s gonna fall in love with the good guy from the moment she meets him. We know they’re going to be together in the end.

So there’s no tension.

There are moments. With LeBron James evidencing cheapness.

But when Marv Albert does his shtick, you wish he and his toupee were banished from the media. Chris Evert is a wonder, after all it is a girls’ movie, we need more of her instead of Amar’e Stoudemire.

That’s right, there are funny moments, but when the big cheerleader scene happens at the end you’re reminded of “Slumdog Millionaire,” where they dance during the credits, not while the plot is still unfolding. That Oscar winner specialized in confounding us. But there are no surprises in “Trainwreck.”

And you wonder why I’m wasting time writing about it.

Just call me a constant warning to avoid the industrial hype complex. With standards so low it cannot be trusted. It’s a bandwagon of low-level taste that cannot be respected, you have to be brain-dead to pay attention to it.

But in a world where it’s so hard to get your message across, the old formula works to an extent. We want to know where to spend our time. And with media whored out to any celebrity who’ll give access, and every denizen believing they’re a social media star, we don’t know where to turn, we’re confused.

If something great happens, certainly in film, where the barrier to entry is so high, where a flick is expensive and it’s nearly impossible to get distributed, you’ll hear about it.

“Trainwreck” will have lousy word of mouth. They got people in the theatre opening day, but business will fall off thereafter.

Do me a favor. Respect yourself. Ignore the audience. Go for the brass ring.

Amy, make a movie about the tragedy of your relationship with Anthony Jeselnik, someone you were in love with who wasn’t in love with you.

Or make a movie about your imperfections, not being the most beautiful girl in the world but making it on your smarts and humor.

Make a movie about hitting on someone above your level and failing.

Give us some truth.

Because there’s almost none in “Trainwreck.”

And I was looking for it.

Or at least some laughs.

Rhinofy-Laura Nyro Primer

WEDDING BELL BLUES

A hit for the 5th Dimension, I always preferred Laura’s take.

It’s the simple piano intro, which draws you in, you know you’re gonna hear a story. Great music swings, there’s something more than the notes. “Wedding Bell Blues” is a performance, something that picks you up and carries you away. You get the message without even comprehending the lyrics.

AND WHEN I DIE

It’s the same song that David Clayton Thomas made famous with Blood, Sweat & Tears, but it’s not a snappy jazz number, but rather a cabaret tour-de-force. Nyro’s voice is not as good as the Canadian’s, but this proves it’s not about your pipes, but your delivery!

STONEY END

A hit for Barbra Streisand, Babs made it about her, whereas Laura lets the song itself shine, she’s in service to it as opposed to dominating it.

FLIM FLAM MAN

I’ll admit “More Than A New Discovery,” Laura Nyro’s debut, was not my first purchase. But I went back to it after loving what came after. And needing more, a further hit of the city songstress, I played it ’til I knew it by heart, and even though some of the songs were not radio hits, they became personal favorites, like this. You’ll get it in one listen, and it pays further dividends thereafter. Laura Nyro was accessible, what a concept!

POVERTY TRAIN

It was with “Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” that Nyro started to get personal recognition. The cognoscenti glommed on and started to spread the word. The sound was different, “Eli” was coproduced by Laura and Charlie Calello as opposed to Milt Okun, who’d done the debut, it was rough where the debut was slick. It’s not that there were imperfections, it’s just that the screen went from 35mm to 70mm. There was a bigger paintbox, a broader sound, you could tell the artist was in control.

“Poverty Train” is the centerpiece of the album, even though it was never a hit. This was back when artists had to take a stand, which side were you on, if you weren’t on any at all you were about to be left behind. President Johnson had his Great Society and we cared about the underprivileged, as opposed to seeing them as grifters sucking at the tit of government as so many do now. “Poverty Train” is just as powerful today, if a young ‘un cut it, it would be a sensation.

STONED SOUL PICNIC

Can you surry?

A walk in the park, a Saturday afternoon reflection as opposed to the in-your-face 5th Dimension hit, Laura’s take had more soul.

ELI’S COMIN’

A hit for Three Dog Night. Laura was the Bob Dylan of the late sixties, a talented artist in her own right who first became famous through covers, never mind wealthy.

Three Dog Night is male and bombastic, whereas Laura’s iteration is an east coast frenzy, you can see the women dancing, and you want to too!

SWEET BLINDNESS

Almost a girl group number, there’s so much energy and fun in this…it’s infectious! Laura could be pop and deep alternately, sometimes at the same time!

This is one of the songs you instantly memorize and want to sing along with.

TIMER

If you don’t fall in love with the vocalist, you’ve been neutered.

The media says we fall in love with the exterior, but the truth is it’s the inner spark that draws us in and keeps us attached. Laura sounds so ALIVE here!

EMMIE

“Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” was an album, not just hits and filler. The “secondary” tracks had as much magic as the primary. You could see “Emmie” when you listened.

CAPTAIN FOR DARK MORNINGS

“Eli And The Thirteenth Confession” is Laura Nyro’s most accessible album, full of hits with her own sound, but “New York Tendaberry” is her masterpiece. Nearly forgotten because it contained only one cover hit, “Tendaberry” is an album that pays more rewards the more you listen.

“Captain For Dark Mornings” is the key track, the raw emotion grabs you and keeps you listening. It’s quiet, you lean in to get more, the greatest stuff doesn’t necessarily beat you over the head and force you to pay attention. We live in the era of marketing, but it’s gems like “Captain For Dark Mornings” that penetrate, get a hold on you and never let go. This brings back memories of back when yet still makes me reflect on today.

Utterly astounding.

MERCY ON BROADWAY

WHO IS THIS?

On “Captain For Dark Mornings” Laura is quiet and intimate, whereas here she’s belting and swinging and you can’t help but be caught up in it.

That’s the magic of Laura Nyro. She was famous for the pop hits, she didn’t feature loud guitars, but those who loved harder sounds embraced her too, we were all excited about music, our only criterion was that it be good, and Laura Nyro was GREAT!

GIBSOM STREET

Like “Flim Flam Man” or “Emmie,” “Gibsom Street” is just an album track, but it’s as powerful as the hits.

“Gibsom Street” is a journey, a story. It’s the kind of thing that wraps its arms around you late at night, when a record is playing on the stereo to keep you connected, it makes you feel like you’re not the only unique, misunderstood person on this planet.

SAVE THE COUNTRY

We could use this sentiment today.

Once again, Laura’s iteration swings in a way the 5th Dimension’s does not. Just one woman and her piano. But then it accelerates and becomes intense and when the side ends and you’re confronted with silence you feel like life has left the building and you’ve got to lift the needle and play this album again in order to root yourself.

TIME AND LOVE

Covered by Barbra Streisand, this, like “Save The Country,” is classic Nyro pop, the type that can be covered and made ubiquitous. It’s very good, but what is amazing is that Laura could put it and the dark tunes on the same album, evidence all sides of her personality at such a high level when today they get you in your lane and tell you not to change.

NEW YORK TENDABERRY

Now my favorite track on the album. It goes through my head when I’m at loose ends. Like on my fiftieth birthday, I came home from my party and played it. It’s not about the lyrics, but the feel, the emotion. Someone’s home. Someone with more questions than answers. I don’t like being at loose ends, but listening to this track I know I’m not the only one. Music can make you dance, can make you forget your problems, but it’s stuff like this that I like best.

WHEN I WAS A FREEPORT AND YOU WERE THE MAIN DRAG

How do you follow up your masterpiece?

“New York Tendaberry” was not an instant listen, but with each successive play you liked it more and more. You kept playing “Christmas And The Beads Of Sweat” waiting for it to reveal itself, to like it as much, but that did not happen.

This track is the classic Nyro sound, the most obvious. But too obscure for anybody to turn into a hit.

MAP TO THE TREASURE

An eight minute adventure, in an era where people were truly stretching out, you get hooked as it plays on.

CHRISTMAS IN MY SOUL

Every year I used to get an e-mail from Desmond Child during the holiday season about Laura Nyro and this song until I stopped publishing them, but that does not mean he’s not still affected, nor me.

This is my Christmas song.

Christmas is a rough time, for those of us prone to falling down emotionally. We ride it out on tenterhooks. Hoping to make it through to the new year without taking our lives.

Who’s going to ride shotgun when you’re not a winner, when you’re overwhelmed with the b.s., when you want to keep moving but you’re in stasis?

Used to be we counted on our artists, before you had to be upbeat to be popular and the songs were written by committee and everybody was a winner.

Funny about Laura Nyro… Her music faded away long before she did. It’s like those in charge don’t want to admit someone could be so good. We used to live on the mountaintop, and Laura Nyro was a queen, who consoled us without imploring us, who made us feel part of a tribe, who illustrated life is about loss as well as victory. She was a beacon. To those who felt the brightness of her light, she still is.

Rhinofy-Laura Nyro Primer

Neil Young On Streaming

Old man take a look at yourself

What if you put out new music and no one cared?

Even better, what if you said you were gonna save the music business and no one cared?

Then you’d be Neil Young.

I’d say he’s become a laughingstock, but the people he’s playing to, the writers for the somnambulant press, trumpet his every word and neglect to point out his failings.

That’s right, they review all his new music, usually giving it stellar accolades. And then when it fails in the marketplace…crickets.

Where’s the follow-up story to the Pono disaster? We had to endure endless plaudits for his Toblerone box, how so few paid so much on Kickstarter, Neil appeared not only on late night TV, but at the Salesforce conference. Then the product became commercially available and it made less noise than Peter Frampton’s “I’m In You.” At least the press castigated Robin Thicke for his “Paula” album, but more people heard that than Pono.

Why does Neil Young get a pass?

Even better, why are we discussing the merits of streaming music?

Streaming music has already won. It’s the delivery medium of choice. Primarily on YouTube. To rail against streaming music is to rail something established that ain’t going away. Instead, we’ve got all these irrelevant acts complaining that someone moved their cheese and the hoi polloi is tuning out. And let me let you in on a little secret, you only make money when the hoi polloi LISTEN!

That’s your challenge, getting people to pay attention, not pay for music.

If you’re worried about people paying for music, you’re probably concerned with whether Jenga pieces are made out of wood or plastic. You’re so deep in the weeds that you cannot see the forest.

The bottom line is we’ve got a lot of stuff fighting for attention. Not only other music, but books, video, pornography, sex… Everything is now at people’s fingertips, how do you gain an audience?

Not by complaining.

If you’re a middle class artist you’re never going to make the money on streaming that you did on sales back in the pre-internet era. Because today all the superstars of all time are within everybody’s reach. People don’t want to listen to you. And the money is in mass.

And whether you get paid for recordings or not, that’s not where the lion’s share of the money is. Most of the money is in touring and sponsorships. And will continue to be. Because our whole society is moving towards experiences, that’s what people will pay for, human exercises that cannot be purchased anywhere else. That’s where Neil Young’s been making his money for eons. Just ask Clear Channel/Live Nation, which footed his bill for years. And the reason people come to see him is the music of his past. Which they oftentimes heard through AM radios, with some of the worst speakers of all time. Listening to a low-res stream on Beats headphones is far superior to what Detroit was delivering when Neil Young made his bones. But the truth is, CD quality streaming is already here. That’s right, both Deezer and Tidal deliver CD quality music. But most people don’t want to pay for it. Either because they can’t hear the difference or they believe it’s too expensive. Want to solve the problem, agitate for a reduction in price. Furthermore, Spotify streams in 320. iTunes doesn’t even sell at that quality. Are you gonna remove your music from the iTunes Store too, Mr. Young?

If Neil Young were twenty five today, he’d be giving his music away for free. Like Ed Sheeran and David Guetta, who’ve testified to the benefit of streaming and piracy respectively. These guys know it’s a new world. They’ve adjusted. Neil Young is just coasting on his past. Hey, Neil. Only play your new album at your shows, watch your live business dry up!

Furthermore, don’t you see that Neil’s got skin in this game, that he’s trying to drive Pono utilization, which is like trying to put a Segway in every garage. That’s why Neil’s making this tsimmis. Sure, he’s got a history of worrying about sound quality, but he’s also got a history of missing the mark.

As for the rest of you…

You want to make money on streaming music?

Stay independent, don’t sign to a label.

Yup, Spotify pays quite well if you’re the only rightsholder. Assuming people are listening. But you wanted to make a deal with a major for that marketing and promotion push and now you’re bitching about payment. The public does not care. Just like they didn’t care about making the Tidal owners rich. This is inside baseball, take your complaint off the homepage, you’re only muddying the water, you’re driving people FROM streaming, and your only hope is to get people to stream. CDs are dead. Most computers don’t even come with a disk drive anymore. As for files… Why don’t you try selling 45s while you’re at it.

Just shut up. Stop trying to line your personal coffers and get in the pit with your audience. How does this help your audience Neil, if they can no longer hear your music? But they can! On YouTube for free, which sounds even worse! Or they can steal it! But the more difficult you make access, the more marginal you become. You’re old, you can run on fumes, but anybody following your lead is brain dead.

So let’s forget Neil Young.

But let’s admit that streaming is here to stay. And sure, we want people to pay for it, but the truth is we’re building careers. And careers rain down money. And if you’ve got a career, you’re set.

Neil already has his.

But how about the people who don’t?

They should embrace streaming, they should tell everybody to sign up. They should make access to their music cheap and easy. And argue about the division of revenues off the field.

P.S. Remember when AC/DC wouldn’t be on iTunes? Now they’re not only there, but streaming services too. History tells us these transitions are momentary kerfuffles and only those who can’t see the future or are waiting for a paycheck hold out, oftentimes to their detriment.

Neil Young On Streaming