Paul Simon And Stephen Colbert Are ‘Feelin’ Groovy’

Maybe you’ve got to be 75 not to give a fuck.

That’s right, Paul Simon was 34 back when SNL launched, when he made fun of himself, when he was still a soft rock superstar as opposed to a world musician, before he infected a younger generation via MTV and Chevy Chase in the eighties.

The seventies were a weird era, we had sixties hangover, we knew we’d been though something that would never return, we were looking inward instead of outward, testing our own personal limits, and that’s what SNL was about, not an institution without impact, but a clubhouse for a generation, whose sensibility said we’re not part of the mainstream and we can make fun of not only them, but ourselves and our culture.

Not that Mr. Simon has been able to have an impact recently, times have changed too much, his records get reviewed but his audience only wants to hear the oldies and the younger generation is impenetrable so it’s like he’s in the rearview mirror, he’s even toyed with retirement, and then he goes on Colbert and blows away all the youngsters a third his age.

You see a baby boomer has a viewpoint. Scratch under the surface, get rid of the BMW and the fancy meals, all the lifestyle stuff, and a boomer remembers what once was, when we were all on the same page, against the war, when if you weren’t questioning everything, you weren’t conscious.

Very different from today’s generation. First and foremost it’s split. Many are left and many are right. And a whole bunch of them feel unheard, like they don’t even matter, as their parents and the press keep shitting on them, deploring the ethos of the millennials. And their best and the brightest are mercenary fucks like Zuckerberg and Spiegel, if you think Facebook and Snapchat are equivalent to the Fillmore East, the gigs of yore, you never went. There were no cameras, no selfies, it was about the music, like-minded people coming together to celebrate the elixir of life.

But it hasn’t been that way for a very long time.

And then Paul Simon goes on Colbert and captures the zeitgeist.

This is not Chris Stapleton and Kevin Bacon imitating ZZ Top on Fallon, that’s just supposed to be funny, this clip has a VIEWPOINT!

First and foremost you’re stunned that Simon can actually play, he starts picking and your heart melts, this is the sound that had you addicted to the radio, going to the show way back when.

And when Paul starts crapping on “59th Street Bridge Song”…it’s the antithesis of today, where everybody’s boasting, trumpeting their accomplishments, worried if they don’t claim every bit of their CV and more they’ll be left out in the scrum of life. Hell, ever read anybody’s bio today? You’d think they’re President! Oops! A blowhard self-promoter IS President!

And now my inbox is gonna go wild. That’s what you don’t realize if you’re not in the game, the gotcha people who breathe down your throat anytime you take a left wing position. Hell, the media missed it, because the reporters are faceless and don’t engage, but play on the internet and you see the real America.

But you cannot be afraid.

And Stephen Colbert is not afraid. Which is why his show just won the season war, beat Fallon. Because it’s not about appealing to everybody, but SOMEBODY! Just by playing you’re gonna alienate so many people, by having a viewpoint, ignore them, those aligned with you will be titillated and will double-down.

Hello lamppost, nice to see ya
We might get bombed by North Korea
We’re gettin’ close to World War III
So run for the shelters
Feelin’ groovy

This is the sixties ethos, this is the essence of the SNL of yore, you take something innocuous and with a bit of creativity and insight you turn it into something cutting and poignant, it resonates with the audience, your intelligence shines through, and in the internet era nothing is more powerful, take that fashion and makeup!

The Arctic’s meltin’
The seas are boilin’
These aren’t the first pants that I’m soilin’
We won’t survive the century
We’re all doomed
I’m feelin’ groovy

Simon is not afraid to participate, he doesn’t put all the weight on Colbert, he’s willing to do the heavy lifting, unlike today’s wankers. Furthermore, who doesn’t like some toilet humor, especially boomers who were scared shitless the first time around, who hid under their desks to prevent the carnage of a nuclear war.

Kellyanne Conway makes no sense
And even if Trump goes we’re stuck with Mike Pence
But he might win the big one in 2020
Nevertheless, all is groovy

Name names, take your shot, don’t play nice, have a viewpoint, how come Colbert and Simon know this and the younger generation does not?

But comedians are more powerful than musicians today, not only do they sell tickets they speak truth, about our society, Netflix is all over them, the specials are abundant, from edgy people like Chappelle and Norm Macdonald and soon Chris Rock. TV is willing to take a risk, musicians?

And whether consciously or unconsciously, Paul Simon is acting positively in the now. It’s not about sitting at home concocting perfect albums for three years that are ultimately ignored, but being in the game, taking chances, creating all the time, taking a shot at going viral.

And so far, this clip has not.

But the truth is it’s not like the old days, there’s a delay, the word doesn’t spread so fast, it takes time to percolate.

This clip made me smile and feel good, made me feel that I am not alone and I’m a member of a team which may be losing today but could win tomorrow.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU ASK FOR?

Black Edge

“Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street”

The world runs on information.

And so much of that information is at your fingertips. In newspapers, online…you too can be an expert and compete with world-beaters, assuming you’ve got the interest, the desire and the smarts.

Stevie Cohen is very smart.

I wanted to read a book. So I began my research. Of recently released items, highly-rated items, that’s the world we live in, of course personal recommendations are important, but whenever I get a sincere one I immediately go online and check it out, and if the tome doesn’t get four stars, I’m out, my time is just too precious, too valuable, and there’s nothing worse than a second-rate experience, a boring one in a world that is so exciting and is moving so quickly.

You too can become an expert on hedge funds if you read “Black Edge.”

But you won’t know what went through Steve Cohen’s mind, because he was never interviewed by Sheelah Kolhatkar, and he was never personally convicted. That’s what Andrew Ross Sorkin said, that “Black Edge” is for amateurs, and he almost dissuaded me from reading it, but the other reviews were so positive and I am an amateur, so I dove in.

And I could not stop reading. “Black Edge” is UNPUTDOWNABLE!

Now the author separates the financial world into two groups. The rich and privileged, groomed for this life, and those educated and smart with a chip on their shoulder who have something to prove. You can separate today’s society into two groups also… Those who want to know the truth and those who do not care. In the latter category you’ve got the followers of celebrity, those who adore Kim Kardashian and the two-dimensional pop stars. But you’ve also got the team players, the ones who e-mail me the Twin Towers were blown-up, who believe Hillary is the devil and everything on Fox News is true. I hate to tell them, everybody’s on the same team. Hill and Bill went to Donald and Melania’s wedding. Everybody went to Harvard. Or Wharton. It’s a club. And you’re either a member or you’re not. Either you know how the game is played or you don’t. And if you want to know how the financial game is played, the game that runs America today, and has for decades…

Read “Black Edge.”

This is not news. If you read the financial page, “Bloomberg,” you know all the highlights. But it’s the nuances that are scintillating.

Yes, Steve Cohen’s SAC Capital paid a huge fine, more than half a billion, and Cohen can only trade for himself until 2018, but then…

And hedge funds have recently had lousy returns. But if you think Lloyd Blankfein is the enemy, you’ve got no idea his salary is a pittance compared to the men in t-shirts and flip-flops at hedge funds.

Now it’s a moving target. If you’ve been reading recently you’re noting the ascension of the quants. But that’s how you survive in this world to begin with, by adapting.

Steve Cohen did not grow up as disadvantaged as the author portrays, and he had an interest in Wall Street (and poker, oftentimes the same thing!) from his high school days. Proving you’ve got to follow your interests, you can’t be someone you’re not, although many people in this book are, because of the MONEY!

That’s right, you go work at the hedge fund for a couple of years and if all goes right you never have to work again! And chances are you can’t, not at this level of remuneration, people wash out faster than they do from MLB. You’re hot and then you’re not, and then you’re done and no one will hire you.

But, if you want to make money, you go where it is.

So Cohen is a natural trader. In a pre-computer world for a third-rate financial firm.

And then he goes solo. Note that, all the greats cannot be contained, they write their own rules, they take risks, huge risks, and do what they wanna do whenever they wanna do it.

When he first goes to work at Gruntal, it’s about beating the spread. Noticing price differences. But then computers eliminate this option and…

Cohen becomes a glorified day trader and he buys so much from Goldman Sachs that he insists they give him information first. Yup, you call this leverage. Information comes first, leverage comes second, usually with a bit of cash sprinkled in.

But everybody gets the memo and it’s harder to compete so what does SAC Capital focus on?

Black edge.

INSIDE INFORMATION!

It’s no different from working radio promotion. Your boss says he needs adds, he doesn’t care how you get ’em, you’ve just got to deliver ’em or you get canned. So you bend the rules, after all, you’ve got a family to feed.

And the truth is…THEY’RE ALL CROOKS! All those people buying triple-digit million paintings, sitting courtside for the Knicks, on multi-hundred foot yachts….when someone says they make this money legitimately, don’t believe it, after all, Microsoft charged for Windows even if you put Linux on the box.

But these are the people running this country. Whether it be Geithner working for Obama or a Cohen guy helping Trump pick his Justice Department. You can bitch all you want to, say it’s unfair, but that’s the way it is.

And they’re living in a dark world and skating free. They’re untouchable. The government is green and gun-shy, without resources, and the best and the brightest flip to the other side, the private sector, anyway.

And that’s mightily depressing.

But the first half of the book is mightily exciting. Because the players are so damn SMART!

These are not entertainers, nitwits afraid to take a stand. These are people like the dearly departed Jerry Perenchio, who refuse to talk to the press, who most people have no idea even exist, even if they consume their products. You want to come into contact with these geniuses, glean some of their wisdom, as opposed to the public rabble-rousers on Twitter who know no one but are convinced they’ve got the one true truth but are unaware how the game is played.

Do you know how the game is played?

Let’s start from the beginning. There’s no money in music, in most of entertainment, it’s dwarfed by finance and tech. And you might think that is irrelevant, but why is Vivendi testing the waters, thinking of selling Universal Music? FOR THE MONEY! Now is not the time if you’re a long term player, the labels are only gonna go up in value, but Vivendi does not care about music, the financial players aren’t interested in the asset, they’re interested in the CASH!

It’s a funny world we live in. A bifurcated one where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer but all the smart people are rich. Yup, I hate to say that. But the truth is so many poor people are uninformed or holier-than-thou, they think their lack of cash makes them better, but the truth is it only takes them out of the game.

I wish it weren’t so. It didn’t used to be so. Fifty years ago, forty years ago, a successful musician was as rich as anybody in America. But not today, today they’ve all got tech investments, they too want to make bank, whereas their power lies elsewhere, which is speaking truth to power, but they abdicate this ability, because they’re enthralled by power.

Wanna know what that power is?

READ THIS BOOK!

Reboots

It costs too much to do something new.

It’s not only the development expenses, never mind coming up with a new idea, but the marketing money, how do you make people aware of what you’re doing in a sea of endless messages, one in which the vaunted “Breaking Bad” took years to gain traction.

I didn’t go to see U2. I like “The Joshua Tree,” but how many times can I go and relive the past? Have you looked at what’s playing in Live Nation’s amphitheatres this summer? It’s like a reboot of what once was, from the seventies and eighties, the same damn acts doing the same damn songs because it’s just too hard to have a hit today and to have another.

Blame the internet.

The internet opened the floodgates, decimated the barrier to entry and then no matter how fat the pipe got it was clogged. And what started out as a social network, remember AOL?, turned into a for-profit venture, and obliterated everything in its path.

Especially television ratings.

So we end up with “American Idol” and “Love Connection,” and if you think people are clamoring for these shows, you probably believe Bono can write another hit.

But they’re safe.

“Idol” was canceled because ratings sank, now those same ratings are investment-worthy, only a couple of years later.

If you think there’s a drag on our creativity, you’re right.

We rely on outsiders to break the paradigm, but no one wants to risk in a world where there are so many challenges, especially economic. Quit your job in Canada and you still have health insurance, there’s a good safety net, quit your job in America and you’re on the way to poverty, and if you get sick you will go bankrupt.

So those at the top, who don’t want to let their companies lay fallow, take some time off to develop new wares, keep rebooting in order to generate revenue. That’s why all the records sound the same, the days of Mo & Joe at Warner Brothers are long gone, where the hits allowed the company to invest in innovation, left field stuff, like the electronic Beaver & Krause, the picker Ry Cooder, in the hopes of generating income years down the line. Look at a label’s roster today, no one’s even gonna play out their contract, after their hit they’ll fade into obscurity and investment will falter. As for stuff that sounds different, the only person seemingly able to do this is Richard Russell at XL. It takes guts to say no, to go the other way, and if you’re working for the man, you don’t, corporations engender groupthink.

So we end up with superhero movies.

And superhero shows on TV.

All the while they keep telling us you can get rich being an influencer on Instagram, making videos on YouTube, but the truth is very few people are making coin there, and they’re working 24/7, and looking to sell out to the big boys. Everybody’s living in the present, what about tomorrow? Isn’t that what Fleetwood Mac implored us to do, think about tomorrow?

The public craves new and different. It latches on to trends when made aware of them. But we’ve got no infrastructure crusading for the new and different, we just have endless self-congratulatory awards shows that feature the same old stuff that makes you tune out.

We’re all tuning out.

Creators need self-respect. The techies are not going to save our industries, it’s not in their DNA, they’re too practical.

The reason that Netflix burgeoned is because of investment, in creators, allowing them to do what they choose. Remember when the streaming service was all about old stuff? Now that’s all gone and you jump in to capture the zeitgeist as you cut the cord ’cause you’re sick of overpaying for moribund sports talk on ESPN, sick of paying for all the detritus you don’t use.

Good for Katy Perry that she got $25 mil for “Idol.”

But that show ain’t gonna work, it hasn’t minted a star in years, and “The Voice” never has. But we’re subjected to the endless celebrity parade like we care.

And some nitwits do.

But most people are smarter than that and don’t.

So pay your dues, take chances, evaluate whether you’ve got it or not, we’ve got no room for journeymen.

But until the gatekeepers start living in the future, and the gatekeepers are as powerful as they ever were, even though they’ve sometimes got different names, we’re screwed.

No Car

The engineer got here early.

I’m a stickler for time, if it’s booked for 11, I’ll be there, maybe with only seconds to spare, but I don’t expect anybody early, certainly not in L.A.

But Anna was. She came at 10:40. I was dressed, but in the bathroom, preparing…

Now this was for a podcast, with a household name, so I said yes. And while we were waiting for the phone call, I got some info. Anna was freelance, a radio engineer/producer, she’d gone to college in Wisconsin, she lived in Koreatown with a roommate and then…

The call came in.

And when it was over, we talked music. Because everyone’s got an opinion, and I always want to hear what the younger generation has to say. She’s on Apple Music, she says when she lived in London she had trouble connecting to Spotify, and she liked Kendrick Lamar and Kid Cudi and…we talked equipment, headphones, recorders, and then she asked for the bathroom and when I got up to show her I noticed, there was no car parked out front.

Did she Uber here?

YES.

So, I told her it was best to call a car, because it can take the better part of ten minutes for one to arrive.

So I’m gonna forgo tackling the email, the triple digits that have accumulated over the hours, that have me antsy, and engage in further conversation until the car arrives.

And that’s when I ask her, DO YOU OWN A CAR?

SHE’S NEVER OWNED A CAR!

She’s got a driver’s license, but no, she sees no need for  car, she’s got an Uber package. She pays ten bucks for a month of rides, twenty to be exact, and then it’s $6 if she takes UberX and $3 if she takes Uber Pool.

Huh? HOW COME I DON’T KNOW ABOUT THIS?

I dove deeper. She’s not committed to twenty rides, she’s just got to pay the ten bucks. And then she has the option of twenty rides, which she pays for as she goes.

WHAT IF YOU WANT TO GO TO THE BEACH?

No problem, she can go to the beach, she said she could go anywhere for $6.

And then I wondered why it paid to have an automobile at all.

WHAT ABOUT GROCERIES?

There’s a market on the corner.

And she has a bicycle, and…

You’ve got to know, how does the song go, NOBODY WALKS IN L.A? Without wheels you were a non-factor, you couldn’t even exist, everything was too far away, but now…

There’s a whole generation living in spread-out Los Angeles without wheels. And Anna’s not the only one I know, Richard’s son has got no car, and Daniel’s son doesn’t either.

Talk about a change in generations.

I wouldn’t have to get my car smogged, never mind pay insurance. I wouldn’t have to worry about maintenance, depreciation…

I’m over the whole car thing anyway, if someone offered me a new machine I’d say no. Why, so I can be anxious about parking it, scratching it? As for impressing others, ever since Larry David drove a Prius on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” that paradigm was undercut. If you’re laying out tonnage for an automobile, other than a Tesla, you’re a joke, you don’t see the importance of the environment, your priorities are screwed up, that’s right, we’re judging you, especially if you’ve got one of those exotic sports cars.

Talk about a change in generations, there’s a gap as wide as the one between boomers and their parents back in the sixties. Boomers think they’re so hip, so knowledgeable and up-to-date, but they’re the first to e-mail me about CDs or files and acquisitions, whereas the youngsters know it’s all about on demand, you want to be footloose and fancy free, to travel on a whim, uninhibited, baggage is anathema.

Just like Snapchat, they get it and their parents don’t. But also, they don’t care about its valuation, its usership, it fulfills a function and then they’ll go somewhere else, they’re not locked into a format, they’re fluid.

Ford just fired their CEO, because the one they had wasn’t forward-looking enough, wasn’t into driverless cars and electrics. It’s a wonder no one at the record label was fired because of a lack of knowledge of technology.

You can fight the old wars or jump into the pool. You can complain about recording revenue, you can talk about piracy, bitch about Ticketmaster, or you can realize those issues are all in the rearview mirror, because today’s generations don’t care about them. They’ll pay for convenience, they’ll overpay if they desire something, they’re about building their lives as opposed to accumulating goods.

This is not only a sea change for generations…

This is a sea change for America.

First they came for our CDs.

Then they came for our retail stores.

Now they’re coming for all our assets, all the stuff we thought immutable and desirable, that we had to have. You might build a shrine to yourself online, but in the real world?

Forget about it.