Lykkeland

You can watch the first season on Amazon Prime.

But you’ve got to pay for the second on Topic. Which made me reluctant to check it out, I’m already paying for too many services already. But in truth, I’ve watched all the great available series on the channels I’m already subscribed to. And the “New York Times” recommended “Lykkeland”:

“‘State of Happiness’

When to watch: Now, on Amazon (Season 1 only) and Topic(Seasons 1 and 2).

This Norwegian drama (in Norwegian and English, with subtitles) starts in 1969, and its characters are connected to the emerging oil industry, as divers, as secretaries, as executives, as farmers in danger of exploitation. Anna (Anne Regine Ellingsaeter) is our Peggy Olsen, straddling class and culture divides to forge a way in the business world.

‘State’ lands right between ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘For All Mankind,’ shows about drive and social change, with no real villains but many good costumes. There’s also a refreshing lack of twists or schtick; all the energy and urgency of the show come from relatable human behavior. Incredible! If you liked ‘Deutschland 83,’ the newest season of ‘Borgen or PBS shows in which young people hold lambs and fall in love on lush green landscapes, watch this.”

That’s right, Lykkeland’s English title is “State of Happiness.”

Now I’ve never watched “Call the Midwife,” all those PBS classics. And I found “For All Mankind” a poor-man’s “Right Stuff,” the look was good, the script was so average. But I LOVED all the “Deutschlands.” And there’s nothing better than “Borgen,” and the new season was totally up to par, so I felt I had to check out “Lykkeland.”

Now I’ve been to Oslo twice. And it’s not like Sweden. Not everybody speaks amazing English. The country has a different vibe. Maybe because it used to be poor.

Not that I knew any of this, after all, I LIVE IN AMERICA!

The record company guys told me about the sixties, with one radio station and no money. It didn’t sound like Scandinavia, but Eastern Europe.

And then they found oil.

You see there’s a sovereign wealth fund. I’ll make it simple, the overall umbrella is called the “Government Pension Fund of Norway” and everybody in Oslo watches the number just like Angelenos watch the number of smoking deaths on that billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard. Everybody knows the number, you see Norway is RICH!

And despite the country running on oil bucks, it’s an environmental advocate’s paradise. Ten years ago I saw more Teslas in Oslo than America!

But as I said above, I only know all this because I went there.

You probably haven’t.

The two seasons of “Lykkeland” are the story of finding oil and how it plays out with the companies and government.

But it’s not a documentary. The facts are overlaid with identities, personalities, love, changes. It’s not ultra-dynamic and gripping, but you watch a few episodes and you say to yourself…THIS IS FANTASTIC!

Especially the second season. At first it was hard to get into. The years gone by, the changes. And then in the middle I was positively mesmerized, it was so well done.

The glue is Anne Regine Ellingsaeter. Born on a farm, she wants more. She’s engaged to a boy from a rich family and…

What’s it like being the scion of a rich family? That’s Christian’s dilemma.

And you know family businesses, the father starts it and subsequent generations are complacent and run them into the ground. That’s Fredrik, Christian’s father.

And Fredrik is married to Ingrid, who can’t lose her social status.

And the two Texas cowboys who work for Phillips 66 are only interested in oil and money, until…

The whole country is transformed by the oil wealth.

But the oil discovery in Norway was much later than in other countries, they could learn the lessons, forge an independent path, favoring the country and its citizens. Or, should they believe the energy titans who say that drilling is no place for amateurs and…

Do you take the corporate money and shut up?

Or do you stand up for truth?

And there’s plenty of money.

And the Americans believe their way works, that they have all the power, they don’t want to kowtow to the Norwegians. Especially in this offbeat town with a religious bent.

The relationships are done so well. What Anna goes through. And Anna knows business, she knows how to dot an “i” and cross a “t,” but she’s terrible at personal relationships.

You will get invested. You’ll happily pay the $5.99 to Topic for the second season.

And half of the show is in English for those who abhor subtitles, maybe more than that.

And honestly, I was debating whether to give “Lykkeland” a rave review. Because I know it’s not some people’s kind of show. It’s not slow, but it’s not fast. It’s not car crashes. But it is plenty intense, PLENTY intense. Both interpersonally and action-wise.

And that’s what I’m looking for. A show so true to life that I can’t think about anything else when I’m watching it, my mind doesn’t drift.

“Lykkeland” might take place in Norway, but I could see so many parallels to my own life, my own choices, it made me feel connected, even though in no way was I any of the people involved.

You can’t always trust the “New York Times”‘s recommendations. I’ve learned to research them before I watch them. Because I’ve had a couple of bad experiences. But “Lykkeland” researched well.

“Lykkeland” is a winner.

Either you’ll watch three or four episodes (they’re forty five minutes each) and say it’s not for you, or you’ll get hooked, and ultimately you’ll go on the emotional roller coaster.

They don’t make American shows this good.

Unfortunately. 

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow

https://amzn.to/3phwCHG

I’d never heard of it.

But it was the second best selling book in Los Angeles, as reported by the L.A. “Times.” How could that be?

Well, you can’t trust the L.A. “Times” best seller list. It’s easily manipulated. The system is opaque. And as a result there are anomalies all the time. Usually L.A.-centric books or authors. But this one?

I immediately went to Amazon and researched it. “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” had four and a half stars with over a thousand reviews. That’s extremely hard to achieve. Especially since there are always people posting one star reviews having nothing to do with the content. They didn’t get the book, or it came damaged, or…

And the book was published by Knopf, the Mo Ostin’s Warner Brothers of book publishers. There’s no trash on Knopf. There’s a reason to publish every book. But I’d never heard of this author, Gabrielle Zevin, who was not a newbie, she’d had previous books published. How did this elude me?

Not that I was ready to commit. I trust the wisdom of the crowd only so far. So I went to Libby and reserved it.

And I’ve been on a Jennifer Haigh kick. “Mercy Street” is one of the best books I’ve read this year.

And I’d already read 2016’s “Heat & Light,” but one day I went on Libby and downloaded the rest of Haigh’s books, I was sick of reading unrewarding work. I don’t write about everything I read, nor everything I watch, this is not a document of my life, I only put fingers to keyboard if I believe it’s worth your time, your attention.

And the net said “Faith” was the best Haigh book I hadn’t read, and I devoured it. Really good. And I plan on reading the rest, but all of a sudden, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” became available.

Not that I was expecting much.

Not that I’d invested much. I mean this was a library book. I’d give it a whirl, if it didn’t float my boat, no big deal, I’d move on, go back to Haigh.

But “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is astounding!

Let me make this clear. “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is the new “Goldfinch,” with a bit of “Garp” thrown in, you remember, the unexpected surprises in that John Irving book?

But Donna Tartt’s “Goldfinch” was about art. Highbrow. You could feel good reading it. Especially once it got traction. You were part of the cognoscenti, the intelligentsia, despite the criticism that it was basically a YA title (“Young Adult”.) And “Garp” was ultimately about family, and done well that always resonates. Whereas “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is about VIDEO GAMES!

And that gets no traction amongst the aforementioned intelligentsia.

But video games were the rock music of the nineties and the first decade of this century. They flourished almost underground. They got no attention, no respect, just like rock music in its infancy/ascendancy.

And of course the real breakthrough was Atari, there was gaming in the eighties, but that company crashed, taking down Warner stock, the ignorant thought video games were history. And then came Nintendo. And then came the PlayStation and the Xbox.

And then came Twitch.

Used to be all the innovation came through music, but if you want to observe the cutting edge pay attention to video games. If for no other reason than there’s more money in video games than music!

The nineties were the wild west. Independent publishers. Like music before the seventies, like tech before the twenty first century. It was innovation 24/7. And then the dust settled and the big companies triumphed. Not that the entertainment conglomerates didn’t notice the gaming tsunami. They thought it was easy, but they lost millions. Creating a game everybody wants to play can cost more than a movie to make, and the barrier to entry for the consumer is higher, video games cost much more than a movie to buy/see. There are hits…and then everything else. And just because you attach the name of a famous movie that does not mean you’ll have success. You can’t pull the wool over the eyes of the gamers, they know.

So Sadie and Sam are addicted to gaming back in the eighties. Just like boomers were addicted to music in the sixties. That’s all they cared about.

And when they went to college…

They had a whole gaming history. Sadie carries around her classics, for reference, to keep her warm at night, just like you schlepped around your albums.

And eventually the games go online and…

This analogy to music runs throughout the book.

But that’s not what “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is about, the place of games in the firmament. The main characters live in the gaming world, they’re oblivious to what else is going on. They’re working 18 hour days. If you want a life, don’t sign up. It takes a special kind of oddball.

But are Sam and Sadie boyfriend and girlfriend? What exactly is their relationship?

Do you take the money or go with what feels best?

Do you make a sequel for the easy bucks or continue to push the envelope?

But it’s really all about relationships. Connections. Acceptance. Gaming is just the framework. And “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is in no way predictable. You reach a point where it becomes addictive and you can’t put it down, and when you’re not reading it it calls out to you.

And there’s too much life wisdom to recite here.

Because the outsiders don’t go through the motions. They have their own philosophies.

If you were captain of the football team, or a cheerleader, “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is not for you. If you got good grades but never got laid, sign right up. If you realized the only way to succeed was to own your identity and march forward, come on down. If you’re willing to take the time to read a book to get the rewards, you’re gonna dig this.

But not everybody will.

Because everybody doesn’t like everything.

But “Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow” is a major work. And it’s succeeding on word of mouth, which is the only way to sustain in today’s marketplace. Hype can buy you at best a week’s worth of attention, after that you’re on your own.

I loved this book!

Jeff Gold-This Week’s Podcast

Jeff Gold owns Recordmecca, the premier site for buying and selling music memorabilia. Jeff discovered 149 unknown Bob Dylan acetates and was also the co-appraiser of the Bob Dylan Archive in Tulsa. We discuss collecting and selling as well as Jeff’s journey from Rhino Records’ first employee to executive positions at A&M and Warner Bros.

https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/jeff-gold/id1316200737?i=1000575753730

https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/9ff4fb19-54d4-41ae-ae7a-8a6f8d3dafa8/episodes/991d3538-796e-4bc8-873a-e157e036e8d8/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast-jeff-gold

https://www.stitcher.com/show/the-bob-lefsetz-podcast/episode/jeff-gold-205687820

Dynamic Pricing

It won’t be about Bruce.

Quick, which act broke the hundred dollar ticket barrier and when?

Students of the game, the aged, will tell you it was the Eagles on their Hell Freezes Over tour back in ’94. Does anybody balk at paying a hundred dollars for a ticket anymore? For good ones, that appears CHEAP!

There was blowback when the Eagles priced their tickets high, but the band had been absent in excess of a decade. And their image was different from Bruce’s. Bruce portrayed the working class, whereas the Eagles depicted the thinking class, as well as the hedonistic, depending upon whether the song was written by Don Henley or Glenn Frey.

As for credibility?

THAT’S HISTORY!

The entire business is predicated on beliefs that were established back in the sixties and seventies, when rock blew up and music became truly big business, with corporations buying up labels and Frank Barsalona parceling out tour dates. Something different was being sold back then. One can argue that the brouhaha over Springsteen ticket prices is less about the man himself than the audience yearning for what once was. They’d graduated, they’d evolved, but they wanted Bruce to be stuck in the past, so they could believe the world hadn’t changed, when that is patently untrue.

Look, there are people who re-enact the Civil War. You can go horseback riding. But these are diversions, not the mainstream. There’s some money in nostalgia. But the big money is always about living in the present. If you want attention, you’ve got to live today.

Which is why you see the aged acts on TV singing shows. They hunger for attention, to keep their name in the news, top of mind. Otherwise, you’ll forget them, and they’ll have to play smaller and smaller buildings and ultimately give up. Do you want to make less money? Do you want to give up your job? I didn’t think so.

As for Springsteen selling his assets to Sony for north of half a billion dollars… First and foremost, there’s tax on that money, it’s not net. And this represents a life’s work. You get Social Security. You might even get a pension. You’ve got a 401k. You’re making money for all that work you put in over forty plus years, why can’t Bruce earn the reward? Just like the amount you get on Social Security depends upon how much you earned during your career. Do you find people bitching that others make more on Social Security? No, the system is math. It all comes down to how much you earned. And if you wanted to make more… You chose your own path. (However your opportunities might have been limited, and this is a flaw in the system.)

So what you’ve got here is a seventysomething rock star with seventies values and…how many more of these are out there? The pickings are really slim. Which feeds demand. Which makes prices go up.

And then you’ve got the delusional hoi polloi believing it’s entitled to multiple shows at low ticket prices, never mind good seats. Do these same people believe they’re entitled to multiple Teslas? At a cheap price? Right now demand is so heavy that used Teslas go for more than new ones. And most people can’t afford multiple cars anyway. But multiple Springsteen tickets? They’re entitled!

But ultimately Bruce played by the modern rules, HE SHUT UP!

And all the stories about ticketing had no hook, no quote, so they focused on the dynamic process. They illustrated it. And delineated that Bruce wasn’t the first to employ it.

Mistakes were made. Some promoters hand-adjust ticket prices as opposed to employing a program. That eliminates the ridiculous four figure prices for mediocre seats that no one ever buys anyway. Ticketmaster says the average price of a Springsteen ticket was $262. Does that sound high to you? Doesn’t to me. Springsteen doesn’t come around once a year, like the World Series and the Super Bowl, and they’re priced much higher, WAY HIGHER!

It’s supply and demand.

Let’s go back to the four figure mediocre seats. People refused to pay the freight. And the price went down. It’s not like the public doesn’t have a hand in this. No one is forcing them to pay.

So in the future…

People will stop thinking about the secondary market. The goal of the act is to eliminate the secondary market, so it captures all the cash. So people will be prepared for the fact that ticket prices will constantly change. You don’t find people bitching about airline ticket prices. They bitch about airlines, but they know the pricing structure. Want to go for cheap? BOOK EARLY! That tends to be people who take a once a year vacation, the people looking to save pennies. Whereas the more wealthy are less concerned with nickels and dimes. They’ll pay more when they know more. But everybody knows the ticket goes up dramatically starting a week out. So the only people who pay these extreme prices are the truly rich, who if they’re that rich are flying private anyway, and the business people, who have to go. They’re making money, why can’t the airline? The airline doesn’t change prices for sport, to screw you, but to fill the planes at a profit. That’s the game of dynamic pricing.

Just like some promoters offload tickets to scalpers. This is rampant in sports. There are so many tickets in baseball. The scalpers buy a season’s worth of tickets knowing that most are worth face value at best, but when the New York teams come to play, when the leading teams come to play, when the home team is in the playoffs, a fortune can be made. And the teams, the sellers, are fine with this, because the scalpers are buying so many tickets it delivers revenue, for what might be a lousy season anyway.

As for acts scalping their own tickets… The practice was rampant. But now that there’s VIP and dynamic pricing, there is less incentive. The act wants the upside.

Unless there’s a belief the act won’t sell out. If you know you’re not going to go clean, you want that scalper money.

As for the price of tickets… The acts can’t charge whatever they want, only what the fans will pay. It’s not a one-sided deal.

So now the public knows the game. They know all about dynamic pricing. They’re prepared.

And the funny thing is Springsteen fans will do his bidding. First, those who go, and if you really want to you can get a ticket, will rave. And they’ll ultimately say that Bruce was just doing what everybody else does, that it’s not his fault, he just got all the blame.

Fans can rationalize any behavior by their favorite. They won’t even believe that the acts are in control of the ticket prices, that Ticketmaster is just a middleman, doing what the act tells them to.

So this Springsteen tour will just be a moment in time.

Because Springsteen shut up! If he talked the story would have been about him. Since he didn’t, the story became about the process, to his advantage.

Just like if you find out someone is in a Twitter war you shake your head. Why would you react to these people? It’s exactly what they want. They’ve got nothing to lose. They love interacting with the powerful. And the powerful can only lose. Do you think telling the truth solves the problem? Then you’ve got no familiarity with politics.

And politics is seemingly the only thing that gets universal traction these days. All those acts employing dynamic pricing before Bruce…his fans knew nothing about it. The story might look big to you, but from outside it’s usually tiny.

The game is solidifying.

Dynamic pricing is here to stay.

And the fans want no restrictions on the tickets they acquire. So all this talk about paperless and tying the ticket to the purchaser won’t happen, because the fans don’t like it, because they want to profit on the act’s back too.

Welcome to the future, which is happening now.

Bruce Springsteen wasn’t an innovator, he was just the poster boy.

But the poster’s going to be ripped down, just you wait.