Better Call Saul-2nd To Last Episode

Are you watching this?

If not, maybe you want to stop reading. Or maybe you’re never going to watch “Better Call Saul.” I tried watching “Breaking Bad” and couldn’t get into it. It was overhyped as the best TV show ever, which it definitely is not. Production values were low, although the acting was great. I realized all of this when I ultimately blew through the seasons on Netflix. I gave it a try a few years back and got hooked.

I’m a member of the club.

But the story of Heisenberg and Jesse Pinkman is different from the one of Jimmy McGill and Kim Wexler.

“Better Call Saul” is their story. Jimmy and Kim’s. And it’s both prequel and sequel. Sequel in black and white, so you realize it is such.

So last night…

And, once again, if you watch the show and haven’t seen this episode you can stop right here…

Kim is working in Florida. She’s given up her legal job in Albuquerque. She’s become a drone. Kind of like Jackson Browne’s “Pretender.”

But it takes a while to realize this.

She’s got a new guy. You think it’s her husband, although ultimately you find out he’s not.

And they’re talking like a couple. Kim’s now a brunette instead of a blonde. They’re talking about Miracle Whip and this is when you realize… This guy is a dolt.

As a guy, and I can speak authoritatively, you always think you’re not good enough. Not good-looking enough, not rich enough. And if you try and compete… You will always find someone who scores higher than you in those categories. You want to give up.

Or you set your sights lower.

And then you watch Kim and this new guy…

And it’s instantly clear why she was involved with Jimmy. The excitement, the wit, the fun. Those aren’t that easy to find. You can find a guy with a great car, with enough money to blow on not only a barbecue, but vacations. But will that ring your bell, stimulate you?

And then, after the backyard football party, these two have sex. And it’s not ugly sex. And it’s not hate sex. It’s relationship sex. And you’re squirming, because she was married to Jimmy, how can she do this?

And then you realize she’s shut off her mind, she’s shooting lower, living the paint by numbers dream. Until she disconnects and is by herself. She needs to be able to be her, and she can only do this when she is alone.

Magic. Intelligence. All the things that are hard to quantify, people are attracted to those. And if you have them you can win, assuming you’re willing to play.

And then Jimmy calls Kim at work, at her new job at the sprinkler company in Florida. Kim is not a drone, she appears to be a designer, she’s got her own office. But everybody there is going nowhere fast, caught up in their own little world, slacking at work.

That’s the way it is for most people. Either the work itself is just too boring or their sights are set low or both. Their expectations are not that high. Then again, do they know something the high achievers do not? That it’s really about everyday life, having some laughs, as opposed to being or trying to be rich and famous?

And Kim can’t talk to Jimmy. Because despite everything we’ve seen previously, the new boyfriend, the sex, she still pines for her ex. She can’t get over him. Sure, she can’t get over what they did together, she’s got a bout of conscience, and that’s important, and hard to ultimately believe as she takes action, but really this is all about Jimmy.

Jimmy can’t change. He is who he is. The looked-over brother. The one who wasn’t a winner. Who not only didn’t get the love, but was put down by his brother Chuck. All his life he was just average, with no attention, and as a result he turned to a life of crime…what did he have to lose?

And even when he becomes a lawyer he gets no respect. Because he didn’t go to the right school. He’s not puffed up like the blowhards in their fancy offices that their clients are ultimately paying for. Jimmy has heart, he can relate to the downtrodden clients that the other attorneys overlook on their way to riches with the corporate bros, and as a result he lands on a case that will deliver more money than the ones the big timers focus on. And then they pay attention.

This is how it happens in Hollywood. You’re nobody, you show some glow, the ability to generate bucks, and the entire industry appears at your doorstep, ready to make you a star, or a bigger one. And you think these people are your friends, but they’re not. You’re just a product, and when you’re washed up they’ll transfer their allegiance to another. It’s like you’re a buggy whip and then the automobile is introduced. You’re a Hula Hoop in the era of video games.

Jimmy just can’t get any respect.

But he will represent those nobody else will.

And then Kim leaves and he amps up the Saul Goodman business, his business nom de plume.

And Jimmy’s flying high.

But then come the divorce papers. They lay him low. He can’t work. All he can think about is what he’s about to lose, Kim.

And ultimately Kim comes to Jimmy’s office, to sign the divorce documents, and it’s uncomfortable. As breaking up always is. You don’t stop loving them instantly. And usually there’s no definitive betrayal. You’re still connected, and soon you’re not going to be. And Kim wants nothing to do with Jimmy in the future, which is how it is with most relationships. Sure, some people remain friends with their exes, I don’t understand it. You were so close, you shared everything, and now you continue to see each other? How do you get over the love?

YOU DON’T!

You never get over them, never ever. They enter your brain when you don’t want them to. A friend of mine had electroshock therapy, one of its benefits is he forgot his past, what happened with his exes. On one level I wish I could undergo the procedure too. Because I’m haunted. WE ALL ARE!

So Kim finally signs, and just before she goes, just before she leaves the office, Jimmy yells out…

HAVE A NICE LIFE!

It’s so perfect. He’s feeling the pain, the separation, she pulled the trigger, he wants to fight back, stick in the dagger, and this is how he does it, by telling her he’s done, he’s over it. It’s sarcasm and truth all in one.

As for the net tightening up on Jimmy…

As for Kim unburdening herself, turning herself in, telling the truth…

It was so TENSE!

This is what we used to get in art, the tension. We had to pay complete attention. We were driven to pay complete attention. All other thoughts were squeezed out. Were they gonna get caught, what would be the consequences.

I was wrapped up in art.

Oh, you might say “Better Call Saul” is just a TV show.

But it’s more than that.

It’s Kanye without the clothes. No penumbra is necessary. They’re not selling perfume, it’s all on the screen.

And I’ve been following Bob Odenkirk since “Mr. Show.” I thought David Cross would be the breakout star. Whenever I saw Bob on screen I was rooting for him, a fish out of water, making a guest appearance. But Bob was so good in “Breaking Bad” that they wrote him a bigger part, and then centered this entire prequel/sequel show around him.

A happy-go-lucky guy who wants more. Who bucks the system that refuses to accept him. A man who loves the game more than the rewards. Because life rewards the living.

And I felt fully alive watching “Better Call Saul” last night. I hate, hate, HATE that they drip out episodes once a week. Because not only am I left hanging, the spell is broken. And the spell is key. Sure, you want to find out what is going to happen, but even more you want to be in the trance, find out what is going on with the Salamancas. Feel the tension of people almost nobody knows in real life but are carving out their place in the world nonetheless. Rest on your laurels and you’re history. You’ve got to keep thinking, inventing, experimenting.

I’m high on “Better Call Saul.”

It’s better than any drug.

That’s the power of entertainment.

Too many creators abdicate in the initiation. They play by the rules. They shoot low. They’re not willing to risk it all. The believe the Holy Grail is unattainable.

But if you’re willing to play for all the marbles, with your wits about you. Living to feel as opposed to going through the motions, observing, everybody can reap the rewards. But you’ve got to conceive of them. You’ve got to find your own path. And then you’ve got to EXECUTE!

That’s what Jimmy/Saul/Bob does. He can’t be happy at Cinnabon. He needs more excitement. And unlike an athlete, you never have to retire from crime. You’re never too old. And the game keeps changing, gets more interesting. It’s a challenge, and Jimmy is up for it.

But now he’s Gene.

But will they realize he’s Jimmy? Will he get caught?

I’m still living in the afterglow of last night’s episode.

Just like Kim Wexler. She cannot get over Jimmy McGill. Because it’s not about the trappings, but the essence. Jimmy is living life. To the fullest. He’s both charming and conniving. Astute and sometimes dumb. Ruthless and forgiving.

He’s complicated.

He’s an American. Our best self. Not burdened by history, but making it up as he goes.

You should too. Not only will you be fulfilled, but you’ll be stunned who’s attracted to you.

Like Kim is to Jimmy.

Like I am to “Better Call Saul.”

Record Execs-This Week On SiriusXM

Tune in today, August 9th, to Volume 106, 6 PM East, 3 PM West.

Phone #: 844-6-VOLUME, 844-686-5863

Twitter: @lefsetz or @siriusxmvolume/#lefsetzlive

Hear the episode live on SiriusXM VOLUME: siriusxm.us/HearLefsetzLive

If you miss the episode, you can hear it on demand on the SiriusXM app: siriusxm.us/LefsetzLive

Mailbag-Mo/Sandy/Melissa/Beyoncé

MO OSTIN:

My name is Marvin Heiman and I was Curtis Mayfield’s partner and Manager for 30 years until Curtis died.

We owned Curtom Records and in late 1974 I met with Mo Ostin at Warners Bros., Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, Capitol Records to decide where we wanted to go with Curtom since our deal with Buddah Recirds for distribution was up.

When I met Mo, Joe Smith, Lenny Waronker, and others in Burbank I knew right away. So, in 1975 Curtom was  now with Warner Bros Record. Neil Bogarts Casablanca Records was there too and Neil was going to handle our record companies promotion. Then, Neil left with his label but Mo gave me the okay to hire Black record promotion people in all of the major markets.

Mo was an unbelievable guy. Sincere, honest, and willing to go the extra mile for the artists.

Mo and Evelyn had me for dinner in there home several time as I continued to live in the Chicago area, I spent 5  days a month in Los Angeles. Mo gave me Joe Smith’s old office next to his with a shared bathroom.

Mo and Warner Bros Films came to me with a script “Let’s Do It Again” I loved it and sent it overnight to Curtis. His response was Let’s Do It!. We got the Staple SIngers to do the soundtrack and the album. Curtis wrote the  music and produced the album and the film music track. It starred Sydney Poitier, Bill Cosby, and JJ Walker. The title song “Lets Do It Again” was a smash record going to number 1 on the charts. It was a great movie soundtrack which at that time was Curtis’s second movie music, album, and soundtrack after the smash “Super Fly.”

Working with the Warners people was wonderful. Anything we needed it was provided. Mo became my Mentor and friend. His devotion to artists was unbelievable.

I remember when Mo and I were negotiating the Curtom/Warner distribution deal. The final agreement was  about 100 pages. My attorneys read the agreement and missed on a specific area and so did I  Mo had agreed to this as well., Within a few months this came up as something was to kick in that Curtom would receive another $170,000. It was not in the agreement. I called Mo and he remembered that specific area. He sent me a Warner check in full for the amount. That was Mo Ostin.

I could go on and on what Mo meant to Curtis and myself but I will end with Mo Ostin was an artist friend, most honorable man, and my friend.

Rest in Peace.

Marvin Heiman

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From: Eric Greenspan

When I was a teenager, I read Rolling Stone Magazine from cover to cover and was captivated by the Warner Bros. ads.  They  their advertised  a compilation double album called the Big Ball for $2  (It introduced me to artists like Randy Newman, Captain Beefheart, Joni Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie, Norman Greenbaum,Van Morrison, Fleetwood Mac, Small Faces, The Kinks, Neil Young, James Taylor, The Mothers of Invention and  The Grateful Dead .  I still remember sitting in my bedroom and listening the  albums and reading the liner notes cover to cover and then going to buy records at Sam Goodys in New York on Monday (records were $5.99 but on Monday they were 50% off).  I still have my vinyl copy of that album.  

You mentioned that when their contracts end artists would leave their record company and go to Warner Bros.  When the Red Hot Chili Peppers left EMI Records they fell under Mo’s spell and released Blood Sugar Sex Magik.A life changing album.  Flea founded the Silverlake Conservatory of Music and in 2019 the Silverlake Conservatory of Music honored Mo.  

One other anecdote – when the manufactured Cop Killer controversy exploded, and the Warner stock price was taking a hit, the logical economic decision would be to remove the record from the catalog.  Mo would not do that.  Ice-T had the meeting with the label and said he appreciated the support but it was his fight and not theirs and so he asked Mo to remove the album from distribution  because it was ultimately his fight and not theirs and Mo would never ask him to pull the record.  Ice T was a mensch but I can’t imagine him doing that for any other executive other than Mo Ostin.  

An incalculable loss for the industry.

RIP MO

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From: Hugo Burnham

OK…my story is so small – but it meant so much to me. Gang of Four were signed to WB (by Jerry Wexler) and they were so fantastic to us…especially Donna Russo and the NYC office. When we lost a bass player and a manager, we were talking for a bunch of them. Mo and Lenny invited me to meet in LA (I was the de facto manager in the interim). “We love Gang of Four. We will work with any manager you choose…but please, please don’t go with Bennett Glotzer.” Like idiots, we did. BUT – years later, I’d just got the A&R gig with Qwest (Q said, “I need someone who understands all that noiseywhite shit!”), and went to the WB Grammy party. I saw Mo…slid up to him, waited, and then said, “Excuse me, Mo, I’m…” he gripped my arm – 

“Hugo! Lovely to see you! Welcome back!”

I cried a little then. I’m crying now.

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I was lucky enough to work at Warner Bros as a staff engineer starting in 1980 and worked with producers Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman recording so many great artists like  Rickie Lee Jones and Randy Newman who could only have been signed and successfull at WB where the artist always came first. I only met Mo a few times , but he was always friendly and never “corporate” and from my perspective it was obvious that he set the tone for the entire label. His passing certainly marks the end of an era , and even tho the music business changed for the worse a long time ago, his death reminds me just how much it has changed . I’m glad I got to be a part of the great company he ran so well for so man years, and wish both he and it was  still around.

Mark Linett

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Bob:

Had to chime in on Mo’s passing.  He was truly a wonderful inspiration to all.

In ’73 after working for ABC/Dunhill, I had the fortune of moving over to Warner Bros. Records and starting in the Merchandising Dept.  At the time, we were located in the 3701 Warner Blvd building.  (Jack Warner’s machine shop).  I remember vividly seeing Peter Yarrow running through our building with tremendous excitement.  Mo Ostin & Joe Smith were at the helm.  Two totally different approaches; Mo the consummate diplomat and the nicest executive you would ever meet; Joe the ultimate toastmaster, akin to Don Rickles…without the insults. (most of the time!)

From ’73 to ’82, in my years at Warner Bros., it had to be one of the most exciting times within the music industry.  Transitioning from singles to albums!  Watching Mo at our various conventions was nothing short of a marvel. He always was able to finesse each event, so that all felt included.  It was truly a gift.  From our varied artist roster, to the top notch executives we interacted with each day, my drive from Santa Monica to Burbank, always had me in awe as to what was in store for the day.

Eventually, I became a Product Mgr. and one of the key liaisons with the label and mgmt/artists.  Seymore Stein/Sire, Albert Grossman/Bearsville, Mike Curb/Warner Curb, Andrew Wickham/Warner Country, and multiple artists on Warner/Reprise. (Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Emmylou Harris…too many to list.)  They all had the connection and attention of Mo Ostin.  It was a privilege to work with and represent the ideal of what our label stood for: artist development!  Bob Regehr and Carl Scott led the charge.

In ’82 when the label did some re-structuring, the Product Mgmt dept was down-sized.  Mo had called me into his office to discuss the transition.  I thanked him profusely for the opportunity of working at the label.  I added one note of dismay…he asked “What’s that?”  I said, “I will miss my 10 year mark with Warner Bros. by 4 month.”  He said, “I’m sure you’ll be fine; you never know what the future will bring.”

He was right, as I spent the next 16 years at Geffen Records!  After closing the label in ’99, I had the fortune to work at DreamWorks Records (yet again) with Mo Ostin, Lenny Waronker, Michael Ostin & Robbie Robertson. Even though it was only 4 years until we closed the label, Mo was right…”you never know what the future will bring!”

I feel blessed to have worked with a true icon in the music industry.

Mo, you will be missed.

Robin Rothman

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SANDY ROBERTON:

Hi, Bob.

I’d really like to thank Tim Palmer for such a genuine and

comprehensive tribute to Sandy Roberton. I’ve worked with Sandy for

the last fifteen years, emailing or talking almost every day. He was

always a great manager and he became a great friend. Everything Tim

said was spot on. He had boundless energy. In his final weeks, he

would CALL ME and apologize that he couldn’t talk for long because he

was rushing from one procedure to the next. We would discuss ongoing

projects but also commiserate about how annoying the music business

has become, how stupid Trump is, Brexit, Russia and on and on. I’ll

really miss him.

Peter Katis

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Sandy Roberton is a cut above. When I was still super green in the music biz, just moved to NYC and working at Beggars Group in the late 90’s, Sandy would always make time when he was in town for lunch, which he always bought. I met him because at one time he’d managed Jim Rondinelli, the producer of my management client June’s first Beggars Banquet album.

I will miss his good humor and encyclopedic knowledge of the cast and characters in the music production world.

x Dick Huey

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so sorry to hear this news

Sandy was a role model to so many of us in the artist management space.  After I left Ocean Way, I reached out to him. I knew his girls who worked at Worlds End and I thought it would be cool to work there. After the interview, he encouraged me to start my own co.

Earlier this year we spoke on What’s App. We were discussing getting some of his geniuses promoted.

His roster was like family to him and he was hugely proud of his daughter and family.  Sending love to you and his big circle of friends and family in Uk and US

Godspeed.

Claris Sayadian-Dodge

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MELISSA ETHERIDGE:

From: Ava Raiin

I really enjoyed this interview. Melissa was my former boss (I sang backing vocals on the “this is me” tour) and this felt like nights on the back of the bus on the way to the next city.

Thank you for making space for her. She has impacted my life immensely thought I don’t think she even realizes it. She introduced me to a different perspective, from the art of performing and connecting with the audience, sharing music I

never heard before, sharing the Four Agreements which she follows (she even dropped one or two on the podcast: for example, what ppl think is none of my business/don’t take things personally ), she was always happy to share everything with us. The experience will remain at the top for me, and I’ve played a lot of tours, she holds a special place in my heart. Happy you got to share her brilliance with the rest of your audience.

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BEYONCE:

Nelson George

Read a smart look at the release of #Renaissance on @ Lefsetz letter. Her fans will hate it, but it avoids the hype around the album. That news outlets now demand overnight reviews of major releases harms real criticism. It took years to make an LP. But it’s judged in one night.

@nelsongeorge

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From: John Rolfe

Hi Bob,

In 2018, I was following a Twitter discussion based on a Dig!Boston article about why Paramore should have headlined a day of Boston Calling in lieu of The Killers. The author openly came out for the fact that she wrote it in support of more female-fronted headliners. Some guy on Twitter responded to her with numbers and an analysis on how The Killers were more popular and how it made more business sense, essentially bulldozing all the arguments in the article. In return, the author alongside another Twitter user bashed the guy for “mansplaining”.

That same author now writes for Pitchfork, an entity who gave the new Beyonce album a super high rating (note that their ratings are allegedly collectively decided by the whole writing team).

Music journalism is in a terrible place, partially due to people like described above who indeed try to bend the world to their perception, facts be damned.

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Thanks for providing the empirical evidence to support my contention in recent posts on Medium for Socially Drive Music. Over the many years, I’ve worked with some of the most acclaimed songwriters in the world, including John Lennon, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Edwin Starr, Tony Macaulay, BA Robertson, Tom Snow and many more. Diane Warren’s work embodies her love and kindness and is an antidote for racism. Her comment about Beyonce listing twenty-four people as songwriters on one of her album tracks is understandable, appropriate, and has nothing to do with race. I’d add that twenty-four people are not writing a song as much as they are contributing to a production.

Let’s stipulate that, where music was once a wellspring of creativity and inspiration, music being featured in “Top Hits” playlists today is predominantly a wasteland. It’s tantamount to yesterday’s “Bubblegum” music, but more pernicious due to its superficial or unconscious irrelevance to current events and its pervasive use of gratuitous profanity. Extolling Beyonce’s newest track, “Break My Soul” for its supposedly profound meaning about “The Great Resignation” is like arguing that Tony Orlando and Dawn’s “Knock Three Times” was actually a thesis about the merits of rent control. At least the latter had an original melody. Yes, Beyonce is a talented singer and her team can create enticing productions with a tip of the hat to House Music (Robin S “Show Me Love and Big Freedia “Explode”), but where are the new copyright gems that will be remembered and covered?

Stephen Love

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Bad Bunny is much bigger. 

Only artist who has broken our website in the last 20 years during his onsale. 

Absolutely insane demand for this guy. It’s truly incredible. 

Kevin Vahidi

Senior Director, Venues & Promoters, Ticketmaster

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From: Steve Lukather

There is NO entry level to the recording business anymore. You plug in the drum machine you are a writer. You roll a joint  in the room you are a writer. You say ‘YEAH’ . You are a writer etc.. AD NAUSEUM!

Some idiots think they are musicians cause they ‘play the drum machine’!

Please get a breakdown of who wrote what on that song. Name names. Details. Who wrote exactly what! I wanna know. Don’t you?

If in fact today’s rules applied back when I was a studio musician doing 20 some odd sessions a week back when human beings played together in a room and made music, or did a quick overdub post tracking, 98% of the time I was handed a chart with chord symbols on it and they count off the tune. NO rehearsals, NO demos. You better play something and something great. Create a hooky part as I did on shit tons of hit records.. ON the spot! Example. Human Nature by Michael Jackson. Track was done and there was no guitar. Quincy called me in and said ‘Luke ya gotta make this funky for me’ and I came up with the part you hear on the record on the spot. Turns out the writer my old friend Steve Porcaro hated my guitar part but it’s there for posterity. Q was kind enough to give me arranger credits and it got a Grammy nod but not a win for that category.

Fuck I should have gotten writers’ on ALL the tunes I played on by today’s rules and I would have Elon Musk money and would be writing this from my personal space shuttle from my own personal planet!

24 writers??  hahaha

That just shows you the greed and bullshit that exists today. It’s NOT racist. People negotiate the % splits BEFORE the first note is played. A  #1 record with 24 writers??? Being a tad sarcastic, that will net you like 42 cents each in todays market.

It’s EGO!!

Song comes on the radio and a person says ‘Yeah I wrote that’ NOT telling anyone 23 OTHER people did too.  What…did everyone contribute a WORD? Cause there are like 4 chord changes at best on any of these songs.

I dig Beyonce. Nothing personal here. It’s the CONCEPT this can even be done and that people get away with it!!!

I love Diane Warren, a friend for like 35 years. We have worked together many times over the years and she is an incredible woman and funny as hell I might add! If she is a racist then I give up.

She just called it like she sees it and she tells the truth. Truth hurts doesn’t it.

Trainwreck: Woodstock ’99

Trailer: https://bit.ly/3BWetXc

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Did we need another look at Woodstock ’99?

Not really, last year’s HBO movie was sufficient.

I imagine some young people might watch this Netflix series for the trainwreck value, to get a peek at what once was, as for older people, aware when the festival took place… I recommend it only because it shows where we were then and how we’ve evolved to where we are now, and that’s informative.

John Scher never takes responsibility. In either of these productions, HBO’s or Netflix’s. I guess that’s a prelude for what was to come. If you deny it, did it really happen? Even if we can see it happen with our own two eyes? Donald Trump has gotten away denying footage, and let’s see how much money Alex Jones ends up paying. So we’ve got two paths today, denial and overt apology, which sometimes serves the same purpose, if you fall on your sword quickly and dramatically enough, you can shift yourself to the other side, into the heart of the people, and get away with it, at least that’s the theory. But since everybody accused by #MeToo has been tarred with the same brush, more men are now denying their behavior. As for the public getting over the transgression, there are people on social media keeping it alive.

There was no social media back in ’99.

But the internet was nascent.

Yet, AOL ruled, almost no one had a high speed connection. The mainstream was caught flat-footed that same year when Napster burgeoned. And the mainstream has been trying to catch up ever since. Except for the tech companies that got ahead of the public and ultimately reign to this day.

And then there’s Michael Lang. A terrible businessman with a somewhat charismatic personality and an incredible sense of optimism to the point of being delusional. It’s like Lang was stuck in 1969, but times changed.

The music in 1969 brought us together. The original Woodstock featured acts of different colors of different nationalities. Kids were optimistic about their futures, despite the war in Vietnam. They felt like they had power.

And there was a social safety net, there was no homelessness, you didn’t think you were going to starve. And there was little income inequality. You could make it from here to there, and the rich didn’t lord their wealth over you, and there weren’t all the billionaires of today telling us they know better. Today, people revere the rich, in 1969 they revered the artists. Oh, what a long strange trip it’s been.

So if we have to point to one person responsible for Woodstock ’99 it would have to be Ronald Reagan. Who legitimized greed. I know his supporters will deny this, telling us the astrology-addicted Reagan was a saint who could do no wrong. The Wall was gonna fall no matter what. But Reagan lowered taxes, let Wall Street go wild, made greed the national religion.

That’s what Woodstock ’99 was all about, the money. They started with the money and worked back from there.

And they had the brand name, “Woodstock.” Believing it would translate just like Ford Motor which has labeled an SUV a Mustang.

But times had changed dramatically.

Today we have scores of festivals. But they rarely have 250,000 people in attendance and although the music is a drawing card, people go for the overall experience. Today they won’t accept hot dogs and pizza. They want gourmet food. And the festivals are so expensive to begin with that no one complains about the prices, if you go you know it’s going to cost you plenty. But now you’ve got a card, you don’t even need to bring cash. And promoters have become experienced. Don’t go to a festival put on by a newbie, there will be problems, I guarantee it.

Today you go to the festival for the badge of honor, to be able to say you went. You shoot selfies and post and… That’s how far we’ve come, everyday life is not good enough, we’re looking for high level experiences. And the music industry provides these.

As does the food industry, and many other verticals.

Used to be it was only about music.

Now you can sell tickets for Coachella without even announcing the acts. Sure, the lineup is important, but less important than ever before.

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The acts at Woodstock ’99 were much bigger than the acts of today, MUCH bigger. Everybody knew who they were. From Sheryl Crow and Jewel to the Chili Peppers, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit.

What made them big?

MTV!

MTV made you a worldwide star, often overnight.

No outlet has that power anymore, NONE!

Woodstock ’99 was your chance to see all these acts in one place. Kind of like the original Woodstock. Whereas today no one expects to see all the big acts on one stage. It’s impossible, never mind they play different music that doesn’t appeal to everybody.

Today you can have a music festival and it doesn’t even make the news, other than in its local burg. Music festivals are no longer big news.

As for the kind of music featured at Woodstock ’99…it was ROCK!

Now rock is a sideshow. You couldn’t get 250,000 people to show up for a lineup of today’s Active Rock bands. Or maybe you could, promoting it a la the Gathering of the Juggalos, a place for like-minded people to get together, a gathering of the tribe, a tribe with almost no traction outside its relatively small number of members.

And the hit acts of 1999 were far different from the hit acts of 1969. In 1969 the acts had a social conscience, they were against the oldsters, the policies of the government. In 1999? The acts were all about the money and at best they proffered frustration, against the system that delivered so few possibilities to the audience. Believe me, no one would have had a hit with lyrics telling people to break stuff back in 1969. We were coming together, not pulling apart.

So the energy was different.

In 1969 you wanted to do drugs and mellow out.

in 1999 you wanted to drink beer and rage.

Michael Lang believed in core values his audience didn’t. They didn’t have a clue! Times change, as they have again. 1999 is twenty three years ago, watching this movie is almost quaint. Not only is there no social media, there’s no mobile phones, never mind smartphones.

That’s a big difference between the centuries. 1996 was the year of AOL. And 2000 was the year of the cell phone. The internet and mobile telephony existed prior to these dates, but this is when they gained more acceptance.

So when you went to Woodstock ’99 you were out of touch, with everybody but those in your direct environs. This has not been the situation since. You not only call or text your parents, you do so multiple times every day!

And even owning your own car is no longer a huge desire. No, people don’t take buses, but they believe they can fly and then Uber everywhere.

As for control… Woodstock ’99 was a forerunner that we’ve only just realized.

3

Up until Covid-19, there was a belief that America was under control. That we had politicians with our best interests at heart, and a police force to enforce the law.

Now not only do people take pride in defying the law, the police force, even the elected officials are not concerned with general welfare. Yes, the Republicans just voted down a $35 cap on insulin and if you want to really have your head spin, read this:

“How Republicans Are ‘Weaponizing’ Public Office Against Climate Action – A Times investigation revealed a coordinated effort by state treasurers to use government muscle and public funds to punish companies trying to reduce greenhouse gases.”: https://nyti.ms/3bAc2Po

And it’s not only Republicans. Kyrsten Sinema killing carried interest legislation? The rich get richer. And the rich control elected officials. And you? You’re screwed, so why not burn down the house.

But you shouldn’t. Because there are cameras everywhere and you’re gonna get caught. Like the rioters on January 6th. They go to jail while the instigators are still free… White collar crime? Go for it. Once again, the rich skate. Assuming they’re smart enough not to leave a record. And even if they do… They just erase the texts with impunity. Yes, they’re going to get away with it. It’s just like you erasing the hard drive at the 7/11 after you’re accused of shoplifting. Good luck with that.

Tell me to get vaxxed?

NO! What are you gonna do about it?

Well, polio is now coming back. But not for me! Not yet anyway. Screw everybody else but me. Yes, you’re on your own, as a result of the evisceration of the safety net by the Republicans in cahoots with Bill Clinton. We know you’re just a lazy nitwit looking for a handout. So, if you have no power, how do you respond? Take action, loot! Which is what happened two years ago during Black Lives Matter. How else were people going to respond, take their money out of their nonexistent bank accounts?

And the law and order people don’t obey the law and don’t keep the order. Trump let the 1/6 rioters run free. Screw order. And there are good people on both sides…

And then there is truth… Forget Trump, just watch John Scher and Michael Lang bloviate in either of these films!

4

But Michael Lang is dead.

John Scher helped build the modern concert industry. He’s still a lone wolf, but just about all his competitors sold out to the man, for the big check.

Time moved on but everybody still thinks it’s the music business of yore. That hit acts have infinite reach and the music is a healing force that is top of mind for everybody. Ridiculous! Music at best is the evanescent soundtrack to your video game, your gourmet meal, it doesn’t even represent the same thing it did in 1969. Peace and love? My ass. I’m a BRAND!

And the acts just use music as a platform. Just like the promoters of Woodstock ’99. Money was paramount. The experience…was barely thought about. You buy a ticket, we’ve won.

And with the internet and social media the individual is now powerful. Sure, we still have musical stars, but there are social media stars just as big. You can build it at home. You can broadcast at home. Performing a trick is easier than practicing an instrument for twenty years and touring the country in a van.

So the major labels consolidated. Those with power have gotten bigger, and the U.S. government has allowed business to run unfettered. The craziest is the antitrust e-book decision that forced Amazon to RAISE PRICES! For the good of the people? That’s another thing… Elected officials are way behind the public, never mind techies… They don’t understand the problems and by time they take action the issues they’re addressing are passé and new ones have arrived.

It’s chaos I tell you, just like Woodstock ’99.

The boomers are done. And the Gen-X’ers are running on fumes. Music is a youth business. I don’t care how much you listen and go to shows, the youth listen more and spend more dollars. So the focus is always on them. You go where the money does, just like Instagram going from images to clips. Stay static, and you die.

And since the barrier to entry in music is so damn low, it’s constantly being disrupted. The labels have no control whatsoever. At best they can sign what has already broken online. As for starting from scratch… It could take you years just to break even, never mind make a profit.

Everything you believed in, everything you thought, is gone. Sure, we still have festivals, but they don’t resemble Woodstock ’99, and the music doesn’t resemble that at Woodstock ’99, never mind Woodstock ’69. Times have changed, but boomers still think they rule.

Especially in the touring business. Which is run like Amazon and Facebook. All the innovation comes from outside the big players. And the upstarts either sell out or the biggies go into competition with them and crush them. The big get bigger. Hell, just look at Michael Rapino’s compensation, no one ever made this much money in touring before. As for Lucian’s Grainge’s payout… It’s just heinous.

Talk about wanting to break things.

And no one has accounted for masculinity, never mind ignorance. All this talk about #MeToo at the end of this Netflix production is just that. Do you actually know men? The only ones who’ve been reached are the ones whose behavior was fine or just barely over the line. The rest… The ones with a brain just kept it underground, and the ignorant…

Are all over this Netflix series.

You’ve got to check out the9thinning on TikTok. His clips are akin to the old Jaywalking bit on the “Tonight Show.” He goes around and asks people basic questions that they can’t answer.

This one is my favorite:

https://bit.ly/3JJeqA3

Yes, he asks people wearing music t-shirts about the bands that are pictured…and the people are CLUELESS!

You couldn’t even buy t-shirts when rock was beginning to burgeon.

Then you had to go to the show.

The t-shirt was a badge of honor.

Now it’s a fashion statement.

The Ramones were edgy unaccepted punks who started a movement. Now they’re responsible for baby attire for the progeny of people who didn’t cotton to the Ramones to begin with, because they were too dangerous if they even knew about them at all!

Music is not the counterculture anymore.

There is no counterculture. And the main culture is wealth. How can I get rich? And the opportunities for the underclass are few, so they throw the long ball, take ridiculous chances, it’s better than coloring between the lines like the powers-that-be want you to, at least you have a chance of making it.

But really, you’re angry.

The rioters at Woodstock ’99 were angry.

Hell, I’m angry. More angry than ever before in my life. I mean if Orbán had spoken at a Republican conference in the sixties, there would have been riots in the street. Today, not only does authoritarian Orbán testify, they took away a woman’s right to an abortion in many states and our elected officials keep telling us to vote to enact change. Just like telling Woodstock ’99 attendees to stay calm in 90+ degree heat on tarmac sans enough water and…

It’s just that the Woodstock ’99 attendees were not as defeated as we are today, they still had a modicum of hope. They didn’t yet realize the game was rigged. These are the same people who were told owning your own home was the best investment and lost their property in 2008 when the executives at the banks who caused this loss were financially rewarded for it! Angry and depressed yet?

Woodstock ’99 wasn’t a one-off. It was a petri dish, which cultured the infection which has continued to be spread and be ignored.

We ARE Woodstock ’99.

But we believe if we weren’t there we’re safe. If it floods in St. Louis and Kentucky who cares, at least it isn’t me! It’s the opposite of the Woodstock ethos…love your brother? SCREW ‘EM!

When Don Henley sang we hadn’t had that spirit since 1969 he was right. He knew, BUT YOU IGNORED HIM!

And just about everybody is ignoring the future now. Never mind the future, the present!

Yes, our rock stars were seers, laying down truth.

Today they’re just uneducated moneygrubbers looking for a way to get rich. They’ll do whatever it takes. Be outrageous for effect, to get noticed. Sacrifice their integrity, their morals… Hell, everybody else is, why not?

Everybody else is tearing down the festival grounds, why shouldn’t I?

Everybody else has a gun, do I need one too?

Everybody else sold out to the man. 

It’s everybody for themselves in America today. Woodstock ’99 was just a harbinger of all this.

BE PREPARED!