Internet Ignorance

There’s an amazing story on the “New York Times” app:

“Trump Won the Internet. Democrats Are Scrambling to Take It Back. – In the era of big data, memes and disinformation, the Democrats are trying to regain their digital edge as the president and his loyalists dictate the term of the debate”

Bottom line? There’s a war between the DNC/old guard and the technologists, between those who want to stay in the past and those whose feet are firmly planted in the digital world.

My favorite quote is from Biden:

“‘I’m still getting used to this virtual world we’re campaigning in…”

That’d be like your Subaru mechanic talking about fixing a Tesla. You’re either digitally native, or you’re in the rearview mirror.

I’ll give you one more quote:

“(Biden is) A party mainstay who rose in politics when the platforms to master were ‘The Wilmington Evening Journal,’ WPVI-TV and the U.S. Postal Service.”

And there are a bunch of old boomers who still pay attention to these outlets, think that the physical paper and MSNBC move the needle when the truth is the needle is moved online, that today’s digital citizen sees news as coming from a free-flowing pipe, not once a day, when it’s already dated.

I could go on about this, but I really want to talk about the book and movie businesses.

The book business abhorred the digital book. It did everything in its power to kill it. It was afraid of losing control. Amazon wanted to build the book business, sell more books, the publishing industry wanted no change, it wanted to work the same way it ever did.

And now it’s screwed.

The book business raised prices on digital titles to the point they made no sense. And then placed articles everywhere (especially in the physical newspaper!) about the joy of physical books, the feeling, the lack of distractions, the tradition, the building of a library and then…

Covid-19.

This is when people are reading most. THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THEY CAN’T BUY BOOKS!

The physical bookstores have all closed.

No big deal you say, people can just buy through Amazon, they control fifty percent of the marketplace anyway.

WRONG!

Amazon is prioritizing necessary products, this news has been everywhere. When it comes to life and death. books don’t make it, despite protestations. Bottom line? Best-sellers are on backorder FOR WEEKS!

That’s right, if you want to buy and read what everybody else is, you can’t, because you just can’t get the book. But if you want it digitally, you can get it in an INSTANT! But the book business refused to jump into the future, it insisted on living in the past, and then disruption happened and it was not prepared.

We saw this in the music business. Labels and acts said everybody should be satisfied with CDs. They were kicking and screaming about digital piracy. And sure, the iTunes Store was an interim step, you could buy tracks one by one, but album purchase prices still didn’t make sense, they were too high, and revenues didn’t turn around, didn’t go back up until SPOTIFY! Spotify and the rest of the streaming giants put a nail in the heart of piracy. Oh, don’t tell me piracy still exists, as Michael Eisner once said, ten percent of the people will never pay, forget them.

Where is the concomitant offering in publishing?

Forget subscription, where are the lower prices? Book prices keep going up, while digital costs are de minimis. Meanwhile, digital book lending at libraries has become a big deal, Libby rules.

You can’t hold back the future.

Kind of like the movie business.

The studios were so busy protecting the theatre owners that they would not go day and date on the flat screen. They kept protecting the old model. When the revenue from smaller pictures tanked, they just made tentpole blockbusters. And except for a few comic book movies, they didn’t realize the attraction was a night out as opposed to the desire to see the specific picture.

And then the theatres closed.

So, the studios put some present pictures on VOD. Heard about anybody buying them? I haven’t, it’s dated product, and the studios don’t know how to promote for VOD, their paradigm is to frontload everything, get their money in a week or two and then move on. But it doesn’t work that way in the streaming world. Once again, just ask the music business. Sure, you can hype it at first, but you only make money if the project has legs. No one is concerned about legs in the movie business anymore, but they should be. It’s all about what is going to spread by word of mouth and live long.

Like “The Tiger King.”

The movie business doesn’t make fare like this. It’s not based on a graphic novel, it’s not an animated story. They miss the opportunity.

And “The Tiger King” is not highbrow entertainment, but it appeals to all demos, because of its whacked story and its characters and its essence…which is people want to be rich and famous and they’ll do almost anything to achieve their goals.

Could “The Tiger King” story have been told in ninety minutes? NO WAY! Sure, you can only sit for two hours in a movie theatre, but at home you have endless time, despite all the hoopla about short attention spans, people want to dig in deep and pay attention.

And then there’s the pricing issue.

Today people want to pay one price and get everything. To the point where filmmakers are better off making a deal with a streaming service for their pic. This was the essence of “The Irishman.” Netflix could authorize a budget as big as a studio and more people would see the flick. What’s not to like? The studios would say the distributors have control. But that’s what happens when you pooh-pooh Netflix, revel in the payments and then wake up one day and realize you’ve lost the power.

In other words, maybe VOD does not work for movies.

Now the truth is these same movie studios also make TV shows, so they’re not completely screwed. But they did refuse to see the future, to their detriment. Will is no match for technology, which the public embraces.

At least part of the public.

The problem is the boomers did not grow up with the internet, and although they’ve got smartphones and computers, they don’t really know how they work, they do not harness their power.

Yet they continue to bloviate in their verticals of choice, newspapers, TV and cable, not realizing the world has passed them by. It’s okay to live in the past, just as long as your income does not depend upon the whims of the public, and the last time I checked, the only people who can get away with this are retired.

So, this lockdown has engendered hyperchange, all we’ve been hearing about for years has happened overnight. Turns out you can work from home quite easily. Turns out food delivery is superior to going to the market. It’s true that when the lockdown ends we are not returning to business as usual.

Will Biden win?

According to the WaPo, he’s only ahead by two points.

But I wouldn’t expect Trump’s approval ratings to sustain, then again, how was this survey really done?

But one thing is for sure, Biden will never make a dent in cyberspace, because he’s lacking the elements that go viral.

If you want to be big online, you’ve got to have charisma.

Joe’s got none.

And you’ve got to produce content constantly.

It took Joe too long to respond to the Ukraine situation and when Covid-19 was blowing up he was in the bunker, trying to get his studio (i.e. technology) right.

As for his failure to read the Teleprompter, anyone will tell you in the internet age it’s all about off-the-cuff. You do it down and dirty, and then you fix it down the line. Calculate and plan too long and you miss your window.

So all those who are arguing politics through the lens of the past are gonna be left in the past. Trump was evidence of a sea change. It would have happened even if he did not come on the scene. Read about the history of breakthroughs, they’re in the air, one person may get credit for the invention, but it turns out others were right there with them.

So, when you read those articles in “The New York Times” about people who don’t update their operating systems, people who go on digital vacations, people who talk about the evils of screen time…

Shake your head and ignore them.

We are here, in the digital world. Either adapt or get out of the way.

Masks

This is important.

To tell you the truth, I did not plan to send any more Covid-19 missives, at least not for a while, but then today people started dying and then I got this video from Amy:

“How to Significantly Slow Coronavirus? (featuring Minister of Health of the Czech Rep.) #Masks4All”

You should watch it, immediately.
And if you doubt it, then read this article in the “Washington Post”:

“Simple DIY masks could help flatten the curve. We should all wear them in public. Got a T-shirt? You can make a mask at home.”

And yes, this article appears to be behind a paywall, but you’ll get the gist just by watching the video.

But let me just quote the first paragraph:

“When historians tally up the many missteps policymakers have made in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the senseless and unscientific push for the general public to avoid wearing masks should be near the top.”

Makes total sense, right?

Once again, watch the video.

So, this has been an off-putting day. First my younger sister Wendy texted me that Joe Diffie died of Covid-19, and then Alex Sax, my engineer at SiriusXM. texted to tell me that Alan Merrill, who co-wrote “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” passed of Covid-19, and then came the kicker, that John Prine had it too and was in critical condition.

I expected people I knew personally to die first, I didn’t think it would hit famous artists. And no matter what anybody says, this number of artists does not die in such a short period of time. Should we expect more?

Now I’m gonna dance lightly here. Because if I wade into politics people will sign off, they’ve been doing so in droves, asking me to get back to music, they want to hear no more, but…

We’ve got to get over this concept that the United States is the best country in the world and no one else has anything to offer. And that we cannot examine ourselves and make change. I heard that we’ve rejected Chinese ventilators, is that true?

That’s the problem, we’re all inundated with messages all day long. We’re sending each other videos, imploring each other to watch them when most are redundant or inaccurate or just plain biased. To the point where I thought this Czech video Amy was sending me had to be bogus, until I clicked through, watched and then Googled and learned it was very real.

This makes total sense, I won’t even bother to elaborate. The video is under four minutes long, you can make the time, it’s not onerous.

But, if you’d like to make a bigger investment, my shrink recommended this video that has been sent to me many times recently:

“NYC FRONT LINES DOCTOR EXPLAINS HOW EASY IT IS TO NOT GET INFECTED AND STOP THE SPREAD OF COVID-19”

If you’ve got an hour, and you’re anxious about the virus, watch this, it’s extremely informative. In terms of behavior, it’s the best thing I’ve seen.

Midnight Madness

Are you scared yet?

Tonight I am.

I’ve been very diligent. I haven’t seen a person face to face since I went to the drugstore on Monday the 16th. You see I don’t want to get it, and I’m fearful if I do I’m not gonna make it through.

Did you see that video from Spain? Of the guy sitting at a desk crying because they’re just leaving everybody over 65 to die? I’m over 65. And I have an underlying condition. It has to do with my immune system. No one really knows what is going on, it’s what caused my pemphigus. But both my doctors, my internist and my hematologist, are worried about it.

I’m not the kind to worry about health. Unless I freak out about it.

It was illegal to be sick when I was growing up. My older sister posits it was because my mother’s mother was a hypochondriac. If you were sick, unless you were literally dying, puking, writhing on the floor, you had to go to school. We also never ever got breakfast. My mother slept in. I didn’t think much of it, but then they said breakfast was the most important meal of the day. And now they’re saying it’s not, to fast as long as you can before you eat. Illustrating that science is a fluid subject, whereas Covid-19 is not. Sure, the doctors have some tools in their arsenal, but there is no silver bullet and the world doesn’t need any one of us, it can go on just fine without us.

My father died at 70, of cancer. He was shocked that he made it to that age, because his dad didn’t. As I’ve approached that marker…nobody lives forever, even Sumner Redstone has gone into hiding, and he was sure his regimen would keep him sentient and alive forever. But it didn’t. He’s compromised. Kind of like my mother, the dementia is creeping in, it was only a week ago that she could even wrap her head around the virus, and she told me this afternoon she was planning to go out to dinner. But didn’t the governor of Connecticut shut all the restaurants down?

Did you see that article in the “New York Times”?

Probably not. Everybody’s reading their own stuff, watching their own shows, it’s a full time job keeping up, but I’m doing it, I’m interested and I think I’m protecting myself with knowledge. Most people don’t know much. They’re just confident that they won’t get it and if they do they’ll pull through. WRONG!

Getting back to Connecticut… I grew up in Fairfield, on one side of the town was downtrodden Bridgeport, on the other upscale Westport, where Paul Newman and Bette Davis lived. So there’s this article in the “Times”…

“Party Zero: How a Soiree in Connecticut Became a ‘Super Spreader’ – About 50 people gathered this month in the upscale suburb of Westport, then scattered across the region and the world, taking the coronavirus with them.”

I’ve been thinking about this, now is the time you want to stay away from upscale people. Everybody’s social climbing, especially in Los Angeles, but it’s the upper class that does the most traveling, that intersects with the most people, that are carriers, that will infect you, better to live in a house with poor people, or lower middle class people, I don’t think there are any real middle class people left.

And sure, Tom and Rita came back to the U.S., they’re doing well. But did you ever wonder how they got back here? I assume they flew private, I could be wrong, but I know they want to avoid the risk, once bitten, twice shy. You can’t afford to fly private, you can’t even be seen in the emergency room, never mind get good treatment. There’s an ICU and a ventilator for Tom and Rita. You? Good luck.

And then there’s that article I just read in the “New York Times” app:

“As a generally healthy 45-year-old, I didn’t seem like a probable Covid-19 candidate.”

That’s another thing you find out, how painful the experience of being infected is. You’re uber-tired, and you’re struggling to breathe. Sounds horrible, and it is. But like every other illness, you have sympathy for the patient but then you move on, saying to yourself “I’m just glad it isn’t me.” But this time, there’s a good chance it will be. No matter how much money you have, whether you take supplements, whether you’re in good health today, Covid-19 doesn’t care.

And at this point in time, if it’s in the “New York Times,” a great portion of America ignores it, it just can’t be true, the paper is biased, with an agenda, it’s FAKE NEWS! No, it’s the most real news you can get. But this is where we are, the President has made it so there are no authoritative voices but his, and if you trust his…there’s a good chance you’re going to get infected.

But right now I’m not worried about politics, I’m not even worried about the insane states still in business with no self-quarantining of the population, no tonight I’m worried about human nature.

It’s kind of like sex without protection, you get caught up in the moment and the regrets come after that. Does a baby result? A good percentage of the time no, but I know someone who got a girl pregnant when he lost his virginity…it screwed his mind up so much he could barely function, and he got mononucleosis in the process, whether it was related, who knows.

And speaking of mononucleosis, I had the world’s worst case, at an age when most people don’t get it, 21, verging on 22.

Let’s see, it was 1976. And I was at this freestyle skiing competition at Keystone, in Colorado. And my friend injured himself severely trying to do a double flip but somehow he made his way back to Aspen. I went to visit him thereafter, he and two other guys lived in the basement of a house on Cemetery Lane. They had a party, everybody was in their early twenties, we shared a joint, even though I told myself I was never gonna smoke dope again…that’s where I got the mononucleosis, I tested at the limit for nine months, I kid you not. Was I thinking about this when I took a hit, of course not, have I thought about it since…of course!

I was in a down mood, it was a party, why not.

This is coming down to character, and I know you don’t want to hear that. Yes, the nerds did inherit the earth. Why? Because while you were out partying, losing your virginity, they were studying hard, so they could get into a good college and advance their lives. Of course you can become rich and famous without going to college at all, but that’s not my point. My point is these people applied themselves, and never went off course, they knew one bad grade could be the difference between getting into an Ivy or not.

Do you have the strength to stay on the course? Can you say no to the enticements? Can you do everything in your power not to be face to face with another human being until the end of May?

That’s what Bill Gates said it would take. It’s already been two weeks, you can make it. But if we don’t do this, Covid-19 will hang around until the end of the year. You either do it right now, or you pay the price.

I don’t want to pay the price.

News Update-Day 16

Fear is setting in.

The big story today, of course, is the old/new 17 minute Dylan track, “Murder Most Foul.” This is a masterstroke, whether the timing of the release was conscious or not. In an era where everybody is doing one thing, the person doing the opposite is king. Everybody is postponing their album release date as they live stream from their home, Dylan didn’t live stream and put out new music. Furthermore, it’s the opposite of today’s music, it is not disposable. Today’s music is all about refining the track until it fits through the little commercial hole. Have you listened to the new Weeknd album? I tried. His vocals are great, and then you hear the TR-808 and you wince. Yup, I’m talking about those synthesized handclaps/drums. Why does every track have to have this? Used to be sounds were fads. And, the first time around, after people were infatuated with drum machines in the eighties, the big thing was to go back to real drums. All this to say that I spent a long time bouncing from playlist to playlist the other night and was dissatisfied. On Apple, the acoustic singer-songwriter playlist was filled with B-level talent at best. After hearing Tom Odell, who is neither Elton nor Dylan but is above the line, this dreck was laughable. Let’s go even further! Most of these people should not be playing music for a living and their music should not be on streaming services, they’re just cluttering the lane so we can no longer find the good stuff. And no one is interested in curating the truly good stuff, no one is taking responsibility. Used to be we had multiple layers of curation. First, who got signed by the label, second, who got played on the radio, third, who got ink. Very few acts ran that gauntlet. Today, there’s a thin layer of “popular” music and no one cares about the rest. The streaming services promote what the majors want them to, even if it’s not pay for play, because the majors are continuing to release product that the streaming services need, and the hill being too hard to climb, the labels only work what is easy, and then we’ve got a ton of people who shouldn’t be in the business bitching that they can’t get paid at the bottom. And you wonder why everybody talks about Netflix instead of music. No one in music is taking any responsibility, at least no one with power or a vision.

I could go on about this forever, but we live in a world where no negativity is allowed. We’ve got to be upbeat, we’ve got to say our affirmations, polish our personalities until…

We all fall off a cliff.

That’s what’s happening now, reality is sinking in. You’re gonna be in your house for a long time.

And you might just get the coronavirus.

And you, or people who are dear to you, might just die.

The best information about the coronavirus came from Bill Gates last night on CNN:

Part 4: Entire CNN coronavirus town hall (March 26)

Wait a while for the video to load, and even though Bill is not on screen right away, hang in there, he will be.

This is the opposite of the bloviating from D.C. Here we have an intelligent person familiar with science who has studied the problem and is telling the truth as opposed to what people want to hear. That’s the problem with politics, it’s worse than show business, these people are so afraid of blowback even though we all know the truth.

Speaking of truth, the definitive song on this is Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.” And at this point, everybody seems to know that, but they do not know the definitive version, which is by Don Henley:

Everybody Knows Don Henley Spotify

Everybody Knows ยท Don Henley YouTube

Everybody got this broken feeling
Like their father or their dog just died

First it took a while to adjust to the new normal, staying home, figuring out what you were going to do for supplies.

Second, you had to figure out how to do your work remotely.

Third, everybody was connecting, it felt good to actually talk on the phone.

Fourth, there was this incredible focus on the news.

Fifth, your work started to slow down.

Sixth, there was not really dramatic news every day.

And now, and now, you’re freaked out. Are you gonna get it? Is someone close to you gonna die? You can’t wrap your head around what is going on. Everybody is really staying home and business is shut down?

Then there are the deniers, like the Governor of Mississippi, insisting life will go on, goddamit, and if people get sick and die, well, not that many people will die. Death is not something you get over, whether you are the deceased or you are left behind. If you’re dead, you’re done. If you’re still around, you can’t get the deceased out of you brain, you think about them for the rest of your life, and if their ending was tragic, it makes it that much worse.

So now, we think D.C. has lost control. And we don’t understand how the right resisted a big stimulus in 2008 but is cool with one now. Proving that everything is up for grabs. In other words, the only person you can rely on is yourself, and that’s scary.

And systems are breaking down. My doctor told me his patient called an ambulance and the EMTs wouldn’t take him to the hospital, the emergency room was just too crowded. Really, this happened.

And every day someone famous gets infected. Today, it was Boris Johnson. Yesterday, it was Prince Charles. As for the President and Congress…they’re not social distancing, are they immune? NO! One of them is gonna get sick and kick too.

And then there’s that pastor who said it was all a plot against Trump and then died himself:

“Pastor who claimed Covid-19 ‘Hysteria’ Was Plot Against Trump Dies”

It’s sunny in Southern California, but it’s not sunny in our brains.

But if you want to get through it, I recommend this video:

“Nathan Sharansky on Fighting the Coronavirus”

Meanwhile, back to Henley. Am I the only person who has had “The End Of The Innocence” playing through their head?

Remember when the days were long
And rolled beneath a deep blue sky
Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standing by

It seems so long ago, but it was only a couple of weeks ago.

We are in this together. Protect yourself and your loved ones, this will eventually end, and you want to be here.