December 2008 Archives

POSTSCRIPT 2008

This year started with expensive sewer troubles and ended with expensive sewer troubles. In between, it was a sewer.

And now it's over, and I'm not presumptuous enough to say that 2009 can't be worse. Hope it's good, though. Everyone could use a break.

LIFE AND LUNCH

I had another nice lunch away from the home office today, this time up in the Valley. Every time I go have lunch with a friend someplace away from the house, it reminds me of a couple of things:

1. I hate traffic.

2. Hey, there's life out there!

This time, it was while sitting out on the sidewalk talking and eating that it occurred to me that there's an element of living in a more crowded, populated area that I miss, the sense of neighborhood. I can go weeks without any real live in-person interaction with anyone in my neighborhood other than my wife and cat, but in the space of a short time today, my friend was greeted by three friends/neighbors who happened by. That's what you get when you can walk to shops and restaurants and the dry cleaner and the local coffee joint. You see people on their daily rounds, walking their dogs, hanging out. In my neighborhood, there's no place to do that. I miss that.

On the other hand, I have the ocean down the block and total, blissful quiet all day and night (other than the occasional construction project). So there's that.

But being out and in the real world today was a reminder that I really need to get out and see more people. Isolation and hermit-like behavior aren't necessarily the best way to go through life. On the other hand, you don't have to sit in slow traffic on the 101 if you stay home....

(Oh, yeah, lemme plug Greg's show: watch it on SoapNet (yes, you DO get that channel) starting January 8 at 10p ET. Details here. And he's on tour in '09, so go here for the dates)

BEST CHANNEL EVER (SO FAR)

My cable system is running the pre-launch test programming of MLB Network on a spare channel. The programming consists of looped montages of great moments in baseball history, interspersed with brief promotions for the channel and its newly hired staff, and a half-hour promotional show.

I don't know about anyone else, but I could watch these highlight things 24/7. They don't even have to go to regular programming. Just edit out Joe Carter's homer and I'm fine with it.

DOUBLE FANTASY

Watching football today reminded me of why I can't do fantasy football. I was listening to Nate's show this morning and hearing guys freak about last-minute roster decisions, and all season I see Matt's picks and hear the Regular Guys move inexorably towards the Peteetong Bowl championship of the Regular Guys Fantasy Football League, and it's all interesting in one aspect: I can't imagine who has time to really do it right, unless you're paid to do it like Matt or you work at EA Sports like Nate and can spend a lot of time weighing the merits of the NFL's most obscure fullbacks. I don't have that time.

But even if I did have that time, I don't think I can do it. If I did, I'd be spending Sundays focusing on individuals instead of teams, and, that way, I wouldn't really be focused on MY team and therefore would have missed out on the enjoyment of this, the ritual disembowelment of the Dallas Cowboys by the heretofore frustrating Philadelphia Eagles. I might have even needed good performances from Dallas players. It would have gotten in the way. Instead, unburdened by needing Team X's defense to shut someone out or needing QB Z to have a career day, I just got to root for Tampa Bay and Chicago to lose, then see the Eagles flatten Dallas in a most humiliating and wonderful fashion. No divided loyalties, no lack of focus. Just pure old-school loyalty combined by the irrational yet totally satisfying hatred for the Evil Other in white, silver, and blue.

It was a good day for football.

MOVIES, SHOPPING, STUFF

More aimless comments from my pseudo-idle time:

1. We finally got around to renting or watching some movies we missed in the theaters. "Charlie Wilson's War" was entertaining, "Tropic Thunder" was amusing (started well, bogged down a little later, but worth a rental), and "Burn Before Reading"... sucked. Sucked hard. I tend to like even the marginal Coen Brothers movies, but this one was all wrong -- wildly varying tone, story that went nowhere, variable acting. Bleaugh.

2. Retail observations from the day after the day after Christmas: Wal-Mart was pretty busy. The parking lot at Long Beach Town Center was crowded. Business at the Skechers outlet in Torrance was reasonably brisk. Maybe people waited an extra day to spend.

Tomorrow: Football, unless the Vikings or Bucs win early. In that case, whatever.

HOW'S BUSINESS? DON'T ASK

We made what in normal years would have been a mistake and went to some stores to shop on the day after Christmas. A couple of observations:

1. It wasn't that crowded. The line at Kohl's, even for "early bird" sales, wasn't that long. It was busy, but not too crazy.

2. There were no lines for returns at all. You can't have a returns line if nobody bought anything to begin with.

3. In idly walking into the Torrance Circuit City, it was clear why that chain is circling the drain. The place looks like a wreck -- unappealing layout made worse by stacks of boxes of store-brand schlock, TVs not set up to display proper HD, and, worst of all, no real bargains. The place has a bankrupt feel. You don't feel a reason for anyone to buy anything there.

4. No shopping center we passed seemed to have any parking problem -- there weren't too many people circling the lots.

I'm not assuming my experience means anything more than just anecdotal evidence, but... it's still bad out there. If the day after Christmas is this slow in the stores... geez.

THE SECRET FOR A SUCCESSFUL CHRISTMAS

You dump beans, tomatoes, beef, and chili powder into a pot. Pour some beer in there, and drink some of it. Mix, cook for several hours, serve.

That's it. Nothing like it. (Oh, there are a few more steps, but I'll keep those to myself for now) Made the day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

We're closed for the holiday.

I, THE JURY

I spent most of today sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the jury assembly room at the Long Beach courthouse. I did my civic duty, which apparently involves reading a book and squirming and fidgeting until someone tells you that you can go home.

This was my fourth or fifth go-round with the Los Angeles County jury system in about 8 years. It's been pretty much the same every time, and it will be the same the next time, which will be in about 13 months, if my suspicions on how this thing is set up are correct. Most people don't get called. I get jury summonses on a regular basis. It's supposed to be random, pulled from the voter and DMV rolls. That would be more plausible if all of my friends and acquaintances who never get called also never voted or drove.

Here's the whole day: Woke up at 4, ran, showered, changed, drove to Long Beach, went to jury assembly room at 7:30, sat there until 11:45 reading a book, walked to lunch, ate, walked back, sat until 2:30, finished the book, drove home. That's all, folks.

There was one bit of drama, when 21 people (I counted) were called to be considered for a jury. The trial is set to last 20 days. I'm grateful that the judge pre-weeded the jury pool to eliminate those of us who can't serve on a 20 day trial, but I was nervous there for a moment.

So that's one day I won't get back, but I can feel proud that, had the need for a juror arose, I would have been right there to whine and beg off. That's the very foundation of our judicial system, isn't it?

HAD A BAD DAY

There's nothing more fun than to watch the rain come down in buckets, then have to wait around all morning and into the afternoon for the plumber to show up, then to find out that the problems are going to cost about eight grand to fix, then to find out that you have to report to jury duty tomorrow morning.

At least, that's what I did today.

I've had better days.

WE CARE A LOT. (THEY DON'T)

We interrupt my agony over fixing this site to bring you more agony:

Truth be told, the Eagles deserved to lose. They approached a must-win game with no passion and a game plan that was all-air, making it easy for the Skins to defend. McNabb was underthrowing everyone, Reid's game plan was nonexistent, and other than Brian Dawkins, nobody on that team looked interested in winning, despite being handed a golden opportunity with Dallas' loss yesterday and Tampa Bay's today. Plus, as always, with no time outs left and seconds dwindling away, McNabb threw short of the end zone. You'd think that they'd be aware of how bad their clock management is after all these years, but if embarrassment in the Super Bowl doesn't matter, I suppose nothing will.

There is nothing worse to Philadelphia sports fans than a team that doesn't care. Philadelphia fans care more than practically any other fans in sports. You want to know why we're always angry? There ya go.

HAD IT UP TO HERE

OK, I know things are screwed up here. I've tried deleting and reconstructing and fixing things, and I know that some stuff in the sidebar is showing up doubled. I removed some of it, but the links are still showing twice.

I'm pretty done with Movable Type. I don't want to switch to WordPress, but... well, I don't have a lot of patience with MT4, so I'm ready. Random glitches should not happen. Suggestions welcome.

AAUGH!

Something's screwed up in Movable Type. If you can read this, at least there's progress, but the last entry- nothing special about it - threw the columns off.

I'm trying to fix it now. Just what I need for my day off.

TWITTER POST OF THE YEAR: RUNNER-UP

Not quite as good as the previous Best Twitter of the Year, but WCAU-TV (NBC 10)/Philadelphia comes through again with this:

They screwed up the link, and once you find it, it's lame. But there's clearly something in the water over on City Line and Monument.

RETAIL ESTABLISHMENT OF THE YEAR

On the way to lunch, stopped at a red light at 1st and Gaffey in San Pedro, it finally occurred to me to take a picture of a retail establishment I have been passing for 13 years and which never ceases to astonish me:

In case you can't read it, that's "Hello" LIQUOR And Clothes Outlet. And Beer Mart. The sign also offers Video, Magazines, Socks, and T-Shirts.

You know, I often need to buy a six pack of Bud Light and a pair of Gold Toes in the same establishment. Plus a copy of Men's Health magazine and maybe a "Mamma Mia!" DVD.

Oh, and they sell California Lottery tickets, I believe.

It's one-stop shopping. No, I've never gone in. The place scares me.

While I'm still off, here are a few other sites I like for old ads:

Charlotte Ads has a great selection of print and TV ads from said city, including a couple of Carolina Cougars ABA pre-season game ads and other stuff that reminds me to fire up that scanner soon.

Duke University's Ad Access has a lot of cool old ads for old TVs and radios along with beauty and hygiene, transportation, and World War II propaganda. I'm glad someone's doing this.

More ads here. More arty, but still interesting.

Or you could just do a Google Images search and go wild.

I could look at this stuff all day. Sometimes, I do.

TWITTER POST OF THE YEAR

The story doesn't live up to the headline, but that wouldn't be possible.

EXHALE

So, I'm sitting here on the couch, the Clippers-Oklahoma City game lurching forward on the TV, and I'm practically inert. There's no obligation for tomorrow. Work's done for now. If this is that "relaxation" I hear so much about, I don't think I recognize the feeling.

But it'll be good to get a little break from the gloom in the business, from the latest wave of firings at CBS Radio to the Vegas line on which city will be without its own daily newspaper first. I'm going to try and just switch off the noise for a couple of weeks. There'll be plenty of things going on, from jury duty next week to various minor work-related things I need to clear out, but I'm looking forward to some breathing room. And sleep, if Ella the World's Most Famous Cat lets me get any (today's feline wake-up call: 2:55 am).

And maybe even a decent blog post or two. It's holiday time. I'm feeling generous.

NUGGATIVE

The shoe incident mentioned yesterday prompted John to do an hour on KFI asking listeners at whom they'd want to throw a shoe. I thought about my preferred targets and I realized that if I did say who I'd like to conk with a well-aimed wingtip, I'd never work in the radio business again. Or several other businesses as well.

But there are those who aren't as dangerous to hit with a shoe. Like the Nuggnuts. I didn't think I'd see a more annoying bunch of fast-food commercial characters than the Triple Steak Burrito guys in the Taco Bell commercial, but the Numbnuts -- Nuggnuts, sorry -- are right up there. Processed, rubbery chicken-like blobs fried in taste-free batter? No wonder they're nuts.

(Oh, and they just played a Cialis commercial, and they've made the couple holding hands while laying outside in separate bathtubs a regular theme, practically a logo (there's even a silhouette version), and I gotta ask: separate bathtubs? Does that really imply good sex? The SAME bathtub, maybe. Separate tubs seems a little... distant. Remote. Awkward. I'm thinking this over way too much)

If it seems today that I just don't have anything important to say, well, yes, And it's not like I normally have anything profound to offer. It's just that my week-o-work is one day from ending, and I'm as fried as a McNugget. It's been non-stop from 3 am through evening, and I'm leaving it on the field, giving it all I've got, coming to play, 110%, and any other cliches you might care to assign. One more day and I can relax, at least until jury duty next week. (Yes, Christmas week, a lovely time to visit the Long Beach courthouse) I'd like to guarantee that I'll have more interesting things to say starting Wednesday, but, well, probably not. I know my limits.

CRUEL SHOES

Rough day, but it could have been worse...

Of course, it was a "journalist" who did that. They don't even allow cheering in sports press boxes, but there aren't too many journalists deploring this breach of protocol. Not that there aren't a lot of people who would want to express their frustrations with Bush, but, still, you don't throw shoes. (Shoes! Who throws shoes?)

And I'm in a shoe-throwing mood, but I wouldn't want to cause any trauma to my perfectly good Chucks. I've learned that venting feels momentarily good, but can cause greater problems in the long run. I'd rather just sit here with Fran and watch TV while the steam dissipates and is replaced by the usual Monday-morning-3-am work thing. On a day marked by a fifty-something guy in a new Mercedes trying to cut me off on Crenshaw Boulevard in a case of inexplicable road rage induced by my making a perfectly legal and innocuous right turn while he, unbeknownst to me, wanted to run a red light (in another lane!) and was apparently angry that I was there to share the wide-open two lane road with him... I'm better off just staying home and shutting up.

ARE WE BEING SERVED?

Macy's Manhattan Beach, 2 pm today, cosmetics counter. One customer is getting attended to by a cosmetician, and we're the only other ones there. We circle the counter. Another salesperson sees us, says "I'll be right with you," and goes to the other side of the counter. And we wait. And wait. And wait. And, finally, I get impatient and walk around to the other side to see what was going on...

...and that salesperson had started serving other customers. Customers who showed up well after we did. I stood there, and the salesperson suddenly saw me.

"Oh, sorry. I had to take care of these customers."

"We were here first."

"Oh, yes, but... um..." And the cosmetician showed up, surprised that we hadn't been helped, and jumped in to help us.

One of my pet retail peeves is the clerk who decides upon sight that you're not worthy of being served. Maybe we don't look like we're going to spend enough money, or were not trendy enough. (For Macy's? Really?) But there's no mistaking that we were blown off, and we came close to walking out.

And lousy service has been happening this season. Slow, indifferent, and occasionally downright antagonistic service. Maybe you can say that it's a symptom of the bad economy and the uncertainty workers have about their jobs and their future, but you'd think that they'd want to make customers want to come back soon, the better to preserve their businesses and their jobs. Instead, the experience makes me want to buy everything online. Not good for local retail, but if they continue to treat us as if they don't want our business, what else are we supposed to do?

DECOMPRESSION THEATER

While I decompress from part one of my year-ending work avalanche, here are more "I can't believe this exists on YouTube" clips...

A 1967 clip of a Standard Oil commercial and WMAQ-TV/Chicago ID:

Jack Sheldon in "Run Buddy Run":

Australian Broadcasting Corporation IDs from 1975:

The GE College Bowl from 1966! Agnes Scott vs. Princeton!:

And... "The Mouse"!:

My sister and I owned that record. Yes, I admit it.

AND THEN, THE NEWS

How cool is the Internets when you can find this?

May 12, 1979, with Warren Olney -- now the longtime host of KCRW's "Which Way L.A.?" -- and a young(er) Steve Somers of WFAN overnight fame, looking fairly bizarre. Gas shortages! A commercial for Bob Hope at the Palladium! The Montreal Expos! National Airlines! 70's hairstyles and clothes! Absolutely amazing.

Still working over-over-overtime, so that's it for today....

SHIP OF FOOL

Earlier this year, Fran won a whale watching cruise out of Long Beach, and I told you about it here and here, so I won't repeat that magic. But one of the indelible memories of that day was the feeling I got when the boat first passed from the relative calm of the harbor into open water past the breakers into the Catalina Channel. My thoughts ran like this:

1. This is too choppy for me.
2. I'm going to be sick.
3. We just started and there's at least two more hours of this to come.
4. (Unprintable)

And that's what I feel like right now, just one day into my annual Week Of Torture. I won't get into specifics other than that for a week, I am responsible for work that during the rest of the year is handled by a staff of, roughly, 25. It starts ridiculously early, ends late, and allows for virtually no time to do frivolous things like eat, shower, and go to the bathroom. When it's all over, I'll have a couple of days off, then jury duty. And that will feel like heaven compared to... this.

So if postings here seem even lighter and more insubstantial than they've been in the last several months (I know...), it's because the boat just left the harbor and I'm looking at a long stretch when the boat just won't stop bobbing up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and....

ONE QUESTION WITH....

I did this week's All Access "10 Questions With..." interview with myself, for several reasons, most of which had to do with getting stiffed by someone who was supposed to do it and also because I hadn't done it in ages (at least 4 years, maybe longer). And I get asked certain questions so many times, I figured, why not do it in a column? And so I did.

I'm not going to write a separate one for here today, because I don't have the time. But here's a sample from the other one; you can find it at All Access if you want more (and, yes, the Official Glare of Disapproval is the picture that goes with it):

What should those who find themselves out of a job be doing now to get back in the game?

Good question (ed. note: See how I congratulate myself for my interviewing prowess?), because the game seems to be changing. I'm concerned about the prospects for the near future. I'm concerned about the prospects for the future, period. but if you find yourself unemployed, the first thing to do is to get the word out to everybody you can, including everybody in your various networks -- you have been building your personal networks, haven't you? -- and through All Access, like in a Net News item. You can drop me an e-mail to get that going for you. And you can start looking at all of those job listings on this site and elsewhere, and send out tapes and resumes to everybody in your format.

But those are what people in this industry have always needed to do when looking for a job. The problem that we have right now is that the number of jobs available is, obviously, shrinking radically. That makes networking even more critical, because it's far more likely that you'll get another job through people you know rather than through an ad.

And this is the most critical part: stop thinking of yourself as just a talk show host or just a producer or just one whatever in just one medium. You can't limit yourself like that anymore. It doesn't matter how old you are or what your experience is or how many stations you worked at or what your ratings were. We're seeing people with good ratings and driven you getting canned because the business just can't support them anymore. If you think you can just stick to business as usual, you're making a mistake. Develop other things you can do and sell. Can you write? Then you're a writer, too. Can you do web work? Can you mix drinks? Can you take dictation? Whenever you have to do to pay the bills, be prepared to do it. We're in a bad economy, it's going to be hard to find ideal jobs, and if you have a good job, you'll probably want to keep it for as long as you can. Now is not the time to be complacent, nor is it the time to quit a job and pulse of Lee with the expectation that other stations will jump to hire you. Take nothing for granted. And be prepared to work in something other than radio if you have to.

It could be worse. You could be working in newspapers.

Apropos of the season:

(George Fenneman! A very young Pamelyn Ferdin, long before she became Southern California's favorite ex-child star-turned-animal rights militant!)

(Who said they didn't have ads in the movies back in the day?)

(Nothing says Christmas like K-Tel!)

(A very young Seth Green, a defunct toy store, magic)

TWENTY ONE

I was planning to take this weekend off from blogging, but I couldn't let today pass without a mention of this:

21 years ago today, I met Fran.

I've recounted everything about that before. And there's not a lot more to say about it that I haven't said before. But it really does just come down to the fact that the moment I met Fran was the beginning of the best thing that ever happened to me. After 21 years of friendship and over 18 years of marriage, I feel that way even more than before.

But you knew that.

Finally, the last All Access newsletter of the year. Read it, cherish it, frame it, hang it on the wall. Me, I'm happy to get a few weeks off from it:

This is the last column for the year – please, no outbursts – and I didn’t want to end the year on a negative note, so I’m going to try to stick to the positive aspects of the business and...

And, yeah, well, good luck with that, right? After all, this wasn’t a banner year for radio. It wasn’t a banner year for too many people. (Barack Obama, Cole Hamels, that smug guy in the Taco Bell Triple Steak Burrito commercials... that’s about it) It’s easy to talk about what’s wrong with the business and its leadership, but as we lurch towards year’s end, radio is still alive, and that counts for something. Let’s end the year in a happy, bright, Up With People mood and count our blessings.

=========================

One of the things that happened this year was that I found myself with a lot of company in criticizing the leadership of the radio industry. There are a lot of pundits who are hitting some of the same notes I've tried to hit in recent years, and I'm happy they're out there -- not only do they often make great points, but the very fact that radio has such passionate critics highlights the fact that people really care about the medium. But in reading all that criticism, I find that a few themes that rise up again and again probably need some re-evaluation. I'm no Mr. Brightside -- as I've made clear for years now, I think there are very serious problems with this business and I'm not at all confident that the folks in charge are the ones to fix things. And I do think that the continuing layoffs, which have long since passed from cutting fat to cutting muscle and now cutting bone, are only going to lead to matters getting worse in the long run; in the panic to meet this quarter's numbers and maybe stave off delisting, radio management is ensuring tougher times ahead. But the sun still rises, the world continues to turn, and radio's still here. And to close the year out on a more hopeful note, I wanted to address a couple of the common assumptions about radio that bear deeper scrutiny. Such as...

The Youth of America Doesn't Listen to Radio Anymore: Yeah, maybe that's probably about right, except all I hear is college professors going on about how their students say they don't listen, and I hear parents saying that their kids don't listen, either. And I've seen "The Bedroom Project." But then I think back at when I was a college student, and it's not like every college student was listening to the radio then, either. We weren't, or, at least, if you'd asked us, we would have said that we didn't. Most people just listened to records or cassettes. Even though I was a radio fan from a very young age, by the time I reached college, all I listened to were the alternative shows on college radio, the snow closings on KYW, and my own show. Very few of my classmates listened at all. They did listen to music, but on record. The guy who lived above me sophomore year played his copy of Neil Young's "Decade" over and over all night so many times that I knew the whole thing by heart. All of it. All three albums. All six sides. Still burned in my mind are the nights I lay awake staring at the ceiling while "Heart of Gold" blasted through the tiles, knowing that after "Star of Bethlehem" he'd take Album 2 off, put on Album 3, and start "The Needle and the Damage Done." He definitely wasn't listening to the radio. We all had clock radios, and stereos, but radio wasn't a critical part of our lives then, and it's hard to expect radio to be a critical part of a young adult's life now. The difference between now and then, however, is that radio has more of an opportunity to get into a young adult's life, but through different media, like podcasts and streaming and cell phones. Their MP3 players and customized streams like Pandora are going to be tough for radio to beat as a music medium, but this is a golden opportunity for talk and personality radio to gain access to those potential listeners, through whatever medium reaches their ears. That's why it's incorrect for people to say....

Radio is Dead: No, it's not. The old way of doing business may be on life support, but calling a medium with practically 100% adoption and market penetration and a still-huge audience "dead" is hyperbole. Let's say for now that the current way of running the business -- frantic cost-cutting to prop up the stock price -- is a dead end. And let's stipulate that the folks in charge have managed to turn a thriving business into a penny stock concern and that they did not efffectively adapt to changes in the competitive field and technology. Sure. But there's a lot of value in this business, too, value that someone else will undoubtedly come along and unlock. In a technologically advanced world, maybe a radio station isn't itself a growth vehicle. But the programming that radio people produce -- specifically, talk and personality radio -- should be a great growth product. All the new technologies need compelling content. Anyone can feed music to them. But if you have an entertaining, popular show, there's only one you. If and when the money catches up to the new delivery methods, it won't matter whether your show is on AM, FM, streaming, whatever. Just because people are declaring radio dead doesn't mean that people have ceased to desire entertaining, compelling audio content. And just because some people have moved away from the traditional means of programming delivery doesn't mean that content can't move to where they are.

I still think there’s opportunity for radio. Good content will find an audience. It just may not come over a traditional radio signal. It may not involve playing 10-in-a-row of the Best Variety of Yesterday’s Hits and Today’s Favorites. And it may not happen tomorrow, but I’m going to hold out hope that 2009 will be a good year. We could use one of those.

Anyway, that’s it for "The Letter" for 2008. All Access isn’t through for the year, though; we’ll have fresh news all the way through the holidays, there's "10 Questions With..." syndicated "Into Tomorrow" host Dave Graveline, the message boards and ratings and job listings are still updating all the time as usual, and Talk Topics in the News-Talk-Sports section will still provide you with tons of show prep topics, but “The Letter” is taking a break until January. Besides Talk Topics, you can find my daily incoherent musings at pmsimon.com and on Twitter.com/pmsimon and Facebook.

Have a safe and happy holiday. Talk to you in a few weeks.

LAST DELAY BEFORE 2009

I wrote a column tonight, but I need to add to it and flesh it out a little (it comes up short, figuratively and literally). It's the last of the year, so I want to patch it up a bit.

Meanwhile, I did see the lighting of the "Christmas tree" at L.A. Live in downtown L.A. on KTLA tonight, and it was... embarrassing. Soulless and cheesy. Adam Carolla hosted, and he did his level best not to say anything that would reflect an opinion, even when the two Anchorbots from KTLA asked him what he though of the evening. Britney Spears showed up for no apparent reason -- she didn't sing and only did a very brief talk with Adam before the Mayor ran out to hog the spotlight again. The tree wasn't even a real tree -- it was an LED light creation surrounded by L.A. Live's video boards and ads for Toyota and Herbalife. There was no excitement, nothing entertaining, nothing remotely like Rockefeller Center.

We really just don't get that kind of thing right out here, ever. The Millenium was a dud, New Year's is always irrelevant -- there really isn't a central spot to do anything like Times Square -- and even the Lakers parades weren't like the kind they do back east. You'd think that the World Capital of Entertainment could put on a show, but the tree lighting was amateur hour, worse than a Jerry Lewis Telethon segment. There needed to be a real tree, Britney needed to sing and dance, and they need to do it someplace other than a cold concrete plaza with video billboards. I suggest Hollywood Boulevard. Or a strip mall in Encino. Anywhere there are real people.

Or don't do it at all. We do a lot of things right out here. Maybe we should be more aware of our limitations.

SHORT AND TWEET

When Facebook first opened up to non-college students, I thought, great, another waste like MySpace. Then I signed up, got used to it, connected with a lot of folks, and I got it.

When Twitter was first happening, I thought, geez, this is stupid -- who needs 140 character blurts and status updates like "having lunch with Fred" when you can do a blog and have all the space you want? And then I signed up, got used to it, and got it.

The action has moved from blogging to Facebook and Twitter, and I can see why. Even with comments, a blog is more of a closed shop -- it's like a newspaper site, where the proprietor posts something and you comment on that. It's awkward to use it as a conversation place. With Facebook and Twitter, the whole thing IS a conversation. You post something and, instantly, someone responds, then someone else chimes in. You post a picture, and you get comments on it. You say something, others respond, you respond to that, like a cosmic text messaging volley.

And the time I spend with the other sites had me thinking about what to do with this site. Yes, again. This time, I wondered if I should just turn this into a repository for occasional longer pieces and the weekly column, and use Twitter and Facebook as my main communication. I don't think that's what I'm going to do right now, but it's a possibility. Throwing something into Twitter that posts to Facebook (and to the widget on this page) takes seconds; posting something here takes much, much longer. But there's value in both. A tossed-off observation isn't writing, but it's appropriate on Twitter and Facebook. Here, it's more like a series of monologues. Part of me needs that outlet, so I'm going to keep it going here.

But I do like the give-and-take on Facebook. It's nice to converse with people I don't get to talk to on a regular basis otherwise, nice to reconnect with people from my past, nice to network. There's room for all of them, Twitter, Facebook, and this. Too bad there's not enough time in the day for all of them, and work, and a life. Doesn't hurt to try, though.

HOW WE WORK, 2008

There are positives and negatives to how work has evolved over our lifetimes, but on balance, I think we've done okay. After all, when I started my first job many years ago, this wasn't possible:

It doesn't always strike me enough how amazing this is. I have the web, I have everything I need to get a column done, I have the Sixers allowing a lead to slip away in the final minutes, all on one screen in my living room while a "CSI" rerun plays on TV. I really should appreciate this more.

The good stuff takes some of the edge off the bad news that just keeps on coming in the radio business. More good folks are getting canned, and there's been precious little hiring being done to balance that out. The frustration is that this isn't happening because stations aren't still capable of making a profit on an individual basis; it's because the owners have such crushing debt that they need to squeeze whatever they can out of the operation, and that means cutting costs as revenues decline, and by "costs" I mean people. I report on all of it and hear a lot more details that make me just shake my head in sorrow. I want to help, I want to get everyone employed, I want to believe. I just get frustrated thinking about the short-term prospects for the business.

I'm not sure about the long-term prospects, either, but I'm pretty sure there's going to be a need for entertaining content, no matter how it's delivered. I just don't have a lot of answers for people who have to worry about the immediate future. That's a topic for a future All Access "Letter" column, but I just need to vent right now. The business could use some good news right now, and so can I. Hey -- the Sixers managed to win in overtime! That's a start.

All I want to know is, if even the Salvation Army knows that it needs to use Facebook and Twitter to reach people, why is most of the radio industry clueless on both counts?

I mean... damn. You'd think that they'd be all over it, especially considering that it's free.

In an unrelated story, here's video of two young relatives of Sir Lawrence A. Wachs, the Duke of John's Creek, GA, brutalizing each other in a game of indoor football, captured in a film by A. Wachs, directing prodigy:

I particularly like the brief slow motion sequence. Almost Peckinpah-ish. Kids, enjoy the present, the last time you'll be able to beat the crap out of each other without lawyers and psychiatrists getting involved.

March 2012

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Who?

    Perry Michael Simon. Talk radio guy. Editor of the News-Talk-Sports section at AllAccess.com. Editor and writer at Chris Hardwick's Nerdist.com. Former Program Director, Operations Manager, host, and general nuisance at KLSX/Los Angeles, Y-107/Los Angeles, New Jersey 101.5. Freelance writer on media, sports, pop culture, based somewhere in the Los Angeles area. Contact him here. Copyright 2003-2012 Perry Michael Simon. Yeah.

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