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April 18, 2004 - April 24, 2004 Archives

April 18, 2004

TWO OF THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD

Because I've been driving and walking all day, let's Say It In Pictures...

From the middle of the Mojave Desert, here's the Bun Boy of Baker, CA!

And right next door, the World's Largest Thermometer!

Can't beat that for scenic! (By the way, at the base of the thermometer, it doesn't, as this picture suggests, say that Baker is the "Gateway to Death." It's "Gateway to Death Valley," which is far different. Although an argument could be made...)


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April 19, 2004

I HAVE MET THE ENEMY

This morning, as I sat and listened to a panel of congressmen and a Senator talk about broadcasting issues in front of a roomful of radio executives, it became clear to me what's happening. There was a consensus among the panelists- "indecency" is bad, whatever it is, and it must be dealt with legislatively. The people in the audience, broadcasters all, applauded. And when the moderator, a TV station operator, asked about why cable and satellite can get away with raunchier material, it wasn't because he felt that their freedom should extend to broadcasters. No, he wanted to know why cable and satellite aren't speech-regulated, too. And the broadcasters in the audience applauded.

Hey, radio hosts- there goes every shred of creativity you've tried to exercise in your career, sold down the river by YOUR OWN INDUSTRY.

I've been curious why the NAB, the trade group that is supposed to represent the interests of the radio industry, hasn't been all that upset with the new indecency rules. All they've done is to race to create "task forces" to discuss how the industry can create a new Broadcast Code, a new set of rules for "self-policing" under the not-veiled-at-all threat from Capitol Hill that if they don't do it, Congress will do it for them. And with few exceptions (Infinity and a handful of others), the industry is bending over and taking it. Thank you, sir, may I have another?

If you work in radio and you want to take risks and push for more creative liberty, you're toast. I say that because the pasty middle-aged white guys in the audience- that's everyone, even the women and minority members, who have been subsumed by the Borg of Fritts- were 100%, foursquare, totally in agreement- gotta do something about those pesky "talents." They seem to wish they could do it without you, and with the use of voicetracking, they can.

John Hogan of Clear Channel sat near me again this year. I was going to ask him how he expects anyone with a creative bone in his or her body to ever want to work for his company after selling Stern, Bubba, and the Regular Guys out in fear of the suits on that dais, but he veered off as soon as the thing was over. Maybe he, or Eddie Fritts, or someone in charge of radio will answer that question someday. By then, radio will be unlistenable. But it'll be safe. And that's what you get when nobody with power is willing to stand up for you.


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April 20, 2004

MORE PANELS ABOUT BUILDINGS AND FOOD

Pardon my incoherence. I spent the whole day at the NAB convention again, and my mind's gone.

Actually, there were glimmers of hope- Robert Corn-Revere's sniping at the indecency law insanity was a positive highlight- but otherwise I spent the day scribbling quotes and staring at Guys in Suits on Panels and losing consciousness, punctuated by revelations like this: half of the males at the NAB convention look like a cross between Stephen Root on "News Radio" and Peter Griffin on "Family Guy"- pudgy, double-chinned guys in glasses and suits.

Look, I was tired and hallucinating. Don't blame me if I don't make any sense.

But I did notice one thing, before I lost it- FCC Chairman Michael Powell seemed to be fairly screaming "I don't want to be the anti-indecency guy- they made me do it." He kept saying how he HAD to fight indecency because Congress mandated it, and he said he could read some transcripts that would be hard to defend, but he generally seemed to be wishing that it would all go away.

And then I dropped off into another parallel existence. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir was there. Really, I swear. You can look it up.

Can I go home yet?


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April 21, 2004

JERQUE DU SOLEIL

"Hello! Where you folks visiting from?"

We're from the Planet Xatox, and we've come for your brains.

"You folks interested in a Grand Canyon plane ride?"

No.

"Hi there! How long are you in town for?"

20 to life after we kill you.

"You folks visiting? Where from?"

Summerlin. Go away.

The Vegas Strip is, obviously, for tourists. Locals can't be dragged there at gunpoint, unless they work there, in which case they might be the "where you folks from" pods that accost you with brochures in the casino malls or along the sidewalk, cheek-by-jowl with the porn purveyors flicking color "business cards" at your hands.

I hate feeling like a tourist. I don't know why I have such a strong aversion to it- I guess I don't want anyone to perceive me as a rube, a mark, a walking bundle of cash to take at will. That's what the casinos are all about, and that's why I had to get away a couple of times, having meals out at a soul food joint in Green Valley and a Chinese place in Henderson. The difference was striking- out east in the 'burbs, we were treated the same as everyone else, like we lived there, because what tourist would ever stray THAT far away from the Strip? Well, I would. I'd rather not feel ripped off, a feeling that the Strip does very well- everything is more expensive, everything feels shoddy, it's an unreal, uncomfortable world.

And yet I like it. I like coming to Vegas. Maybe my discomfort comes from being here too long- this convention goes on forever, and the point of diminishing returns comes earlier every year. After Tuesday's marathon, Wednesday was remarkably news-free. I easily could have skipped it and gone home. I should have. But it's one more night in surreality, then the long ride back.

While I'm doing the nomadic thing through the Mojave, here's some visual embellishment from the NAB convention:

Here's one of the many exhibit halls. I wandered through them for a while before realizing that there was absolutely nothing of interest for me there:

This is part of Panasonic's extensive booth. It was exactly the same last year, down to the glassed-in "exercise room" in which a model in a red unitard used a cross-training machine while geeks gawked at her. Look, a real live woman!:

Here, apparently, is the only place that the hall's wireless internet ($25. a day!) may have worked. It never worked for me:

And, finally, if you're going to fly a little inflatable blimp over your booth, make sure it's not as pathetic as this one:

That seems to be an appropriate note on which to end the trip. California beckons. I'm listening. More from home tomorrow.


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April 22, 2004

CRAZY FROM THE HEAT

Ladies and gentlemen, because I just got back and I'm pressed for time, I give you, direct from the middle of the Mojave Desert...

The Mad Greek of Baker, CA!

Because nothing says fine cuisine like mental illness.

And they have a picture of Eddie Mekka on the wall.


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April 23, 2004

THINGS HAVE CHANGED

It was somewhere on Highland near where it cuts over to LaBrea that I realized I can't do it anymore. I can't stay out late. And by "late," I don't mean late in the normal sense, I mean at night, period. It was about 11, and I was wiped out, with about 40 minutes of driving to go before I'd reach home. I can't do that anymore.

Maybe it's getting up before 5 every morning- surely, that can't help- but it's also something else. In my general exhausted haze, I remembered when I used to go to concerts, clubs, shows, and I could stay up to any hour. It was a pleasant memory for about a second, and then I remembered the rest- the crowds, the smoke (there used to be smoking in clubs, kiddies!), no place to sit down, the heat, the noise. And, suddenly, my reverie became a litany of why I don't like to go out now, and it became apparent that I not only don't like to go out now, I didn't really like it back then.

I haven't turned into an old man. I always WAS an old man.

It's at times like this that I can appreciate the impulse of some people to become hermits. Going out to be social is too much work, too hot, too noisy, too awkward. Staying in is easy, restful, pleasant. It's also emotionally stunting and kinda weird, but I can live with that. Today.


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April 24, 2004

DO AS YOU'RE TOLD

Eli Manning ended up with the Giants, and I heard several radio hosts lambasting him and his father for coming out and saying he didn't want to play for San Diego, that he was being a big baby- why, after Pat Tillman, how can anyone complain about who's drafting him?- and that the Chargers shouldn't give in to his blackmail.

You only get this in sports. Everyone else- OK, medical residents don't get to choose, but everyone else does- can go where he or she wants to go, work for whomever will hire him or her, doesn't have to go to an assigned city and employer. And, yes, these guys DO make a lot of money. But so what? If you don't want to play for a team with a crappy offensive line that'll get you crushed, and you don't want to play for a team with no apparent plan for improvement that is considering moving, why should you? And if there's no other option for you to ply your trade, wouldn't you do whatever you thought you had to do to stand up for your choice?

(Of course, the Giants have a fairly weak offensive line and their plan isn't necessarily better, plus he'll have to play for the R. Lee Ermey of the NFL, so it's not like he's going to paradise. On the other hand, if he wins there, he'll OWN New York)

Look, if my team sucked- Lord knows, as an Eagle fan, I've been there- and someone refused to play for them- Lord knows, as a Phillies fan, I've been THERE- I'd be pissed, too. And Charger fans have a right to boo Manning and hate what he did. But if you were Eli, you'd have thought along the same lines. Yes, you would. Boo all you want, but you'd have at least considered doing exactly what he did.

Not that you or I will ever be put in that position. Me, I'd have taken that money no matter what. OK, if the Fallujah Fightin' Insurgents of the IFL chose me, I'd have to think about it. But I wouldn't immediately say no. That kind of money buys a lot of Kevlar.


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About April 2004

This page contains all entries posted to PMSimon.com in April 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

April 11, 2004 - April 17, 2004 is the previous archive.

April 25, 2004 - May 1, 2004 is the next archive.

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