Thursday, December 18, 2014

".....As Bogie Might Say...'I Don't Mind A Symbol Of Our Resolve...I Just Object To A Cut Rate One....."

As with so many things in this day and time, the real issue here isn't the question.
It's the next question.
Editor's note: Jeff Yang is a columnist for The Wall Street Journal Online and contributes frequently to radio shows, including PRI's "The Takeaway" and WNYC's "The Brian Lehrer Show." He is the co-author of "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action" and editor of the graphic novel anthologies "Secret Identities" and "Shattered." The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.
(CNN) -- In 1940, Hollywood's most popular comedian made a movie that subjected a world leader to ruthless parody, turning a brutal despot into a figure of fun.

At the time, Adolf Hitler was consolidating his hold over Europe; the full monstrousness of Nazi atrocities were still to be revealed, and the United States was not yet at war with his regime.
But the film had been controversial from the start. Two years earlier, German officials raised questions about it and the secretary of the British Board of Film Censors wrote to his American counterpart saying it could violate a rule against depicting a living person on screen without his consent.
Of course, "Dictator" went on to become Charlie Chaplin's biggest commercial success, and is today regularly listed among the greatest films in Hollywood history.
One wonders what would have become of "The Great Dictator" today, given Sony's decision Wednesday to respond to threats from anonymous hackers by yanking the raunchy North Korea satire "The Interview" with Seth Rogen and James Franco from theatrical release.

Granted, it's unlikely that "The Interview" is in the same league as Chaplin's magnum opus -- given that the film's comedy rests on subtle, nuanced plot elements such as Rogen being forced to hide objects in his anus, I'm not even sure it's playing the same sport. And Sony was compelled to pull the film after being subjected to debilitating leaks that have cost it hundreds of millions in lost time and business, and confronted with a new set of cyberterrorist intimidations that included a promise of "9/11-style violence" -- threats that ultimately led a half-dozen of the biggest theater chains in the United States to announce that they would refuse to show "The Interview" if Sony chose to distribute it.
Sony's surrender is more than just a humiliating black eye for one of the world's largest entertainment companies -- more, even, than the first notes of a dirge for the studio and its beleaguered leadership. It opens a new and insidious chapter in artistic censorship that raises the question of whether any work that lampoons or derides a powerful public figure or institution can now be made in today's entertainment industry.
Art (and for this argument's purposes, let's include "The Interview" in the category of "art") has always been deeply intertwined with politics.
Many of the greatest works in history would never have been created without the patronage of powerful world leaders and institutions, from kings and queens to religious faiths to merchant princelings.
And of course, the flipside of the coin of patronage has always been repression: the Iconoclastic Controversy of Byzantine emperor Leo III; Hitler's purging of "degenerate" art; Mao's Cultural Revolution; more recently, the death threats and vandalizations that have accompanied displays of Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," a photo of a crucifix immersed in urine; the fatwa that sent Salman Rushdie into hiding for writing his literary fantasy "The Satanic Verses"; the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh for making the documentary "Submission," which questioned the treatment of women under Islam; and the controversies over the cartoon depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and on Comedy Central's "South Park."
Sony has given saboteurs a virtual veto over its productions, and Hollywood seems likely to follow suit.
America's recent midterm elections were affected by the question of art's intersection with politics: The Benghazi riots that served as the backdrop for a militant assault that killed several U.S. diplomatic officials, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were initially claimed to have been part of a global series of protests after the Internet release of an amateurish anti-Islam film called "Innocence of Muslims."
What Sony's capitulation shows, however, is that in our postmodern era, shutting down the arts no longer requires jackbooted soldiers, raging mobs -- or even manifest physical danger. It doesn't matter if North Korea was originally behind the Sony hack; even if it was, it's certainly unlikely that the vague threats to public safety in the more recent warnings could ever have been carried out.
But after Sony's decision, the mere threat of attack by shadowy digital forces may now be enough to forestall interest in depicting "controversial" public figures -- or subjects. And this chill won't be limited to political leaders. After all, any institution or individual can buy a black-hat hacker's time; a single individual with enough time and skills can wreak unprecedented havoc on a multibillion-dollar company, and some of the most brilliant inhabitants of the digital dark side do their dirty deeds for nothing but the promise of "lulz."
So the question remains: Could "The Great Dictator" be made today? Could "Team America: World Police"? What about HBO's forthcoming documentary on Scientology, "Going Clear"? The repercussions from Sony's junking of "The Interview" are already being seen: Fox Studios and New Regency were working on a Steve Carell thriller set in North Korea that was ready to begin shooting in March. On Wednesday, they quietly killed the project.
Sony could have stood its ground and decided to release the film, even if only in a single theater. It could have chosen to distribute it globally via on-demand streaming, and probably would have made hundreds of millions from curiosity-seekers and those who want to send a message against censorship.
It might have even chosen to fight fire with fire, broadly releasing the film to pirate sites and illicit-sharing platforms as an upraised middle finger to those who tried to suppress it -- the money has already been spent on it, after all, and an act of bravura of that caliber might even have brought Sony a patina of cool.
Instead, the dominoes will continue to fall. Sony has given saboteurs a virtual veto over its productions, and Hollywood seems likely to follow suit. In short, at least in this battle, the terrorists have won.
Voices crying out from Hollywood and the other assorted pins on the map that designate the stomping grounds of the artistic, creative community are naturally, and expectedly, doing their crying out in the key of "C" for censorship. Joining in the cacophony, of course, are the more liberal members of the body politic and, for that matter, those listed in the phone book under "zealous and immediate advocates, without hesitation or pause, of the freedom of _______(whatever freedom or freedoms apply here)".
And for those of us who resist, at least and, often, resent any attempts to be held hostage in any way at any time for any reason are, also, if not ready to put on our "I Can't Breathe If I'm Not Free" T-shirts just yet, not all that happy that the decision has been made to bail on this movie.
Here's some thoughts, though.
First, young Mr. Yang's point about Chaplin's movie is, on surface, cogent, if not compelling.
But it's also out of context.
And out of step with the times in which we live.
The "hue and cry" about Charlie's lampooning of Hitler undoubtedly raised the hackles of the dreaded Nazi menace if, for no other reason, the last thing that despotic types seem to possess is anything resembling a sense of humor, let alone a sense of self deprecation.
In 1940, though, chances were pretty slim to none that Germany, or even small bands of fanatical members of the Nazi Party and/or any devoted splinter group, would go so far as to take over a couple of airliners and fly them into Buckingham Palace just because Charlie Chaplin pissed them off.
The world, in those days, was, in its own way, just as bat shit crazy as it is today.
The key phrase there, though, is "in its own way."
War, then, brutal and bloody as it was, was still fought within certain parameters of etiquette and/or expectation.
The term "civilized warfare", oxymoronic or not, was still pretty much the leash which, at the very least, assured us a little control over the dogs of war.
War doesn't work that way any more.
Hitler was, beyond any reasonable doubt, a wack job despot of unprecedented proportions.
Yet, a despot who, for all of his wack, pretty much colored inside the lines when it came to your textbook variety attempt to conquer the world.
And, yes, this includes the Holocaust that, while clearly and undeniably horrific, was still, as a premise, nothing more or less than the defeat and destruction of a perceived enemy during wartime.
Even if that perceived enemy was defeated and destroyed hundreds, even thousands, at a time rather than dozens or hundreds on this or that field of battle.
Hitler was a wack job.
But those zany Kim Jong boys make Hitler look like a guy trying to invade your personal space by becoming the fourth person to wedge themselves onto a park bench obviously made for only three.
Do I think that if what happened in 1940 was happening today Hitler would see to it that hundreds or thousands of innocent people were killed in retaliation for the astonishingly no big deal act of poking a little fun at him?
I really don't, no.
Do I think that The Un and Only would react similarly?
Bet the farm, baby.
Or pagoda, as the case may be.
And while I totally get, understand, dig and, while we're at it, endorse and agree with the philosophy that proclaims we will not "negotiate with terrorists",  this is one of those situations that requires a little more consideration and a little more conversation.
We're not negotiating here.
We're faced with, if not the actual threat then certainly the very real possibility of, the threat that a lot of innocent people could be hurt here.
And while it is in the nature of things that sometimes, in fact, often, we have to risk life and limb to stand up to wack job despots and, in our best Jean Luc Picard voices, offer that "the line must be no farther", there is, in this particular situation, a question that, at least to these ears, keeps rising up and above all the other questions being screamed out as passions rise and tempers flare and flags start a wavin'.
Do we really want to draw that line and say "fuck you, hit us with your best shot" over an asinine movie that, had none of this brouhaha brewed in the first place, probably would have ended up out of theatres and onto DVD before the ball drops in Times Square?
And if the answer to that question is "hell, yes, we sure do", then I think there's a next question that follows immediately.
What shall we say to the parents, wives, husbands, kids, et al of any one who dies should any of the threats of retaliation prove to be realized?
That your dad died so that we could take that last island and finally defeat the enemy of democracy?
That your daughter was blown up so that we could take back that government building that the enemy thought they had hijacked from us?
That your husband is dead so thousands of innocent lives were spared, his dying preventing that plane from getting to the Capitol Building?
Or that your loved one is gone so that perhaps up to a few thousand bored movie goers could have a cheap laugh or two at a couple of bozos clowning around in a film that makes "Bad Grandpa" look like "Citizen Kane"?
"The Great Dictator" was a film Charlie Chaplin offered as a biting, satirical, but cautionary tale of an evil that we needed to know about and, ultimately, do something about.
"The Interview" is a cheap, transparent and, most very likely, juvenile means of filling theatre seats and selling ten dollar popcorn to those who think Seth Rogan is Laurence Olivier and Family Guy is Masterpiece Theatre.
And even if it turns out to be the comedy classic of the ages, one thing is rock solid sure.
It's nothing to die for.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

".....I See....Black People......"

O. Henry.

Rod Serling.

Blue Telusma.

Bards of a feather.

{Blue Telusma is a Washington-based writer for, an online venue devoted to perspectives that affect and reflect the African-American community. Follow @theGrio on Twitter or like it on Facebook. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. }

(CNN) -- Camille Olivia Hanks was studying at the University of Maryland when she met Bill Cosby in the early '60s. He was doing stand-up comedy in Washington when the two were set up on a blind date. They fell in love and she left school to support his burgeoning career in entertainment.

By 1964, the two were married and they would go on to have five children together. In 1997, their son Ennis (who inspired the character Theo Huxtable) was murdered, and a few years later Dr. Camille Cosby did a one-on-one with Oprah explaining how she'd eventually been able to find joy after mourning the loss of a child.
Throughout that interview it was so clear that you were looking at the real-life Clair Huxtable that even Oprah seemed a bit star-struck by her poise and grace.
During her 2000 appearance on Oprah, Camille revealed:
"I became keenly aware of myself in my mid-thirties. I went through a transition. I decided to go back to school, because I had dropped out of college to marry Bill when I was 19. I had five children, and I decided to go back. I didn't feel fulfilled educationally. I dropped out of school at the end of my sophomore year. So I went back, and when I did, my self-esteem grew. I got my master's, then decided to get my doctoral degree. Education helped me to come out of myself."

When asked why she wasn't content to just settle for being the wife of a famous entertainer she continued:
"I don't know exactly what it was, except that for me, integrity is important. For me friendships are important, family is important, and it is a blessing if we can have monetary benefits. That's wonderful, and I love it. But I have to have the security of people who really care about me, and me about them. I want to be surrounded by people who have integrity. And, of course, my name is Camille, not Bill."
That was a beautiful answer. But a lot has changed since then.
These days, Camille Cosby is standing alongside her husband during what may turn out to be the worst month of his long career.
For the last few weeks, the beloved TV dad who used to sell us Jell-O pudding pops has been at the center of an ever-growing scandal. He has canceled several appearances, Netflix has postponed the launch of his stand-up special, NBC nixed plans for a new comedy show, and this week Janice Dickinson became the latest woman to make allegations against him; telling E News that he raped her in 1982 after she'd done a stint in rehab.
Cosby is arguably the most successful African-American performer in television history, but this isn't the first time he has found himself under scrutiny for extramarital affairs.
In his biography, "Cosby: His Life and Times," Mark Whitaker makes mention of the legendary comedian's "roving eye" and even tells an anecdote about how he finally cut back on his womanizing by breaking up with his long-time girlfriend. Now it seems those softball admissions about having a weakness for beautiful women may have been shrouding something much more sinister than an affair.
In the last decade alone, more than a dozen women have accused Cosby of rape or sexual assault. No formal charges have ever been successfully filed, so even with all the media speculation, these claims are technically only allegations. But there is one person in this melee whose anguish is virtually indisputable: his wife, Camille.
So how does a woman like that end up spending 50 years of her life beside a man who is now alleged to be a serial rapist? One can only imagine the embarrassment she must be experiencing through all this. But her dilemma is a lot more common than you may think.
In a world that asks you to be a mother, a wife, a businesswoman and an alluring sexual being, women grapple with finding the balance between respecting themselves and prioritizing their relationships. While many say they would leave a spouse who cheats, experts estimate that approximately 50-75% of couples rocked by an affair stay together.
There are many reasons why some women choose to stay: the fear of being alone, financial dependency, belief that they can alter the behavior of their mate, professional status of their partner, deep emotional investment and family obligations.
It is hard enough to come back from infidelity in private, let alone when you have the added stress of being a public figure. Both Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards have weathered similar storms with men they devoted their lives to. And one could argue that it is a lose/lose situation for any wife who finds herself in that position: If you stay, people judge you for not standing up for yourself, and if you leave there is endless speculation about why your marriage failed.
But this isn't just a simple case of being cheated on. There are some very serious stories coming to the forefront from those who describe Cosby as a sexual predator, who for decades allegedly drugged and violated young women who looked up to him as a mentor.
During one of Cosby's old routines, he actually jokes about drugging young women.
Coincidentally the set is from his album "It's True! It's True!" which was released in 1969, the same year Joan Tarshis claims he drugged and raped her.
We can only speculate on what Camille's reasons are for staying in her marriage, when she found out about each rape claim, or whether she believes in her husband's innocence. She's been stoic and tight-lipped through all this, exuding the unflappable composure that she is known for.
During the Monica Lewinsky scandal, many believed that had Hillary Clinton left her husband, his political career would have collapsed. Hillary Clinton may have well understood that her marriage wasn't just a union between a man and a woman but a much larger political machine. Perhaps Camille Cosby, who is equally responsible for her husband's career, feels a similar responsibility to maintaining the legacy and philanthropic institution she and her husband have built together.
Few knew that in the original "Cosby Show" pitch, Bill had planned to have Heathcliff be a limousine driver who was married to a Latina handywoman. Programming executives weren't too thrilled with that idea, but it was Camille who convinced her husband to go in another direction.
According to another excerpt in Whitaker's book:
"The producers felt strongly that both [parents on the show] should be college graduates. As Cosby had proved in his stand-up act, the war of wits between parents and children was even funnier if the parents thought of themselves as highly intelligent people.
"Finally, shortly before 1 in the morning, Cosby said the words that made Carsey think that she might be getting someplace: 'I think my wife would agree with you.'
" 'You will not be a chauffeur!' Camille said when he briefed her on the meeting. 'Why not?' Cosby asked. 'Because I'm not going to be a carpenter!' Camille said."
That snippet gives a rare glimpse into the type of bond these two have, and also illustrates that Mrs. Cosby has not just been her husband's muse, but also a trusted adviser who keeps his career on track, behind the scenes.
Sunday when NPR host Scott Simon asked Cosby about the resurfaced rape charges, he was met with a wall of silence. Later on, Simon admitted to CNN that during that awkward moment in the interview, the one thing he couldn't do was look at Camille.
"I did not look at Mrs. Cosby, and I don't mind saying I might've been a little uncomfortable doing that anyway," Simon said.
That's what many find so unsettling about all this: the deafening silence of it all. The same man who has spent years waxing poetic about every social issue under the sun has now fallen completely mute on us, with his equally reticent wife by his side.
The Cosbys' union remains seemingly stable through half a century of life's ups and downs, and as someone who respects the institution of marriage I find that commendable. But when does the adage of "stand by your man" go too far?
I'm rooting for black love as much as the next person -- but not like this.
Shortly after beginning Ms. Telusma's piece, I realized that she was on to something that had been overlooked in all of the frenzy and fracas of the Cosby allegations.
Call it an issue inside an issue, if you will.
The devotion of, and likely damage done to, the wife who, through no fault of her own, has to bear the burden of her husband's demons in a setting very much outside the tight circle of what goes on behind their own closed doors.
In, in fact, the supernova light of  public scrutiny.
And, as these kinds of observations go, my take on Telusma's take was that it was thoughtful, considered and way above the bar set for a lot of profiles in an E!TV MTV WeTV culture.
Then, in the great tradition of the aforementioned Mr. Henry and Mr. Serling.... if from out of nowhere or, at the very least, left field....
Twist ending.
Not to mention the sudden mention of the issue inside the issue inside the issue.
From the picture included in the online post of Ms. Telusma's article, I'm guessing that she is a relatively young woman. Young, for our purposes here, being defined as, say, under the age of 40.
Not the age of someone you would ordinarily expect to wax racial in a situation like this.
So the direction that her piece suddenly took came as a little surprise to me.
Because, from word one, her essay was, for lack of a better term, colorless.
The people described, the people involved in this unfolding human drama could just as easily all be Caucasian...or Latino....or Asian....or even Republicans.
But, as effortlessly as we were once suddenly made to realize that Bruce Willis was, and for that matter, all along had been, dead, Blue Telusma made us just as suddenly, and, frankly, unnecessarily aware that we were supposedly dealing now with not only a moral issue, a relationship issue, perhaps even a criminal issue.
But, also....a black issue.
I'm rooting for black love as much as the next person -- but not like this.
Didn't see that coming, how about you?
Haven't had a really good jolt like that since that moment we all discovered that "To Serve Man" was a cookbook.
And, almost instantly, I heard that little voice inside my head offer up what I believe to be a perfectly natural, almost inevitable question as regards the reference to love between blacks.
In a rapid fire of brain wave functioning, I tried to find some benefit of the doubt I could offer up. Maybe my tendency to sometimes read too much into things too quickly might have prematurely fired.
That thought evaporated just as quickly as I glanced down at the very first comment from a reader on the site where the article was posted.
I also liked this article but then the last line killed it for me: "I'm rooting for black love as much as the next person".
Black love? Why did the author drag race into this? Skin color has nothing to do with this. Love is love and her final line should've just been "I'm rooting for love as much as the next person".

SMH, for those who aren't hip and groovy to the latest cool cat jargon, is the online acronym for "Shaking My Head".

Yeah, I hear ya, sistah.

Or brother, as the case may be.

The Cosby saga, of course, at this writing has a seemingly long way to go before it completes playing itself out.

But, already, thanks in no small part to Blue Telusma, I find that I've already learned a few things.

Not the least of which is that, sadly, although we'd all like to believe otherwise, we still have a long way to go when it comes to effectively dealing with the problem of women being unwilling and/or frightened to come forward at the time that they are assaulted, abused, even attacked for fear of  resistance, rejection. even retribution.

And judging from the almost Freudian surprise ending the young lady offered up, although we would like to believe otherwise, we still have a long way to go when it comes to effectively dealing with each other.

Blue makes that as clear as black and white.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"...And That Goes For The First Round Draft Choice, Too, Pal...."

Right on, Garth.

And....not even close, buddy.

(reprinted from

Jason Aldean and Taylor Swift aren’t the only artists coming out strong against the digital music industry. In a recent interview with Access Hollywood, Country singer Garth Brooks joined the chorus of those voicing their opposition to various digital music outlets and streaming services like iTunes and Spotify, saying that artists and songwriters are being hurt by not receiving fair compensation for their work.
“I think a lot of people are going to start following. When music starts standing up for itself, it’s going to get a lot better,” Brooks remarked. “And there are some big friends of ours in music we need to stand up to, too,” adding,”if iTunes is going to tell you how to sell your stuff and it’s only going to go this way – don’t forget who created the music and who should be doing this stuff.”
Brooks also made it clear that he’s no fan of YouTube, stating that the popular streaming service isn’t really paying the people who are creating the content.

And I’m telling you, the devil – nice people, but YouTube. Oh my gosh,” Garth replied. “They claim they pay people. They’re not paying anything either and people are getting millions and millions and millions of views and they don’t get squat. Trust me.” “Songwriters are hurting,” he continued. “I applaud Miss Taylor and I applaud everyone for standing up for the songwriters, because without them, music is nothing.
Brooks notably launched his own digital music service GhostTunes in September of this year, but in the interview he said it’s basically impossible to keep his music off sites like YouTube.
“Yeah, you can do it. But you can’t get out of it. I had a sweet meeting with them. They were all fired up. They’re the sweetest… and they’re all like 12,” Brooks jokingly remarked. “I had the first question: ‘How do you get out?’ Silence. You don’t. It’s totally backward right now,” he continued. “If the artists will just keep hammering away, unify, stick together, then music will become the king again, which is what it should be. Music should always be first.”

Right off, we should get a coupla things out in the open.

First, I am neither anti-capitalist nor anti-profit.

I enjoy having, or at least the idea of having, a nice, big fat bank account.

And there is a reasonable case to be made for product in the market place receiving a fair profit based on what the market will bear.

Second, though, I'm not sure that when it comes to pleading the case of profits being out of line, the best spokesperson for that case is someone like Garth Brooks.

Oh, he's very pleasant and quite the articulate fellow.

But, at last check, he has, give or take, more money than God.

And, whatever investment savvy he may or may not possess, the non-IRS dibbed portion of that ginormous pile of dough came to him courtesy of every day people paying, in one form or another, for his music.

While his fortune is, in fact, actually irrelevant in terms of his right to speak out on this, or any, issue, one fact remains ever true.

Perception is reality.

And no matter how right or wrong it might actually be, Joe and Jane Everyday are not likely to be all that sympathetic to a lament, no matter how valid or invalid in might actually be, that multi-millionaires have a problem with their current rate of payment.

Mr and Ms Everyday are less inclined to jump on that bandwagon than they are to help Garth (and others on this particular soapbox) out by picking up the old smart phone and calling them a  Waaaambulance.

Thirdly, here's the kind of bone that not only seems worthy, to some, of picking but manages, somehow, to get stuck in other people's throats at the same time.

It's a little thing called compensation.

And what, in terms of the creative and/or artistic life, actually constitutes compensation.

Flashback to age, say, 12.

Every songwriter, singer, musician, artist, writer, et al that I have ever known in my life (to date), including myself, began to sing and play music and draw and paint and write because they felt something in their hearts and minds and souls and fingers and toes that led them to want to write songs or sing or play or draw or paint or write.

Not a single one I've ever encountered, including myself, has ever shared that sometime around that suddenly inspired age of 12, they awoke in the middle of the night, awash in the glow of an epiphany. the likes of which they had never experienced, an awareness that if they sang or played or drew or painted or wrote that they could very quickly, with the right contacts and a little luck, amass a fortune the likes of which they had never previously dreamed of experiencing.

They wrote songs ,sang, played, drew, painted and/or wrote because they wanted to.

Moreover, as a good, long ago departed friend/peer of mine once said "because we have to."

It's what we are. It's who we are.

It's what we do.

And if we should happen to stumble into a ginormous pile of dough as a result, well....then, it's kind of like finding a bag of onion rings in the order you originally placed that included only burgers and fries.

An unexpected, bonus windfall.

The dilemma here, of course, is that, by now, most folks reading this piece are assuming that I'm advocating for art solely, and strictly, for art's sake.

And that the pursuit of fame and fortune shouldn't play a part in the process.

In fact....I'm not.

But I am aware, because I've been around awhile and I've witnessed some evolution and some revolution, that the "money thing", as money things are wont to do, has ever so slowly, but ever so surely, managed to shove its way to the front of the line for a lot of songwriters, singers, musicians, artists and writers.


....the abundance (some would call glut) of material in music, movies, TV, etc that follows what is obviously some kind of formula, clearly designed to appeal to the largest number of people possible, "artistry"?.....not so much.......

...the abundance (some would call glut) of songs (be they pop, country, hip hop, et al) that, literally, sound, if not the same, then certainly alike enough to be tip toeing the line of "the same"......think "the Mona Lisa" imagine hundreds of them coming down the assembly line like chocolates in front of Lucy and Ethel) (PS, this example is in no way meant to imply that the original song had any real value, other than consumer consumption, at all)

...the passionate popularity of "contests" like Idol, X Factor, The Voice......filled with well meaning and, often, undeniably talented kids whose goal is just share that talent with....oh.....wait......


There's nothing "wrong" with any of this.

If someone wants to crank out and can get people to give them money for what's cranked out, then good for them and God bless America.

A long time ago, in a fit of cynicism far, far away, I actually said to someone " if you give me the right marketing resources, I can take dog shit, put in a can, sell it and people will buy it like was going out of style."

Obviously, not every piece of creativity that finds its way to the market place is dog shit.

But.....neither is it necessarily art.

Nor....was it necessarily created, shared, performed, offered or given to an audience, be that an audience of one or ten million, for nothing more than the simple joy of  songwriting, singing, playing, drawing and/or writing.

I agree, and disagree with something Garth had to say there.

“If the artists will just keep hammering away, unify, stick together, then music will become the king again, which is what it should be. Music should always be first.”

Music should always be first?


Music will become king again, which is what it should be?


Because a king is worshipped and lauded with tributes of endless streams of gold and silver.

A lot of us got started doing it.....and still do share what we've been given with you.

Appreciation and, sure, a little reasonable compensation is appreciated.

No worship required.

Monday, November 17, 2014

"....Deliberations Will Be Conducted In A Room....Not Under A Bridge..."

One thing for sure I don't know.

One thing for sure I do know.

Netflix and NBC have tough decisions to make about Bill Cosby. Allegations against the comedy icon -- that he sexually assaulted a number of women earlier in his career -- have resurfaced with a vengeance in recent days.

Cosby has refused to comment on the allegations, which his attorney called "decade-old" and "discredited" in a statement on Sunday.

But the charges seem likely to follow Cosby wherever he goes, at least for the time being.
And the next place Cosby is going, virtually, is Netflix. The streaming service is scheduled to debut a Cosby stand-up comedy special on the day after Thanksgiving.

"I thank @Netflix for this opportunity to show my talent all around the internet," Cosby wrote in an August tweet when the special was announced.

It's titled "Bill Cosby 77" because it was recorded on his 77th birthday in July.

Netflix has declined to comment in the wake of Barbara Bowman's Washington Post op-ed and CNN interviews accusing Cosby of drugging and raping her in the 1980s.

NBC has also declined to comment. This year the network has been developing a new sitcom with Cosby. But it is not yet in the pilot stage, which means the network could walk away from the project relatively easily.

In an interview on CNN's "Reliable Sources," televised on Sunday, Bowman said she believes it is "a little bit on the irresponsible side" for NBC to be developing a new show with Cosby.

Separately on Sunday, another woman, Joan Tarshis, wrote an essay alleging that Cosby raped her in 1969.

Bowman and Tarshis first shared their accounts of Cosby's sexual abuse years ago.

"It seemed the scandal had been put to rest," a story in Monday's Washington Post stated. "But as the past few weeks have shown, it's become more difficult to bury a story for good -- especially a story like this one, which has many of the components for going viral: a famous name, a shareable video, lurid personal accounts. "

Some of Cosby's fans resent the sudden media attention -- but that's not going to make it go away.

The Hollywood news site called it a "P.R. nightmare" and said NBC faces a "conundrum" about what to do.

Cosby declined to answer questions about the accusations when he was interviewed by NPR. The interview was broadcast on Saturday; Cosby's attorney John P. Schmitt said Sunday that "Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment."

One interesting quirk of human nature I've observed in my ever growing pile of years is it turns out that the expression "looking for the good in people" , despite what we would like to believe about ourselves, isn't necessarily an unconditional virtue.

Because deep down in that place where we keep those things that we keep deep down, it turns out that more often than we might like to admit, we tend to look for the good in the people we feel good about in the first place.

And, of course, tend, then, to look for the bad in the people we don't care for much.

I suspect it has something to do with our primal need for validation mixed in a "peanut butter in the chocolaty" style with our wish to think of ourselves as compassionate, caring types.

There's a certain "a-HA! I KNEW it!" that attaches itself to pretty much any outcome, depending on our original intuition and/or opinion about it.

Simply put, if we like and respect folks, we assume them to be worthy of our like and respect even when faced with reports, rumors and/or evidence to the contrary..

And if we dislike and have no respect for folks, we assume them to be worthy of our dislike and lack of respect even when faced with, etc. etc.

If, for example, I found out that Kim Kardashian really, in fact, did have an IQ hovering somewhere around the number enjoyed by the average bag of rocks, I would be neither surprised or disappointed.


The brain twister comes along when the reality and our perceptions are in conflict.

If, for example, I found out that Kim Kardashian actually, in fact, had a very high IQ and that her whole presentation was just a very clever, and beautifully performed, caricature that she had invented for the purposes of entertainment and profit, I would find my synaptic functioning shorting out like Dish TV every time two or more rain drops fall from the sky.

Similarly, this whole slimy business with Bill Cosby is a poser for me.

Because I like and respect the guy.

I respect him for the things that he has accomplished in his life and career. I like him because he is personable.

And, yes, my objectivity is invalid because I did a pretty lengthy phone interview with him some years ago which was engaging, energetic and, in the course of our discourse, he paid me a very high, and completely unsolicited, compliment about my work.

Now, in the year 2014, Bill Cosby, at the age of 77, finds himself facing, if not any actual legal challenges, what looks like the very beginnings of a very public, and potentially harmful, stoning.

Because he is being accused of some pretty serious behavior.

This ain't cooking the books on some TV or movie contract he signed.

This is sexual assault on women.

A crime with no justification, rationalization, reason, excuse or defense.

This dilemma has some pretty serious horns.

One horn, in particular, hangs me up pretty good as I watch and wait to see how this plays out.

And it has nothing to do with hotel rooms or, even, bedrooms.

It has to do with basements.

Basements in big cities and small towns across the width and breadth of America, basements occupied by individuals whose time in this life is largely spent in front of one type of computer screen or another, firing off, with cogent thought, or lack of it, reasoned insight, or lack of it, fair and balanced opinion, or lack of it, their respective two cents about every thing and anything that is happening at any given moment of any given day, convinced of their convictions, satisfied, if not smug, that they are serving the public good with their opines, no matter how inaccurate, non-cogent, unreasonable, unfair and/or unbalanced their points of view, or even they, are.

The slang term is "trolls".

As in "trolling" the Internet, sailing around offering the aforementioned opinions and/or declarations and/or "absolute truths" while sitting safely in the shadows of their media center lairs, in their well worn padded chairs, amidst the scattered remnants of old pizza boxes, Cheetos crumbs and/or the ashes of an endless stream of Marlboro Lights.

With nary a hint of Fabreeze or common sense to be found anywhere in their air.

Trolls whose primary reason for getting out of Pringles crumbed beds in the morning to return to their Cheetos crumbed nerd rooms/news rooms is to resume play in a nationwide game of the children's classic "Telegraph"....

One voice whispering something into the ear of the person next to them and around the circle it goes, evolving, or mutating, as the case may be, by the time it arrives back at the original place in the circle to a something so very unlike it's original content so as to be rendered unrecognizable.

Or, even worse, something so egregiously unfair, unlikely and/or untrue, that by the time it arrives back at the original place in the circle, it has mutated into something seemingly fair....likely...and true.

Whether, in fact, it is.....

...or it isn't.

By then, though, two other quirks of human nature have been activated.

A lie repeated often enough by enough people can, in fact, take on the appearance of truth.

And perception is reality.

Mr. Cosby certainly faces some rough water ahead churned up by the accusations made by the women involved.

And if, in fact, these accusations are true then those of us who like and respect the man have a little choppy water of our own to navigate.

But there is one thing, for sure, that I don't know.

I don't know if Bill Cosby sexually assaulted anyone.

So I won't be offering any attempts at cogent thought, reasoned insight, fair and balanced opinion or two cents worth of theory.

Let alone two bit versions.

Because there is one thing, for sure, that I do know.

Our system of justice is predicated on the assumption that one is innocent until proven guilty. And should it become necessary for Mr. Cosby to answer for these charges within that system that he could very easily find himself being judged by a jury.

The Sixth Amendment both insures, and insists upon, that methodology.

It says absolutely nothing about......

....being accused, tried, judged and/or convicted by twelve or more individuals whose time in this life is largely spent in front of one type of computer screen or another, firing off, with cogent thought, or lack of it, reasoned insight, or lack of it, fair and balanced opinion, or lack of it, their respective two cents about every thing and anything that is happening at any given moment of any given day, convinced of their convictions, satisfied, if not smug, that they are serving the public good with their opines, no matter how inaccurate, non-cogent, unreasonable, unfair and/or unbalanced their points of view, or even they, are.

If Bill Cosby finds himself being judged..... should be by a jury of his peers.

Not a gnarly little mob of trolls.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

"...60 Plus Years Of Setting Insanely Unreasonble Expectations On The Shoulders Of Women Is About To Come Roaring Around Like Katrina Hitting Pompei..."

hey, guys….

I’ve stumbled across a couple of the trailers for the forthcoming movie version of “Fifty Shades of Grey” as well as the first snap, crackle and pop of female posts on FB regarding it…while I don’t profess to be fluent, I have, in fifty plus years of experience, begun somewhat proficient in, at least, speaking female so, by way of doin you boys a solid, here‘s my 8 step plan to pre-emptively prepare yourself for what’s coming (and no, the puns have not begun yet).
1.   Read as much as you can stand of, at least, three or four of the various and sundry novels written by such writers as Danielle Steel, Nicholas Sparks, et al.....this will give you a foundational understanding of the concept of romance and/or seduction that doesn't always necessarily, automatically and instantly get you laid.
2. Watch as much as you can handle of any Merchant Ivory produced movie (Remains of the Day, et al), you will receive, at least, a rudimentary lesson in understanding confusing and indecipherable phrases like "secrets of the heart", "unrequited love", "sacrifice for my beloved" as well as the soon to be necessary "a feverish dance", "lips to skin like cool ice on a summer day" and "backs that arch without breaking, fingers that intertwine without imprisoning".
3. Buy an inexpensive dictionary, highlight, read and then re-read the definitions of the following words until you can recite their meaning from memory.
   A. sensual
   B. erotic
   C. passion
   D. foreplay
   E. caress
   F. linger
   G. stroking (not you...her)
   H. pulsating
    I. urgent
   J. climax (not Klymax, that was a band)
   K. desire
   L. aching
   M. simultaneous
   N. unselfishly
repeatedly re-read, in particular...A, B, C, E, F, G, K and most importantly N.
   4. Do a "cleanse" and avoid any hip hop music of any kind. This will at least give you a running chance of understanding that the way to a woman's heart, even her soul, is through her eyes and not her va jay jay.
   5. Resolve never to be heard saying the term "va jay jay" out loud.
   6. As Valentine's Day (and the movie premiere) draw near, do a comprehensive refresher of all the steps listed thus far.
   7. No more than two days before the movie premiere, suck it up and read as much as your DNA will allow you of the actual book. Worst case, you'll decide that you actually can live without sex with a woman ever again as there is simply no way on God's green Earth that you could possible measure up. Best case, you'll have some small idea of what you're going to be up against for pretty much the rest of the year (your life).
   8. Starting February 14....take your lady to dinner, offer to sit with her through "The Notebook" at home on the couch while you cuddle and suggest, no, insist, that it would be great fun to spend the coming weekend shoe shopping because once this Grey matter goes mainstream, the chance of your scoring without, at least, those incentives are significantly less that the chances of Tampa Bay scoring between now and the playoffs.
BONUS TIP: in the event of a total failure to either impress or, at best, distract her from this possibly fatal blow to our manhoods (yeah, we're pretty much knee deep into the pun thing, now), simply return to the step list, choose step #3, Definition "G", reverse and re-read the words found in the parenthesis.
Repeat every 12 hours, as needed......
Good luck, my friends...

Friday, November 14, 2014

"...It's Only My Opinion, But Here's What Your Opinion Should Be..."

Two kinds of people in the world.

Or so we've been told.

(by Dan Singer, American Journalism Review)

Nate Patrin’s career trajectory in music journalism was once the norm.

Patrin grew up reading Spin and Rolling Stone in the 1990s and wrote music reviews for his high school newspaper. He began contributing to the Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages in 1999, and from there he moved up to the big leagues, freelancing for Spin and Blender.

“It was the traditional path,” Patrin said.

Between then and now, Blender folded in 2009 and Rolling Stone physically shrank its print magazine. In September, Spin Media ended the print edition of Vibe, and Spin, which became an online-only publication in 2012, had its fourth editor-in-chief in two years, Craig Marks, step down.

As the entire media industry has struggled to adapt to demands of the digital age and turn a profit, music publications in particular are facing a slew of unique challenges that have redefined their roles and responsibilities.

Patrin, who currently freelances for Pitchfork and several other outlets, is one of many writers who were drawn to music journalism’s authoritative voices and engaging stories, only to find themselves riding out the profession’s growing pains as it reshapes for the future.

“It can get discouraging, feeling like options for diehard music enthusiasts could be narrowing,” Patrin said.

One of the biggest shifts in digital-era music journalism is the changing role of the music critic.

“I feel like professional music criticism is almost a thing of the past,” said Rolling Stone contributing editor Chris Weingarten, who has been vocal about the topic in recent years and calls himself the “Last Rock Critic Standing” in his Twitter bio. He noted that there are “limitless” opportunities to write about music online for free or next-to-nothing, but professional critics are losing the relevancy they once had.

“A critic’s voice is now someone who’s trying to speak articulately in the midst of noise,” Weingarten said.

Album leaks and streaming services like Spotify have democratized the public’s access to music, Weingarten said, and this diminishes the immediacy and impact of reviews written by professionals.

“By the time any of those reviews hit, you’ve heard it. You’ve made up your mind,” Weingarten said. “The whole idea of sitting down and reading eight grafs about it after all that? It’s almost like, ‘Yeah, I’ve moved on.’”

This traditional “consumer guide” approach to music journalism, as Poynter media reporter and former Spin critic Andrew Beaujon puts it, has given way to a more esoteric style of criticism that conveys “what it’s like to experience certain kinds of music.”

“I really enjoy that kind of writing,” Beaujon said, “but there just aren’t that many publications willing to pay for it.”

In addition to criticism, music news has been changed by the social web. Similar to other forms of niche journalism, the music news cycle has rapidly accelerated, and coverage is now driven by click-based metrics that determine a music publication’s value to advertisers, according to Weingarten and fellow music critic Maura Johnston.

Johnston, who has written about music for Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and other publications, believes that the pressure to increase web traffic causes major music publications to churn out sensationalist outrage pieces and “celebrity coverage” of popular artists, a development she compared to “when your bagel shop starts selling frozen yogurt.”

“With diminished resources, what happens is the stuff that’s known to make money gets all of the resources and the time,” Johnston said.

Johnston said she personally struggles with this trend in content creation because her interest in writing about new, unhyped artists is less profitable for publications compared to pieces covering mainstays who are “guaranteed clicks.”

When Johnston wrote for The Village Voice and the pop music website Idolator, “the things that were like ‘Hey, this is a cool band…’ would never get as much traffic as a list of something or [a piece] pointing out something is bad,” she said.

Johnston also attributes this shift in coverage to the way readers use social media to curate content from a number of different sources, making it harder for music publications to target a consistent audience they can sell to advertisers. Safe, predictable topics receive more attention as a result of this uncertainty, she said.

Weingarten doesn’t think most music writers are passionate about doing sensationalist music news coverage, but he acknowledges that, at least for the time being, it is necessary in order for music publications to survive in a click-based economy.

If music publications eventually find a new way to quantify their worth that doesn’t involve click-based metrics, he said, “then you could start seeing sensationalist coverage go away.”

One of the most successful music publications of the digital era is Pitchfork Media, a Chicago-based online magazine.

Pitchfork Media, commonly referred to as Pitchfork, was launched in 1995 by Ryan Schreiber, who was a 19-year-old record store employee at the time. The publication initially gained a following for its vigorous coverage of indie music, but as it has matured it has become a one-stop shop for coverage of both up-and-coming artists and well-known indie and pop veterans. Pitchfork has expanded its brand considerably over the past decade by curating its own music festivals, launching the print quarterly, The Pitchfork Review, creating a film site called The Dissolve and licensing video content.

Matt Frampton, Pitchfork Media’s vice president of sales, said that despite being “born online,” Pitchfork has found success using a fairly traditional publishing model.

“Our goal is [to] make really great content that people want to read,” Frampton said. “When people want to read great content, that means you have a really interesting audience that advertisers want to reach.”

Pitchfork’s primary source of revenue is advertising, and its expected revenue growth is “very healthy,” Frampton said, ranging from 25-to-40 percent each year. Frampton said Pitchfork’s website receives about 6.2 million unique visitors and 40 million page views each month.

According to comScore, a web analytics firm, Pitchfork received 2.47 million unique visitors in August, outperforming Spin and Vibe but falling short of Rolling Stone’s 11 million unique visitors.
Pitchfork news editor Amy Phillips credits Pitchfork’s “strong opinions” and constant stream of news coverage with helping the publication build such a prominent and dedicated following.
Phillips said Pitchfork doesn’t target users with short attention spans, instead publishing lengthy reviews, features and documentaries. Aside from its rapid-fire news coverage, she said, the site is “definitely for people who want to sit and take a deep dive in things.”

A freelancer for Pitchfork since 2007, Patrin said the publication’s album review schedule — typically 25 reviews are published each week — provides him with opportunities to consistently receive assignments and cover more eclectic releases that might have “fallen through the cracks” at a print magazine.

Pitchfork, he said, has become “what publications like the Village Voice used to be in terms of letting writers go deep without feeling pressured to talk down to readers.”

While the social web has, in many ways, turned the notion of professional music journalism on its head, the industry is not without its optimists during this transitional period.

One of them is J. Edward Keyes, editor-in-chief of the digital music store eMusic, as well as the recently-launched music website Wondering Sound.

Wondering Sound, which spun off of eMusic’s editorial wing, went live in March. Keyes said the site is dedicated to publishing longform music writing that covers a variety of genres and topics.

Keyes said Wondering Sound’s emergence is a reaction of sorts to the demise of consumer guide music criticism.

“I think the future for music writers is doing really considered pieces that engage with the work in a long format,” Keyes said. “The stuff that gets me most excited is when a writer goes 2,000 words on something and really brings up interesting, provocative points about how the album fits into the broader culture.”

Keyes said he was able to publish high-quality content on the site from the start by calling upon a large base of writers who had previously contributed editorial content to eMusic. Wondering Sound’s website lists over 200 freelance contributors, including Johnston and Patrin.

In addition, Keyes said Wondering Sound is open to publishing and nurturing talented young writers, and it pays, too.

Wondering Sound will soon begin generating ad revenue, and Keyes hopes the website will become a thriving outlet for thoughtful, enthusiastic music journalism.

“In-depth reporting and being a part of creating a public conversation is important, and I would hate to think that there are going to be fewer outlets or opportunities for that,” Keyes said. “That’s part of our mission — to keep those doors open and let people bring us ideas.”

Patrin recently ended a part-time job maintaining the concert calendar at City Pages, and he is now a full-time freelancer.

With more than a decade of professional music journalism experience behind him, Patrin believes he will be able to stay financially self-sufficient as a music and pop culture writer. Still, the challenges of full-time freelancing are not lost on him.

“Cranking out assignments has to become your full-time job,” he said. “Pitching every day, reaching out to friends of friends of friends, and reaching outside my usual subject matter has become a must.”
Patrin said he tries to keep traditional “9-to-5” work hours as a freelancer, but he does his best to remain flexible in order to accommodate editorial revisions and short-notice opportunities. Patrin remains passionate about music writing after all these years, and he would rather spend nights and weekends on the job than pursue any other line of work.

“It is the kind of thing you really have to be seriously comfortable with for it to work, but I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m OK with working through pressure,” he said. “Better too much work than too little.”

There was a time, on the much younger end of my oft misspent youth, that I found myself reading (noun: a pre-internet method of gleaning information, insight and even, wisdom; most often found in the form of newspapers, magazines and "books" {noun: a collection of hard covered pages often filled with information, insight and, even, wisdom}) the work of critics.

When it came to music, there was Griel Marcus and Robert Christgau and, of course, Lester Bangs among a few, select others

For movie musings, there was Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert and, for laughs, Rex Reed and assorted ilk, again among a few, select others.

Memory serves, it didn't take me very long to discover that my own reading of these folks had increasingly more to do with the style of their writing, their humor, or lack of, their prose, their way with words and increasingly less to do with their opinions, per se.

Because it didn't take me very long to discover that their opinions were not even close to anything resembling gospel and were, in fact, only different from mine in a couple of respects.

First, actual content, because it was six, five and pick em that our respective opinions would line up on parallel tracks.

And they were getting paid to offer their opinions whereas I was getting only the satisfaction of offering my own to whoever was willing to have my opinions offered.

Most often, patient friends and/or girlfriends, at least during the infatuate phase of the relationship.

I came, very quickly and very young, to the place where I realized that, despite misconceptions previously acquired, "critic" was not necessarily synonymous with "expert".

Or "insightful" or "educational".....

Or even "worth a read".

Because the term "expertise", at least when it is applied to the arts, for our purposes here, music, can too easily be misapplied, music, as with all other arts, being a sub (not ob) jective creation.

And I'll grant you that it could very easily be because I was full of piss, vinegar and a ready two cents of my own on just about every subject there was to be subjected to very quickly and very young in my life, but, regardless of my own potentially megalomaniacal proclivities, the hard to refute fact of the matter that, as the tacky, but on target, old saying goes.....

Opinions are like assholes and elbows...everybody's got em'.

None of this is intended to denigrate the writings of the aforementioned folks who made (or make) their living offering up their opines on any given piece of music and/or singer/performer performing it at any given time.

Some of my best friends are critics.

And I've been known to crank out a little critique every now and then my own self when the mood was right, the material was the muse....and somebody offered to throw me a few bucks in return for the rhetoric.

Which, of course, makes me a periodic hypocrite, but, at least I can get the extra large fries every now and then.

I've suspected for a long time that the vocation of "critic" in film, in music, in art has been on a slow train coming toward an eventual arrival at the little town of Irrelevance.

And, for those of you keeping track to make sure you don't  miss a single "Places I Have Visited" sticker, that's Irrelevance.

Not Obsolescence.

That quaint little village is where you'll find things like the Pony Express, gas street lights, eight track tape players, Sony Betamax and, of course, whatever brand new IPhone you're walking out of the store with right this second.

For what its worth, no harshness, mean spiritedness or snarkiness is intended when I offer that critics are irrelevant.

And I'm totally impressed with anyone who can take some knowledge, some personal preferences, some individual opinions and find people willing to buy them, either metaphorically or literally or both.

It's just that I've never been able to get past the belief that critics, in total, have, through the years, done an often wonderful job of sharing their knowledge and/or their preferences and/or their opinions with me, but they have never taught me a thing.

Or shared with me anything that I couldn't have discovered myself simply by watching the movie, viewing the painting, checking out the TV show or listening to the music and/or lyrics.

And in more cases than you can shake an opinion poll at, I have found my own impression of whatever creation experienced to be any where from not even close to "uh, did we watch, view,check out and/or listen to the same piece?"

Critics are irrelevant because what they do is criticize.

And when it comes to any subjective work by anyone at any time, criticism is irrelevant.

Ergo, therefore....

Perhaps, if these folks were to offer their perspectives in a more visually entertaining way. Maybe some background dancers or flaming pyrotechnics; some acrobatics and perhaps even a little tasteful nudity (nothing salacious, of course, and totally necessary to the integrity of the story), maybe then I could see my way clear to being a little more inclined to experience their work.

In much the same way I do when I watch football.

By turning down the sound and simply enjoying the sights without having to be told what I'm seeing and what I'm hearing and, this one's the kicker (pun inevitable), what I should think about it all.

Two kinds of people in the world.



Ooops...sorry..."critics" didn't make our list this year.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Good News?....Not A Kim, Khloe or Kourtney In Sight....Then Again, There's Always Next Year...

Two topics traditionally to be avoided in conversation.



There's a new topic in town.

Ladies and gentlemen, country music.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Miranda Lambert has reached new heights as a female country performer: The fiery singer is the most decorated female artist in the history of the Country Music Association Awards.

Lambert's four wins Wednesday night give the 30-year-old a total of 11 CMA trophies throughout her career, putting her ahead of any other female act. Lambert's fifth consecutive win for female vocalist of the year Wednesday beat a record set by herself, Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.

Lambert also took home album of the year for "Platinum," single of the year for "Automatic" and music event of the year for "We Were Us" with Keith Urban.

"It's really unbelievable," she said backstage. "I felt like this whole night was about really celebrating music."

Lambert lost the night's top award to Luke Bryan, giving the 38-year-old his first CMA. The win for entertainer of the year marked a shift in the genre, which has shunned the party-boy singer who is the leader the contemporary pack of bro-country performers, which includes acts like Florida Georgia Line.

Bryan beat out George Strait, Blake Shelton and Urban for entertainer of the year, and his successful year included the top-selling album "Crash My Party," a string of hit songs and a top-grossing tour.

Bryan also was named last year's entertainer of the year at the Academy of Country Music Awards. He was snubbed when the Grammy Awards revealed their nominees last year, but his CMA win could help him earn some love from the Recording Academy when they announce their nominations next month.

Lambert, too, could be bringing home some Grammy gold since she was the reigning queen of Wednesday's awards show. She stole the night with fashion choices that were winners, too, and performances. She sang twice onstage, including a country-tinged version of "All About That Bass" with breakthrough singer Meghan Trainor, where Shelton looked up and bopped his head.
Shelton, like his wife, made CMA history: He tied Strait and Vince Gill for five wins for male vocalist of the year.    
"For me and my family, this may be the biggest night of our lives as far as music goes," Shelton said backstage.

"I told my wife when we were walking off the stage, I go, 'Miranda, I'm sorry, you only won four CMAs tonight. I mean, I'm really sorry," he said as reporters laughed.

The theme of the CMAs seemed to be paired performances: Shelton sang with Ashley Monroe; the Doobie Brothers performed with Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott, Jennifer Nettles and Hunter Hayes; Strait and Eric Church performed "Cowboys Like Us"; and pop diva Ariana Grande sported a mini top and skirt as she sang the hit "Bang Bang" alongside Little Big Town, who won vocal group of the year.

But the night's best collaboration was Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley. The white-hot duo, hosting the CMAs for a seventh time, earned laugh after laugh for jokes that ranged from Ebola to Taylor Swift to Underwood's baby bump.

Swift's switch to pop from country was referred to as "Postpartum Taylor Swift Disorder," or PPTSD.        

Kacey Musgraves, who won two Grammy Awards earlier this year, won song of the year for "Follow Your Arrow," which she co-wrote with Brandy Clark, who is openly gay and was among the contenders for new artist of the year. "Follow Your Arrow" features the lyrics, "So make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that's something you're into."

"For a song that I was told could never, and would never, be a single, it just blows my mind," Musgraves said. "It's just an anthem for all kinds of people so I could not be more proud."           
Musgraves switched gears backstage, closing with a story about a malfunction before her performance Wednesday night.

"Just saw y'all now, my panties totally came off," she said as reporters laughed. "They were the stick-on kind. Look at this dress, there's not much to work with."

I didn't watch the awards show last night, primarily because my personal enjoyment of and/or interest in those kinds of things waned a long time ago.

Sparing you the yada yada, I'll just offer that somewhere along the line they all began to come off to me like little more than very long infomercials for product coated in a thin candy shell of self congratulations.

And did I mention that they were very long?

I did, though, find some amusement and not just a little interest in watching some of the back and forth on social media while the show was in progress.

And not your usual fan based blather about what hottie totties the boys from Florida Georgia Line are or how cool Miranda Lambert looks since she lost weight.

Every four to seven minutes or, put another way, each time she headed back up to the stage to accept another award.

I noticed, and for the first time, actually, a noticeable amount of disdain for the whole thing from some of Nashville's more accomplished talents.

To name a couple, songwriter/singer Mary Ann Kennedy who, with partner Pam Rose, has had a very successful career writing hits for country stars through the years, not to mention some recording and performing success of her own.

And Angela Kaset, one of those folks often referred to as "a songwriter's songwriter" which, truth be told, is just a kind of five dollar term for "she's really good at what she does"; again, a lady whose songwriting resume boasts some very impressive credentials.

(BTW: both of these ladies posted either on Twitter or Facebook and since I assume they knew their posts were "public", I'm using their names without having rung them up to say "hey, ladies, can I use your names?")

Neither of these talents were what you'd call "knocked out" by what they were hearing/seeing.

One post, in fact, went so far as to opine "I don't know what you call this...but it ain't country music."


Let's save ourselves some time here.

Any discussion of the current state of country music that includes anything other than rabid, drooling worship of the current state of country music is, at best, a slippery slope and, at worst, a waste of time.

Because (and get ready for a fun burst of comic irony here), the feelings that folks have about that current state have, for my pesos, been summed up best by the aforementioned former country, now pop, chanteuse Taylor Swift in her latest number one pop hit.

And to paraphrase the postpartum pop princesses' lyrical observation:

"...Purists gonna hate/hate/hate/hate/hate...
.....While the kids just think it's great/great/great/great/great....
.....So whichever side you take/take/take/take/take....

.....try to understand that the name of the game is fame and fortune here......."

And if something in the way of actually memorable, non disposable music happens to get created along the way, it's kind of a "penicillin was discovered by accident" sort of thing.

Personally, my age, tastes, experiences and proclivities put me squarely on the side of Team Kennedy/Kaset.

But intellectually, and professionally, I totally understand what's going on here.

That said, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic, even a little petty.

Miranda Lambert seems like a nice kid.

But 11 CMA Awards (so far?).

It's kind of the same way I feel about Hillary Clinton.

Okay. She's got her good points

But the best of the best?


And while I'm willing to concede that every generation brings its own attitudes to bear on the culture and I'm not going to rant poetic on the inclusion of Ariana Grande and the Doobs, et al, on what is still promoted as a "country music" program, one thought does poke me a little on this day after.

I honestly never thought I would get the feeling that Loretta Lynn was out of place on a country music program.

Mary Ann...Angela....I hear ya, sistahs.

Best we try to shake it off.

Shake it off.