What the hell happened to country music?

Friend: Hey, Yogi, I think we’re lost.
Yogi Berra: Yeah, but we’re making great time! 

It’s probably clear to anybody who pays attention that I’m a rock & roll guy. But I was raised by my grandparents, two country folks who were born in 1913 and 1914 respectively and grew up through the Great Depression. There were two kinds of music in my house, country and gospel, and those aesthetics – the melodies and harmonies, the minor chord dips and the aching they signify, the constant battle between ignorant hope and blunt despair – they shaped my relationship with music in ways that will accompany me to my grave.

We listened to gospel quartets on Channel 12 Sunday mornings. The rest of the time, if there was music in the house, it was the likes of Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Roy Acuff & the Smoky Mountain Boys or Cowboy Copas. Granddaddy and Grandmother liked to watch The Porter Wagoner Show (with Dolly Parton, of course) and Saturday nights meant Hee Haw, with Buck Owens, Roy Clark and some of Nashville’s greatest stars. Continue reading

Limbaugh brays on: louder, emptier, closer to the end

By Robert Becker

The smoldering ruin of Rush Limbaugh dramatizes one political truism: seemingly impregnable fortresses are most vulnerable to suicidal implosions. Despite decades of volcanic vitriol, no outside force had yet penetrated Rush’s propaganda bubble chamber, full of pretend entertainment. No doubt, the fall of the Dittohead Dynasty reflects both the gratuity of Limbaugh’s latest abuse and the wholesomeness of the victim. For the record, Sandra Fluke’s noble decency stared down a serial miscreant. After all, other fringe charlatans haven’t suddenly lost 140 sponsors, nor did some new-found Democratic charge deter Rush’s grotesque buffoonery.

Though the bully pulpit resides in the White House, shifty, snarling bullies still sneer their way to fame and fortune. Continue reading

Imagine there's no boycotts: that sounds like Communism to me

Following up on yesterday’s post about how unfair it is when progressives fight fire with fire

One of the architects of the modern conservative boycott movement back in the day was the now-deceased Rev. Jerry Falwell, founder of the “Moral Majority.” His strategy was simple. Identify those television and radio stations whose programming “promoted” a “liberal agenda” or “secular humanist” values, then leverage the purchasing power of the congregation to bully offenders into changing their programming. Sadly, this brand of thuggery (remember, this is generally the same crowd screeching right now about how “liberals” are “censoring” the “free speech rights” of the richest, most successful, most widely heard man in political talk radio) proved effective enough that it has now become a go-to weapon in the arsenals of interest groups across the partisan spectrum. Continue reading

Limbaugh atones for attacking young woman by attacking another young woman


It seems that after several days of mounting public pressure, Rush Limbaugh has finally cracked. How else could you explain his attempt to move beyond this whole “hating on young women” debacle by continuing to attack young women? Today’s victim? Author Tracie McMillan, who represents another one of those awful “overeducated” young unmarried women Rush so emphatically resents. (More)

This one isn’t as vitriolic as the Sandra Fluke case, but it certainly makes clear that Rush is committed to the War to Keep ‘Em Barefoot and Pregnant for the long haul.

Limbaugh’s remaining advertisers have to be just loving this stuff….

Updated: PR weasel words from Carbonite CEO David Friend re: Limbaugh's slut-shaming libel of Sandra Fluke

David Friend, CEO, Carbonite

Update from Carbonite @ Facebook/Carbonite Website:

A Statement from David Friend, CEO of Carbonite:
“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show.

We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”

That’s a step in the right direction, Mr. Friend.  Iff only you hadn’t supported his massive assortment of egregious gaffes with your advertising dollars in the first place.   Sadly, you remain silent on those matters.  Perhaps if you had a black child you would suddenly get it? What other children would you need to have before you understand the damage Limbaugh does with the nature of his discourse? To top it off, you also perpetuate the myth that Limbaugh’s Saturday comments constitute genuine apology.

Original Story

On Friday, March 2, 2012, David Friend, CEO of Carbonite, an online data backup company that has earned kudos from Inc. and PC World for company growth, ease of use and affordability had this to say: Continue reading

If a news story claims knowlege of public opinion, test the claim

When a news story claims certainty in expressing public opinion — or uses sources that claim such — readers should be wary.

Such is the case with a Friday NPR story that commingled analysis, reporting, and commentary (without a commentary label) about the impact of “tough economic news” on President Obama’s re-election prospects.

Some phrasing in the 1,081-word story represents guessing or labeling instead of reporting: seems, perhaps, hardly has a pulse, appears, near certainty, dismal harbinger, liberal wing, political environment, seems a distant memory, progressive community, recent experiences, some in his own party (tell us who, please), and a pervasive view.

But it is proclamations of knowledge of public opinion that irritate most.
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30-Day Song Challenge, day 18: a song that I wish I heard on the radio

I could go a lot of different directions here, but I decided to be straight-up about my self-interest. I’d like to hear Fiction 8‘s “Hegemony” on the radio, partly because I just love the song, partly because I’m good friends with front man Mike Smith, and oh yeah, partly because I co-wrote it. (More on that process here and here.)

Cue me up, Mr. DJ.

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The painted kipper (pt. 3): public service vs. the brute force of money

by Michael Tracey

Part 3 in a series.

On 20 July 1925, Reith’s 36th birthday, the British Post-Master General, Mitchell-Thomson, informed the House of Commons that there would be a committee of inquiry into the future of the BBC chaired by the 27th Earl of Crawford and Balcarres. Reith had already raised the question of the Company’s future at a meeting with the Board on 19 March 1925, by now convinced that its status should be changed to a public service.

In November 1925 Reith prepared a memorandum for submission to the Crawford Committee, entitled “Memorandum of Information on the Scope and Conduct of the broadcasting Service,” the only purpose of which was “to show the desirability for the conduct of Broadcasting as a Public Service, for the adoption and maintenance of definite policies and standards in all its activities, and for unity of control.” Continue reading

Time for America’s Freddie Mercury moment: there are more than 100 gay pro athletes in the US, and the sooner they get out of the equipment closet the better

In a recent discussion on one of my political lists Sara Robinson (easily one of the brightest folks in the blogosphere) made an important point about what often causes people to migrate from socially conservative perspectives to more progressive points of view. In describing her experiences with a particular activist group that helped people leaving fundamentalist religions (something that can be emotionally traumatic at the very least, and that frequently comes at a significant price in their lives – lost families, ostracization, etc.), she noted:

[T]he first sliver of doubt came about when the person’s authorities asked them to believe something that they simply could not reconcile with their own experience. In a plurality of cases, this dissonance was caused by knowing and caring for someone who was gay, and realizing that the conservative storyline on the inherent evil of homosexuality just didn’t line up with what they knew of this wonderful person. (If the religious right knew just how often this one issue triggered those first unignorable doubts, they’d walk away from gay-hating and never go back to it.) Continue reading

Yet another great and wonderful thing about the BBC

There’s lots to like about the BBC. They piss off the Conservatives now as much as they pissed off New Labour not too long ago. The still take seriously their mission to provide as broad a range of news, features, and entertainment to the entire country—and, through the World Service, much of the world. Their television and radio broadcasting are gold standard. They don’t produce everything that’s great about British television, but they do most of it. And the world of British radio is amazing—the BBC has lord knows how many radio stations, all serving different constituencies. It’s another great thing about being able to live in London. But, of course, the BBC is pretty much anywhere and everywhere in Britain. It comes to you. And anywhere in the world, it comes to you, in fact, through the miracle of the intertubes.

And then there’s BBC iPlayer. Which is simply the link on the BBC website, right along the bar at the top, that takes you here. And here we have a whole world. Continue reading

Nota Bene #114: Big Star

“The radio makes hideous sounds.” Who said it? Continue reading

Media deprivation in the US

We’re in our third week of visiting the grandkids (along with their outstanding parents) in Massachusetts and I’m starting to feel media deprived. I’m a news/information junkie, I cheerfully admit, and every time I’m in the US I start going into withdrawal. If it weren’t for the Internet, lord knows what sort of shape I’d be in. First, there’s television. The only thing we’ve watched has been the World Cup, usually on Univision because the guys on ABC wouldn’t shut up. When the Univision guys wouldn’t shut up, at least they wouldn’t shut up in Spanish, so it was pretty much white noise. And that’s it. We gave up on US television news around 2002, when everyone kept shouting at us “Countdown to Iraq!” with multiple exclamation points, in between all the pharmaceutical ads for something that would make me feel better if I asked my doctor about it. Why were they constantly shouting? Maybe they thought I was deaf, or didn’t understand how important it was to invade Iraq, or something. The one or two times we’ve sampled the news since then, they’re still shouting. And what did Katie Couric do to herself, anyway?
Continue reading

The S&R Interview: 22 questions with Sarah Lewis of Jag Star

I remember distinctly how I first discovered Jag Star. I was snooping around on eMusic for new bands and was using the old triangulation method – who sounds like band X? One of my favorite bands is VAST, and Jag Star turned up as a “Similar Artist.”

That was both a great moment and a confusing one. On the one hand, I immediately liked Jag Star’s music. I’ve long loved Power Pop, and while you wouldn’t exactly slot Jag Star in with other bands in the contemporary disciples of The Beatles / Raspberries / Who / Big Star / Badfinger Pop Underground scene, they write great hooks, play really well and aren’t at all afraid to turn up the volume. Not only that, they’re doing it on their terms, the establishment and labels be damned.

On the other hand, I can’t for the life of me figure out how they got into the “Sounds Like VAST” queue. Continue reading

Nota Bene #104: Large Marge Sent Me

“Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #103: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse

“To take people from the music world and give them the same kind of credibility that you give me, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne, Forest Whitaker—that’s like an aberration. I know there’s some young actor sitting in New York or L.A. who’s spent half of his life learning how to act and sacrificing to learn his craft but isn’t going to get his opportunity because of some ‘actor’ who’s been created.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Best CDs of 2009: the Album of the Year, and the Band of the Decade

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Nota Bene #100: Il Planetario di Figaro

Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Best CDs of 2009, pt. 2: the Platinum LPs

Best-CDs-of-2k9In Part 1 we had a look at some very good 2009 releases, and in other years some of those CDs might have made a run at a Platinum LP. As I said, though, this was maybe the best year for new music since Jimmy Carter was president. So please, give these recipients of the S&R/Lullaby Pit Platinum LP a listen.

The Platinum LPs

Antony & the JohnsonsThe Crying Light
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of in-between where Antony Hegarty is concerned. Listeners either get it or they don’t, and while I’m in the “he’s brilliant” camp, I do understand why some find his music hard to access. In a nutshell, it’s probably some of the most painful stuff I’ve ever heard – pure, distilled essence of anguish at times. Continue reading