Saturday, December 24, 2005
Paul: The Loud Talking LIRR Commuter from Hell
This is Paul.
Paul needs a ride home.
Paul tries calling Chris to give him a lift.
Chris won't answer Paul's call. Paul's brilliant solution: Talk even louder.
We admit it: We are jealous of Chris . . .
Friday, December 23, 2005
The Hopeful Cynic
How funny is this guy's self described persona: The hopeful cynic?
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Alien Sculpture ($7,000)
There's a vendor in Bryant Park (they are there just for holiday shopping) who makes sculpture out of car and motorcycle parts. My favorite piece of his is the creature from Alien, which is sculpted about 7 foot tall.
It was a small and crowded booth, but I managed to get a few snaps off:
click for larger photo
Here's the Hand:
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Here's some snaps I took with the digital camera during my strike mangled commute on 12/20/05 (click to enlarge any of 'em); The morning commute turned out to be better than the evening one -- it took 45 minutes to get into Penn Station last night, but only a 20 minutes to get out in the morning.
Free of the crowd, I make my way thru Bryant Part to 42nd Street. Ahh, there's my building, with the sun glinting off the south face of it.
Makes the whole commute worthwhile!
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Boy in the Bubble
Sunday, December 18, 2005
"Bling" Becomes Marketing Verbiage
I noted earlier this year that "Bling" had jumped the Shark.
So it really shouldn't have been any big surprise while picking up some groceries and holiday presents in Target that I saw THIS sign:
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Now that "Bling" the word has become a marketing phrase for chain discounters like Target, can we please retire it?
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Here's a WSJ reporter's description of a Bugatti Veyron test drive:
Settling into the tight interior required a few minutes of seat
adjusting, mirror fiddling, slow breathing and throat clearing as the
awesome power of the machine became apparent. The car's 1,001
horsepower engine made a low but powerful "VVvvvvvvv" sound -- not
scary, but enough to announce its presence at a stoplight. A young man
parked on the road outside the factory snapped my picture as I eased
out from behind the factory gate and onto a public street.
With the official Bugatti test driver in the passenger seat, I swung into traffic. We blew past a tractor trailer that was edging into my lane. One tap of the accelerator and it was in the rear-view mirror. I began to experience a curious feeling of superiority.
When the speedometer hit 112 miles per hour, this reporter declined to go faster. But the professional test driver, when he took the wheel, showed less restraint. A former race-car driver, he took off. My eyes darted back and forth between the speedometer -- climbing higher and higher, like my blood pressure -- and the test driver's vacant expression. There nothing like traveling 170 mph, in the rain, on a one-lane road. Except when your driver slams the brakes to illustrate their stopping force.
Time and space came to a halt. The asphalt on the road ahead looked like it was about to spill into my lap. I unpeeled the back of my head from the seat. The last time I felt something this powerful at my back, there was a woman in a blue-and-gold Lufthansa uniform serving me a drink, and a voice overhead reminding me to turn off all portable electronic devices.
Since the car has a top speed of nearly 253 mph, it's natural to question how responsible most Veyron buyers will be behind the wheel. Surprisingly, for all the time and money invested in this car's development, Bugatti officials say most customers show little interest in driving it at top speed. But after only a half hour with the Veyron, I understand why. I'm worried enough about getting a scratch on this work of art."
The specs of the BV:
The Bugatti Veyron boasts a massive, rear-mounted 16-cylinder engine with 1,001 horsepower -- roughly the equivalent of a couple of Porsche 911s combined -- and a rear spoiler that helps keep the car from spinning out of control at high speeds. It needs just 2.5 seconds to accelerate from zero to 62 miles per hour, and burns rubber so quickly that its makers had to hire France's Michelin SCA to develop a special compound for its tires. Its top speed: 252.9 mph.
The official Bugatti website is here
Along with these fine pics
(click for larger image):
Million-Dollar Baby: World's Most Expensive Car
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, December 14, 2005; Page D1
The Million-Dollar Test Drive
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, December 14, 2005; Page D13
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
LIRR Commuter from Hell: Farsi Nightmare
Normally, when a commuter is loud, obnoxious and rude on the train, someone will eventually say something. The exception is when a person is so offensively heinous that the crowd is stunned into dumbfounded silence.
That's what happened with this fowl creature: She was wearing too much make up, too much jewelry -- too much everything! She yammered on the phone for most of the trip from Roslyn to Jamaica, where she thankfully got off the train to go haunt someother group of people.
We were all stunned by the sheer horror that was her horrendous nonstop voice. Once she got off the train, the spell was broken. Everyone around her broke into conversation about how awful she was.
What made this such a miserable experience was the combination of her voice -- I only wished it was as mildly irritating as fingernails on a chalkboard -- and the language she spoke. Another passenger who knew her said it was Farsi.
Her voice goes a long way towards explaining the tensions in the Middle East. If I had to listen to this 24/7 I would not only get an automatic weapon, I'd use it constantly. Here's a source of the tensions in the Middle East, transposed to our little neck of the woods:
click for a closer view of what Hell is actually populated with
heaven help the people ont his train . . .
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Why The 70s Were Better
Bob Lefsetz explains why the Music was better in the 70s:
1. A&M and Island Records
Yes, in the early seventies Steve Ross consolidated Warner, Atlantic and Elektra into one company.
But not every label with hits was owned by a corporate behemoth.
Pound for pound, A&M and Island had the best records. After all, Island delivered Bob Marley to the masses. What has that boasting prick who runs J Records ever added to the culture in the last twenty five years?
Chris Blackwell and Jerry Moss were mavericks. Who believed first and foremost in music. Can you say the same about Andy Lack?
As for Warner... Steve Ross was famous for leaving his label heads alone. Whereas all we hear about today is all the corporate pressure the labels' employees are under, to deliver short term results.
2. Independent Concert Promoters
Things are different when your livelihood directly correlates with your batting average. It was about RELATIONSHIPS! Investing in new bands knowing the agent would be loyal in the future. And delivering a good experience for the customer. Meanwhile, Michael Rapino is busy managing debt.
Lament Lee Abrams' Superstars format, but in contrast to what we have today, Superstars was a GODSEND!
Then again, compared to what came before, Superstars was the beginning of the end. As Superstars took hold, we got corporate rock. And then disco. And then the whole thing imploded.
But before that. Before consultants ruled. When FM radio stations were religion more than profit centers, listeners were devoted and bands were broken.
You trusted the radio the way today's evangelicals trust Jesus. You tuned into the radio to find out about not only the new music, but the news that applied to you. The deejay was your friend. He played what HE wanted to, what HE thought was good. It was a skilled position. And, you could reach him and request tracks. Not only stuff on a tight playlist.
The way it is on Lee Abram's XM today, in fact. When XM reaches twenty million subscribers maybe the early seventies will return, because it's based on the same principles. NOT Mel Karmazin's principles. Not Steve Blatter's principles. But, the principle of choosing the best man for the job and letting him DO IT!
Why bother to make a warm-sounding acoustic record, it's just going to sound like shit when transferred to CD.
Forget the religion. Of placing the needle in the groove. If anybody reading thinks CDs sound as good as vinyl, they just haven't heard the latter. You know the only thing that sounds good on CD? Hip-hop. Maybe that's why it dominates the airwaves.
David Krebs told me that Aerosmith's accusation that he stole from them in the seventies was false. That they didn't remember that ticket prices were under ten dollars thirty years ago. Sometimes WAY under ten dollars. Even hit bands weren't canvassing the country and making the kind of money the Stones do today. Hell, the STONES didn't make that kind of money. Which may be why they're still touring today. And there were no ticket fees. No facility fees. The price was the price, and you knew it. And the cost was equivalent to two first run movies. You didn't have to pick and choose the gigs you wanted to go to as much as just decide to ATTEND! You didn't only go to see your favorites. You took chances on new acts in clubs. Music was a pastime, not an EVENT that only comes once a year, like a birthday.
And you could AFFORD multiple albums...
Sure, the record companies kept them in business. But seeing someone with HUNDREDS of people instead of thousands cemented the bond.
And there was a culture of opening acts. You WANTED to see the new bands. You still believed they would be good. You weren't pissed you'd have to sit through some lame act appearing as a favor.
7. Live music
Yup, no tapes. Not until ELO in the latter seventies. You revered Yes because they could PLAY!
Sure, bands still have attitude today. It's just a different kind of attitude. It's PRESS attitude. An image for a magazine, or TV. Bands back then WEREN'T ON TV, not most of them. And there was no fawning celebrity press. You could BELIEVE in the acts. You can't believe in the acts today.
9. The Acts
They wanted to be musicians. Today's acts want to be stars.
Oh, of course there are exceptions. It's just that these exceptions, who won't play along, don't get major label deals, aren't on the radio, never mind TV. And this is good for their careers, but in the seventies second level bands got more than a modicum of exposure.
10. The Culture
Video games? The secret society? The addiction? The revenue? That's the way it used to be in music, until the fat cats mainstreamed the acts, sold them out to mainstream culture.
We were making it up as we went along. The music more important than anything. Today, music is a job. With a fat paycheck you use to purchase the perks. Used to be you were PRIVILEGED to work in the business. Today you're privileged to work at Apple Computer. In the seventies the most desirable gig was one at a record store. Just go to Tower or Best Buy today. These are the high school dropouts who can't sell electronics.
12. No Hit Mentality
All that mattered was good. It wasn't about the single, but the whole body of work. Some of the best records of all time didn't have a track released as a 45, and were never played on AM radio. Ever heard "Free Bird" on AM radio?
Today the goal is to sell MORE COPIES than the next guy. Back then it was to make better RECORDS!
Music was presented as a whole. You could like Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Carole King AND Led Zeppelin and the Allman Brothers and nobody would bat an eyelash. After all, wasn't it all MUSIC?
15. No MTV
Overexposure kills acts. Consider this one of the Ten Commandments. Break it at your peril.
If things are as good today, how come other than the Dave Matthews Band, no new act can sell out a stadium? Sure, there are great acts. But they must be nurtured by people who CARE, about the MUSIC, not the MONEY! And they must be developed slowly. Is anybody interested in the trainwreck or police pursuit all over TV the following WEEK, never mind YEAR? Think about it...