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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Me on 'E&P' on NPR

Interviewed today for seven minutes on magazine's possible passing. We clean out office tomorrow but may return. Listen here.

The Decade in Dylan

It's all here, from his terrific memoir Chronicles to forgettable Masked and (Shoulda Been) Anonymous. Here's trailer for a musical highlight, his Oscar for "Things Have Changed."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kennedy Honors for Springsteen

That's me at the left, between Bruce and fellow Crawdaddy editor Peter Knobler, backstage in Central Park in 1974. The other dude is pianist Davey Sancious. Thirty-five years later, well done tribute tonight to Bruce as he gets the big Kennedy award. He seemed moved by Vedder doing "City of Ruins" and Sting with "The Rising." Could have done without Mellencamp and Melissa E. Way back when never thought I'd see Brucie sitting next to the First Lady.

The trailer for my upcoming Web series shows my role in first article ever about Bruce in 1972 and friendship after. David Wild of Rolling Stone calls it the most promising upcoming Web music series. Trailer below:

All the Jung Dudes

NYT reviews new book of academic takes on...The Big Lebowski. Actually my favorite thing about that flick is not The Dude but the use of Townes Van Zandt doing "Dead Flowers" on the soundtrack.

Banking on It

Big drive on for you and me to move our money to "community" banks. Award-winning doc director Eugene Jarecki made this video, check it out, and action steps at end, if you agree:

Monday, December 28, 2009

Final Week for 'E&P'?

At 2 p.m. today we ship the possibly final issue of Editor & Publisher from our office here at Astor Place in NYC. For the record, it is the January 2010 issue, so we made it into our 126th year, at least. As many may know, we got our closing notice from Nielsen on December 10, which was met by outrage, thousands of supportive messages and even an unlikely place on the Twitter trending list. Staffers decided to stay on on finish that issue and keep our Web site going until the end of the year in hopes of encouraging outside help and bids for takeover. Indeed, there has been a lot of interest but no firm news to report as yet. We are scheduled to vacate and shut down for good by the end of Thursday if nothing materializes, though of course could always be brought back a bit later. Stay tuned and thanks again for your backing and kinds words. I've been busying myself with my new Web video series, "An Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll," check it out here.

Here's a letter I got a few days ago from the legendary war reporter and co-author of We Were Soldier Once..and Young, Joe Galloway:

Have been disconsolate ever since i heard they were closing the doors on E&P. am praying for a Christmas miracle that will keep those doors open.

E&P has been one of the very few bright spots in a very gloomy period in the newspaper bidness.
E&P has broken a lot of new ground and kicked a lot of asses and done a lot of good in recent years.

last month i marked 50 years in this business. damn glad i did it when i did. been a loyal reader most of those years, from those early days when i scanned the Jobs columns looking for some way out of Texas to these days when Joe Stupp was breaking stories all over the place and Greg Mitchell was pointing fingers in all the right directions.

so if all that is done and over i am sad. if you make it through the night and keep on keeping on, i will be cheering. either way, damn fine job by all of you.

UPDATE: Rockin' Around the Xmas Tree!

Our fate at E&P remains "Up in the Air," as the new movie might put it, as talks continue on possibly saving E&P after our recent shutdown notice. Meanwhile, while directing the possibly final issue and keeping Web site going with staffers, I've started work on a new Web series that goes back to my pre-journalism roots: "An Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll," featuring everyone from Roy Orbison to Springsteen, Dylan and Neil Young. Will Bunch of the Philly Daily News tips his hat here. David Wild of Rolling Stone calls it the most promising upcoming Web music series. I've just posted about it with a Xmas theme at Huff Post. Trailer below:

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday Morning in the Church of Beethoven

My weekly feature.  This time: One of the great passages in all of piano history, part of the 3rd movement of the Hammerklavier sonata, with Alfred Brendel at his peak.

Fighting Back in Iran

Renewed protests, and a few deaths, as violence increases in Iran -- with many reports and videos compiled by Andrew Sullivan, who has followed this from the beginning.   Below:  Baseej motorcycles set on fire by protestors and a wild crowd scene.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Special 'Simpsons'


Anniversary special coming up next month, with an hour-long doc by Morgan Spurlock (left) on its history and untold stories.  He tried to watch 440 episodes in a row.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jesus Sightings 2009

Fun roundup with photos from around the world, from Christ on the cheese sandwich to Jesus in a car window. Photo at left finds Him in a bar of Kit Kat.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beethoven for Christmas

The concluding section of the Ninth Symphony: "All men are brothers."

A Six-Hour Show, Daily

Here's the new trailer for pilot of Wake Up, World, with Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, a parody of morning TV shows such as Fox & Friends (and all of the others). This month I was the interview guest in the live NYC show.

Not Christmas, But White

Central Park, NYC, during The Gates project.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Parts Left Out of Colbert's Famous Bush Burning

Jim Warren over at The Atlantic's site has a lengthy report on a recent Second City celebration focusing on Stephen Colbert's memories of one of the (few) positive highlights of the 2000's -- his roasting of President Bush at that WH Correspondents Dinner and the negative, from some quarters, reaction it unleashed. Of course, E&P had our Joe Strupp on the scene and working at home I put one of the first full reports up on the Web that night, producing one of our biggest audiences ever and reaching millions via links. So sit back and enjoy:

In the Year of the Hoax: Another One?

Lot of attention yesterday on "tea bag" guy who called CSPAN in tears to say he was praying for death of Sen. Byrd, to scuttle health reform. Now some suggestions that it might have all been a hoax. Here's one view.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Great Moments in U.S. History: When Elvis Met Nixon

It was 39 years ago today. I was amazed when I visited the Nixon Library about 10 years ago that they were selling the iconic image on everything (I bought a t-shirt). There's even a cool Hollywood movie about it, called Elvis Meets Nixon, which features Presley shooting up a TV and everything. I wrote a column about it once which I am trying to locate. For now, here is a wrapup. More Elvis, but from his glory years, here.

Ari's Gold on 'E&P'

Former legendary 'E&P' intern Ari Berman, long at The Nation now, notes 'E&P' in crisis this week in article in print issue not yet online. Here it is, and thanks Ari.

ANOTHER MEDIA CASUALTY? Editor & Publisher might be the most important publication you've never heard of. I knew little of the magazine's 125-year history of reporting on the newspaper industry until I interned there in the winter of 2002-03. E&P's editor, Greg Mitchell, told me then that he wanted to scrutinize the media's shoddy coverage of the impending war in Iraq--particularly the cheerleading agitprop of major news organizations. E&P's small staff in Lower Manhattan became a crack fact-checking and watchdog crew, asking the tough questions that so few in Washington asked, shining a spotlight on the early dissenters such as Knight Ridder's Washington bureau and highlighting the views of editorial pages--some of which were surprisingly skeptical--across the country. I remember Mitchell reading the antiwar editorials of the Orange County Register, a bastion of right-wing Republicanism, with a keen eye and wonder. The magazine won a Neal Award--"the Pulitzer Prize of business journalism"--three years in a row for its Iraq coverage.

So Mitchell described it as quite a "shock" to learn, on December 10, that the Nielsen Company was immediately closing E&P--seemingly yet another casualty of the industry it so dutifully covered. But maybe this sad story will still have a happy ending. Based on "overwhelming reader and advertiser demand" in the wake of the surprise announcement, Mitchell said the staff planned to publish another issue on January 4 and hoped to strike a deal with Nielsen or find a new buyer. Let's hope they can. On Iraq and many other issues, history will look kindly on E&P. May its indispensable reporting, in one form or another, live on.

'SNL' Mocked Brittany Murphy Just 2 Weeks

Actress died at age 32 over the weekend.  Two weeks ago SNL  roasted her after she got kicked off a new movie.   Hulu has removed the clip but still up at YouTube, for now:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Your Weekly Visit to the Church of Beethoven

As per each Sunday morning. This week, a sermon from the immortal Glenn Gould and Leonard Rose.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our 'Weird' Roots

Great little film on why Harry Smith's classic on roots on American music so important and enduring.

Friday, December 18, 2009

WORLD PREMIERE: My "Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll"

David Wild, longtime writer and contributing editor at Rolling Stone, has just called my "Incompleat History" the "most promising upcoming Web music series." I've hinted that this is coming, and now here it is: The trailer for my upcoming series, shot and edited by my film director son, Andy Mitchell of "MacAwesome" fame. Just uploaded to YouTube a few minutes ago and soon to go up elsewhere. Companion book to follow. This is a personal saga, from Elvis in the '50s to my stint as executive editor at Crawdaddy throughout the 1970s, to the present day.

Give it a look--five minutes long, and features everyone from Roy Orbison to Dylan, Neil Young, Talking Heads and Springsteen, and leave a comment here or at YouTube. Much more to follow. Gawker covers it here. The great Will Bunch at the Philly Daily News tips his cap here.

Huck Fields Raft of Questions

Mike Huckabee gets the Q & A treatment in this Sunday's NYT Mag.  It opens with his picks for Xmas gifts -- guitars and other music things.  Then we learn that he hasn't found time to read the Palin book and thinks the funding of prez races so "obscene" they ought to put it on ESPN.  Then we get into his controversial clemency order for the Washington cop killer.  He calls it "disgusting that people want to talk about what are the political implications" rather than the families of deceased.  He rejects the "blame game" -- but admits he has not contacted any of those families, waiting for "the appropriate time."  Doesn't want to appear "boorish."  Huh?

As for Chris Matthews, who called him "Hucka-was"-- "Who cares what Chris Matthews thinks?" Well, that's two of us on that score, anyway. 

Dylan Pleads to Save 'E&P'

Bob has created a special video message for fans of my magazine Editor & Publisher  in our hour of homesick blues after our recent shutdown notice.   Clearly he's on our side as we try to avoid being just another pawn in their game.  Take a look at the 30-second video:  No, no, no, it ain't media, babe.   Let's hope we'll soon be back in the magazine business, like Rolling Stone. And thanks, Bob.   

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dylan Agonistes

Newsweek has somehow picked Dylan's Love and Theft as the 2nd best CD of the decade. No, not the 2nd best Dylan CD but second best by anyone. Now, you all know that I am a huge Dylan fan but come on -- especially when there was actually some, ahem, real theft involved in that record. Anyway, Newsweek goes further in encouraging kids to argue with their "boomer" parents (guilty) that the newer CD is as good as Blonde on Blonde. My own son wouldn't care, but anyone else? If it's a throw down, here below is just my first card, one of the lesser-known Blonde on Blonde numbers at that (Robbie on guitar). P.S. Highway 61 is actually the greatest Dylan album.

St. Nick and Jesus H. Christ: The Duets

Happy Birthday, Beethoven, the Finale


Closing our two-day celebration, here's a classic "Peanuts" that pretty much captures my attitude. Charles Schulz, of course, was huge fan and marked this day nearly every year and even included parts of LvB piano sonatas in his panels.

Happy Birthday, Beethoven: Day Two

It's fitting that since Beethoven is the greatest artist in the history of Western civilization we get to celebrate his birthday twice. That's because there is a dispute, based on records and his baptism (usually done on day born back then in Germany). So this is day two. Here's excerpt from terrific piece by a member of the Orion Quartet I just came across that puts it well:

Well, there it is -- music that is clearly one of the greatest achievements in western civilization....Unless we budget our time carefully when we rehearse Beethoven, we can easily spend three hours on a movement we have been working on for years. All-Beethoven concerts usually leave us utterly exhausted. We once played a very challenging program of the Schumann first Quartet, Hindemith third Quartet, and the extravagant Smetana Quartet. Afterwards, we all remarked how easy it was to get through compared to any all-Beethoven concert.

One of my most important mentors, Sandor Vegh, said that performing and listening to Beethoven strengthens you. I understand this more and more as we continue to grapple with these works. Often, as I turn the pages of my score, my lazy bones groan at the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual hurdles Beethoven is about to put me through. My chances of arriving at the next page unscathed are slim. I would be safer at home flipping and sipping. Yet, somehow the music is so absorbing as I am compelled to follow it, that I don't realize how consuming it is until it is over. I suppose this shows the reason every quartet player wants to play the complete Beethoven Quartets. It is to us as Mt. Everest is to mountain climbers.

Jon Does Joe

By popular demand, Jon Stewart does his "Droopy" Joe Lieberman impersonation. Could have only helped MoveOn raise $1 million by Thursday to oppose Joe with ads and in 2012.
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Dr. Evil, I Presume?

Barry Ritholtz, the econ blogger, picks his "evil" person of the year.

Jon does Laura Ingraham

Jon Stewart covers latest tea party protest.
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Take That, Jacko

Amused to find myself listed as #18 on year-end list of "famous people" who had a bad year in 2009. This puts me behind Tiger, Madoff and Carrie Prejean but ahead of Mark Sanford (who may be impeached) and Michael Jackson -- who died! So I guess that puts the tragic folding of E&P in some perspective. Here's their writeup on me:

While seemingly nothing can stop the growth of bloggers, the newspaper industry hasn’t been so fortunate. Editor & Publisher, which had covered the industry since 1884, has officially stopped the presses. Greg Mitchell, the journal’s editor was shocked when the sale of E&P’s parent company led to the immediate stop in production. But people who have been watching the demise of print journalism as we know it probably saw this coming.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Geography Lesson

Hollywood takes you around the world in weighty daze.

My Photo of the Day, For Beethoven's Birthday

A Perfect Score: I shot this up at Tanglewood last year as Boston Symphony members left the stage after completing the epic Ninth Symphony.  Click to enlarge and see below on this page for other Beethoven tributes. 

Happy Birthday, Beethoven, 2nd Movement

See first "movement" down on the page. Here is cartoon by Richard Thompson, described here at Cagle. Click on it to enlarge.

More of GM On Demise (?) of 'E&P'

Here's an NPR piece. And one I wrote that is being syndicated widely. Much more TK of course and hopes remain that we will carry on.

Happy Birthday, Beethoven

We'll be celebrating all day, marking the birth of the greatest artist in Western culture, on this date in 1770 (altho some claim it was the following day). Here's a suitably celebratory final movement of the Symphony No. 7, recently picked as the third greatest "metal" classical piece ever by Decibel magazine. -- rock and roll!

AP Names Tiger Top Athlete of Decade

And he was good on the golf course too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Little Lambs, Who Made Thee?

A hedge fund manager in Tokyo sent this Blakean verse to econ blogger Barry Ritholtz.

Tiger, Tiger bonking bright
in the fleshpots of the night
what immortal eye or hand
could restore your tarnished brand?

On what porn star’s breasts and thighs,
burnt the fire of your eyes
on what course did your ball run
as you sunk a hole in one?

You always looked so squeaky clean
as you strode across the green
what a relief for other men
to know deep down you’re just like them

All the endorsements down the drain
in what place was kept your brain
how deep the bunker, how long the grass
how costly all the tits and ass

Why did you keep your clubs so handy
why did you marry a fearsome scandie
at golf you’ll always be a winner
at cheating you’re a rank beginner

Tiger, Tiger bonking bright
in the fleshpots of the night
what immortal eye or hand
could restore your tarnished brand?

Al Franken vs. John Thune

Latest health care debate. Al says, you're entitled to your opinion but not your own "facts."

Moonshine On My Shoulder Makes Me Happy

Downer Christmas songs?  Buzzfeed picks the 10 most depressing, including the usual Elvis "Blue Xmas" and more. But who expected sunny (though late) John Denver to make it with "Please Daddy (Don't Get Drunk This Christmas)".

Sportsman of the Year #2?

Well, look who is showing up on the cover of Sports Illustrated tomorrow-- it's Stephen "Speedy" Colbert. And why? Well it's their annual sports media issue.  Still: why? As you may know, he has led a campaign to save the U.S. speedskating team for the Winter Olympics and has helped raise $250,000.  So there.   What has O'Reilly done?

Despite It All: Still Rockin' in the Free World

Look for trailer for my upcoming series "An Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll" later this week. For now, here's Neil:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Brothers, Where Are Thou?

The Simpsons last night feature Bart dream sequence with famous brothers -- Peyton and Eli and more, and especially the Smothers Brothers, who got to reprise comedy routines--and even make it to the credits.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

'NYT' Probes 'Man With the Midas Touch'

NYT tonight gets in on the fun of Glenn Beck pushing panic, and gold as answer, on his show while taking money as gold pitchman. Here's Jon Stewart take earlier this week:
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"Hurt" Good

L.A. Film critics in their infinite wisdom just named The Hurt Locker best film of the year. It would certainly be one of my finalists. Director Bigelow gets nod, as do Jeff Bridges (for songwriter flick) and Carey Mulligan (she was great in An Education) as actors, "Up in the Air" for writing and the great "The Cover" co-wins doc prize. Hurt Locker trailer:

My Photo of the Day: Sunrise, Tappan Zee Bridge, Nyack, NY

In the manner of Japanese woodblock master Hiroshige, who also favored bridges and rivers, also in winter. Click image to enlarge.

How to Save Newspapers? Click Image to Enlarge

Gary Trudeau has an idea or two today. Click on it to enlarge. Maybe we'll ask him about E&P:

Dudamel Appears at Church of Beethoven This Week

As longtime visitors may know, I do a Beethoven thing here every Sunday morning, noting that there are actual meeting places scattered around the country called the Church of Beethoven where people gather each Sunday for music and reflection. This week's "sermon" here is inspired by Alex Ross's fine article in this week's New Yorker on Dudamel and his early experience with L.A. Philharmonic. His debut doing Beethoven's Ninth was streamed online and, naturally, I watched and tweeted and blogged. I was fortunate to catch Dudamel in virtually his first NYC concert doing Beethoven's Fifth. Here is the opening of the final movement for the Ninth, but it's all up at YouTube:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Guy Played by Damon in "Invictus" Reflects on Mandela

Invictus is worth seeing, a little long, and typical sports flick in many ways, but with tremendous Nelson Mandela and South Africa focus from 1995. Here is interview with rugby hero played by Matt Damon in the flick.

Stephen and Steve, Blast from Past

Skits from Dana Carvey TV show, 1996, with early Colbert and Carell, plus Isaac Hayes, no less.

To Heller, and Back

Christopher Buckley has a fun op-ed in NYT today on his friend Joseph "Catch-22" Heller, marking his death exactly 10 years ago. I knew Joe some, too. Catch-22 was virtually my favorite all-time book when I scored a real coup in 1972 -- getting him to sit, implausibly, for two-part interview for Crawdaddy. He had not chatted at length with anyone about his lack of a followup to that classic for the past decade. I can't recall exactly why he responded to me.

We taped a couple of sessions at his writing studio on Central Park South and he was, as Buckley notes, warm and funny (as one might expect), especially about Nixon. He later took me to lunch and, horrors, I left the tape of the talk in a taxi. He loved the stories, anyway, and soon gave me for Crawdaddy an unpublished section of his stage version for Catch-22. (Read it here.) Then he gave us serial rights to that long-awaited novel, Something Happened. Finally, a few years later, he tried to help me sell my first novel, to no avail.

We stayed in touch a bit after that, then lost touch. But anyway: Catch-22 and Yowsarian will endure. Buckley lists some of the recent topics Joe would have fun with such as "Peace Prize Winner Escalates War."

CBS Previews Zinn-Damon "People Speak" TV Special

Coming Sunday night, with readings from history and songs by Dylan, Bruce, Legend, etc.

Heavy Metal Beethoven

The metal magazine, Decibel, has picked its 5 top classical music "metal" pieces ever and happy to see Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, allegrettto (2nd movement), comes in at #3. Oddly, for a "metal" piece, it hushed a crowd of 100,000 in Central Park last summer so thoroughly, even the babies gazed in wonder and you could hear the traffic half a mile away on Fifth Avenue. Here it is:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Palin and Shatner on Conan Tonite

The Day After

Not quite the post-nuclear apocalypse that was featured in the ABC-TV movie I covered at Nuclear Times back in the 1980s -- but still pretty tough going for E&P after yesterday's closing notice. But as I noted last night, the outpouring of outrage and support has been staggering, and some angel or savior may very well appear yet. I'll keep you posted. Dozens of articles and blogs posts at major outlets that I could link to but no time, so will just send you a small collection over at Romenesko from today.

An Auto-Tune Review of the Year

Not Easy Bein' Green--In Iran

Minnesota Public Radio updates the Kermit classic in light of protests this week.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Flight of the Conchords" Crashes

HBO with surprise news that Bret and Jemaine gone after 22 episodes. Here's their Bowie tribute:

A Note to New Visitors (And Old)

As you may know, the magazine I have edited since 2002, Editor & Publisher, was shut down today by Nielsen in both print and Web form. We may print one more issue, or not, but will keep Web site going at half-speed until end of year. Tremendous outpouring of support and outrage today (we even made #4 as a Twitter trending topic)--so much that I haven't been able to respond to hardly any. But thanks to all and I will try to be in touch. Here's a Q & A with at CJR.

Meanwhile, I will be tweeting as much as ever and probably posting here more. Haven't done much here today, obviously, but generally do six to eight things a day, so if you are a newbie, please return tomorrow for a more usual day.

Latest on Senate Health Care Debate--And That Tomato Thrower

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

For Mom This Xmas


Tea bag earrings worn by Lizz Winstead in her show that I was a part of last night in NYC.

Israel vs. Palestinians in Violent YouTube Battle

NYT with a piece tonite on use of YouTube to show violent attacks in the West Bank, sparked by airing of Palestinian man--who had stabbed two Jewish settlers--being run over by a car. See it below. This touched off a series. The NYT link has more videos.

Exclusive: McChrystal's New Persuasion

From my copy of transcript of Charlie Rose's interview with Gen. Stanley McChrystal airing tonight on PBS, as he is asked about making pay offs to get Taliban who have maybe killed his soldiers on our side.
**

Charlie Rose:
But can you peel away some members of the Taliban from the insurgency?

General Stanley McChrystal:
Right, yes, I think we can, and it --

Charlie Rose:
How will you do that? Why will you convince them that it is better to be on your side than the other side?

General Stanley McChrystal:
We need to understand why each fighter is in the insurgency, and, of course, each person has individual reasons. Some are deeply ideological, and that will be difficult. Some are frustrated with their own government, and we work to improve governance. Some are unemployed, and that’s not an insignificant factor. And some, because of tribal, family and other linkages, have gotten caught up for any number of reasons. I think what we’ve got to do is offer them really two options. One is a very firm resistance to the insurgency so they can see that the insurgency they’re a part of is not going to be successful. And two, we’ve got to offer them an open door, and an open door that is credible. It’s got to offer them an opportunity to for a new life. It’s got to offer them respect not to be dishonored as they make the decision to come back under the government of Afghanistan. And those things together, I believe, give us the opportunity to take a tremendous number of the Taliban mid and lower-level fighters off the battlefield.

Charlie Rose:
People who have been planting IEDs can be convinced to change sides?

General Stanley McChrystal:
I believe they can, if we determine --

Charlie Rose:
Are you prepared to say to them, I realize what you have done, and I realize you have killed American soldiers, men and women who are fighting against you, but if you will come over to this side, what?

General Stanley McChrystal:
I think you offer them a chance to rejoin society.

Al Gore Hits 'Climate-Gate'

My Wacky "Wake Up World" Off-Broadway Debut

Had a ball last night as the semi-serious interview guest as part of the great (Daily Show co-creator) Lizz Winstead's production in NYC of her long-running "Wake Up World" series, a morning TV spoof. Got some swell, sometimes fun, questions from Lizz and a very enthusiastic audience related to the media and politics. Before that, her troupe put on a hysterical hour-long edition of the Fox and Friendly "Wake Up World," complete with news breaks and commercials. Here is one of the spots:

Dear Fox Host: Stop Playing Dumb

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Sad News: Roland Hedley Leaving Twitter?

The esteemed Mr. Roland Hedley, fearless Fox News correspondent, says he may soon drop his popular Twitter feed that made him even more famous. You may know him under his less famous nom de plume "Gary Trudeau," who allegedly does a comic strip called "Dumbboobie" or "Doonesbury" or something like that. Anyway, after coming out with a book that collects his tweets, he now says he may give it all up, wishing to get rid of all that pressure. Let's hope not.

Lefty History in the Making

Here's link to trailer for "The People Speak" special on the History Channel coming on Sunday with Matt Damon, Morgan Freeman, Marisa Tomei reading excerpts from key documents and Springsteen, John Legend, Dylan (doing Woody's "Do-Re-Mi") singing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Drummer a Bummer?

You're read about, heard about, laughed about or dreaded it, now you can hear and experience and watch it: Bob Dylan does "Little Drummer Boy." And he's not singing about Levon Helm. Actually, it could be worse.

McSweeney's Newspaper Finally Arrives


The special edition of the journal finally hit San Fran today at $16 a pop. Here's some of what it looks like. And here they explain a main feature -- a massive probe of the SF Bay Bridge project carried out with three other orgs.

Jon Stewart On Unhealthy Health Plan Debate

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Monday, December 7, 2009

My Off-Broadway Debut -- And a Video Preview

The great Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, is doing a news/satiric show on December 8 with a big cast and me as chief interview guest, in the hot seat for up to 30 minutes after a first half of true comedy. Brief spoof video excerpt below--a new Ken Burns series on the malls of America. Tickets $15 here.

Top Viral Video Ads for 2009

As picked over at Mashable. Here's cool one for VW: the piano stairs.

Lyndon Baines Obama?

From Rex Babin, Sacramento Bee.

On Meeting Springsteen 37 years Ago Today: In Sing Sing Prison

Could not imagine when, back at Crawdaddy, I first met Bruce Springsteen on this date in 1972 (also, my birthday) that he'd one day headline a Super Bowl and an Inauguration, and end up receiving something like the Kennedy Center honors, just last night. At Huff Post today I recall that meeting. Here's pretty much what he looked like and what he was playing that night, without and then with E Street Band:

Tiger's Wood?

Best unintentionally funny headline of the day, from People mag: "Just How Much Was Tiger Swinging?"

The Wang Dangle Doodle

Gawker found Toronto Metro paper with a big "boo boo" today -- publishing photo of youths frolicking with a fella in front accidentally, uh, exposed. Ran full story and shot at this link. But later removed photo when it came out that the kid was still in high school....

Final Episode of My Son's Web Series!

Andy Mitchell-directed MacAwesome reached the season finale last week-- but looking very good for the super popular show to get funded for rare second season. It's available here in newly-improved HD version (starting with episode one). Here's the finale:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Making Rock 'n Roll History

My film director son shot footage today for the trailer for my upcoming Web series "An Incompleat History of Rock 'n Roll." Watch for it in another week or two, with the series launching in 2010. And there will even be a companion book! Here's an excerpt from the trailer:

The Alps and a Different Sound of Music

Amazing time lapse video of the Alps at night and in winter, with music by Beethoven, of course.

Timelapse movie: The Alps -- part II (night) from Michael Rissi on Vimeo.

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Compilation of amazing good breaks or, as Leonard Cohen put it, "Waitin' for the Miracle to Come."

Monty Burns Nearly Beat Bloomberg for Mayor!

Well, not really, but the rich guy from The Simpsons DID get the most write-in votes of any candidate in the recent NYT mayoral race. Little did we know, there was actually an effort behind that with active Web site and more. Fun report here and Simpsons clip with new audio boosting his candidacy below:

The Church of Beethoven

Resuming my once-popular weekly feature for atheists and all others. This week: Helene Grimaud plays the final section of the "Choral Fantasia."

Wacky Animated News Coverage Gets 'NYT' Boost

Is this the future of news? I posted that fun video from Taiwan or Hong Kong on the Tiger Woods case a few days ago raising that question. Now others are asking--most notably, a big piece just up at NYT quoting Keith Olbermann among others. Partly animated "news coverage" incorporates Simsy or Second Life or Pixar-like animation and more, all in 90 seconds. Here's their followup to the Tiger crash viral video, this one depicting the tales of the mistresses, going right into the motel rooms...

Gatecrashers Crash 'SNL'

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Derrick to You: Jellymouth

Fun New York magazine piece on young actor who plays Troy in TV series "Community," also behind super hot Web videos under tag of Derrick. Here's one, about Jazz man "Jellymouth." Great concept marred by...fart jokes.

Mayor Gets 'Good Grief' for Obama/Muslim/Charlie Brown Comments

We were among the first to bring you news yesterday that the the mayor of a suburb of Memphis, Tenn. had written at Facebook that President Obama is a Muslim and had scheduled his big Afghan escalation speech at a certain time to knock out a replay of the annual "Peanuts" Christmas special. Amazingly, the mayor's name is Russell Wiseman. A poll at the Memphis Commercial Appeal this morning shows that 43% of the visitors to the site back Wiseman on this, even though he also suggested that Obama's supporters move to a Muslim country.

The paper has a long wrapup today, noting the coast to coast hellstorm that broke out on the Web, even as Wiseman deleted his Facebook account after accusing critics of being unfair in even quoting from it. Two new pages have sprung up there -- "Support Russell Wiseman" and "Tell Russell Wiseman To Respect Charlie Brown And Our President."

"You would think a mayor would have a little more tact -- even on Facebook -- but that's just not reality," said Michael Crispino, on the anti-Wiseman Facebook page, according to the paper. "Today politicians are allowed to be arrogant and ignorant and are not even held accountable for it. Parties don't attack ideas, they attack people."

Someone known as proud2livenarlington backed the mayor: "I'm proud to have a mayor that speaks his mind. The last time I checked, it was not against the law to have an OPINION. Unless you were on the (Facebook) thread (and I was), you have only part of the story. God gave us the ability to JUDGE right and wrong. Thanks Mayor Wiseman, you are right!!" On the other hand, sgtutvols#230217 found the mayor's comments another example of the Republican Party going "off the rails."

Friday, December 4, 2009

40 Years On: The "anti-Woodstock"

Forty years ago this weekend, the Altamont fest, which some still say brought the '60s to an end in more ways than one, as kid killed during concert by Rolling Stones and others. Great clip (and sound) here:

Glenn Greenwald and Christopher Hitchens Debate Afghan Plan

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Little Pretties Raise Their Hands?

Not at the NYT, which pans the new -- and surprisingly bestselling book -- by Clarence Clemons, the "Big Man" of the song and book title. It's an entertaining review at least which blames the as-told-to author.

I met Clarence 38 years ago this coming Monday when Peter Knobler and I of Crawdaddy attended the E Street Band's first real gig -- at Sing Sing prison. Peter and I were the only rock journos to show up for this promo run, before Greetings from Asbury Park came out. We were so knocked out we soon published a 10,000 word piece on Bruce--the very first national magazine piece about him that helped launch his career. Clarence was a good guy, knew him for years (Peter even managed him for a spell), always warm, although he pretty much kept to himself back home. Good times.

UPDATE: Mayor: Obama a Muslim and He Scuttled Xmas Special

The mayor of a suburb of Memphis, Tenn. has accused, via Facebook, President Obama of deliberately timing his speech about the war in Afghanistan this week to block the airing of the "Peanuts" Christmas TV special. The Commercial Appeal found that Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman posted the statements on his Facebook page, limited to friends viewing only, and said the president was Muslim. UPDATE: In voting at the Commercial Appeal site, 52% of the readers have said they agreed that the mayor "speaks for a lot of Americans."

Here is one key quote from the Facebook posting: "Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose. Ask the man if he believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and he will give you a 10 minute disertation (sic) about it....when the answer should simply be 'yes'...."

He also attacked the president's supporters, saying they should move to a Muslim country, then corrected himself to suggest that the USA was a Muslim country. He later downplayed the posting when contacted Thursday by the newspaper for comment, saying they were "trying to make a mountain out of a molehill." Arlington is a city of about 7,600 residents about 25 miles northeast of Memphis.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

UPDATE: U.S. Soldier Kills Colleagues

It's gotten remarkably little coverage so far -- perhaps because no "terrorist" angle -- but we're now catching up with case of an Iraq war vet (pictured left) now captured and suspected of killing two of his fellow servicemen near Fort Drum where they all served. Joshua Hunter fled to Ohio. It's not known what sparked the murders but he had returned from 15 months in Iraq. Tonite AP talked to his wife, who said he had seen best friend die at close range in Iraq (unconfirmed by the military) and was totally changed when he got home , flying into rages, "abusive," sleepless, "edgy." Here is full story.

Here is a lengthy story in West Virginia paper and an earlier local paper report, which includes quotes from his My Space page:

"I dont need anyone but me, I am cold and heartless," he wrote. "unhappiness can be a way of life, but im not gonna be one of those little bitches who kills themselves i will take down anyone who gets in my way by any means necessary."


After using some profanities, he continued, "i will not be stopped until i get my revenge. i am angry at the world and i will take it out on anyone... ."

The Watertown paper has this update on neighbors' reaction and Hunter returning to New York and being arraigned Friday. AP has update Friday on him being charged with murder and pleading not guilty. He allegedly admitted in a deposition that he carried out the stabbings and has cuts on his fingers. Later update: Some questions raised about his and family's claims about him witnessing deaths in Iraq.

Tea Time at Last

The new doc is debuting online and at screenings, just had premiere in D.C. I carried this official trailer before but worth another look. No, it is NOT a parody. Go to their site for info and a few more laughs.

Kindle on Fire

In a statement that is a shock, at least to me -- author of 10 books, none of them available in E form -- Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO, tells the NYT Magazine this Sunday, "For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell...we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition," when there is such an edition available. He adds, "It won't be too long before we're selling more electronic books than we are physical books. It's astonishing." He says they're adding "thousands of titles a week."

One reason: You can read the Kindle in the bathtub without worry about getting it wet, unlike a real book. How's that? "I'll tell you what I do," says Bezo. "I take a one-gallon Ziploc bag," and puts in the Kindle and seals it. It can't get wet and works better than a printed book where "you can't turn the pages. But with Kindle, you can just push the buttons."

Taibbi Binds Obama to Wall Street

Matt previews upcoming Rolling Stone article. Rubin and the rich.

The Day the (Bob Keane) Music Died

News has arrived of the passing of one of the legendary, if mainly long-forgotten figures, from early rock 'n roll. It's Bob Keane, who discovered Ritchie Valens, Bobby "I Fought the Law" Fuller, the Surfaris, and first recorded Frank Zappa, among many other sometimes bizarre achievements. But what I remember most: He was also the man who brought Sam Cooke out of gospel and into rock in 1957 with the mega-hit "You Send Me." Sam Cooke was the greatest male gospel singer of the century but, leaving that behind, he also became one of the greatest singers, performers, writers ("Change Is Gonna Come") , producers in rock history.

Check out the following: Sam doing "Bring It On Home to Me" and "You Send Me." The noted critic Greil Marcus once called it the greatest live male vocal performance in rock/soul history. It's Sam Cooke at a Miami club. There's no video of it--but the moment was re-enacted at the beginning of the Will Smith "Ali" movie. Below that, a little Sam gospel w/ Soul Stirrers.

Colbert: Tiger's Wood

Tiger's Tale
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