Saturday, February 28, 2009

In reference to this article:

I have this to say.

Listening to some of the voices online at the minute, it’d certainly seem that way. Yet history doesn’t bear these opinions out.

TV would kill radio.
DVD’s would kill movie ticket sales.
CD’s would kill vinyl.
The Internet would kill traditional media.
Music downloads would kill traditional retailers.
Maybe I’m looking at the wrong picture, but I still see all of the things that are meant to be dead by now. If anything, many of the doomed mediums are thriving and actually performing better than their replacements.

Obviously, he isn't seeing what I'm seeing here. Way back in the day, people used to sit around their radios and watch them. TV came along, with all its fancy pictures, that sure ended. Sure, people continued to listen to radio, but it was in a very different way than it was previously. The dominant media force became the TV.

As far as music, the only people listening to and enjoying vinyl records are the diehard collectors, who probably even have a few 78s in their collection. For that matter, CDs aren't as prevalent with the youth of today as digital music. In case you haven't noticed, buying online, listening on your iPod or computer, has replaced what was previously.

And last I checked, Tower Records has gone out of business. You can argue that there still are record stores around, but it's all a question of time and priorities. The fact of the matter is that 20 years from now, everyone will be buying their music digitally, and not even think about what they have lost by not having vinyl around or brick-and-mortar record stores, for that matter.

Until recently, DVDs pretty much had put a serious dent in traditional movie ticket sales. Why go to a theatre, when you can sit at home with your friends and watch on your big screen TV, with the surround sound? People are going back now, interestingly, because of the recession, it is posited. But moviegoing has become less of a "we must do this in a theatre" proposition, and more of a "let's get together with our friends at the theatre tonight" kind of deal.

What is succeeding in theatres is what cannot be done at home: big explosion type movies, great special effects, 3D things. Moviegoing has become quite a different thing than it was even ten years ago.

So, really, the only one left in that list is "The Internet will kill traditional media."

Look around, my brother. For my money, newspapers are dead and dying daily. People get their news, their sports scores, their entertainment coverage, their crossword puzzles, their classified ads--everything they went to newspapers for, they now get online.

People who work at traditional media can piss and moan about how they wish this wasn't so, and how it just "couldn't happen." It's already happening. There was a story yesterday about how Hearst wants to "save newspapers" with a Kindle-like device on which people could read their daily paper. Are they kidding? Newsflash to Hearst: I already have such a device. It's called an iPhone.

The only newspaper which seems to really embrace the changes and be adapting to it (the New York Times) is there, in an iPhone app, and I happily read it there.

Furthermore, the other item that traditional media--radio, TV, magazines, newspapers, I'm talking to ALL of you--seems to be blissfully ignoring is that people are CONSUMING information quite differently than they used to. Traditional media is busy arguing whether or not newspapers are dead, while people seek their information through Facebook and Twitter and whatever news aggregator sites they prefer. I like Digg. Radio is arguing about whether or not terrestrial radio is more viable than satellite while we are seeking out music through online stations and our iPods. TV is scratching its head about why viewership seems to be down everywhere, and doesn't seem to notice how popular Netflix is, how many of their TV shows are being watched and sought out online.

It's happening, people. Keep your head in the sand as long as you want to, it's already changing all around you. And for us, the consumer, this is a good thing. Podcasts give us a breath of fresh air, where people speak truth and are free to swear if they want to. Why wouldn't we seek that out instead?

If traditional media wants to save any vestiges of what it's got left, it needs to quit bellyaching about whether or not it's dying, and figure out some way to get those journalists and those radio DJs and those TV anchors onto the web, and find a viable way to pay them to do what they do so well, but do it THERE.

It's not that we don't want it anymore, we just want it in this new format in our time-shifted patterns, and wish to hell they'd quit staring at their vinyl records, and figure it out already.

Friday, February 27, 2009

I realized today why I am a true Los Angeleno now.

I exist at the moment, in the greatest depression since my father died 30 years ago (certainly thus far the worst year of my life). Heck, so far all that's happened this year was a job loss, an industry that I worked for disintegrating, a radio station that I adored going online only, the bottom dropping out of the financial markets, and the man I love choosing someone else. It can only go up from here!

But that last statement is what made me really realize that I truly belong here, here in Los Angeles.

This is a strange city. One that, blissfully, the rest of the country doesn't really seem to understand, and probably wishes would just drop off into the ocean already. So let me explain.

People come here, with their dreams bundled on their sleeves, believing in their deepest hearts that they write better screenplays, or are better actors, or know the movie business better than anyone else. They probably come here, with stars in their eyes, or at least (as I did) with big dollar signs in them. Foolishly believing that this city was gonna be the path to riches. In reality, I have been broker here than I ever have been in my life.

Here's what I have found in story after countless story of this brutal town. You get two years. You come here, naive and full of hope and optimism. The city quickly shows you that things aren't going to be handed to you on a silver platter. EVEN IF you are the best actor, writer, dancer, musician or cinematographer this town has ever seen.

You get two years to tough it out. Many leave in the first six months, slinking back home with their tail between their legs. Many more struggle with not enough to eat, chasing that dream that brought them here. And if you can tough it out for two years, I think you'll probably be here to stay.

The magical formula to succeed in this town is one that rears its head whenever times are toughest, like now. You have to BELIEVE at your deepest core, that whatever things look like now, it's gonna turn around for you. Something's gonna happen. Some combination of circumstances, some chance meeting, some accident of preparedness meets luck is going to fall into your lap and voila, you are back on top. That is, after all, how this town really works.

You have to believe in yourself with a fierceness that would make others quake. You have to keep plugging away when, in any other city, it would seem like every single door is closed to you. When you have absolutely no reasonable hope left, you have to pull more hope from your inner reserves.

Although the flip side of this is that the town is then also filled with people who are never going to succeed at screenwriting or acting or directing like they think they are, but they plug away anyway.

What one discovers as one walks this perilous path is that if you truly love something, it's something you HAVE to do, no matter the odds, no matter what anyone else tells you, no matter how people like you (as old as you, as heavy as you, as weird as you, as whatever as you) never can succeed at this. Case in point: who would've thought a few years ago that Mickey Rourke would be an Oscar-nominee?

And that is it. That is what drives me. This almost pathological impulse to continue when everything in the world tells me not to. To believe deeply that things will turn around. That those closed doors will open up, that that guy's heart may turn around one day, and even if I try and try and try and nothing happens, it's all about the journey, anyway, right?

That, my friends, is the essence of succeeding in Los Angeles. I am truly home.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Ills of Detroit

OK, someone asked me to comment on this subject, so here goes.

Like most ex-Detroiters, it's not a blanket thing for me. I can't write about the stuff I hate without also writing about the stuff I love and vice versa. It's a complex passion. After all, the city of my birth gave me a heart that beats with the music of Motown and Iggy Pop. But then, it also gave me the Joe Lewis fist. It's like that.


Reasons Why I Left Detroit
Joe Lewis Fist
No Hudsons
No Stroh's Brewery
No Tiger Stadium
Poletown leveled for a Cadillac plant, later left vacant
Everyone movin to the suburbs
Vacant houses
the "People Mover"
the great architecture left vacant
Windsor doesn't let girls in strip clubs, the bastards
the series of bad mayors

Reasons I Love Detroit
the Fisher Building
the great architecture
Attic Theatre
the bridge and the tunnel
the Tigers!
the Red Wings!
it's home.