Archive for April, 2005

Radio GaGa

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

Radio stations switch format in the middle of the night, with no advanced warning. I flipped on 910 AM at about 8 last night to hear some Phil Hendrie. What I got was, apparently, a casualty to a brand new innovation in corporate consolidated music radio programming, as another station becomes something else, and this station becomes the old station:

Entercom Market Manager, Jack Hutchison, said in a release, “Charlie is a brand new approach to free radio today,” which the station says “will borrow a page from the random music approach so many people enjoy with their iPods and MP3 players today. This format has taken the country by storm and promises to be equally as exciting and fast-hitting in Portland.”

KKSN GM Erin Hubert added, “It’s not predictable and it’s not meant to be predictable.”

KKSN’s oldies programming will return to its original position at 910 on the AM dial, replacing KOTK (Max 910), Talk Radio for Guys.

The soullessness of Radio programming continues unabetted, as we introduce a new format called “Random Voodoo.”

As for Portland radio… Rick Emerson is gone. Clyde Lewis is gone. Phil Hendrie is gone. If you want to stretch a bit, Imus is gone. (Also some material I have no interest in hearing ever, such as, say, Tom Leykis.)

The silver lining being that the annoying “Talk Radio for Guys” promotional positioning — replete with all that comes with such a concept — that came when Entercom bought the corporation that previously owned the stationed (then at 1080 AM) is gone, too. (That having been the first warning sign of disaster looming.)

What you’re left with on the AM dial in terms of talk radio is a handful of Right-wing talk stations and one liberal talk station.

620 AM, KPOJ “Portland’s Progressive Talk Station” I suppose will end up continuing whether Air America ultimately fades away (the author of “South Park Conservatives” had an editorial published in the Oregonian yesterday that it would fail yet, and the network is not quite out of the woods), it being the most successful “Air America affiliate” and hence “liberal talk station” in the nation… picking up what liberal talk stations there are in this nation. (Maybe I could get Lionel back.) The station recently introduced a local show… though, a transplanted local show to be sure, in the name of Thom Hartmann… the transplanting coming across as a little strange. (The commercials for the new timeslot to “The Morning Sedition” coming across as rather odd — ‘Intention Mark and Marc fans! Now you get to hear The Morning Sedition LIVE!” (at 3:00 in the morning, which for a show that does few call-in segments sort of means there’s no advantage to a live show, and a big disadvantage in being on at 3 instead of 6.)

What do I make of Portland radio now? Well, there’s one fewer good one to mix and match from a tiny supply of stations that one mixes and matches with.

From 9 to noon, it’s … Al Franken? If I must. Weekends at 10 pm it’s… Art Bell? If I must.

Thank you, radio Gods. Now go to Hell, Entercom. You may have bettered the alternative rock station in Portland, but that just means you’ve one feather in your cap and two socks full of poopoo. (Three if you count learning about “Charlie”.)

All heil the new pope!

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

Somewhere in the summer on an Internet message board (easily findable by careful reading of this blog), I ran into a sort of Bill O’Reilly-esque Conservatoid. I say “Bill O’Reilly-esque” in the sense that he claims Independence and obviously thinks of himself as “Independent” (heck, he voted for Gore! And he listens to all sides… defined by him as both right wing radio talk and NPR!!!). But his big halla-balos: stark hawkism with regards to war matters (at first defending the Abu Gharib Torture scandal, then realizing it was basically an untenable spot and calling them “a case of a few bad apples” — beyond which these were “the worst of the batch” they were torturing, and then at the same time trying to justify Torture as an effective means to an end — which goes back to defending the Abu Gharib Torture scandal. News items saying that these weren’t the “worst of the batch” apparently the “liberal media”.)

A screed against “Politically Incorrectness”, this weird item of concern that I am never sure what is being debating. (Take, for instance, the attacks against Christmas that I was completely unaware was happening sans Bill O’Reilly and Fox News last Christmas. And in the end, all I can really tell you is that it’s a good thing that White Americans are no longer going around using the “n” word. [And I have a certain Bill Cosby-esque discomfort in Black Youth using the word, too.])

And… the Republican Talking Points on John Kerry and his “flip-flopping” ways. In the end Kerry striked me as a politician who doesn’t flip-flop any more or any less than any other politician, and some of them made sense. But I was going to take a few of them apart. I got through one of them, for me the most important and flawed objection on the list. (I would have gotten to a sort of half-way point on the War Resolution Vote a little later, half way in that I don’t find Kerry’s positioning kosher, but at the same time his statement “I actually voted for the $87 Billion before I voted against it”, as asinine as it is, makes sense in that: IF SENATORS AND HOUSE MEMBERS DON’T VOTE FOR BILLS BEFORE THEY VOTE AGAINST THEM AS OBJECTIONABLE CHANGES ARE BEING MADE AND VITAL CHANGES ARE VOTED DOWN, THEY’RE NOT DOING THEIR JOB.)

What you had here was a person who described himself as a “hardcore Agnostic” (a term that striked me as an oxymoron, and he left before I had the opportunity to throw only the cursory jab at the term), and was — upon discussion – “pro-choice” saying he was a flip-flopper because voices within the Catholic Church were saying not to give Communion to pro-choice Catholics. He used the phrase “His own church says…”

And thus it went from there, to my pointing out that half of Catholics consider themselves “pro-choice”, for good or for ill to the Catholic Church I don’t particularly care. From there the comment is made that “I don’t care how they justify and rationalize their faith, but John Kerry…” To which I said, “Why should I expect John Kerry to be any holier and up on Church Doctrine than any other Catholic lay-person?” At which point, I pretty much won that argument hands-down, the other more unabashed Bush-supporter chiming in with a “yes, but it doesn’t matter. The rest of Kerry’s flip-flopping is naseating.”

I bring this up by way of getting to the new Pope. The new Pope, as it turns out, was the Catholic Bishop who started the whole “Communion-Gate” by issuing the suggestion that perhaps Catholic pro-choice politicians shouldn’t receive Communion.

A curious selection as a pope. I should have written down my prediction as to who the new pope would be. My prediction had been: (1) an arch-conservative. (2) A man of advanced age to the point where he will probably die within a half dozen years. As it turns out, he may be in poor health right this minute.

The last factor is kind of similar to the final decades of the Soviet Union, where the leader was an aged man who was not going to make any waves within the government.

Not that anyone is expecting the new pope to favour contraceptions, legalized abortion, favouring porn… Anyone who wanted that would be sorely disappointed, and will forever be sorely disappointed (I hope.)

Doc Hastings

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

I feel as though I oughta say something about the member of Congress who replaced the head of the Ethics committee due to the concept that the former admonished Tom DaLay and the latter is… well, he’s Doc Hastings.

He’s a curious footnote to the whole Tom DeLay ordeal. When mentioned by Democrats and liberals nationwide, the other two new Ethics committee appointees (the two who donated money to the Tom Delay Legal Defense Fund) will be mentioned… no mention of Representative Doc Hastings, fourth Congressional District of Washington State.

He was the first man I voted against. A curious statement, as in 1998, his two opponents were this — er– Democrat and a Perot-era Reform Party candidate. I voted for the third party candidate.

My parents are more or less Republican. My mother doesn’t terribly like the man, saying only that he’s “shifty”.

What he looks like (or did last time I saw him), and this isn’t terribly relevant to anything other than pure political theater, is an Insomniac… bags perpetually under his eyes. This is really only a detriment should he run for Senate, which can only possibly happen if Eastern Washington and Western Washington split up into separate states.

His only jump into the national fray was as a footnote to the James Trafficant affair. He, apparently, headed what amounts to an Ethics sub-sub committee that pushes ethics issues here and there and shuffles papers into and out of the Ethics committee. This has lead blogs to see him as the “least obnoxious of a bad lot” of Republicans on the ethics committee (that is to say, to break a 4-4 impasse — he’s the best hope)… hence the very fact that that an ad is being run over in the Fourth Congressional District of Washington State.

His policy and his political temperament? Straight party-line vote. He’s a loyalist. There’s a reason he’s heading Tom DeLay’s Ethics Committee… and as Hastings takes the spotlight as he heads the committee looking into Tom DeLay’s ethical lapses (under DeLay’s rules of engagement), I have nothing else to say about him.

NRA Forever

Monday, April 18th, 2005

Jeezus Keerist!:

Bonilla said liberals believed the U.S. should emulate countries such as Belgium, Germany and Mexico.

“You know what I say to those people? ‘If you like those places so much, why don’t you move there?’ ” he said.

People in the crowd — boys in camouflage, women pushing strollers, men in hunting shirts with blaze-orange sleeves — rose to their feet. The message, many attendees said, had gotten through.

I’ve basically followed the lead of, say, Lewis Lapham in saying that that it is the politicians in control of the nation right now that want to turn our nation’s government and economy into the model of Mexico’s. As for Belgium and Germany: what does that even mean? (Does Mexico have strict gun laws?)

David Adams, an NRA election coordinator and recruiter, and his wife, Kim, are both life members. So are their two children — 4-year-old Abigail and 3-month-old Reagan, who is named after the president.

Members for 4 years and 3 months respectively.

Musician Charlie Daniels, who served as emcee, launched the convention by calling the political left “silly and unrealistic, a cadre of save-the-whales and kill-the-babies pantywaists.”

Yes, but what does that have to do with guns?

Ted Nugent?:

Speaking at the group’s annual convention in Houston, Nugent said the NRA’s current record-high membership of 4 million was nothing to get excited about. He said each NRA member should try to enroll 10 new members over the next year.

“Let’s next year sit here and say, ‘Holy smokes, the NRA has 40 million members now,”‘ he said, adding NRA members should only associate with other members. “No one is allowed at our barbecues unless they are an NRA member. Do that in your life.”

How do you recruit new members if you are to only associate with other members?

Nugent, who walked onto the stage with a large assault weapon in each hand, said those who support gun control aren’t the enemy.

“They are a joke,” he said. “Our enemy is the gun owners that don’t belong to the NRA.”

“The whole world sucks but America sucks less,” he said to laughter and applause. “And we can eliminate that sucking sound altogether if we all would actually be hardcore, radical extremists, hardcore radical extremists, demanding the right to self defense.”

Nugent and his family moved to Crawford, Texas, from Michigan about two years ago.

Someone look up the definition of the phrase “self parody” for me, please.

John Cougar Mellencamp versus Rush

Saturday, April 16th, 2005

A strange dichotemy:

Mellencamp is the most politically niave, knee-jerk “populist” rocker since… hmmm… since Springsteen. Or the Dixie Chicks. Or Pearl Jam. Or just about every other one of their pop peers from the past half century who have lapped up liberalism because That’s What A Good Artist Is Supposed To Do.

It’s irritating, to be sure, but the best antidote is a Rush album and a copy of Fred Goodman’s book “The Mansion on the Hill.”

The best antidote to John Cougar Mellencamp is a Rush album?

I’m not sure why this comment flummoxes me. Certainly in a political sphere, they are on different sides of a multi-dimensional spectrum… but why does one listen to music purely for political buttressing? (Surely there is something to a lament to losing your family farm. As an aside, I like Green Day better as its current political incarnation than when they sang about masturbation.) As for the artists… I don’t like John Cougar Mellancamp or Rush, but I don’t hate them either. Thanks to repeated play on classic rock radio, their hits are pretty well burned into my mind to the point where I no longer have to hear anything by Rush or by John Cougar Mellencamp ever again. If I wanted to hear them, I could just click a song from my mental jukebox, and wind it on through. (Of the two, I’d probably pick a Mellencamp Greatest Hits album over a Rush Greatest Hits.)

Some highlights of Rush:

A modern-day warrior
Mean mean stride,
Today’s tom sawyer
Mean mean pride.

Followed by 3 and a half minutes of pretentious prog-rock mist, before we move to the next lyrics. I hear that the 30 minute song they have on a latter day album, as Rush travelled ever more forthright into exploring the concepts of Ayn Rand, is even worse in this regard.

For his part, I have a few lines to add to John Cougar Mellencamp’s “Small Town”:

Went to some oddly hyped-up high school football game or other in a small town.
Shopped at a god-forsaken Wal-Mart and gained this vague sense of hopeless desperation in a small town.
And I ran the only stop light due to exasperation at the light not turning to green despite the fact that there is no traffic whatsoever in this same small town.

And on and on it goes.

I don’t know what politician would incorporate Rush thematically into their pander/ appeal. Mellencamp rebuked Reagan for using him. John Edwards took up the mantle of Mellencamp (Dean’s statement of his admiration for Wyclef Jean was a much more forced pander), and supposedly now In many respects he needed to lose the last run for the nomination – because in running for President, he found, not only himself, but who his people are. … which one can only muse on, trying to make sense of one single term in the US Senate (began in what had once looked like the comeback for Democratic chances in the South — 1998) and a vice-presidential run that ended without winning a single southern state.

I bring up John Edwards as a pointer to these woes of the Democratic party. On election night, you had Chris Matthews (I believe, but it might have been Tom Brokaw) saying something to the effect of “When you start off by taking the states where people speak in a Southern Accent and the states where everyone wears a cowboy hat off the table, you’re stuck having to win every other state, and good luck doing that.”

The North Carolina Senate race of 2004 ended up with two candidates pandering against NAFTA-type free trade (the manufacturing sector of the economy disappearing). I say pander because neither candidate had much credibility in that regard. The Democratic candidate, Erskine Bowles stood as a member of the Clinton administration… who, of course, pushed NAFTA through.

What you’re left with is, for any meaningful Democratic Party (as opposed to one who’s political instincts is to meet a Republican Party half way): for the west, as I posted earlier, the examples of Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, and Oregon reprentative Peter DeFazio. (I say that knowing that the state of Wisconsin isn’t Wyoming.) And, purely stylistically and not politically, John McCain. The south? We’re stuck considering the case of John Edwards. (Virginia, suddenly the most Democratic southern state at the moment, seems to be a case of Yuppie-ist cultural distancing.)