January 26, 2008

Hype Uncheck

I knew I left something out in my little musical Hype Check, but I couldn't remember what for the life of me. That can't bode to well for the band, but they still got some hype in them... Anyway, the Virgins? The Strokes if the Strokes were actually any good...

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What More Can I Say, Top Billing

When Bill Clinton started going after Obama it sure made it easier to see my the right wing hates him so much. But man when he shifts back to attacking the right, it's pretty easy to remember what was so great about him. His praise of John McCainfor instance, is such a deft and subtle political maneuver that it brings a smile to my face. The Clintons clearly have identified McCain as their biggest threat in a general election and by tying him publicly to Hillary, they are striking right where it will hurt him most in his attempt to win the Republican nomination. So nasty but so clever...

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January 25, 2008

"They Thinking Short When They Should be Thinking Long. Shameful Sheeit"

You can't fault Hillary Clinton for not doing everything in her power to win this election, but man you have to wonder when that line between making power grabs and seeming power mad gets crossed. I'm a registered independent and for this election at least I'm voting for whoever the Democrats toss up. And I was quite happy with the three options until a week or two ago. Heck if anything I maybe leans a tiny bit in Hillary's direction. And she's doing everything in her power to make me hate her. Maybe that's what it takes to win the nomination, but is that what it takes to win it all?

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January 23, 2008

Off the Waterfront


50 years ago NY was a city of docks. Just about it's entire history and rise stemmed from it's port. It's ability to connect mainland America to Europe, followed by the factories that piggybacked that transport network, the financial firms that swished the money around for everyone, the media companies that circulated the necessary information and the vibrant culture that grew out of that concentration of money, transport and people. Airplanes, container ships and interstate highways finally killed the docks though, and New York's water front slowly decayed and transformed itself into residential communities and parklands.

And for this moment it seems quite nice.

But we are staring straight into the face of an energy crisis. Two questions loom. When does the oil run out? And when do we have enough alternative fuels to not rely on oil? If those two dates overlap, well who cares, the path we are on will stay relatively smooth. But what if they don't.

Maybe, just maybe we'll need those docks back...

January 20, 2008

Hype Check

Vampire Weekend - The album is not even "out" yet and it's already 6 months too late say that their parents listened to Paul Simon's Graceland too much while they were in utero. They might not steal quite as much from Africa as Paul but they do manage to sound even whiter than he does while in the act. I know they went to Columbia but the African guitars plus indie rock is genius enough that one wonders if they were in the MBA program. Good but not nearly as good as Boubacar Traore. I expect to be guiltily enjoying this while ordering americanos for years to come.

Lil' Wayne - If you say you are the best rapper alive enough times over and over again it just might come true. I'm pretty sure at least half the songs I listened to in 2007 came from a Wayne mixtape. Talk about the album not even being out yet... Fuck "In Rainbows" Wayne is the one blazing the trail for what the future of the music industry looks like. Sure no one quite knows where the money is coming from but you know it works out somehow. Main variable is just how long before Wayne's childstar symptoms take him down the Britney and Michael Jackson path. Plenty of warning signs out there, but so far his growing insanity seems to be more of the musically productive Prince variety...

The Cool Kids - I've been saying it for a while but the music industry really needs to look at the skateboard industry to learn how to monetize a product that's essentially free. The Cool Kids sound like some Columbia MBA realized the same thing and you know it works out somehow. If it comes out in a year or two that some streetwear company cooked them up to sell product I wouldn't be surprised at all. And as long as the beats stay hot I don't really care. As for the rhymes, not bad at all, but they could probably switch up the front men the way skate teams change riders and only the hardcore obsessives would care.

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January 16, 2008



I didn't watch the Democratic debate last night, but followed it online instead. The fascinating thing about live blogging is just how different the same event reads, for a while I thought there were two or three debates going, syncing up only in the commercial breaks.

Once I saw the pictures in the paper though, and then a few clips, it was pretty clear why so many pundits thought she won. She simply had a better seat! Sitting in the center she looked as if the coronation was over already. She sits, walks and talks like she's president already and so far for the most part it works.

Obama on the other hand, is so on the threshold. When he is on, he's magic, but he not on enough yet. Hillary grinds it out every second, her guard is never down, she lapses only in miliseconds, events only caught on film not the human eye. Obama will probably never get that, but it's not clear he needs to either. What he needs is a big hit though, an event he can shine at with enough eyes on him to pass Hillary's relentlessness and make the country see him as the path onward. As super tuesday approaches politics isn't local anymore and Obama is only going to win if he finds an opportunity to speak his magic to a large enough audience nationwide.

And yeah Edwards; he's like a living personification of "right place, wrong time", I like him, but sorry....

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January 10, 2008

Politic Balling

Yes, the baseball metaphors come so naturally to American politics and right now it's quite clear that Barak Obama is your classic homerun hitter. When he connects (Iowa) he hits it well out of the park. He must have still been admiring that shot when New Hampshire rolled around and of course he struck out.

Clinton in contrast is that classic small ball player. Working all out, day in and day out, at the plate, on the field and off. While Obama was admiring his inflated poll numbers and resting for his victory speach she and her team were out trying everything they could to stay in contention. The Hillary Hustle if you will.

The obligatory irony came when the news media was completely shocked at her victory in New Hampshire. Ironic because the press clearly played a huge role in it, yet completely failed to recognize it. Despite the poll numbers for Obama, Hillary absolutely dominated the press coverage in the final days before the NH primary. Nothing huge, no grand slams, no home runs even, just lots of singles. Lots of little bits of coverage, almost crying, Bill bitching to the media, Hillary defending herself at the debates, possible campaign shake ups. She stayed in the game, kept hitting, kept playing defense. Obama was getting anointed king for a second, yet it was Hillary getting all the media coverage.

The media missed this story, because it wasn't them writing it, they just typed it up. It was a classic campaign straight out of Karl Rove's playbook. Stay in focus, but stay moving, keep the articles coming and keep them coming fast enough that the press only has enough time to report, not reflect. The press has never loved Bush, nor do they Hillary, and when they stay still they wind up getting beat upon. But when they stay moving, keep creating newsworthy events, then they stay in focus anyhow. They stay the center of attention and that makes them powerful.

The press overall loves Barak Obama, he's got a natural advantage in the media game, that stuff they call charisma. But the news is a 24 hour, seven days a week operation and charisma alone just won't cut it. If you want to stay in focus you need to keep creating "news". Rove clearly understands it, and Hillary's team... well they might not quite understand it, but they've been around long enough to know most of the tricks.

Marketing as a thing practically began with BT Barnum's "any publicity is good publicity" quote. Everyone in the business has heard that said far too many times, but not enough take it seriously. For good reason, it's clearly not actually true. There is such a thing as bad publicity, and when it's bad like Howard Dean's infamous scream, it's truly bad stuff indeed. But what many of the candidates seem to miss is that half-bad publicity isn't bad at all, but in fact as Barnum new, quite good. In New Hampshire Hillary Clinton took a string of half bad pr events and ensured that all media eyes stayed on her. She didn't do anything great, not even anything half special, but she stayed working gave it her all and came out on top in the ballot box. That's political small ball at it's finest and if Obama and his team want to stay in the game they're going to need to learn to play along.

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January 09, 2008

Relapse 08

To an American information junkie like me, the presidential elections are hard drugs. I've relished the past week or so the way I imagine a real junkie relishes a relapse after a few clean years. It's been familiar yet thrilling, and at the same time completely unwanted.

I shouldn't even care at this point, I'm registered as an independent and after 7 years of Bush I'm voting for whoever the Democrats toss up. But the call of the process still pulls me in, so much information, unfolding in real time with extraordinary stakes, I can't stay away. Gonna be loading a reloading an awful lot of blogs and webpages in the next 10 months... If there's an upside, at least maybe it'll wake up these dormant pages.

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