Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Morning walk, day 3

I'm afraid that by titling these posts as I have that I've given them a countdown quality that will severely depress me by day 6.

This morning the ocean had thrown up thousands of live scallops, whelks and cockles. The bivalves were opened to the sunrise as if gasping for moisture in the thin air, when in actuality they were searching for a foothold to propel themselves from the beach and the hungry maws of the maurading seabirds who made quick work of them. In less than an hour most of the gaping shells were empty and beginning to bleach in the sun.

Yesterday we biked through Ding Darling Nature Preserve, where the Eastern acreage had been decimated by a brushfire a few months earlier, but where green life is emerging again. We saw dozens of exotic birds - ibis, herons, stilts, anhingas, egrets and osprey and a few lazy alligators napping in the reeds.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Video killed the oldest continuing published, etc.

If you were worried about the Hartford Courant, today's news will cause hives. The geniuses at The Trib think that the manager of a local Fox affiliate is better suited to running the paper than someone who actually understands writing.

The typical news report at Fox 61 is reported by a camera operator wielding mic, camera and deadline. What happens when the news editor at Fox 61 opens the Courant in the morning and finds the only news is what they reported, in brief, at 11. Oops.

Kind of like turning the mirror to face the mirror. In depth becomes a puddle dive.

Morning walk, day 2

After a story two days, the sea has thrown up thousands of pieces of flotsam and jetsam onto the beach, but someone's twentieth anniversary apparently has survived the storm and the decades.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

There but for Fortune

Fortune magazine dissects the multiple personalities of Chris Dodd, and the picture is not exactly flattering.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The facebook president doesn't quite get it

I saw a bit of Barack Obama's live webcast virtual town hall (a rebroadcast doesn't yet seem to be available) on the web today, and I was basically impressed. We have a smart, engaging leader who is determined to use the communications tools at hand to get connected with constituents, of which he doesn't seem to be afraid. George Bush always gave the impression that he was waiting for someone to throw a shoe at him.

While Barack Obama is showing himself to be the most progressive president ever, I do have a few quibbles (and I admit they are based on only a partial viewing of the virtual town hall).

What's with the stupid hand-held stick mic the president carried around. This microphone made Obama seem like a Maury Povich or Jerry Springer wanna be. There are very elegant, functional lavalier (clip on lapel) mics that would have let him wander both hands free, instead on taking the locked crooked elbow look of some cheesy talk-show host.

More egregious was the joking dismissal of a web question voted to be one of the top vote getters on the White House website. The White House compiled thousands of questions, narrowed them down, then let web visitors vote on those they wanted to be addressed. More than three and a half million visitors cast votes.

So when Obama said he needed to at least acknowledge a question that rose to the top of the list, it was a shame that he dismissed it with a laugh. The question concerned wheter the president thought the legalization of marijuana would help the budget by reducing law enforcement costs, and by opening a lucrative, taxable trade.

Obama laughed and said that he didn't know what the question said about web users, but that no, he didn't feel the legalization of marijuana would help the economy.

Not only did he insult the very people who made the webcast town meeting successful, he dismissed out of hand, an idea whose time has come.

Sorry Barack, but you tripped twice on that question.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Putting a face on a bonus


A very interesting Op-Ed in the New York Times is the resignation letter of Jake DeSantis, executive vice president at AIG.

DeSantis makes no bones about being overpaid, but his explanation of the retention bonus is surprising in its explanation of promises made and betrayed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Decriminalize? Dudes, legalize it.

According to what's left of the Hartford Courant, the state legislature is considering decriminalizing marijuna, thereby saving $11 million in law enforcement costs annually.

Under the proposed legislation, stoners caught with an ounce or less would be charged with an infraction that comes with $131 ticket...whoa, lovely Rita meter maid!

Imagine the money that could be saved if pot was legalized.

Sold over the counter, the "gateway" aspect of a corner pusher pushing harder would disappear, and marijuana could be taxed like alcohol which is a very dangerous drug indeed.

Me, homo erectus

I just got back from the chiropractor, and I can walk upright again. Amazing what a good spinal adjustment will do.

In trying to describe my posture for the past two and a half days, I searched the web for the classic, Evolution of Man, chart and found that the parodies outnumber the actual illustrations.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A love song for the dismal science

Back to the 16th Century

We could all see it coming, we just never expected it to come this quickly. Ink and paper news dailies are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the scramble to come up with the "what's next" has taken on a greater urgency for those of us who care about newspapers, journalism and democracy.

Clay Shirky, who is an expert on the economic effect of the web, decentralized technologies and is an adjunct professor at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program, writes that a model will likely emerge, but in our chaotic grasping for answers, and our immersion in the decline of the legacy press, we are simply not able to see what's next yet.

His remarkably cogent argument reaches back to the 16th century just after Gutenberg unleashed the printing press on an unprepared society. The reverberations were stunning, but it took decades before the new model of information, power, social structure and community emerged.

Shirky doesn't believe that any of the models being touted today are realistic, and that the new model will be something totally unpredictable. He points to Craigslist that began as something minor and turned into "a critical piece of the infrastructure."

Shirky doesn't pretend to have the answers. "Nothing will work, but everything might," he writes.

Like many other, Shirky is worried that journalism will be tossed out with the news.

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

When we shift our attention from ’save newspapers’ to ’save society’, the imperative changes from ‘preserve the current institutions’ to ‘do whatever works.’ And what works today isn’t the same as what used to work.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Extreme wood

It's my ardent belief that a kindergartener should not be doing a science fair project, but in my household, I've been outvoted. And so, I found myself on the internet searching for a science fair project on the topic of "time," that a five year old could wrap his still-forming intellect around.

That's how I found 41 Hilarious Science Fair Experiments. I started to smile. I proceeded to chuckle. I found Extreme Wood and I began to belly laugh out loud, and continued to laugh all the way through, Ask Your Mother.

I can't guarantee you'll laugh too, but you might.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Olivia Scott is amazing

A big fear of going to see a live drama in which a little girl has a major role is that no little girl could carry the weight of the part.

I went to see To Kill A Mockingbird at Hartford Stage last night, and I recommend that you do too.

The play is spectacular and 12 year old Olivia Scott and Matthew Modine are superb, and lead a very fine cast. Modine makes you forget that Gregory Peck was ever Atticus Finch.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Big blowout for Seeger's 90th

Tickets go on sale Monday for Pete Seeger's 90th birthday party in Madison Square Garden.

There will be many tribute peformances, and the list is impressive:

Pete Seeger
Richie Havens
Bruce Springsteen
Steve Earle
Dave Matthews
Taj Mahal
Eddie Vedder
Tom Morello
John Mellencamp
Warren Haynes
Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet
Ani DiFranco
Bernice Johnson Reagon
Arlo Guthrie
Dar Williams
Bela Fleck
Guy Davis
Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses)
Jay Ungar & Molly Mason
Ben Harper
Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Billy Bragg
Larry Long
Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident)
Mike & Ruthy Merenda
Bruce Cockburn
Native American Indian Cultural Alliance
Emmylou Harris
NYC Labor Chorus
Joan Baez
Scarlet Moore
Keller Williams
Silvio Rodriguez
Kris Kristofferson
Tao Rodriguez-Seeger
Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Tom Chapin
Michael Franti
Tom Paxton
Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers)
Tommy Sands
Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Del McCoury
Tony Trischka
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Toshi Reagon

Has anyone seen Creepy Joe™?

I was just thinking, what Connecticut Senator might benefit if his colleague from Connecticut was mired in all sorts of financial problems, thereby redirecting the heat and light from his own record of bad decisions?

And what Connecticut Senator might know something about an Irish land deal, and have just the right connections to slip a wee packet smoldering peat to a newspaper columnist who might write about that deal?

And what Connecticut Senator might have the lowdown on who was and wasn't a friend of Angelo, and make sure that the members of the fourth estate, learn about another Senator's own third or fourth estate?

And what Connecticut Senator, who might pose as a friends of another Connecticut Senator, and who understands how deals get done and undone deep inside the beltway, might whisper that another Connecticut Senator had blown the deal by not paying enough attention, and thereby get even for a time in campaign history when one Connecticut Senator was kissing bush, and raising cain while another Connecticut Senator was becoming a Nedhead?

Just asking.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A capitol idea

I was at the Legislative Office Building at the Capitol today, working on a TV commercial for a local hospital and it was a bit like old home week.

I saw Matt Lesser, a legislator from Middletown who is a Wesleyan student on hiatus.

I said hello to Tom Swann, whom I met while working on Ned Lamont commercials.

I bumped into Tim Wolf, an early Peace Train "employee" in the stairwell.

I saw Bill Corvo of Kleen Energy having lunch with Joe Serra.

And I saw Middletown Common Council member Vinnie Loffredo.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All Tuckered out

Over at the Daily Beast, Tucker Carlson repeats, and embellishes his weekend rant about Jon Stewart.

To recap, you may remember Jon Stewart besting Carlson when Stewart critiqued Carlson and Crossfire, Carlson's now-cancelled show.

When Stewart took apart CNBC and Jim Cramer over the past few weeks, Carlson decided to rise to Cramer's defense.

Carlson continues his self-serving criticism in the Daily Beast essay, but most interestingly, the readers flay him in the commentary, including a most interesting post from an alleged attendee at the CPAC conference, which Stewart mocked roundly, who posts as "goneprivate."

Tucker-- I would much rather prefer someone to mock me and other conference attendees as opposed to coming to our conference, getting sh*tbombed, acting wildly unprofessional, and then capping it off with sleeping with a young associate at my firm-- all the while collecting a hefty speaking fee to take home to an unsuspecting wife and child. Sound familiar??? It should-- unless you are an amnesiac.

The post is comment, after all, and comments are notoriously unrelible, but it's an accusation, though it offers little in the way of proof. Still, if an enterprising journalist digs a little, he or she may find that Tucker Carlson's behavior at CPAC has him throwing stones in a glass house.

Obama picks Memphis over CT

This may be the bravest thing a sitting president has done - releasing his NCAA Basketball bracket picks.

He's got Calipari over Calhoun. Since the AIG thing is on his mind, maybe he doesn't like the sound of someone who said he would not give a dime back.

Memphis over UCONN, that's like picking Elvis over Gene Pitney.

I wonder what the White House pool amounts to?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Muldoon the Solid Man

As a fourth generation Irish-American, the idea of drinking green-tinted Budweiser, or doffing a plastic leprechaun hat is as repellent as Barry Fitzgerald's stage Irishman was to a generation of Irish-American intellectuals trying to shake off the cliche of drunken incompetence.

But I'll hoist a Guiness or a Jameson's , play some Solas, and even sing a chorus of Sally McLannane among friends, though Shane MacGowan has done as much for the resurrection of the sodden stereotype as Barry Fitzgerald ever did.

On St. Paddy's, the song that comes into my head is Muldoon, the Solid Man. I heard Mick Moloney's version first on his album Uncommon Bonds, and took it as the unvarnished tale of an immigrant.

Come to find out, it is not a traditional folk song, but a stage song, written by one of the stars of 19th century American musical theater, Edward Harrigan (of Harrigan and Hart - that's them on the right). The song debuted 135 years ago this month in a Harrigan and Hart play called Who Owns the Clothesline? The play tells the tale of a dispute in an Irish tenement. Since the book of the play did not survive, it's not clear who Muldoon is, but historians are certain that the song draws a satirical picture of an Irish politician who is not nearly as accomplished as he pretends to be. So, for example, when Muldoon declares that his constituents summer on the island, "To enjoy their summer’s recreation and take the enchanting East River air," he's referring to Blackwell Island prison.

The only performance of the song I could find on the web is one by a bedroom band who call themselves AII (American Irish Italian), which for all it's lack of production value, is actually a quite good peformance.

BTW, no less than James Joyce namechecked Muldoon in Finnegan's Wake, but there's not much Irish that he didn't namecheck in that runaway stream of consciousness masterpiece.

So, enjoy, and Happy St. P's.

Muldoon, the Solid Man

I am a man of great influence, and educated to a high degree
I came when small from Donegal and my cousin Jimmy came along with me
On the city road I was situated in a lodging house with me brother Dan

Till by perseverance I elevated, and I went to the front like a solid man.

So come with me, and I will treat you dacent
I’ll sit you down and I will fill your can
And along the street all the friends I meet
Say “There goes Muldoon, he’s a solid man.”

At any party or at a raffle, I always go as an invited guest
As conspicuous as the great Lord Mayor, boys, I wear a nosegay upon me chest
And when called upon for to address the meeting, with no regard for clique or clan
I read the Constitution with great elocution, because you see, I am a solid man.

I control the Tombs, I control the island, my constituents they all go there
To enjoy their summer’s recreation and take the enchanting East River air
I am known in Harlem, I’m known in Jersey, I am welcomed hearty at every hand
And come what may on St. Patrick’s Day, I march away like a solid man.

Monday, March 16, 2009

All hopped up and no place to go

I just got home from making another batch of limited double IPA with my friend Paul, and I can't think of a better video to post.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Contribute this evening at WHUS

I'll be answering phones during the fundraiser for Susan Forbes Hansen's Sunday Night Folk Festival on WHUS. Call 800-599-WHUS and contribute.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Disappearing from doorsteps all over America

(The tuatara, a "living fossil.")

Another longterm American legacy daily is disappearing.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will print its last issue next week
, leaving Seattle a one-paper town.

The article in the Times reporting the closure is interesting because it discusses both sides of the "what's next" issue.

Joel Kramer of the online Minneapolis newsblog MinnPost.com, says that a newsblog can't compete with a daily:

“Places like us would spring up,” he said, “but they wouldn’t be nearly as big. We can tweak the papers and compete with them, but we can’t replace them.”

But Jeff Jarvis, of City University of New York, feels that online news sources will be the smaller, different, but vital sources of information that will replace dailies:

The death of a newspaper should result in an explosion of much smaller news sources online, producing at least as much coverage as the paper did, says Jeff Jarvis, director of interactive journalism at the City University of New York’s graduate journalism school. Those sources might be less polished, Mr. Jarvis said, but they would be competitive, ending the monopolies many newspapers have long enjoyed.

From my own experience, publishing news on the all-volunteer, citizen journalist newsblog, The Middletown Eye, I can say that we are not covering stories that the Hartford Courant has abandoned, and finding that we are beating the daily Middletown Press to other stories, and making them more likely to show up at town meetings they had otherwise shunned. To be fair, with a paid staff, they get to stories we can't get to, yet.

Journalists and editors at legacy dailies make much of the fact that blogs are frequently pointers to the journalist work of daily reporters. That's true, to some extent. But many webpapers, like the New Haven Independent, do their own reporting, and it's often superior to the competition. Others have said that there's no way to monetize the newsweb, pointing to the New York Times as an example. But the New York Times website is still competing with its own daily print version.

Print newspapers are the tuatara, living fossils which have outlived their era. They survive as long as the baby boom generation, and then, when their native habitat is gone.

The need for news, and for journalism, will not disappear. I have every faith that our natural curiousity about the crooks who run our government and businesses will keep journalism alive indefinitely.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The jester is essential

Jon Stewart is a comedian, with a show satirizing television news on a network called Comedy Central. It's amazing that the best interview about the economy is conducted by a comedian. That's entertainment.

Jim Cramer on Jon Stewart last night. Comedy Central has provided the uncut, uncensored interview, and it's well-worth watching.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

An unbroken record of broken records

Virgin Megastore in Times Square is closing. And while that should bring few to tears for a music store that was more like a mall than a music store, it is a portent of the doom that continues to dog the commercial music industry.

I've got many of my own memories of my obsession with recorded music. It begins in the late 50's with the recollection of a record player which warmed from within by the vacuum tubes glowing behind a metal grate, and set ablaze by the music and other sounds that were emitted from its wildly spinning platter.

We had inherited 78 rpms that played Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians posing as L'il Orly, and Warner Brothers cartoon audioplays, with Mel Blanc creating all the characters. We had snippets of great classical works on 33 1/3 rpms (my favorite was the march from Carmen) that came home in the grocery bag as shopping premiums from the First National supermarket (a new concept in itself at the time). And most mysteriously, we had little 45 rpms that my pre-teen sister brought home, with the large center hole plugged with an art-deco adapter. I remember playing some rock and rolling tenor singing over and over, "Everyday it's a gettin closer..."

Then, as that pre-teen sister became a teen, my father brought a stereo into the house, with the ubiquitous "stereo demonstration" album, and a collection of classical marches. But the magic began when my teen sister began to play the Rolling Stones and the Animals. And my younger sisters screamed to the Beatles. And I, well, I won that copy of Dylan's Bringing it All Back Home, at a church bazaar, and it was never the same. I always wonder what the Catholic church would think if they knew they had planted the seed to my own rejection of their medieval tenets.

I collected a pile of 45's, and a bigger pile of albums. I was floored when a high school friend showed me his father's component stereo, and I had to have one of my own. Still, with my lawn mowing money I couldn't afford the Harmon Kardon components, so I plowed my dough into a Radio Shack set-up with some really big speakers that blanketed my dorm room with Muddy Waters, and Paul Simon and Family and Ike and Tina and Jeff Beck and Leo Kottke and an exotic band from Jamaica called The Wailers.

I discovered that by writing reviews for my college newspaper that record companies would cram my mail slot, each and every day with four, five, seven free LPs, to the envy of each of my dorm mates.

As a corporate worker in Hartford, I spent hours browsing the racks at the late, lamented Capitol Records, or at Integrity 'n' Music in Wethersfield. During the day I would labor writing training manuals for general liability insurance, and at night I drifted off to the pounding anger and rebellion of the Clash, Elvis Costello, Fear, XTC and the Ramones wailing to me through those Radio Shack speakers, though spinning on a much more expensive turntable.

Travelling for work or vacation, I always found myself in a record store, usually an independent, where I would try to find the elusive LP, or the local hit.

I re-discovered some of my Capitol Record cronies at WWUH, where I've spent 25 years spinning a variety of disks.

I was an early adaptor of CDs, and later, MP3 and MP4's, but I still haunted record stores where I could find them, until, one-by-one they seemed to disappear. Sure there are a few wonderful holdouts in Connecticut, Brass City Records in Waterbury and Integrity 'n' Music in Wethersfield, but their glory days are behind them.

And when I get there, I can still spend hours in a store like the great Amoeba, the rumpled Bleeker Bob's in NYC, Turn It Up and Dynamite Records in Northampton, Grimey's in Nashville, and In Your Ear in Cambridge.

It's not any wonder to me that folks are making movies about the loss of records and record stores, but I don't think there's any reviving this dead horse. It's gone, and it's time to move onto what's next.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An 83 year old white knight

Two years ago under one of the side-stage tents at the Newport Folk Festival I heard the first rumors. The company which produced the Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals was being sold, and longtime producer George Wein was retiring.

"The new people want to turn the Folk Fest into Bonnaroo," a friend whispered. Bonaroo is the fabulously successful, multi-genre music fest held every June in the swampy heat of the Tennessee hills.

Wein, and his fellow producer Bob Jones had never ossified the festivals into something dusty and rigidly traditional. In fact they always took heat for bringing the new things along. Bob Dylan wasn't the first electric band at the 1964 edition of the Folk Festival, but he gets all the credit.

Well, the Newport Folk Festival wasn't quite Bonnaroo last year, but it did somehow yoke Jimmy Buffet's parrotheads, and the smoky inertia of Black Crow fans with the dreamy meanderings of Jim James. This strange lineup, along with the regional ambitions of Festival Networks put them deep in a hole, from which they apparently haven't climbed.

Re-enter George Wein. He's back. And he's ready to make the Newport Folk and Jazz Fests rise again. And there's no small sense of relief among folk fans who wondered if the Newport Folk Fest would disappear on it's 50th anniversary.

I hope I have half the energy and ambition Wein does when I'm his age.

I can throw feces on him

You would think TV financial analysts and news hosts would know better than to challenge a smart, funny, merciless comedian with a large audience, but, nope.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Yoo hoo! Justice calling

Now that it's become completely clear that former Bush Office of Legal Counsel, John Yoo was aiming at creating tyranny, it's great to see that some home-staters are suing him for trying to tear up the Constitution.

Yale Law School's human rights clinic is helping convicted al-Qaida conspirator Jose Padilla to sue Yoo (the rhyming possibilities for a Yoo song are endless, aren't they?) for holding Padilla without charges for three years.

Yoo is apparently remorseless, and is given to sarcastic missives to judges. Sure sign of a sociopath.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Journalism is expensive, talk is cheap, part 3

Susan Campbell invites us all to something called: Death or Metamorphosis of the Fourth Estate: The Impact of Declining Media Coverage on Democracy and Government.

Surely, no headline writer worth his/her salt would ever create a hed so long. Headless Body In Topless Bar it's not.

But the event seems worthwhile if only for the fact that Rich Hanley is not on the panel. I'm not sure what a tired hack and current flack like Dean Pagani contributes, nor what Kevin Sullivan has to offer, but I hope Pat Sheehan makes sure Jon Lender, Christine Stuart, and C. Edwin Baker are able to get a word in.

Old State House
Tuesday March 8
9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Sponsored by Connecticut Foundation For Open Government

Journalism is expensive, talk is cheap, part 2

Colin McEnroe has been coming up with some good thoughts on the state of journalism.

First there was this thought provoking blogpost (be sure to read the comments.)

And then there was FOX61.

Journalism is expensive, talk is cheap

On the way into work I was listening to a very interesting Where We Live, this morning on WNPR, during which two experienced, now under-employed journalists Mark Pazniokas (formerly of the Hartford Courant) and Greg Hladky (formerly of the New Haven Journal Register), talked about the fate of state news coverage.

I decided to call in when both reporters continued to say, "journalism is expensive," and while I got on the air at the tail end of the show, the entreaty from host John Dankowsky to ask my question quickly left me spurting out a comment, not a question, that wasn't completely cohesive and complete.

So, here are my concerns, and the questions I would have raised.

Both Pazniokas and Hladky said at some point during the hour that good, investigative journalism is "expensive."

I would argue that "expensive" is a relative term, and now a meme being repeated by laid-off reporters who have heard that very justification from the newspapers which have laid them off.

There's no doubt that the cost of a staff of experienced, capable journalists is significant. Still, I don't believe that the cost of journalist salaries are what's bringing dailies down.

The Courant began trimming news and editorial staff two years ago. A source inside the paper told me that the publisher confirmed that the Courant would have netted $41 million in 2007, if it did not have to pay down the debt incurred by Sam Zell's purchase of the paper.

That's a lot of profit. And to be fair, that was a year ago when the economy was still humming along. Since then, the economy has tanked, advertising revenue is down, and the cost of running a paper has increased. But the debt hasn't disappeared.

So, without the corporate debt, the Courant might have had to trim staff. But the huge, debilitating cuts that the parent company is now demanding would be unlikely.

The truth is that the papers that are failing in this country are largely the victims of upside down mortgages. Large corporations bought the papers at inflated prices when the economy was good, and the papers (and associated TV and radio stations) were cash cows. But the economy went in the shitter just as other factors like news on the web, and particularly free classifieds on the web, began to erode the influence and reach of the papers. Corporate debt has killed more newspapers than the cost of maintaining a solid staff of good writers.

Writers report news. News makes newspapers. Without news you lose readers. Without readers you lose newspapers.

The extension of the belief that "good journalism is expensive," leads one to conclude that eventually all legacy print newspapers are bound to fail, and that there is no way to create an in-depth news organization on the web, or elsewhere, that can feature local source reporting, and make a profit.

I think that's a fallacy, and it's one that ex-reporters ought to stop spreading. That meme allows the legacy press publishers to discourage those they lay off from rising up as competitors.

Will print newspapers disappear? The answer, unfortunately is "yes." Inevitably the cost of print, the lack of demand for print, the ease of acquiring news stories on the web and elsewhere, is bound to hasten the demise of ink and paper. But will these factors destroy the organizations publishing healthy newspapers today? The answer is likely "no." I suggest that locally-run, privately-held, commercially and publically-funded, agile newspapers will figure out how to move from ink and paper to another medium, and in the meantime, they'll continue to publish successful ink and paper until the paradigm shifts completely.

And new "newspapers" will spring up to compete with the legacy press who can't get their act together.

Hladky and Pazniokas talked about the search for a new model for news, and that it's unlikely that "blogs" will be able to do what a paper like the Courant has done. The truth is that the Courant is at the point where it isn't doing what the Courant once did, and some blogs are filling in the blanks.

What if Hladky and Pazniokas and their laid-off colleagues banded together and created a state-wide web paper (or joined forces with someone like Christine Stuart at CT New Junkie) that capitalized (no pun intended), on their vast experience, but also featured free online classifieds, obituaries, weather, traffic, movie and tv listings, sports and virtual coupons. They might find that they have something that they could sell to advertisers. They might find that they could create an income stream that would pay local reporters, editors, photogs and graphic artists, and have enough money left over to declare a profit at the end of the year.

Of course, not many journalists wants to run a newspaper. Not many news writers are entrepreneurs. Not many columnists want to balance a spreadsheet. Not many editors want to track payroll. Mostly writers want to write, and they want to work for someone who will pay them to write.

So, as I blurted on Where We Live, I don't think the discovery of the model that will work is that far off. I only think it takes an enterprising publisher to discover a way to truly compete with The Courant.

People want what the Courant and the New Haven Register once offered. They may not want it in the same way, but they want it all the same. They may not appreciate capitol reporting in the abstract, but when it comes wrapped with weather and traffic and obits and movie previews, they may come to understand how much they need and want it.

And the state, and the country needs and wants it too.

It's our duty to discover a way to keep an eye on government, and to bring well-crafted news to the governed. It's our duty to demand in-depth reporting and not to cede that duty to well-coiffed talking heads, and camera operators with a mic and a deadline. It's our duty to stop talking about the way in which newspapers have failed, and discover a way to make news work again. It's our duty to have an informed citizenry, a wary governing class, a knowledgeable set of voters and legislators and public officials who won't operate in a vacuum.

Okay, journalism is expensive. What will it cost us if it disappears?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Woody and John Henry

America's first singer songwriter.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Drinking in the midnight oil without a safety net

The great Australian rock band Midnight Oil is reuniting after not playing for seven years (except for a one-off benefit), for a series to aid victims of vast bushfires in Victoria.

Problem is, former lead singer Peter Garrett won't have time to rehearse because he's too busy as a member of the cabinet of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

I was lucky enough to see Midnight Oil perform three times back when they were touring the US. We won't be lucky enough to see much of this reunion beyond the inevitable YouTube clips.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

John Stewart explains the financial mess

After a distasteful experience at a live taping of the John Stewart show, I haven't watched as regularly as I once did. But Stewart and his staff are brilliant, and never more so than here where he dissects the cranky correspondents at CNBC.

Bluesman John Cephas, RIP

Piedmont blues guitarist John Cephas has died at age 78. He had retired from performing because of illness. He performed many times in Connecticut with his partner harp-player Phil Wiggins.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Horton Foote, RIP

The New York Times is reporting that Horton Foote died here in Hartford today.

Foote has been in town for the production of To Kill A Mockingbird, and for the upcoming Dividing the Estate at Hartford Stage.

I caught the virus

I hate to be part of T-Mobile's viral anything, but when it's clever (as this is), and good (as this is), and it works (as this does), then you've got to admit it moves you. I got the rockin' pneumonia and the boogie-woogie flu.

I was in Grand Central Station the night they filmed the waltz scene from Fisher King, from which this is obviously stolen, and the contagious magic of dance breaking out in an unexpected place is wondrous.


Well, we didn't make the goal, but we came close enough, considering the times. In fact, we raised a lot of money during the three hours of Caterwaul Marathon Fundraising - $5500. Thanks to everyone who called and donated.

Thanks too, to musicians Nerissa Nields and Pete Lehndorff who took part in a successful Skype Me A Song experiment. And to Jim Mercik and Abu Alvin Carter Sr. who joined me live in the studio.

I hope those of you who were watching the radio show enjoyed it. We won't be doing that too often.

Thanks again.

How to see radio

The slightly-grand experiment happens this morning as I attempt to juggle the annual Marathon fundraiser, with a show goal of $6,000, running the board, Skype-ing songs with willing musicians, hawking t-shirts, chatting on facebook, and streaming the show with a video webcast at ustream.tv.

Well see just how sane I am at the end of the three hours which begin at 6 a.m.

If you want to contribute, call 860-768-4008. Please call.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's just an illusion, like the stock market

And far more entertaining.

Brother, can you spare a dime?

I feel like a bit of a jerk asking listeners to donate to WWUH in such dire economic times. People are hungry and frightened, and tomorrow I get on the radio at 6 a.m. and ask listeners to part with their hard-earned income to support, of all things, a radio show (but a really great radio show, right?)

We've lowered our expectations a bit at the station. We're not seeking any increase in our published goal over what we hoped to get last year, $60,000 in listener contributions.

Because I was digging out from the storm, I heard none of Monday morning's FM on Toast show, but I did hear Steve Dieterich's Celtic Airs top out with more than $6,000 in three hours. Congratulations to Steve, and thanks to our listeners.

It's an amazing achievement in these days of a declining Dow and expanding unemployment. How many years have I played Dust Bowl ballads never once thinking we'd live through such a sobering re-hash of history.

But, despite all this, I'll do as Steve did today, and ask listeners to help us reach a goal of 10% of the station's overall goal, or $6,000. I will immodestly remind you that programming at WWUH is priceless, but not free. Our budget is tiny ($125,000 per annum), but it pays for a totally homespun and eclectic mix of programming. We play music you won't hear on other broadcast stations, and our public affairs programming is exemplary.

To try to keep things fun, we'll be featuring a few new Marathon fundraising methodologies tomorrow. With "Skype Me A Song" I've asked some musician friends to Skype into the show with a song during the fundraiser. I've already got four volunteers (in a bit of a Folk Next Door reunion it'll be Pete Lehndorff, Hugh Blumenfeld, Nerissa Nields and Tim Mayock).

Nerissa Nields will be unveiling the third song in her triptych of songs which began with Ash Wednesday, was followed with Merry Christmas Mr. Jones, and will be completed tomorrow with I'm Half My Mother's Age (in which our original character tells us about her life fifteen years on!)

I'm also trying to create a webcast of the show with my laptop's webcam. That may not be as successful, but if it is, you will witness, visually, the chaos of Marathon, along with the audio stuff. The problem with a webcast is that the video won't likely synch with the audio coming out of your radio, so it will look like a bad dub of a Japanese Godzilla movie.

Please call in, if you can, and support the station. We've got great t-shirts and CDs as thank-you gifts.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Creepy Joe™ feels Calhoun's pain

Apparently UCONN basketball coach has gotten all the support he needs, including a call from Connecticut Senator Creepy Joe™ Lieberman, and the head of the NCAA. According to the Hartford Courant:

Sen. Lieberman and all those other phone calls from around the country — from the head of the
NCAA, all the other various people — that's all I've really needed," said Calhoun, a cancer survivor.

I find it strange that Courant sportswriter Mike Anthony identifies Calhoun in this context as a cancer survivor. Because there's no other reason to use that description here, one can only assume that Anthony was attempting to drum up sympathy.

And if I recall correctly, Lieberman also supported John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Constitutional scholar Bobby Knight supports Calhoun's First Amendment rights.

I watched the UCONN men's game Saturday (yes, I'm still a fan), and was appalled when commentators Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg climbed on the Calhoun bandwagon and claimed that Calhoun had been "conned" (their pun not mine), when Ken Krayeske asked the now infamous question.

In the end, all those who are in the tank for Calhoun seem to be re-framing the controversy as if it were somehow about Calhoun's generousity, which doesn't seem to be the issue being questioned.

There are three issues: Does Krayeske, or anyone in the press have the right to ask any question they please at a press conference (or is the post-game press conference sacrosanct)? Should the highest paid state employee be questionned about the economic problems facing the state? And did Jim Calhoun handle the question correctly, and with the dignity required of a top state representative?

The answers seem pretty clear, and it's become obvious that Krayeske has made his point.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Boring stories of

The Avett Brothers channel Bruce Springsteen as part of an online Springsteen project called Hangin' Out On E Street.

Also noteworthy, Matt Kearney's Atlantic City.