Tag Archives: kottke

The Scorpions and 166 Cellos at Brandenburg Gate

20 years ago, East German officials made the decision that East German citizens would be allowed to visit West Germany and West Berlin. East Berliners streamed to the Berlin Wall and West Berliners greeted them warmly on the other side.

10 years ago, I was in Berlin on the anniversary, and saw The Scorpions play 'Winds of Change' at the Brandenburg Gate accompanied by Mstislav Rostropovich and 165 other cellists. It was the most metal moment of my life. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any video or photos of the event.

This year, they celebrated with U2, for whom, ironically, a wall was PUT UP.

What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell All on the Web

Hell yeah! This is the kind of web documentation I can get behind. Malcolm Gladwell has a new book coming out called What the Dog Saw made up of articles he's written for the New Yorker over the last several years. Kottke took it upon himself to grab links for all the articles, so it's up to you if you want to read the articles for free or buy them in a pleasing collection.

Two of my favorites: Troublemakers and Late Bloomers.

1984 Was a Good Year for a Lot of Things

Following up on Kottke's list of culturally relevant movies that came out in 1984, and Fimoculous' list of culturally relevant albums that came out in 1984, I thought I'd find the culturally relevant list of books that came out in 1984. Using the best selling books as a barometer, you get the following list. Which seems kind of meh, no?

Fiction
1. The Talisman, Stephen King & Peter Straub
2. The Aquitaine Progression, Robert Ludlum
3. The Sicilian, Mario Puzo
5. The Butter Battle Book, Dr. Seuss
8. Full Circle, Danielle Steel
9. Life & Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz, Joan Rivers
10. Lincoln: A Novel, Gore Vidal
Non-Fiction
1. Iacocca: An Autobiography, Lee Iacocca
4. Pieces of My Mind, Andy Rooney
5. Weight Watchers Fast and Fabulous Cookbook
6. What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School..., Mark H. McCormack
7. Women Coming of Age, J. Fonda & M. McCarthy
10. Weight Watchers Quick Start Program Cookbook


But you may also be interested in the NY TimesEditor's Choice: Best books of 1984. Interestingly, neither of these lists have "Bright Lights, Big City", "The Hunt for Red October", or "Neuromancer".

And then I fell completely into the rabbit hole of determining 1984's status of one of the more culturally relevant years ever. On the stage, David Mamet won a Pulitzer for Glengarry Glen Ross, and Jeremy Irons, Tom Stoppard, and Glen Close all won Tony Awards. Doug Flutie won the Heisman, Desmond Tutu won a Nobel Peace Prize, and Michael Jordan, Charles Barkely, and John Stockton were drafted.

Of course, don't take my word for it, Bill Simmons has 84 reasons 1984 was a good year including his covering of:
Television
27. NBC's Thursday night lineup: "Cosby," "Family Ties," "Cheers," "Night Court"...and "Hill Street Blues." Just a murderer's row...
28. "Miami Vice," Season One...
29. "Growing Pains" and "Charles in Charge" both launched. So did the underrated sitcom "It's Your Move" with Jason Bateman, who should have been one of the five biggest stars of that decade...
35. During the 25th anniversary Motown show in February, Michael Jackson performed "Billie Jean" and unveiled the moonwalk...


Music

42. Also, MTV launched the Video Music Awards that fall -- and if you don't remember Madonna rolling around in a wedding dress at Radio City Music Hall, you obviously weren't a horny teenager in '84.
44. If that wasn't enough, '80s college music took off -- that Cure-Smiths-REM-Depeche Mode-New Order sound that holds up to this day...
48. Come on, tell me you didn't like these songs: "99 Luftballoons"..."Darling Nikki"..."Cruel Summer"..."Yah Mo Be There"..."Sister Christian"..."Sunglasses at Night"..."Relax"..."Head over Heels"..."Pride (In the Name of Love)"..."Caribbean Queen"..."Panama"..."Billie Jean"..."Hot for Teacher"..."Somebody's Watching Me"..."Boys of Summer"..."Jungle Love"..."Missing You."...(Note: Chuck Klosterman is having a heart attack right now.)
49. Run DMC became the first rap act to produce a gold record. It's true.
51. That's right, this was the holiday season when Band Aid came out with "Do They Know It's Christmas".


Movies
58. "Splash" and "Bachelor Party" -- Tom Hanks makes The Leap.
(And speaking of leaps, how 'bout Larry B. Scott appearing as the gay frat brother in "Revenge of the Nerds," then the only black member of Cobra Kai in the same year!.)
65. Not only did the porn industry shift completely to video, but Traci Lords, Christy Canyon AND Ginger Lynn made their X-rated debuts in '84....

Pop Culture and Other Stuff
72. ...this was the year of "What's my beef?" -- both the Wendy's commercial and Leno's bit on Letterman's show.
75. The Supreme Court made it legal to tape shows with a VCR.
82. By the way, the final list of "People and things in their absolute primes in '84": Bird, Bernard, Montana, McEnroe, Gretzky, Sam Malone, Hulk Hogan, Letterman, Sonny Crockett, Jason Bateman, Springsteen, Prince, U2, Murphy, Schwarzenegger, Michael Jackson, Morrissey, Robert Smith, Kathleen Turner, Shannon Tweed, Billy Zabka, Traci Lords, Ginger Lynn, Christy Canyon, Ronald Reagan, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Paulina Porizkova, the Cold War.
83. Rolling Stone was offered the chance to buy MTV, and Sports Illustrated was offered the chance to buy ESPN. Both magazines decided against it.


So there you have it. What year compares?

Documentary About Arrested Development

It's been only a few months since the last time I breathlessly reported on the health of the Arrested Development feature length film. I did a double take when I saw a post on Kottke about an Arrested Development documentary. A movie about the show, but not the movie of the show. Here's the trailer.


The website for the documentary is also kind of a trip.

When a Giant Falls

Kottke has helpfully rounded up 13 articles about why GM failed including this one:
Seven reasons GM is headed to bankruptcy, Sharon Silke Carty, USA Today:

When GM realized how fast 1990s buyers were switching to trucks as personal transportation, it overreacted, pouring time and money into SUVs and pickups at the expense of car development. The result: As long ago as 2000, Wall Street was warning that GM could be overcommitted to trucks and wind up out of phase if the pendulum of buyer preference swung back to cars. Once consumer tastes began changing, the market was awash in new truck models, and profits were sapped by discounts needed to keep sales boiling.


The Wire Document Dump

In a treasure trove of info that will appeal most to die hard fans of The Wire, Kottke has an awesome find from Media Fire of some scripts and other documents related to the show including what appears to be the pitch David Simon used in meetings with HBO. There's also the original names of McNulty, Barksdale, and Bell which you can click through to see.

I'd love to see 3-10 more seasons... Which topics would you want to see them cover most? Health care, definitely, taxes, probably, plus another 4 seasons on the media...

New Business Models for Musicians

In the latest "The Future of the Music Business" article that I can't seem to avoid linking to and writing about, James Reed in The Boston Globe writes about artists relying on fans to fund the recording of new albums. The article mentions Ellis Paul and Jill Sobule who have both gone to the fans in the last year to raise $90K and $80K respectively for albums.

I don't know why you need $80K to record an album in this age of Garage Band, but Sobule says is it's for publicists and what not. Because, really, why shouldn't the fans pay to tell other people about the music they paid for?

Not mentioned in the article is Josh Freese who paid to record his album himself, but is looking to recoup some of the costs by selling album packages to fans for between $7 and $75K. (The $10K package that includes Disney Land and Freese's Volvo is unsold, as is the $75K package that includes shrooming with Freese, though the $20K miniature golf game with singers from Tool and Devo did sell.) I'm thinking Freese was inspired by the Nine Inch Nails packages from last year. Kottke commenter Jeff Stern says of this model "instead of 1,000 true fans, 1 wealthy fan", a reference to Kevin Kelly's 1,000 True Fans model for artists. (A model that is criticized here, by the way.)

When I was touring with Addison Groove Project, we were selling all of our merch in one package for $75. This deal included 1 t shirt, 1 sweatshirt, 5 CDs, stickers, a beer coozie, a bottle opener, a foam finger, and a trucker hat and represented a savings of about $40. We sold a bunch of them, too.

I've been saying for a while that the future of record labels is not to distribute and promote records, but to manage communities of fans. Artists are proving that they can rely on fans for funding, they can rely on iTunes and other online sellers for distribution, and they can rely on bloggers for coverage. All the real money is in ticket sales and merch, anyway.

Plus 2 bonus articles from Portfolio. Record Labels Get Real (except not really) and a discussion of The Celestial Jukebox.