I would be spending untold hours listening to big media tell me how their latest merger proposal would translate into enormous “efficiencies” and “economies of scale” to produce more and better news. Meanwhile, everywhere I looked, I saw newsrooms like yours being shuttered or drastically downsized, reporters getting the axe, and investigative journalism hanging by the most slender of threads. Instead of expanding news, the conglomerates cut the muscle out of deep-dive reporting and disinvested in you.
The whole piece is worth a careful read as he confirms everything public interest groups warned would happen if his agency approved the accelerated consolidation of media outlets: diminished newsrooms, lack of competition, a suppression of news covering media ownership.
He also warns that without network neutrality, the Internet has no chance to liberalize journalism and media industries as a whole. This also echoes the years-long warnings of public interest groups, such Free Press, and scholars, such as Tim Wu.
Finally, he recommends reforming the FCC so that it doesn’t favor the interests of media corporations at the expense of public interest.
Now that I’ve lived more of my adult years in the state of New York State than I did in California, twelve years versus six, it’s time I had an opinion on how far you have to go before you’ve reached “upstate New York.” My first true trip out of the city was to Mamaroneck, and it seemed like upstate to me at the time. If you’re laughing at me for mistaking a suburban Westchester County town for upstate, I absolutely deserve it.
But as I’ve lived here longer, visited friends as far as Rochester, ridden aboard the Lake Shore Limited through Buffalo en route to Chicago, and have cycled around the Hudson River Valley, I have a better idea of what is “upstate” and what is just suburban New York City.
My working definition of upstate has been Albany or equivalent distance from NYC, excluding Long Island. Other longtime residents, including many of my students, define it as anywhere outside of the five boroughs, Westchester and Long Island. Some will even lump Westchester towns such as White Plains and Yonkers as upstate.
Albany’s working definition of upstate New York is based on what lies outside the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s commuter rail area. Besides New York City and Long Island, it excludes Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess Counties.
There you have it. Now let’s never argue about this again.
The night was capped by a performance by Ken Butler, a renowned music instrument builder, who played about a dozen handmade instruments he built over the years. All of the instruments are built from found objects, as you’ll see below, and converted to musical instruments through the strategic placement of a contact microphone. He would also use a sound processor to loop percussive sounds as a back beat.
He started with playing a golf club.
He plays a guitar-like device with two strings and tennis racket.
He then played a shovel with strings.
Butler plays another guitar-like instrument that resembled a machine gun. Note the comb that resembles an ammunition clip.
An umbrella makes for a variety sounds when it is closed and opened.
Although it has a string, he also played a sword as a percussion instrument.
Speaking of sharp objects, here Ken Butler played a smaller knife.
He also utilized the bristles and the handle of a toothbrush against his teeth to create various sounds.
Running out of props, he resorted to the zipper on his pants…
By the end, he used his body and finished with playing his head as a drum.
It’s both incredible and empowering to see how many possible musical instruments Butler made with the everyday objects.
Late last night, news broke that Comcast is buying Time Warner Cable, a company that was recently spun off from its Time Warner media conglomerate parent. The two companies rarely compete against each other because cable television distributors, also known as MVPDs, operate as regional monopolies. Moreover, cable television companies see as competitors over-the-top services, such as Netflix and Hulu. They insist that while there will be fewer firms in the MVPD space, there will still be plenty of competitors in the TV distribution space.
This merger might be about getting MVPDs having better leverage during retransmission disputes. But the masterminds behind this acquisition wouldn’t be earning their money if they weren’t aiming to consolidate broadband Internet access. Free Press points out that “Comcast is the country’s #1 cable and Internet company and Time Warner Cable is #2. Put them together and you get a single giant controlling a massive share of our nation’s TV and Internet-access markets.” It’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t put the squeeze on those same over-the-top services that they see as competitors.
We need to keep the pressure on regulators to impose net neutrality–type restrictions on these broadband providers. Or regulators can block the merger altogether.
The Los Angeles Conservancy has just announced the lineup for this year’s Last Remaining Seats film series. This annual festival takes place in June with movie screenings at historically significant movie theaters throughout Los Angeles, mostly in downtown Los Angeles. This year, the entire festival will be downtown.
I’m a dues-paying member but have only attended once because, you know, I live 2,500 miles away. You can probably see these films on video at home, but that would be missing the whole point of seeing a film in a movie palace or midcentury music hall. Sure, you can rent these and watch your big TV at home, but I’ll bet you that their screens are bigger. And you’ll miss out and having a bunch of strangers laugh and cry with you.
Although I’ve never seen this film, reading the description seems like it’s one of those 1940s films noir where some helpless schmuck (Henry Fonda) gets taken by a cunning and relentless femme fatale (Barbara Stanwyck). Poor guy!
The Lady Eve has her clutches on Adam Henry Fonda. PARAMOUNT/The Kobal Collection.
The front-of-house card depicts a leggy Stanwyck clutching and practically choking Fonda against a background of an apple with a bite taken from it. An apple? A bite? A lady named “Eve?” Oh, I get it.
Of all the venues in the series, the Los Angeles Theater is probably the hardest one to get into. Go!
The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (1964)
The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, an icon of modern architecture and revitalization in downtown Los Angeles, is turning fifty this year. It will also host the Robert Wise-and-Jerome Robbins–directed version of the venerable stage musical by Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein (yikes!). The film features a young Natalie Wood and launched the career of Rita Moreno, one of the few Latina actresses to play complex (i.e., non-maid) roles in Hollywood.
This musical (yes, another one) is emblematic of the Warner Brothers musicals choreographed by some guy named Busby Berkeley. Along with 42nd Street and Golddiggers of 1933, it is part of the trilogy of film musicals about stage musicals.
Footlight Parade (1933). WARNER BROS/The Kobal Collection.
By the way, those films were all released in 1933 and feature dazzling dance numbers that boggle the mind in their uniform execution. It made for a great distraction during the depths of the Great Depression.
The Theatre at Ace Hotel (former United Artists Theatre, 1927)
This theater has just been renovated as part of the new Ace Hotel. They will host the first film from this triology (yes, another one) about time travel and saving yourself family from being “erased from existence.” One could argue that the Ace Hotel saved the United Artist theater from the same fate facing the McFlys in this treasured film from my childhood.
Palace Theatre (1911), Co-presented with the Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles
This movie I haven’t seen (yes, another one) was Luis Buñuels first dramatic film since L’Age d’Or in 1930, a film that was banned for, among other things, comparing Jesus Christ to the Marquis de Sade. Buñuel came to Mexico at an opportune time as the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema was underway. Buñuel thrived there for the next three decades, making over a dozen films, before returning to Europe in the late 1960s.
The greatest film ever made closes out the series at the Orpheum Theater. With the newly renovated Ace Hotel theater getting all the buzz, I’m going to call The Orpheum the second cleanest picture palace on Broadway. Kudos to the curators for pairing the two!
If you haven’t seen the film, or even if you have, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Why is this the greatest film ever? I didn’t get it either because I thought the ending was unsatisfying. After a few viewings, though, you realize that the whole point of the film isn’t the great reveal of “Rosebud,” but the way you see a man’s life from the perspective of various people. Whenever one of us leaves this mortal coil, how do others speak of us? What would they say? Would that be who each of us really is? Get to know Charles Foster Kane those who loved and hated him, those who knew him best.
If you don’t appreciate that, then you won’t appreciate this: it’s a sled!
Rosebud from Citizen Kane (1941). RKO/The Kobal Collection.
What Happened to… ?
Three things strike me as I look over the list:
The Million Dollar Theater? This storied movie palace, which has served as the site for many Spanish-language films and Mexican vaudeville shows, is not participating in this year’s festival. In the past, it has hosted a Spanish-language film during past Last Remaining Seats. However, the programmers did schedule a Spanish film, El Gran Calavera at the Palace Theater.
The Saban Theater? The recently renovated theater in Beverly Hills is also missing from the list. My parents saw The Wizard of Oz a couple of years ago as part of this series. Do the Beverly Hills types not appreciate the unwashed DTLA masses?
Silent films? All of the films are talkies. Not too long ago, there was at least one silent film screened at Last Remaining Seats with live musical accompaniment.
Putting on a festival like this can be a lot of work, especially for a volunteer-run, not-for-profit organization that has a lot on its plate. The logistical challenges of continuing to use the Million Dollar or scheduling a silent film with live accompaniment must have been difficult to overcome. But it looks like another worthwhile series. Hopefully, I can make it out there for a screening or two.
As New Yorkers, we stand in line for some pretty stupid stuff that isn’t free: cronuts, brunch, and modern art installations, and San Franciscans have taken note.
Taking place at Dear Mom, the Mission’s magnet of mediocrity, budding restauranteurs importers Sonya Haines and Wes Rowe unveiled their “Eastside Bagels” hustle, which sees Russ & Daughters bagels flown in from New York and flipped for $6 (bagel with cream cheese) to $12 (full bagel sandwich).
We get it, San Francisco. No one is confusing you for LA, which we know you hate more than any place on earth. But you really need to stop trying to be New York. We’re not buying it.
Also known as the Diatonic Phrygian Tetrachord—sometimes written as i-bVII-bVI-V (or, in the key of A, the descending sequence A, G, F, E)—this sequence of four notes, this musical pattern, chord progression, or bass line shows up throughout the ages in all styles and genres, underlying music that ranges from sad to joyful, delicate to badass.
The sequence is usually “hidden” in the accompaniment of the song, underlying the melody. As I listened to the program last night, I got my iPad and tried to recreate the notes with the keyboard in GarageBand. Listen to the result.
You can hear it in songs that date from 500 years ago and some very familiar pop hits. The program’s host, David Garland, compiled about fifty examples, and the commenters added a bunch more to the list.
Listen to the whole program and enjoy uncovering the most-used sequence of musical notes.
My good friends at Queens College IT have started a blog on Tumblr with a series of well-meaning tips for students. The blog is a barely a few weeks old, but there are already a number of posts and links with titles heavy with clickbait-speak:
My favorite post on the blog is a link to “18 Tips for Emailing Your Professor,” an article on US News and World Report. Most of the tips are sound, but they should be considered guidelines for any professional correspondence, email or otherwise. For example, the article urges you to be mindful of your recipient: send it to the correct address, maintain a professional tone, check your spelling, avoid slang, use a proper salutation and closing, and keep it concise. Any boss, co-worker, or client will appreciate this as much as your professor.
But do we really need eighteen tips? Some of these tips unfairly caricature students and professors: not all students write in leetspeak and emoticons, and not all professors are technophobes. Most of my students are very cordial and professional with email. Likewise, even the oldest and stodgiest college professors have been using email for at least 20 years, and the younger ones have likely been using their entire professional lives. It’s 2014: most of us “get” email.
Aside from guidelines that apply to any professional correspondence, here are five tips for your professor when I’m your professor.
Email me at the address I provided you. I use the university-issued address because I can ignore those accounts on weekends and after the semester ends. As part-time faculty, I should only correspond with you when the meter’s running.
Email me from an address where I can identify you. AOL email addresses used to not include real names so I would see messages from firstname.lastname@example.org. Make it easy to figure out who you are. If your email account doesn’t support real names, at least sign your message with your full name. Or get a different email provider.
Use the subject line. I don’t understand why anyone wastes the subject line with “Hi Professor,” or “From Bryan.” Years ago, I read an article recommending you use the subject line as the message as much as possible. For example, ask me, “Can you meet on Wednesday at 5:30?” in the subject line and leave the message blank. That way, I can reply without even opening the message.
Compose a New Message. Speaking of subject lines, it really bugs me when a message lands in my inbox that has an old subject. That happens when someone replies to an old message instead of composing a new one. That not only messes with the threading of my email client, it also wastes the valuable subject line: the topic on this new message will be different than the old one. Composing a new email costs as much as replying to an old one, and who doesn’t prefer a shiny new message to an crusty old one?
Don’t attach anything. Email attachments are the worst. But even worse are attachments in a proprietary format. The US News article pokes fun at .odt (Open Office) files, but those aren’t any worse than Word (.docx) or Pages files. It doesn’t matter because those files require specific programs to open. I’ll admit that with enough time and effort, I can open just about anything, but that’s a lot of wasted time. Sending a PDF will ensure that your document will look like what you sent me. But instead of emailing me an attachment of any sort, print it and hand it to me. Or better yet, share it using a cloud service.
It’s possible that I’m asking too much. After all, I’m an unreasonable ogre. However, managing email is one of those things that has become less of a work tool than a obstacle to getting things done. Let’s all work to minimize its impact on our productivity.