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As I was Saying . . . | blog.deanland.com

As I was Saying . . .

As I was Saying . . .

There is much to say, time is limited, so I will be brief (yes, I know, a rarity in these parts). Also, despite all the teasers, Guest Blogger is taking her time in completing her entry. So what to do? Have another guest blogger, that's what! See below for more on that.





Welcome in, General Clark

Readers of this blog are certainly familiar with the views espoused here. To wit: the nine prior wannabe Democratic nominees have various strengths and weaknesses. But the real key is that not a one of them is electable. The Dubya money and campaign machine would likely slaughter any of them. Even the ones with a decent resume.

Wesley Clark is electable. He is the man of the hour. In my book, he's the only one of the pack with a shot at success next year in November. He has the resume, the leadership skill, and is a viable alternative to Dubya. Dubya's inane invasions-posing-as-war which tie up the nation in incursive activity for who-knows-how-long? A military man, a West Point grad (#1 in his class), a Rhodes Scholar, Clark makes more sense than a continued screwing of the country by Dubya.

Of course, if Al Gore throws hit hat back in the ring, the preferred ticket would be Gore-Clark. Brains and brawn, two men with a broad breadth of foreign policy and knowledge. And two feet-on-the-ground types, looking for the good of the country, not just the enrichment of the wallets of their friends.

Maybe it is naive to think this, but my guess is that neither Gore nor Clark would send American soldiers into armed peril, and have some of them give their lives, in the quest to make sure that Halliburton and Bechtel get lots of money.

If Gore stays out, then a seasoned Washington veteran such as Gephart might be the best candidate for the Veep slot if Clark gets the nod. Just as LBJ was there for JFK to be the Washington insider, the guy who knew how to get things done, the pro who knew the ropes --- Clark will need an equally capable running mate.

That eliminates all of the current crew except for Kerry, Gephart and Graham. Gephart would be the best of that three, but there may be a stronger Veep choice out there, not currently looking for the top job.

And, no, not Hillary. She would hurl the race back to a Bush vs. Clinton concept, and enable the GOP to make it a filthy race from Day One.

Tom Harkin might be an interesting Veep choice. He's from Middle America, has a great voting record, and would make Labor very happy.




The Senate Does The Right Thing

The Senate let Michael Powell know, in no uncertain terms, that they hear their constituents. The voices are being heard, and the Senate voted against accepting the proposed FCC Lawmaking, also known as the Media Power Grab.

The Senate was crafty in their method. Credit goes to Senator Byron Dorgan and his staff for coming up with the tack they chose. The Senate passed a "Resolution of Disapproval," letting their opposition go on record. There is another Senate vote coming, then it goes to The House. That's where Tom DeLay and company intend to railroad this on the American people, if they can muster the support.

Once again there is a well-written Op-Ed essay on the topic by William Safire. It ran earlier this week in the NY Times. You can see it here, rather than rush to read it before the Times institutes the "pay for fishwrapper" reading fee.

Read the essay. Safire is a tremendously talented writer. Few are able to express position as well as he. This is one of the rare time that Safire and I are on the same side of an issue.

And take note of his closing words:

Libertarians of the left and right are resisting the concentration of power and insisting on the preservation of competition. This strange bedfellowship will not equivocate, and we will be heard.

He is correct. Make your voice heard. A non-partisan majority of the people have brought the battle this far. Let your Senator and Congressional Representatives know how you feel on this issue. And let them know that their votes on this matter will have impact on your votes when they run for re-election.




Now YOU, TOO, Can Do The Right Thing

The battle of the Voice Of The People versus the Piggishness of Powell (and the Republican Right, led by Dubya) is far from over. Tom DeLay is looking for ways to push the Powell bill through. Dubya threatens to veto any bill that would get in the way.

Now is the time to put on the full public outcry. Go to Media Reform, go to Vote.Com, go to Common Cause. Sign the petitions!

From John Rook I learned of the Vote Now campaign. That's Dick Morris' site, which has some juice in the lobbying and politicking world inside the Beltway.

From John's e-mail:

Greetings,

Dick Morris runs a voting web site on various issues.

It has become an influencial source for politicians, and
the media. The results are often refered to.




A campaign has been ongoing in recent days to stack a vote
in favor of a Bush veto of any efforts to stall the administrations
desire to further consolidate the media.


If you havent voted NO yet, please do so.

http://www.vote.com

John's link takes you to the Vote.com home page. To go right to the page on the FCC issue, use this URL.

Here's an e-mail that came in from Media Reform:

Dear Free Press E-activist,

Today the Senate delivered a strong 55 - 40 vote to roll back the FCC rules by approving the "Resolution of Disapproval," which would nullify the entire June 2 FCC decision. This is another crucial victory -- won in the face of stiff opposition from Big Media lobbyists -- in a tough
fight to get a final rollback through Congress. But it's not over.

We won today because of your petitions and phone calls. Last week we hand-delivered 340,000 petitions to the Senate. Phones rang off the hook, and it made all the difference.

In the next month we will see another crucial vote in the Senate, as well as a full court press to get the rollback through the House.

You made the difference today and you will again, when the next vote reaches the Senate floor.

Onward,

Josh Silver
and The Free Press Team

www.mediareform.net






No More Bottom Line?

Word has it, as per the NY Times, NY Newsday, and Rolling Stone, that legendary NY Cabaret and Music Club The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village may be facing the end of the line, and might have to shut down.

Turns out that fortunes have soured at the club. They are behind in their rent to NYU, which owns the space. NYU, ever expanding, could use the prime Village space for classrooms or lab space.

The Bottom Line is, to many of us in the NY area, the key place to go hear music. This has been the spot where many bands got their start, and where even more bands could count on throwing a reunion and getting a full house.

Jimmy Vivino, the guitarist in The Max Weinberg 7 from the Conan O'Brien show on NBC, was the equivalent of the "house guitarist" and acccompanist there for years.

Read through the three links above, and the story is interesting. NYU might have be subject to very high taxation on the property. NYU could command greater rent than proprietors Allen and Stanley (as they are known to one and all) pay for the space. (Disclaimer: Allen's brother was the best man at my wedding, 20+ years ago)

There's also the fact that the booking policies and the "ambience" (har har) of the club are from another time, another era, and not at all in tune with the music listened to by most people under the age of 40. And that's being kind.

But, in defense of the club, it retains a very special certain something. Musicians flocked there after September 11th, playing for free. Allen and Stanley opened the doors and let people in for free. There was a sense of the club's place in the community, a common need, something the Bottom Line could offer.

But as times change, so do the workings of clubs. There are fewer artists coming up that gravitate toward the club scene. Record companies attempt to promote massive giant acts, get them on the concert circuit, get them exposure on MTV and the likes of mass media. The one-time build-a-buzz-in-the-clubs growth plan is history. Allen and Stanley would have had to work very hard to make the Bottom Line a place that could book an artist such as John Mayer or Jewel. Even artists like Sarah McLaughlin are playing the larger forums, and will forego the more intimate club setting.

Part of it is the money, much of it is the new artist mindset, and most of all, the record companies do not see the bottom line in showcasing an artist at, well, The Bottom Line.

I sent the links on this closing to my friend Len Scaffidi. Len and I know each other a long, long time. We met in what might be called our early days, his as a record company man and mine as a radio man. We have both gone on to other endeavors, but our media and music connection remains a vital part of our friendship.

When I wrote to Len to see if he was aware of The Bottom Line potential demise, he sent a rant worthy of blog entry. Here it is, a special guest blogger rant from Len Scaffidi. Such a rant, in fact, it deserves to be posted in red. Read and enjoy:

Farewell or Good Riddance?

So Alan and Stanley can't, or more likely prefer not to, pay their back rent for the Bottom Line. I'm supposed to feel sorry for these industry schnorrers? Fuggetttaboutitt.

I remember the first time I walked into the place, shortly after it opened. I drove down from Boston because the report was: Here's a rock club with a decent PA and enough taste to hire the good bands. One of the managers of Boston's premier club venue (Paul's Mall/Jazz Workshop) left to work for the Bottom Line. The dual club on Boyleston Street had survived and prospered for years with a sep-up that Allan and Stanley would put to good use. Here was the formula: Find a band with a little buzz and the record company will subsidize it. There was no magic to the talent selection. The Bottom Line (appropriately named) was created to replace the smaller, and reportedly failing Max's Kansas City as the place record companies could bring writers, DJs and retail buyers to start the buzz.

When I was at Sire Records, we put the Ramones in there because several Industry Types were afraid to go to CBGB. The band balked because:

A. Allan & Stanley would only pay them $500.

B. It was a few blocks from CBGB and the band was loyal to Hilly.

C. CBGB paid them three times as much.

D. Their regular crowd wouldn't be able to get in.

The record company had to pay the band the difference and make amends to Hilly, too.

The thing about the Bottom Line's talent lineup and PA was true. Everything else about the setup was disappointing. In typical Greenwich Village style (Cafe Au Go Go, Village Vanguard, Bitter End, etc.) there were long tables at oblique angles to the stage. People were crammed in to the point where even lithe 20-somethings were uncomfortable. The drinks were bad and expensive. The service unbelievably poor -- it was nearly-impossible to get a second round during a show. And, as I recall, the air-conditioning was either sub-standard or non-existent in those early years.

The music was, by and large, terrific. I was there for two of those magical Springsteen shows, trading my "plus 1" extra ticket with WPLJ DJ Carol Miller's "plus 1" so that we could both stay for two sets. (They were turning over the house each set.)

I remember seeing Tom Petty's NY debut as he opened for Roger McGuinn, and being mortified as I sat at an industry table with a very drunk Robert Christgau who loudly heckled Petty for pretty much the whole set.

In the 90s, I was fortunate to see the Flecktones at the Bottom Line. The most entertaining part was watching the reaction of Will Lee and a few other top NYC session guys at the bar as Victor Wooton put on a performance -- no, a clinic -- of bass wizardry. These are Bottom Line Moments. Precious because they happened. Happening because they had to. There because it was the most expedient place.

With The Industry in the tank and club subsidies as hard to find as tour support, it was just a matter of time before the Bottom Line was left to deal with, well: The Bottom Line. Did Allen and Stanley check out what the 20-somethings on the NYU campus was listening to? Did they come up with a business plan to accommodate changing tastes? No.

If they were counting on the Bridge & Tunnel People to continue coming into Manhattan for Louden Wainwright, were they ready to give them an appropriate place to sit their 50-year-old asses? And if they want to make a living, how about serving decent food and booze, with service that allows for a few rounds?

Nope: They just decided to stiff their last remaining benefactor: NYU was giving them the space at half the market rate.

The music business operates in a void, but musicians have a way of filling it with music. There will be other clubs -- some bigger, better and marginally profitable -- that will replace the Bottom Line. Give it a week.

You tell 'em, Len! Now that's what I call a powerhouse punch from a guest blogger!


Afterthought: check out how Allen and Stanley make their case, over on the Bottom Line's website. Looks like negotiations with NYU are not going well.

My bet: a new Bottom Line will open in another Village location. The old space that was The Cafe Au Go-Go is probably available, although that is a much smaller venue.

Given the economic times, it is a good bet that any number of retail spaces in The Village are available. And at least one of them will be held by a landlord that likes the idea of having The Bottom Line in their location.