We have now slid a few feet…..

Interesting article about the random bag searches leading to a pot bust. What’s most interesting is this quote from Lt. William Krause of the East Brunswick Police Dept.:

“It’s as much looking for suspicious people as it is having commuters in the transportation center feel safe,”

If by suspicious people he means possible terrorists – then that would be profiling, n’est pas? Because the bag searches are supposed to be random – which indicates no profiling.

If it’s about looking for people who might be in possession of illegal substances – last I remembered it the police cannot just pull you aside and search you randomly. They have to have another reason to search you (in the case of a car, maybe a speeding violation or drunk driving stop).

So in any case – this was probably NOT justified. Not that I condone possession of illegal substances – but I do think that these searches are going too far, and not attacking the real problems.

–*Rob

Payola Redux

Disappointing is all I can say. This story about new payola in the recording/radio industries.

I mean – I thought that we were past this – but it’s apprently bigger then ever.

This link goes to a document with over 60 pages of info on the payola stuff. Now here’s the REALLY disappointing thing.

The last page shows payola to radio station WDST by a company called “Michele Clark Promotion.” WDST is in Woodstock, NY and is a legendary AAA station. Yes – they are commercial but they are an Adult Album Alternative station – the same as many public stations, including WXPN in Philadelphia. Michele Clark Promotions promotes, and I guess arranges payola deals – for AAA artists!

We are not talking about J-Lo or Jessica Simpson’s music here. We’re talking about artists whom you think have some integrity and wouldn’t want their record label using dirty tactics to get airplay. People like John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, William Topley, Widepsread Panic and Robert Cray are mentioned in the memo about WDST – and there’s 60 pages more of other artists and stations of all genres implicated in that memo.

I think this shows how much these payola things have permeated the recording industry – and that is really, really sad. I hope these artists are really pissed at their record label and promotion people – because their music should stand on its own merits.

Realistically – in the WDST situation – these artists are also staples of the AAA stations and there’s no reason for someone at the radio station to take money for playing their music because they SHOULD be playing it.

It just disgusts me. So sad.

–*Rob

Podcast Roundup Vol. 5

With podcasts now integrated into iTunes 4.9 (if you haven’t downloaded it – and done the new iPod software update you should), more and more people are tuning in. Here are a few of the latest podcasts I found and got turned onto – some purely due to the new iTunes podcast directory.

The House Dems Podcast – speeches and other stuff from House Democrats – interesting stuff.
Parking In Bitterman Circle – Aron Michalski is a guitat tech on tour with Weezer. He reports from backstage and anywhere else on what’s up with him, the tour and life on a rock tour.
Mommycast – two moms talk about everything Mom and parenting related – great for dads to listen to as well!
Podcast411 – Interviews with podcasters and folks involved in podcasting.
TV Guide Talk – A bunch of TV Guide reviewers rambling about anything and everything TV.

The great thing about most of these podcasts is that they don’t update that often – maybe once a week to every ten days – so it’s easy to keep up with them. You also do not need an iPod to use iTunes and you do not need an iTunes music store account to get the podcasts – they are free. The iTunes interface is super easy to use, so give it a shot.

–*Rob

Rock Stars

Didn’t know he had a blog, but apparently Dave Navarro has one, and updates it quite frequently. It’s not a celeb puff blog – it’s the real deal. Despite his celebrity, it’s nice to see he does stuff just like everyone else.

We’ve been watching him on Rock Star INXS the past few weeks, which is an interesting show. It’s like American Idol- only with more rockin’ songs – which some of the folks, mangle, but others do a great job with. I particularly like J.D.’s Bo-Diddley-esque arrangement of the Alanis Morissette song “Hand in Pocket.” He added a very cool vibe to it.

–*Rob

We’re About To Slide….

Yes…I do believe we are at the top of the slippery slope when it comes to our civil liberties. Or maybe we’ve just begun the slide.

I’m sure you have heard all about the random bag searches in both NYC and in the various very busy stations in NJ. But here’s what I’m wondering – are they doing random bag searches at the auxiliary stations? I mean – what about a station like Hamilton or Princeton Junction? A lot of people use those stations – are they doing random bag searches there? Because frankly – if they’re not – well then they’re not covering all their bases. Someone could easily get on in one of the outlying stations and ride all the way up to Newark or even New York. a potential terrorist could set off a bomb at any time on the ride and cause quite a lot of havoc to begin with. I mean really – what is the true point of the bag searches?

Also – why did we all of a sudden step things up right now – instead of when the Madrid bombings happened? Is there really more cause for concern now then before? Or is it just because one of our close allies was hit – and now people are feeling more panicky? It seems to me that a lot of this is just for show.

Finally – what’s to stop some suicide bomber from just stepping into a busy train station and not getting on a train? With enough explosives they could foul things up pretty good. Or how about getting on an NJ Transit bus? They could set the bomb off in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Really – there are too many other things they can do – a zillion scenarios – and we’re sitting here worried about what’s in our bags.

–*Rob

Unpopular to Popular in 5 Seconds Flat!

Allen F wrote a neat post on his blog about disparities between songs being used in commercials and the products they are being used to sell. You know what drives me more bonkers? Hearing a song in a commercial that I have really grooved on, yet no one else knows about. Worse yet is if that song becomes a hit. Even worse though is that the song was never a hit.

For example – the latest Lowe’s home improvement commercials feature a nifty piano piece with the chorus of a song singing “Gonna Be Some Changes Made.” It’s a great song by none other than Bruce Hornsby from his latest album. Barely a hit at Adult alternative radio. And here it is – sadly in a Lowe’s commercial.

Or there’s the Train song “Get To Me” – which was on their last album. Played it over and over, great tune. It’s in a travel commercial of some kind. See – I can’t even remember which one. It got rereleased as a single – only to flop again.

Then there’s the Sprite commercials with Paul Oakenfold’s “Starry Eyed Surprise” which is such a fun song. Only brief airplay, and then relgated to being a shill.

I can think of only one song that DID become a hit because of a commercial – The Wiseguys “Body In Motion” which was on a Mistubishi commercial. That was what made that song big.

Anyone have any others?

–*Rob

I’m Crushing Your Head!

Joel Stein wrote an interesting piece about the coming of the new Harry Potter book on Saturday.

Here’s what I think: Joel Stein is a ninny.

He used to work for Entertainment Weekly where he routinely bashed any Sci-Fi or Fantasy show he could. What he doesn’t “get” is that not everyone needs something mature and dignified to read all the time. I don’t always want to read some heavy piece of “great literature”.

But moreover, I think he just doesn’t get the need to enjoy something in the genre. He doesn’t like to be swept away to fantastic places with strange creatures and magic. Frankly though – if that’s his opinion – he should just state it that way, instead of insulting those of us who do.

To each their opinion. Next time I see him on whatever inane pop culture commentary show I see him on (aka I love the 90’s or some such) I shall sit in my easy chair, hold up my thumb and forefinger and say “I’m crushing your head Joel Stein! I’m crushing your head.”

–*Rob