‘Tirades’ Archive

A Nation of Thieves?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

“Congress shall have the power … To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Thus does the Constitution empower Congress to establish copyrights and patents, and thus create a means of livelihood for everyone from Thomas Edison to Jackson Pollock to Michael Jackson and Norman Mailer. (And, of course, me, if somehow the world would discover my genius.) But lately, it seems the Internet revolution has accelerated a siege on copyright by a rogue’s gallery of bad actors, attempting to convince the world that copyright is in crisis, and needs to be, depending on whose side they’re on, (a) dramatically toughened, or (b) tossed. In this tirade, I’m going to try to lay out the real story, which makes it kind of not a tirade at all. But I still think you may find it informative. Read more »

I Hate Andy Kaufman

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Well, “hate” is kind of the wrong word. Maybe “loathe”. No, that’s wrong, too. I despise Andy Kaufman with a scarlet passion which fills me with impotent rage every time I’m confronted with the merest atom of evidence that he ever existed. That sense of “hate”. The sense of “hate” where you actively wish the person was dead. There are actually only three people in the world I’ve ever felt this way about, all performers: Andy Kaufman (about which more in a moment, of course); Glenn Gould (for his “Bach should be played by robots” meme) and Adam Sandler (duh). (Note: two of the three people on this list are already dead. Don’t cross me.) And of those three, Andy Kaufman is by far the most odious. Read more »

The Price of Everything

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Not too long ago, a Gurian cutaway guitar sold on eBay for $4,000. The exact price, if you’re curious, was $4,051.99. (99 cents? What’s with the 99 cents? There’s something odd going on in the world of eBay that I simply don’t understand.) Now, I like Gurian guitars. Bought one myself recently. $1450. So, you ask yourself: was our eBay buyer on crack, or what? Well, I think it’s safe to say that, no, he wasn’t on crack, but he wasn’t buying a guitar. Read more »

That and Seventy-Five Cents…

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

My wife and I went to the Paradise City Arts Festival the other day. It’s one of those high-end craft shows, like CraftBoston – juried, most likely, and more than a hundred artisans from all over the country, each more talented than the last. Fabric, glass, metal, pottery, wood, photography, paint – the best that American crafts has to offer. Almost every booth staffed by the craftperson him/herself, smiling that fixed, open smile that says, “I’ve been standing here for a day and a half now and my feet are sore and I haven’t picked up my brush/chisel/blowtorch/camera since Thursday morning, and I’d better damn well make the booth fee.” And I look into their eyes, and I see art in America. Read more »

The Upside of Vanity

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

One of the first lessons of stage performance that we all learn is a lesson in humility, as preached by folks like Don White. My version of the lesson goes like this: a performance is an opportunity and a responsibility. It’s an opportunity because the audience is ready to like you, and that is a gift from the audience to you; it’s an responsibility because your job is to ensure that the audience is rewarded for that gift. Your performance is not about you, so the lesson goes; it’s about making the audience feel good about the investment of time and attention they’ve made. Read more »

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back In the Studio…

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Many years ago, a friend of mine gave me what I thought was excellent advice: “Don’t record an album”, he said, “unless you think you can sell it”. This is no longer excellent advice. In fact, it is essentially an exhortation to enter, unarmed, a room populated with AK-47-toting three-year-olds. That’s what the digital revolution has done to acoustic music. Read more »