Saturday, May 20, 2017

Credibility | Lefsetz Letter

I blame Bill Clinton.

Oh, all you lefties don’t have to get your knickers in a twist, I know, I know the Republicans were after him but he did it and parsed the language and that’s when the baby boomers bought this country, he was one of them, we messed it up.

It started under Reagan. When he legitimized greed and self-interest. But the boomers could have said no and they didn’t.

Kinda like the rockers. No wonder disco made a dent. They might have blown up records at Comiskey Park but if you don’t think disco won, you haven’t listened to the radio, or checked the Spotify Top 50.

We went from the Allman Brothers wearing their street clothes to spandex jumpsuits and Lee Abrams codified FM playlists and there was a ton of money in it but no soul.

And then came MTV. Remember when Martha Quinn was America’s sweetheart? On the tube more than the acts she presented? Well now she’s a footnote, ground down under the relentless need of the media machine to titillate us with something new, which proves if you’re doing it to become rich and famous you’re on the wrong path. I hear from Martha now and again, she’s very nice, this is not karma, this is reality.

And the reality is there was much more money in overproduced pop videos than the work of classic rockers. Duran Duran had some substance under those expensive clips but by the end of the eighties, it was all formula, the nineties were worse, and then the internet came along to blow it all up.

It was the great hope. Never mind net neutrality, remember back in ’96, when it was a thrill just to connect with people online? Now it’s all been commercialized. By the ISPs, the Frightful Five, Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft, and the surfers themselves. First they put Google ads on their blogs and then they made YouTube clips for the commercials and now they’re influencers on Instagram, pretty soulless, don’t you think?

And you can’t find a single person who won’t sell out, no one with cred who will say no. The handlers know they’ll outlast the acts and they want their commission and the players want some of that private jet lifestyle, and that costs, most acts can’t afford it, but they want it, now that you can’t indulge in hookers and dope, backstage blow jobs, since everybody’s got a camera in their phone.

So that’s the world we’re living in. John Lennon imploring us to give him some truth?


That’s right, Roger Ailes muddied the waters, used a news channel for advocacy, and Chris Cornell is doing the endless grind on the road because he’s got to make a buck, he’s got bills, and NBC makes Donald Trump a superstar, that’s right the self-promoting blowhard is blown up and is this any different from what the musicians are trying to do? Trying to get someone national to feature them, make them a household name?

Now it used to be when the other team was in power, you squirmed and squealed, hated how they parsed the language, but no one can believe a word Donald Trump says, he’s got no credibility, it’s like listening to Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin, it’s just self-serving hogwash.

And that’s frustrating, because you and me, the fabric of this country, we didn’t get a chance to make hay, they sold us opportunities that don’t exist, it’s a giant Ponzi scheme, and the brilliant media has us fighting against ourselves when we’ve got more in common than different, but…

I’m not gonna get into name-calling. Not gonna say how the right made “government” a dirty word and neutered the “New York Times.”

I’m just gonna say life is about character. And character begets relationships, friends. And you can’t go through this game alone, no way, it’s a web of personalities. You know that, despite the shitshow you see in the news every day. If you lied and cheated all day you’d be an outcast.

But as soon as you get a chance, a leg up, those you meet say no, you’ve got to play like the big boys do, you’ve got to become a lying, cheating, scumbag.

We need a reset. Just like the Republicans founded the Federalist Society decades back to put right wing judges on the bench, we need credibility, honesty and the American Way to re-infiltrate our society.

And you know where it starts?

With artists. Because they are role models, no matter what they say.

The artists have to realize there’s enough money if they’ve got fans. And believe me, fans want to believe in you. Ask all those aged acts plying the boards. You know why the Eagles can still sell so many damn tickets? Because they never sold out. Of course they made great music, but there was never a movie, an endorsement deal, and Don Henley might rub you the wrong way, but the best artists always do, ever interact with Van Morrison? They’ve got to do it their way, the right way, or the whole thing doesn’t work. They don’t believe in compromise. They’re beacons, for you, telling you too can believe in yourself and make it.

And that’s the way it was from the Beatles to corporate rock.

But then, the whole world went topsy-turvy, cash ruled, and you had to get you some.

I’ve been on the private plane, it’s nice. But when I fly commercial in the back I don’t want to fly out of Van Nuys anymore, I just want to hate on the airlines, who’ve ground us into dust, by playing to our mercenary ways.

And United messed up, and there was blowback, but you’ve got no choice, you’ve got to fly them if you live in so many hamlets, cities and burgs.

And I don’t want to get off point, I just want to say the game is rigged, most definitely, but we can untie the knot.

We just need people to believe in.

P.S. Remember that guy Ian MacKaye, and his band Fugazi? Every one of the major labels was up his ass to make a deal, they wanted the billing, the imprimatur, the glow, but he said no. He had to do it his way, with his own label, stickering LPs so retailers wouldn’t overcharge for them. His only flaw was he was operating in the pre-internet era. Ian MacKaye and Fugazi today? GODHEAD! That’s the paradigm, not to wake up at the crack of dawn to play the “Today Show,” but to release the music you want to make and tour to support it, building a fan base with direct access online. That’s the world we’re living in now, every act is a cottage industry, other than the two-dimensional nitwits conceived, executed and propped-up by the machine. Where are those popsters years down the line? They’re only as big as their last hit, which they lack, where acts like Fugazi, they’re FOREVER!


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