Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Merry Christmas | Lefsetz Letter

I’m eating fruitcake.

I know, I know, it’s supposed to be inedible, you’re supposed to pass it on to some out of the loop friend as a gift, there are fruitcakes from the 1800s still circulating, but this one is pretty damn good, it came from Whole Foods with a gingerbread base and nothing involved speaks to my holiday memories since I’m Jewish, but I’m all up for new traditions, as long as you don’t put a Christmas tree up in the house, who knows what’s next, a cross?

So I’ve spent the last three days getting IVIG at home. Funny how the medical establishment and the insurance companies are on their game when you’re testing the health limits. They immediately called me from the pharmacy, they messengered over the supplies and the nurse phoned in that she was ready to go.

So, I’ve spent the last three days sitting in a chair for four and a half hours having fluid dripped into my arm and you steel yourself and get through it but when you’re done you’re frustrated and angry but now I’m done completely which is a relief except that the house is empty and quiet and that’s so disconcerting. I told Felice to go to Vail without me and now I’m spending the holiday alone and that’s kind of creepy. In the seventies you went to the movies. But it’s a dead time, if you’re not on vacation you’re killing time, which is why I’m writing this to you, I’ve got to communicate.

And a lot of thoughts have been going through my brain, but they all require separate e-mails to get their full point across, but then I’ll get people bitching I’m sending too much and don’t I respect the holidays and welcome to the twenty first century wherein everybody’s got an opinion and there’s no context. Used to be few were famous, there were few media outlets and we all knew what everybody else was talking about. That era is through, along with facts. Did you see Margaret Sullivan is now calling the WaPo and the NYT the “fact-based” media? Because too much of the mainstream media is biased and fake. And reading the newspapers is the highlight of my day, they appear on the doorstep every twenty four hours and even though I’ve read so many of the stories already on the app it’s good to be able to depend upon something in this era where you can’t depend on anyone or anything, we’re all on our own. Kinda like the experience I just had with the Sonos One.

Do they have tech help on Christmas? Can I bug someone at the company on Christmas?

This is the world we live in, one where you’re your own tech help.

And we create our own problems. You see I’m in one house utilizing two Alexa accounts. Let’s make it more complicated. The Sonos One hooked into Felice’s Sonos system but I used my Alexa app and my Amazon Music account so I could pull up what I wanted on demand.

And now you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about.

I use ’em all, every one but Tidal that is. Although I can still port over to it from its initial incarnation known as WIMP. So if I want to listen in CD quality, I use Deezer. And I hate to say it, but Apple Music does sound better than Spotify, Spotify’s got to dump their codec. And then there’s Amazon Music. Amazon has got the best voice controlled playlists. You can be pretty specific, I just asked Alexa to play “Rock hits from 1965” and she did. It’s pretty cool. And on the Echo Show you can see the lyrics, but…

I wanted to use MY Amazon Music account on Felice’s Sonos which I was running via MY Alexa app on my phone, since Felice has her iPhone and iPad with her in Colorado.

And oftentimes no music comes out.

Why am I doing this? Because the Amazon Music account they gave me for Felice’s house randomly crapped out, and I can’t just call out the tracks I want. And that’s a huge pain in the ass. Which is why using the free tier of Spotify is such an incentive to pay. Because it’s so FRUSTRATING! As it is using the free tier of Amazon Music on the Echo Show and the Sonos One.

And I got it all to work, except sometimes it doesn’t, and there’s nothing worse than an intermittent problem, but there’s such a sense of satisfaction when you figure things out.

And the first song I wanted to hear was Terry Stafford’s “Suspicion.” I know, I know, it was originally cut by Elvis, but Stafford had the hit. I must have heard it on Sirius the other day, because I can’t get it out of my head.

And then “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” because that’s the right song for a cold winter night. Assuming you consider forties cold, which if you live long enough in Los Angeles it is.

And I’m wondering what to do with myself. Read a book, watch TV, god forbid not leave the house.

Which is why I decided to write.

But I was worried about tonality. It is Christmas. Not my holiday, but others respect it. But now they’ve got two football games and NBA all day and sometimes I like to be light and disrespectful and sometimes heavy and damned if I know what will resonate, especially when I’m not white hot. Like I said, I’ve got a bunch of topics in my head. I actually stopped this in the middle and wrote about iPhone sales. And I realized while writing that if you don’t agree with me you hate me and that’s a problem I’ve had my whole life, I cannot tolerate misinformation and stupidity, which there’s more of than ever before. The more news we’ve got, the less truth we’ve got. People recite falsehoods like they’re commandments, and if you contradict them you’re the jerk. Wanna make it worse, just send them documentation of their mistake, they’ll hate you for all time.

And then after finishing the Apple missive I decided to write about Christmas songs, didn’t finish that one either, and normally I finish everything, but I’m gonna append it here, it’s good as far as it goes.

It’s just that… At this time of year you’re with your family and out of the maelstrom, or you’re wondering where you fit in. That’s life, there are rules in school and then you graduate and you’re on your own, you’ve got to make sense of it yourself. And the older I’ve gotten the harder this has been to do. I’m about ready to write a whole piece about the death of the influence of the baby boomers, they’re the last to know, but they’re over. That’s what hip-hop has taught us, the old rock farts are pushing seventy and they’re never gonna have another hit, and you’re not gonna start a breakthrough company and…

These are the kinda thoughts I have when I’ve got too much time and not enough to do. Oh, there’s always tons to do, but when your time is free you’re looking for that which rings your bell and…


They play in my head. I never ever pull up a Sirius station, never mind terrestrial radio, I don’t need to get into the Christmas spirit, after all, I’m Jewish, but I do have my own private tape loop.

But before I go there, I’ve got to point you to a Steve Knopper article in today’s “New York Times.” Knopper was “Rolling Stone”‘s music business guy, and quite good at it, but everybody’s on contract at that rag these days, if they’re still there at all, and I don’t see how it can be resuscitated, some things cannot, like MySpace, anyway, Knopper’s article points out the fact that in a world of on demand streaming it makes no sense to load up your fourth quarter releases because they get squeezed out by holiday music:

“Taylor Swift’s Rivals This Holiday: Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole”

Money changes everything, but so does streaming.

You want to launch your music when you can get the most mindshare. And it’s all about longevity, not the initial pop. Makes no sense to put your tracks out during the month of clutter, especially if you’re not releasing new music on a regular basis.

But back to those holiday songs.

The one I’ve been singing to myself most this season is “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” by the Royal Guardsmen. Our society is too coarse to have novelty hits like this anymore. But during Christmas 1966 this dominated the airwaves.

Ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or more!

Yup, that bloody Red Baron was rolling up the score. We sang along to this story song every time it came on the AM radio we commandeered as our parents drove us around the neighborhood, up to Bromley to ski. This was when Charles Schulz was still alive, before Snoopy got so whored out he lost all credibility, when you could still love “MAD” and “Peanuts” and feel good about yourself.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Snoopy’s competition on the chart at that time, the irrepressible, indomitable, all time classic “I’m A Believer.” Yes, the Monkees were an ersatz group. Yes, the song was written by Neil Diamond, but Micky Dolenz’s vocal alone not only makes this track one of the best of all time, but deserving of ushering the entire group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Come on, with so many lame acts in there why not the Monkees? They were bigger than any act working today and they had numerous hits of which this was the apotheosis.

But the track that goes through my head every time at this year is Laura Nyro’s “Christmas In My Soul”…

Christmas Songs – Spotify


No comments: