David Hepworth: Why the revolution in digital distribution has made delivery of news, music and entertainment more significant than the content
This is almost total horseshit - a lot of third-hand observations about social media, some of which are sometimes true about some things, wrapped around a really TERRIBLE example, a record that was the subject of passionate, sustained conversation among its main audience, with major ripples beyond. And maybe - just maybe - a 50something British white guy isn’t part of that audience, isn’t the best placed to judge how much “impact” the record had or how “important” it was to people. (Though simply by virtue of being on Tumblr this 40something BWG managed to twig that SOMETHING was up.)
No, the problem here - and I’m not even talking about Hepworth here, bad as the article is it’s a symptom, a symptom of something I suffer from too. An open letter to me, then.
The problem is that you hit a certain age and you stop doing the work. You assume that if conversation’s not happening amongst your ossifying set of professional contacts, it’s not happening anywhere. You imagine that your contributions are such that you will know what’s up by right, by licking a finger and sticking it into the air and sitting back down on your arse and re-typing something you once read about the internet.
Though, OK, “The revolution happened in distribution”, that’s a fair starting point. You can work from there. You can think about what that means for how stars present themselves, for how people become stars, for whether “singles and albums” are the best way of thinking about what a pop star does, about the art, the presence, “the content”. Though in this record’s case, there is content to spare. Maybe get specific and talk about how Beyoncé in particular is a really fascinating figure in this shift, coming up in the CD boom heyday and adapting (unlike almost any of her peers) partly by trying new things out.
What does it mean - just looking at the simplest, most public facts - that musicians dominate Facebook and Twitter fan scorecards, that music is so enormous on YouTube? You could take the analytic route - try and work out what the half-life of a song, or a video, is these days. Or you could take the journalistic route, find the people who Beyoncé means something to - something bad, something wonderful - and bloody ask them.
It’s not just lazy. It’s fine to get lazy. I can’t keep up any more, that’s just a fact. You don’t stop being useful - I hope! - you become more of a historian, turning your eye on the past a little more. Maybe use your experience as a scalpel on the times you lived through, not as a weapon against the present? No, fine, you don’t have to do that at all, if the present sucks people should say so. But not so ahistorically. When distribution shifts, exciting things happen. We can look at the history of radio, Dansette record players, sheet music, MTV, as evidence for that. Look for what’s changing. People aren’t mugs, or no more than they ever were. Look at why they care. Don’t trust yourself so much.
the greatest escape in the history of ever
Pink Floyd, “The Scarecrow,” promo film, 1967. The sort of glorious summer afternoon that could symbolize all of British psychedelia, basically.
Paris Review / Peter H. Stone:
How did you start writing?
Gabriel García Márquez:
By drawing. By drawing cartoons. Before I could read or write I used to draw comics at school and at home. The funny thing is that I now realize that when I was in high school I had the reputation of…
I’m clearing off my desktop, so here is a goodbye to True Detective screencaps!
1. The familiar made foreign.
2. The only convincingly southern person on the show.
3. Love that green.
4. SICK PINK FLOYD SHIRT, MARTY
Chileans are very much like their country in a certain way. They are the most pleasant people on the continent, they like being alive and they know how to live in the best way possible and even a little more; but they have a dangerous tendency toward scepticism and intellectual speculation. A Chilean once told me on a Monday, “No Chilean believes tomorrow is Tuesday,” and he didn’t believe it, either….
Around four o’clock in the afternoon, Major General Javier Palacios managed to reach the second floor with his adjutant, Captain Gallardo, and a group of officers. There, in the midst of the fake Louis XV chairs, the Chinese dragon vases and the Rugendas paintings in the red parlour, [Pres. Salvador] Allende was waiting for them. He was in shirtsleeves, wearing a miner’s helmet and no tie, his clothing stained with blood. He was holding the sub-machine gun but he had run low on ammunition.
Allende knew General Palacios well. A few days before, he had told Augusto Olivares that this was a dangerous man with close connections to the American embassy. As soon as he saw him appear on the stairs, Allende shouted at him: “Traitor!” and shot him in the hand.
According to the story of a witness who asked me not to give his name, the president died in an exchange of shots with that gang. Then all the other officers, in a caste-bound ritual, fired on the body. Finally, a non-commissioned officer smashed in his face with the butt of his rifle.
|—||Gabriel Garcia Márquez (RIP), on the 1973 coup in Chile.(The New Statesman, March 1974).|
Cameron Crowe: You’re not noted for cordial relationships with other artists. Yet there was the rumor that you flew to Europe to spend a sabbatical with Bob Dylan. What about it?
Bowie: That’s a beaut. I haven’t even left this bloody country in years. I saw Dylan in New York seven, eight months ago. We don’t have a lot to talk about. We’re not great friends. Actually, I think he hates me.
CC: Under what circumstances did you meet?
DB: Very bad ones. We went back to somebody’s house after some gig at a club. We had all gone to see someone, I can’t remember who, and Dylan was there. I was in a very, sort of…verbose frame of mind. And I just talked at him for hours and hours, and whatever I amused him or scared him or repulsed him, I really don’t know. I didn’t wait for any answers. I just went on and on about everything. And then I said good night. He never phoned me.
CC: Did he impress you?
DB: Not really. I’d just like to know what the young chap thought of me. I was quite convinced that what I had to say was important, which I seem to feel all the time. It’s been quite a while since somebody really impressed me, though.
Cameron Crowe, Playboy interview with Bowie, September 1976.
"I’ve always been a screen writer," Bowie says, his pale eyes scanning me for the faintest hint of scepticism. "My songs have just been practice for scripts."
Tina Brown interviews Bowie, The Sunday Times Magazine, 20 July 1975.
Managers who phone home are one part caring, one part creepy.
Any manager I have who tries calling my parents — or for that matter doing as this article suggests and “get to know your employees as individuals. Spend time with them, ask them about their lives, and show them you really care about who they are as people” — will be getting hit with legal action regarding article 8 of the Human Rights Act, respect for the right to private and family life.
What I want from a manager is someone who gives me tasks to perform that are within my job description, that take 37.5 hours per week or less, and in exchange for performing which I receive money. That is the full extent of the relationship I have ever wanted with a boss…