I have been slacking off from blogging. Time flies by. Here are 11 things I have been doing instead:
11- Understanding & Pricing Out The Cloud: If you are like me, and flit around from site to site streaming and buying — I’ll easily hit iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, RDIO & Rhapsody in a week — then the various cloud-music propositions presented lately will make your head spin. Keeping track of which one is $20 a year for 15GB’s, which one is $25 for a year for 20GB’s, which one rewards you for shopping at their store, which one matches and duplicates your existing content, etc. — is a crazy jumble. Heck, the Amazon, Google, iTunes options alone make the NY Times pay-wall rules seem positively simple. Jon Pareles from the NY Times on The Cloud That Ate Your Music here.
10- Testing Cloud Music Offerings: Wow. Has setting up something geared for convenience , ever been so inconvenient?! I tried Amazon (glacially slow), Google (makes Amazon look nimble) and what iTunes has to offer so far (you try finding the correct preference prompts to set up an iPad, iPod, iTouch & MacBookAir) — it takes the patience of Job to even experiment with the existing library options.
9- Obsessively Listening To A Reclusive Artistic Genius Who Locks Himself Away At Home: If I told you that I was listening non-stop to a morose, funny, poignant, cutting singer-songwriter who refuses to record with a band, make videos or tour — I’m sure you would say “Really, Paul Westerberg again Jack”. Well not this time, mister. FM Coronog is an incredible singer-songwriter, who in between his 9-5 slog at Home Depot, somehow manages to home-record a brilliant album every few years under the moniker of East River Pipe. Check out his page on Merge Records here, and an unofficial, naturally, YouTube clip below.
8- Thelonious Monk: Universal just put out the complete Riverside collection. 16 CD’s for $80 at Amazon. Redundancies and all, it’s just too much to resist. Details here.
7- Fighting with Anthem Blue Cross: Just how incompetent, obstructive and systematically infruriating is our health care system? Ladies and gentleman I submit to you, from the California Watch website – Anthem Blue Cross:
In its own way, Anthem Blue Cross became the Toyota of the news cycle yesterday. The company was credited with reinvigorating the health reform drive, stood accused of violating California law hundreds of times and was found to exhibit a prolific pattern of profit taking.
It was also linked to a denied liver transplant and a plan motivated by its famous 39 percent rate hike that, well, might not work….The Los Angeles Times reported that state insurance commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner accused the company of violating state law 700 times between 2006 and 2009.
I have spent countless hours on hold with Anthem, back-tracking through paperwork, and generally fighting for my families money. Yet I understand, interrupting my blogging is the least of Anthem’s moral offenses.
6- Driving: I live in (East) Los Angeles, work in San Diego, and have friends and business contacts clustered all across the west side of L.A. Have you ever tried to get to Venice Beach from Pasadena after 2pm on a weekday?
5- Turntable FM: If you are over 30, you no doubt remember gathering at a friends house and playing each other music. Chances are the M.O. was a variation on “OK, suckers…can you top THIS?” Turntable FM recreates this by layering a Social Media blanket over a full song streaming interface. God, that sounds like tech-speak gobbley gook. How about – Turntable FM allows you to go online, play songs for your friends, and is crazily addictive fun. They may or may not have a prayer of a business model, but you should check the site out now here.
4- Thinking about the New York Times: Last weekend I thought I could get some blogging in, but on Friday night I went to see Page One, the new movie about the NY Times. The movie covers a lot of territory – Wikileaks, the run up to the Iraq war, the recession, etc. — all unified by the Times’ struggle for economic stability in the age of the internet. It’s a great movie. My excitement about the film, lead to buying the book Hard News, which covers the history of the times through the prisim of the Jason Blair scandal, and reading the book took up much of Saturday. Next thing I knew it was Sunday, which, naturally, means it was time for the Sunday Times…
3- The NY Times iPad App: Back in March, I wrote about the NY Times pay-wall strategy, and theorized that the approach was just too convoluted and expensive to be successful. Now, after experiencing the total brilliance of reading the NY Times daily on my iPad, I am happy to have my Fonzie moment…
I WAS WRONG.
The digital version of the NY Times, with it’s elegant interface, and superb use of interactive elements like photo galleries, is spectacularly good. I find myself gladly paying for the full subscription, and consuming more content in both print and digital form during the course of a normal week. You can read more about how wrong I was here.
2- WFMU’s The Best Show hosted by Tom Scharpling : I came to this show late. It is tough to explain how a program this meandering, could also be this good. The best I can tell you is that if you could imagine a parallel universe where Howard Stern was 15 years younger, magnitudes hipper, and deeply immersed in indie-rock you would start to paint a picture. Add in recurring guests like John Hodgman, Patton Oswalt and Paul F. Tompkins, and a host of faux callers such as “Philly Boy Roy” (an unflinching supporter of all things Philadelphia), “Timmy von Trimble” (a genetically modified, two-inch-tall racist), and “The Gorch” (a senior citizen from York, Pennsylvania, who claims that the character of The Fonz on the TV show Happy Days was based on him) and you start to get the picture. The fact that all these callers are voiced by Superchunk drummer Jon Wuster just adds to the appeal.
Try the Music Scholar call, here.
1- Working at Slacker Radio: Between the natural arc of learning the intricacies of a new business, and diving into the complexities of music label licensing from the other side, working at Slacker is a time-consuming affair. I consider myself shockingly lucky to be enjoying it as much as I am so far, and can’t wait for everyone to see the things we are working on for the rest of this year. Today’s AOL/Slacker announcement is just the tip of the iceberg, read about that here.
So there you have it. My Spring of non-blogging, cataloged and perhaps a bit rationalized.
Blame the Fonz, Timmy von Trimble, Thelonious Monk, the Times, and gainful employment.
If I can tear myself away from these obsessions, then I’ll talk to you soon.