September 2008 Archives

A MOMENT OF SELF-PROMOTION

Two things:

On October 14, the latest installment of my Snob’s Dictionary series of humor books, The Wine Snob’s Dictionary, comes out. It was written with David Lynch, the wine guy from the Batali-Bastianich restaurant empire, not the fright-haired director of Blue Velvet. I’ll be updating Snobsite shortly with some selections from the book, so you can sample before you buy–just like at a wine store, except without the low-grade buzz. Should you wish to buy the book and drink wine simultaneously, Lynchie and I will be doing some synergistic readings/tastings at independent bookstores on the East and West coasts this October and November. I’ll have those dates up soon.

On the evening of October 6, I will be participating in a reading at the Half King (Sebastian Junger’s Chelsea saloon) to celebrate the publication of Da Capo Books’ annual Best American Music Writing anthology. This year’s guest editor, Nelson George, was kind enough to include my Vanity Fair excavation of Sly Stone in the book, so I’ll be reading from that and talking music along with Nelson and some music writers of authentic repute, such as Gary Giddins and Sam Kashner. This is a recession-friendly event; admission is free.

September 19, 2008  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

WHAT IS A “BREAKING” OR “DEVELOPING” STORY?

In the hours and days after the WTC and Pentagon attacks in 2001, we all became acclimated to the “zippers” scrolling right to left at the bottom of TV screens with news alerts, and to “Breaking...” and “Developing...” banners across the top of Web sites. And with all the revelations and disturbing stories that tumbled forth in the attacks’ aftermath–the identity of the hijackers, the arrest of “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, the anthrax scares, the deployment of U.S. troops to Afghanistan, etc.–the urgency was warranted.

But it strikes me as hyperbolic and silly that news organizations have since settled into a permanent zipper/breaking/developing mode. Nothing brings this into focus more than this “Developing” headline I saw atop CNN’s home page this morning, as 9/11 commemorations were going on:

Developing Story.jpg

Under no rational circumstances can this be determined a “developing” news story. It’s a human-interest story, a tender moment that just happened to be observed by some cameras and reporters. In what sense could it further “develop”? Citing the story this way just cheapens the firefighter’s grief and tears.

UPDATE: As if to underscore the meaninglessness of the breaking/developing rubric, CNN updated its homepage an hour later–on the seventh anniversary of 9/11–with this terribly urgent banner:

Kanye.jpg

September 11, 2008  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

“YACHT ROCK” AUTEUR TO SCREEN IN NYC

In 2005, I fell in love with a no-budget Web series called Yacht Rock, which debuted on the Channel 101 site and purported to tell the stories of such smooth-pop titans of the late ’70s and early ’80s as Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and Hall & Oates.

In no time, Yacht Rock became, in short order, an underground phenomenon, an overground phenomenon, a New York Times-approved neologism, and a Web meme with its own Wikipedia entry. McDonald and Steely Dan, good sports, even paid tribute to the Web series by doing an encore to a show wearing captain’s hats.

I’ve become e-mail-friendly with Yacht Rock’s creative force, JD Ryznar, who alerts me that he is road-showing Yacht Rock and will be screening its webisodes this Sunday evening, September 14, at an East Village saloon called Professor Thom’s. I plan on being there and finally meeting JD in person.

I might add that Ryznar, a droll Polish-American from Muskegon, Michigan, has a wonderful verité series running on YouTube now called Visits with JD Ryznar, in which fellow Channel 101 “stars” join him at his wood-paneled pad in greater L.A. and more or less eat, drink, talk, and vegetate. Probably 75 percent of the pleasure I take in this show is predicated on already knowing these guys from Channel 101, but, aside from that, Visits is actually a sweet, authentic, and occasionally touching (seriously!) glimpse into the lives and friendships of creative but physically inactive white guys in their late twenties and thirties.

September 10, 2008  Link  General Posts  Share/Bookmark

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