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PJMcK's Journal
PJMcK's Journal
December 5, 2021

Don't forget the labels

During the late 1970s and into the 1980s, the record companies were bought by conglomerates that imposed strict corporate structures onto businesses that had been relatively free-wheeling. The labels had been able to use profits from their hit artists to develop stables of new talent to give opportunities for lots of different artists. That became a conflict once quarterly profits became the dominant goal over artistic diversity.

It all pretty much ended once superstar artists were given monstrous advances and/or signing bonuses. When Janet Jackson received $100 million, her label had nothing left to develop up-and-coming performers and writers. This structural change affected companies in different ways but fundamentally, it meant that the labels had to justify every dollar they spent. This is a big reason why niche areas have become neglected, (i.e., theatrical cast recordings, jazz, classical, etc.).

Here's another problem. Singers were convinced by their lawyers and agents that if they wrote their own songs, they could increase their profitability with larger royalties. Songwriting is a serious and difficult craft and art and not everyone can do it well. Look at the popular songs of the last 40 years and pick 10 that have become standards. It's difficult to do! Very few songs today get cover recordings and generally, the song is concretely cemented to the singer.

Thankfully, technology has come to the aid of new talent. With the advent of home and computer recording technologies as well as outlets on the internet, artists can build their careers without the major labels shepherding them into their cookie-cutter regimes. These artists are thus able to reach out to audiences and (hopefully) make some money to continue their ambitions.

November 29, 2021

We're going to learn something about Americans in the next few years

We'll learn if American voters care about their democracy or even if they understand it.

We'll learn if American voters have any memories of the atrocities and corruption of the Trump years.

We'll learn if American voters have any awareness of the atrocities and corruption of elected Republicans at all levels of government.

We'll learn if American voters have any empathy for anyone but themselves.

We'll learn if American voters understand that Republicans cannot govern nor do they want to.

We'll learn if the American voters desire an inclusive or an exclusive society.

We'll learn the future of our country.

November 26, 2021

Since 9/11 I've reconsidered flying whenever possible

The phony "security" measures introduced by W's administration took away the final vestiges of fun and comfort in air travel. To be clear, I think the majority of activities imposed by the TSA are intended to put money in the coffers of the sub-contractors and security equipment manufacturers who were supporters of W et al.

Nowadays, if I have to travel less than 800 miles, it's more efficient and way more comfortable for me to drive to my destination. Consider this scenario. I live in NYC and have to go to Chicago for 3-4 days. If I fly, here's my likely timetable:

1. One hour travel time to the NY airport, (plus cost of parking or cab fare)
2. I must arrive at least two hours before my flight (I'll have checked luggage)
3. Flight to Chicago, about two hours
4. One to two hours to collect luggage and get a rental car
5. One hour to drive to hotel, check in and get settled

Therefore, it's about 8-9 hours from door-to-door for my trip to Chicago. Conversely, If I drive, it's about 10-11 hours for the trip and I'll have the comfort of my own car, no crowds at the airport, nearly unlimited luggage and I'll arrive relaxed. Since the trip is essentially taking most of one day anyway, the extra couple of hours driving don't bother me and if I use them productively, I can catch up on phone calls and my music screening listening, (part of my job).

I used to love to fly but these days, it's no fun. I hate crowds to begin with and far too many passengers today are entitled pains in the ass.

November 26, 2021

Something for nothing

Humans are lazy and greedy. We want immediate gratification and rewards for little effort.

I don't gamble, except for tiny golf bets, because I work too hard for my money. Why would I piss it away on a game of chance where the odds are astronomically stacked against me? This goes for casinos, card and dice games, lottos, football pools and the like. I don't care if others want to participate, That's their choice and this is just the choice for me.

I do invest my money in the markets but the odds are generally deeply in the investor's favor, if they're patient. Without doing anything, my portfolio has increased almost 4% in the year-and-a-half of the pandemic. Imagine how things could be if Trump had handled Covid professionally and intelligently!

By the way, this is the single greatest illustration of how stupid Donald Trump has been in his life. Had he taken the $400 million he inherited from his father and invested it in an indexed fund, he would have several billion dollars today without having had to do anything. Instead, he pissed it away-- even on casinos where the odds were something like 95%-5% in his favor!-- on stupid "business" deals that all inevitably failed, including most of his prized golf courses. Trump's house of cards is completely built around debt and cash flow. It's an unsustainable balancing act. The collapse will be epic.

November 23, 2021

A conversation with an Austrian emigre

One of my mentors was a self-made success who brought his immediate family to the United States in 1938. He went to work in the mailroom of a large corporation and years later, bought the company and made it one of the finest in its industry. Sadly, he passed away about a dozen years ago but rarely do days go by that his guidance and counsel don't advise me (and many others) how to conduct our businesses.

Our conversations were fascinating, fun and insightful. Once, he told me about his decision to move to America. In brief, as an Austrian Jew, he recognized the dangers of the fascist Nazis and he and his brother made the monumental decision to move the the U.S. They struggled when they arrived but fortunately, they had a little money to smooth their transition. Once they were settled, his industriousness and savvy brought him tremendous success.

He made it clear that the dominance of the Anchluss and the nearly daily violent attacks on Jews motivated him. He didn't want his family to be trapped. He told me that the local reports of violence were always described as isolated events that were not connected to one another. Of course, he would be proven correct that the Nazis were stirring the pot to cause unrest and destabilize the societies.

He made a decision that he described as gut-wrenching and vaguely unbelievable. Yet he made the right choice.

I wonder if some of us are in similar circumstances to my friend. I wonder what he would advise me today.

November 18, 2021

That's disgusting!

First of all, who needs to eat that much food in 30 minutes?

Next, it's a totally unhealthy mix of foods.

The human body isn't designed to process that kind of gluttony.

In a country with so much hunger, how is the morally responsible?

I get it, it's an advertising campaign directed at certain men who find this amusing. This is fun? Meh. Texas.

Five pounds of ground meat could make 20-25 hamburgers. Gross.

The article doesn't give the cost of the "meal" (other than free, if you you finish it in time). A related website prices the plate at $54.95 and the joint's Facebook page has their menu listing a "normal" cheeseburger at $7.95 with a side of fries for $2.25.

There are similar "food challenges" even at higher-end restaurants. A steakhouse chain named for a famous football coach has an offer that if you eat an entire 48-ounce steak, they'll put a brass plaque with your name on it on the wall of the restaurant. There's apparently a fellow who has 11 plaques throughout the place.

Food is beautiful and necessary. This kind of behavior is revolting to me. But, to each their own.

October 31, 2021

The 79th Street Boat Basin in NYC

For many years, there has been a marina on Manhattan’s West Side in the Hudson River. Many of the boats there were live-aboards and some of them were in pretty rough shape. Regardless, it was a colorful Bohemian life style even if things could be difficult: Cold winters where one has to transport the propane tanks off Manhattan Island to get them re-filled; grocery stores are many blocks away; no easy parking; questionable legal status, etc.

A friend of mine had a 45-foot houseboat that he and his girlfriend shared. They removed the engine to gain storage space. The growth on the bottom of his boat was so thick that he thought he was attached to the river bed! That’s not really the kind of boating I like to do but to each their own.

The City recently condemned the marina and all the boats have to be gone by tomorrow. For the next two years, the marina will be rebuilt and modernized. It’ll probably be very expensive when completed, (it had been very reasonably priced and a mooring cost about $225 per month). The adjacent neighborhood is pretty upscale and expensive, (a friend pays $1,000 per month for indoor parking!). I’m sure that factors into the decision to rebuild.

October 6, 2021

Want a real feel good mini series?

“From The Earth To The Moon” is a 13-part series about the U.S. space program from President Kennedy’s speech calling for a successful round trip to the Moon through Apollo 17, our last visit to our celestial neighbor. Tom Hanks produced it for HBO and he introduces each episode. The writing, acting, special effects and music are superior.

I’ve watched it several times and I get chills every time I see Armstrong and Aldrin flying the Eagle over the barren face of the Moon. The program illustrates the many (sometimes conflicting) issues faced by NASA, the history of the program, the astronauts and their families.

The episode about Apollo One is poignantly told with many great insights. (There’s a fascinating sub-plot involving then-Senator Walter Mondale.) The Apollo 8 story begins with an exposition about the tensions our nation faced in 1968 and ends with the famous and inspiring “Earthrise” photo; a congratulatory telegram sent to those astronauts read, “Thanks for saving 1968.”

There’s lots of drama and tons of comedy, too. The music scores are some of the best!

Each episode had different production teams but they all fit together seamlessly.

The series may be available to stream online but it’s also available on DVD.

March 27, 2021

Ocracoke is a lovely but remote island

We normally live in New York City and it's a two-day trip to get here. The capper is that you have to take a ferry boat to get on the island. So, if you're going to spend a week on the island, you really need two weeks otherwise you're only here for a few days.

About a year and a half ago, Hurricane Doria's storm surge flooded the entire island with over 5 feet of water. It's a barrier island and it's normally only a few feet above sea level. There wasn't a lot of wind but the wall of water inundated many of the homes and businesses. Our house was already on 7-foot stilts but many of the homes have been raised since then. The process of lifting a house is incredibly fascinating and if you're interested try this YouTube video:

The locals are still recovering. However, last summer was a huge success for the island in spite of the pandemic. Based on the advance bookings, it looks like the island will do at least as well as last year. The local economy needs it. The storm surge destroyed the school and the bank but they're being rebuilt.

It's a funny place because only about 700 people live here year 'round so the employment opportunities are somewhat limited. For example, there's generally only one of many professions: plumber, electrician, auto mechanic, food market, hardware store, etc. There are quite a few carpenters but that's probably due to all the repairs the homes need. The seafood restaurants are among the best I've ever eaten in. The fish and shellfish are fresh out of the ocean and the locals prepare them in some delicious recipes. There are many artists and musicians who bring a lovely creativity to the island.

The Landlady(!) bought our property about 20 years ago and built a cute two-bedroom beach box with the idea to use it during the off-season and rent it in the summers. Since we've been together, I've been here about a dozen times and love the island and its people. However, I always get roped into repairing, painting, upgrading, etc. It's exhausting and not a lot of fun! And I'm almost always here when it's cold and damp.

If you're interested in coming back one day, here's a link to the island's rental agency. They're friendly, professional and reasonable.


As for dinner, we're just starting to get it organized and I'm hungry!
February 16, 2021

That's too bad

I've lived in and around New York for 45 years and it still fascinates me. I moved there to go to college and stayed when I started my career. Business opportunities in the city are numerous, diverse and generally well compensating. There are opportunities in almost any endeavor and field. Anyone with ambition and a bit of drive can find opportunities for a successful life.

The diversity is incredible as there are people in NYC from everywhere! They've brought their cultures, languages, arts, clothing, personalities and foods with them making NYC one of the world's great melting pots. The sheer variety of restaurants is a testament to the many cultures represented in the city.

Pre- and hopefully post-pandemic, NY's entertainment choices are nearly endless. The Metropolitan Opera, Broadway, the NY Philharmonic, Carnegie Hall, dozens of clubs and venues all provide top-flight entertainment. You mentioned Colbert's show; there are actually dozens of programs (and movies) filmed in NYC, many with live audiences. The museums are fantastic and have collections that people come from all over the world to see and appreciate. The Hayden Planetarium, part of the Museum of Natural History, is world-class and run by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Our sports teams are (usually) very strong and events like the U.S. Tennis Open and the NYC Marathon also draw crowds from around the world.

Because of the OP, I assume your opinion of NYC is a fear of crime. That's understandable. However, crime in NYC has declined precipitously in the decades I've lived there. The freak who shoved people onto the tracks is one person out of 8 million. I suspect you would find an equal or probably higher ratio of crime in nearly any other city in the country. The subways are cleaner than ever and, generally, the service is excellent. Keep in mind, it's one of the largest and oldest mass-transit systems in the world. Consider this: You can ride nearly 50 miles on one swipe of a MetroCard, (roughly $3.00).

NYC's architecture is hundreds of years old and also brand spanking new with spectacular creativity. The history of the city is very rich and dynamic. Because it's a waterfront city, the beaches, boating, fishing, horseback riding and other activities are plentiful. There are championship golf courses, (just stay away from Trump's course in the Bronx!), marinas and parks in all five boroughs. The skyline is spectacular and Times Square is popular and, shall we say, unique.

My wife and I suffer from wanderlust and we've visited many cities and localities around the U.S. and the world. We had travel plans last year and this year that were screwed up by the pandemic. However, our hearts will always be in New York, our home. You might reconsider your view of this city and give it a second chance after the pandemic is under control.

In any event, it took me all day to write this reply so I hope you'll accept it the sincerity I've intended. By the way, where do you live?

Have a good evening.

Profile Information

Name: Paul McKibbins
Gender: Male
Hometown: New York City
Home country: USA
Current location: Catskill Mountains
Member since: Mon Jun 5, 2006, 04:16 PM
Number of posts: 21,227

About PJMcK

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