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Classic Recordings
Robert Altman Week

Wednesday
Mar042009

In Which This Is Sort Of About Shaq's Twitter

Democracy Super America

by Molly Lambert

Have a coke. Go fucking crazy!

What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

- Andy Warhol

"As We May Think" is an essay by Vannevar Bush, first published in The Atlantic Monthly in July 1945. Bush argued that as humans turned from war, scientific efforts should shift from increasing physical abilities to making all previous collected human knowledge more accessible. He also helped invent the atomic bomb.

warhol10

The Internet Of Things

Coke Art

Memex

selenacoke4

Selena was a spokesperson for Coca-Cola from 1989 till the time of her death. She filmed three commercials for the company. In 1994, to commemorate her five years with the company, Coca-Cola issued special Selena coke bottles.

Coca-Cola was the first-ever sponsor of the Olympic games, at the 1928 games in Amsterdam, and has been an Olympics sponsor ever since.

OLYMPICS

The Coca-Cola Company has been criticized for its business practices as well as the alleged adverse health effects of its flagship product. A common criticism of Coke based on its allegedly toxic acidity levels has been found to be baseless by researchers; lawsuits based on these criticisms have been dismissed by several American courts for this reason.

warhol5

There are some consumer boycotts of Coca-Cola in Arab countries due to Coke's early investment in Israel during the Arab League boycott of Israel. This contrasts sharply to Pepsi which stayed out of Israel. Mecca Cola and Pepsi have been successful in the Middle East as an alternative.

Fanta has its origins in Nazi Germany, when a trading ban was placed on Germany by the Allies during World War II. The Coca-Cola company therefore was not able to import the syrup needed to produce Coca-Cola in Germany.

As a result, their chief chemist, Dr. Schetelig, decided to create a new product for the Germany market created using only ingredients available in Germany. They called the new product Fanta.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording.

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Tyler Coates Buys The World A Coke

Olympic Cermonies and Large Hadron Colliders

Guy Debord's Society Of The Spectacle

selenacoke3

Saturday
Nov082008

In Which What Good Is Love 

An Aria

by Yvonne Georgina Puig

Yesterday I drove to the other side of town to see about buying a piano. I went out there knowing the woman was old and spoke slowly.

The drive seemed like forever. North, north, north, in a mournful gray drizzle. I counted four drive-in burger joints. Two of them were vintage, still mustard yellow or high school spirit red with cheerful, antiquated fonts. The other two were derivative, a pair of Sonics just a couple miles apart. Strip centers one after another. Oceanic parking lots. In spite of the occasional tree, a pure absence of life.

I passed the Oak Farms milk factory. This made me happy, to see unexpectedly where the milk I'd consumed nearly every day of elementary school was boxed and shipped. An old friend.

There were two wrought-iron chairs on the front porch of the house. And a doormat displaying the image of a basset hound in the back seat of a red Mustang convertible, banana-peelish ears flapping in the wind. The dining room was long and empty except for a rectangular table in the center, and the piano against a wall. The woman was old, but not elderly, hen-like.

The house was quiet. I wondered what she'd been doing before I arrived.

Within minutes, she was playing "Memories" from CATS. Listening to a perfect stranger play a pretty song in the intimacy of that stranger's dining room is an odd experience. Sort of awkwardly heartwarming and human. She played the song with emotion and scolded herself when she goofed. I looked around and noticed a small disco ball in one corner of the room and a strobe in another. There was no rug on the floor.

She finished, and sighed. Are you a dancer? I asked. Yes, she said, a competitive ballroom dancer. Tango, waltz, samba, you name it she dances it. On my way out, through a window looking to the backyard, I glimpsed a decorative armadillo poised on the end of the diving board.

Yvonne Georgina Puig is the contributing editor to This Recording. She lives in Los Angeles. Her tumblr is here.

All photos by William Eggleston. William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video, 1961 - 2008 through January 29th at the Whitney.

"Rank Strangers" - The Stanley Brothers (mp3)

"Man of Constant Sorrow" - The Stanley Brothers (mp3)

"That Happy Night" - The Stanley Brothers (mp3)

"Love Me Darlin Just Tonight" - The Stanley Brothers (mp3)

"Midnight Rambler" - The Stanley Brothers (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Molly enjoys beer milkshakes here.

Molly returns to her adolescence here.

Molly on Scorsese here.



Monday
Sep152008

In Which Happy Black Monday To You

Not to worry. Amid concerns of a blogosphere-wide liquidity crisis, it has become clear to me and our team of financial advisers that ThisRecording.com is sufficiently insulated against potential damage from our interests in Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch. We thank you for the confidence you have shown in our product, and are fighting to ensure that your tiny piece of this pie will continue to be a source of pride for many years to come.

-WH

Friday
Jun132008

In Which The Los Angeles Times Is Blown Up Once Again

Tough Times: Trouble At The Tribune

by George Ducker

In a letter on Monday to Los Angeles Times employees, editor Russ Stanton announced that the Los Angeles Times Magazine is getting the boot. This comes on the heels of last week's announcement by current Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell, that he's interested in cutting the daily paper's pages down to around 50 in order to whittle out a svelter more graph-and-image oriented version of the paper that would resemble, say, the Wall Street Journal.

Sam Zell, hiding behind some foliage

Complementing this announcement in true "on message" fashion, Tribune CEO Randy Michaels noted that LA Times writers seemed to have the most inefficient output of all Tribune papers. Comparisons were made from the 51 pages that Times' reporters produce per year to the Hartford Courant, whose reporters turned out 300 pages a year. In addition to this, over the last two weeks, both foreign editor Marjorie Miller and Opinion page editor Jim Newton turned in their resignations.

Domestic Terrorism in Downtown L.A., circa 1910

On October 1, 1910, a bomb exploded against the side of the Los Angeles Times building, then located on the corner of First St. and Broadway. It put a hole in the second floor, which toppled down onto the first which toppled, in turn, into the basement. Of the perhaps 115 people working in the building at the time, at least 20 were killed.

The McNamara Brothers: Wicked Wobblies

Two brothers, James B. and Joseph J. McNamara, both of them members of the burgeoning trade union movement, were arrested and eventually convicted of the attack. The publisher of the Times, Harrison Gray Otis, was a conservative and pretty vehemently anti-union. Another bomb exploded in his house as well.

Harrison Gray Otis

Harrison Gray Otis's great grandson, Otis Chandler, was the last of the Chandler family to maintain control of the Times' Publishing arm. He left the paper in 1995 and was replaced by Mark Willes, a ruthlessly business-minded man, the former President of General Mills, and who came to be known throughout the Times building as "the cereal killer."

He was followed by Kathryn Downing, herself a complete stranger to the newspaper business who famously insisted that she had no idea what "good journalism" was. In 2000, the Times was swallowed by Tribune Co., which continues to digest it to this day. The current publisher, David Hiller, took his position in 2006. He seems to be getting along well with the bosses in Chicago.

"Medley (Ballad)" - Norman Granz (mp3)

O smog

Los Angeles Magazine ran an article in their May issue which consisted of interviews with the six editors that preceded Russ Stanton. They also noted that, between August of 1971 and August of 2005, the Times' editorial staff fluctuated at around 1,200. The peak circulation was around 1 million for the daily paper and about 1.3 million on Sundays. By January of 2008, the editorial staff was winnowed to about 850 and the daily circulation was down to 877,000.

"Honey Won't You Let Me In" - The Tallest Man On Earth (mp3)

An Earthquake As Depicted By David Shrigley

John S. Carroll (2000 - 2005) noted the Times' 1999 dalliances with marketing-based editorial, and the troubles facing print publications and their expensive advertising needs:

"Just before I became editor, there had been a breach of journalism ethics, the Staples affair, when the paper went into a business partnership with an advertiser it was writing about. There was a built-in solution—the entire newsroom rose up and said, 'This will not be tolerated.' From then on, it wasn't. Today the newsroom can't rise up and say, 'The shattering of our business model by the Internet is intolerable.' We have to live with it. Staples might have been a problem on a higher plane, namely ethics, and this is a mere business problem—but it's the kind of problem that can do you in."

Carroll, with Baquet and Johnson

"The future is on the Web, but nobody has figured out how to make enough money on the Web to sustain journalism at the level that L.A. Times readers have come to expect. Newspapers are losing one revenue stream: circulation. The other revenue stream, advertising, is so competitive and cheap on the Web that it's hard to make big money on it. So how do you sustain large-scale, expensive journalism?"

"Get It While You Can" - Janis Joplin (mp3)

"As an advertising vehicle, you're competing with Web sites that assemble a staggeringly large audience and spend almost nothing on content. And the L.A. Times is spending well in excess of $100 million a year on content. How do you price your ads competitively with someone who is spending nothing?"

Dean Baquet

Dean Baquet (2005 - 2006) who is now Washington bureau chief at the New York Times, distinguished himself by refusing to sign a non-disclosure agreement when he was let go for refusing to make more staff room cuts.

"The 20 percent of my time that I spent dealing with a bad publisher—and I mean David Hiller, not Jeffrey Johnson—was not the dominant part of my day. I spent most of my time with a newsroom that really wanted to change and do great stuff. I brainstormed ideas with a staff that wanted leadership, and for a brief moment it seemed as if we could be the best paper in the country.

Johnson and Baquet

"I almost didn't become the editor. When John Carroll left, I was worried about being the editor who would have to take the paper down. I didn't know Jeffrey Johnson, my first publisher, all that well, and I didn't know he was going to be the fine publisher he turned out to be. When people think John and I didn't understand financial realities, they are wrong. We had already cut the hell out of the place. It got to be bad for business and journalism."

"Down on Me" - Janis Joplin (mp3)

"That's one reason they're struggling with revenue now. They've cut too much—from the business side and the newsroom. They did it without any plan. It was mindless cutting to meet a number. The cutters never understood or cared about journalism. When I left, I walked away from any kind of cash severance, because I refused to sign a pledge never to criticize the Tribune Company. They were baffled. They never understood that, as a journalist, I would never forfeit my right to speak out."

Sam "Give 'Em Hell, Watch Me Yell" Zell

"Tribune was not a good steward, but Zell seems to be worse. Tribune didn't like the L.A. Times, but Zell seems to be flailing and making it up as he goes along...I wish somebody could tell this guy that he's presiding over important newspapers and that sounding like a knucklehead won't work in the newspaper business."

"So What" - Little Wings (mp3)

Regardless of whether Zell sounds like a knucklehead or not, it is clear by now that he is the man holding the axe. It is clear that his newspaper holdings present nothing more to him than a numbers challenge, a trick of shadowy substance formed by pieces of transient, printed real estate. It is clear that, to him, the replacement of editorial with advertorial seems like a very, very sensible option.

It is to Russ Stanton's credit that he wants to change the Times Magazine's name in order to distance their marketing-based pieces from the realm of real news, but it also seems only a matter of time before the higher-ups may decide that they need a new, more sales-minded individual to take the reins.

George Ducker is This Recording's taciturn Sports Correspondent. His checks have been cut by Tribune Co. for the past year. He believes in full disclosure, but only in the last paragraph.

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Zodiac Chillers: Political Horoscopes

Barack Obama (Leo, Scorpio Rising)

John McCain (Virgo, Sagittarius Rising)

Hillary Clinton (Capricorn, Capricorn Rising)

This Recording Is Hard News Served Over Easy

Tuesday
Jan222008

In Which Being Cheap Is Developed Into An Art Form

The Custom of the Times

by Will Hubbard

I seem to remember Tess doing a piece on bargains in LA, so I thought I'd do the companion piece for NYC. It is my belief that if you only customed the places I mention here, you could survive on a yearly income of $12,000 and still have your health and booze and interesting things to say sometimes. Additions and testimonials welcome in the comments section.

BREAKFAST

Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Roll
$1.75-$2.50

I'm not so sure the term "roll" is as singularly referential anywhere else in the world. If you are in Brooklyn, you must say the phrase "can I get a" before uttering the name of this sandwich at a corner store or deli.

Also, you must call the guy making it "Boss", and agree to be called "Boss" by the guy who rings you up. For all this, you get breakfast for the price of a Diet Dr. Pepper.

boss

TRANSPORT

30-day Metro Card

My research shows that I ride the New York City subway approximately sixteen thousand, nine hundred, and forty-five times a month. This card costs 76 dollars. That means every time I ride in that metal tube filled with other people's breath it only costs me half a cent. Cool.

LUNCH

Bahn Mi So 1
369 Broome St.

I used to live just off Broome St. in Little Italy, and this place was a savior. The first time I had one of their famously cheap ($2.95) Bahn Mi sandwiches, I nearly puked it up in that park on Chrystie Street. I had made the mistake of ordering some crappy curried chicken concoction that clearly nobody had ordered in ten years.

The classic sandwich there is, I suppose, the #1, a spicy Vietnamese pork with cilantro, shredded carrots and onions, and several full-length cucumber spears stuffed into a nicely toasted 12-inch French-bread-ish bun. In my brief sentence in Manhattan, I would say I ate this sandwich, on average, 5.4 times a week and survived just fine. You could too.

ENTERTAINMENT

MoMA Membership
$50/year (student), $75/year (adult)

Even if you don't like modern art, or feel morally compromised by the new MoMA building, this hot little ticket entitles you to free admission to any or all of the usually three film screenings a day at MoMA's 53rd St. theater annex. They literally show a non-stop rotation of the best cinema ever created, much of it never before seen in the United States.

Yes, it's a bit out of the way to see a movie on 53rd St., but believe me, the E or V train lets you out across the street from the theater. You will hardly know you're in midtown. And yes, especially during the day when everyone else is working (I hardly do that), you will be watching movies with 113 elderly people who engage in petty arguments until the lights go down. But then it's bliss, and oh, free every time you go.

DRINK

Spain
113 W. 13th Street

This is where you will be doing most of your drinking. This little bar and restaurant sits tucked below street level on 13th St, just west of 6th Avenue.

The only things I've seen the mostly male, mostly 65-year-old, mostly Spanish patrons drinking are Bud bottles (2 dollars, are you kidding me?) and some whiskey I can't recall, without rocks ($4). And then once you're getting good and buzzed a miraculous thing happens: the bartender, who no joke has been working there for 55 years (look at the picture of him in his 20's above the bar), brings out plate after plate of FREE spanish vittles, each piece conveniently skewered with a toothpick.

hungry yet?

I wouldn't call them tapas, exactly--most often it is Spanish sausage, roasted potatoes with wing sauce, or meatballs; sometimes it is fried chicken in more garlic than you can handle. The fact that you can get slurringly drunk and also eat what turns out to be a full meal for less than 20 bucks make it a popular spot for the neighborhood New School and NYU MFA students. You shall know them by their funny hats.

CLOTHING

APC Surplus
34 Grand St., Williamsburg

Though we haven't actually been there yet, Dan Murray and I are pretty sure we are going to be buying all our dark-hued clothing here from now on. We know you have drooled your way around the APC store in Manhattan, trying not to trip on the poorly-spaced floorboards or lose your lunch over a price tag.

Well now you might actually be able to buy a little hot koochur for yourself, because everything at APC Surplus is 60% off. The store, which is open Thursday-Sunday from 1pm-7pm, only sells clothing from APC's past seasons, but for those of us still wearing boot-cut jeans, this shouldn't be a huge problem.

DINNER

Taza de Oro
96 8th Ave.

If you've gotten sick of Spain's free finger-foods, and have about 5 bucks to spend on real food, head to this (also-Spanish) diner for some meatloaf with rice and beans. Though I've never seen a female in this place, I'm sure they'd have no problem with it. Before having their espresso - which, at 75 cents, is dynamite - I didn't think people still accepted quarters in New York City.

LEISURE

Strand Rare Books

Yes, The Strand is a good place to buy books, and for pretty cheap. But honestly, they aren't that cheap, and you never find anything really good, especially in the cramped Poetry aisle where there is invariably one cute girl and one bearded old failed poet gawking at her and blocking my way to the Robert Creeley section.

The basement Review/Advanced Copy section is kinda cool-you basically get all the new hardcover schlock for half-off. But alas, The Strand-Less-Traveled, and by this I mean 3rd Floor Rare Books department, is really a dream for those of us with rarified literary tastes, a penchant for esoteric and elegantly bound books, and little to no disposable income. This is where I get gifts for people, because they invariably think you spent 50 bucks on them when you really spent 15. Gotcha!

Will Hubbard is the contributing editor to This Recording. He lives in Williamsburg.

"Promises (Reverso 68 remix)" - Badly Drawn Boy (mp3)

"Kings and Aces (live)" - The Cassettes (mp3)

"Lollipop (Radioclit Vocal Mix)" - MIKA (mp3)

PREVIOUSLY ON THIS RECORDING

Molly went to Georgia in her mind.

The Cold March moved forward.

The chance to become something larger than what we are.

gillwilldan.jpg

back when our contributing editor and dan were twins