End of an Era for Cuneiform

One of my all-time favorite labels.  Intelligent, experimental, all high-quality even on the rare occasion the music wasn’t my thing. Thanks to all — esp. ace publicist Joyce — for generous promotional material and enlightening sounds for many years.

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Why Comic Books Have Trouble With Innovation and Inclusion

It’s this crazy retail-distribution system.  I remember how shocked and befuddled I was when I first discovered the setup. So that’s why there were heaps of comics in the garbage pile behind the store alla time — can’t send back unsold copies! The late, great Jeep Holland, who worked for Diamond Distributors (when it actually had some competition), told me that, rightly or wrongly, comic-book publishers decided that dealing with unsold copies would be a crucial difference between making money and going broke. Jeep thought this was increasingly misguided since it was based on the assumption that nobody but nobody would be interested in a comic book a month after it came out, let alone years later. (Been great for the collectors’ market of course — it’s why really old comics are really rare.) This also explains why Marvel’s huge outburst of innovation came as they were going down the tubes and had nothing to lose. But also a strong component of why I dropped out of mainstream-comic reading. The rehash mode was impossible to stomach.

The Disappointing Development Beyond Disappointing in My Lifetime

Farhad Manjoo said it best in the Times:

an overall attitude that brutish capitalism is the best that nonelite customers can expect from this fallen world

That is our current condition in America. The anti-materialist crusaders in my youth warned that this was all to possible. Back then, I thought the danger was real, but that awareness of it would be enough to prevent it happening. But then, I thought the lessons of Viet Nam would be learned and we would not stumble into our current state of endless war. It coarsens, and corrupts and gives strength to the pernicious idea that we live in a cursed world where there’s no agency, only fate. And that chaos is only a form of change.

Yet Another Another Sure Sign of Age

I never considered “change” to be my friend, exactly, but I was unafraid of it. Back when, I was more in touch with how change is followed by more change and I was ready for that. Maybe because I’m aware that my ability to move through cycles of change is getting closer to its limit, I’m notably more upset by changes to anything I like. The only business-zone transformation that pissed me off was the ruination of Harvard Square, described perfectly in this 15-year-old article. The Harvard Coop housed the first record store where I could buy any title I heard about and every punk-single import imaginable. The “Pro” was as much a school for teaching young gulpers how to appreciate wine as it was a liquor store. (One of the last employees happened to be able to turn out excellent “Simpsons” cartoons– my favorite came near the end, when he presented Mr. Burns tapping his fingers together and saying: “They’re going to close the ‘Pro’? Release the hounds!”)

Harvard Square was worth getting upset about — it was the downfall of a unique, sophisticated playground. But today I found out a simple retail outlet had changed hands this summer and a wave of sadness hit me. This really is fear of change itself. And I cannot avoid dwelling on the fact that good things do go away, period — who could possibly imagine in the ’70s that you couldn’t buy an authentic bagel in Boston, Cambridge or Brookline? But hey, I can fight back. For years, one of the outrages was that there was no good place to hear music in Harvard Square (which had been the site of the first House of Blues fer Sachmo’s sake). But the Sinclair recently gave the Square an ideal ultra-modern venue. Let more good times return.

The Venerable Perdue Tradition of Horrid Advertisements

To my knowledge, I haven’t eaten a Perdue chicken in 40 years and I have no intention of ever doing so again. Fundamentally because the taste and texture are dreadful, but right behind is that the company feels scammy.

I hated the Frank Perdue ads. You were supposed to accept his practiced sincerity because he looked like a chicken. Same way Col. Sanders seemed like a lovable old coot. As I’ve said, America once understood the profound value of advertising-free zones. Ads are anti-classrooms: they teach you how to not-think.

Then came the chicken-farm scandal. (I have problems with this writer’s smug righteousness and reluctance to apologize for journalistic lapses, but this is the most detailed piece I could find quick-like.)

Now we have these new all-better-now chicken farm ads that are just as Perdue clueless as ever. (Feel free to look it up for yourself.) Yeah, the featured birds are not bleeding horror-movie extras, but if you know what a healthy chicken looks like, these are concentration-camp versions. Real appealing, guys.