Entries Tagged 'Business' ↓

Malcolm McLaren, 1946-2010

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The New York Times reports the death of svengali, impressario, and iconoclast Malcolm McLaren, above, today, at the age of 64.

His companion of many years, Young Kim, confirmed that Mr. McLaren died on Thursday, and said that he died of mesothelioma at a hospital in Switzerland.

never_mind_the_bollocksMcLaren is best known, and will be most remembered, for assembling and managing the sneering punk prototypes, the Sex Pistols. Fearsome and outrageous, especially in an era that had just come through yacht rock and disco, the quartet’s sole, 1977 studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, right, remains one of the most influential rock albums ever. (This fact later led McLaren, with typical, consumate bombast, to declare himself “the inventor of punk.”)

I didn’t know about any of that, however, until much, much later. I didn’t know who McLaren even was until one afternoon in 1982, when driving down Commercial Ave. in Freeport, listening to my ’75 Impala’s radio, I heard the opening wails of his agglomeration with New York’s World’s Famous Supreme Team, “Buffalo Gals.”

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“Funny, when my dad talks to me from the Great Beyond in a Nike ad, he says ‘Mostly, we watch people make whoopie.’”

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That’s author Colson Whitehead (John Henry Days) in the hed, on Twitter, taking a little spit out of Tiger Woods’s new Nike ad, above.

In the spot, the disembodied voice of Woods’ late father and golf mentor, Earl, who died of a heart attack in 2006, is heard urging the athlete to deeper self-examination and introspection:

“Tiger, I am more prone to be inquisitive, to promote discussion. I want to find out what your thinking was. I want to find out what your feelings are. And did you learn anything?”

And that’s it. That, and a very controlled, low-key camera dolly-in to Woods’ expressive, soulful eyes.

The spot, which ran before and after Tiger teed off during the Masters Tournament, is the first Nike piece with Tiger to air, post the golfer’s massive Bimbo-gate sex scandal. (During the controversy, over a dozen women surfaced, claiming they’d slept with the married superstar.)

don_kirshner_2_120This commercial moves me to ask the question my sister and I always did after watching each lame Kansas video on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, right, late Saturday nights when we were kids: What does it mean?

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Tammy Wynette’s Wail of Woe.

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Even in country songcraft, where beers are consistently diluted with tears, the late Tammy Wynette, above, had a penchant for melancholy–like a rural Mary J. Blige–that was both supreme and legendary.

As was her voice. Describing a stage performance of her hit recording, “D-I-V-O-R-C-E,” biographer Jimmy McDonough notes,

31When she gets to the chorus, Wynette [right] belts out the words with the force of an air-raid siren, yet barely bats an eyelash. There’s zero body language—the drama’s all in the voice. She doesn’t act out the song or punch her fist in the air; in fact, she barely moves an inch. Tammy the statue. Until a Tinseltown choreographer teaches her some questionable dance steps in the mid-eighties, Wynette will remain frozen onstage. The anti-style of Tammy’s wax-figure performances absolutely mystified Dolly Parton. “I could not believe that all of that voice and all that sound was comin’ out of a person standin’ totally still. I’d think, ‘How is she doin’ that?’ It seems like you’d have to lean into your body or bow down into it or somethin’ to get all of that out. I’ve never seen anything like it to this day. I was in awe of her. I thought she had one of the greatest voices of all time.”

06Virginia Wynette Pugh (1942-1998) did have one of the the most sonorous instruments in the history of popular music. Her classic, “Stand By Your Man,” below, may be the best known example of her gift. Yet she lived a life of drama that exceeded even her most poignant records. She was married five times, including a tempestuous relationship with country superstar George Jones, right; suffered almost continuous, acute discomfort from nearly thirty surgeries; was addicted to painkillers; and died at the age of 55, reportedly looking years older.

1000071158lIn his book on her life, Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen, writer Jimmy McDonough, right, who has also profiled rock legend Neil Young and filmmaker Russ Meyer, plumbs the depths of her artistry, her sadness, and her demons.

Few recording artists achieve the kind of success Tammy Wynette did. In total, she had more than twenty number one hits, several of which she’d co-written. Tammy was the first country artist to go platinum, and her total sales now loom somewhere past the thirty-million mark. If there is one person who her musicians and producers compare her to, it is Elvis. … Tammy sings of cheating husbands, suffering wives, kids’ lives wrecked by divorce. The down and dirty stuff that grinds us all down on a daily basis. If you’re a woman, she could be singing your life. If you are a man, she might be compelling for darker reasons. Wynette sings of love in a rather disturbing fashion. Her music ain’t for sissies.

Jimmy McDonough is the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 19, at 2 pm ET.

You can hear his ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.

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Jigg A Sketch.

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That’s a Limited Edition Jay Z Etch A Sketch Artwork, above, as rendered by George Vlosich III, of GV Art and Design. (You may recall seeing him on Oprah, earlier this week.)

The giclee print is 1 of 20. Says Vlosich, in his somewhat emphatic style,

A giclee is the highest quality print available. Printed on textured paper, it shows the detail of each line. (16″x 20″) Signed by artist. Only 20 of these have been created. A must have for any collector. No matter what you have in your collection, George’s work will be the most talked about piece.

There’s also “a limited number (1 of 50) digital prints (12″×16″),” but that’s strictly for non-ballers. Jay-Z  Etch A Sketch Giclée Print, $325. Digital Print, $85.

Still Greedy, Still No Good: In New Teaser for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Gordon Gekko Shows He’s Still Got A Lot of Lizard In Him.

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wall_street_money_never_sleeps_ver2What absolutely thrills me about the teaser for Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, right, Oliver Stone’s follow-up to his 1987 classic, Wall Street, are two hilarious sight gags that take place near the 1:00 mark. Both have to do with the release of corporate raider Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) from prison. (Lovers of the first film, below right, know that it ended with Gekko’s protegé, Bud Fox [Charlie Sheen], turning over information to the Feds that would put Gekko away for a long time.)

Of course, the short’s best visual effect—Douglas’ nearly quarter-century older face—isn’t one, and in a powerful close-up, above, Stone and the actor put it to tremendous use, to convey both the unrecoupable passage of years, Gekko’s great humiliation, and his desire for infinitely lucrative revenge.

wall_street_filmOne of the most fascinating aspects of revisiting definitive works is learning, as one inevitably does, how fungible they were when created. Few, now, could imagine anyone but Michael Douglas as the oily and sinister Gekko, and, ultimately, Douglas was given an Academy Award for his portrayal.

But as noted in Wikipedia, referencing James Riordan’s Stone: A Biography of Oliver Stone and other sources,

the studio wanted Warren Beatty to play Gekko but he was not interested. Stone initially wanted Richard Gere but the actor passed, so the director went with Douglas despite having been advised by others in Hollywood not to cast him. Stone remembers, “I was warned by everyone in Hollywood that Michael couldn’t act, that he was a producer more than an actor and would spend all his time in his trailer on the phone”. But the director found out that “when he’s acting he gives it his all”. The director says that he saw “that villain quality” in the actor and always thought he was a smart businessman.

In Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Shia LeBoeuf co-stars as Jacob “Jake” Moore, a Wall St. trader on the come-up, engaged to Gekko’s daughter, Winnie (Carey Mulligan). From the looks of things, this apparently gives Gekko more than usual parental concerns. Check out the teaser, then the trailer, below.

Also, as a special bonus, watch the original trailer for the first film, also below. When you do, keep an eye out for the very first, brief image after the logo and, realize, yes, that was a different world.

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Don’t You Wish Your Boyfriend Was Hot Like Me?

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Old Spice, the legendary men’s grooming products company, should give Wieden + Kennedy, their current ad agency, a massive raise.

You may know W+K as the immaculately creative shop that, for all intent and purposes, invented Nike as a brand. Now, they’ve delivered a series of commercials which make the decrepit, aforementioned manufacturer of shaving powder actually seem hip again.

Here, on MEDIA ASSASSIN, we’ve already covered one of the spots from their blazingly satirical “Different Scents” campaign. Now, check out this, above, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” their latest pitch for O.S. body wash, and take in all the eyefuls of luscious man meat you can.

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Eat Cheese…And You “Don’t Stop.”

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laughing_cowWhen The Laughing Cow, right, France’s Jura-based makers of spreadable cheese wedges, above, recently started airing their latest commercial, something about the cloppy, jug-band, oddly sexy beats underneath sounded familiar. But I couldn’t place ‘em.

So I racked up a little internet research, and, voilá: The track—called “Don’t Stop”—is by the UK’s Patrick & Eugene. It’s from their 2008 import, Everything & Everyone.

51paurvjxwl_ss500_Patrick & Eugene? Yes, Patrick Dawes and Eugene Bezodis, whose debut domestic release, Altogether Now (Birds Bees Flowers Trees), right, is out today, featuring new tracks next to their best-loved songs.

On the P&E web site, the bushy duo describes their sound as

whistles, bells and bongos combined with banjos, ukuleles and sunshine pop vocals to produce a unique but accessible music for post modern vaudeville, with a nod to Monty Python, Derek & Clive and even Woody Allen.

screen3If you can rememeber back to 2006, their ditty, “The Birds and the Bees,” was compellingly clamped to Volkswagen’s reintroduction of their classic Rabbit. The ad featured of black and white subcompacts dipping into dark tunnels and alleyways, right, only to re-emerge, followed by gray, black, white, and multi-hued lil’ uns. (Multiplying like…rabbits, get it?)

If you can’t remember that, though, ne’er worry: “The Birds and the Bees,” “Don’t Stop,” the slinky, captivating “Llama” (hear it on their MySpace page) and eleven other compositions fill out the new CD. Plus, I’ve packed this post with YouTubes, below, for your listening and viewing pleasure. Dance, kiddies, dance.

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Dumping Out the Coco: O’Brien Late Night, Back To The Future Edition.

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The more things change, the more they stay exactly the same. At least that’s what Gawker commenter Ken Hunt said after excavating this eerily prophetic, 1998 Late Night with Conan O’Brien clip, below.

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“YO! WHO THE HELL PUT THIS BIG, NASTY, DIRTY BIRD IN MY FOOD?”

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Don’t let ‘em lie to you: I know with all the cooking shows, people try and act like, in the past, American food, though artery-clogging, was hearty and simple. Meanwhile, many argue, today’s chefs have gone bonkers, working to outdo each other with odder and even odder ingredients, methods of preparation, plating, and the like.

Well, if you really think so, try and hold down your lunch just imagining what anybody you love would do if you sat this, below, in front of them: A whole pheasant, tail feathers, head, eyeballs, beak, and all, surrounded by greens, and, incidentally, plunked down next to a roasted version of itself.

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Baaroomph. Around 8pm, one day over sixty years ago, somebody probably ran out onto a busy city street and upchucked all the previous week’s electrolytes. I know that because the above is a print ad for Niblets Whole Kernel Corn, from pg. 10 of the Nov 11, 1946 issue of LIFE magazine. (“Gay Color – Good Eating,” blares the headline. Wow.)

That retina-scalding, ornithological centerpiece, above, says the copy, was

prepared by Louis Diat, Chef, Ritz-Carlton Hotel, New York City—a spectacular way to serve pheasant…the casserole of meat flanked by the brilliant plumage of the bird itself. And what goes better with pheasant than the gold of Niblets Brand whole kernel corn, the tender flavor of its sweet young kernels?

nibletsA little context, admittedly, might be helpful here. This is, literally, the postwar period; WWII had ended a bit over a year before. Julia Child wouldn’t start teaching French cooking for another half decade. American women probably wanted to do something exciting in the kitchen, after years of shortages and rationing.

Minnesota Valley Canning Company probably seized the opportunity to market arguably the second-most generic vegetable known to humanity, after rice, by linking it to exotic dishes and fantasy. They knew full well their target audience would never go to the Ritz-Carlton, but would be entranced by its world-renowned reputation for luxury and excitement. They certainly knew that the chef there woulddn’t have touched Niblets, above, to make a meal for his discerning clientele. Notice they never claim he does in the text, but just strongly associate it with his food?

Fortunately, Minnesota Valley Canning smartened up and realized that they needed to talk to regular people, and heightened both the visibility and branding opportunities in the green giant on their label, even ultimately sprouting a little giant called, of all things, Niblet. (Green Giant was a ho, ho, ho.)

But, thankfully for all of us, they stopped trying to sell housewives the myth that their hard-working, meat-and-potatoes husbands would stomach the sight of an undressed bird, still smoking with buckshot, on their dinner plates. After all, supper’s the time for family talk, not taxidermy.

The Blueprint Three: Behold The Trio of Books You Must Own In Order To Conquer the Modern Music Business.

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When 19-year-old computer geek Shawn Fanning created and released Napster, his internet file-sharing application, 10 years ago, he had no idea that his little experiment would completely overturn the massive, multi-billion music business. He just wanted a way to share digital music with friends. But what started as an experiment by a bored college student quickly became the loose bolt that would yank the industry from its rapidly rotating axle.

Fanning and Napster were quickly lambasted by many, hailed as heroes by many more. But their story is only a small part of what Chicago Tribune music critic Greg Kot, in his new book, Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music, above, calls “the laptop generation”:

An uprising led by bands and fans networking on the Internet. Ripped tells the story of how the laptop generation created a new grassroots music industry, with the fans and bands rather than the corporations in charge.

Those businesses fell apart not only because the technology made change irresistible, but also because, for years, the business refused to come to grips with what was happening to their field. That’s the subject of Rolling Stone contributing editor Steve Knopper‘s text, Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Rise and Fall of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, above middle. In Knopper’s opinion,

after the incredible wealth and excess of the ’80s and ’90s, Sony,
Warner, and the other big players brought about their own downfall
through years of denial and bad decisions in the face of dramatic
advances in technology.

Greg Kot and Steve Knopper are guests today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, October 2, at 2 pm ET.

But they’re talking about how we got here. What should an artist do, in today’s realm, to manage a career in the digital age? Attorney Steve Gordon‘s book, The Future of the Music Business: How to Succeed with the New Digital Technologies, above top, is designed as a guide for the artist / entrepreneur who wants to take control of their career. It

provides a legal and business roadmap to artists, music industry professionals, entrepreneurs and attorneys. It focuses on the rules pertaining to the music business and the new digital music industry, how artists and entrepreneurs can use the new technologies to succeed, new business models, plus interviews with artists and entrepreneurs who are inventing the future of the music business.

You can hear Kot’s, Knopper’s, and Gordon’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.