WKRN & Nashville is Talking

I just wanted to point out that, when I watch the local news, I usually watch Channel 4, because it’s usually so fantastically bad and I love the funny of bad local news like that. Otherwise, I might watch Channel 5.

But, I’m going to admit that Channel 2 has come up with a gimmick that makes it nearly impossible for me not to watch them: they’ve appealed to my vanity and my love of snarky goodness by hosting the blog, Nashville is Talking.

In the vanity column is the fact that every time I post something, Nashville is Talking picks it up and I get a few folks who click over here to see what’s going on. They send me readers, how can I not love them?

And I like Brittney’s persona. She comes across as having a voracious love of information and a light sense of humor.

So, I feel invested in the blog, which, I’ll admit, has made me tune in to WKRN, even though I’m constantly disappointed that, with call letters like that, they have no one on their staff named Fieldy.

So, WKRN, kudos for successfully instilling in me a hint of brand loyalty, but jeers for not thinking farther outside the box in terms of possible synergistic relationships. Most stations would kill for the 18-35 year old demographic and you have an obvious way to reach that market and you’ve not yet exploited it. For shame.

Back to the Copyright Thing

Though, after this, Prorata will probably not come back here, I do want to think through copyright a little more thoroughly. And, as much as I loathe linking to LiveJournal, I think Mediadrone has a salient David Bowie quote (and listen, folks, I’m not vouching for the ethics of Mediadrone. He’s the kind of guy who thinks it’s funny to leave drawings of naked cartoon characters in people’s bathrooms or take frames from movies and make weird art out of them, so it’s entirely possible that he said this and is passing it off as Bowie. What can you do? We live in a world where everyone plays pretend.) and I want to use it.

The absolute transformation of everything that we ever thought about music will take place within ten years, and nothing is going to be able to stop it. I see absolutely no point in pretending that it’s not going to happen. I’m fully confident that copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in ten years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing. Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. [. . .] So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand, it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen… -David Bowie, June 2002

So, copyright applies to a lot of stuff, but the only two things I really give a shit about copyright applying to are books and music. And both are at a kind of crisis point because technology now makes making copies and manipulating those copies very easy. But how both got to this point and what the implications are and how I feel about them are different, maybe.

With music, it’s easy to see how David Bowie could be right. It’s funny, we were talking about this at lunch, from another angle about A.P. Carter copyrighting all these songs that were older than him, and widely sung, in his own name. And it’s this heritage that the music industry has never successfully overcome.

From the moment commercial recordings of vernacular music started, people have been copyrighting and getting rich off of songs that previously seemed to belong to everyone. We’ve been over this before, but it’s why you have the same melodies and verses popping up in different blues songs–because Robert Johnson could learn a song from Charley Patton and no one thought that Johnson was stealing from Patton. I’m not even sure we could safely say that anyone thought that Johnson was singing Patton’s song. At best, we might surmise that they thought that Johnson was singing a song he learned from Patton and if he changed the words a little, who cared?

This is less than 100 years ago.

But once there was money to be made, not just from your own performance of a song, but from other people performing your song, nailing down just whose song it was became important. And people claimed copyright on whatever they could, whether or not they’d actually written it.

This problem has not gone away. Led Zeppelin copyrighted songs they knew they learned from old blues records. But another problem, hand in hand with that one, exists: everyone has this sense that music, after a certain, short time, belongs to everyone.

Even P. Diddy got nailed, and hard, because he thought “I’ll Fly Away” was one of those songs that just belonged to all of us, when it was still under copyright protection.

But who can blame him? If you love a song and you sing it and feel it in your soul, it does feel like it becomes yours, at least partially, in some way.

So, I think what Bowie is getting at is that music, the way people experience and perform music, just doesn’t seem to work with copyright.

For all our existence we’ve been singing songs and learning those songs by singing them and passing them on to others by teaching them. And through that process, we change the song as much as it changes us. And, as musicologists would tell us, the changes in the song tell us a great deal about who we are as well.

Nailing down and copyrighting some official version of a song runs counter to how we’ve always experienced music. And it’s no surprise that the copyright protections extended to music are the first ones to be ignored wholesale by audiences and performers (when they can get away with it).

I know this pisses a lot of musicians off, especially because the biggest copyright infringements in the music industry right now are not people artistically using materials, but just folks swapping songs on computers, but the hard truth is that no one promised you a job doing what you love, so, if you go broke, go work at Casey’s. They’re always hiring.

I keep thinking of Gillian Welch’s song “Everything is Free,” which is basically a complaint about people not paying for music, which is on a great album that contains a song sung to the tune of “John Henry,” because even Gillian Welch believes, apparently, that there comes a point when a song belongs to everyone.

So, my point is that I suspect Bowie might be right, but not because there’s some big revolution–in the sense of a new order overturning the old–but because there’s always just the revolution of the seasons and our tendency to want to be able to do what we’ve always done.

So, how can I argue for the acceptance of the fact that keeping music copyrighted for 120 years is bullshit and will not stand and also argue that Google and those university libraries have totally overstepped their bounds?

I have two reasons. One, I do think things stay protected by copyright far too long and that we ought to go back to a standard of “the lifetime of the author.” I think individuals ought to benefit from their hard work, but we’re a community and the community also has a right to benefit from your hard work, even in ways you don’t like.

So, if university libraries and Google want to scan in and post every book in the public domain, more power to them. I think that’d be awesome and would really give people a deep sense of the benefits to the whole community of having things enter the public domain.

But as much as we are a nation of individuals and communities, we are a nation of large corporations. These corporations don’t have individuals’ or communities’ best interests at heart; they have other forces motivating them. So, it often behooves individuals to align themselves to certain corporations–publishers, record companies, etc.–in order to have help with and be protected from other corporations. Even though their relationships with publishers or record companies might fairly be called exploitative, these authors and performers at least have contracts with these companies and thus have a negotiated relationship of rules.

So, it seems to me that what’s happening in the recording industry is a wide-spread rebellion by individual audience members, who are all using product in a way that more fits their needs. But what’s happening in this instance with Google is that a corporation has decided the to circumvent the wishes of the author.

Hmm. Which I guess brings me to the other major difference. Being the author of a book means something very different culturally than being a music performer, because books have existed for so much longer than recorded music.

People intrinsically get how a book belongs to an author, whereas, obviously they don’t exactly get who a song belongs to.

I mean, think about it: you could sing the chorus of “Yankee Doodle” in the middle of your song and no one would think anything strange of it, but if you took the whole middle section of Middlemarch and reproduced it in the middle of your book, even if it fit, I think there’d be a lot of discussion about whether that was “right” even if it’s perfectly legal.

I think that, at heart, I think individuals’ assaults on copyright is okay, but that corporations’ assaults on it are not.

I’m not sure that’s a tenable position.

Skipping Work

I’m skipping work this afternoon, sitting at home with the dog and the cats and just enjoying the day.

I hope y’all don’t mind, but my afternoon is made better by envisioning you all still at work.

As the kids say, “Nah, nah, na-nah, na.”

Thoughts on Bodies


I’d really like to be able to kick folks in the head. I mean, shoot, I could kick folks in the head right now if I tripped them, but I mean, I’d like to be able to get my foot up high enough to kick a person square in the head.

It would, seemingly, be easier to learn how to punch someone in the head, but the truth is that I have arms so flabby that they might as well be vestigial. I’m like the Willendorf Venus, but with feet and curly hair. Or like the mighty tyrannosaurus rex, with my weak arms useful only for carrying a purse and waggling at babies.

“Aaareen’t yaouou sooo cuuute!?!?” I bellow as I stomp around trying to get my weak clutches on small children.


Surprisingly, though it’s been twelve hours, no one has contacted me about running for John Ford’s senate seat. I understand that he hasn’t been convicted of anything yet, and so he doesn’t even have to give up his seat. But still, you’d have thought I’d have some takers.

I was momentarily distraught, but then I reminded myself that I did grow up in Illinois, which means that I still have a few tricks up my sleeve.

So, this is just to say, Memphis, that I have the bodies necessary to win any election, for I am polling way ahead of any potential opponents among the victims of the flu epidemic and folks whose undertakers stole their jewelry after the family went to sit down and before locking the coffin.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to get out the dead vote.


After reading my post on the recalcitrant brother, the Butcher thought that we should look for a house in some crummy neighborhood and take the recalcitrant brother in.

Yes, that’s right. The Butcher thought, briefly, that it would be a good idea for me to have both of my brothers living with me, working shit jobs they’re too smart for, and making it impossible (it’s only virtually impossible now) for me to pay off my credit cards or save up any money so that I can ever fulfill my one fucking small-ass dream of having a little house of my own with a fenced-in back yard and a magnolia tree out my bedroom window.

Do I want much, America? I’ve not asked for a rich husband to support me through drumming while I lay around, inexplicably, in bed all day. I’ve not demanded a recording career that masks my lack of talent through Pro-tools while allowing me all the benefits of fame. I’m not demanding to be the prettiest, pretty princess in the whole world.

I just want to be able to get some money in the bank. I just want to be a thousandaire. People say that money doesn’t buy you happiness, because people are fuckers. It’s better to have money in the bank, to know that, if something happens, you can take care of it, than it is to contemplate becoming The Home for Wayward Brothers.

So, suffice to say, we’re not taking in the recalcitrant brother. If it comes to the point where he’s all out of family members of baby’s mammas to take him in, he can go back home to mom and dad.


All this talk of shitty jobs has me thinking of the worst job I ever had. It was right after I graduated from college and had moved back home to lay on my parents couch and watch reruns of “In the Heat of the Night” while wrapped in an afghan.

Unfortunately, Mom wouldn’t let me spend my whole life like that–fantasizing that Bubba Skinner would come rescue me. So, I got a job at Casey’s, which is a small chain of convenience stores/gas stations in, at least, Illinois and Iowa.

God, I hated it. I was on my feet eight hours a day. I was alone most of the time, so I was always afraid I’d get robbed, because it’d be so easy to rob a place like that, since we never put the money in the safe and we had, maybe, one customer an hour. And I was constantly getting “put on notice” for not keeping the place clean, because, believe me American, there is no bullshit like the bullshit people put each other through when the stakes are so very low.

But anyway, we were talking about bodies. And there was this one body that, to this day, makes me wonder what the hell? and laugh. There was this guy who would come in at least once a day who looked very much like a young pink gorilla, with that same big round belly and kind of slouchy way of meandering around the store.

Sometimes, I didn’t see him come in (because I was busy cleaning, you fuckers!) but I would always hear his bare feet slapping on the linoleum as he made his way back to the milk.

He’d never wear a shirt, never had on shoes, and always had on shorts that were tight and short and, here’s the weird and funny part, when he’d get up to the counter, he’d lift up on his toes and set himself on the counter, as if carrying around the family jewels was just so taxing that he needed to frequently rest them on the counter.

Really, what the fuck?

I still don’t know what to make of that. Did he think I was going to be like, “Dear Jesus, that’s the most attractive thing I’ve ever seen. Let me fuck you in the beer cooler right now!”? Did he think I was just going to run screaming in fear?

Every day this went on, all summer, until I found the job at the newspaper. God, it was something.