A few notes from last week...
Nostalgia and my prurient curiosity were the reasons we switched channels between Game 5 of the NBA finals and the Miss USA beauty pageant Sunday night.
I remembered the pageant growing up, seeing a teary-eyed Bob Barker (Burt Parks hosted the Miss America pageant, a completely different animal) serenade a teary-eyed Miss Wherever as she strolled down the runway grasping a bouquet of American Beauties, her crown teetering on her bouffant, set aglow by an ocean of flash bulbs.
That was in the ‘70s, when a new tide of feminism was sweeping the country. The Equal Rights Amendment had just been approved by Congress and was out to the states for ratification. Women were fighting for -- among other things -- equal pay for equal work. I remembered thinking that walking-meat shows like the Miss USA pageant would soon to be a thing of the past as newly liberated women-kind would never put up with such obvious, base examples of objectification and sexual chauvinism.
And yet here I was, 30-some years later, watching yet another parade of tits and ass on my hi-def 65-inch flat-panel screen. What happened? Well, you could say “Men, that’s what happened. They control the media,” but you’d be wrong. The reason beauty pageants not only exist -- but thrive in this day and age -- is because women watch them. Women love them, despite the fact that they make women look like, well, idiots.
Case in point, Miss Utah. By now we’ve all seen her major blooper during the dreaded “one question” portion of the contest. A recap for the cave dwellers among you who missed it: Shortly after the all-important swimsuit competition, the finalists were lined up on stage and asked one tough, thought-provoking question by a celebrity judge. This time it was reality TV "star" NeNe Leakes. The question: “A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does this say about society?”
I watched through laced fingers as Miss Utah babbled incoherently for 15 seconds about leaders and jobs and men and “how to create educate better so we can solve this problem. Thank you.”
I turned to my wife and said, “They’re your people.”
Point of clarification regarding Monday’s Omaha World-Herald “Community Connection” story tucked away on the back page of the Midlands section:
OWH staffer Kevin Coffey wrote a profile of man-about-town music fan and photographer Christopher “Fletch” Fletcher.
Kevin talked about good ol’ Fletch’s 268 concerts attended in one year and how his love of music ignited his love of rock photography. So good a shooter is Fletch that he was assigned to cover the illustrious South By Southwest Music festival a few years ago. I remember it well because I was in Austin for the same festival, covering it for The Reader.
So was Fletch.
But for whatever reason, the article didn’t mention that, or that just about all of Fletch’s assignments come from The Reader. Kevin, of course, knows this fact, but what you may not know is that the Omaha World-Herald has a rule (written or unwritten, I do not know) that its writers can’t mention The Reader or any other local non-World Publishing publication in its pages, even if the information is a central fact in the story. Can’t publicize the competition. It’s bad business.
Make of that what you will, but I can’t say I blame them for being afraid of us. There’s no question that the sheer mention of The Reader in the OWH’s hallowed pages could leverage one of its advertisers to jump over the railing of that great gray Titanic and begin advertising within the pages of our tiny fishing sloop.
Yes, OWH, be afraid. We are small, but mighty.
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More evidence of the evolution (or de-evolution, depending on your point of view) of the music industry: Monday streaming music service Spotify scored a victory by acquiring the music of major artist Pink Floyd. The classic ‘70s prog rock band is finally making its entire back catalog available to Spotify listeners.
As reported by the UK newspaper The Guardian: “Spotify’s per-stream payouts for songs played by its users are low. At the accepted industry average of just under 0.4p per stream. 1 million Spotify downloads pays out around £3,800 - small beer for a band like Pink Floyd, whose career album sales are counted in the hundreds of millions.”
Why would the Floyd take such a pittance for its wares? Spotify’s “Chief Content Officer” Ken Parks said the band caved because they’ve come to the realization that Spotify and other streaming services are “the future of music consumption” and that it will help them reach a new demographic and “secure their legacy.”
Ah, but how will that legacy be harmed by the inferior quality of streaming music? Pink Floyd always held the highest standards when it came to recording quality. I can’t help but pity young music fans who will discover Dark Side of the Moon or Animals or Wish You Were Here or The Wall by listening to the masterpieces as tinty compressed music files streamed via computer or smart phone to tiny ear buds.
The wonder and awe of Pink Floyd was meant to be heard unfettered, uncompressed, though giant walnut loud speakers or wearing heavy, padded high-fidelity head phones, preferably late at night with your eyes closed, the only concern in the back of your head: How to navigate your pitch-black bedroom when it's time to turn to Side Two. That's a legacy to be proud of.
Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.