Battle of the (Military) Bands

Nev­er has there been a bet­ter musi­cal metaphor for the dis­as­ter of the Bush Pres­i­den­cy than this audio clip from the vis­it of the Pope Bene­dict XVI to the White House on April 16th. Thanks to my hero, Tom Allen of the CBC (who will be trag­i­cal­ly let go this fall, much to my agony, but enough about that for the time being), his sharp ears picked up this amaz­ing fias­co of Hail to the Chief:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Play­er (ver­sion 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Down­load the lat­est ver­sion here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your brows­er.

Here’s the quote from Tom Allen’s Junk Draw­er:

Here’s the musi­cal event Charles Ives wait­ed for his entire life. On April 16, 2008, Pope Bene­dict XVI vis­it­ed the White House. Two musi­cal groups were there to wel­come him — the Her­ald Trum­pets from the US Army Band, and the President’s Own Marine Band. The Pres­i­dent, not sur­pris­ing­ly, was there, too. Pro­to­col says that any time the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States turns up in an offi­cial role, the band has to play “Hail to the Chief.” As you hear from the clip, pro­to­col appar­ent­ly doesn’t say they have to play it in just one key. The sto­ry is that one group came to rehearsal and the oth­er didn’t, so they end­ed up, at the big moment, play­ing the same piece in dif­fer­ent keys. I’ve received, pre­dictably, con­tra­dic­to­ry reports of which group, the Army or the Marines, fired in the wrong direc­tion, but the result was a direct hit for music fans who like their mil­i­tary bands on the exper­i­men­tal side. It’s fan­tas­tic!

I found out this morn­ing that it was because one of the groups was a ‘civil­ian’ group. This was the musi­cal equiv­a­lent of ‘friend­ly fire’ between Amer­i­can troops and Mil­i­tary con­trac­tors.

Woo hoo! Airborne Swine Sighted!

This morn­ing I awoke to some incred­i­ble (and I mean this in the true sense of the word; I can scarce­ly believe it) news:

Rogers Issues State­ment on the Apple iPhone

TORONTO, April 29 /CNW/ — Ted Rogers, Pres­i­dent and Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer of Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. today issued the fol­low­ing state­ment:
We’re thrilled to announce that we have a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Cana­da lat­er this year. We can’t tell you any more about it right now, but stay tuned.

About Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc.
Rogers Com­mu­ni­ca­tions is a diver­si­fied Cana­di­an com­mu­ni­ca­tions and media
com­pa­ny. We are engaged in wire­less voice and data com­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices
through Wire­less, Canada’s largest wire­less provider and the oper­a­tor of the
country’s only Glob­al Sys­tem for Mobile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (“GSM”) based net­work.
Through Cable and Tele­com we are one of Canada’s largest providers of cable
tele­vi­sion, cable tele­pho­ny and high-speed Inter­net access, and are also a
full-ser­vice, facil­i­ties-based telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions alter­na­tive to the
tra­di­tion­al tele­phone com­pa­nies. Through Media, we are engaged in radio and
tele­vi­sion broad­cast­ing, tele­vised shop­ping, mag­a­zines and trade pub­li­ca­tions,
and sports enter­tain­ment. We are pub­licly trad­ed on the Toron­to Stock Exchange
(TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B), and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RCI). For
fur­ther infor­ma­tion about the Rogers group of com­pa­nies, please vis­it
www.rogers.com.

Yes folks, Hell has offi­cial­ly frozen over.

But wait… let’s see: “lat­er this year” could mean any­thing between April 30th to Decem­ber 31st. So the longest I’ll have to wait will be 8 months. I guess that’s good news. I have to admit, this did look like an April Fool’s post­ing that is 28 days too late.

At the very least, we’ll see an end to the hand-wring­ing and cries of Why does Apple hate Cana­da? on so many of the web sites here.

The other thing you can be sure of in Life, besides Death...

That does it. From now on, I stop try­ing to do this myself and get an accoun­tant.

When we lived in Boston, we had a com­pli­cat­ed tax sit­u­a­tion. I was fre­quent­ly work­ing as a con­sul­tant, and worked with an accoun­tant who knew us like fam­i­ly, but even­tu­al­ly left the busi­ness (Genevieve, wher­ev­er you are and what­ev­er you are doing, I hope you’re hap­py) to make sure that I could make the right deduc­tions, amor­tize the depre­ci­a­tion of equip­ment pur­chas­es, and fig­ure out when it was best to pay esti­mat­ed tax vs. go near­ly broke in late April.

I though that after we moved to Cana­da it would get sim­pler, and up until this past year, it was. I had most­ly income from one employ­er, and we didn’t do much in the way of retire­ment invest­ing (hey, when you don’t have much income from a pre­vi­ous year, you can’t sock much away in an RRSP — what used to be a 401K for us). There was no notion of a joint return here and the forms even looked a lit­tle sim­pler, I think.

In 2007, that all changed, and I should have real­ized this fact a while back, but pro­cras­ti­na­tion of tax prep is some­thing I’ve done all my life. When you’re a self-employed per­son and keep­ing your mon­ey in your account as long as pos­si­ble is your goal, fil­ing tax­es ear­ly nev­er makes much sense, unless you pre­fer the plea­sure of not scram­bling on April 14th (the tax dead­line day for the US) . So, after 7 or so hours of agony, I’ve decid­ed that it is just too damned hard to do my own return any more. I used some soft­ware, Tax­Tron — which was pret­ty hard to use, but which did the cal­cu­la­tions, but the ques­tions were still cryp­tic (CNIC? QPP/CPP pen­sion­able earn­ings? Coti­sa­tions de l’employé au RPC? Huh?). I’m prob­a­bly going to file an amend­ed return for this past year’s mess after May 1, and for sure next year it will be under the care­ful guid­ance of a CGA (That’s what a CPA became after the move). I’ve learned my les­son. Now, if I could only get my Sun­day refund­ed back to me, since I worked yes­ter­day, albeit for the last time for a while. So much for a Spring week­end.

Taking a Break

It’s been a while, since I wrote here, and that’s part­ly because I was often too tired in the evening after work to write any­thing. I’m recov­er­ing from a nasty ill­ness that was fair­ly painful and at the worst point a lit­tle tir­ing, but now I’m near­ly back to nor­mal.

This past Sat­ur­day, Pam and I took a lit­tle pic­nic to the beach. We packed the car with food, fold­ing chairs and a pic­nic blanket/tarp. While it was a lit­tle chilly, Locarno beach, the moun­tains and the city all made for a beau­ti­ful view:

View of Vancouver from Locarno Beach

Lat­er, we went to a house­warm­ing for my friend Tanya, who has got­ten a great place on the oppo­site shore of False Creek from us (we joked that we could prob­a­bly wave at each oth­er across the water). While it took a lit­tle while for us to locate her new place, it did give us the chance to see a lit­tle more of the city as dusk began to fall.

It was a break from the stress of work, but that stress is prob­a­bly going to let up fair­ly soon. It looks very like­ly that my con­tract at IBM will be end­ing next month, and I’ll be free to relax a lit­tle before I am work­ing full-time once again. May is a great month to have some time to enjoy Van­cou­ver, when it is the ‘city of the sens­es’ rather than the intel­lect, as I often have writ­ten here. A few more days like this past Sat­ur­day will def­i­nite­ly be some­thing to look for­ward to.

An Answer to One of my Protests

OK, I real­ize that I’m becom­ing a bit of a bro­ken record, and I promise that these post­ings about the CBC are reach­ing an end. After all, each of us have to ‘get a life’.

Nev­er­the­less, I couldn’t resist post­ing this, because it shows just how the blath­er the CBC spouts about mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and oth­er BS is being used so that these peo­ple can get their way, a com­mer­cial-style radio net­work with next to no chal­leng­ing or intel­lec­tu­al con­tent.

Here’s the back­ground: In addi­tion to my let­ter to the CBC, I left a sub­mis­sion at the ‘Con­tact Us’ form on the CBC Web site, and here’s what I got in today’s email :

Dear David Druck­er,
Thank you for your email about upcom­ing changes to the week­day sched­ule of CBC Radio 2. We’re enthu­si­as­tic about the changes being planned. It’s good news for all Cana­di­an per­form­ers and all Cana­di­an lis­ten­ers. How­ev­er, we know some peo­ple have mis­con­cep­tions of why we are mak­ing these changes and how the new sched­ule will look.

The ques­tion fac­ing CBC is whether we use Radio 2 to reflect excel­lence in all Cana­di­an music and musi­cians or just a part of the indus­try; and whether we serve a broad spec­trum of Cana­di­an lis­ten­ers or just of a por­tion of the audi­ence.

Allow us to pro­vide you with a lit­tle back­ground to the pro­pos­als.

First, we rec­og­nize the qual­i­ty and pub­lic val­ue of “seri­ous” music. Clas­si­cal music will remain the most broad­ly rep­re­sent­ed form on Radio 2 while we expand the spec­trum to include oth­er forms of music for adult Cana­di­an lis­ten­ers.

Next, it may inter­est you to know that Cana­di­an per­form­ers of all stripes release about 30,000 pieces of music every year. Less than 1 per cent of those receive reg­u­lar air­play on com­mer­cial radio sta­tions. The rich diver­si­ty of Cana­di­an music and musi­cians is clear­ly not being heard on Cana­di­an air­waves. Music gen­res for which Cana­da is famous through­out the world cur­rent­ly have lit­tle expo­sure on CBC Radio’s music net­work.

Since CBC’s man­date charges us to “reflect Cana­da and its regions to nation­al and region­al audi­ences, (and) active­ly con­tribute to the flow and exchange of cul­tur­al expres­sion” as well as “reflect the mul­ti­cul­tur­al and mul­tira­cial nature of Cana­da” the pub­lic broadcaster’s adult music net­work must be a home for these artists and this music.

Final­ly, we also believe there will still be some lis­ten­ers who desire noth­ing but clas­si­cal, or jazz, or adult singer-song­writ­ers. So, this fall, CBC Radio will be launch­ing three 24-hour-a-day web radio ser­vices to serve each niche exclu­sive­ly. Obvi­ous­ly we would rather have a full FM net­work for each genre, but since that is not pos­si­ble, the online solu­tion is anoth­er option for Cana­di­ans.

Radio 2 is now and will be remain a music net­work for adult Cana­di­ans. Our val­ues of thought­ful­ness in pre­sen­ta­tion and excel­lence in per­for­mance remain intact. Our com­mit­ment to offer an alter­na­tive on the dial con­tin­ues. The kind of lis­ten­ing expe­ri­ence will not change; the music high­lights will just come from a broad­er spec­trum.

We’re pas­sion­ate about Cana­di­an music. Radio 2 will be the only place to tru­ly reflect the incred­i­ble breadth and depth of tal­ent that exists in this coun­try.

Again, thank you for writ­ing. We look for­ward to your feed­back when the new shows are intro­duced in the fall.

Ray Rusk
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Offi­cer
CBC Audi­ence Rela­tions

I’m get­ting the stan­dard par­ty line I’ve seen in oth­er media: Clas­si­cal doesn’t rep­re­sent true Cana­da; We’re not cut­ting out Clas­si­cal music (or now an even bet­ter sub­tle insult: ‘Seri­ous’ music; gee, why don’t they call it ‘Long-hair music’ or ‘Egghead music’); we’re just mak­ing sure that every­one is rep­re­sent­ed, so Clas­si­cal Music has to go to make room for the oth­er Cana­di­an artists. That bit about ’30,000 pieces of music’ is, I sus­pect, plucked from thin air.

Nev­er mind that the myth­i­cal ‘audi­ence’ they are talk­ing about (instead of ‘por­tion of that audi­ence’) doesn’t exist. The peo­ple who lis­ten to Radio 2 by def­i­n­i­tion lis­ten to Clas­si­cal Music because if the CBC didn’t broad­cast that, they wouldn’t lis­ten to Radio 2. The alter­na­tive to Radio 2 is, let me see…Oh right: noth­ing.

Nev­er mind that Cana­di­an com­posers and Cana­di­an Clas­si­cal Music are going to con­tin­ue to be phased out of the air­waves. The biggest bald-faced lie in the email is this one: Clas­si­cal music will remain the most broad­ly rep­re­sent­ed form on Radio 2 …

Sor­ry, pop­u­lar light clas­sics from the hours of 10AM through 3PM, when no one but home-bound seniors will hear them is not ‘most broad­ly rep­re­sent­ed’.

To under­stand just how much the oppo­site of ‘most broad­ly rep­re­sent­ed’ is, here are some facts not men­tioned in the let­ter:

The CBC Young Com­posers Com­pe­ti­tion
has not been held since March 9, 2003. It, as well as the CBC Young Per­form­ers Com­pe­ti­tion have been sus­pend­ed for the past four years. The Cana­da Coun­cil pro­vid­ed the fund­ing for the $10,000.00 grand prize.

The CBC set the clas­si­cal music bud­get for CBC Records to 0 in Feb­ru­ary 2008, pre­cise­ly on the eve of their first Gram­my win by Cana­di­an vio­lin­ist James Ehnes and the Van­cou­ver Sym­pho­ny Orches­tra under Bramwell Tovey on the CBC Records label. That’s right; the first Gram­my win, and these guys get rid of the record­ing label. Many Clas­si­cal Music per­form­ers launched their careers on a CBC Records label record­ing.

The com­mis­sion­ing bud­get pre­vi­ous­ly devot­ed to com­mis­sion­ing new works from com­posers is now spread out to cov­er jazz, pop musi­cians, and some unspec­i­fied amount of con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal music.

CBC can­celled Two New Hours, a mul­ti­ple-award win­ning pro­gram that was aired for two hours a week in the incred­i­bly prime time slot of Sun­days 10pm to mid­night. This pro­gram was ded­i­cat­ed to the music of liv­ing Cana­di­an com­posers. It was can­celled in March 2007 in its 29th year.

CBC can­celled Music For A While, which aired clas­si­cal music dai­ly from 6pm to 8pm.

CBC can­celled In Per­for­mance the flag­ship Clas­si­cal con­certs pro­gram.

The CBC dis­band­ed the CBC Radio Orches­tra: North America’s 70-year old last remain­ing radio orches­tra and plat­form for count­less pre­mieres of new Cana­di­an com­po­si­tions cit­ing lack of resources. The next day, they ran a full-page ad in the Globe and Mail cost­ing an esti­mat­ed $30,000 to con­vince us of the same par­ty line that I was read in the let­ter. It’s worth not­ing that there was not a sin­gle clas­si­cal music (com­pos­er or per­former) list­ed in the ad. Instead, the rep­re­sen­ta­tion was pri­mar­i­ly from com­mer­cial record­ing labels and oth­ers involved in pop­u­lar music.

That bit about a ‘web’ sta­tion is utter­ly ridicu­lous as well.  Will I be able to lis­ten to the web sta­tion in the car or on the Sky­train? Will I have to rig up a com­put­er in the bed­room so I can wake up to it in the morn­ing? Will kids in school who have nev­er been exposed to Clas­si­cal Music dis­cov­er their Inter­net-based sta­tion?  Maybe in 5–10 years we’ll have per­va­sive Inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty so that stream­ing audio is avail­able at all times, includ­ing while trav­el­ing at decent qual­i­ty, and is next to free for all, but not today. Like mag­a­zines that stop print­ing paper edi­tions and only pub­lish on the web, putting most of the CBC’s Clas­si­cal Music sole­ly on the Inter­net is pret­ty much get­ting rid of it from main­stream lis­ten­ers.

It’s sick­en­ing to be read a par­ty line that is disin­gen­u­ous at best. That bit about mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism is a smoke-screen.  Do you think they are going to be play­ing a lot of Pak­istani and Chi­nese music? ( And isn’t iron­ic that so many Chi­nese are huge fans of Clas­si­cal music and are build­ing con­cert halls like mad in Chi­na while the CBC takes it away from lis­ten­ers in Rich­mond?).

If the CBC says that peo­ple like me ‘just don’t get it’, that ‘The kind of lis­ten­ing expe­ri­ence will not change; the music high­lights will just come from a broad­er spec­trum’ and should sim­ply lis­ten to web radio, what they real­ly mean is that they are sim­ply inter­est­ed in mak­ing more mon­ey — just like they do on TV by air­ing ‘Hock­ey Night in Cana­da’ — by pre­tend­ing to be ‘mul­ti­cul­tur­al’, and then run­ning a com­mer­cial Easy Lis­ten­ing sta­tion. The pat­tern they’ve fol­lowed from the last 3 years plain­ly shows it.